We continue moving forward with our expansion through Asia bringing online booking for train tickets in Japan.
You can now book Shinkansen trains from Tokyo to Kyoto, Osaka, Hiroshima and many more tourist destinations through Baolau and get your tickets delivered to your address in Japan for your convenience, ready for boarding.
Types of trains in Japan
Rail services in Japan are provided by Japan Railways (JR) as well as many private railway companies.
Japan Railways (JR) consists of seven independent companies that carry on the operations of the former government-owned Japanese National Railways (JNR). Six of the companies of JR Group are dedicated to operate passenger train services in different regions of Japan: JR Hokkaido, JR East, JR Central, JR West, JR Shikoku, and JR Kyushu. The seventh company, JR Freight, operates freight train services.
The parent company JR Group is in charge of managing the national railway network as well as the ticketing system to guarantee that passengers can travel across different regions of Japan without need of changing trains and purchasing separate tickets.
To achieve this nationwide coverage of the railway transportation, Japan Railways (JR) operates two types of intercity trains:
- Shinkansen, high speed rail
- Zairaisen, conventional rail
Shinkansen or High speed rail
Shinkansen is the high-speed railway operated with trains running at a maximum speed of 240–320 km/h.
Since the Tokaido line was launched in 1964 connecting Tokyo, Nagoya and Osaka, the network has expanded to interconnect most of the major cities in the islands of Honshu, Hokkaido and Kyushu. In the present, the Shinkansen network consists of 2,764 kilometers of dedicated high-speed tracks that use standard-gauge and are separated from the conventional lines that use different gauge.
The main Shinkansen lines are the following:
- Tokaido Shinkansen between Tokyo and Osaka, operated by JR Central
- Sanyo Shinkansen between Osaka and Fukuoka, operated by JR West
- Kyushu Shinkansen between Fukuoka and Kagoshima, operated by JR Kyushu
- Tohoku Shinkansen between Tokyo and Aomori, operated by JR East
- Joetsu Shinkansen between Tokyo and Niigata, operated by JR East
- Hokuriku Shinkansen between Tokyo and Kanazawa, jointly operated by JR East and JR West
- Hokkaido Shinkansen between Aomori and Hakodate, operated by JR Hokkaido
The Tokaido, Sanyo and Kyushu lines are interconnected forming a continuous east-west corridor that links Tokyo, Osaka, Fukuoka and Kagoshima, and in the practice is used by many through train services operated by JR Central, JR West and JR Kyushu.
The Tohoku and Hokkaido lines are also interconnected forming a continuous north-south corridor that links Tokyo and Hakodate, with an extension to Sapporo scheduled to open in 2030.
The Tohoku line and the Tokaido line meet in Tokyo but the tracks are not physically interconnected, hence there are no through services between the East and Central regions and passengers are required to interchange trains at Tokyo Station.
Shinkansen trains are designated by a code name that identifies the class of service followed by one to three numerals. The most popular Shinkansen services are the following:
- Nozomi, the fast service stopping only at key stations; Hikari, the semi-fast service stopping at major stations; and Kodama, the local service stopping at all stations, operate in the Tokaido and Sanyo lines.
- Mizuho, the fast service stopping only at key stations; Sakura, the semi-fast service stopping at major stations; and Tsubame, the local service stopping at all stations, operate in the Sanyo and Kyushu lines.
- Hayabusa, the fast service stopping only at key stations; Yamabiko, the semi-fast service stopping at major stations; and Nasuno, the local service stopping at all stations, operate in the Tohoku line.
- Toki, the semi-fast service stopping at major stations; and Tanigawa, the local service stopping at all stations, operate in the Joetsu line.
- Kagayaki, the fast service stopping only at key stations; Hakutaka and Asama, the two semi-fast services stopping at major stations, operate in the Hokuriku line.
Shinkansen trains are powered by electric multiple units and can carry up to 16 cars per train, arranged in Green cars with business class seats that require advanced reservation and Ordinary cars with standard class seats distributed in Reserved cars and Non-reserved cars.
In total, the Shinkansen trains offer three passengers classes:
- Green Car, Reserved Seat
- Ordinary Car, Reserved Seat
- Ordinary Car, Non-reserved Seat
Travellers with Reserved Seat tickets are required to take their booked seat in the Green cars or Ordinary cars. Travellers with Non-reserved Seat tickets are allowed to take any seat available only in the Ordinary cars designated as Non-reserved. On these cars, seating is on a first-come, first-served basis. When all the seats are full, passengers are required to stand on the corridor or the coach entrance without blocking the access to other passengers.
Zairaisen or Conventional rail
Besides high-speed rail, JR Group operates many intercity and regional lines with trains running on conventional rail at a maximum speed of 130-160 km/h.
Given the limited coverage of the Shinkansen trains, passengers may need to use conventional trains to reach certain regions of Japan or to travel directly between two cities.
Conventional rail services are classified depending on the stop pattern:
- Limited Express is the fastest service and it usually complements the routes not covered by Shinkansen
- Express is a semi-fast service stopping at major stations
- Rapid is a fast service stopping at most stations
- Local is a slow service stopping at all stations
When travelling on conventional rail, the base fare ticket depends on the travel distance and it is the same for all the trains regardless of the number of stops or transfers.
Limited Express and Express trains, however, require an additional ticket for Reserve Seat or Non-reserved Seat, which is purchased separately from the base fare ticket and is inspected by the train conductor on board.
Getting around Japan by train
Japan has 27,268 kilometres of railway network, which includes 2,764 kilometres of Shinkansen lines.
We support advance ticket booking for the Tokaido Shinkansen, the Sanyo Shinkansen and the Kyushu Shinkansen lines. Ticket sale for Shinkansen trains is available from 1 month in advance.
