What’s the rule for where to put strollers on Japan’s Shinkansen bullet trains?

Japan’s high-speed trains don’t have designated stroller spots onboard, so where should parents put theirs?

What’s the best seat on the Shinkansen? Window seats have a definite appeal if you want to look out and admire the part of Japan you’re zooming through on the bullet train, while veteran or nighttime travelers may prefer to opt for the extra elbow room of an aisle seat.

But for our Japanese-language reporter Ahiruneko, the best seats are the ones in the back row of the car. Why? Because with no one sitting behind you, you can recline your seat back as far as you want without any guilt from encroaching on someone else’s space.

So on Ahiruneko’s last Shinkansen ride with his wife and two-year-old daughter, he booked a window seat in the back row for Mrs. Ahiruneko and the one next to it for himself, with their kid sitting on Daddy’s lap.

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As soon as they hopped on, Ahiurneko and his wife put their seats back as far as they’d go, settling in to lounge luxuriously until their destination.

▼ You can see how far back their seats were by comparing Ahiruneko’s seat to the one on his right, which was empty when he boarded.

After a few stops, a woman boarded the train with her daughter who appeared to be about four years old. The woman was carrying a folded-up stroller, and as mom passed by where Ahiruneko was sitting she slid the stroller into the space between the seatback of the aisle seat and the back wall of the car. The woman didn’t sit down next to Ahiruneko, though, since her seat was a few rows ahead.

▼ Stroller circled in red

About this time, Ahiruneko’s daughter dozed off, and as anyone who’s ever been cuddled by a tiny tyke as the fall asleep, that cozy drowsiness is highly contagious. Before long, Ahiruneko found his eyelids getting heavy too, so he leaned back in his recline seat and caught some Zs. When he woke up some time later, there was a man sitting in the seat next to his right, having apparently boarded at a station the train had stopped at while Ahiruneko was sleeping.

Perhaps seeing how comfortable Ahiruneko looked, the man decided to recline his seat too…only to find that his seatback wouldn’t move, because it was blocked by the stroller stored behind him. So instead, the man remained sitting with his chair in the maximum upright position until the woman’s stop eventually came up and she retrieved the stroller.

Ahiruneko couldn’t help feeling a little bad for the man. Though he didn’t pout or complain, it couldn’t have been the most comfortable ride for him, especially since he was a tall guy with a stocky frame. This got Ahiruneko wondering what the etiquette is for where parents are supposed to put their strollers on the Shinkansen, so he decided to check View Travel, the train ticket reservation site of Shinkansen operator JR East, and here’s what he found:

“There is no designated storage area for strollers onboard the Shinkansen. Because of this, whenever possible we ask that passengers travelling with babies hold them on their laps, and fold up their strollers and store them in the space near the seats at the back or front of the car.”

While JR says wither the front or back of the car is OK, psychologically there’s a stronger sense that the empty space in front of a seat belongs to the person sitting in it. So in practice, the space behind the back row of seats is where you’re most likely to see people putting their strollers, and JR says that’s OK.

The result is that a seat in the back row can either give you maximum reclining privileges or none at all. There’s no way to tell for sure if there’s going to be a baby onboard too when you’re booking your bullet train tickets (and with the new luggage rules odds are you’ll have to pick a seat when you buy your ticket), so if you are sitting n the back, be aware that you might be sitting straight up too.

Source: View Travel
Photos © SoraNews24
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