Buy Japan Rail Tickets in Advance

shinkansen local train local train

Note: We are introducing this service for people to buy Japan train tickets as we believe it will be valuable for some people that are visiting Japan.

For many visitors to Japan the Japan Rail Pass provides a great way to explore the country as it allows travel on the bullet train, express and local trains for the duration of the pass.  However, the rail pass does not suit everyone as it does take time to organise, exchange and use.  Sometimes, especially for busy travel periods, you might simply want to secure tickets in advance to be sure you do not miss out on a seat. 

Japan online train booking or booking direct with Japan Rail is occasionally not a practical option.  Here at Japan Custom Tours we know there are services available on the internet that allow you to buying shinkansen tickets in advance and have them sent to your hotel in Japan or to your address overseas.  The process is simple and adds a fee per ticket.  However, in our view the fees that we have seen these other companies charge (around JPY3,000/US$30 per ticket) would be fine for one ticket, but when you are buying for more than one person, or buying round-trip tickets, the fees mount up pretty quickly.  We want to offer an alternative.

To be clear, most people visiting Japan can buy tickets directly and that is cheaper than having us buying tickets on your behalf.  Our service is for people that choose not to stand in line or want to secure seats ahead of time.  It is not the cheapest way to get tickets for the JR trains, but it is also not the most expensive either. 

Ticket Pricing

The actual cost of the tickets that we purchase will be the price charged to us by Japan Rail.  We will charge a service fee on top of the ticket price on the following basis: 

For the first ticket, JPY3,000.  For each subsequent ticket, JPY1,500.

For postage to your accommodation/hotel in Japan, free.  For courier to your address overseas via JapanPost Express Mail Service is around JPY2,000.

A "ticket" refers to an individual journey that may have several segments.  The majority of the fee will be consumed by the margins charged by PayPal and credit card companies. 

How to Buy

Orders for ticket purchases need to be made more than seven days in advance.  Email us at with your ticket request.  This needs to include

We will calculate the total cost and and determine the train scheduling based on your request.  We will advise you by return email of the total cost, or if there are problems with the proposed schedule.  

We can accept payments via PayPal and once payment is received, we will purchase the tickets.  Tickets can be purchased one-month in advance, so if you order more than one month in advance, the actual purchase will not be made at that time.  Once the tickets are purchased they will be sent to your nominated address.  If for some reason we are unable to secure the tickets as agreed, we will refund your payment.

Example Pricing

The pricing in the following examples are from Hyperdia, an online route planning tool.  With public information, the pricing is very transparent.

Request #1: Tokyo to Kyoto and then Kyoto to Hiroshima (on a different day), reserved shinkansen seating for two people, delivery to a hotel in Japan.

This is two segments for two people. 

Request #2: Tokyo to Kanazawa and then Kanazawa to Hiroshima (on a different day), reserved shinkansen seating for one person, delivery to an address in England.

From Kanazawa the journey is on the Thunderbird express train with a transfer at Shin-Osaka to the shinkansen.  Even with Kanazawa to Hiroshima requiring two trains with a transfer at Shin-Osaka, it is still a single ticket.  Therefore, a total of two tickets for one person. 

How We Buy - Our Tokyo Base

As part of our regular tour business we buy a lot of rail tickets, do schedule planning and actually travel the country.  We are familiar with the issues people might encounter and build in appropriate transfer times and can choose travel options that might not be offered by the route planning tools.  We are also familiar with the time taken to actually buy tickets, standing in line at ticket offices and we will physically visit our local station to buy the tickets before sending them to you.

While our main tour business is registered in New Zealand, we also operate a Japan company registered in Japan and we are physically based in Tokyo.   We run our two websites side-by-side with the same content, but for historical reasons we have ".nz" email addresses.