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Bullet train from Tokyo to Kyoto

Bullet train from Tokyo to Kyoto

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Old Feb 7, 07, 10:49 am
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Thanks for all of the additional input.

I know "Shin-" means "new," and is not meant to indicate shinkansen. I could have sworn I saw the station in Tokyo called Shin-Tokyo, but I suppose not. Now that I think about it, since it's immediately adjacent to the old Dutch-inspired main Tokyo railway stations, calling part of it (where, yes, the shinkansen starts) wouldn't have made sense, unless you wanted to split hairs. At least I didn't confuse anyone.
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Old Feb 7, 07, 10:57 am
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Well. my friends Jib, RRT and Richard have all gotten in ahead of me but I will jump on board with some of their recent suggestions.

For Kyoto-Nara-Kyoto, the Kintetsu Electric Line is the way to go. The limited express is very comfortable and fast and the regular trains are still better and cheaper than the JR line. The Kintetsu station in Nara is more conveniently located, just a short walk from the major sights. If you are walkers, you shouldn't even need local transportation in Nara although there is a pretty good bus system that circles all the sites.

Local transportation in Kyoto is all about the great bus system (or bikes if you are into that.) A combined bus/subway pass will get you everywhere easily. Cabs are plentiful but more expensive. I use cabs when I want to splurge or am in a hurry. The bus/subway pass comes in 1000y and 3000y prepaid denominations - the 3k includes a little discount, being worth 3300y in rides. You can get the pass at the transport office right outside the Karasuma exit at Kyoto Station or many of the major stations around town. Just slip it into the gate ticket reader for the subway or the machine by the driver on the bus as you get off. Very convenient.

LapLap posted a link to a PDF of the bus navi map available from the Tourist Information Center. You can get your own copy at the TIC on the 9th floor of the Kyoto Station. The link is: http://www.city.kyoto.jp/kotsu/broch...i_en200603.pdf . For the major tourist sites, pay particular attention to routes 100 and 101, which are tourist specific.

JR
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Old Feb 7, 07, 4:37 pm
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Originally Posted by MegatopLover View Post
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!
jib71 is correct. I am somewhat (but not totally) price insensitive. I recalled the cab as costing about 100 dollars US (but couldn't remember exactly) - so the estimate of 12,000 yen sounds about right. I think it was maybe $20-30 more than the trains we looked at - plus the transfers - but even if it was $50 more - it was simply the easiest way to get us and our luggage from Osaka to Kyoto.

We arrived in Shin Osaka from Tokyo. It isn't a long cab ride to the RC from there. Unless I was a traveler on a limited budget - I'd take the cab. The main (old) station in Osaka is just a few blocks walk from the Ritz Carlton. Only issue would be whether you can handle your luggage easily. If I were taking the train from Osaka to Kyoto - I'd use the old train station (even if the trains take a little longer - the 2 cities aren't that far apart).

If you're really into nightlife and restaurants of a more contemporary variety - perhaps you could stay in Osaka and take day trips to Kyoto? I realize that's not the way people usually do things - but most of the things to do in Kyoto that I liked were daytime things. There seemed to be a lot of "gentlemen's clubs" in Kyoto - not my cup of tea - and also some very traditional dining venues (we tried one for lunch - and one for dinner). Overall - I liked the night scene in Osaka better (but you have to keep in mind that I am not much of a night scene/club person anywhere - although I do love exploring restaurants).

If you're staying at the RC - I can recommend the tempura restaurant there highly (didn't try the other restaurants - but they all looked pretty good).

One more thing about Kyoto. Even if you are young and love to walk - the important sights are pretty spread out - and some areas are a bit hilly. And the neighborhoods between a fair number of sights aren't all that interesting (think smaller low rise somewhat contemporary city). And there are a lot of things to see - even if you only want to see 25% of them. So I'd get a map and organize my sightseeing at least a couple of days in advance so you don't find yourself criss-crossing the city a half dozen times. Robyn
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Old Feb 12, 07, 4:43 pm
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I will be going on my first trip to Japan during the second week of March. I definitely appreciate all of the tips in this thread! We are going for a 9 day trip, with a 7 day JR Pass... I am the sort that loves to take trains in foreign countries, so we'll definitely be maximizing it for some lengthy segments.

