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Japan train tickets and reservations - need help

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Feb 2nd, 2010, 04:02 PM
  #1
kdd
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Japan train tickets and reservations - need help

Hi,

After reading material on trains in Japan, I have come to the following understanding of what we would need for our travel. Several questions too.

1. Japan Rail Pass - need to buy it outside Japan. Can this be used in Tokyo subways?
2. In addition to this, we may need a Suica while we are in Tokyo and this can be obtained in Tokyo?
3. We will need a Hakone Free Pass for the daytrip to Hakone - can be purchased in Tokyo?
4. Some regional pass while in the Kyoto, Koya san - can be purchased in Kyoto?

How can we go about reserving seats once we have the passes? We will be there during cherryblossom season and hence I expect it to be peak travel time, so having reserved seats would be critical for our travels.

Please help!

Thanks.
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Feb 2nd, 2010, 05:24 PM
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1) The Japan rail pass can be used on the Yamanote line in Tokyo. http://www.tokyotopia.com/yamanote-line.html. There are other subway line sin Tokyo - you need to buy tickets for those; for some you can use the Suica card. I cannot remember if the Suica card works for all the other subway lines in Tokyo but no doubt someone here will be able to tell you.

The first time we went to Japan, we used our railpass to cruise around Toyo for three days - the second time, we used the N'Ex Suica combination and saved our railpass days for extensive travel.

2) I bought my Suica at Narita airport (in combination with my N'Ex ticket from Narita to Tokyo). You get a deal this way. I would bet that the Suica is available in Tokyo because you can re-up one. I don't know where because I never had to do this - someone else will know.

Reserving seats in Japan is easy. You just go to the train station (either the day of or maybe earlier if you have a reason to worry) and tell them when and where you want to go. There's a phrase in my Berlitz book - if I can find it, I'll post it here.

Also, if you email Japan Rail, they will mail you a timetable. Really convenient.

Good luck!!!
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Feb 2nd, 2010, 05:50 PM
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* JR Pass is only valid on JR lines. Tokyo subways are run by two non-JR companies. JR do runsome urban and suburban services such as Yamanote line and Cuo line, but you don't want to waste your pass on them as fares are modest (each ride from 120 to 200 yen typically). Save your pass (activate it) for days when you are travelling long-distance. Remember JR Pass is only for consecutive calendar days.
* Suica, and Pasmo (issued by non-JR lines), can be used in just about every form of public transport in and around Tokyo. Only exceptions are some buses which haven't yet be converted to accept those cards.
* Suica and Pasmo can be loaded with more money at every station. As stated, Narita Express/Suica combo is a good deal. Get it at JR travel centre at Narita for 3500 yen.
* Hakone Free Pass is also a good deal, and you can buy at Odakyu station in Shinjuku for travel on Odakyu line. If you are using JR Pass, you can buy it in Odawara.
* To get to Koyasan, you have to use private Nankai line. You can buy a Kansai Thru Pass that is valid on most non-JR lines. You can buy at major non-JR stations in Kansai. Check your itinerary to see if a pass is worth while.

Only certain trains can seats be reserved - limited express and Shinkansen, mainly. Even in March/April, they rarely sell out, but to give yourself widest choice, book a day or so in advance at any major JR station at Midorino Madoguchi (symbol of a reclining seat on green background). Just show your pass and you can reserve free.
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Feb 2nd, 2010, 09:47 PM
  #4
kdd
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I am now wondering if I need to get the JR Pass. Once I have the Suica for travels within Tokyo, Hakone pass for the daytrip to Hakone, Nozomi tickets to Kyoto which is anyway not covered by the JR Pass, and the regional passes for Kyoto part of the trip then I don't know if it makes sense to purchase pass. Have I overlooked other journeys for which I would need the pass?
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Feb 2nd, 2010, 09:56 PM
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OK, don't know all of your itinerary but if your are going at least from Tokyo to Kyoto round trip the JR Pass would make sense and negate the need for a Kansai or any other regional pass.
The Hakone Free Pass is an option if you will make use of it in the Hakone region

Post your rail and travel itinerary and then we can discern if you need a pass or not

