Monday, November 17, 2008

Japan: Shinkansen from Tokyo to Kyoto, Japan

The Shinkansen, more popularly known as the bullet train, is a network of high-speed railway lines of Japan. It was quite exciting that we were taking the Shinkansen to Kyoto. We could have opted for the much cheaper and longer bus ride. But the group was after convenience and the experience. Sadly though, we didn't get to see Mt. Fuji and much of the scenery since it was dark by the time we passed by.

One can purchase Shinkansen tickets from most stations. In fact, we bought ours at the airport station. The ticket for a reserved seat from Tokyo to Kyoto was ¥13320. We had to rush to the Tokyo Station to catch our train since we didn't give much time for allowance. Don't do that in Japan since everything is on time all the time.

Navigating through the station was a bit complicated because of the massive network of trains which passes through it. And you sure can get lost! Just ask around for the Shinkansen and people can point you towards the right way. If you have communication problems, just show your ticket when asking for help.


We finally found the Shinkansen area, the right platform, and the boarding area for the particular cabin we had the board. Unless you are holding a non-reserved ticket (meaning you can board just any time), make sure to check the time of your train because you might board the wrong one. Trains are so efficient, they arrive at the station a minute or two before the scheduled departure and leave on the dot. Anyway, seats are very comfortable and we were in Kyoto in no time.

If you are taking more than one trip on the shinkansen, it might already be cheaper to get the 7-day pass even if you're not staying for seven days. The ordinary 7-day pass is ¥28,300. There is also a 14-day pass (¥45,100) and 21-day pass (¥57,700).

The multiple-day passes are actually cool since you just hop-on and hop-off the Shinkansen which depart from most stations so frequently, you need not worry if there are enough seats. And because of the speed of the trains (up to 300 kph), you get to various parts of Japan in no time. That would have been really fun if we had a longer stay.
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