Train Fares in Japan

Jun 14th, 2013, 10:39 AM
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Train Fares in Japan

As it stands now, we have the following train rides during our October-November stay in Japan:
1. Narita Airport to Shinjuku Station (we might take the limo bus, though).
2. Kanazawa to Kaga Onsen (25 minutes direct to the town where Beniya Mukayu, our ryokan is located)
3. Kaga Onsen to Kyoto (1 hour, 50 minutes)
4. Kyoto - Nara - Kyoto day trip (Kintetsu line - 35 minutes each way, if we don't stop at Fushimi-Inari Temple or visit a sake brewery along the way)

So, in reviewing the Hyperdia website and the Japan-guide one as well, I see that we can do unreserved seats (presumably purchased at the station), reserved seats (in advance, at additional cost) and Green seats (1st class, also reserved in advance at additional cost).

For my itinerary, what do you recommend?
Craig is offline  
Jun 14th, 2013, 11:54 AM
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jeane deserves 1st class...
rhkkmk is offline  
Jun 14th, 2013, 01:35 PM
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Craig, does this mean you are flying to Kanazawa rather than taking the train? Are you taking your luggage with you on the train or using the forwarding service? (I love that you are asking these questions, since the answers will inform some of our planning as well).
Kathie is offline  
Jun 14th, 2013, 01:46 PM
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Green car gives you more leg room and usually a car with far fewer passengers. However, the regular car gives you decent leg room. So, it's obviously nicer to travel in the green car, but the difference between Reular/Green is nothing near the difference between, say, int'l Economy/Business on an airplane.
DonTopaz is offline  
Jun 14th, 2013, 02:35 PM
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Thanks, Don. I am most interested in whether advance reservations/reserved seats are needed or not on these routes.

Kathie, with Kimjapan's help we are flying to the rural Noto peninsula from Tokyo and renting a car. After a night at a place known for great food, we drive to Kanazawa. From there we take the train to our ryokan for another night and then continue on to Kyoto by train again. We are forwarding our bags from Tokyo to Kanazawa and from Kanazawa to Kyoto.
Craig is offline  
Jun 14th, 2013, 02:43 PM
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Craig, for legs 1 and 4, advance reservations are not needed. Think of Narita to Shinjuku as a suburban commuter line that we see in major American cities (e.g. NY's Metro North) and the Kintetsu line between Kyoto and Nara is a subway line.

I have no experience with the other two legs, but advanced reservations / reserved seats are mostly for high-traffic long distance journeys to ensure that you get a seat (e.g. Tokyo-Kyoto).
tripplanner001 is offline  
Jun 14th, 2013, 04:07 PM
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You make your seat reservations when you buy your tickets. Advanced seat reservations are possible 60 days in advance iirc but not possible from outside of Japan. All that said don't worry,you will get a seat. Answers to your direct questions:

1. If taking the NE'X you buy your tickets and make your seat reservation from the JR ticket booth or "Midori-no-madoguchi"

Buy the Nex/Suica deal so you can get a suica card for use in the Tokyo Metro and throughout Japan.

While buying your NEX tickets you can also get your other train reservations and tickets at the same time....just take your time, no problem. I usually print out the schedule I want off of and that helps in making reservations. With your schedule though you really don't need to make reservations ahead of time except maybe the Kaga-Kyoto route.

2. Make your res and buy a ticket the day before travel or at the station just before travel

3. ditto #2

4. don't think there are reserved seats on these trains....maybe the direct express train might but either way just go to the station before your times and buy ticket.
If you get off at Inari just go back to the station after your done and get on the next train back to Kyoto after buying a ticket either at the machine or ticket booth

Just realized you won't be riding a shinkansen . Maybe next time....

hawaiiantraveler is offline  
Jun 14th, 2013, 10:24 PM
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My husband is 6 foot 6 inches tall and we always found the legroom very spacious in the regular class seats, so I know I'd definitely not bother with green.

Because we got a Japan Rail pass, reservations were free. (I printed the full list of exact routes and times we wanted to do and had the whole lot of reservations made when we picked up our passes on arrival at Narita).

We only once decided to take a different time train (and popped into the office on arrival at the station to give them back the reservations for the later train we'd booked, so they could cancel them / give to someone else). On that occasion there was plenty of space for us in the unreserved coach.

I guess it would depend on whether it's a route with many trains a day, whether it's high season or some special holiday... but I'm guessing you'd most commonly find a seat without problem.
Kavey is offline  
Jun 15th, 2013, 11:11 AM
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So if we take the N'EX to Shinjuku, do we change trains at Shinagawa? Easy to do?

Suica/N'EX deal sounds really good.

Looks like a stop at Inari requires taking the "local" JR line - 69 minutes from Nara...
Craig is offline  
Jun 15th, 2013, 12:37 PM
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> So if we take the N'EX to Shinjuku, do we change trains at Shinagawa?

