Posted by: jrhorse | September 8, 2009

Tokyo to Kyoto… for 2300 yen? ($25)

For more up-to-date information, please read the September 2014 post Tokyo to Kyoto for $21… and other cheap ways to transit Japan

Without question, Tokyo and Kyoto are THE two destinations that should be included if you are intent on visiting Japan for the very first time. Of course, Tokyo and Kyoto are separated by some 231 miles (372 km) if you were to draw a straight line.

Between Tokyo and Kyoto, the two major methods of public transportation are the train and the highway bus. (You might also add air, if continuing to Osaka, but this article will focus on the first two methods of transit.)

So how much will you pay for a ride between Tokyo and Kyoto? This article breaks down the various bus and train options by price.

Obviously if you have a JAPAN RAIL PASS (see my earlier post on this), then this question is moot; simply use your rail pass (Hikari or Kodama only) to make the journey.

But if you do not have a Japan Rail Pass, then you’ll want to examine the prices carefully to see what fits your budget. Note that the prices listed here are rounded to the nearest 100 yen, and are subject to change, including a variance of a few hundred yen either way depending on the time of the year. Let’s begin:

18,200 yen: For this price you will get a reserved first-class seat (called the “Green Car”) in the premium Nozomi service. You may expect to be personally greeted by a Green Car attendant as you enter the train, and the attendant will check your ticket. Hot towel service is provided and you can order food and drinks on board. The seats are wide and comfortable, as I have mentioned in a previous article, and the lighting is noticeably softer than in the other seats.

13,300 yen: For this price you will get a reserved standard-class seat in the premium Nozomi service. You sit in the standard bullet train seats, and food and drinks are sold on board. In these first two instances the travel time from Tokyo to Kyoto is 2 hours, 20 minutes.

Running about 500 or 600 yen cheaper than the above prices are the respective surcharges for travel on the Hikari and Kodama services, which are slower than the premium Nozomi because they make more stops. In the Hikari service, hot towel service is provided in the Green Car, but you are not “greeted” as you board. There is no “greeting” or hot towel service in Kodama trains. Hikari trains make the run to Kyoto in 2 hours, 45 minutes; Kodamas, which stop at EVERY station, take 3 hours, 45 minutes.

My recommendation if you’re purchasing tickets “a la carte” is to spend the extra 500-600 yen and take the Nozomi. There are more Nozomi trains than the others and it is the fastest way to get from Tokyo to Kyoto. Fall back only to the Hikari (and worst case, Kodama) if the Nozomi sells out.

9,800 yen: You can make a cheap trip aboard the bullet train at this price, but it is strange why it’s only marketed to Japanese travelers. I haven’t tried this, but I have read reports of other foreign travelers that have used this method successfully. For 9,800 yen you can purchase a “Puratto Kodama Ticket”, which is a discounted one-way ticket on the Kodama (the slowest bullet train service). You must make a reservation at least one day in advance at a JR Tours office located at a station served by the Shinkansen, i.e. Tokyo or Shinagawa in Tokyo, or at Kyoto station. The JR Tours office is operated by JR Central, and is recognizable by their orange colors. As a bonus, you are entitled to one free drink while on board the train. The “Puratto Kodama Ticket” is also available in the Green Car for 11,300 yen. The prices go up during times of high demand. If you get stumped, you can visit the website for the Puratto Kodama Ticket (http://www.jrtours.co.jp/kodama/), print the page and show it when you want to purchase your ticket.

8,000 yen: At this price you can make a journey on local JR trains from Tokyo to Kyoto, via the Tokaido Main Line.  You will be sitting in regular commuter trains and will have to change trains frequently along the way. On the other hand you’ll be passing through the rural and urban Japanese landscape, getting a better and closer look at areas that the bullet train will just whiz through. Connection times can range anywhere from 2 to 20 minutes for each train that you take. The travel time is approximately nine hours – but that doesn’t figure in the time that you might need for pit stops or a meal.

7,000 yen: For this price you can travel overnight between Tokyo and Kyoto by bus. There are many bus operators between Tokyo and Kyoto, and JR is one of them – bus tickets can be reserved at several channels, including green ticket windows at major JR train stations. On their “Dream” service, which is their standard overnight bus service, you are entitled to a comfortable reclining seat with head and foot rests on a double-decker bus that is configured in a 1 x 1 x 1 configuration; in other words you will have no other passengers directly next to you – you’ll either have an aisle or window. There are also blankets and slippers at your seat, and a toilet is on the first floor of the bus. The price is valid for weekday travel; add about 1,000 yen or so for weekend or holiday travel. An advance purchase of 5 days lobs 1,000 yen OFF of the price. Travel time is 7 1/2 hours from Tokyo Station; buses also run from Shinjuku Station on a different route, taking eight hours. A bus also operates from Tokyo Station restricted to female travelers.

