What to Do If You Missed the Shinkansen

What happens if I miss the Shinkansen? How to change or refund your reserved ticket

What to Do If You Missed the Shinkansen

Even if you are the kind of person who plans all your trips in detail in advance, unforeseen complications can arise that you didn’t count on. One of them is that you miss your bullet train for various reasons (there was a delay on one of the train lines, you overslept, etc).

Shinkansen tickets are not particularly cheap, and it would be a real shame and inconvenience to lose that money. But don’t worry, even if you missed your Shinkansen bullet train, there are different solutions that don’t involve spending too much extra money. In this article we will explain what you should do if you miss the Shinkansen, how change or refund your ticket and what precautions to take regarding missed trains.

*Please note that this article contains affiliate links.

▶︎Book now your Shinkansen tickets!

What happens if you miss the Shinkansen?

There are basically three things you can do if you lose your Shinkansen, depending on your situation and preferences.

Option 1: Take a non-reserved seat on the following Shinkansen

If you miss the Shinkansen, you will not be able to use your reserved seat express ticket at all. However, as a special exception, you are allowed to board a non-reserved seat on the same type of Shinkansen on the same day. If there are seats available on the following Shinkansen, you can board without any problem.

Option 2: Rebuy a reserved seat for a subsequent Shinkansen

If you miss your Shinkansen and want to board the next reserved seat, you will need to purchase a new one. As long as your ticket is within its validity period, you can board the Shinkansen by repurchasing a reserved seat limited express ticket, even if it’s the next day.

Option 3: Cancel and receive a refund

If you miss the Shinkansen for which you have reserved a reserved seat, the limited express ticket will be invalidated, but you can get a refund for the ticket within the validity period. If you go to the counter at the station, you can receive a refund of the ticket price minus a handling charge.

What to Do If You Missed the Shinkansen

What if I miss my ride on the Shinkansen with a reserved seat, Green Car, or Grand Class?

The following is an explanation of how to purchase tickets and whether it is possible to change or get a refund if you miss a reserved seat, green car, or grand class seat on the Shinkansen.

If you purchased a paper ticket at the ticket counter

The table below shows whether changes and refunds are possible if you have purchased a paper ticket at the ticket counter.

Change Refund
JR Tokai (Tokaido Shinkansen) Changes can be made only once at the JR station counter Refunds are available at the JR station counter, minus a handling fee
JR East (Tohoku, Joetsu, Hokuriku, Yamagata, Akita Shinkansen) Changes can be made only once at the JR station counter Refunds are available at the JR station counter, minus a handling fee
JR West (Sanyo Shinkansen) Changes can be made only once at the JR station counter Refunds are available at the JR station counter, minus a handling fee
JR Kyushu (Kyushu Shinkansen) Changes can be made only once at the JR station counter Refunds are available at major JR Kyushu stations, minus a handling fee

If you purchased your ticket via online reservation

This table shows the possibility of changes and refunds for tickets purchased through online reservations.

Change Refund
JR Tokai (Tokaido Shinkansen) Can be changed as many times as you like using the web procedure Refunds are available through the online procedure after deducting the handling fee
JR East (Tohoku, Joetsu, Hokuriku, Yamagata, Akita Shinkansen)
  • Changing to a train that is eligible for Eki Net Privilege can be done any number of times through online procedures.
  • Changing to a train other than those eligible for the Eki Net Privilege can be done only once through online procedures.
Refunds are available through the online procedure after deducting the handling fee
JR West (Sanyo Shinkansen) If there is a benefit, you can change it as many times as you like using the online procedure Refunds are available through the online procedure after deducting the handling fee
JR Kyushu (Kyushu Shinkansen) Can be changed as many times as you like using the web procedure Refunds are available through the online procedure after deducting the handling fee

If you have purchased an e-express ticket

The following is a list of possible changes and refunds in the case that an e-express ticket has been purchased.

Change Refund
JR Tokai (Tokaido Shinkansen) Can be changed as many times as you like using the web procedure The amount can be refunded after deducting the processing fee through online procedures
JR West (Sanyo Shinkansen) Can be changed as many times as you like using the web procedure The amount can be refunded after deducting the processing fee through online procedures
JR Kyushu (Kyushu Shinkansen) Can be changed as many times as you like using the web procedure The amount can be refunded after deducting the processing fee through online procedures

If you had purchased with an early bird discount or packaged product

Finally, let’s also check the availability of changes and refunds if you have purchased with an early bird discount or packaged product.

Change Refund
JR Tokai (Tokaido Shinkansen) Can be changed as many times as you like using the web procedure The amount can be refunded after deducting the processing fee through online procedures
JR East (Tohoku, Joetsu, Hokuriku, Yamagata, Akita Shinkansen) Can be changed as many times as you like using the web procedure The amount can be refunded after deducting the processing fee through online procedures
JR West (Sanyo Shinkansen) Can be changed as many times as you like using the web procedure The amount can be refunded after deducting the processing fee through online procedures
JR Kyushu (Kyushu Shinkansen) Can be changed as many times as you like using the web procedure The amount can be refunded after deducting the processing fee through online procedures

What if I miss my ride on the Shinkansen with an unreserved seat?