Nope, no change needed. The NEx has 12 cars (sometimes 8) leaving NRT. At Tokyo, the train splits in half. All seats on NEx are reserved - just be sure that you're in your assigned car when you leave Narita.
DonTopaz is offline  
Jun 16th, 2013, 05:06 AM
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This all sounds very confusing...Glad my travel consultant is handling all of this.
kmkrnn is offline  
Jun 16th, 2013, 06:56 AM
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Omg my head hurts just reading this thread........ I am sure I will get lost/ confused when we do our train travel.......
Smeagol is offline  
Jun 16th, 2013, 08:59 AM
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I thought I was making it simpler for you all....guess not. Lost in translation maybe?

Here is more to confuse you. I assume you got the train schedules from the site. Nara has two stations and two rail lines from Kyoto. The JR line and the Kintetsu line. Travelers with a JR pass would use the JR line while people without passes would take either line. The two rail stations in Nara are the Kintetsunara station and the Nara station(JR). Both are about two blocks from each other in Nara.

You mention using the Kintetsu line per Kim's excellent suggestion. You can check the trains schedules by first putting in your from and to city info in on When your information pops up you can press the "interval timetable" next to the little picture of the train and all times/stops/schedules for that day and route are listed. You can then see which Kintetsu trains stop at Fushimi or which JR trains stop at Inari that day.

You could also take the express from Nara to Kyoto then hop on the local heading back to Fushimi/Inari as its only two stops away from Kyoto station.....maybe twelve walking blocks. If your pressed for time or the return local is say twenty minutes wait then just take a taxi from Kyoto station to Fushimi/Inari station. It might make more sense to take a taxi back for two people depending on the rail fare. The taxi fare should't be much more than ¥900.
The temple at Fushimi-inari is right across the street from the rail stations.

Smeagol, its not that hard and once you get there you'll realize how easy it really is. If you can figure out The Tube in London the Tokyo metro will be a snap. The only hard part of the learning curve is when you start your virgin travels from either Tokyo or Shinjuku stations in Tokyo. I have seen local Japanese get lost in those stations and I still have troubles because both places are continually growing and everytime I go there its something new that gets me,lol

kmkrnn, don't worry, just make sure your travel consultant has his requisite two martinis before leaving for an evening ride in the Tokyo subway systems and you should be ok.

hawaiiantraveler is offline  
Jun 16th, 2013, 09:12 AM
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I'm sure I'll eventually figure all of this out, but at this point I'm thoroughly confused. We know we will take the limo bus from Narita to our hotel in Tokyo, but after that...

Tokyo to Kanazawa by train

Kanazawa to Kyoto by train

Kyoto to Hakone by train

Hakone to Narita by train

And, in each case, we have to think about our luggage. When does it make sense to use the forwarding service vs. taking it with us. Would taking our luggage with us be easier if we used the Green Car?

And we haven't even started thinking about the subway systems.

I wish we had a travel consultant going with us!
Kathie is offline  
Jun 16th, 2013, 11:35 AM
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Don, thanks for clarifying how the N'EX train works. What a relief that we don't have to change trains. My thinking is that we can lug all of our stuff onto this train and that it will be much quicker than the limo bus, since we arrive at 13:55. Also, since we are going to Shinjuku station, we do not get the benefit of door-to-door service anyway.

Thanks for that additional info, Peter. Seems we could go to the temple at Fushimi-Inari on almost any day as it is not far by either train or taxi. Incidentally, for those that are planning a trip to Nara and using Hyperdia, the station for the Kintetsu line at Nara is Kintensunara. If you just put in Nara, you will only get JR trains...

Kathie, everything about the trains and subways becomes abundantly clear once you start delving into the details, especially when you can ask questions here.

I can't believe that our trip is just 4 months away. We are so looking forward to it and to getting together with many of our fellow Fodorites.
Craig is offline  
Jun 16th, 2013, 12:11 PM
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Hi Craig, I'm sure that Peter and Don and other Japan experts will get us straightened out eventually. Reading in guidebooks and on the websites has made me more confused!

It sounds like you and Jeane pretty much have it figured out. I've been so busy I haven't done much planning yet.
Kathie is offline  
Jun 16th, 2013, 01:07 PM
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Kathie et al, what I have found with my trip planing is that spending an hour or two every so often attending to the details works better than dealing with it all at once. It gives me time to reflect on what I've learned and to anticipate the adventures to come.
Craig is offline  
Jun 16th, 2013, 01:11 PM
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Good suggestion, Craig!
Kathie is offline  
Jun 16th, 2013, 01:53 PM
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Traveling in Japan by train/subway is not really that difficult, just different than your regular location but everyone here seems to have traveled quite widely all over the world so I wouldn't worry at all.....

As a New Yorker I often think that many places in the world, including Japan, have a lot more staff in stations to help - here in NYC many stations no longer have token booths or clerks and there is absolutely no one to ask....other than another traveler.
Mara is offline  
Jun 16th, 2013, 08:47 PM
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Jjust a quick chime in about the Suica cards. We brought ours from last years Tokyo trip. They worked on the Fukuoka subway system for this years trip ,as well as convenience stores in Kumamoto and Kagoshima. They are a lot like a prepaid credit card and are accepted at shops, restaurants and vending machines, We loaded them up at the designated machines at various stations and kept a good balance on them. Hopefully we'll be able to hit the ground running with them when we get back to Japan
kalihiwai2 is offline  

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