6,000 yen: At this price you can use the same buses described above for a DAYTIME journey between Tokyo and Kyoto. The trip takes eight hours and the bus makes several stops along the way, including a few stops at service areas. There is a discount of 1,000 yen for a 5-day advance purchase. The price does not change depending on the day of the week or whether or not it’s a holiday.

5,000 yen: This is the price for a bus trip from Tokyo to Kyoto on the “Seishun Dream”, translated as “Youth Dream”. It is discounted because it offers less amenities than the regular bus service. Seats are configured 2×2, just like you’d find on a North American Greyhound bus. Seats offer recline, and there is a toilet on board. Regardless of time of day or holiday, the price is 5,000 yen with a 500 yen discount for a 5-day advance purchase. Travel times are similar to the other bus services.

2,300 yen: At last, the price tag of 2,300 yen. Is it possible to travel from Tokyo to Kyoto at such a low price?? Indeed, it IS possible, but as the old saying goes, “Certain restrictions apply.”

The rules are as follows: First, you must travel to and within Japan during one of the country’s three designated school holiday periods: March 1 – April 10, July 20 – September 10, and December 10 – January 20.

Secondly, you must travel with four other people… either four of your friends who want to go to Japan, or four Japanese friends, etc… finding the four people to go with you is your choice, and of course, your responsibility.

Finally, one person must purchase a ticket sold DURING the school holiday periods, called the “Seishun 18 Ticket”. This ticket sells for 11,500 yen and allows for unlimited travel on JR’s LOCAL TRAINS only: NO SHINKANSEN or LIMITED EXPRESS trains.

There are several ways it can be used. One person can use it for any five days within the given time period… or multiple people can use the single ticket. Essentially there are five spaces on the ticket, and each space allows one person to ride for one day. So if two people used the ticket, there would be three spaces left over, etc.

If FIVE people use the ticket on a single day, then you’re looking at one darn cheap method of traveling long distance! Simply purchase the ticket, and make sure everyone stays together. As you go into the system, your ticket is stamped five times. So all five of you are set for the journey. As mentioned above, you will travel on local trains only – no bullet trains. The travel time is about 9 hours, not accounting for pit stops or meal stops. But here’s a good thing: with the Seishun 18 ticket, if you all stay together, you can exit the system at any station and return to the system on the same day – just show your stamped ticket. With this in mind, perhaps you can exit the system at a major train station – say for example, Odawara, Shizuoka, Hamamatsu, Toyohashi or Nagoya – and head into a restaurant within the station, or enjoy some treats within the floors of a Japanese department store.

This 2,300 yen plan also works for other long-haul trips such as Tokyo to Nagoya or Tokyo to Osaka. The ticket price of 11,500 yen, divided by five, equals 2,300 yen. Even if four or three were to take the trip, the trip breaks down to 2,875 yen or 3,830 yen per person respectively – which can very well be a TREMENDOUS savings compared to standard train prices, or even bus prices.

My motto when it comes to Japan travel: always research as much as possible about your trip. This way it will make your trip much more enjoyable when it happens – not to mention it MAY just be a little lighter on the wallet!

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Responses

  1. […] some Japanese ability, she could opt for the discounted Puratto Kodama Economy Plan, mentioned in an earlier blog article. This will cut about 7,000 yen, or almost $80, out of her travel budget. As for local travel… […]

  2. Hi, we’re a group of 5 planning to take the Seishun 18, But I can’t seem to find a clear route from Kyoto to Tokyo,
    Would you know the stations we’d need t take? Or could you advise us a route?
    Thank you very much

    • Hi, thanks for writing. To travel from Kyoto to Tokyo on a Seishun 18, you should take the Tokaido Line. This is the line where trains run at regular intervals. To travel from Kyoto to Tokyo using trains on this line will take approximately 8 1/2-9 hours… this does NOT include time you’ll want to spend off of the train to have a bite to eat, which I would recommend at major train stations. Any train station that you run into that is also served by the Tokaido Shinkansen train is a good bet to find places to eat. If the five of you travel on one ticket and you leave the system to have lunch, the five of you will be able to return into the system to complete your trip on the same day.
      Some of the major train stations on the route include: MAIBARA, OGAKI, NAGOYA, TOYOHASHI, HAMAMATSU, SHIZUOKA and ATAMI.
      What day do you plan on making the trip? What time would you like to leave OR, what time would you like to arrive in Tokyo? Write back and I can suggest an itinerary with train times for you. Thanks!

