I'm going to Japan!

Apr 10th, 2014, 02:27 AM
  #21  
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Thanks for the excellent advice! The first few days in Tokyo are now booked and the next step is sorting out accommodation in Kyoto. I hadn't realised Osaka was quite that close to Kyoto - I might well do a day trip from Kyoto, as food is one of the biggest reasons I want to go to Japan. Day trips would be great, as I'll have a big, heavy backpack and would rather not have to lug it around. That's why I want to base myself in Tokyo and Kyoto and leave all my stuff there.

I'm a little confused about the bullet trains - I want to experience them, but don't really want to splash out on the JR pass, so was planning to get night buses from Tokyo to Kyoto and back, which will also save on two night's accommodation. I've done some Googling and it seems that the bullet train between Kyoto and Osaka is only about 1380 yen, or 8 GBP. This seems incredibly cheap. Is it accurate?
ClementineLdn is offline  
Apr 10th, 2014, 06:27 AM
  #22  
 
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It's a local train between Kyoto and Osaka, not a bullet train. It's a short local journey, not very long, I think it was about 15 to 20 minutes or so. Cost was 560 Yen, so very cheap. Definitely doable for day trip.

However, you'd take the bullet train to travel between Tokyo and Kyoto.

Single from Tokyo to Kyoto is 8210 Yen for the ticket plus 4870 Yen for an unreserved seat or 5700 Yen for a reserved seat. So let's say 13,910 Yen, which is about US$136.
Kavey is offline  
Apr 10th, 2014, 06:31 AM
  #23  
 
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So sorry, just seen you were going to take an overnight bus between Kyoto and Tokyo, not the train...

I think you COULD take a bullet train from Kyoto to Shin-Osaka if you specifically want to experience the bullet trains, but you'd then need to use local metro/ train to get to Namba Station to visit the attractions.

I think Nozomi bullet train from Kyoto to Osaka is 560 Yen PLUS 860 Yen for the Unreserved Seat (much more for reserved one).
Kavey is offline  
Apr 10th, 2014, 06:45 AM
  #24  
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Ah OK. I'm confused about the seat not being included in the ticket price. Is this normal in Japan?

I was considering a day trip to Hakone from Tokyo and apparently I could take a bullet train from Tokyo to Odawara and then change to a local train. I just want to experience the bullet train really - I don't need to go everywhere on one. I have been on the KTX in Korea - I imagine the bullet trains are quite similar?
ClementineLdn is offline  
Apr 10th, 2014, 07:02 AM
  #25  
 
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Yes, had the same confusion myself when I first went. I'm not entirely sure why they separate these two prices, but you do need to pay both ticket price and a seat price. BUT I think this is mainly for the long distance services/ bullet trains.

When we took local trains, it was a set fee (often 560 Yen or less) and there were no seat fees.

I completely understand, I was hugely excited about the bullet trains and loved experiencing them. Yes, one could argue they are just trains, but I still loved the experience.

I'd suggest using local trains in and around Kyoto as distances are just so short, and the price difference seems a fair bit.

I use hyperdia.com to search the various different routes/ trains available between each destination.
Kavey is offline  
Apr 10th, 2014, 08:40 AM
  #26  
 
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... PLUS 860 Yen for the Unreserved Seat (much more for reserved one).

This isn't quite right, but I'll start at the beginning.

For train travel, the fare starts out as a distance-based price. This is the price that you pay for a non-special train, with no reserved seat. There is an additional charge if you take a special train -- for example any shinkansen and many limited express trains such as the Narita Express. If you want to sit in the Green Car (1st Class), tack on an additional charge. And if a train offers both reserved and unreserved seating (such as the Shinkansen), there's a small extra charge for the reserved seat.

If you look on Hyperdia, the base fare for the trip/segment is listed in the "Fare" column, and the various extras is listed as "Seat Fee." But Seat Fee does not mean a charge for a reserved seat -- it's the total of the various train surcharges.
DonTopaz is offline  
Apr 10th, 2014, 08:49 AM
  #27  
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OK, I think I'll go ahead and book a few days in Kyoto and then arrange my day trips at a later date!

I'm toying with the idea of just getting a JR pass but not sure I can justify the £240 or so when the only major trip I'll be doing is the Tokyo-Kyoto return trip. The night bus is much more expensive than I thought, working out at over £80 return for Tokyo-Kyoto (unless I got my sums wrong) and I'll have to pay for the Tokyo-Odawara return on the shinkansen, but I think it's still cheaper than buying the pass.
ClementineLdn is offline  
Apr 10th, 2014, 01:45 PM
  #28  
 
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So glad I found this post - I am heading to Japan on the first of May - can not wait! I have never been to Asia before, and have a friend in Taipei, Taiwan whom I will be visiting as well. My friend is a pilot, so I will be flying Business Class to Tokyo - exciting as well. But I digress...

I'm glad I found this post - this has given me itinerary ideas for my visit, thank you very much!

I hope you enjoy your trip in Tokyo, and I will keep you updated if you would like on my visit, as I will be going before you.
ericjonolsen is offline  
Apr 10th, 2014, 04:14 PM
  #29  
kja
 
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You don't need to go to Osaka for great food -- you'll have more than enough wonderful options in Kyoto.

