Shinkansen reservation required?

  • Shinkansen reservation required?

    Posted by Elkins0326 on June 15, 2024 at 11:44 pm

    Hi, I am trying to get to Osaka from Kyoto. Is it required to have a reservation for wheelchair or can you just purchase a non reservation ticket?

    Elkins0326 replied 4 weeks ago 5 Members · 8 Replies
  • 8 Replies
  • Joan Pahisa

    June 16, 2024 at 12:21 am

    Hi Elkin,

    I have always reserved a wheelchair seat for the Shinkansen, though you may be able to get a non-reserved seat and stay at the deck between cars. I was going to try that the next time, but didn’t have the chance.

    Can you board on your own? If you don’t need the assistance, it should be fine. If you need it, they may refuse. I would tell them that you would stay in the deck, “dekki” in Japanese.

    From Kyoto to Osaka, though, there are cheaper options that don’t take that long. From Kyoto station you can get to Umeda in Osaka with the JR Haruka (36 minutes) or with slower lines like the Tokaido Sanyo. From other places in Kyoto you can take the Hankyu lines or the Keihan lines.

    Reserving a wheelchair seat takes a long time and needs to be done in person, so I totally understand why you don’t want to do it for such a short trip.

    If you try it, let us know.

    • Elkins0326

      June 16, 2024 at 12:45 am

      Thank you for that information! I am traveling with family and have help getting on and off transportation. I saw that Haruka was an option on Google maps, but couldn’t tell if it had the same reservation/ticket purchasing procedures as the shinkansen. Knowing that is an option is a big help.

    • Elkins0326

      June 18, 2024 at 12:51 pm

      We successfully made it to Osaka with no issues. I did not realize that some of the Tokaido Sanyo lines or Haruka express trains were just JR trains. So I was worried I needed a reservation. We successfully maneuvered where we needed to go. Thank you

  • Tony

    June 16, 2024 at 3:11 am

    I booked a reserved wheelchair seat recently. It took my son an hour in person to do this. So, I recommend trying the other train.

  • Tak

    June 16, 2024 at 10:56 am


    Are you already staying in Kyoto?

    Regarding traveling from Kyoto to Osaka, it is not necessary to use the Shinkansen or Haruka. You can also go by local train.

    Since Shinkansen platforms are located in high places, local trains are often less difficult.

    There are also many options depending on where you are staying.

    Once we know more about your situation, we will be able to give you more specific advice.

    However…Japanese trains are very crowded.

    As Mr. Pahisa wrote, you can also choose Hankyu Line or Keihan Line. No special reservations are required for them, including JR Local. For example, if you take JR Local, you can go to Osaka in about 30 minutes by using Shin-kaisoku (Rapid). As Tony Mr. wrote, special train reservations take a lot of time, but only when booking Shinkansen trains.

    The reason is that “Shinkansen management companies are divided in a complicated manner.” Haruka only manages JR-WEST, but the Shinkansen is different…

    Tony…I’m sorry it takes up so much of your time.


    • Elkins0326

      June 18, 2024 at 12:53 pm

      Thank you! We were already staying in Kyoto. On Google maps, I wasn’t able to decipher Shinkansen from some of the regular JR rapid lines. That’s where my confusion came from. But we successfully navigated through it after the replies here explaining the difference. 😊

  • Kathie

    June 18, 2024 at 1:13 am

    We travelled from Yokohama to Kyoto on the Shinkansen in April 2024. We were fortunate that we had someone in Japan book our ticket ahead of time. They reserved the “utiliity” room for us and it was amazing. In my opinion is was worth the money and part of the experience in Japan to take the Shinkansen. Below is a photo of the “utility” room. If you can transfer to a regular seat there is also a location to put your wheelchair. There was no extra charge for the utility room.

    • Elkins0326

      June 18, 2024 at 1:00 pm

      Thank you for that information. We did take the Shinkansen from Tokyo to Kyoto and are currently on it as I respond heading back to Tokyo. I did see that the multipurpose room was an option and also read somewhere that it is also used by nursing moms or families with small babies. I didn’t want to take it away from any other people so we just booked the seat on the accessible car with space for a wheelchair. However, I agree with everyone it does take time to make the reservation in person. Some staff are more knowledgeable about the wheelchair needs than others which also contributed to time and whether communication is an issue or not as well. I tried to book it before our trip, but the smartex site was not working for me. We’re just happy things have been as smooth as it has been so far though finding the right elevators to go up and down at each station has been a little 👎. But we’re managing considering we come from a place that doesn’t rely heavily on public transportation like trains and buses.

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