  3. it is quite sad that most train stations these days are horrendously overloaded “

  4. […] of my favorite posts on this blog are: Tokyo to Kyoto for 2,300 yen and my post on traveling overnight by train in […]

  5. Hi Jose! I have been reading your articles and i have a questions for you. How can I use the willer express buss pass to travel from tokyo to osaka, kyoto and Nara effectively?. Those are the only places that call my attention and I wanna have enough time to explore them(mainly osaka and kyoto) I only wanna stay 1 night either in osaka or kyoto….wat do you suggest….another question…do you know if the moonlight nagata is still running in March? Its cause I will be going to Japan this march and me and my bf dont wanna spend a lot of money in transportation.
    I understand that we get 5 tickets in the seishun kippu 18 so paying only 11,500 we can travel roundtrip to kyoto(and having kyoto as a base, take trains to osaka and nara). I dont know…what do you think its cheaper and more convenient? Thanks A LOT!!! 🙂

    • Hi, and thanks for reading my blog on Japan Travel Tips. I’d be more than happy to help you out.

      Regarding the Willer Express bus pass and travel from Tokyo to Osaka, Kyoto and Nara: The cheapest Willer Express buses from Tokyo to Kyoto/Osaka go for about 4,500 yen or so. What you’ll want to do is to go to the Willer Express website, willerexpress.com, and look up the fares EACH WAY between Tokyo and Kyoto/Osaka. If the sum is less than 10,000 yen then you will be better off buying the individual tickets for the willer express buses. Then of course to travel around Kansai you can use public transportation. I recommend using private railways in the Kansai area because of their cost. Between Kyoto and Osaka you can use the Hankyu Railway or the Keihan Railway; they are a little slower than the JR trains but they are much cheaper, at about 400 yen for a one-way trip. Between Kyoto and Nara, or Osaka and Nara, you can use the Kintetsu Railway (600 yen and 550 yen respectively). If you plan to travel a lot on Kansai area private railways, subways and buses, then you might want to consider the Surutto Kansai Thru Pass. Click on the link for more information.

      Regarding the Seishun 18 Kippu and the Moonlight Nagara: The Moonlight Nagara will operate from March 18 to April 2. I should warn you that the Moonlight Nagara is VERY POPULAR, so much so that tickets for the Moonlight Nagara may be sold out by the time you land in Japan. The alternative is to travel to Kyoto during the daytime using the Seishun 18 ticket (per person, this would cost only 2,875 yen each way in this case), but traveling on day trains might waste precious sightseeing time.

      If you’re willing to raise the bar a little bit on your travel budget then a few more options can be considered. You can read my article about breaking up your journey over long distances and consider that. Otherwise I would recommend booking your bus trip on Willer Express and then using public transportation to get around Kansai.

      Let me know if you have any other questions. Thanks again!

  6. Thank you so much Jose!!!! this information was extremely helpful!!!! I will send you pics of my trip when I get back! ^.^ Thanks a LOOOOOT!!! 🙂

    • You’re welcome! Please let me know how your traveling went inside Japan, this way I can use your informationto help others 🙂

  7. Hi Jose. I’m so glad I found ur blog. This is so informative. But I would like to enquire more about the seishan 18. I’m travelling to Japan on 9th Jan’12 with 3 of my friends, I understand that the seishan ticket is valid till 10th Jan only.
    Firstly, I would like to know if I could use the seishan 18 ticket from Tokyo to Kyoto on the overnight train on 10th Jan midnight, which I would arrive Kyoto in the Morning of 11th Jan?
    Secondly, I would like to know how to travel from Tokyo to Kyoto by Overnight Train using Seishan 18. I do understand that “Moonlight Nagara” doesn’t reach Kyoto only Ogaki.
    Hope to hear from you soon!
    Thank you!

    • Hello, thank you for finding my blog. I should write more often on it 😦
      The Seishun 18 ticket would be a good choice for the four of you. It would cost each of you just 2,875 yen per day if you were to use one. As you pointed out, the Seishun 18 Ticket is valid only until January 10. However, keep in mind that December 31 is the last day that it can be purchased in Japan. So if you arrive after December 31 then you cannot purchase it.
      If you have to use the Moonlight Nagara on January 10, it will only be valid until the first stop after midnight on January 11. You would then need to possess a regular fare ticket from that station to Kyoto, which will cost a lot more money. I believe the first station after midnight is Odawara – the ticket from Odawara to Kyoto is 6,830 yen per person!! The Moonlight Nagara terminates at Ogaki, so you would have to take two more trains to reach Kyoto: Ogaki to Maibara, then Maibara to Kyoto. Also keep in mind that the Moonlight Nagara is very popular and can get very crowded sometimes.
      Do you have an idea of what you would like to see while you are in Japan? Please reply back or you can write to me privately at jrsideproject@aol.com This way I can give you some other ideas.
      Thanks again!

