Tourists can (finally) make shinkansen reservations from overseas with new app -- Oct 24
Up to now, it has been a real hassle making advance reservations for Japan's bullet trains from overseas. JR East finally set up an online reservation system a while back, but that was only for trains heading north from Tokyo.

If you wanted to head south along the so-called “Golden Route” to Mt. Fuji, Kyoto and Osaka, you had to wait till you arrived and cross your fingers.

Well, JR Central and JR West have finally got their act together. This week, they announced that they are launching an English-language reservation app for the popular Tokaido Sanyo Shinkansen line, which connects Tokyo and all points south.

Users just download the free SmartEX app and register their credit card information. Then, they can use it to buy shinkansen tickets and reserve seats. Once in Japan, they can pick up their tickets at the station by swiping their registered credit card at special dedicated machines. Or, if the rider has an IC card such as Suica or Pasmo, they can register that and use it for ticketless travel. The app can also be used to make changes to a reservation.

The app will initially be available for download beginning on October 30 at 10 a.m. Japan Standard Time to users in America, Australia, Singapore and Hong Kong, with a more extended roll out slated to follow.

At the moment, it does not appear that the app can be used in conjunction with the Japan Rail Pass.

News source:
Mar 22
After months of cold weather, which brought the heaviest snowfall in four years to Tokyo back in January, the days finally began warming up in the capital last week, with sunny skies and temperatures reaching highs of 22 degrees Celsius (71.6 degrees Fahrenheit). (
Mar 22
Many foreign tourists to Japan often wonder why public transportation, especially in areas of Tokyo renowned for their nightlife, is so limited after the last trains of the night. (Kyodo)
Mar 21
Japan saw an estimated 2,509,300 visitors from overseas in February, up 23.3 pct from a year earlier, the Japan National Tourism Organization said Tuesday. (Jiji)
Mar 20
A Somei-Yoshino cherry tree being monitored in Kochi reached full bloom on Monday, the Metrological Agency said. (Japan Times)
Mar 20
The refurbished interior of the "Tower of the Sun" was opened to the public on Monday for the first time since the major artwork by the late Taro Okamoto became a symbol of the Expo '70 world's fair in Osaka. (Japan Times)
Mar 18
Japan's Meteorological Agency announced on Saturday the official start of Tokyo's annual cherry blossom season. (NHK)
Mar 18
Workers have replaced a lightning-damaged shachihoko roof ornament on a castle in Inuyama City, central Japan. (NHK)
Mar 17
Japanese authorities have lowered volcanic alert levels for the 2 peaks of Mount Kusatsu-Shirane in Gunma Prefecture, more than 7 weeks after the volcano erupted. (NHK)
Mar 17
American rocker and songwriter Bob Dylan will perform at the Fuji Rock Festival in July, his first appearance in Japan since receiving the 2016 Nobel Prize in Literature, the event's organizer said. (Kyodo)
Mar 16
A survey of 36 major Kyoto city hotels showed that foreigners accounted for 40.5 percent of their total guests in 2017, the highest figure recorded since the survey began in 2014. (Japan Times)