Once you have transformed your Exchange Order into your Japan Rail Pass you may now start reserving seats for your travel. Many people choose to reserve seats at the same time as transforming their Exchange Orders into the JR Pass.
How to get a seat reservation:
Japan Rail Pass holders can reserve seats on the bullet train for free. They simply have to look for a JR Pass ticket office (Midori no Mado Guchi), Seat reservation machine or a JR-affiliated travel centre to make the reservations. Be aware that this can only be done once you are already in Japan, as only the JR East trains have an online seat reservation system.
At the Midori no Mado Guchi, present your Japan Rail Pass and inform them which train you want to get a reservation on and whether you wish to be in a non-smoking or smoking carriage. They will then provide you with a ticket that indicates your train name and number, carriage number, row number, seat number, departure time, and arrival time.
NEW: How to book a seat reservation via the new seat reservation machines:
You can now book your seats via the reserved seat ticket machine located at JR stations with your JAPAN RAIL PASS. This makes it easier and you don’t need to line up at the “Midori-no-madoguchi” (ticket office). Please note, some JR stations do not have a reserved seat ticket machine so you may need to use the ticket offices there.
1. Scan the QR code on your JAPAN RAIL PASS with the reader on the reserved seat ticket machine (or input the reservation number written on the PASS), and input your passport number.
2. Input the travel section, date and time, etc., and select the train and facilities.
3. Check the inputs, and if everything is correct, issue the ticket.
Reserved seat tickets can be booked and issued for most of the trains that can be used with a JAPAN RAIL PASS. However, reserved seats may not be booked when they cannot actually be used, such as booking reserved seats for the same time on different trains.
How to read your seat reservation:
When to reserve a seat:
Seat reservations can be made even just a few minutes before a train departs. However, at certain times of the year when there are national holidays being observed, such as the New Year, Obon, or Golden Week, it is advised that you reserve a seat at least three days before your intended travel date.
Those travelling in a group who wish to get seats next to, or close to each other, are urged to make reservations at the start of their trip. You can input your itinerary into Hyperdia and print out the results to make it easier for JR ticket office staff to reserve seats for your whole group.