      • Thanks for ur prompt reply!!
        May I know if i Can buy seishan 18 online?? I will only arrive Japan on 9th Jan.
        I have research that if I was to take moonlight nagara from Tokyo, I could alight at ogaki. Departing Tokyo at 11.10pm and reach Ogaki at 5.35am. From ogaki, I could take local train to kyoto for 1890yen with journey of 1 hour 30mins.
        I like to confirm if my research is correct??
        I have yet to research on the exact places and attractions that i want to visit. I have only conclude that I will be arriving at Haneda Airport, staying at Tokyo, going to Mt Fuji for a day trip, and would like to go to Kyoto for a night stay.

  8. Hello, your research is correct about the Moonlight Nagara. But unfortunately you would be arriving after it is on sale and so you will not be able to use it on your trip on those dates, and you cannot purchase the Seishun 18 ticket online.
    If you are concerned about saving money then perhaps you can look into a bus trip instead. There are both daytime and overnight buses between Tokyo and Kyoto and the prices start at around 4,000~5,000 yen per person each way. There are many bus companies to choose from. Japan Railways actually has several major bus companies that operate trips. Another major company is Willer Express – the advantage with Willer Express is that they have an online reservation system in English. If you are planning to visit several major cities then you could order a Bus Pass. For more information please see http://willerexpress.com … you can also read my article about the Bus Pass at https://myjapantips.com/2010/09/09/deciphering-the-japan-bus-pass/

  9. Hi,

    My family of four (2 adults and 2 kids aged 16 and 12) is backpacking in Tokyo from Aug 27 to Sept 2. Originally we weren’t thinking of venturing any further than Tokyo b/c we had such a short time in Japan but I’ve been told Kyoto is not to be missed. A friend emailed me the link to your site as Japan is the end of our long summer trip.

    I am interested in both the overnight bus for 7,000 yen as this experience sounds amazing. And the 2,300 yen for a different experience to see the countryside. Would you suggest the night bus/day train better one way than the other, as we would need to get from Tokyo to Kyoto, and back. Are these prices somewhat current (we would love to take a bullet train but we are working with a backpackers budget). As well, is there a website that we can book our tickets much further in advance, as we would like to get the most discount possible.

    Thank you very much

    • Thank you for writing!

      The 2,300 yen price refers to the cost if five people were to travel together on the Seishun 18 Ticket. If the four of you were to use the ticket, this would break down to 2,875 yen per person for one day of travel. This ticket will be the cheapest option for going to Tokyo during the time that you indicated…. though keep in mind it will kill an entire DAY, just to travel to Tokyo, as the Seishun 18 ticket limits you to local trains, and not bullet trains. So if you were to leave Tokyo at 8:00 in the morning, the earliest you could arrive in Kyoto would be around 5:15 in the afternoon, but you’d need to budget extra time in the itinerary for train transfers, bathroom breaks, meal breaks, etc. It is a unique way to travel to Kyoto (as that’s how they did it prior to the introduction of the Shinkansen), but it would waste an entire day.

      The Seishun 18 for the summer must be purchased no later than August 31, and the last day it can be used is September 10.

      For such a short time in Japan (6 nights), I am not sure if you’ll have time for Kyoto unless you use the bullet train. You could, if you wanted, travel to Kyoto during an entire day, then the next day spend the day exploring Kyoto, and then on the third day travel back to Tokyo.

      I guess the only other option would be to take an overnight bus both ways if you really want to visit Kyoto. Maybe travel overnight, spend the day in Kyoto and take the overnight bus back to Tokyo? It’s a very quick itinerary though.

      What would be your maximum budget if you wanted to visit Kyoto?

      Jose

      • Hi Jose,

        Thanks for your thoughts

        Tokyo is our last stop of what will be a trip that we’ve been talking about, planning and saving for for what seems to be an eternity (atleast 15 years). I think our budget will hopefully be more than what we’ve budgeted the rest of our trip at, but right now it’s $50pp/pd. We know it will go up and down, depending on where we are at a given time. Hopefully by the time we get to Japan well have a few more pennies to play with.
        What about if we we spent three nights in Tokyo, day bussed to Kyoto for two nights and then night trained back to Tokyo? Do you think that itinerary would work? I know we will be a bit rushed but…other than spending our whole time in Tokyo, I now wish we had more time at the end of our trip.
        I also wish that I didn’t save googling Japan for the end, even though it is at the end.
        But…no regrets!
        Thanks

        C

      • Hello! I would then either do the train during the DAY to Kyoto, and then an overnight bus BACK, or do buses both ways. Probably the former will be a little cheaper for you.

        For bus trips, you can visit the web site for Willer Express (willerexpress.com). They have come into their own over the last few years with their bus routes, and the big advantage is that you can book buses online in English. I am not sure what sort of prices they have for your trip right now, or whether or not they are actually selling tickets for when you want to go, but you can check it out.

