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Bullet train from Tokyo to Kyoto

Bullet train from Tokyo to Kyoto

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Old Jan 7, 07, 3:12 pm
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Originally Posted by Zhaunk View Post
... Am I correct in figuring the fare from Tokyo to Kyoto? (without a pass, of course)
Nozumi is 7980+5540 for a reserved seat
Hikara is 7980+5240 for reserved

Are there any charges I'm missing? Do you think I would have problems without a reservation on Nozumi trains in mid-June?
Current oneway prices for Tokyo-Kyoto are 13,720 yen (Nozomi) and 13,420 yen for the Hikari - a difference of less than $3.00 US each way. The Nozomi averages about 20-25 minutes faster for the 513 km trip. Very little difference in price and not much faster travel. Most of the longer Hikari time comes from additional station stops rather than significantly lower speed.

So, for ONLY the Tokyo-Kyoto-Tokyo roundtrip, there is not really all that much difference between Nozomi and Hikari RailStar. The advantage in the Rail Pass comes with convenience and the fact that it covers all that other travel - Narita Express, Yamanote Line, Kyoto-Nara or Osaka, if you do that.
YMMV.

As for shinkansen reservations, I have never needed one in advance. I just buy my ticket a day or two in advance and have always gotten great seats. Even day-of purchases are usually fine, although you may need to opt for unreserved seats in the last couple of cars rather than reserved, assigned seating up front.

June is not a high travel time in Japan, although it IS the typhoon season. Be prepared for weather.

JR

Last edited by abmj-jr; Jan 7, 07 at 3:32 pm
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Old Jan 7, 07, 3:26 pm
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JR - thanks for the quick answer! i've been reading posts on the tokyo-kyoto trains the last few days and your posts have been very helpful.
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Old Feb 6, 07, 7:19 am
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I've just re-read mileposts 48-60 in this thread (having read the entire very helpful thread in the past), yet I still have one question. We are two pax, likely with a total of three medium-sized bags and one larger bag. Will reserving a Green Car on the Nozomi Osaka-Kyoto-Tokyo improve the baggage situation at all? I'm thinking that because of fewer pax in the carriage, we'll have at least marginally better chances of storing our luggage.

Here's the background. We stayed in Tokyo for five days in December 2005. We took the Nozomi down to Kyoto and back on Christmas Day, largely for purposes of taking the train with the added benefit of having a beautiful destination at the end. We'll be going back this year in December (I'm planning early because we're on FF tix). The plan, one many have recommended, is to fly into KIX and spend two nights in Osaka. Take the train to Kyoto and stay there four nights, with a side-trip to Nara one day. Then take the Nozomi to Tokyo for two nights before flying out of NRT. Last year, on the Nozomi we had just cameras and what-not for walking around during the day. This year, we'll have all of our baggage with us for the entire eight days in Japan. I know the N'Ex has adequate baggage-storage facilities, and based on other threads I expect the Kansai trains do too (please correct me if I'm wrong). I know from this thread that we'll have access to overhead racks for at-most-medium-sized bags and some modest storage at the end of the carriage for larger bags. Will upgrading to the Green Car improve the baggage situation at all? I'm thinking of doing it anyway, but wondering if the extra baggage would be a good rationalization, you know?

Relatedly, should we take the Nozomi from Osaka to Kyoto? Or would we be better off buying a Kansai-area JR rail pass for four days or so that would cover our KIX-Express, Osaka-Kyoto, and Kyoto-Nara side trip? Can we reserve a Green Car on those trains? Am I correct that, because of the non-Nozomi rule for JR passes, we'd be on a Hikari for Osaka-Kyoto?

A great many thanks to all who have posted so much valuable information in this thread (and others). I appreciate your expertise very much.
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Old Feb 6, 07, 8:54 am
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Originally Posted by MegatopLover View Post
I've just re-read mileposts 48-60 in this thread (having read the entire very helpful thread in the past), yet I still have one question. We are two pax, likely with a total of three medium-sized bags and one larger bag. Will reserving a Green Car on the Nozomi Osaka-Kyoto-Tokyo improve the baggage situation at all? I'm thinking that because of fewer pax in the carriage, we'll have at least marginally better chances of storing our luggage.

