For most people, traveling on Japanese trains is a revelation. Punctual, fast, efficient and clean it is really a service to behold. The ordinary class carriages are bright and surprisingly spacious, with good size comfortable seats and generous leg room that puts airlines to shame! There is usually overhead storage space that will accommodate coats and small pieces of luggage, but in most trains what there is not is a designated area set aside for suitcase sized bags. These need to go either by your feet, or take advantage of Japan’s excellent system of forwarding luggage ahead before you leave your hotel.
‘Green Car’ is the term for the first class carriages that are found on the shinkansen (bullet train) and many limited express trains. The decor differs from that in the ordinary class carriages to radiate a more luxurious feel, and the seats are wider with more leg room. There are also fewer seats per carriage which creates a quieter, more relaxed environment. Another, perhaps more pertinent advantage is that the Green car carriages tend to not get as full as the ordinary class carriages, and this can be particularly useful if you happen to be traveling during one of the peak travel times in Japan. This is especially relevant during New Year (December 29th to January 4th), Golden Week (around April 29th to May 5th) and Obon (August 9th to August 17th).