We arrived in Kyoto on a bullet train from Osaka, a journey of just 15 minutes - but around an hour by regular train! The station is on the southern edge of the main downtown area and is very modern and very large. It is also very busy. It can therefore be a challenge to negotiate when carrying bags and newly arrived, but is impressive enough to merit a separate sightseeing visit another time (so see my separate Nightlife tip).
We also left Kyoto on a bullet train, bound for Takayama via Nagoya. It was a Sunday morning but the station was no less busy - indeed you would think it were the morning rush hour! So do allow plenty of time to catch your train.
The station has more than enough shops, restaurants etc to satisfy you whatever type of sustenance you require for your journey. We bought bento boxes for our lunch en route to Takayama and coffee for that essential morning caffeine fix. There are also numerous gift shops if you want to while away the time browsing, and even a large department store. But more of the station's facilities in that other tip ... For now, we have to find and check into our accommodation.
Japan has one of the most extensive and advanced rail systems in the world with numerous private and municipal companies providing service local and long distance, usually at reasonable prices compared to other forms of transportation. One of the most outstanding examples of Japan's trains is the Shinkansen, which literally means "new trunk line." This train can travel at speeds of up to 200 miles per hour, and extends from the south of Kyushu to the north of Honshu, with an extension under construction to connect Hokkaido to the far north. The first Shinkansen route, the Tokaido Line, was constructed between Tokyo and Osaka in 1964, and the system has since expanded to almost 1,500 miles of track.
The Shinkansen is expensive and the tickets are somewhat complex. Tickets are comparable to airline rates, about 12,000 Yen each way between Yokohama and Kyoto, for a two-hour journey. You might be able to save using a Japan Rail Pass, but be aware that you cannot use a rail pass on the fastest Nozomi Trains. Some Shinkansen trains require two tickets for a single journey (like our Shin-Yokohama to Shin-Osaka trip), but other only need one ticket (Kyoto to Shin-Yokohama), with the first ticket used for the Shinkansen itself and the second for the regular connecting trains if applicable.
The Shinkansen is great for its frequency, timeliness, and convenience. Trains on the busiest routes run every 10-15 minutes, and they are almost always on time. Unlike air travel, ticket prices don't change every day, and there is minimal security or other hassles. You can walk up to the Shinkansen station 5-10 minutes before the next train departs, and you can usually get a non-reserved seat without problems, and be on board in no time. Nothing is easier!
The Shinkansen stops in Kyoto at the main Kyoto Station, the city's main transportation hub. This station opened in 1997 and is the second largest train station building in Japan, after Nagoya Station. After arrving at Kyoto Station via Shinkansen you can quickly transfer to the Kyoto Subway, the Kintetsu trains, as well as lines from both JR Central and JR West.
After spending 5 days in Kyoto we were off to Tokyo about 230 miles to the northwest ...... and taking the Bullet train the "Shinkansen" is one of the coolest experiences I have ever taken ...... first of all.... the trains from Kyoto to Tokyo run almost every 10 minutes ..... The trains takes about 2 hours ..... the trains stop for about 2 minutes in Nagoya and Yokahoma before entering Tokyo ....
At first we were gonna buy 1st Class seats "Green seats" but the price is a bit steep 18,500 yens about $225 US so we choose regular economy for 13,000 yens about $165 US ...... and were happy we did !!!! More than enough space and comfort ... I think 1st class would have been a waste of money .....
The coolest part of the ride is that the train itself is sooooooo quiet !!!!!! and relaxing !!!! you see the Japanese country side in a different view .... Clean Bathrooms are available on each coach and snacks are also sold onboard !!!!
It's cheaper than flying and and a lot less stressful !!!! If you get a chance I highly recommend it !!!!!
The train drops you off at Tokyo Station in the center of Tokyo ..... and going from there has it owns challenges but that's it's own different story !!!!
You can buy your tickets at the JR ticket office on the main entrance where there is personnel who speak English and will sell you the tickets and explain everything for you !!!!!
When booking a Shinkansen to/from Kyoto and Tokyo, might be good if you can specify which side seats you would prefer when making seats reservation at any JR station.
When I boarded the Shinkansen from Kyoto to Tokyo, all the seats on the left side of the train were taken up. Later realised that Mount Fuji would be viewable (on a clear day) from the left side of the train bound for Tokyo. The reverse would be true if you are departing from Tokyo to Kyoto.
Reservation with the JR Rail Pass is relatively easy at Kyoto Station or any JR Station. Need to indicate to them the departing station and destination station and the schedule that you prefer. The timetable is available on JR website or a hardcopy is available at any JR station.
Super fast train and efficient none other than the infamous SHINKANSEN. Only takes you 2 hour and 35 minutes express by NOZOMI train if you want to have the lifetime experience though you can still on board KODAMA or famous HIKARI for the same route and slower speed than Nozomi.