        The reason that I suggest you take a bus on your RETURN leg is that trains in Japan typically don’t run overnight. There are a very limited number of overnight train services that do run, but they start around Nagoya and during that particular season the seats might sell out.

        For your day trip from Tokyo to Kyoto, the price of the Seishun 18 ticket gives a lot of good value. The best way from Tokyo to Kyoto on local trains is on the Tokaido Line, as it offers the most number of trains per day compared to some other routes, where local trains can be very spotty at some locations.

        Here is one suggested way that you could make the trip to Kyoto. Assuming it’s a weekday and you leave around 6:00 in the morning from Tokyo Station, before the rush hour in Tokyo begins.

        TRAIN #1 Leave Tokyo Station 6:07 AM, Arrive Atami Station 7:59 AM (this train leaves Shinagawa at 6:16 AM, a main transfer point)
        TRANSFER
        TRAIN #2 Leave Atami 8:05 AM, Arrive Shizuoka 9:20 AM

        Once you arrive at Shizuoka, I’d allow about an hour or so for meals and restroom breaks.

        TRAIN #3 Leave Shizuoka 10:22 AM, Arrive Hamamatsu 11:33 AM
        TRANSFER
        TRAIN #4 Leave Hamamatsu 11:43 AM, Arrive Toyohashi 12:17 PM
        TRANSFER
        TRAIN #5 Leave Toyohashi 12:21 PM, Arrive Nagoya 1:11 PM

        Once you arrive in Nagoya, allow another hour for meals and restroom breaks.

        TRAIN #6 Leave Nagoya 2:15 PM, Arrive Ogaki 2:46 PM
        TRANSFER
        TRAIN #7 Leave Ogaki 3:09 PM, Arrive Maibara 3:44 PM
        TRANSFER
        TRAIN #8 Leave Maibara 3:48 PM, Arrive Kyoto 4:42 PM

        Welcome to Kyoto! 🙂

        Note that there are two locations where I suggest you stop for a break and to eat. Shizuoka and Nagoya are two of the main stations along the way to Kyoto. You can eat in the station, or perhaps you can venture out and into a place nearby. If you leave the station proper, you will be able to go back into the station by showing your ticket to the manned guard at the ticket gate.

        Of course, the length of the transfer is up to you. You can stay longer, and hop on another train later. If you miss a connection, you shouldn’t have to wait more than 20-30 minutes for another train.

        If for some reason you come up with more money, then I would highly recommend the trips offered by the JTB travel agency. They offer a one-day round trip deal on the bullet train, along with a Kyoto sightseeing pass, for about US$210 per adult and US$105 per child.
        http://japanican.com/tours/tourdetail.aspx?tc=GMT01TYOOVJOPENTK
        There is also the same one-day trip with guided tours. The course with a guided tour in the morning with the afternoon free is $269 per adult and $199 per child
        http://japanican.com/tours/tourdetail.aspx?tc=GMT01TYOOVJK1
        And the one day trip fully guided with lunch is $399 per adult and $269 per child.
        http://japanican.com/tours/tourdetail.aspx?tc=GMT01TYOOQT1A
        They also offer multi-day tours that you can look up.

        Hope all of this helps you out,

        Jose

  10. Hello Jose,

    I’m really glad I found your blog online.

    I have few questions. I will visit Japan with 19 friends of mine. Yes, 19. 🙂
    So, we are all a total of 20 multinational students who would love to explore Japan.

    We are supposed to reach to Narrita airport of 26th of Aug. 2013. We will be staying in Japan till 2nd of Sept. We made a hotel reservation until 30th of Aug in tokyo. We hope to manage to leave in the early morning towards Kyoto and spend 2 days there.

    We are very much interested in the “Seishun 18 Ticket”. Especially when 20 dives perfectly on 5. 🙂

    Can you suggest the best train rout to take from Tokyo towards Kyoto in the very early morning, and believe me we don’t mind if you said it will be at 3am. 🙂

    I also wish if you could give us as well a good return rout towards Tokyo.

    Both of your time and effor are not only appreciated but celebrated.

    Thanks,
    Adel Bibi

    • Hello Adel! Thanks for reading the blog. I would be happy to help you out 🙂 although it sounds like you don’t have much time in Japan :/
      I can give you some help on planning your transit options, but first I will need to clarify a few things:
      You are landing in Narita on August 26,
      You want to go to Kyoto August 30,
      You want to stay in Kyoto 2 days, and
      You leave out of Narita Airport on September 2.

      To be honest this is not a lot of time to spend in Kyoto, and keep in mind that if you take local trains it will take up a good portion of your day that you could use on sightseeing. There are a few overnight trains you COULD use but they are sometimes hard to book. You might want to look into using an overnight bus service both ways, or maybe a combination of train and bus.

