Tokaido Sanyo Shinkansen Reservation App

Bullet train bookings in Japan at your convenience

Featured   Dec 4, 2017 - 5 min read

Ready to dash across Japan at speeds of up to 300 kilometers per hour? Central Japan Railway Company has released a brand new official application that finally allows overseas visitors the ability to book high-speed shinkansen (bullet train) tickets along JR's Tokaido Sanyo Line, which follows the massively popular 'Golden Route' of sightseeing hotspots, such as Tokyo, Kyoto, and Osaka.

In what will likely be considered a major game changer for bullet train travel in Japan and, no doubt, embraced by business and leisure passengers alike, Tokaido Sanyo Shinkansen tickets can now be booked from overseas for the first time ever – completely in English!

All that is needed to make a quick and easy ticket purchase is a smartphone with app installed and a credit card. Enjoy the convenience of booking high-speed rail travel outside of the station setting, from the comfort of your hotel or while on the move.

With this app travelers are able to reserve seats in advance—beginning one month prior to departure—for up to six people at once. Furthermore, the hassle-free service enables customers to change reservations as often as they like with no additional costs incurred from JR. Changes are simple to manage and can be made as late as four minutes in advance of the specified departure time! Applicable to all trains throughout the year, including peak holiday seasons, the app can be used to book reserved seats in ordinary cars, Green cars (First Class cars), and non-reserved seats in ordinary cars. Unlike Japan Rail Pass holders, travelers can even book the "Nozomi" trains which depart every six minutes during peak hours and stop at the largest stations only to ensure the fastest travel time across Japan.

There are three simple steps to obtaining your first tickets:

  1. Download the application: Available on iOS and Android.
  2. Register an account: Follow the app instructions and quickly pair with your credit card.
  3. Purchase your tickets: During the purchase process you can also select your seats.

Prior to boarding, customers simply need to collect their tickets with the credit card used for payment at ticket machines located inside Tokaido Sanyo Shinkansen stations. These machines are located in all stations along the line and are clearly marked with the smartEX logo. For solo travelers using an IC card such as Suica or PASMO, you can register your IC card with the application and skip the machine entirely.

The application covers the Tokaido Sanyo Shinkansen line that connects the country’s major cities and top tourist destinations. Established in 1964, it is by far the most heavily travelled high-speed rail route in the world, having safely carried billions of passengers back and forth across Japan over the last five decades. Starting in Tokyo, the line runs the full length of Japan’s “Golden Route,” servicing 36 stations before terminating at Hakata in the north of Kyushu.

The fast and frequent service allows riders to travel direct from Tokyo to Kyoto in two hours, while Hakata in Fukuoka Prefecture is only another three hours away. Trains run every three minutes during peak hours and carries in excess of 445,000 passengers per day. The annual average delay for any one train service is less than one minute, making this the most reliable and punctual option available for both day trips and long-distance travel in Japan. Meanwhile, the spacious train carriages provide a comfortable and relaxing environment furnished with wide seats. Passengers are not required to wear seat belts and are free to consume food and drinks on the train. Power outlets are also available.

The Tokaido Sanyo Shinkansen Reservation App really is a must-have travel tool for leisure and business travelers to Japan. The application currently services overseas users in the USA, Australia, Singapore, and Hong Kong, and is suitable for iOS (9.0 or later) and Android (5.0 or later). Application is not available in conjunction with the Japan Rail Pass.

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Is there the equivalent on the Japan app store? If not, why not make this available on the Japan store as well?
Patrick Harnett a year ago
The new reservation service is a very good step forward, but still has a few downsides for visitors from overseas. Those travelling on a rail pass there is not much point because the ticket and reservation system is different. Also, while adding this extra main route to the on-line booking system, there are other parts of the shinkansen network that are still not covered, and of course, there is not coverage for the many other trains people need to use and want to book (there are services that allow for that, but they charge a fee). Having said that, it is a nice improvement and the majority of the time seats are readily available, and the trains are an excellent way to travel the country.
(As a side note, not all classes of travel have power outlets, and not available on all types of train operated on this route.)