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How to buy train tickets from outside Japan: Kyoto to Narita Airport

How to buy train tickets from outside Japan: Kyoto to Narita Airport

Old Sep 26, 2023, 1:13 pm
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How to buy train tickets from outside Japan: Kyoto to Narita Airport

What is the best way to buy a ticket from outside Japan for a journey from Kyoto to Narita airport? We need Green car seats on a very specific train and we want to make sure we get the Nozomi Green seats that allow us to take large luggage onboard, and so we would prefer not to wait until we are in Japan to buy this ticket.

We already have a Suica for each traveler from a past trip to Japan.
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Old Sep 26, 2023, 1:19 pm
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Worth checking https://smart-ex.jp/en/lp/app/
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Old Sep 26, 2023, 1:54 pm
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Unless you are travelling during Golden week, Obon festival, New Years, or taking the last train, I would wait until you are in the Nozomi train station in Japan so you don't have to worry about having to travel at a specific date/time. Seats rarely sell out especially the Green seats. Even during the holidays I just mentioned, there are normally still Green Seats available.

Originally Posted by Buster CT1K
What is the best way to buy a ticket from outside Japan for a journey from Kyoto to Narita airport? We need Green car seats on a very specific train and we want to make sure we get the Nozomi Green seats that allow us to take large luggage onboard, and so we would prefer not to wait until we are in Japan to buy this ticket.

We already have a Suica for each traveler from a past trip to Japan.
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Old Sep 26, 2023, 10:45 pm
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There's no direct train from Kyoto to Narita. Are you thinking of going from Kyoto to Shinagawa/Tokyo via Shinkansen then from Shinagawa/Tokyo/Ueno to Narita via a different train/bus/?

If you want to book a specific Nozomi ahead of time, SmartEx would be your best bet as of October 1st one can reserve seats up to one year in advance.

SmartEx also offer the option to change your reservation until 4 minutes of the reserved train departure. There are some rules related to the fact that you can only change within three months of the original purchase but that's with the current system of reserving up to 1 month ahead. With the upcoming chnage of reserving up to 1 year ahead of time the rules might change a little.

Beware that if you change your reservations, you might be charged fare difference if your original reservations have discounts but your modified reservations do not have the discounts.
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Old Sep 27, 2023, 12:19 pm
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Originally Posted by LCUF
There's no direct train from Kyoto to Narita. Are you thinking of going from Kyoto to Shinagawa/Tokyo via Shinkansen then from Shinagawa/Tokyo/Ueno to Narita via a different train/bus/?
If he's worried about luggage space, he's almost certainly planning on transferring to the N'EX. Even without luggage, that is the most sensible option by far if you're going to NRT from Kyoto via Nozomi. Small bonus for doing the transfer and Shinagawa instead of Tokyo Station in order to reduce the distance and level changes needed to transfer trains with your luggage.
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Old Sep 27, 2023, 1:21 pm
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Frankly I would just take Haruka (plenty of luggage space) to KIX and fly to Narita instead if I were you. It will definitely be cheaper and at least you dont have to worry about luggage space, changing trains at Tokyo/Shinagawa with all your luggage, and a lot faster (1.5 hour flight time). However, if you really want to take train and get your tickets in advance before u get to Japan, you can try Klook.com. Its an online travel agency based in Hong Kong, a lot of ppl use it and is quite reliable. They will sell you advanced JR train tickets (they will send you an QR code, you collect the ticket at the train station by scanning the code at the ticket machine).
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Last edited by williamluk; Sep 27, 2023 at 1:50 pm
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Old Sep 27, 2023, 3:18 pm
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Yes I think that we will transfer at Shinagawa (or Tokyo Station) to the Narita Express.

Flying KIX-NRT doesn't work for us because there are only LCCs on that route, and further that we would have to reclaim bags at NRT and then possibly change terminals and check in to our next flight -- too many variables and too little time.
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Old Sep 27, 2023, 3:25 pm
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SmartEx doesn't seem to sell tickets for Kyoto to Narita Airport. How do you suggest I go about this? Maybe I have to buy a separate N'Ex ticket?
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Old Sep 27, 2023, 5:02 pm
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Originally Posted by Buster CT1K
SmartEx doesn't seem to sell tickets for Kyoto to Narita Airport. How do you suggest I go about this? Maybe I have to buy a separate N'Ex ticket?
yes, smartex only works for Tokaido/Sanyo/Kyushu Shinkansen. You need to get your nex ticket separately.

Last edited by williamluk; Sep 27, 2023 at 5:32 pm
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Old Sep 27, 2023, 5:34 pm
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Originally Posted by Buster CT1K
How do you suggest I go about this? Maybe I have to buy a separate N'Ex ticket?
This has been mentioned before: wait until you get to Japan. Unless you're traveling during a holiday period, you're over-engineering the situation. Consider that you can do it as soon as you arrive, so that would probably be at least a few days if not longer before your departure day. It is unlikely that the green car will sell out even a few hours before departure, let alone days in advance. Plus, they leave as frequently as every 5 minutes, so there is a large capacity. You can go to any JR ticket office anywhere in the country and make a reservation and buy your tickets. Just walk in and buy your ticket from a person at the counter. Simple.
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Old Sep 28, 2023, 2:00 pm
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OK, thanks for everyone's advice on this thread.
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Old Nov 12, 2023, 1:00 pm
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Looks like Smart EX takes US credit cards for advanced booking. Can I pay by CC in person too?
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Old Nov 12, 2023, 1:47 pm
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Originally Posted by Steve M
You can go to any JR ticket office anywhere in the country and make a reservation and buy your tickets. Just walk in and buy your ticket from a person at the counter. Simple.
Can I do this upon landing in NRT (from US) around 1pm? Looks like there are JR ticket offices in both T1 and T2-3 . I assume that's where I'd also buy the initial NEX ticket into Tokyo. However, the hours say closed between 8:30 and 18:00 or 20:00
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Old Nov 12, 2023, 6:57 pm
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Originally Posted by italdesign
Can I do this upon landing in NRT (from US) around 1pm? Looks like there are JR ticket offices in both T1 and T2-3 . I assume that's where I'd also buy the initial NEX ticket into Tokyo. However, the hours say closed between 8:30 and 18:00 or 20:00
Perhaps take another look at the "JR ticket offices" web page you provided the link to - but this time use a laptop or desktop web browser. According to the web page as rendered on my PC, there are three T1 options and two T2-T3 options for this. From the timing, it would appear that Ticket Offices are staffed for this purpose "off hours", and during core hours the staff serving this function move to the JR Travel Center. Again, perhaps if rendering the web page on a mobile device, this distinction might not be clear.
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Old Nov 12, 2023, 9:58 pm
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If you really want to purchase NEX tickets ahead of time, you can use https://www.jreast.co.jp/multi/en/nex/tickets/ to book ahead then once you arrive in Japan/Narita, then use the JR East ticket machines or the travel center to pick up the physical tickets with the provided QR codes and your passports.

That being said, both the travel center and ticket machines at Narita might be busy with many other tourists so you would definitely want to budget extra time like 30+ minutes depending on how busy it is at the time.

Until you actually redeem the physical tickets, you can still use the website to change them. Last time I booked ahead and by thet ime I got to the ticket machines, I still had 15 minutes or so left before the next NEX train departs and I immediately used the website to change my reservation from the original reservation which was gonna be an hour later to the one that's departing soon. If you did redeem the physical tickets then you will probably have to use the ticket offices to change them.
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