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Old Oct 11, 06, 4:10 pm   #16
  
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Comfort and food

I have taken this train several times after arriving from the US and if you're an adventurous traveler, it's not so bad. Take it for what it is --- a great new adventure in another part of the world. Especially if it is your first time in Japan, don't be in such a hurry to make a fast connection. Tokyo Station, while daunting to some, is a paradise for people-watchers so give yourself ample time to both navigate between trains and take-in the view.

Don't forget about the food - just walking through Tokyo Station is a culinary adventure so give yourself time to look at all the food stalls - and stop to buy a snack or 2 for the train (less expensive and better selection than the cart that goes up and down the aisles on-board.)

One last suggestion - and a well-deserved treat after that long flight - for not too much more money, if you can afford it. I recommend riding in the Green Cars. It's the 1st class equivalent (without the extra service) with much wider seats (2&2 vs. 3&3 in Regular cars) and more peace and quiet.

Whatever you do - enjoy the ride - and I hope you get a clear and sunny day for the beautiful view of Mt Fuji out the right-side windows.
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Old Oct 11, 06, 4:29 pm   #17
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Originally Posted by railroadtycoon
You mean if the OP flew into KIX or Itami?

It seems like a lot of time, effort and money, to have someone who lives in Kyoto to head all the way out to NRT to pick up a passenger and then go all the way back to Kyoto.
Actually - I was thinking Tokyo - but I'm tired and was probably a little brain dead about the distances (a car doesn't go as fast as the bullet train!). I was thinking that his rate for a half day (4 hours) is 22,000 yen - and that he could do a round trip in a half day. Doubt it. On the other hand - his rate for a full day is 44,000 yen (don't know whether extra gas charges would apply for such a trip) - and the trip can be done in a full day - yes? Considering what a first class reserved seat costs - and the fact that the idea of taking 2 trains - with a transfer at Tokyo station - carrying luggage - in a strange country - after a 12-13 hour plane flight - well the sound of it is just exhausting.

Might be one of those travel splurges that is worthwhile. My husband and I took a taxi from Osaka to Kyoto instead of the train - and it wound up costing just a few dollars more than train tickets and a luggage transfer.

Anyway - here is his website. And if the OP is interested - she can check for herself. I know that Mr. Doi mentioned that he sometimes picks up tourists in Tokyo for sightseeing trips outside of Tokyo - so it's not totally out of his ballpark. Robyn

P.S. To OP - read some of your other messages - and the Merrill Lynch credit card currently does not have international surcharges. That's what we used in Japan. We were also told that we'd need a lot of cash in Japan - so we brought $1000 in yen for a 3 week trip. Didn't use half of it (almost every place we went except for some small stores and some mom and pop restaurants accepted credit cards) - so we didn't get to try out the ATM card we got specifically for the trip - from E*Trade - which we were told worked fine in Japan.

P.P.S. To OP - I should mention that I am a 59 year old woman - and perhaps I don't travel as well as a 35 year old "road warrior". I was dead on my feet when I arrived in Tokyo. Depending on your tolerance for long trips and jet lag - perhaps you might consider an overnight at Narita airport on arrival - and taking a train to Kyoto early the next morning.

Last edited by robyng; Oct 11, 06 at 4:48 pm
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Old Oct 11, 06, 5:23 pm   #18
  
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Quote:
(2&2 vs. 3&3 in Regular cars)
Ordinary Shinkansen cars have 2+3 seating.

Quote:
also, the bullet train is not very bullet! it doesnt really go that fast on that line, at least. distance from tokyo to kyoto = 370 km. so thats average 148km/h. the regular train from london to newcastle here in the uk would average 143 km/h (380 km in 2.65h) and no one calls that a bullet. -posted by clinicallyobeast
Term bullet train was coined up back when the original Shinkansen 0 sereis trains came out, they looked like a bullet. Though the name has lingured around for anything high speed rail even if the train maynot look like a bullet.

Anything that runs over 200km/h is considered "High Speed Rail"/ "Bullet trains" if you will.