I noticed a lot of mention of how luggage can be a pain, especially on the subway & "rapid" (local?) trains. For two of us, we plan on doing entirely airplane carryon: Two small napsacks and two (overhead-compartment-friendly) rolling bags. Would this be considered "bulky"?
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Old Feb 12, 07, 5:02 pm
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noticed a lot of mention of how luggage can be a pain, especially on the subway & "rapid" (local?) trains. For two of us, we plan on doing entirely airplane carryon: Two small napsacks and two (overhead-compartment-friendly) rolling bags. Would this be considered "bulky"?
If it fits in the overhead bin of an airplane its probably going to fit in the overhead compartments of the Shinkansen. For local/commuter trains etc, it shouldn't be much of a problem unless you got onboard with those bags during the height rush hour where things are more jam packed, otherwise you should be fine.
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Old Feb 12, 07, 5:07 pm
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Originally Posted by eap View Post
I noticed a lot of mention of how luggage can be a pain, especially on the subway & "rapid" (local?) trains. For two of us, we plan on doing entirely airplane carryon: Two small napsacks and two (overhead-compartment-friendly) rolling bags. Would this be considered "bulky"?
That's OK for two persons. I traveled solo with half that amount and never had problems.

If you are going to use coin lockers to store your rolling bags while sightseeing (they are found at virtually every railway station and are very convenient), keep in mind that most common "small-size" coin lockers are sometimes a little bit smaller than the carry-on size. I had no problem with a semi-soft rolling bag, but I can imagine that a hard case may not fit into some.

Another thing I found out the hard way is that when you make separate reservations for consecutive nights at the same hotel via Expedia, Japanese tend to merge them into a single reservation. When you cancel one of the nights, this single reservation gets canceled and then you have a problem when you arrive. For me, the problem always meant an upgrade into a nicer (and available) room, but I suppose the luck can also turn the other way round.
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Old Feb 12, 07, 5:14 pm
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Originally Posted by eap View Post
Two small napsacks and two (overhead-compartment-friendly) rolling bags. Would this be considered "bulky"?
There should be no problem storing that on a train where you have a reserved seat. (Since the trains with reserved seating generally have overhead storage and space behind the last row of seats).

You might feel awkward if you want to haul that cargo onto a commuter train during rush hour. (I occasionally see a person wheeling a large-size suitcase onto a sardine-tin train at 08.00am. People are polite about it - but you know they're frustrated). And if you're standing in a commuter train with a pack on your back, you can guarantee that someone is going to bulldoze into it with no regard to your comfort - they'll consider you very inconsiderate for not having removed it and placed it overhead.

You should also be aware that you may have to climb (and descend) flights of stairs in some stations. Lighter is better...
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Old Feb 12, 07, 5:16 pm
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Old Feb 12, 07, 7:25 pm
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Originally Posted by jib71 View Post
There should be no problem storing that on a train where you have a reserved seat. (Since the trains with reserved seating generally have overhead storage and space behind the last row of seats).

You might feel awkward if you want to haul that cargo onto a commuter train during rush hour. (I occasionally see a person wheeling a large-size suitcase onto a sardine-tin train at 08.00am. People are polite about it - but you know they're frustrated). And if you're standing in a commuter train with a pack on your back, you can guarantee that someone is going to bulldoze into it with no regard to your comfort - they'll consider you very inconsiderate for not having removed it and placed it overhead.

You should also be aware that you may have to climb (and descend) flights of stairs in some stations. Lighter is better...
Re the stairs - that is an understatement with regard to a lot of stations - especially subway stations. Even with big deal transfers - like Shinkasen into Tokyo Station and transfer to Narita Express - there is a lot of walking - a lot of ups and downs - and very limited elevator service. At a lot of "regular" train stations - there is nothing but stairs - and sometimes a ton of them (both up and down). My husband and I are 60ish - and sometimes - even the stairs without luggage were quite a lot to handle. Anyway - I'd be sure if I were taking luggage around - that I could drag it up or down at least 2 or 3 full flights of stairs.