      Anyway I think I can give you more help later today when I come back from work and look everything up from my computer 🙂

      I’ll write back soon! Meantime if you can confirm your dates please reply back.

      Jose

      • Dear Jose,
        Thanks fr your considerations and your fast reply.

        In fact, we will arrive to Tokyo on Aug 22th in the morning, but we have to attend an international camp which will last till 25th in Fujii Mount. So the actual trip will start from 26th.The departure day from Tokyo is on Sept. the second.
        We are supposed to check out from a hotel in Tokyo morning of 30th. I guess if you recommend it, we might cancel one day so that the check out is on 29th. In order to save us some time for Kyoto.

        Thanks again,
        Adel Bibi

      • Hello!

        Leaving a day earlier for Kyoto might be better depending on what everyone in your party wants to see.

        From Tokyo the first trains leave around 5 in the morning heading to Kyoto. The starting point to pick up the train depends on where your hotel is located. From your hotel I can navigate you to the commuter trains to Kyoto.. So do you want to leave from the first train?

        From Kyoto back to Tokyo you can leave from Kyoto for Tokyo the day before your return flight (in the afternoon) and spend one night in Tokyo… Which might be the best thing to do. You could also try to take an overnight bus and arrive back in Tokyo the day of your departure… But it depends on when your return flight leaves, and also taking the bus will be slightly more expensive than a train.

        Do you have a budget to work with or do you want to travel as cheaply as you can?

        Jose

  11. Dear Jose,

    The hotels we are intending to stay are the following:

    1- tokyo hotel

    hotel palace japan –
    Duration : 26th of Sept – 30th of Sept >> We might change this to be 29th of Sept if you recommend it so.

    Tokyo Prefecture, Taito-ku Kiyokawa 2-31-6

    http://www.palace-japan.com/english/

    2- tokyo airport hotel

    Narita U-City Hotel
    Duration: We will stay in this hotel the last night (night of Sept 1st and 2nd)
    So we can actually spend Sept 1st outside and get to the hotel at night for check in.
    The reason behind this hotel is that because they offer free bus tickets to Naritta Airport.
    286-0035, Narita
    Igodai 1-1-2

    286-0035, 成田市
    囲護台1-1-2

    ———————

    Regarding the budget, we did some serious budget anaylasis and we came up with “7400 $” for all the 20 students for the total period for transportation only. That also includes the in-city transportation not just for the long visits.
    We’d like to go as cheap as possible, we don’t even mind if it was tough or not convenient in some cases. At the end, we are all at the ages 18-25 which means we are not a family that obviously need special consideration and better quality.

    For the matter, we will be leaving Japan on Mon at 10:30AM
    of 2-Sept.
    if you don’t mind, I can make you an international call once I give you all the relevant information.

    please inform me about anything you need.

    Thanks alot Jose,
    Adel Bibi

    • Hi Adel! Ok here is my best shot at your itinerary!

      The closest train station to your Tokyo hotel is MINAMI-SENJU (南千住). You will need to take two trains before reaching the Tokaido Main Line.

      I will assume a departure on Friday, August 29 (as a Saturday timetable may be slightly different)

      As you enter Minami-Senju, one person should hand a Seishun 18 ticket for themselves and 4 more people (5 total). The Seishun 18 ticket must be handed to the station staff at the manned ticket gate, and he/she will stamp your ticket 5 times.

      Train #1: JR Joban Line – Depart Minami-Senju 05:07, Arrive Ueno (上野) 05:16

      Train #2: Once arriving in Ueno, go to tracks 3 and 4 for the trains that go south to Tokyo (東京). You can take any train that arrives on track 3 or 4. Tokyo is 4 stations south of Ueno.

      There is a 5:27 train that will get you to Tokyo in time for this train:

      Train #3: JR Tokaido Line – Depart Tokyo 05:46, Arrive Numazu 08:05

      Train #4: JR Tokaido Line – Depart Numazu 08:08, Arrive Shizuoka 09:02

      Here I suggest taking a one hour break for food, drink and restrooms. As Shizuoka is a major train station there should be places to eat inside. If you need to go outside the fare gates for any reason, pass through the manned gate showing your Seishun 18 ticket. When you return you should be allowed back in as the guard will check the date on the stamp.

      Train #5: JR Tokaido Line – Depart Shizuoka 10:00, Arrive Hamamatsu 11:14

      Train #6: JR Tokaido Line – Depart Hamamatsu 11:20, Arrive Toyohashi 11:54

      Train #7: JR Tokaido Line – Depart Toyohashi 12:03 (RAPID SERVICE), arrive Nagoya 12:57

      Again, here take one hour for a break.

