Preparation for JR Train at Kansai Airport (Japan Winter 2017 – Part 1)

Look who greeted us at Kansai Int’l Airport!

One very important thing to do is to exchange the JR-Pass purchase ticket with the JR-Pass Booklet in JR office. Note that JR-Pass Booklet is the one recognized by JR officers. Items needed for the exchange:

  1. JR-Pass purchase ticket(s)
  2. Passport (all passports are needed, though only one person needed to represent a group)

After the exchange, the officer immediately made a reservation to take JR train “Hikari” to Kyoto/Osaka. Then, with JR-Pass Booklets and Reservation tickets. We headed to JR train station. 

Since we had JR-Pass, entering the station was not through the gate with machine, instead, it would be through the gate with officer, which is always located either at the right-most gate or the left-most gate. we just needed to show the JR-Booklet to get in. 

Would suggest keeping the JR-Booklet and Reservation-ticket somewhere/pocket, which is easily accessible. Not only it is to pass the gate-officer efficiently, but also in the case when the officer does double-check for JR ticket/booklet/reservation-ticket on-board the train.

At the station, look at the black notice board to find the platform for Hikari train.  At first we were confused to see so many Hikari trains listed on the board. We matched the departure time and found the one we needed.  

Don’t forget to check the reservation ticket to find the Car Number (is actually the cabin number) and the Seat Number. 

Then we waited at the position of the number stated as the Car Number. When the train arrived, we were off to Kyoto station.

From there, we first learnt the basic how-to in taking JR train. this is consistent for any other JR train ride, though some of them will be more complicated, especially when shinkansen is involved.

Another important thing to learn is about Reservation. Why we need reservation?

We would suggest making reservation ideally at least 2 days before taking a JR train/shinkansen to another city. Just find the JR office with this name “JR全線きっぷうりば” and tell the officer to make the reservation. Note that reservation can also be made for trip not departing from the city of the office. e.g. in Kyoto JR office, not only the reservation can be made for trip from Kyoto to Tokyo,  but also can make reservation for trip from Tokyo to Hokkaido. Unfortunately, reservation can only be made using the JR-Booklet.

It is common sense that we make reservation to have guaranteed seats. However, sometimes we thought that JR train is so long, thus the chance of us getting seats together is quite high. But NO! It does not work that way. How it work is that, the long JR train is already divided into few sets of cabins (or the call it Cars). There are reserved Cars and non-reserved Cars. Only those with reservation can on-board reserved Cars, vice versa. I have no idea how they allocate the Cars, but sometimes, there are only 1 or 2 non-reserved Cars. So I can see that those groups who don’t reserve seat have to share seat with others, while the group with seat reservation  sometimes have a whole Car for themselves. 

So, remember to make reservation whenever possible before taking JR train to another city.

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