Shinkansens operate up to 270 km/h - 300 km/h in normal service.
Its that there are parts of the line that trains operate slower, parts where they operate at very high speed.

For example the Run from Nagoya to Kyoto you're going at about 230+ km/h. I consider that pretty fast.
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Old Oct 11, 06, 6:33 pm   #19
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The train is amazingly fast - and efficient - and comfortable. Wouldn't have missed taking it for the world (we did 2 legs - Tokyo to Shin-Osaka - and Kyoto back to Tokyo). Only problem is heaping a bunch of travel on a jet-lagged person. The OP will have to decide for herself what her tolerance is.

Actually - I thought of my perfect solution to this trip. Arrive in Narita - get meet and greet service from Tokyo Four Seasons (2 blocks from Tokyo station) - go on limo bus to Four Seasons - rejuvenate at Four Seasons that afternoon/evening - and leave for Kyoto the following morning. If money is no object . Robyn
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Old Oct 11, 06, 7:12 pm   #20
  
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was thinking that his rate for a half day (4 hours) is 22,000 yen - and that he could do a round trip in a half day. Doubt it. On the other hand - his rate for a full day is 44,000 yen (don't know whether extra gas charges would apply for such a trip) - and the trip can be done in a full day - yes? Considering what a first class reserved seat costs - and the fact that the idea of taking 2 trains - with a transfer at Tokyo station - carrying luggage - in a strange country - after a 12-13 hour plane flight - well the sound of it is just exhausting.
You also have highway tolls, 20,000(?) + JPY or so if he's driving kyoto-narita-kyoto. Combined with his fee, seems like a really expensive option to take.

If there is a lot of luggage, takkyubin is not to expensive and next day delivery.

To me it would be more exhausting taking a 6+ (?) hour in a car/van from Narita Airport to Kyoto, than it would to take two fast comfortable trains.

Of course the OP is open to whatever they decide, but if it were going to cost me 44,000-64,000 JPY to get to Kyoto, I'd take the train.

Last edited by railroadtycoon; Oct 11, 06 at 7:18 pm
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Old Oct 11, 06, 7:19 pm   #21
  
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Robyng - I think the journey by car from Kyoto to NRT is 7+ hours
(Some of the drivers on this forum may tell me they've done it in less time - but that will require empty roads and disregard for speed limits)

There may be drivers who are willing to drive from Kyoto to pick someone up at NRT and drive them back to Kyoto, but it won't be cheap, quick or fun. I wouldn't recommend an expensive, long trip on the dull, walled-in expressways of central Honshu.

The other options, such as flying from NRT to ITM or taking a train from NRT via Tokyo to Kyoto, are going to be cheaper, quicker and IMO more comfortable.
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Old Oct 11, 06, 7:39 pm   #22
  
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Originally Posted by clinicallyobeast
leave some time to navigate tokyo station. the narita express comes in on the marunouchi side and the Shinkansen goes from the other side and this is not obvious. be ready to wander around for hours if you've not done this before. it drove me mad. its like there are two tokyo stations.

also, the bullet train is not very bullet! it doesnt really go that fast on that line, at least. distance from tokyo to kyoto = 370 km. so thats average 148km/h. the regular train from london to newcastle here in the uk would average 143 km/h (380 km in 2.65h) and no one calls that a bullet.
Thats because of all the stops at Yokohama, Nagoya etcetera.

Talking about Nagoya, I love the place and have friends living there.
Largest concentration of Pachinko parlours in the world in that city(third lagest city in Japan), a nice harbour with a great Aquarium, insanely good seafood and the best Miso soup you will ever have.
All at unbeatable prices compared to Tokyo and Osaka.

Kyoto is nice too, the old capital of Japan and left relatively unharmed by the US during second world war so it has a lot of really old temples to visit.