      Train #8: JR Tokaido Line – Depart Nagoya 14:00 (RAPID SERVICE), arrive Ogaki 14:31

      Train #9: JR Tokaido Line – Depart Ogaki 14:37, arrive Maibara 15:12

      Train #10: JR Tokaido Line – Depart Maibara 15:18 (SPECIAL RAPID SERVICE), arrive Kyoto 16:12

      WELCOME TO KYOTO! 😀

      How does this look for you? I will have to plot your return trip from Kyoto to Tokyo, which I can do if you want 🙂

      Jose

      • Hello Jose,
        I can’t express how thankful Iam to your help. Really happy that there are some people are there with good hearts as you.

        I wrote the schedule down, and I really hope if you can give me plot for the return trip. Again, we will have to be in “Narita U-City Hotel” at the evening of Sept. the first.

        Do you know or recommend any good cities that we can spend a full day there during the trip. I come to understand that the trip is almost 9-10 hours by train and we can do it in 3 days, because we are supposed to cross more than 512 KM. So, is there a good city that deserves visiting which we can stay in for one full night with good hotel prices on the way to Kyoto or the way to Tokyo?

        Thanks alot Jose,
        Adel Bibi

      • Hi Adel

        If anything, the largest city on the way would be Nagoya. There is a historic castle there, along with some shrines/temples and a Toyota museum.

        Do you know about any specific places you want to visit while in Kyoto? If you can let me know, then I can decide if a stopover would be best or not

        Jose

      • @Jose,

        Sorry of rbeing late, bet there were lots of changes.
        We went for your advise and modified the date of check out to 29th of Aug.
        We also managed to find a flight from Tokyo to Osaka for a very very good price. The departure will be at 6:00 AM from Tokyo on the 29th of Aug.
        We made a hotel reservation in Kyoto for 2 days.
        The flight to Tokyo from Osaka will be at 19:00 of Sept the first.
        We are planing to make a god trip visit in both Kyoto and Osaka, especially after knowing that Osaka is only 1.5 hours from Kyoto.

        Thanks,
        Adel Bibi

      • Okay, enjoy your trip 🙂

      • Thanks Jose for all the help. 🙂
        If you need anything from there, I will make sure to ship to you.

  12. Dear Jose:

    You are a true expert on Japan, especially the trains. We would like to run you our itinerary for our first trip to Japan and would appreciate your advice on some queries.

    D 1: Arrive at KIX; Activate KWAP; Nite at Namba
    D 2: Day trip to Nara; Nite at Namba
    D 3: Trip to Kinosakionsen; Nite at Kinosaki
    D 4: Day trip to Kyoto; leave for Tokyo at 8pm
    D 5: Tokyo local sightseeing
    D 6: Tokyo local sightseeing
    D 7: Depart for NRT at noon

    Question 1:
    Does it make sense just to buy the KWAP before arriving in Japan and buy rest of tickets (like the Tokaido Shinkasen) on the spot (maybe a day earlier thru travel agencies)? Assuming KWAP is valid on local Osaka/kyoto travels.

    Question 2:
    Is there a Kanto equivalent to KWAP? As in for local Tokyo travel and airport train to NRT? If not, then is cash the way to go?

    Thank you for all your help and the happiness you are bringing.

    Sincerely,

    Joy

    • Hello Joy, and thanks for visiting my blog.
      It’s quite a short trip, but it’s full of exciting places to see.
      Answer to Question 1: I don’t think it makes a difference whether you purchase it online or do so when you get to Kansai Airport. One way or the other you’ll have to pick up the pass at the airport anyway. It might be easier though if you do the online purchase, as I would imagine you would save some time.
      Answer to Question 2: I guess the Kanto equivalent to the Kansai Wide Area Pass is the JR East Kanto Area Pass which is 8,000 yen for 3 consecutive days. But in order for it to pay off you’ll have to do more than 8,000 yen worth of travel. The good news is that you can make free seat reservations for limited express trains within the valid area, including the Narita Express train which will bring you to Narita Airport.

      Some comments on your itinerary:
      – The KWAP pays off since you will be making the trip from Osaka to Kinosaki-Onsen, and then go from Kinosaki-Onsen to Kyoto (which may or may not require a change in trains). Note though that with the KWAP, you may have to change trains at least once to get to where you are going (especially Kansai Airport-Namba, Namba-Nara round trip).
      – You will not have a lot of time to spend in Kyoto… The trip to Kyoto from Kinosaki-Onsen takes about three hours.
      The first train out of Kinosaki-Onsen is the 6:14 “relay” to Fukuchiyama, connecting to a limited express arriving in Kyoto around 9:00. There are a few departures after that requiring connections, and the first direct train to Kyoto (the “Konotori” limited express) leaves at 10:34, arriving Kyoto at 13:05. I am not sure if you plan on staying at a ryokan in Kinosaki-Onsen. If you do, then I would not suggest skipping Breakfast 🙂
      – You can purchase your Kyoto to Tokyo bullet train tickets on the “Nozomi” upon receiving your Kansai Wide Area Pass at the airport. You could also make your purchase at any JR station that has a vending machine in English, but if you know your departure time from Kyoto to Tokyo then purchasing your ticket at Kansai Airport will be easier to do. As a guide, the last scheduled bullet train of the day leaves Kyoto for Tokyo at 21:34, arriving at Tokyo station at 23:45. Your 20:00 departure estimate is good as it should allow you to reach your Tokyo hotel before the trains are shut down for the evening.

