One way from Tokyo to Osaka on the Shinkansen:
You’re going to be looking at 13,870JPY for an unreserved seat, and 14,440JPY for a reserved seat.
But what if we told you you could take the Shinkansen, and get a reserved seat for 10,700JPY? AKA, receive a 25% discount?
Is it possible? I can do this without a JR Pass? Are you for real?
And what’s the catch? Well, if you are in a super hurry, perhaps paying full price is something you might be okay with. But for someone with an extra hour, saving the 25% just might be worth it.
The Platt Kodama is a special purchasing option that allows you to receive a discount given you ride the slower of the Shinkansen trains and make an advance reservation. For those that aren’t familiar with Japan’s bullet train systems, there are several different categories of Shinkansen with different routes (think having express and super express trains on top of the fact that these things move practically at the speed of light *okay not really, but you get it, super fast*)
Shinkansen Tokyo-Osaka Route, Stops by Grade
Tokyo Station, Shinagawa, Shin-Yokohama, Nagoya, Kyoto, Shin-Osaka
Hikari (not as fast, but)
Tokyo Station, Shinagawa, Shin-Yokohama, Odawara, Atami, Mishima, Shizuoka, Hamamatsu, Toyobashi, Nagoya, Kibuhashima, Maihara, Kyoto, Shin-Osaka
Kodama (okay, even this one is super fast)
Tokyo Station, Shinagawa, Shin-Yokohama, Odawara, Atami, Mishima, Shin-Fuji, Shizuoka, Kakegawa, Mikawa-Anjouji, Hamamatsu, Toyobashi, Nagoya, Kibuhashima, Maihara, Kyoto, Shin-Osaka
As you can see the Kodama train is the slowest, making the most local stops, which accounts for the extra hour it takes to make its way from Tokyo to Osaka.
With the boom in tourism from abroad and Japan looking to attract more and more high-skilled professionals from abroad, the JNTO (Japanese National Tourism Office) and several commercial companies are revamping their sites to include English. While reservations for the Platt Kodama are currently only available online in Japanese, the guide for purchase is available in English with a list of available pickup locations.
Just take a look at the site below for further details on how the ticket works and where you can pick-up.
Please note, all online Platt Kodama reservations must be paid by credit card. Pickup can be completed at any station with a Midori Madoguchi.
In addition to a reserved seat on the Shinkansen, every reservation comes with one free bottled drink!
The timeline for purchase availability is as follows:
Online (JAPANESE ONLY): Up to one month before, at latest 5 days before departure.
In store: No limit on advance purchase, at latest 1 day before departure.
Call Center: Up to one month before, at latest 2 days before departure.
For those who wish to order online, please consider the JR Flex Rail option for purchase. An option for a round trip ticket Shinkansen ticket from Tokyo to Osaka with comparable prices is also available.