JR trains’ seat guide, Gran class, Green class and Ordinary class seats. Guide to buy JR Pass Green or Ordinary

Green class interior of Narita ExpressRail pass for visitors
Green class interior of Narita Express
Green seat car of the Limited Express Kuroshio by 287 series. It offers very comfortable 2+1 seat layout with large panoramic windows. (C) w0746203-1

When you travel by the JR express train in Japan, you have a few choices of the seat. Most of the JR express trains offer two classes, Green and Ordinary. Those are like business class seat and economy class seat on the fight. And the highest class seat, “Gran class” is available on some of the Shinkansen lines. Some express trains in Kyushu offer Deluxe Green class. And there are some trains which offer the compartment.

Green class is better than Ordinary class definitely. But it is pricey. Before choosing the class of seat, you should know how much better Green class is than Ordinary class. And you should know what the benefit of Green class is. Especially if you intend to buy JR Pass, you will consider which you will get, Green seat pass or Ordinary seat pass.

In this post, I would like to focus on the seat of JR trains. You will know the layout of the seat, a leg space, benefit of higher class seat. I believe you can judge which seat is your choice after reading this post.

The types of JR train’s seat

Gran class seatThe Tohoku Shinkansen,
The Hokkaido Shinkansen,
The Hokuriku Shinkansen
DX Green class seatSome of the Limited Express trains in Kyushu area
Green compartmentLimited Express Super View Odoriko
Some of the Limited Express trains in Kyushu area
Green class seatMost of the Shinkansen trains
Most of the Limited Express trains
Rapid trains in Greater Tokyo area
Ordinary compartmentResort Shirakami
Ordinary class seatAll trains

Gran class seat

The seat of Gran class (C) Asacyan (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Gran class is the highest category of seat in all JR trains. It is like First Class seat on the train in Japan. There are only 18 seats in the car. And the seat layout is 2+1.

  • Leg space – 1,300 mm
  • Width – 520 mm
Gran Class seat on E5 series (C) Sonic Rail Garden

There is an exclusive staff in Gran class car. The light meal is served on board. You can choose Japanese style or western style. The amount of the food is very small. Please do not expect a full size of meal.

Japanese style light meal on board (C) Kurumi1211 [CC BY-SA 4.0], from Wikimedia Commons

Coffee, tea, green tea, pop, juce, beer, Japanese sake and wine are also included. You can drink as much as you can. And the tea snack is served too.

Green class seat

Green seat of 283 series in Hokkaido (C) Sonic Rail Garden

Gran class is the highest category of JR trains’ seats but it is available on the specific trains only. Green class is more common choice for the passenger who wants the higher class seat. Green class seat has more spacious in the leg space than Ordinary class seat. Green class seat has nicer head rest, the leg rest and this seat reclines much deeper than Ordinary class seat. Green class does not offer any meal and/or drink services on board.

Since Green class seat is available on most of limited express trains, the seat size, the leg space and the seat functions are varied by the train.

  • Leg space – 1,100 to 1,200 mm
  • Width – 460 to 490 mm
  • Seat layout – 2+2 or 2+1

2+1 layout is more spacious definitely. I would like to show you some of Green seat.

Green class seat on the Shinkansen

Green class seat of N700 series on the Sanyo Shinkansen and the Kyushu Shinkansen

All Green class seat on the Shinkansen has 2+2 layout and this layout is the standard of the Shinkansen. The Shinkansen train fleet is wider than the trains on the conventional lines. This 2+2 seat layout on the Shinkansen lines offers same amenity as 2+1 seat layout on the conventional trains.

However the Akita Shinkansen and the Yamagata Shinkansen are different. These two Shinkansen train fleets are same width of the conventional trains.

Green class seat of the Akita Shinkansen fleet E6 series.

As you saw the photo above, everything is more narrow than the standard of the Shinkansen. The seat itself is not bad. This seat has lots of the leg space. But the armrest is narrow.

If you take Akita Shinkansen “Komachi” or Yamagata Shinkansen “Tsubasa”, Green class seat is smaller than other Shinkansen trains. Please expect this and do not disappoint.

Green class seat of the limited express train on the conventional lines

The limited express train is the fastest and most comfortable train on the conventional line. This train runs on the route which the Shinkansen does not run. The seat layouts of the limited express trains are 2+2 or 2+1 as I mentioned above.

2+1 seat layout of Green seat of 287 series. This fleet runs in Kansai region as Limited Express Kuroshio, Konotori, and more.

This 2+1 seat layout is very nice and so comfortable. It offers same amenity as 2+2 seat layout on the Shinkansen line.

2+2 seat layout of Green class seat of E353 series. This fleet runs as Limited Express Azusa (C) Toshinori baba (own work) / Wikimedia Commons

Obviously 2+1 looks more spacious. This E353 series runs on Chuo line between Shinjuku and Matsumoto as the Limited Express Azusa. Actually this fleet is one of the newest fleets in all JR train cars.

