Rail Travel in Japan

Jan 11th, 2011, 02:42 PM
  #1  
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Rail Travel in Japan

Hi All

I have booked our 4 day "quick" stopover for Japan from the 20th of April to 24th of April 2011. The main tourist thing that I wanted to do is to travel to Kyoto but we only have one night available to do this which is a Thursday. I have looked at tours to Kyoto for one day have been turned off these as they limit your time in Kyoto by forcing you to take an early/late departure. Instead I have looked at a Japan Railpass which we would use to travel to and from Kyoto (when we want to) and also to/from Narita airport. I understand the situation re purchasing outside of Japan and exchanging etc from a lot of the existing forums but I am concerned that since we cannot purchase the Kyoto train leg until we are in Japan, which is the day prior to wanting to go to Kyoto, that we may miss out. The train schedule looks very extensive but can anyone please let me know if this will be a problem or any other alternative would be more viable.
andtrev is offline  
Jan 11th, 2011, 04:38 PM
  #2  
 
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No, it won't be a problem. There are so many services between Tokyo and Kyoto/Osaka that if one service is booked up, you can catch the next, which won't be too long. This is likely to only happen during the rush hours. If you want to maximise your time in Kyoto leave Tokyo around 6-7am, which will get you into Kyoto around the 9-10am mark. Look at leaving Kyoto around the early evening, but keep an eye out for the last service, just in case you stay longer.

You can book your return trip when you hand in your JR Pass voucher and register the pass- and as it doesn't cost you anything you can decide to be a noshow when your incoming (to Tokyo) service arrives.

Of course reservation is only required should you want a reserved seat. Otherwise you can flash your pass and go to the non-reserved car (but that means you might not get a seat.)
Sydney2K is offline  
Jan 11th, 2011, 05:08 PM
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Forget the pass and just buy regular tickets.
rkkwan is offline  
Jan 11th, 2011, 05:11 PM
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A straight Tokyo-Kyoto return ticket costs 26,640Y, which is less than a JR pass; furthermore, with a JR pass you cannot use the Nozomi trains, which are the fastest and most frequent. There are separate deals for NRT to Tokyo (e.g., NEX+Suica or Keisei Skyliner) that come in at about 5,500Y: http://www.japan-guide.com/e/e2027.html
someotherguy is offline  
Jan 11th, 2011, 06:26 PM
  #5  
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Thanks for your replies so far.

My research is that the JR pass costs 28,300Y and I knew you could not use the Nozomi trains instead on the other bullet trains which take a little longer. Am I majorly limiting available trains by doing this?

I thought that the JR pass would be an economical way of having return transport to Kyoto, Narita airport and rail around Tokyo as we are here for a couple of days (but I believe not in Kyoto).

What do you think?
andtrev is offline  
Jan 11th, 2011, 06:44 PM
  #6  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
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You can only use the JR Pass on the Yamanote and Chuo lines in Tokyo which does take you to many places but a lot of other places are accessed by the Metro.
There are so many more Nozomi than Hikari trains - and in your case time is of the essence so I think I would go with single tickets and the round trip N'ex Suica that someotherguy mentioned....
Mara is offline  
Jan 12th, 2011, 12:49 PM
  #7  
 
Join Date: May 2004
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JR 7-day pass = 28,300 yen

r/t tickets on NEX + r/t tickets on shinkansen from Tokyo-Kyoto = 32,320 yen

I would buy the pass and activate at the airport while making all my train reservations at the same time

Aloha!
hawaiiantraveler is offline  
Jan 12th, 2011, 01:09 PM
  #8  
 
Join Date: May 2004
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Should have read "I would buy the voucher at home and activate at airport when I arrive making all my train reservations at the same time"
hawaiiantraveler is offline  
Jan 12th, 2011, 04:41 PM
  #9  
 
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I agree with Hawaiian Traveller. The Japan Rail Pass still saves you Yen 4,000, compared to the other suggested methods.

If you go here : http://english.jr-central.co.jp/info...ble/index.html

You can download the .PDF timetables for the trains . Download both timetables, as one is for Westbound ( Tokyo to Kyoto etc),and the other will give you details for return trip.( Kyoto to Tokyo)
Look for HIKARI trains (H) There are enough HIKARI running for you to start early in Tokyo and do the trip.
You really need more time in Japan than 4 days of course, but, even if you were to skip the pass, and buy NOZOMI tickets, you only save 25 minutes per trip by NOZOMI.

The beauty of the NOZOMI is that they run more of them nowadays, compared to when I lived there, when there was only one an hour.
gearsau is offline  

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