Are Pets Allowed on Trains in Japan?

Are pets allowed on trains in Japan

Japan, famous for its bullet trains, is considered one of the most dog-friendly nations in Asia. However, many tourists often wonder if pet owners can travel with their dogs on trains in Japan.

Luckily, many train companies allow pet owners to travel with their pets.  Your pet must be able to fit in a pet carrier no longer than 27.5 inches (70 cm) and no higher than 35 inches (90 cm) with the pet case and pet weighing no more than 22 lbs (10 kg) together. You need to show our luggage at the ticket gate and buy a regular hand-carrying ticket. Also, the owners are expected to observe various dog etiquette when traveling with their pets on trains in Japan.

The charges for traveling with your pet on a train in Japan vary depending on the size and breed of your pet. In addition, the pets have to be taken for inspection before boarding the train with their owners.

Conditions for Traveling with Your Pet on Trains in Japan

Although people are allowed to travel with their pets on trains in Japan, many people hardly travel with their pets on trains.

Most Japanese train companies allow pets onboard trains provided the pet owner follow the established rules for traveling with pets. You will be required to watch over your pet at all times and be mindful of other train passengers. In addition, some Japanese train companies will charge a fee for traveling with pets.

Check If the Train Company Allows Pets On-Board

Check if the train company allows passengers to travel with pets. Many train companies that allow pets onboard require the owners to adhere to specific rules. Only small pets weighing less than 10kg are allowed to travel in Japanese trains. The pets are to be carried in pet enclosures measuring not more than 70cm (length +width + height).

Keeping your pet in a carrier allows you to limit its movements while traveling. It also helps other passengers feel safe when traveling in the same cabin with you.

Clean After Your Pet

Take your pet to the bathroom before boarding a train. This minimizes the need for bathroom breaks while traveling. If a pet relieves itself onboard, it is the pet owner’s responsibility to clean after it. Carry plastic bags and fresh paper towels to clean after your pet.

House-train your pet to minimize accidents onboard a train. House training your pet also helps you to anticipate your dog’s bathroom breaks.

Put Pets in a Carrier

Besides pet etiquette in Japan trains, keeping your pet in a crate ensures their safety. Most train companies in Japan will not take responsibility for the loss of your pet onboard.

Pets can be unpredictable, especially in new environments. If your pet is not accustomed to traveling, they can be spooked by the train’s movement and people. A pet that is not leased or caged can easily escape. Curiosity can also get the best of your pet and cause it to wander.

Microchipping Your Pet

Microchipping is not a requirement while traveling with your pet on a Japanese train. Getting your pet fitted with a microchip only helps you find them sooner in case they become lost.

Many train companies in Japan would be willing to help you find your lost pet if they were tagged with an electronic chip. Microchipping your pet before travel is unnecessary as long as the pet remains in the crate during the entire travel period.

A collar tag can work in place of microchipping. Adding your contacts on the collar tag will help you find your pet quickly if the pet becomes lost during travel.


Pets born and raised in Japan may not require a rabies shot before traveling on a train in the country. Your pet may need a rabies shot if you are traveling into Japan from other countries. Vaccinate your dog 28 days before the day of travel. In addition, keep updated vaccine records as you travel on a Japanese train with your dog.

Be aware of the check-in policies for pets. Some train stations in Japan will quarantine pets for further checkups before they are released. Carrying updated medical records for your dog can help with smooth check-ins.

Pets in the Passenger Cabin

Inquire from the train company if they allow pets in the passenger cabin. Japanese train companies do not recommend traveling with a pet in a crowded train cabin.

Only small dogs and cats are allowed in Japanese trains because they can fit in tiny carriers. The pet carriers can fit under the passenger seat while traveling.

Luxury trains may have different rules. If traveling first-class, an individual can book an entire cabin so that their pets can be comfortable.

For long-distance travel, your pet may be confined to the cargo section. This may not be an excellent option for a pet that suffers from separation anxiety.

