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New Extra-Large Luggage Rules for Shinkansen Explained! Things to Know and Advice

With the Olympic and Paralympic Games underway from May 2020, the number of train passengers is expected to increase. In line with this expectation, a new rule, “Baggage 160”, will be adopted, which requires a reservation for carry-on luggage on bullet trains. Read on for the details of the new Baggage 160 rule.

Baggage 160: The New Rule on Luggage That Applies From May 2020

From May 20, 2020, those bringing extra-large baggage on journeys on the Tokaido, Sanyo, and Kyushu shinkansen (bullet train) lines (Tokyo -> Shin-Osaka -> Hakata -> Kagoshima-Chuo) will have to reserve a seat that has extra space for storing the luggage. (Extra-large luggage are those where the sum of length, width, and height is between 160 cm and 250 cm.) The rule has been that carry-ons are “limited to 2 portable items, and the sum of the length, width, and height for each item must be within 250 cm (within 2 m lengthwise), and each must weigh within 30 kg”, and this will not change. However, when bringing extra-large baggage whose measurements exceed 160 cm, a reservation will be necessary. Currently, the space at the end of each car, which will now be reserved, tends to fill up by first-come-first-serve rules. Some cars have areas for placing luggage, yet there are none on the Tokaido line, leading to problems.

Baggage 160: The New Rule on Luggage That Applies From May 2020

What Is "Extra-Large" Baggage?

"Extra-large baggage" are defined as those whose length, width, and height add up to more than 160 cm. (There will be measuring scales at all stations on the Tokaido shinkansen so that you can check the size.) This is roughly the standard size for checked baggage on international flights (although this differs between individual airline companies). Baggage 160 does not apply to musical instruments, sports equipment, and strollers, which can still fit on the baggage rack. However, if you want to use the baggage space, you should reserve a seat with extra-large baggage space.

What If I Want to Bring Extra-Large Baggage?

If your hand luggage is larger than 160 cm, it is necessary to reserve a seat with extra-large baggage space in advance (online, at a ticket counter, or at a ticket vending machine). If you've made a reservation, you can simply travel on that date in the appointed seat with your luggage. If you haven’t made a reservation in advance, measure your luggage on the measuring scale, and if applicable, change your booking details at the ticket counter, ticket vending machine, or online booking service. You can make these changes on the day of your travel, but it’s more reliable to reserve a seat early, as there is only a limited number of seats.

About Reserved Seats with Extra-Large Baggage Space

The seats with extra-large baggage space are the seats at the very back of each car, behind which there is a space where luggage can be stored (in this photo, the space behind the leftmost seats). Since your bags are directly behind you, they are comparatively safe, as you can keep close watch over them, and getting on and off the train is smooth too, as these seats are by the door. Extra-large baggage cannot be brought into unreserved seats or into certain reserved cars without the necessary setup. Check this at the time of reservation.
*There are plans to outfit areas near washrooms with luggage compartments connected to seating by 2023.

What If I Have Extra-Large Baggage But I Haven't Made a Reservation in Advance?

You will incur a carry-on fee. If you didn’t make a reservation in advance but are bringing extra-large baggage, maybe because you didn’t expect to or you forgot, you will be required to pay a carry-on fee of 1,000 JPY (incl. tax). In that situation, a transport staff member will stow your luggage in a designated place. However, even if you didn't make a reservation, you will not be charged a fee if you change the details of your reservation at the online booking service, ticket counter, or ticket vending machine.

Baggage 160 applies to trips from May 20, 2020. Make sure you make a reservation ahead of time to avoid confusion on the day.

*Please note that the information in this article is from the time of writing or publication and may differ from the latest information.

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