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Bullet train from Tokyo to Kyoto

Bullet train from Tokyo to Kyoto

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Old Oct 12, 06, 10:54 am
  #31  
 
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I echo the other posters -- the shinkansen is the best way to go. If this is your first time in Japan, I'd recommend taking that leg even if you didn't have to fly into Narita and/or didn't have to visit someone in Kyoto. This is one of the world's truly great train journeys, the food and service are top notch, and if you get lucky, there's a once-in-a-lifetime view of Mt. Fuji.

It's true that Japan, esp. Tokyo, can be discombobulating, that you'll be tired, and that the culture and language are very different. But honestly, even before I spoke the language at all, I felt more comfortable in Japan than I did in France. If you need help, and you can say the name of your destination, people will go far out of their way to help you even if they don't speak English. Even in Tokyo Station at the height of rush hour, people will come running to help a foreigner in distress (I tested this firsthand on my last trip, when I tripped and fell on my face, suitcases flying, and I was surrounded by people trying to help me up and asking if I was OK before I even realized what had happened).
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Old Oct 12, 06, 11:15 am
  #32  
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Originally Posted by Pickles
....the train engineer yells: "Ese cacheton del puro, metase, que ahi viene el tunel!".
LOL

The New York Bar at the Hyatt will never be the same now....
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Old Oct 12, 06, 6:22 pm
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Cool

Nor will it be the same there sitting across from where Bill Murray once pondered his minutes away in "Lost in Translation" LOL!

Sanosuke!
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Old Oct 12, 06, 8:25 pm
  #34  
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Originally Posted by jib71
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.
Well this - combined with the tolls - YIKES - would make it a terrible idea.

I really guess it comes down to how the OP deals with travel. I know I was among the walking dead when I arrived in Tokyo (of course - it was a multi-day trip for me - JAX to EWR late on day 1 - with 1 canceled flight - overnight at EWR - then EWR to NRT on days 2/3). If she thinks she can do Dallas/Tokyo and then perhaps 4 hours of train travel with transfers in one "swell foop" - then she should do it. Otherwise - crashing somewhere in Tokyo (either at Narita or near Tokyo station after taking the limo bus into town) - and then going to Kyoto the next morning - seems like a decent "plan B". This is very much a decision based on personal preferences.

Loved the bullet train - but I was wide awake during our trips . Robyn
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Old Oct 12, 06, 11:06 pm
  #35  
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Japan Rail has self guided tours which are really a discounted ticket on the bullet to Kyoto and several other cities. Tokyo Kyoto return with one night hotel in a double room is 19,500 yen/per person. I bought our tickets from the tour desk at the Dai Ichi Annex Hotel in Tokyo. Theoretically, you need two days advance purchase to get the documents delivered to your hotel. As we did not have two days advance we had to meet a courier at Tokyo station which worked out well.

And, the shopping mall under the station is amazing! You won't go hungrey there. For that matter, we had some really excellent noodles in Kyoto Station (on the pedestrian bridge over the tracks). Don't take your suitcase to the table though. You will be corrected!

By the way, while the one night stay trip is a deal (much cheaper than just the ticket and includes nice hotel in Kyoto) you can do much better booking second or third nights yourself in Kyoto. Apparenlty, if you "miss" the train you can standby on other trains, but without reserved seat. Don't know if you could book one night hotel in Kyoto and get a train ticket back to Tokyo for a couple of days later.
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Old Oct 14, 06, 11:31 am
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I plan to make this same trip from Tokyo to Kyoto next month. We'll be arriving after spending two weeks in China.

As we'll be doing some other travel around Japan, we will likely go with the JapanRail pass.

A few of questions...

Is reserved seating necessary? I've ridden trains around Europe never encountered a full car. Of course, Japan is a different animal.

How much better are the green cars vs the standard ones? To give you an idea of what my preferences are, I've ridden the TGV in both 1st and 2nd class and don't really think that there's much point in 1st class. I'm petite, so a bigger seat doesn't do a lot for me. Are there other amenities besides bigger seats that make green cars worthwhile?

I hear the limobus can take forever to get you to your hotel. We're flying into Narita and staying at the Westin in Tokyo. Since we'll have the pass, I'm guessing the best/most efficient option would be to take the Narita Express in to Tokyo, and from there take a taxi to our hotel. I'm not sure we'll be up for navigating the subways with luggage immediately after arriving.

Any advice would be much appreciated!
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Old Oct 14, 06, 12:44 pm
  #37  
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Is reserved seating necessary? I've ridden trains around Europe never encountered a full car. Of course, Japan is a different animal.
Narita Express trains have reserved seating only, we just had a long discussion, but if you are traveling outside of peak travel seasons, the Narita Express rarely sells out, and even in that case there are alternatives.

