Japnese Travel Tips
Green Car Rail Pass versus Ordinary Car Rail Pass
We are often asked if it is worth the extra money to get a Green Car rail pass in place of an Ordinary Car rail pass. Unless you are dead-set on the Green Car rail pass, our answer is always no. The only difference between the two is that the seats on the Green car are slightly larger. As the seats in the Ordinary cars are about the same size as coach seats on an airplane, but with much more leg room, the Ordinary Car seats are very comfortable. And the Green Cars in a train arrive at the same time as the Ordinary Cars on that same train. Since the Green Car Rail Passes are about 60% more than the Ordniary Car rail passes, in our estimation, it is certainly not worth the extra cost.
Another problem that can occur with the Green Car rail passes is a capacity problem. On a typical Shinkansen (bullet train) there are 16 cars in total. There are only two non-smoking Green Cars on a train, but there are 11 Ordinary Cars on a train. (There is one smoking Green Car and two smoking Ordinary Cars, but they are often too smoky even for smokers.) Since you have to wait until you get to Japan to get your train tickets with a rail pass, by that time, the Green Cars are full with Japanese businessmen on expense accounts. Because of this, sometimes you might have to take a seat in the Ordinary Car even though you have paid the extra cost of the Green Car.