Even if you miss a train, you can board a subsequent train on the same day without any procedures. If the ticket is valid before use and within the validity period, it’s possible to receive a refund of 220 yen for the ticket and 220 yen for the unreserved seat express ticket, minus 440 yen in total, by going to the ticket counter.

However, please note that refunds cannot be made the following day. It’s also possible to change from a non-reserved seat ticket to a reserved seat ticket by paying the difference in fare.

What to Do If You Missed the Shinkansen

Other Points to Note Regarding Missing the Shinkansen

From here, we have picked up five precautions regarding missing the Shinkansen, so please check them in case you miss your ride.

As a rule, cancellations and changes are only allowed on the same day

If you miss your ride, cancellation or changes are generally only available on the same day. With some exceptions, such as when the Shinkansen is delayed, they basically will not be available on the following day or later.

If you pay by credit card, carry it with you

If you miss your ride and wish to receive a refund regarding credit card payment, you will need to present the credit card with which you made the payment. Since refunds are not available in cash, you should bring your credit card with you to the Shinkansen on the day of boarding in case you miss your ride.

Don’t forget to refund your boarding ticket

If you miss the Shinkansen and you want a refund, don’t forget to refund the boarding ticket as well as the limited express ticket. When boarding the Shinkansen, you should have purchased a boarding ticket in addition to the limited express ticket. To minimize your loss, please make sure to refund your boarding ticket as well.

You cannot board a train earlier than your designated bullet train

As a special exception, if you miss your train, you may board a later train, but you are not allowed to board an earlier train. Please note that boarding the previous train is a violation of JR regulations and you may be subject to penalties.

You may not board a higher class of train than your assigned train

If you miss a train, you can use the next non-reserved seat only if it’s of the same or lower class.

For example if your original reservation was for a Kodama train, you cannot board a Hikari or Nozomi train. If your reservation was for a Hikari, you can board a Kodama but not a Nozomi.

Book Shinkansen Tickets online

If you prefer to buy your tickets in advance, the most recommended option is to buy Shinkansen tickets online. In Japan there are different online platforms depending on the area and the Shinkansen line you want to book, and some of these platforms offer discounts if purchased in advance. However, most of them are only in Japanese and may not accept foreign cards.

Japan Bullet Train

Japan Bullet Train is a new service launched by our partner company, which offers bullet train and express train tickets in Japan for tourists. All the service is in English (and 3 other languages), including customer service. They accept payments with all major credit cards, and the process is very easy and simple, especially compared to Japanese websites.

After your purchase, once your ticket is confirmed you will receive a QR code. You simply have to scan this QR code in the vending machines available at the main stations from where the bullet train departs and you will get your physical ticket, with which you can access the platform. All from the comfort of your smartphone.

▶︎Book now your Shinkansen tickets!

Consider the bus option to save money

If you are concerned about the loss in case you miss your ride, we recommend using a highway bus, which costs way less than the Shinkansen. If you don’t have much information about highway buses in Japan, the following articles may be useful.

▶︎How to Ride a Bus in Japan: A Detailed Bus Guide for Tourists

▶︎How to Book Bus Tickets in Japan

▶︎3 Best Highway Buses in Japan

▶︎10 Best Destinations to Go from Tokyo by Bus

▶︎How to Ride a Night Bus in Japan

▶︎Bus Guide between Osaka and Kyoto

▶︎Bus Guide between Osaka and Kansai International Airport (KIX)

▶︎Bus Guide between Kyoto and Kansai International Airport (KIX)

From Tokyo to popular destinations: Train os Bus?

If you are not sure which is the best option to get from Tokyo to some of the most popular cities, and want to compare different options as train, bus, plane or private transport, here you have a few complete guides for the most touristic destinations.

▶︎How to Get to Hakone from Tokyo

▶︎How to Get to Nikko from Tokyo

▶︎How to Get to Mt.Fuji from Tokyo

▶︎How to Get to Osaka from Tokyo

▶︎How to Get to Kyoto from Tokyo

▶︎How to Get to Hiroshima from Tokyo

▶︎How to Get DisneyLand and Disney Sea from Tokyo

Also how to get to Tokyo from the two main airports, Narita Airport and Haneda Airport.

▶︎How to Get from Nartita Airport to Tokyo

▶︎How to Get from Haneda Airport to Tokyo


If is your first time in Japan and don’t know where to go, this article may help! ▶︎Shinkansen: A Complete Guide to the Japanese Bullet Train

▽For more Shinkansen Information▽

▶︎How to Use a Non-reserved Seat on the Shinkansen

▶︎How to Refund a Shinkansen Ticket

Thanks for reading this far! I hope it has been helpful 🙂 Here I have explained the options you have when you miss a Shinkansen, how to deal with each ticket and some precautions. For more tips and information about traveling in Japan, you have these articles too. And even more information in Japan Web Magazine!

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