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Travelling by Shinkansen during Obon 2018

Jakarta, Indonesia
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20 posts
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Travelling by Shinkansen during Obon 2018

Hello

I planned to visit Japan at 10th-18th August, but I didn't know that those date coincide with Obon season. The problem is that I've heard that Shinkansen trains are very crowded and fully booked on those dates, and I'm planning to travel to Nikko and Kyoto from Tokyo by Shinkansen. Here is my travel date plan:

- 13th August to Nikko (Shinkansen stop at Utsunomiya), round trip

- 14th to Kyoto

- 17th back to Tokyo

I am planning to use JR Pass for 7 days at that time. Can I reserve the Shinkansen seats before activating my JR Pass? If I can't, is there any chance to get seats for above dates on Sunday (12th August)?

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Nikko
Nikko
Tochigi Prefecture, Japan
Kyoto
Kyoto
Kyoto Prefecture, Japan
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7 replies to this topic
Kobe, Japan
14 posts
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1. Re: Travelling by Shinkansen during Obon 2018

If your main destination is Kyoto, you should consider flying to Kansai Airport instead of Narita or Haneda.

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Hotel Kansai
Hotel Kansai
363 Reviews
Osaka, Japan
Narita
Narita
Chiba Prefecture, Japan
Jakarta, Indonesia
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2. Re: Travelling by Shinkansen during Obon 2018

We have already booked the airplane ticket to Narita months ago, since we will spend around 5 days in Tokyo+Nikko, and the rest of it in Kyoto+Osaka before going back to Tokyo.

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Narita
Narita
Chiba Prefecture, Japan
Tokyo
Tokyo
Tokyo Prefecture, Japan
Nikko
Nikko
Tochigi Prefecture, Japan
Kyoto
Kyoto
Kyoto Prefecture, Japan
Osaka
Osaka
Osaka Prefecture, Japan
Philadelphia...
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3. Re: Travelling by Shinkansen during Obon 2018

Welcome to Japan Forums!

According to this, the busiest days will be August 11-12 and 15-16. https://www.japan-guide.com/e/e2286.html

You cannot make reservations from outside Japan if using a JR Pass for Tokyo-Kyoto. You can make the reservation as soon as you get to Japan, when you exchange your voucher for your pass (you specify the date that the pass should begin when you make the exchange).

For Tokyo-Utsunomiya, you can make the reservation in advance, but you must pick up your ticket before the travel day: https:/… I do not know if it will be necessary for your trip.

If you do not use a JR Pass you can use a phone app to make advance reservations for Tokyo-Kyoto: https://smart-ex.jp/en/

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Tokyo
Tokyo
Tokyo Prefecture, Japan
Kyoto
Kyoto
Kyoto Prefecture, Japan
Utsunomiya
Utsunomiya
Tochigi Prefecture, Japan
Melbourne, Australia
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4. Re: Travelling by Shinkansen during Obon 2018

When you exchange your order for a JR Pass you can reserve tickets then, even if the pass isn't actually active for a couple of days. Book tickets when you arrive if you can, otherwise all of those shinkansens have unreserved seats, so with your pass you can just go to the platform and line up at the unreserved cars (though you may be waiting awhile in the line if it's a busy day).

Jakarta, Indonesia
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5. Re: Travelling by Shinkansen during Obon 2018

@RogerR-Phila

Thank you! So it is still safe to arrange the reservation on 10th (arrival at Narita) for those travel date (13th, 14th, and 17th)? I actually don't mind getting unreserved seat for Tokyo-Kyoto and return, but I think it is better to get the reserved ones. The problem is Tokyo-Utsunomiya train. I've read that Tohoku trains do not have unreserved seat, so we have to reserve before 13th August.

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Narita
Narita
Chiba Prefecture, Japan
Tokyo
Tokyo
Tokyo Prefecture, Japan
Kyoto
Kyoto
Kyoto Prefecture, Japan
Utsunomiya
Utsunomiya
Tochigi Prefecture, Japan
Tohoku
Tohoku
Japan
Melbourne, Australia
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6. Re: Travelling by Shinkansen during Obon 2018

The Yamabiko, Nasuno and Tsubasa shinkansens have unreserved cars, so you can ride those between Tokyo and Utsunomiya. The Hayate and Hayabusa both need reserved tickets.

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Yamabiko
Yamabiko
20 Reviews
Gero, Japan
Tokyo
Tokyo
Tokyo Prefecture, Japan
Utsunomiya
Utsunomiya
Tochigi Prefecture, Japan
Philadelphia...
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7. Re: Travelling by Shinkansen during Obon 2018

No, I do not know if it's still safe to make reservations on the 10th! I have no personal knowledge.

Note that the unreserved seats can fill and leave you standing! I've had to stand from Utsunomiya to Tokyo. You might as well get advance reservations for that part of your trip.

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Utsunomiya
Utsunomiya
Tochigi Prefecture, Japan
Tokyo
Tokyo
Tokyo Prefecture, Japan
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