New Shinkansen Luggage Rules

Large luggage reservation rules have taken effect

By Serena Ogawa    - 3 min read

When people think about fast and convenient travel in Japan the Shinkansen (bullet train) instantly comes to mind. With its sleek design and unmatched speed, it’s a great way to see the country or simply get from A to B.

However, traveling with large luggage can be a hassle, not only for those doing the lugging but also for those in the vicinity. That’s why a new Shinkansen rule has been put into place.

Large luggage being toted on the Tokaido, Sanyo, and Kyushu Shinkansen lines will be required to be stowed in a secure area—for the safety and comfort of all passengers. And how large is extra-large luggage? Well, anything measuring a total length, width, or height of 160cm to 250cm will be required to be stowed.

Get ready to travel in comfort and safety (Photo: Wikimedia Commons)
Get ready to travel in comfort and safety (Photo: Wikimedia Commons)

How to make a reservation?

Passengers who make a reservation will be assigned a seat with extra-large luggage space at the end of some of the reserved seat vehicles. And for passengers who think to circumvent the system and just carry their luggage on the old-fashioned way? They’ll be looking at a carry-on baggage fee of ¥1,000.

Best to just go ahead and make the reservation.

For those versed in Japanese, it can be as simple as visiting a Shinkansen kiosk and checking the luggage reservation box. For a full walkthrough of the process, be sure to check out the Smart-EX website, although it’s currently only available in Japanese. For non-Japanese speakers, reservations can be made by visiting the ticket office at the Shinkansen station.

In video: rule changes explained

What if I'm using a Japan Rail Pass?

Unfortunately, the Smart-EX service is not applicable for holders of the JR Passes with extra-large luggage. The reservation can only be done while purchasing a Shinkansen ticket, so it cannot be reserved while using all-inclusive train passes. However, you can consider using luggage forwarding services such as Zend or even local Yamato Transport, which will make your travel within Japan both stress and hands-free.

Midori no Madoguchi is where to go for ticket reservations (Photo: Wikimedia Commons)
Midori no Madoguchi is where to go for ticket reservations (Photo: Wikimedia Commons)

Baggage 160 will ensure that all passengers have a safe and comfortable ride on the Shinkansen. So, whether you’re just riding Shin-Osaka to Kyoto or going cross country from Kyoto to Tokyo, you won’t have to worry about tripping over luggage from other passengers or the even more embarrassing—having other people trip over your luggage! Safe travels for all!

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Serena Ogawa

Serena Ogawa @serena.ogawa

Travel Editor for Japan Travel by day, novel-writing cat lady by night.

Join the discussion

Sleiman Azizi a month ago
Travel light. The lighter the better.
Sander van Werkhoven a month ago
These rules do make me feel a bit nervous. Considering the very limited number of available seats on each train I'm a bit afraid that travelling without advance reservations will become a rather big gamble. I haven't measured my bag yet but I guess it will be right around that 160cm mark (but with rather different proportions than shown in the video). If it's just over 160cm, that would take away a lot of the flexibility of train travel. If it's still under, then I'm not to happy about putting it in the overhead compartments, especially nearing the end of a trip when carrying way too many, way too heavy souvenirs ;-)

I hardly ever experienced luggage as a problem in Shinkansen, unless you happen to be in a car with a big tour group, 20-30 people together all in the same car with lots of luggage. So to me this all feels a bit like a solution searching for a problem....

And if we all stow our luggage like that guy in the video at 1:50, it's not gonna help....
Shinobu Ishikawa a month ago
Thank you for the useful information!
Bonson Lam a month ago
Great to know, and the luggage courier service is a good alternative too.
Kim B a month ago
Super helpful to know this in advance!