The Shinkansen trains and Limited Express trains have both unreserved and reserved seating. If you have JR Pass reserved seating is free. Are they neccessary, no they are not, if you board at Tokyo Station, you can luck out on an unreserved seat in the unreserved section. But I always make a reservation anyways, since they are free.
You can make your seat reservations at any JR ticket seat reservation office.

Local, Rapid trains are all unreserved seating.

How much better are the green cars vs the standard ones? To give you an idea of what my preferences are,. I'm petite, so a bigger seat doesn't do a lot for me. Are there other amenities besides bigger seats that make green cars worthwhile?
Again I think its a topic largely discussed. My opinion that its not really worth the extra price. Green seats provide a little more space, but a more padded seat. I've always found regular/ordinary car to be comfortable.

I hear the limobus can take forever to get you to your hotel. We're flying into Narita and staying at the Westin in Tokyo.
Disicussed before, YMMV. The Westin Tokyo is the last stop, but it all depends on traffic.

Since we'll have the pass, I'm guessing the best/most efficient option would be to take the Narita Express in to Tokyo, and from there take a taxi to our hotel. I'm not sure we'll be up for navigating the subways with luggage immediately after arriving.
If it is economic for you to start using your rail pass on your first day of arrival then Tokyo or Shinagawa station then taxi is fine.

Which JR Railpass do you plan to get, and how much (in days) and where will you be traveling ? There are many different versions of the JR pass, just seeing which one maybe more economical for you (if any).

Hope that helps a bit.
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Old Oct 14, 06, 2:17 pm
  #38  
 
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Originally Posted by swise
...Any advice would be much appreciated!
You can help us help you by giving some more information about your trip. How long will you be in Japan? What travel plans do you have while in Japan? What sort of rail pass do you have in mind? Have you ever been to Japan before? What are your arrival/departure plans? Times?

Just to give you an idea why all that matters, there alternatives for arrival/departure points, depending on where in Japan you wish to travel and for how long. The JR rail pass must be purchased outside of Japan (with a few exceptions like the local Kansai area pass) and is valid for most but not all JR trains but not other trains - ie: the fastest Nozomi shinkansen is not covered. Nor are other companies trains. The rail pass is valid for a set number of days, so planning out the days you will validate for is important - if you need 7 or 14 days of long distance travel around the country, you may not want to validate the pass just for the ride into town from the airport. If the 7 or 14 days will include airport travel days, then you can validate the pass right in the airport and ride free on the N'EX.

My first suggestion is that your initial idea regarding subways is good. After arriving internationally with luggage, the subway, which might be an option for experienced Tokyo hands, is probably a bad choice for a first-time visitor. You can explore the subways when you are rested, not jetlagged and not toting bulky bags. The limobus is a good option for those who just want to let someone else worry about the navigation and who have lots of bags. My option is always the train+cab (or subway), but I never have much luggage and love to watch the scenery go by on the train. If your hotel is the last stop, the bus will take longer, but deliver you right to the hotel. On the train, you will need to transfer selves and bags to a cab. Each has advantages and you know how you travel best.

As for reservations, I've never felt the need to reserve anything except long distance shinkansen trips. I just grab the next airport train or local train as I need them and avoid the highest traffic times during the rush periods. For the shinkansen, I stop in at the first chance to reserve my seats and pay for them at that time. If your travel plans are locked-in before you arrive in Japan, you can make your reservations at the JR station right at NRT. Otherwise, just stop in to one of the larger JR stations during your stay to do the reservations a few days prior to travel. I'm pretty tall, so have used the green car on occasion, but don't really see it as providing much more for the money than ordinary reserved seating. You can specify a non-smoking car. For your general planning, the N'EX and other airport trains (to NGO or KIX) have luggage space in each car for bags as does the shinkansen. Locals and subways do not, for the most part. You probably already know this, but plan to be very punctual when catching Japanese trains, as they always leave on time - right on the dot. Better to sit on the platform and people watch for a minute than try to run to catch the train.

Give us a bit more information and the good folks here will have plenty of help to offer.

JR
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Old Oct 14, 06, 3:20 pm
  #39  
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(Its from my experience people use the term "subway" for everything mass-transit, normally its fine for cities that have one primary rail operator, but when it comes to Japan, and Tokyo especially, a distinction needs to be made in order to avoid confusion with subways, and regional rail operators, for example if someone asked directions by "Subway" to Shinjuku from Tokyo, you can take Tokyo Metro "subway" from Tokyo to Shinjuku, alternately, you have a non subway route, take the JR Chuo line. Depending on how or where you ask, someone might give you one option or both options. The JR Pass is not valid on subways, monorails, etc in Japan, but rather only on trains operated by JR, Japan Railways, with some exceptions)

An alternative you have is when you reach Tokyo by Narita Express, either at Tokyo, Shinagawa, or even Shinjuku Station, you can switch to the JR Yamanote line (local train) to Ebisu Station and walk to the Westin (about 10 or so minutes walk).

