Shinkansen, differences in Reserved and Non-reserved Seats

In relation to a Japan Guide article about shinkansen seats, while all purchased green-sha seats are reserved accordingly for individual guests, in ordinary seats individual travelers can choose to sit in the non-reserved sections of the bullet train, on shinkansens that offer them. The Tohoku Shinkansen and Hokkaido's Hayabusa, Hayate and Komachi passenger transports as well as the Hokuriku Shinkansen named Kagayaki do not provide non-reserved seats. In contrast, all shinkansens provide a reserved seating. 

A subduing colored manner from shinkansen's reserved seats. Photo by: Flickr@Andrew Smith

A subduing colored manner from shinkansen's reserved seats. Photo by: Flickr@Andrew Smith

For Futsusha seats or ordinary cars, customers can often choose to purchase a reserved or non-reserved seat. 

Non-reserved Seats (Jiyuseki)

Conforming to a Japan Talk column about Shinkansen seats, Jiyuseki are under a first come, first choice policy meaning that whoever occupies a seat first through the time which one would reside on the seat is considered to sit through that particular spot until arriving at one's destination point. 

People traveling in groups may not be able to sit together when using the jiyuseki during peaking shinkansen seasons when the demand for the bullet trains are high. Also, during these times of high seasons, such as holidays (Obon, Golden Week, Silver Week, Oumisoka [Japanese new years], Sanrenkyu [Three day weekend], etc.) Jiyuseki voyagers may want to prepare for the crowded line while passengers wait to board the bullet trains. 

Photo of the jiyuseki front by a passenger, where the guest mentions that the nonreserved seat was sold out for purchase due to its high demand on this particular train ride. Photo by: Flickr@Masaaki Komori

Photo of the jiyuseki front by a passenger, where the guest mentions that the nonreserved seat was sold out for purchase due to its high demand on this particular train ride. Photo by: Flickr@Masaaki Komori

Non-reserved seats cost less than the reserved seat. For instance, on the Nozomi Shinkansen for the Tokaido/Sanyo Shinkansen lines, train journeyers going from Shinagawa to Kyoto, at the total expedition time of around 2 hours, would pay a basic fare of 8,210 yen which is considered to be the price of a futsusha carrier. An additional charge of 5,700 yen would be added if one gets a ticket for the reserved section of the Nozomi Shinkansen, on the same trip prior, totaling up to the price of 13,910 yen. 

A unique seat design from the seat's reverse view by Tsubame Shinkansen, directed by the Kyushu Railway Company. Photo by:Flickr@POHAN CHEN 

A unique seat design from the seat's reverse view by Tsubame Shinkansen, directed by the Kyushu Railway Company. Photo by:Flickr@POHAN CHEN 

Reserved Seats (Shiteiseki)

Shiteiseki are often more calming than the non-reserved areas. While both reserved and non-reserved seatings offer soft seats and a luggage storage area, where one may place their luggage(s), there are much less contenders wanting to place their respective baggage(s) in shiteiseki locations. 

Reserved seats are predetermined as each attending guests for the trip must occupy their designated areas. 

These seats also cost more then non-reserved seats. For example, for the Hikari and Kodama shinkansen traveling on the Tokaido/Sanyo Shinkansen lines, a trip from Tokyo to Shin-yokohama cost are the added amount from the basic fee of 500 yen & the surcharge of the reserved seat's super-express of 860 yen finalizing the price to be 1,360 yen for a reserved seat ticket (at distance of 28.8 km). From Tokyo to Nagoya at the stretch of 366 km cost a total of 6,260 yen for a non-reserved ticket, but if one were to purchase a reserved seat, the customer would be paying 10,880 yen for the same trip. 

Some reserved seats can even turn around at the opposite direction from the original direction for family travelers etc. Photo by: Flickr@kyler kwock

Some reserved seats can even turn around at the opposite direction from the original direction for family travelers etc. Photo by: Flickr@kyler kwock

*Seat reservations for designated seats charge more than non-reserved seats, and yet Japan Rail Pass users can make reservations for free. JR Pass holders can get their tickets at the "Midori no Mado Guchi" ticket offices, these ticket offices are characterized by a green sign, located at respective train stations. 

*The basic seat fee is determined by seasons, or by the volume of people using the bullet train, which makes the fees vary from 320, 520, 720 yen.

*The shinkansen fees are determined by the distance traveled and other surcharges that may be included depending on the type of seating purchased etc.