How to find seat availability of trains. JR Cyber Station guide.

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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.

e.g
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”.

For example, try to get Japanese word for Kanazawa station. Please google “Wikipedia Kanazawa station”.

wiki-kanazawa1

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.

wiki-kanazawa2

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)”.

Cyber station1

Now you need to choose date and time.

Cyber station2

Next choose the train type. Please see the image below:

Cyber station3

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”.

Cyber station4

You get the result. The availability and the category of seat are shown by the following symbols:

Sample result of Tokaido Shinkansen for Tokyo to Nagoya
Sample result of Tokaido Shinkansen for Tokyo to Nagoya
Sample result of Tohoku Shinkansen for Tokyo to Sendai
Sample result of Tohoku Shinkansen for Tokyo to Sendai

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.

Cyber station7

But sometimes JR Cyber Station gives you the choice.

Cyber station8

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.

Sample result of Limited Express for Shinjuku to Matsumoto
Sample result of Limited Express for Shinjuku to Matsumoto

Other notes

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.

88 thoughts on “How to find seat availability of trains. JR Cyber Station guide.”

  1. Hello Takeshi,
    Thank you for such a great site.
    here is my situation and I hope you can help me:
    Leave Naoshima Dec 31.
    Leave Tokyo to Canada Jan 6
    I would like to go to Hiroshima on Dec 31 and to Kyoto Jan 1 or 2.
    I would like to go from Kyoto to Tokyo on Jan 5
    I presume going to Kyoto on Jan 1 or 2 will be OK but believe Jan 5 to Tokyo will be a nightmare. Should I book tickets for that train through an agency or get the first train of the day in Green or unreserved regular?
    Or do I stand a better chance by taking slow trains back to Tokyo ?
    Your advice would be most appreciated.

    1. Hi Nigel,

      If you are okay to install app, you can use Smart EX to make online booking:
      https://smart-ex.jp/en/index.html

      You can secure your seat before you go to Japan.

      But if you intend to use JR Pass or other deal, you cannot use this app. I think it’s hard to find the travel agent who book a train ticket. You may have to book a seat after you arrive in Japan.

      Cheers,

      Takeshi / JPRail.com

      1. Brilliant Takeshi.
        Thank you so very much
        I guess i need to wait until a month before the travel date?
        You are a life-saver
        Thanks again

          1. Hi Takeshi
            I downloaded the app and completed all of the information re. credit card etc.
            However it asked me for my IC information, and when I looked it up I saw that it can only be purchased once I am in Japan.
            Are they asking for it in case I want to pay with the IC rather than a CC and that I will be able to go ahead and book seats from here with my credit card ?
            Thanks again Takeshi

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