This difference is caused by the value and the way of thinking of each train companies. JR East and JR Central place more importance on the capacity. Other JR companies place more importance of the comfort.

I would like to show you the major limited express trains which have 2+2 Green class seat layout:

Some of Wide View Hida have 2+1 seat layout Green class car.

Green class seat on the ordinary train

Green class seat of the commuter suburban train

Some local trains have Green class seat. In Greater Tokyo area, the train for suburban area offers Green class seat.

This seat is actually very similar to the limited express train’s Ordinary class seat. The leg space is only 960 mm which is much smaller than Green class seat standard on the limited express train, 1,100 mm to 1,200 mm. However the regular car on the local train is very crowded and it is hard to find the seat in many situation. And the seat is not like this in the regular car.

The commuter train regular car is always like this. It may be even more crowded.

This type Green class seat is available for the commuter who want to avoid the crowded train. Please do not expect the same amenity of other express train’s Green class seat.

DX Green class seat

This Green class is available on 787 series in Kyushu region.

There are only three seats of DX Green in one train set. (C) Sonic Rail Garden

This seat is much bigger than common Green class seat. It is 5 cm wider, 1 cm longer in the depth and 3 cm higher than common Green class seat on 787 series. You recline the seat deeply and it is almost flat. Each seat has two power outlets

Green compartment

Green class seat compartment is available on the Limited Express Super View Odoriko (Shinjuku – Izukyu Shimoda) and JR Kyushu’s 787 series.

Limited Express Super View Odoriko offers a few compartments in Green class car. (C) Sonic Rail Garden
JR Kyushu’s 787 series Green compartment is also called “Salon Space”. (C) Sonic Rail Garden

Most compartments accommodate 4 passengers.

Ordinary class seat

This is most common seat for most travelers.

  • Leg space – 910 to 1,200 mm
  • Width – 440 to 480 mm
  • Seat layout – 2+3 on the Shinkansen or 2+2 on the limited express train on the conventional line

There are also many kinds of Ordinary class seat. However there is no big difference between many Ordinary class seats. Some trains offer better seat on the reserved Ordinary class car.

I like to show you several samples.

Ordinary class seat on the Shinkansen

2+3 seat layout is the standard of Ordinary class seat on most of the Shinkansen line.

Ordinary class seat of N700 series on the Sanyo and the Kyushu Shinkansen lines. This is the standard layout of the Shinkansens’ Ordinary class seat.

The Shinkansen fleet is wider than the trains on conventional trains. This is the reason why the layout is 2+3. You can recline the seat. Green car seat is way better but the ordinary class seat is not a bad choice.

Some Shinkansen trains have 2+2 seat layout. The Akita Shinkansen and the Yamagata Shinkansen have 2+2 seat layout.

The Akita Shinkansen E6 series Ordinary class seat (C) Sonic Rail Garden

These Shinkansen line trains go through the conventional line. The size of the fleet is smaller than the standard Shinkansen fleet size. This is a reason why these Shinkansen fleets have 2+2 seat layout. It does not mean that this 2+2 seat layout is better other Shinkansen 2+3 seat layout. The width of the seats are almost same .

There are several more Shinkansen fleets which have 2+2 seat layout in Ordinary class on the Sanyo and the Kyushu Shinkansen lines. These are better 2+2 seat layout which is different from Ordinary class seat on the Akita Shinkansen and the Yamagata Shinkansen.

The first one is 800 series on Kyushu Shinkansen. All Ordinary class seats are provided by 2+2 seat configuration.

800 series of the Kyushu Shinkansen does not Green class seat. (C) Sonic Rail Garden

And the other one is N700 series, 700 series and 500 series of the Sanyo Shinkansen and the Kyushu Shinkansen. N700 series usually runs as “Mizuho” or “Sakura”. 700 series and 500 series usually runs as Kodama. These series provide 2+2 seat for only RESERVED Ordinary class seat.

Ordinary class seat in reserved car on N700 series (C) Sonic Rail Garden

As you see the photo above, the seat looks Green class seat. If you take a seat in non reserved car, the seat layout is 2+3. If you take Sakura or Mizuho, I highly recommend you to reserve your seat. And Kodama offers 2+2 seat layout in the reserved car. However this seat is offered on Sanyo Shinkansen between Shin-Osaka and Hakata only. Kodama which runs on Tokaido Shinkansen between Tokyo and Shin-Osaka does not offer any 2+2 seat layout. All Ordinary class seats are 2+3.

Ordinary class seat of the limited express train on the conventional line

All Ordinary class seats on the conventional lines’ limited express train are 2+2 seat layout.