Here's the background. We stayed in Tokyo for five days in December 2005. We took the Nozomi down to Kyoto and back on Christmas Day, largely for purposes of taking the train with the added benefit of having a beautiful destination at the end. We'll be going back this year in December (I'm planning early because we're on FF tix). The plan, one many have recommended, is to fly into KIX and spend two nights in Osaka. Take the train to Kyoto and stay there four nights, with a side-trip to Nara one day. Then take the Nozomi to Tokyo for two nights before flying out of NRT. Last year, on the Nozomi we had just cameras and what-not for walking around during the day. This year, we'll have all of our baggage with us for the entire eight days in Japan. I know the N'Ex has adequate baggage-storage facilities, and based on other threads I expect the Kansai trains do too (please correct me if I'm wrong). I know from this thread that we'll have access to overhead racks for at-most-medium-sized bags and some modest storage at the end of the carriage for larger bags. Will upgrading to the Green Car improve the baggage situation at all? I'm thinking of doing it anyway, but wondering if the extra baggage would be a good rationalization, you know?

Relatedly, should we take the Nozomi from Osaka to Kyoto? Or would we be better off buying a Kansai-area JR rail pass for four days or so that would cover our KIX-Express, Osaka-Kyoto, and Kyoto-Nara side trip? Can we reserve a Green Car on those trains? Am I correct that, because of the non-Nozomi rule for JR passes, we'd be on a Hikari for Osaka-Kyoto?

A great many thanks to all who have posted so much valuable information in this thread (and others). I appreciate your expertise very much.
There are many options for travel between Osaka and Kyoto. The Shinkansen seems like overkill, although I used that route once years ago when I ended up staying out late in Osaka and wanted to get back to my hotel in Kyoto as soon as possible.

There are a number of private railroads going from various points in Osaka to various points in Kyoto, and depending on where your hotels are located, one of them may be more convenient. (There are excellent Periplus travel maps for both Osaka and Kyoto, with the Kyoto map including Nara and both including information on the rail network.)

You can buy a Surutto Kansai card for your travels on private railroads in the Osaka-Kyoto area. You don't save any money, but since fares tend to be cheaper on the private lines than on JR, a 5000 card will take you a long way. You can buy them at any subway or non-JR station in the region.

Just one caution: these trains are commuter trains, so they largely lack the comfort of the intercity trains. You may not want to try them with luggage.

However, once you're settled into your hotel, they're fine for daytrips to places like Nara or Uji and give ou an up-close look at average middle class Japanese life.
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Old Feb 6, 07, 9:18 am
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Relatedly, should we take the Nozomi from Osaka to Kyoto? Or would we be better off buying a Kansai-area JR rail pass for four days or so that would cover our KIX-Express, Osaka-Kyoto, and Kyoto-Nara side trip? Can we reserve a Green Car on those trains? Am I correct that, because of the non-Nozomi rule for JR passes, we'd be on a Hikari for Osaka-Kyoto?
The JR West Kansai Area pass covers NONE of the Shinkansen routes between Osaka and Kyoto.

You could however take the Haruka (Airport train) from Osaka-Kyoto with the the pass. However, both the Shinkansen and Haruka depart from Shin-Osaka Station, not Osaka Station.

Another note is that you don't even need to step foot on the Shinkansen to get from Osaka to Kyoto. You can take the JR Rapid train that departs from Osaka Station to Kyoto Station.
Alternately, there are Limited Express trains on Hankyu Railways from Umeda Station (next to Osaka Station) into Central Kyoto. (the cheapest option but just as fast depending on where you want to end up in Kyoto).

If you do have luggage these trains do get busy so that would certainly be a problem, but can be a bit easier if you decide to stay in either Kyoto or Osaka for 5 days in stead of the 2/4 split, this way, the day you arrive you can take ie the Haruka Limited express to Kyoto, check in your hotel and store all your luggage to the day you check out to Tokyo. If it were me I'd consolidate the hotels in Osaka and Kyoto into one, either in Osaka or Kyoto, the cities are close transportation wise, i'd be a pain the day you have to check out, carry your luggage on transportation to re-check in, plus the time lost.
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Old Feb 6, 07, 9:52 am
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As others have alluded, the Osaka-Kyoto split is a little problematic. You could certainly do it that way but it complicates your travel a bit. On the JR Haruka from KIX, it is only another 30 minutes or so to continue on from Osaka to Kyoto. When traveling into KIX, I prefer to just go all the way to Kyoto and leave Osaka for day visits. That way, I don't have to do a hotel move with luggage in the middle of my Kansai stay. The Haruka has plenty of luggage space.

The best reason to include an Osaka stay in your itinerary would be if you are nightlife people and want to immerse yourselves in the Osaka nightlife and restaurant scene. A few of our regular posters do just that and are very happy with it. I tend to nest up in my hotel for the evening quite early and spend my time getting out early in the morning and seeing things during the day. In that case, it just makes more sense to stay in one hotel and use the extensive train system to see other, nearby cities. YMMV.