Aloha!
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Feb 2nd, 2010, 10:06 PM
  #6
kdd
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Hi,

Itinerary is as follows:

Day 2 - Land in Narita, take airport limousine express to hotel
Day 2 - Tokyo city (Asakusa, Edo Tokyo museum, Shibuya etc.); Suica for this?
Day 3 - Hakone with Hakone pass
Day 4 - Kabukiza for a couple of acts if we can get tkts, maybe Imperial palace, east gardens - again can use Suica for this? Then take the Nozomi @ 5 pm to Kyoto (cannot use JR pass for this)
Day 5 onwards - Kyoto, Koya san etc.
Day 11 - train to Kansai and fly out. Would I need the JR pass for this leg?

Please advise re. buying the JR pass.

Thanks
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Feb 2nd, 2010, 10:12 PM
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kdd
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Also planning to go to Nara from Kyoto as a daytrip
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Feb 3rd, 2010, 04:48 AM
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No, you do not need a JR pas if you're planning on taking the the Nozomi to Kyoto.

If you were taking the Narita express to Shinjuku (which is what I'd do, even with a child or several children, assuming you travel with a not unreasonable amount of luggage) you could take advantage of the N'Ex + Suica offer that comes with a pre-loaded Suica card. If you take the limo you can either purchase Suica cards or just purchase subway/train tickets as you go. Suica isn't any cheaper, it's just more convenient. Suica's use is spreading to other parts of Japan, by the way. I used it on the bus in Hakone last year. It's possible that it's in use in the Kansai area, so you might want to check on that option.
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Feb 3rd, 2010, 12:24 PM
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The extremely reliable and informative japan guide says that Suica can indeed by used in the Kansai area (so Osaka, Kyoto, etc.). So get your Suica in Tokyo and you will be breezing off and on transport everywhere you go: trains, subways, buses, Suica knows what to do.

Note that you don't need to worry in advance about whether you've got enough money on your card---if you don't have enough the card reader will tell you (typically when you're trying to exit a turnstile, but sometimes when you're trying to enter if your balance is really, really low) and you just go the gate that's staffed and had over your card and some cash and the agent will add the money to the card. You don't have to speak any Japanese (other than a very nice "arigato" at the end of the transaction, along with a smile) to handle this transaction---the agent will know exactly what to do.

http://www.japan-guide.com/e/e2359_002.html
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Feb 3rd, 2010, 12:26 PM
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Oh, and kabuki... Unless you're really into kabuki I'd be giving this one a miss, especially with a child along. You might want to check out some kabuki on the web (surely there's something on youtube) to see what I mean.
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Feb 3rd, 2010, 12:33 PM
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And while I'm thinking about it, you had a question on another thread (you've got a lot of threads open on this trip, by the way) about taxis. They are all over the place, but I have to say that I have never once taken a taxi in Japan as public transit is so great.

If you do happen to use one, however, note that simply having an address is rarely helpful. Japanese addresses are nothing like our addresses in that they don't correspond to a physical location in either a predictable or precise manner, so to really figure out where you're going you need a map. Just about any place worth getting to will have a helpful map on its web site (or advertisement or whatever) that shows nearby landmarks (like Family Mart or a bank or something) and everybody uses them. Print it off and bring it with you to show to the driver if you use a taxi.
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Feb 3rd, 2010, 12:49 PM
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Regarding taxi directions:

If you have the telephone number of the place you are going to that would be the ticket as the Japanese taxis have a navi system that utilizes phone numbers as a directional guide. You can also have your hotels front desk write down the address for you in Japanese.

Aloha!
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Feb 3rd, 2010, 01:14 PM
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Excellent suggestion. I've got a friend in Tokyo who uses the telephone system for his navi and it works like a charm. Like I said, I never take taxis in Tokyo.
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Feb 3rd, 2010, 02:55 PM
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Tokyo has an address system that's different from what we use in most other parts of the world, and many streets there have no names. Can't just say go to say, for example, Number xxx, Meiji-Dori.
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Feb 4th, 2010, 01:09 AM
  #15
kdd
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The telephone mumber is a great suggestion. Also planning on having names of places written in japanese to make communication easier.