If you take a seat on most of economy class seat on the flight, the leg space is around 800 mm. Even the smallest leg space on Ordinary class seat is 910 mm. It is way bigger than the flight economy class seat. My height is 184 cm (6 feet) but I am okay with Ordinary class seat.

What is the difference between Green and Ordinary?

If you are thinking to buy JR Pass, you may be wondering that you should buy Ordinary or Green pass.

The difference is basically amenity and the functions. Green class seat offers bigger leg space. And it offers lots of functions, such as the head rest, the leg rest and recline much deeper than ordinary seat. As I mentioned above, Green class seat does not include any meal services.

Usually Green class seat car is quieter than Ordinary class seat car. I do not mean that Ordinary class seat car is very noisy. But Green class seat is very expensive. Most of family travelers with small child avoid to take Green class seat. Many Green class seat passengers pay for this atmosphere.

And if you use JR Pass Green, you can book a seat on either Green or Ordinary. This gives you a bigger chance to book a seat. Especially if you travel in the busy period, this may be a big advantage. However some trains do not have any Green class seats. Even the train has it, the space may be very limited.

In my opinion, JR Pass Green is very good deal. As long as you can pay for it, you should go for it. But as I mentioned, JR trains’ Ordinary class seat is not a bad choice. If you are very sensitive with your budget, you can go for JR Pass Ordinary. That is not such a bad choice.

Green class of JR Hokkaido trains

Green seat on Super Ozora by 283 series (C) Sonic Rail Garden

If you have a plan to travel in Hokkaido, I recommend to buy Green pass. JR Hokkaido provides you the best service in Japan Railways Group (six companies = JR Hokkaido, JR East, JR Central, JR Shikoku, JR Kyushu).Green class of all JR Hokkaido limited express train give you 2+1 seat configuration. “Twincle Lady” who is an attendant just for Green class on limited express “Hokuto/Super Hokuto” (Hakodate-Sapporo), “Super Tokachi/Super Ozora” (Sapporo-Obihiro/Kushiro) provide you soft drink, new paper (maybe Japanese only), magazine (maybe Japanese only too), blanket and steam hot towel. Twincle lady do not attend on the other limited express train, but the attendant provide you very similar service. (This service was discontinued in March, 2015.)


  1. What are the advantages of buying a green pass rather than an ordinary pass? I plan to travel in October 2017

  2. Fantastic site and so happy you still impart advice!
    So we are trying to figure on which pass to order or if we should order one? (2 adults):
    Sept 6th (Arrival Narita Intl to Tokyo Station)
    Sep 7th (early shinkansen from JR Tokyo station to Mishima)
    Sept 8th (late afternoon/evening train back to JR Tokyo station)
    Sept 9th (Tokyo/metros to Tsukiji & Ginza, Kabukiza Theatre, etc)
    Sept 10th (Tokyo, metros to Ryogoku Kokugikan, etc)
    Sept 11th (Tokyo to Nikko and back to Tokyo)
    Sept 12th (Tokyo to Kyoto)
    Sept 13th (Kyoto)
    Sept 14th (Kyoto to Koyasan)
    Sept 15th (Koyasan to Nara and Nara to Osaka)
    Sept 16th (Osaka)
    Sept 17th (Osaka)
    Sept 18th (Osaka to Narita)

  3. AnnHI says:

    I was initially thinking of getting regional passes but I think getting the National JR Pass will be better since I’ll be visiting Kansai & Kyushu areas.

    Oct26 Arrive late evening KIX. Stay overnight at hotel by airport
    Oct27 Depart early morning from KIX to FUK via a LCC airline; tour around Hakata area
    Oct28 Fukuoka – day trip to Nagasaki, return to Hakata late evening (Ltd. Exp. Kamome both way) Start JR Pass
    Oct29 Fukuoka – Nanzoin & Dazaifu (local trains); back to Hakata and around city
    Oct30 Fukuoka – I’m thinking of half day @ Kumamoto (Shinkansen Sakura or Tsubame) then back to Hakata and around city
    Oct31 Fukuoka/Hakata early Shinkansen Sakura to Okayama (visit Garden & Castle) then Shinkansen Sakura to Himeji (visit Castle & Garden) then JR Rapid Service to Osaka Sta.
    Nov01 Osaka – whole day at USJ
    Nov02 Osaka – day trip to Tottori (Ltd. Exp. Hakuto + fees both way); evening around Umeda or Dotonbori
    Nov03 Osaka – Half day Osaka (Aquarium or Castle or ???); afternoon to Kobe (JR Spec. Rapid Service or JR Kobe Line Rapid Service or Ltd. Exp. Hakuto/Hamakaze) End JR Pass
    Nov04 Osaka – day in Osaka (Airport Limo Bus to KIX between 6-7pm for 11:30p flight home)

    On my previous trip to Japan for 16 nights this past April (Tokyo-Kyoto-Takayama-Kanazawa-Tokyo with side trips to Hiroshima/Miyajima, Nara, Shirakawa-go) I had a 14 day Japan Rail Pass Green and supplemented it with a Suica card and several day bus pass in Kyoto and Kanazawa.

