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Japan Rail Pass - Green with family and kids?

Japan Rail Pass - Green with family and kids?

Old Apr 20, 15, 10:52 am
  #1  
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Japan Rail Pass - Green with family and kids?

We are interested in going from Tokyo - Nagoya - Osaka - Kyoto - Hiroshima - Tokyo, or thereabouts. We are interested in paying extra for the green car rail pass for the added comfort and convenience in booking. The cost differential is not a concern.

We will be 2 families (western background), 4 adults, 2 ten year olds, 2 seven year olds, and a 2 year old. While I expect that the 10 and 7 year olds will be "controllable", we would deem this by Western standards. The 2 year old could be unpredictable. We should have considerable luggage.

How tolerant would the situation be in a green car (I travel business class on planes and have had my share of crying infants who generally go uncommented) in Japan? Any additional thoughts and concerns?

Thanks.
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Old Apr 20, 15, 11:12 am
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You're travelling en masse, so I doubt anyone is going to confront you. You may get some scowls if the older kids are unruly, but I think the other passengers will realize they must just grin and bear it if the 2 year old plays up.

There are "mutli-purpose rooms" on some trains that you might want to use in the event of an extreme tantrum. I'm not sure what you'll find in there. Perhaps just a diaper changing space? Perhaps some of the regulars here are better acquainted with the facilities.

One big merit to having a green pass is that the elevators at stations tend to be situated close to where the Green cars stop. So you'll have an easier time with strollers etc.
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Old Apr 20, 15, 11:24 am
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Thank you. We will be traveling with iPads for each child. The universal pacifier.

My 2 boys have been flying international first and business literally almost since birth. And I have never recalled one situation even at a young age where they were an issue to other passengers and staff.

But in a group of 4, there is that additional dynamic. We can always separate the kids, and they are really well behaved, especially if threatened with consequences.
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Old Apr 20, 15, 11:42 am
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Possible situation will be the chance of all your traveling group not able to sit together. Green car is reserved seat with seat assignment at the time of ticket is issued. Using JR pass means you will not able to reserve the JR ticket till you arrive at Japan, which is likely starting date of your trip. I think getting 10 seats together may become little difficult.

For purchasing regular JR tickets, tickets are sold from one month before the date. However, for group travel of 8 or more get 10% or more discount (depends on number of people in a group) and accepts reservation (actual ticket issue is from one months before the travel) from 9 months in advance, such will assure that group will get seats together.

Above is not applicable if traveling using JR pass. Shinkansen (bullet train) Hikari consists from 16 cars and out of 3 cars are Green Car. I think it is possible that your group will be spread apart, even spread among different train cars.

Yes, when passing through Green Car it is that obvious that Green Car is quieter than regular car. Green Car is not allowed on business travel for non-managers at most places of work in Japan, and there is no such thing as frequent rider upgrade, so especially on Green Car between Tokyo and Osaka tend to be heavier with manager and celebrity type.

Will add one more thing. Green Car seating is 2-2 across, and seats can be turned around to face back. This will allow to make block of four seats facing each other if you able to get two consecutive rows of seats together. However, Green Car seats recline deeper than regular car seats. When somebody turn around seat to face back to make four seats facing each other, then the seat facing the back of turned around seats will not able to fully recline, some may consider that little inconsiderate. I am not sure how many Japanese passengers will voice that to other passengers especially if other passengers are foreigners do not speak Japanese.

Last edited by AlwaysAisle; Apr 20, 15 at 12:03 pm
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Old Apr 20, 15, 12:17 pm
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You may want to split your larger bags into 2-3 bags after you arrive. Send one set to Nagoya and another to Osaka/Kyoto from Tokyo via takkyubin
http://www.japan-guide.com/e/e2278.html

You can probably store the stroller behind the seats at the back but shouldn't count on considerable luggage space on a shinkansen
http://www.japan-guide.com/g3/2018_lastrow.jpg
http://jprail.com/travel-information...e-station.html

Last edited by freecia; Apr 20, 15 at 12:22 pm
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Old Apr 20, 15, 1:09 pm
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Agree with the above. 9 people, including 5 kids, and "considerable" luggage in the green car of the shinkansen sounds like an unpleasant scenario - for everyone else. At least plan on using the luggage forwarding service from hotel to hotel to cut down on the quantity of dunnage you will be cramming into the very limited space behind the last row of seats on the train. That is how the Japanese travelers usually do it. The shinkansen rail cars are not even equipped with under-car baggage holds as you might find on Amtrak or some other rail services. The over-seat racks will accommodate moderate sized bags but larger ones will be a problem.