The shinkansen makes little sense between Osaka and Kyoto since the trip is so short. The Haruka would be a "high-end" option from Shin-Osaka or Tennoji Station to Kyoto but the local trains would be a lot cheaper. See Railroadtycoon's post above.

JR
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Old Feb 6, 07, 10:06 am
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Given the stuff I've seen people schlep on to local trains in Japan, I'd say you can still make it without going for green cars and shinkansen and such for this 35-40 minute (max) ride. It would not be a quality experience during morning rush hour, but even then it is probably doable.

If you don't need ALL your bags the same day, a takyubbin service will deliver them hotel-hotel for a reasonable price overnight -- admittedly, most wouldn't use them for a trip this short, but for comfort, it sure can't be beat for Y3,000-4,000 or so, and the hotels at both ends will take care of everything for you, so you don't have to bother at all.
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Old Feb 6, 07, 1:34 pm
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You've got a couple different issues to look at when you consider getting a JR pass or not. You're frontloading your trip with Kyoto and Osaka, that changes the whole rail pass. I found that for the most part JR didn't go to the places I wanted to visit in Kyoto. I ended up using private rail/subway for the most part. Maybe connecting with JR to get a more direct hop to Kyoto station. On the other hand, in Toyko I was using JR almost exclusively. So, how much value will you get out of Shinkansen, NRT express and some misc travel?

The issue of baggage is really a matter of convenience vs money. If it's about money take the Hikari/Nozomi between Kyoto and Tokyo. Standard car is a 3x2 sear config. Green car is a 2x2 configuration. If you go during off peak hours it likely won't make a difference because it won't be that crowded. If you have a JR pass you'll be on the Hikari (no big deal).

On the other hand for convenience I'd use the Takuhaibin as much as possible and relax. Keep in mind you've usually got a 1 day lag. I recommend traveling with a small bag with a change of cloths and personal items. Toting around 1 or 2 small roller carry on sized bags is fairly easy.

Also keep in mind that people tend to pick of a lot of stuff in Kyoto/Osaka. Your bag won't get any lighter!
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Old Feb 6, 07, 3:46 pm
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We took a taxi from Osaka to Kyoto (arranged by the concierge at the hotel). Can't remember exactly how much it cost - but the price wasn't shocking (wasn't a very long trip either). Didn't wind up costing much more than 2 green train tickets - plus transfers to/from the train stations. Robyn
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Old Feb 7, 07, 5:36 am
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Originally Posted by robyng View Post
We took a taxi from Osaka to Kyoto (arranged by the concierge at the hotel). Can't remember exactly how much it cost - but the price wasn't shocking (wasn't a very long trip either). Didn't wind up costing much more than 2 green train tickets - plus transfers to/from the train stations. Robyn
Robyn - I think you should preface your advice with the comment that you prefer to travel in some style and comfort and don't worry (much) about the expense. That's fine, but I'd be reluctant to follow your advice because I am more price sensitive...

I estimate that a taxi from Umeda (i.e. the area of the Ritz Carlton) to Kyoto station (i.e. the area of the Granvia hotel) would cost about 12,000yen. (660yen for the first 2km + 80yen for every subsequent 275m. Total distance is roughly 40km).. A local expert, such as a concierge, might know some taxi companies who would discount for this trip. (Maybe 10%?)

For comparison - the same trip is 540yen per person on a regular JR train.

If you compare the taxi trip with a taxi to Shin Osaka, then two shinkansen green car tickets to Kyoto... the taxi would still be more expensive, but it might start to look like not such a bad value.
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Old Feb 7, 07, 6:36 am
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A great many thanks to everyone for your very insightful input. For my part, I'll say that I've come to the following tentative conclusions after reading your responses and doing some additional research on the JR West and JR Central websites. Notably, jib71 put his finger pretty much on the dot of the hotels we're considering in Osaka and Kyoto.

We'll probably want to take the Haruka KIX-Shin Osaka, then backtrack to Osaka Station. That is, unless you'd advise (based on the time it takes to backtrack, hassle of changing trains, distance of walk from Osaka Stn. to RC vs. cost of taxi from Shin Osaka to RC) just taking a taxi from Shin Osaka to the Ritz.

For Osaka-Kyoto, a Shinkansen is probably overkill. Only reasons to do it would be for space in the Green Car and foreshadowing the full-blown Nozomi treatment to Tokyo four days later. So for that, we'll probably take a JR train or other private train.

Don't think we'll need to use JR trains or private trains to get around Kyoto. We're young and we love to walk everywhere. The Kyoto subway and a few taxis should take care of us. That said, if we buy a pass, we might as well put it to use.