I understand what you mean with luggage, the same principle is the same, from subway, or local JR/private rail trains, if you have a lot of luggage you do not wish to mess with the crowds, stairs, escaltors etc and lugging things around on a local train, then you might want to consider a taxi from the station to complete your trip.

I would say taking a taxi from Shinagawa Station to Ebisu, where the Westin is, would be a little cheaper than a taxi from Tokyo Station. But I'm not too sure on this matter.

I agree with abmj-jr:
The limobus is a good option for those who just want to let someone else worry about the navigation and who have lots of bags. My option is always the train+cab (or subway), but I never have much luggage and love to watch the scenery go by on the train. If your hotel is the last stop, the bus will take longer, but deliver you right to the hotel. On the train, you will need to transfer selves and bags to a cab. Each has advantages and you know how you travel best.
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Old Oct 14, 06, 6:34 pm
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Thanks for the responses. That was what I was looking for.

I plan to talk more about my itinerary in a separate post, once I fill in some of the gaps a bit more. (having these questions answered certainly helped with some of those gaps)

But, since it was asked, this is our first trip to Japan, so simple stupid is good this time around. We'll be there a week, which is why we're thinking of a JR Pass. Since we'll have spent the two weeks prior on a family trip with my fiancé's parents, brother, brother's fiancée and her son, the Japan trip is intended to be a nice chance for the two of us to explore and rejuvenate together before heading home and back to our busy lives.

Once again, thanks a bunch for the info!
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Old Oct 14, 06, 7:07 pm
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Originally Posted by swise
... this is our first trip to Japan, so simple stupid is good this time around. We'll be there a week, which is why we're thinking of a JR Pass.
A few things come to mind that might help in your planning.

"A week" might mean anywhere from 6 to 8 days or so. If you will depart 7 days after arriving, then a 7-day rail pass should cover all of your stay. You could simply activate it immediately upon arrival, use it for the N'EX and all subsequent JR travel and also use it on the seventh day to return to the airport on the N'EX. If you are actually going to be in country for a week NOT COUNTING arrival and/or departure day, then you will probably just be paying cash for airport transportation at one end of the stay or the other. That is if you arrive and depart at NRT - - -

I assume from your signature block that you will be flying AA, so are probably locked into using NRT. One thing does occur to me though. AA partners with other airlines that fly from China to KIX. You might be able to maximize your time in Japan and avoid backtracking on the train if you fly into KIX on JAL or another AA partner, visit Kyoto for a few days, train to Tokyo for a few days and then depart from NRT on AA - or even JAL. There are some nice things to see and do along the way between those two major points if you have the time. This is the sort of thing we tend to recommend around here for those times it will work - in one airport and out from the other. If it won't work, it won't work and you can always just do all AA through NRT and move back and forth via train. That is the value of the rail pass - those 2-way long distance trips. For only a one-way trip and a couple of airport trains, it is probably not good value.

Anyway, welcome to the Japan forum.

JR
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Old Oct 14, 06, 8:37 pm
  #42  
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Originally Posted by swise
I hear the limobus can take forever to get you to your hotel. We're flying into Narita and staying at the Westin in Tokyo. Since we'll have the pass, I'm guessing the best/most efficient option would be to take the Narita Express in to Tokyo, and from there take a taxi to our hotel. I'm not sure we'll be up for navigating the subways with luggage immediately after arriving.

Any advice would be much appreciated!
It can be a bit pricey to get to the Westin from Tokyo station. The best N'Ex stop is Shibuya, but not too many N'Ex's stop there. Next best is Shinagawa, it's about Y3000 taxi fare from there.

If you want to minimize taxis (and your bags permit it), from Tokyo, Shinjuku, Shibuya, or Shinagawa, transfer to the Yamanote line to Ebisu station. You can exit either exit from Ebisu via escalator and then take a cab to the hotel with your bags, it will only cost Y660.
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Old Oct 16, 06, 12:39 pm
  #43  
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bullet train from Narita Station to Kyoto

all of the information that has been posted on this thread is fantastic. I actually think you have given me the "courage" to actually try the bullet train from Narita Station to Kyoto. But i shudder to think if i didn't have the insight into all these postings what i might be like arriving at the Narita Airport, sleep deprived, confused, unable to speak the language, etc. Although my daughter who now lives in Kyoto says that the Japanese people have helped she and her American roommate more than once to determine which train to get on.

Thanks for all the posts.

Cathy Berg
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Old Oct 16, 06, 2:19 pm
  #44  
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I certainly do not think you'll have much of a language issue especially when booking from Narita Airport to Tokyo and then Tokyo to Kyoto, heavily traveled routes by many visitors. Trains stations have Japanese and English signs, and train annoucments on the Shinkansen and Narita Express are billingual as well.

I hope you have a nice trip, and please report back.
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Old Oct 16, 06, 3:12 pm
  #45  
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bullet train from Narita Station to Kyoto

thanks for the information. My trip is in February so it will be a few months before "I report back" but i will after the trip concludes.

Cathy Berg
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