It is also the city Nintendo is located in.
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Old Oct 11, 06, 7:53 pm   #23
  
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Originally Posted by clinicallyobeast
leave some time to navigate tokyo station. the narita express comes in on the marunouchi side and the Shinkansen goes from the other side and this is not obvious. be ready to wander around for hours if you've not done this before. it drove me mad. its like there are two tokyo stations.

also, the bullet train is not very bullet! it doesnt really go that fast on that line, at least. distance from tokyo to kyoto = 370 km. so thats average 148km/h. the regular train from london to newcastle here in the uk would average 143 km/h (380 km in 2.65h) and no one calls that a bullet.
Sigh. Where is railroadtycoon when you need him? The distance between Tokyo and Kyoto is 513.6 km. And the Nozomi takes 140 minutes between the two points, for an average speed of 220 km/hr. Top speed in that run is 270 km/hr. London to Newcastle, sure.

Edited to add: It seems that railroadtycoon did get back promptly with a riposte. Mea culpa.

Last edited by Pickles; Oct 11, 06 at 7:58 pm Reason: Casting of aspersions
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Old Oct 11, 06, 9:26 pm   #24
  
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Originally Posted by Pickles
... Edited to add: It seems that railroadtycoon did get back promptly with a riposte. Mea culpa.
Yeah, but I like yours better.

JR
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Old Oct 12, 06, 3:23 am   #25
  
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Quote:
Originally Posted by clinicallyobeast
also, the bullet train is not very bullet! it doesnt really go that fast on that line, at least. distance from tokyo to kyoto = 370 km. so thats average 148km/h. the regular train from london to newcastle here in the uk would average 143 km/h (380 km in 2.65h) and no one calls that a bullet.
It's 2.5 hrs from Tokyo to Osaka, not Kyoto. This is a distance of 515 km by rail, so the average is rather more respectable 206 km/h.

Me, I'm waiting for the Fastech 360 -- no prizes for guessing the maximum speed in production! (They've already gone over 400 km/h in testing.)

(D'oh -- posted this without realizing there was already a whole pageful of replies...)
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Old Oct 12, 06, 4:01 am   #26
  
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... and the shinkansen is more punctual, more frequent, more reliable, safer and cleaner than any train I've ever ridden in the UK... and the food is better... and the employees are more polite... and I'd rather go to Kyoto than Newcastle.

Alright, I'll shut up now.
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Old Oct 12, 06, 5:40 am   #27
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Originally Posted by jib71
... and the shinkansen is more punctual, more frequent, more reliable, safer and cleaner than any train I've ever ridden in the UK... and the food is better... and the employees are more polite...
And it has toilets too!
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Old Oct 12, 06, 7:40 am   #28
  
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Originally Posted by LapLap
And it has toilets too!
Like the guy in the train in Mexico who had to go real bad, but the toilets were all inop. So, he sticks his arse out the window, and as they are turning into a tunnel, the train engineer yells: "Ese cacheton del puro, metase, que ahi viene el tunel!". Can't do that in the Shinkansen, even if the toilets are inop.
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Old Oct 12, 06, 10:03 am   #29
  
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Wink

I concur with the above posts about taking the shinkansen! Having taken the Nozomi twice and the Kodama once (to Hamamatsu), I can definitely raise my glass of juice and say they're the best trains I've taken. I still have good memories of Kyoto and Hamamatsu. Those cities are the greatest places to visit for anyone going to Japan! Osaka's a tad over-commericalized for me IMHO.

I want to try Miyazaki next year -- anyone have good recommendations on where to stay? I want to consider staying at the Sheraton Miyazaki. Comments are welcome.

Pickles, you have a PM. I have been waiting for a response from you for days on end now.

Sanosuke!
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Old Oct 12, 06, 10:16 am   #30
  
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Pickles, you have a PM. I have been waiting for a response from you for days on end now.
You asking about next April? In my timeframe, next April is like predicting the weather. I know it will be warmer than January average, but cooler than August on average. Other than that, I can't tell you much. I could be in town, I could be away, I could be permanently barred from re-entry, or I could be dead. Too early to tell, as they say with the polls. You may want to get the peanut gallery lined up for an mjm special instead, featuring liquored-up long-term residents and chicken on sticks. More fun, and more reliable.
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