I also have to wonder if the 2+3 seating in the regular reserved cars might work better in this case than the 2+2 of the green car, which isn't really designed with larger families in mind.
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Old Apr 20, 15, 1:33 pm
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I usually travel in green cars on the shinkansen - whenever I do, they are always far emptier than the regular cars, so I don't think sitting together will be much of a problem. You can always just choose a train with seats available together - you're not forced to take one train or another and the ticket counter clerk will tell you what's available.

Japanese kids, while as unpredictable as anywhere else, tend to be generally better behaved than western kids in my experience, even from a young age. And if they do start to cause a ruckus, one parent will generally remove the child from the situation until he/she calms down. So I think that would be the expectation (especially in a green car), whereas in the west both many parents and a lot of passengers would have a "oh, they're kids, what are you gonna do?" attitude. If you're actually conscientious about it, I don't think it would be a problem. But it might be a lot of "work" for you.

The luggage might be more of a problem. I agree with others about sending some bags ahead. There's only really luggage storage behind the seats at the end of the car, and there's really only storage for four bags there for the entire car. You might get lucky and nobody else will have big bags (often Japanese travel light on this route), but it's a crap shoot. I'd suggest sending the big bags ahead and keeping some airliner carry-on size roller bags with you that will fit in the overhead rack.
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Old Apr 20, 15, 4:48 pm
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Originally Posted by AlwaysAisle View Post
Possible situation will be the chance of all your traveling group not able to sit together. Green car is reserved seat with seat assignment at the time of ticket is issued. Using JR pass means you will not able to reserve the JR ticket till you arrive at Japan, which is likely starting date of your trip. I think getting 10 seats together may become little difficult.

For purchasing regular JR tickets, tickets are sold from one month before the date. However, for group travel of 8 or more get 10% or more discount (depends on number of people in a group) and accepts reservation (actual ticket issue is from one months before the travel) from 9 months in advance, such will assure that group will get seats together.
You do get free reservations with a JR Pass, and since the Shinkansen trains run so frequently, you should be able to find a train with open seats in the desired configuration unless you are traveling during a peak season.

One thing you will notice is that Japanese crowds tend to be quieter than crowds in many other countries. You will want to caution your children to use their "inside voices" at all times in Japan.
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Old Apr 20, 15, 5:52 pm
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The Sakura trains between Shin-Osaka and Hiroshima only have a small amount of green car seating (1/2 car only).

I have had difficulty sometimes even getting a few green car seats...getting 9 at once will be a challenge, and they certainly will not be in a solid group.
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Old Apr 21, 15, 1:34 am
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Originally Posted by mapleg View Post
The Sakura trains between Shin-Osaka and Hiroshima only have a small amount of green car seating (1/2 car only).

I have had difficulty sometimes even getting a few green car seats...getting 9 at once will be a challenge, and they certainly will not be in a solid group.
I haven't had a problem getting two green car seats on the Sakura, but yeah, nine seats might be a problem. Still, on the Sakura regular reserve seating isn't much different from green car seating. The decor of the cars is just a little different. (And they probably don't pass through with the snack cart quite as often.)