Sedating Your Pet

As a pet owner, you are required to keep your pet quiet for resting passengers. Sedating your pet helps to calm it during travel.

There are many non-invasive ways of sedating your pet. Natural sedatives like rescue remedy can be used on both pets and humans. Natural sedatives are excellent choices compared to chemical injections. Your pet remains calm but still responds to stimuli while on a natural sedative.

Synthetic sedatives may not be appropriate for a traveling pet. They may cause the pet to become uncomfortable throughout the trip.

Pet Carrier Placement

Be mindful of other passengers as you travel with your pet close. Do not put the carrier in the overhead luggage compartment if it will take up too much space. In addition, consider other passengers when traveling in a four-seater cabin. Travel with your dog’s carrier on your lap if you have not booked an extra seat.

Let everyone you are sharing a cabin with know you have a pet. Friendly passengers will not mind having a pet in the same cabin.

Carrier Fees

Expect to pay extra for your pet’s carrier when traveling by train in Japan. Carrier charges will vary with train companies, but the average fee for a carrier is 270 to 290 Yen (approximately $2 to $3).

Ensure you have the carrier ticket with you before boarding a train. Forgetting to pay for your pet’s carrier can attract a fine, which could be double the cost of the initial charges.

Some Japanese train companies lease pet carriers for passengers who do not have one. Consider calling ahead to reserve a carrier before traveling. Be sure to return the pet carrier in mint condition to avoid damage charges at the end of your trip.

Pet-Friendly Train Companies in Japan

There are many train companies in Japan. Some train companies have more pet-friendly policies than others. Do your research to determine the best train company for traveling with your pet.

Central Japan Railway Company

Central Japan Railway Company allows pet owners to travel with small dogs. Some of the pets allowed onboard the trains include dogs, cats, birds, and other small, domesticated animals. Reptiles and wild animals are not permitted on trains. Pets must remain inside the crate and cannot be carried in a bag or the arm.

In addition, they should have enough room inside the crate. Any item that can affect the pet’s comfort, like a lengthy leash, is not allowed inside the cage.

Unfixed shape carriers like a dog sling cannot be used even if the animal is completely inside.

Note that carriers with wheels and/or handles, like pet carts, must also be included in the size restrictions. In most cases that would mean any standard pet cart or buggy will not be allowed on the train because the whole size that includes the wheels and handles will exceed the limits.

An exception to this would be a cart or buggy with removable wheels and handles, when removed, making the cart/buggy within the limit. But even in this condition, the case can be refused if there are any parts protruding that may be a hazard to other passengers.

East and West Japan Railway

East and West Japan Railway are two different companies with similar rules regarding traveling with pets. Pet owners must keep their pets inside the pet carriers during the entire journey.

The two train companies also charge a carrier fee of 290 Yen. The total weight of the dog and crate should be below seven pounds. In addition, all carriers must meet the required size specifications to be allowed onboard. This includes carriers with handles or wheels.

Shikoku and Kyushu Railway Company

These two companies do not have enough information on pet travel on their websites. As a traveling pet owner, adhere to the general rules of traveling with pets.

Keep the pet inside a carrier at all times. Ensure your pet has a bathroom break before boarding the train.

Sedate the dog if they are likely to cause disturbance during travel. Pets in carriers are considered personal luggage and have to be paid for.

Pet owners must ensure they comply with all the rules and guidelines for traveling with pets on trains in Japan. Keep your dog in a crate to minimize movement and disturbance to other passengers. In addition, find out the extra charges for traveling with pets on trains in Japan.

How to Check Private Railway Train Companies

This wikipedia link, “List of Railway Companies in Japan”, has a very extensive list of both the “Japan Rail Group” and “Private Railway train companies listed by Region > Prefecture.

Private Railways Helpful Tip: The easiest and fastest way to find out if pets are allowed is to have a Japanese person make a phone call. If that’s not possible, use Google Chrome and type in “pets on “Choose the Private Railway Company.” In the resulting search, if there’s no webpage that mentions pets, there’s a good chance that pets are not allowed.

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