Japanese Shinkansen (Bullet Trains) Guide | Part-2

This article continues from Japanese Shinkansen (Bullet Trains) Guide | Part-1 . If you haven’t read it yet, go read Part-1 first.

How to Board a Shinkansen

  • Try to get to the station at least 15 minutes before the departure time. The word “発” next to the time on the ticket is the departure time of your Shinkansen. (For example, “14:05 発” means your shinkansen departs at 14:05.)  The shinkansen departs on time with almost no delays. If you miss it, you can use the tickets as non-reserved seat tickets for the day.
  • Look for the ticket gate that says “Shinkansen”. Some ticket gates are separated from the local train ticket gates, while others you enter the Shinkansen ticket gates after entering the local train ticket gates.
  • At the automatic ticket gate, you can insert two tickets at the same time. Don’t forget to take the tickets that come out of the other side of the ticket gate and don’t lose them until you reach your final destination.
  • As soon as you pass through the ticket gate, you will see an electronic board. Check the platform (“Track”) number of your Shinkansen by referring to the departure time on your ticket.
  • Near the stairs and escalators leading up to the platform, there is a picture that shows which car stops where on the platform. Check them before going up to the platform level.
  • On the platform, you can find information about the car numbers and reserved or non-reserved seats on the electronic boards above your head or on the stickers on the floor. Your car number is the number written next to “号車”. (For example, your car number will be 8 if it’s written as “8号車”.)
    One car has two doors: one in the front and one in the back. It doesn’t matter which side you line up on.
  • When your Shinkansen arrives, board the Shinkansen (following the person in front of you, if any). After boarding, the conductor may come to check your tickets. Show all the tickets you have.
  • Get ready to get off when you hear the announcement that you are approaching your destination. Please note that the train does not make long stops except at terminal stations. Lastly, make sure you have your tickets. Many people leave their tickets on the Shinkansen.
  • After getting off the Shinkansen, you will insert your ticket into the automatic ticket gate again. If you go out directly from the Shinkansen ticket gate, your ticket will be collected, and nothing will come out.
    If the Shinkansen ticket gate leads to the inside of the local line ticket gate, you will get one ticket, so don’t forget to take it. If you are going out, insert that ticket into the ticket gate of the local line. If you are transferring to another train, take the ticket with you.

How to Get Refunds

  • For Shinkansen refunds, it is recommended to go to the Ticket Office (Midori-no-Madoguchi). If you purchased with a credit card, please do not forget to take that credit card with you.
  • Refunds are subject to a handling fee. The fee will vary depending on the type of ticket to be refunded and the time (number of days) until the scheduled boarding time.
  • If the refund is made due to a problem caused by JR, such as the cancellation of the Shinkansen, no handling fee will be charged.
    Only the express pass fare will be refunded if the Shinkansen is delayed for more than two hours than the scheduled arrival time. You can get a refund at the station counter. If the counter is too crowded, you can ask the staff for a delay certificate and get a refund for it later (within one year).


  • Note that at Tokyo Station, the ticket gates for Tohoku/Hokkaido Shinkansen and Hokuriku/Joetsu Shinkansen operated by JR East (green-based gates) are different from those for Tokaido Shinkansen operated by JR Tokai (blue-based gates).
  • If you are not familiar with Shinkansen and its stations, it is a good idea to get there a little early. You can kill some time in the waiting room (sometimes it’s crowded, though…) or look at souvenirs at the kiosks. If you take the Shinkansen at meal time, try ekiben (bento boxes to enjoy on the train).

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