Golden Week Travel

Customer Support Team
Customer Support Team
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“Golden Week” is a collection of four national holidays within seven days of each other, starting in spring around April 29th - May 5th. In combination with well placed weekends, Golden Week is one of Japan's three busiest holiday seasons, besides New Year and Obon in the summer.


For Japan Rail Pass voucher holders, it isn’t possible to make any seat reservations until you have exchanged your voucher and activated your JR Pass, so you’ll only be able to make seat reservations once you're in Japan (Japanese travellers have an advantage here, as train tickets go on sale in Japan 30 days in advance).


Because of the string of national holidays, trains get booked up very quickly for Golden Week by Japanese travelers, so depending on when you want to travel it's possible that you may not be able to reserve seats on the trains you need. Purchasing a Green JR Pass unfortunately won’t help you with this, as during very busy travel periods the Green seats often get booked up almost as quickly as the standard reserved seats. 


What we can suggest is:


  • Try to reserve any seats as soon as possible after you have activated your JR Pass. Be flexible with the time of day you want to travel, if you're able to avoid peak travel times you may still be able to find some seat reservations, although groups will not be able to sit together.
  • Try your luck in a non-reserved seat carriage. The seats in these carriages are "first come, first served", so people line up on the train platform and queue for these carriages in hopes of getting a seat. If you can't get a seat on the first train that comes by, they're frequent enough that you can always wait and be first in line for the next one.
  • If it comes to it, you can stand up in a non-reserved carriage. Even if there are no seats left, you can still get on a train (Shinkansen included) and simply stand up until a seat becomes free. Obviously this isn’t ideal, but if you're on a tight schedule it does mean that you can still travel to where you need to go, if you're prepared to be a little uncomfortable.


For more information and tips on travel during Golden Week, read our article: Golden Week Travel Advice

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