You don't *have to* get a green car with a green car pass. Easiest thing is to take a Hikari green car to Shin-Osaka, then switch to regular reserved on the Sakura to Hiroshima.
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Old Apr 21, 15, 10:40 am
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Follow on question regarding luggage. If we changed from 2 large 29" bags to 4 carry on roller bags, will this be easily accomodated in green cars?
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Old Apr 21, 15, 11:05 am
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green car NOT on Nozomi, no problem

Originally Posted by AlwaysAisle View Post
Yes, when passing through Green Car it is that obvious that Green Car is quieter than regular car. Green Car is not allowed on business travel for non-managers at most places of work in Japan, and there is no such thing as frequent rider upgrade, so especially on Green Car between Tokyo and Osaka tend to be heavier with manager and celebrity type.
For sure, but especially on the Nozomi service (the only way to travel to avoid tourists blocking the aisles with a huge quantity of baggage) the green car is really exclusive and happily not included in the Rail Pass. A heaven of peace.

In the OP's case I think he should not worry to travel with the slower (but still fast) trains (with more stops) in the green cars where many people will have bags and less "managers" on board.

And just buy one of these delicious apple ice creams (very frozen) from the passing attendant for the children. It will make them happy.

BTW: Traveling light will always make you look better.......
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Old Apr 21, 15, 11:34 am
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Originally Posted by bmchris View Post
Follow on question regarding luggage. If we changed from 2 large 29" bags to 4 carry on roller bags, will this be easily accomodated in green cars?
Shinkansen (Japanese website)

Above link is in Japanese but there are pictures which will show your luggage situation. On Shinkansen trains there is no luggage racks to accomodate large baggage or suite case onboard.

If you go down the web page of above link there is a picture of brown seats with 2-2 across seating arrangement, that is Green Car of Shinkansen. In picture there is small rack sticking out above the seat from the side wall with brown strips on the end. That is the luggage rack, cannot accommodate mid or large luggage, really only small luggage can be accommodated on the rack above the seat. Only other option to place large luggage will be behind the very last row of the car, the space between the seat and the wall.

Remember, you may not be the only passenger in Green Car looking to use the space behind the last row of the seat for the storage of large luggage.

Just for reference, further down the webpage there is a picture with blue seats with 2-3 across seating, that is regular car on Shinkansen. The seat pitch on regular car seats is 1040 mm (40.9 inches), which is very room. Can turn the seat and make block of 6 seats facing each other without disturbing reclining of seats behind you.

JR Pass is only valid on Hikari or Kodama, there are only two Hikari per hour. Although Green Car may not be totally packed, to accommodate 10 people sit together means have to have three consecutive rows of seats in Green Car to be completely empty, that may not happen on every train. If you look for Hikari with three consecutive rows open, then can easily be two or three trains later, which can be an hour to two hours of wait.
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Old Apr 21, 15, 12:19 pm
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Originally Posted by bmchris View Post
Follow on question regarding luggage. If we changed from 2 large 29" bags to 4 carry on roller bags, will this be easily accomodated in green cars?
For reference, I always travel with only a 21" roll-aboard and a light backpack with my camera gear and odds and ends. The roller goes behind the last row of seats and the backpack on the overhead rack above my seat. I have tried putting the roller up on the over-seat rack when all else failed. It worked after a fashion but did not seem very secure, as the bag was an inch or so wider than the shelf and hung out over the edge. It seemed as if it might come tumbling down in the event of a lurch. Fortunately, lurches are not common on the shinkansen. The bigger problem was that the roller, on it's back and laying length-wise on the rack took up more than my fair share of rack space. That wouldn't be a problem if the car is not full but might in the case of a busy day. I try not to do that if at all possible.
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Old Apr 22, 15, 12:31 am
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bag measurements for overhead racks

Originally Posted by abmj-jr View Post
The roller goes behind the last row of seats and the backpack on the overhead rack above my seat.
May I recommend this size http://www.rimowa.com/de-de/salsa-ca...er/810.56.32.4 (56X45X25 cm). It fits perfectly in the overhead rack, even the slightly longer (66cm) http://www.rimowa.com/de-de/salsa-mu...er/810.63.32.4 is absolutely no problem. The bag should not be "fatter" than 25 cm and not "deeper" than 45 cm - that's the trick.
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