You don't need to use day trips to manage your backpack -- there are lockers in train stations and Japan has an excellent baggage forwarding service. All of this information is described very clearly on -- yes, indeed -- japan-guide.com
http://www.japan-guide.com/e/e2274.html
http://www.japan-guide.com/e/e2278.html
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Apr 10th, 2014, 11:40 PM
  #30  
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I know there are lockers in train stations. It's still a hassle to take my luggage to the station and onto the train and have to pack up constantly. I have back problems and the fewer times I have to repack and carry my luggage, the better. I'd just rather have a couple of bases and travel from there.
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Apr 11th, 2014, 12:23 AM
  #31  
kja
 
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@ ericjonolsen -- When you're ready, consider starting your own thread. I think you'll find that Fodorites are very willing to help those who exert even the tiniest bit of effort on their own behalf!
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Apr 12th, 2014, 04:09 AM
  #32  
 
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Getting down to details for early June trip. Is this the website for the Tokyo free guides that fodorites use:
Tokyofreeguides.com ?
FromDC is offline  
Apr 12th, 2014, 09:28 AM
  #33  
 
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FromDC, I can't answer your question but noticed you had typo in the url. This one is correct.
http://www.tokyofreeguide.com/

JNTO has this list of Tokyo volunteer guides
https://www.jnto.go.jp/eng/arrange/t...o-z.html#tokyo
mrwunrfl is online now  
Apr 13th, 2014, 04:52 AM
  #34  
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kja, I am using Japan Guide and also looking for personal recommendations and opinions and clarification for things that I don't understand (such as the seat price thing). I'm sorry I seem to have offended you regarding my wish to stay in just a couple of cities. I explained why I wanted a 'base' and not to keep moving around. I am well aware that train stations have lockers, but as I said, that still means having to carry the luggage from hostel to train station and the other way around every day, or arranging and paying for luggage forwarding, and I don't particularly like changing accommodation every night either. I'm really baffled as to why you have appear to have such a problem with that. It might seem a silly concern to you, but I'm not you. I have my own valid reasons for not wanting/being able to move around constantly. I only mentioned day trips because they are something I can write in as a 'maybe' if I feel like it when I get to Japan. I've always fancied visiting Osaka because I've read so much about it being a great food city and another poster has suggested that it's worth making the trip. I know I don't 'need' to go there. It's just an idea. I might well end up staying in Kyoto the whole 3 days if I love it. I'm taking into account everyone's suggestions and recommendations as well as my own research and trying to weave them into an itinerary that works for me, and enjoying getting excited about all the possibilities. Isn't that the point of this forum? Sorry if I have offended you or taken you up wrong. Of course I could just plan everything on my own, but the advice here is really good and really useful and I hope to be able to help others out with my own tips/advice once I'm back from Japan.

ericjonolsen - glad this thread has been useful - do post about your trip when you get back! I would love to hear about what you did and how you found Japan.

Kavey - I've decided to stick to local trains around Kyoto, as you advised. I'm getting an overnight bus from Tokyo to get to Kyoto, but I think I'll get a shinkansen back. I don't want to risk a night of bad sleep ahead of my last weekend in Tokyo and 16-hour journey home, so I'll treat myself! I think it was you who recommended (on a another thread) a cooking class in Kyoto with a woman called Emi? I've e-mailed but haven't had a response yet - I imagine she gets booked up quickly. Did you try any other cooking courses there? I've found a couple online which look OK, but would love a personal recommendation if anyone has one!
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Apr 13th, 2014, 07:07 AM
  #35  
kja
 
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ClementineLdn -- you have not offended me at all. I have simply tried to provide answers to your questions and to direct you to resources that you can use to find information.
kja is offline  
Apr 13th, 2014, 09:21 AM
  #36  
 
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Clementine, I would be willing to bet good Yen that there's no offense taken by anyone -- it's hard to convey tone in the written word, especially when firing off a quick response, focusing above all on getting data across.

I don't think anyone is judging you or your individual needs - we all have different ones and filter the advice we receive through our own requirements and preferences.

I did the cooking class with Emi, yes and she does indeed get booked up fast, especially in high season. On our first trip in 2012, we were too slow to book but got in early enough to enjoy a wonderful day with her this time, in autumn 2013. Still need to write that up for my blog, actually...

I don't know any other ones, I spotted a few online, but one put me off with the class size, and the rest because of the prices.

Great idea to get Shinkansen back from Kyoto to Tokyo, will give you the bullet train experience. Do get to the station early enough to browse and buy yourself wonderful bento box meal (known as Ebiben, Ebi being station and ben, short for bento, I assume). Also some fun snacks from the little newsagent/ convenience stores. You can buy drinks on board from the vending machines on the train.
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Apr 13th, 2014, 11:02 AM
  #37  
kja
 
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BTW, Clementine, there is no need for you to explain your decisions to me -- it is YOUR trip!
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Apr 15th, 2014, 09:18 PM
  #38  
 
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KJA - yes, I will start my own thread - however, I wanted to let the author of this thread know other people have found it useful as well - and I wasn't trying to switch the focus away from her to me.
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Apr 15th, 2014, 09:30 PM
  #39  
 
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Yes, that is the Tokyo free guide web ( the corrected one that Mr W has posted) and I note the link to the Kyoto one on there ( which we didn't use)
Smeagol is offline  
Apr 15th, 2014, 09:45 PM
  #40  
kja
 
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@ ericjonolsen -- that's always a nice thing to do!
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