Note that Japan is not the most handicap friendly country in the world - and that - at more than a few train stations - if you can't handle the stairs - the "handicap service" consists of carrying you up and down. Which is why it's not unusual to see very elderly people taking a *whole* lot of time climbing up and down those stairs. Robyn
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Old Feb 12, 07, 7:51 pm
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Thank you all for the quick responses...

I am used to walking very long distances when I travel -- sounds like Japan will be no exception.
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Old Feb 17, 07, 9:41 am
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Tokyo-Kyoto

So I have read through many of the emails but am hoping someone can help me.

My girlfriend and I are going to Japan for 9 days. We will be in tokyo for the first 4 then Kyoto for 4 and Tokyo for 1. I am trying to figure out if buying the Rail Pass for 7 days is the best thing to do, since we could just get daily passes in the city and then pay the RT to Tokyo-Kyoto. I cant find a price for the Tokyo-Kyoto part and am not sure if the Rail pass would be good for use just going around Tokyo or Kyoto.

Thanks!
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Old Feb 17, 07, 11:51 am
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My girlfriend and I are going to Japan for 9 days. We will be in tokyo for the first 4 then Kyoto for 4 and Tokyo for 1. I am trying to figure out if buying the Rail Pass for 7 days is the best thing to do, since we could just get daily passes in the city and then pay the RT to Tokyo-Kyoto. I cant find a price for the Tokyo-Kyoto part and am not sure if the Rail pass would be good for use just going around Tokyo or Kyoto.

Thanks!
A round trip ticket even by Nozomi comes out to just under the price of a JR Rail Pass (about 13500 each way/ or about 27000 r/t). The JR Pass is 28300 yen for ordinary.

However, if you combine it with some JR Transport in Tokyo, or back to Narita or out of Kyoto (to Nara/Osaka etc etc). The JR pass is certainly worth it.

The JR Pass isn't that useful in Kyoto itself (city bus and subway not valid with JR Pass), so you would still have to purchase a seperate city pass for that, but as mentioned above the JR pass can pay itself off.
Other limitations include not being able to use Nozomi Shinkansen but Hikari/Kodaka, however the Pass I think if you get it would save you some yen in transportation.
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Old Feb 17, 07, 1:38 pm
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Agree with RRT above. If you opt for them, I'd suggest activating your passes 7 days before your departure from Japan. That would mean you would pay out of pocket for the trip into Tokyo from NRT upon arrival and any travel around town during the first couple of days. After activation, your passes would be good for Yamanote line travel around Tokyo, any JR line travel in and around Tokyo, your round trip Tokyo-Kyoto-Tokyo on the Hikari RailStar shinkansen, JR travel around the Kansai region while in Kyoto (for example, to/from Himeji or Nara) and the Narita Express back to NRT for departure.

Even if you don't save very much, the JR Pass also adds a lot of convenience. That is worth something in the calculation.

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Old Feb 17, 07, 2:38 pm
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I'd suggest activating your passes 7 days before your departure from Japan.
I think you mean activate it before leaving Tokyo. If you are coming in late march or after March, you can take advantage of the new Suica-Nex combo (see other thread), so you can ride into Tokyo for 1500 yen on the NEX and have 2000yen on your Suica card to ride around until you activate your JR Pass for the rest of your trip into Kyoto and back to Tokyo and back to NRT.

your round trip Tokyo-Kyoto-Tokyo on the Hikari RailStar shinkansen,
The Hikari Railstar runs west of Osaka, for Tokyo-Kyoto-Tokyo regular "Hikari Shinkansen" trains run.
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Old Feb 17, 07, 4:03 pm
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Originally Posted by railroadtycoon View Post
...The Hikari Railstar runs west of Osaka, for Tokyo-Kyoto-Tokyo regular "Hikari Shinkansen" trains run.
You're right. Brain f*rt on my part.

My reasoning on activating the pass to include the last 7 days of the visit (including the day of departure) is to permit its use for JR travel in and around Tokyo before leaving for Kyoto. Might as well get full use out of it.

JR
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