I strongly recommend to get JAPAN RAIL PASS as this is the your cheapest way and most convenient to travel whole of JAPAN. The pass is valid to use on Shinkansen but make sure only board on KODAMA and HIKARI otherwise you may pay extra charge.
JAPAN RAIL PASS is only valid for tourist therefore the pass IS NOT AVAILABLE IN JAPAN BUT OUTSIDE JAPAN which means purchase in advance before you arrive into Japan.
Haruka was the one that I got from osaka to kyoto. If you want to see a Sumo wrestling, you have to go Nagoya but dont hesitate from the distance...with shınkatsen it tooks only 2.5 hour from Kyoto to Nagoya.
If you use the Shinkasen and are coming from another city you will get off here. There is an old station which melts into the new Station and is practically a city unto itself. All kinds of restaurants, stores, and a tourist information center are inside. When you step out the North side of the new building several useful bus routes begin right there as well.
Took the Hikari 409 Shinkansen (JR bullet train) from Tokyo to Kyoto. Here are tips for an enjoyable ride :
- Ask the information counter for platform number as it's quite confusing in the Tokyo station
- If you would like to see Mount Fuji, ask for a seat on the right of the train. You'll see it approximately 1 hour out of Tokyo
- Washroom and toilet here are fabulously clean after the disaster at Tokyo station
The Shinkansen is probably the most common way to travel to Kyoto. Travelling in Japan should include the Shinkansen at least once. You can easily reach from Kyoto any major city in Japan, e.g. Tokyo, Kobe, Osaka, Okayama or even Fukuoka. Trains are punctual, reliable, and clean.
Depending on your travel itinerary it might be sensible to buy a Japan Rail Pass. It is only for foreign tourists and must be bought outside the country. Note that you cannot use the Nozomi Super Express with the JR Pass.
From Tokyo more than 100 super express shinkansen trains (we called the Bullet Train) leave daily, (3 to 4 hrs) for about 135 USD one way
there are buses and subway line.
taxis around the city starts from 6 USD
Best way to get to Kyoto from Tokyo station is by the Shinkansen and believe me this train is like a bullet. I have experiences of bullets and trains so I know! It's really funny because in England, it is a real feat to have a train moving at 125 mph. The bullet is faster and if you are coming from the UK buy a Japan Rail Pass before you travel. The cost is approx. 164 GBP. and you can use in on the JR Lines and the Shinkansen as much as you want from as soon as you activate the pass, it will be valid for a week from activation. It can take you to Kyoto and Osaka etc. The bullet train travelling time is approx. 3 hours 25 minutes from Tokyo Station.
Better know to foreigners as the "bullet trains". These trains can reach average speeds of 280Kmp/h and serve all major cities on the island of Honshu and as far south as Hakata, the train stop which serves Fukuoka. Kyoto is well served by the shinkansen, they pass through en-route to either Tokyo or Hakata in the opposite direction every 30 min or so during the day. The shinkansen is definately the best way to travel in Japan and can be even used by the "budget" traveller, that's being budget minded for Japan. It is important to know that discounted tickets for 7, 14 and 30 days unlimited travel can be bought, but must be purchased outside of Japan. This makes Japan a viable travel option as a short trip of 7 days for example from Korea. A seven days JR (Japan Rail) pass, valid for all JR train travel, including shinkansen, can be purchased at a number of travel agents / ferry booking offices in Korea for about 300,000won (US$260), a real bargin!
The best way to get there is by train. My suggestion is to use the Shinkansen (bullet train) . It´s very comfortable and fast. The only problem is the price, it´s quite expensive but just for the experience it´s wothwhile. It´s better to book your sit if not maybe you will not be able to sit.
Travel on the SHINKANSEN: the fastest train service, also known as 'bullet' trains connecting major cities in Japan from the south island of Kyushu to the north island of Hokkaido. These super-express trains reach speeds of up to 270 km/h, a great way to travel! Speeding from Tokyo to Kyoto is a great ride; there are 4 Shinkansen routes, all originating from Tokyo. One runs via Nagoya, Kyoto, Osaka and Hiroshima to Shimonoseki at west Honshu and then to Fukuoka on north Kyushu (the south island of Japan). The second line runs from Tokyo up north to Niigata (north Honshu). Another runs via Sendai to Morioka & the fourth line to Yamagata. What an exhilarating experience!
From Tokyo it takes 2 hours & 40 mins by bullet train.
From Osaka it takes 40 mins by train.
A network of bus lines covers the whole city & buses run every 7 to 20 mins until 10 pm.
I took the second fastest Shinkasen bullet train from Tokyo to Kyoto. The whole journey took less than 3 hours!
In Kyoto, you can buy a 'BUS' pass for the whole day for Yen500. It allows you to ride any bus and allows you to hop-on-and-off the bus. Most buses goes to the major tourist attractions. You will get a free bus map which shows you the bus no & stops to all these tourist attractuibs when you buy the bus pass