One question re the Suica vs JR Pass. Does the JR pass give you discounted fares whereas Suica just gives the convenience of a payment via card without buying individual tickets? If so, then it still probably makes sense to get JR Pass and try and stick to JR trains as much as possible?
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Feb 4th, 2010, 03:43 AM
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Okay, I'm going to ever so politely suggest that you do little reading on your own about the JR pass. The JR website tells you what it costs and how it works.

In brief, it's a fairly expensive pre-paid ticket that entitles you to unlimited travel on most JR trains (except Nozomi). For travellers who are using the trains a lot it's a great deal, as it can save you hundreds of dollars over a one or two week period. Travellers who aren't using the trains a lot (like your family) will lose several hundred dollars.
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Feb 4th, 2010, 07:12 AM
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As Therese said, the JR pass is a deal only IF you travel extensively ( we abused ours both times, practically robbing JR!). As someone else says, it is a waste to use it in Tokyo, unless it just happens to work for you.

After abusing our 2 week pass, we ended up in Tokyo and happened to have two days left, so we stuck to the Yamanote line those days and ended up walking a lot. The next time, we planned our trip so we would only need a one week pass.

The Tokyo address system is so nuts that they actually have little booths on streets where "specialists" sit around so that people can ask them where places are. Helpful if you venture off the beaten track but not necessary if you are stikcing to mainstream things.

Looking at your itinerary, you don't *need* a JR pass. Unless you are a train buff, I don't know why you are so set on the Nozomi. It's not THAT much faster than the regular trains and for four, that's a lot of extra yen.

As for the Kansai thru pass, I haven't used it but you can add up the individual fares and see if they cost as much as the pass.

When we were in Japan in July 2009, a one way ticket to Kansai airport from Kyoto station cost 3675Y.

The Japan Rail people are awesome. Email them and they will tell you how much a ticket for x to y will cost at what time. They have a timetable online but for some reason it is down right now. When it's back up, take a look at it - I do not remember whether they list fares on it.

Suica is a discount only in the sense that you can combine it with the N'Ex ticket at the airport - you get a discounted N'ex ride into town, and not discounted subway rides.
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Feb 4th, 2010, 07:21 AM
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Although it now sounds like you won't need a JR Pass, I am going to post this for the benefit of others who might see this thread in their searches in the future.

Both times we went to Japan, we had JR passes. Instead of having to hassle w/going to the train stations to get reservations the day before we wanted to use our JR pass for a train, we did this: after we landed at NArita and got our luggage we went straight to the JR office in the airport and made all of our reservations for all the shinkansen rides we needed to take. I wanted to be sure we got the train times we had planned into our itinerary. And yes, a few of the trains we had planned to take like 4-5 days later were in fact sold out (this was in March both times)and I had to get the next train at the next closest time.

This took just a little time at the airport, and then we had all our JR tickets and didn't have to think about that at all the rest of the trip.
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Feb 4th, 2010, 09:06 AM
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kdd,

1. You are traveling into Tokyo via the Limosine bus service. Did you know about the special where you can get a one day Tokyo Metro Pass which you can use for one day worth of transport in Tokyo on most of the metro systems?

http://www.limousinebus.co.jp/discou.../en/index.html

2. Yes you can obtain Suica at metro stations throughout Tokyo and elswhere, see here:

http://www.japan-guide.com/e/e2359_002.html

3. Since you don't have a JR Pass then the Hakone Free Pass is a great idea for you. You can purchase at the Odyaku ticket counter in Shinjuku station or at any travel desk around Tokyo. You may have one in your hotel lobby.

http://www.japan-guide.com/e/e2358_008.html

4. Have you seen this yet?

http://www.japan-guide.com/e/e4904.html

Aloha!
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Nov 2nd, 2010, 02:08 PM
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I need to purchase RR tickets in japan, from Tokyo (the airport starting) to Kyoto on March 29th and returning back to the airport (Tokyo) on April 4th. Can I purchase those two tickets now and how do I do that?
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