You might be nervous about booking of trains. Online booking is very limited. Most of you have to book your train after you arrive in Japan. Especially if you travel in peak season, such as Golden Week (late Apr to 1st week of May), Obon period (mid Aug) and New Years holidays (late Dec to early Jan), many trains are booked out. You may want to know how busy trains will be before you leave.
Unfortunately there is no way to find it online in English. But we have it in Japanese that is “JR Cyber Station”.
In this post, I show you how to use this site. I know that most of you do not understand Japanese. I believe that you will be able to use this site and find the seat availability of the trains after you read this post even if you do not understand Japanese. I will explain you how to use this site step by step in this post.
On Feb 5, 2011, the first Hayabusa was on sale. But the first Hayabusa train to Shin-Aomori from Tokyo was sold out in ONLY 40 seconds!!! The fisrt Hayabusa from Shin-Aomori to Tokyo was sold out in one hour and 30 minutes. I don’t talk about only Gran Class, but any class on Hayabusa. I expected it would be popular. But this is more than what I expected.
I tried to access online site, and check the possibility for the booking of Hayabusa. I made it. Yes, we can.
If you want to book online, access to JR East Shinkanse reservation. You have to be a member. You need to have a credit card to guarantee the booking (not for payment).
I read most of the major Japanese news paper. They said Hayabusa was sold out on Mar 5, 2011. But I could book it. I could make a reservation for even Gran Class. I did not click “Submit” on the last page. So I don’t know that the reservation would be completed or not.
Anyway you can make a reservation before you depart from your country. If you want to take Hayabusa, I strongly recommend to book in advance.
When you take the Shinkansen or the limited express train, you may have to book a seat because some trains require you a seat reservation. Though some limited express trains have some non-reserved cars, you should book a reserved seat if you can.
Especially if you use JR Pass, Hokkaido Rail Pass, JR East Pass, Tokyo Wide Pass, Sanyo San’in Area Pass and Kyushu Rail Pass, these passes cover a reserved seat fee. Use this benefit to ride a train with a peace of mind.
I also strongly recommend you to secure a seat if you travel in the peak seasons, such as late April to the first week of May (a.k.a. Golden Week), August 10 to 20 (It is called “Obon” which is a summer break.) and the year-end/New Years holiday (December 29th to the first week of January.)
I would like to explain you how to book a reserved seat in this post