Then it's JR (or other private rail?) to Nara and back for a day. Scheduling of the day trip might be dictated by whether we buy a JR pass (such as a 4-day pass) that covers the Haruka, Osaka-Kyoto, and Kyoto-Nara-vv. That will in turn be driven by price. I've read in another thead in the Japan forum that buying the pass can be cheaper than a simple KIX Haruka ticket, so it might make sense.

After all that, it's the Nozomi to Tokyo. I expect our hotel will be around the Imperial Palace area, or maybe in Ginza, so we'd likely just take a taxi from Shin-Tokyo to the hotel. Finally, N'Ex out to Narita.

That's a lot of trains. Good thing I enjoy trains as much as planes. Good trains, that is, like they have in Japan.

Thanks again to all. Arigato!
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Old Feb 7, 07, 6:41 am
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One more thing. I gave some thought to the suggestion of just staying in Kyoto and day-tripping to Osaka. We might want to explore some Osaka nightlife, though not necessarily. We definitely want to dine in Osaka (mmmmm... my first taste of genuine Kobe beef and other delicacies). And, though the train journey is short, I want to make sure we can maximize our time in Osaka, getting a full day of exploring. Plus, I just want to stay at the RC there. But we don't want to stay there the whole time because, based on the same considerations, we want to maximize our time in Kyoto. We'll be doing some moving around, yes, but we'll manage. I appreciate the suggestion, though.
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Old Feb 7, 07, 7:47 am
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Originally Posted by MegatopLover View Post
We'll probably want to take the Haruka KIX-Shin Osaka, then backtrack to Osaka Station.
No need to "backtrack" - You can take the Haruka to Nishi Kujo. Then change to the Osaka Kanjo line to Osaka station. (or get a cab from Nishi Kujo).

Originally Posted by MegatopLover View Post
For Osaka-Kyoto, a Shinkansen is probably overkill. Only reasons to do it would be for space in the Green Car and foreshadowing the full-blown Nozomi treatment to Tokyo four days later. So for that, we'll probably take a JR train or other private train.
Take the JR train from Osaka station to Kyoto station. 540yen.

Originally Posted by MegatopLover View Post
Don't think we'll need to use JR trains or private trains to get around Kyoto. We're young and we love to walk everywhere. The Kyoto subway and a few taxis should take care of us. That said, if we buy a pass, we might as well put it to use.
I recommend buses or rental bicycle for travel within Kyoto.

Originally Posted by MegatopLover View Post
Then it's JR (or other private rail?) to Nara and back for a day. Scheduling of the day trip might be dictated by whether we buy a JR pass (such as a 4-day pass) that covers the Haruka, Osaka-Kyoto, and Kyoto-Nara-vv. That will in turn be driven by price.
The four day Kansai-area pass is barely worth it.
The four day pass is 6000yen
KIX to Osaka by Haruka = 2620yen
Osaka to Kyoto = 540yen
Kyoto to Nara and back costs from 1300 to 1600yen

Many of the railway lines in Osaka and Kyoto are private. And buses are often better than trains for getting around Kyoto...

BUT - The one day pass is an "instant" money saver
A one-day Kansai area pass = 2000yen (allows unreserved seating on Haruka)
KIX to Osaka by Haruka = 2620yen

JR WEST PASS information - http://www.westjr.co.jp/english/travel/jrp/index.html

BTW - I favour the Kintetsu line for the trip to Nara. The Kintetsu Nara station is somewhat closer to Nara's main attractions.
Originally Posted by MegatopLover View Post
we'd likely just take a taxi from Shin-Tokyo
Just "Tokyo" not Shin-Tokyo. (Shinkansen and other lines are all in the same vast station).
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Old Feb 7, 07, 10:10 am
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No Shin-Tokyo station, just Tokyo Station. The "Shin-" just means "new" and is not short for "Shinkansen" Station.

Don't think we'll need to use JR trains or private trains to get around Kyoto. We're young and we love to walk everywhere. The Kyoto subway and a few taxis should take care of us. That said, if we buy a pass, we might as well put it to use
I too recommend taking the local bus network (there's a bus navi map you can pick up with most of the major sights and which bus lines will take you there), I often do a bus/subway combination if there's traffic, going to the nearest subway station then changing to a bus for the rest of the route.
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Old Feb 7, 07, 10:40 am
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I am with jlb71 on the Kyoto-Nara trip, unless I had a valid JR pass (and I wouldn't validate one just to include this trip), I'd go by private rail. While the private rail station is closer to the sights, it's only a block closer, so that's not the reason for me. There are two other reasons:

1. A regular train on Kintetsu is cheaper than JR.

2. If you want to do a minor splurge, the Kintetsu line has fairly frequent limited expresses on this route that are more comfortable than JR.
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