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.
Step 1 Find the service segment of the train
You have to find the space availability one train by one train.
If you have a trip to Takayama from Tokyo via Nagoya, you will take the following trains:
The Tokaido Shinkansen for Tokyo to Nagoya
The limited express Wide View Hida for Nagoya to Takayama
In this case, you have to check the availability of Tokyo – Nagoya and Nagoya – Takayama separately.
You can find the service segment of trains at Hyperdia. Please see the link below to get the details about using Hyperdia:
Step 2 Get the station name in Japanese
You must have the station name in Japanese. There are several ways to get it. I think using Wikipedia is the easiest way. Please try to google “Wikipedia *** station”.
I could find it at second in the first page. My language setting is Japanese, so I found Japanese wikipedia link at the first. But if you google it, you will find it somewhere in the first page. Now click the link at Wikipedia page.
You can find Japanese word “金沢駅 (Kanazawa-eki)” in even English wikipedia page. Actually you may find Japanese word in other language wikipedia. Kanazawa station was written in many language in wikipedia, such as French, Spanish, Chinese, Korean.
Before move to next step, you have to copy the station name in Japanese. Please copy only “金沢”. We do not need “駅”. This means station in Japanese. You need only location name.
Step 3 Access to JR Cyber Station
JR Cyber station is only online service for checking availability for JR trains. Before you access this site, please check the time. Because this site is available from 6:30 to 22:30 in Japan time. Now please access JR Cyber station.
And then, click the first link that says “■空席案内（指定席の空席照会がご覧になれます）”.
Now you need to choose date and time.
Next choose the train type. Please see the image below:
The procedure is a little bit different between Shinkansen and conventional line trains (other than Shinkansen). If you check the availability for Shinkansen, please see the next chapter. Otherwise please see the chapter “Step 4-b”.
Step 4-a Check seat availability for Shinkansen (bullet train)
If you choose Shinkansen, drop down menu is appeared and you can choose both departure and arrival station. Of course, you can paste the station name that you copied at wikipedia above.
When you complete to choose at all dropdown menu, you can click “検索”.
You get the result. The availability and the category of seat are shown by the following symbols:
All train names are shown in Japanese. If you want to make sure these train names, these following links show you Shinkansen timetables online or PDF.
Tohoku, Akita, Yamagata, Joetsu and Hokuriku Shinkansen (JR East Official English site)
Tokaido and Sanyo Shinakansen (Tokyo-Kyoto-Shin Osaka-Hiroshima-Hakata)
Westbound (from Tokyo)
Eastbound (to Tokyo)
Kyushu Shinkansen (Hakata-Kumamoto-Kagoshima Chuo)
You may find the name of train from departure time.
Step 4-b Check seat availability for conventional trains (other than Shinkansen)
If you choose “在来線列車” (conventional line trains), you have to paste the correct station name at both departure and arrival. And you can click “検索”. If you fill in wrong name, wrong time or other errors, the following page is shown.
But sometimes JR Cyber Station gives you the choice.
In this above case, there are two similar names and it gives us choices. Please see the choices carefully and pick you the correct one.
And we get a result.
When you use JR Cyber Station, please remember the following notes:
1. JR reserved seat ticket is on sale one month prior to departure dates. You cannot check the availability for more than one month.
2. When you check the availability, sometimes the seasonal train cannot be found. Most of popular seasonal trains, such as Resort Shirakami, JR Kyushu trains can be found.
3. Overnight train Sunrise Seto and Sunrise Izumo from Tokyo cannot be shown. Other direction (to Tokyo) can be found. But only availability for Nobi Nobi seat is shown. We cannot find the availability for other compartment.
4. Other overnight trains are seasonal operation and cannot be found at JR Cyber Station.
5. JR Cyber station can check the availability for JR trains only. You cannot get an availability for any express trains on private railway lines, such as Tobu railway, Kintetsu railway, Odakyu Railway.
6. Again, this site is available from 6:30 to 22:30 in Japan time only. You cannot access this site outside this hour.
I hope you could understand how to use JR Cyber station now.