The Tokaido Shinkansen stretches between Tokyo and Osaka and provides access to the following stations:
- Tokyo and Shinagawa, serving Tokyo
- Shin-Yokohama, serving Yokohama
- Shin-Fuji and Shizuoka, serving Shizuoka
- Shin-Osaka, serving Osaka
The Sanyo Shinkansen stretches between Osaka and Fukuoka and provides access to the following stations:
- Shin-Osaka, serving Osaka
- Shin-Kobe, serving Kobe
- Shin-Iwakuni and Shin-Yamaguchi, serving Yamaguchi
- Kokura, serving Kitakyushu
- Hakata, serving Fukuoka
The Kyushu Shinkansen stretches between Fukuoka and Kagoshima and provides access to the following stations:
- Hakata, serving Fukuoka
- Kagoshima-Chuo, serving Kagoshima
The through services operated by JR Central, JR West and JR Kyushu allow passengers to travel between stations of the Tokaido, Sanyo and Kyushu lines without changing trains.
Kanto region comprises Gunma, Tochigi, Ibaraki, Saitama, Tokyo, Chiba and Kanagawa prefectures. This region is served by the Tohoku, the Joetsu and the Tokaido lines.
Train routes to Tokyo
Chubu region comprises Aichi, Fukui, Gifu, Ishikawa, Nagano, Niigata, Shizuoka, Toyama and Yamanashi prefectures. This region is served by the Tokaido and the Hokuriku lines.
Train routes to Shizuoka
- Tokyo to Shizuoka and Fuji
- Nagoya to Shizuoka and Fuji
- Kyoto to Shizuoka and Fuji
- Osaka to Shizuoka and Fuji
Train routes to Nagoya
- Tokyo to Nagoya
- Kyoto to Nagoya
- Osaka to Nagoya
- Kobe to Nagoya
- Hiroshima to Nagoya
- Fukuoka to Nagoya
Kansai region comprises Mie, Nara, Wakayama, Kyoto, Osaka, Hyogo and Shiga prefectures. This region is served by the Tokaido and the Sanyo lines.
Train routes to Kyoto
Train routes to Osaka
Train routes to Kobe
Train routes to Himeji
- Tokyo to Himeji
- Nagoya to Himeji
- Kyoto to Himeji
- Osaka to Himeji
- Hiroshima to Himeji
- Fukuoka to Himeji
Chugoku region comprises Okayama, Hiroshima, Yamaguchi, Shimane and Tottori prefectures. This region is served by the Sanyo line.
Train routes to Hiroshima
- Tokyo to Hiroshima
- Nagoya to Hiroshima
- Kyoto to Hiroshima
- Osaka to Hiroshima
- Kobe to Hiroshima
- Fukuoka to Hiroshima
Train routes to Yamaguchi
- Tokyo to Yamaguchi and Iwakuni
- Nagoya to Yamaguchi and Iwakuni
- Kyoto to Yamaguchi and Iwakuni
- Osaka to Yamaguchi and Iwakuni
- Hiroshima to Yamaguchi and Iwakuni
- Fukuoka to Yamaguchi and Iwakuni
Kyushu is the third largest of Japan’s five main islands and is served by the Sanyo and the Kyushu lines.
Train routes to Fukuoka
- Tokyo to Fukuoka
- Nagoya to Fukuoka
- Kyoto to Fukuoka
- Osaka to Fukuoka
- Kobe to Fukuoka
- Hiroshima to Fukuoka
Train routes to Kumamoto
Train routes to Kagoshima
- Osaka to Kagoshima
- Kobe to Kagoshima
- Hiroshima to Kagoshima
- Fukuoka to Kagoshima
- Kumamoto to Kagoshima
How to book train tickets in Japan
Booking your train tickets in Japan is very quick and simple. Search for train routes between any two cities for your travel dates.
Select your route
After search, we will display the results for your itinerary.
Find the train services operated by Japan Railways (JR) available for your itinerary and select the most convenient option.
We accept reservations from 1 month in advance up to 5 days before the departure date. For departures in less than 5 days, tickets must be reserved directly at the station.
Click to expand the details of the route, you will find the available fares. Japan Railways (JR) offers various types of fares for Shinkansen trains:
- Green Car, Reserved Seat, arranged in 2+2 row configuration
- Ordinary Car, Reserved Seat, arranged in 3+2 row configuration
- Ordinary Car, Non-reserved Seat, does not require seat selection
Fill in the passenger, contact and delivery details
Next, provide the passenger(s) information and indicate your seat preference.
Baolau currently does not support seat selection for JR trains but you can indicate your preference during the reservation process and we will consider your request depending on the availability.
Don’t forget to provide the contact details of the person responsible for booking. We will send the booking confirmation by email.
Also, provide the address in Japan where you wish to receive the tickets. Our team will send the physical tickets to your hotel or your workplace via post mail so you are ready for boarding.
Complete your payment
Select your payment method. We accept international credit or debit cards and Alipay.
Check your itinerary and price breakdown. Confirm that the booking information is correct. Before you proceed to payment, you must read and accept the terms and conditions of booking.
Receive your tickets by post mail
Once your payment is complete, your reservation will be processed.
In the following 24 hours you will receive the itinerary and booking confirmation by email. The tickets for the JR train will be issued 4 days before the expected delivery date indicated during the reservation process, in case you wish to make any change or cancellation, and once issued you will receive the physical tickets by post mail at the address indicated in Japan.
Please note that the ticket confirmation received by email is not a valid boarding pass and it cannot be used to board the train or to collect the tickets at the railway station. Passengers must use the physical tickets received by post mail to enter and exit the train platforms through the automated ticket gates.
Passengers may also be required to present the physical tickets to the train conductor on board during the journey.