      I hope this helps! Let me know if you have any additional questions.

      Jose

  13. Thank you for all the inputs. You are really so amazingly kind.

    Just a follow up. We have decided to go for the KWAP and Tokaiddo Shinkasen Nozomi regular ticket. Thats Y21300 total. What remains are 2 full days at Tokyo and a one way travel to NRT. So are there any better alternatives to the Y8000 Kanto pass which you think will be adequate for remainder leg of our travel right uptil NRT? The Suica+NEX one way at Y3500 is only good for coming in to Tokyo but not to Narita from Tokyo.

    From my limited newbie knowledge of Japan its just buying regular tickets as you go along (do not think we will do Y8000 of travel in 2.5 days within the 23 wards of Tokyo). Any inputs?

    Are you in Japan now?

    Joy

    • Hi Joy, I actually live in the United States but I’ve been to Japan two times as a tourist (next month it will be three times!!)

      If you only plan to stay within Tokyo for those two days that you are there, then the Kanto Pass will not be worth it.

      A day pass that you might consider is for the subway: Tokyo Metro operates most subways in the area and have a one-day open ticket that is sold for 710 yen. It is only valid for Tokyo Metro trains… it is not valid on JR trains or on the other subway lines operated by Toei. Probably, if you take a few subway rides in a day, it might pay off.

      There is a version of this pass for 1,000 yen that covers both subway lines (Tokyo Metro AND Toei)

      But again it depends on where you want to go and how you travel there.

      When you are done, then a regular Narita Express ticket will do for the trip to Narita Airport. If you know what train you want to use, again, you can make the purchase for this train at Kansai Airport when you land.

      Jose

  14. Hello Jose, I will be traveling to Tokyo this coming October, but I would like to go to Kyoto just for one day only, and back to Tokyo at night since my hotel booked in Tokyo. I will be traveling alone since my husband is on a business trip, and I will be the only one wandering around Japan. Which travel agency would you recommend to me and how much it will cost to spend this trip not included food and shopping. Just barely for this trip Tokyo-Kyoto return. Thank you, Jose

    • Hello, and thank you for reading my blog!
      Here are a few options to consider.

      – If you are looking for a fully guided tour, I suggest going with JTB because of their popularity. They have a full day guided tour of Kyoto available for 41,400 yen. You meet up in Hamamatsucho in Tokyo at 9:00 and then head to Tokyo Station for the bullet train trip to Kyoto in a reserved seat, arriving at lunchtime. After lunch you are taken to Heian Shrine, Sanjusangendo and Kiyomizu Temple then you return right back to the bullet train in a reserved seat, arriving in Tokyo in the evening. They have pick up services from major hotels in the morning, and in the evening return service from Tokyo Station to hotels by Taxi is provided.
      More info : http://www.japanican.com/en/tour/detail/QT1A

      – A cheaper option that exists from JTB is the flex ticket which includes a round trip from Tokyo in NON-RESERVED seating and a one day Kyoto Sightseeing pass valid for the Kyoto city bus and subway for 21,600 yen. It is not possible to reserve a specific seat (first come first serve) and you must go to a JR Tokai Tours office in Tokyo or Shinagawa in advance to fill out forms and pick up your tickets.
      More info:
      http://www.japanican.com/en/tour/detail/VJOPENTK1

      – finally, if you would like to make plans on your own for the bullet train, you can simply purchase a round trip ticket yourself from a vending machine – they have English capabilities which makes purchasing a ticket easier. A round trip reserved seat ticket on the fastest service, the Nozomi, costs 27,820 yen. You have the flexibility to choose the trains you want to travel on….You can then visit places in Kyoto on your own.

      The advantage to the last two options are that you will probably have ample time to shop before going back to Tokyo, whereas the first option might not leave you with a lot of time.

      There are excellent shopping options at Kyoto station and the nearby Kyoto Tower if you want to bring back a memento or two.

      Since you only have one day, these are my suggestions. I hope this helps!

  15. Thank you, Jose for your reply. This is a big help for me…


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