    Am I right in thinking of getting the 7 day JR Pass vs. regional or any other pass combinations that might get me to use other transportation. I’m sure JRPass pays off even if I decide to skip Kumamoto. Also of thinking of upgrading to Green again (I think all the long distance has Green). Should still will pay off or will be close to it. I also have my Suica card from last April. I think I have between 1,000-2,000 yen loaded. Both of my hotels less than 10 min walk from Hakata Sta and Osaka/Umeda Sta.

    Also, Is there any other fees I’m missing with my transportation. I understand there’s additional fees from Osaka to/from Tottori on the Ltd. Exp Hakuto (about 2,200+ yen total for Green rsvd).

    I just want to make sure that the almost US$350 nationwide is better option before I actually purchase it. Or skip the Green and get Ordinary. I liked the Green because all my travels last April was pretty much in an empty or half full Green Car (except for my Wide View Hida from Nagoya to Takayama was full). This was mid to late April (tail end of Cherry Blossoms and 1st day of Golden Week).

    • Takeshi Shimomura, Author of JPRail.com
      Takeshi / JPRail.com says:

      Hi AnnHI,

      As long as you want to use Green, only choice is JR pass. There are other regional passes, such as Kyushu rail pass, Sanyo Sanin area pass but Green pass is not available among these regional passes.

      JR Pass will be paid off in my rough calculation. Additional cost is for taking Super Hakuto and some fares to take subway if you need in Osaka and Hakata. But anyway you can go for JR Pass.

      You can use Suica in Hakata and Osaka. You can add more fund into your Suica in other than Kanto region. You can do it at the stations in Hakata area, Osaka area or other major cities if you need.


      Takeshi / JPRail.com

  4. Dean
    Dean T says:

    Hello! Your website is a great source of information but I’m still confused about the best option for me. Would you be able to give me some advice on what type of ticket is ideal?

    My rough travel plan is for 3 weeks in 2018 (March 23 to April 14).
    1. Land Narita 23/3 and stay for 1 week in Tokyo (and initially likely catch the Narita express in to Tokyo)
    2. Travel to Kyoto 30/3 to 5/4, with a day trip to Nara.
    3. Travel to Osaka 5/4 to 11/4, with a day trip to Hiroshima.
    4. Travel from Osaka to Tokyo 11/4 ( rest of trip ~3 days).

    What rail pass do you recommend – 7, 14 or 21 days?

    Thanks in advance for any assistance you can offer.
    Kind regards,

  5. Christina says:

    Hi Takeshi,

    A friend had recommended me to get the JR pass and I was hoping for a second opinion before I went ahead and invested in one.

    I plan to arrive in Osaka on July 13 and travel to Kyoto the next day and surrounding areas like Nara. Then head to Tokyo for the remaining days and be back in Osaka for the 23 to leave.

  6. Dave says:

    Hi, love your website very informative but I’m still so confused about all these passes. Would you mind helping me. Going from December 20 to Jan 3rd, generally
    1. Land Tokyo and train to Kyoto (1 day migajima, 2 day Kyoto)
    2. Day trip from Kyoto to Hiroshima/miyajima
    3. Train from Kyoto to Osaka (3 days Osaka)
    4. Train from Osaka to Tokyo ( rest of trip ~7 days)
    What rail pass do you recommend? 7days? Or 14 days?

  7. Saman says:

    Hello JR,

    We are traveling to japan in august.
    We har staying in tokyo from the 1. to the 5. Then:
    6. – 8. mt. Fuji
    9. – magome and tusiomago.
    10. – 12. osaka
    13. – 17 kyoto
    18. – 22 hokkaido
    23. Return to tokyo

    Is recommend to buy the japan rail pass?


  8. shirlyn says:

    Hi, I’m planning to travel from Tokyo to Hakone, and also making a trip to Aizu Wakamatsu. Can you kindly advice whether should I buy JR Green or JR Original pass? Thank you very much

  9. Florence says:


    I will be travelling to Japan this June 2017. I will be staying in Tokyo from June 4 to June 9 and my base hotel is in Shinagawa.

    I plan on going to Kyoto on June 9 after checking out of my hotel in Shinagawa. I plan to stay in Kyoto from June 9 to June 10, and will be heading back to Shinagawa on June 10 to catch a flight at Haneda airport.

    Is it worth getting a JR pass if I’m only staying in Tokyo and Kyoto?

  10. Hi ill be travelling to the following city by May-June is JR Pass good enough to use for the following cities?

    29 – 31st May Tokyo
    31 – 1st of June Fuji
    1 – 3 to Osaka then Back to Tokyo on the 3rd

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