Friday, March 26, 2010

Getting around - Tokyo, Kyoto, Osaka

Hi, I am planning a family trip and have a few questions regarding getting around in the above places as I am travelling with my parents who might have difficulty walking long distances.

1. We are staying at Century Southern Tower in Shinjuku and have been advised to take an airport bus which will drop us outside the hotel as taking the Narita Express would mean a lot of walking as the platforms are long. True? We are arriving early Sat morning, around 9am.

2. What would be the best ticket to travel in Tokyo? I have seen the special package for the Suica and NEX tickets. Is this value for money?

3. For travel between Tokyo and Kyoto and Osaka, we are thinking of getting a 7 day pass and use other tickets to travel in Tokyo (like the Suica and NEC pass above). Does this make sense or should we get a 14 day pass to cover our travel from Narita airport and departure from Kansai airport? The 7 day pass would expire on our 2nd last day and we would probably need to buy another ticket to travel from Osaka to Kansai airport.

4. I haven%26#39;t managed to find much information on this but am I correct to say that in Osaka and Kyoto, the JR pass is ';useless'; as we will be relying on local transportation tickets?

Many thanks in advance.

Getting around - Tokyo, Kyoto, Osaka

If you are traveling from Tokyo to Osaka/Kyoto and flying out of Kansai Airport, then no JR Pass is needed.

Usually it would make sense if you were traveling BACK to Tokyo, but in this case you are only traveling one way From narita into Tokyo, to Kyoto/Osaka then flying out of Kansai. No pass needed, as it is cheaper just one way.

1. Certainly a hotel limousine bus will drop you right off at the hotel.

Narita Express to the Century Southern Tower is not too far if you take the Southern Terrence Exit of Shinjuku Station (if you take another exit you might find yourself on the other side of where you want to be).

2. Yes it is value for the money.

3. Answered in the beginning.

4. Ansnwered with don%26#39;t get the JR pass because one way trip.

Transport in kyoto is best covered by bus anyway, get a city bus pass for 500 yen.

Getting around - Tokyo, Kyoto, Osaka

1. NEX is not a bad choice. At Narita, look for the elevators to go down to the platform level instead of the escalators if you parents aren%26#39;t very mobile. Use NEX-Suica package to get to Shinjuku. As mentioned, the Southern Terrace exit is the closest, about 2 minutes walking to the building. Since the NEX platforms are right under those exits, the walk is not bad at all. Any other exit, even on the south side, would mean lots of unnecessary walking as you%26#39;d essentially be double-backing underground. Once you get to the building, take the elevator to the 20th floor for the lobby.

2. NEX-Suica gives you a discount NEX ticket. Suica doesn%26#39;t give you any discount by itself as it%26#39;s just a stored value card. Fares get deducted as you ride. When the value runs out, you need to put more money in. Nevertheless, its convenience is unbeatable as you won%26#39;t have to mess with the somewhat foreign ticket machines.

Other daily travel passes within Tokyo are generally not worthwhile. Potential savings with those products are usually limited for most visitors.

3. Depending on your itinerary, even a 7-day pass might not be worthwhile. It depends on your final plans. Remember the 7-day version costs 28,300 Yen, and the 14-day 45,100 Yen. You can add up single ticket fares here to compare:

4. You can ride JR between Osaka and Kyoto. The Special Rapid train takes 30 minutes. Shinkansen from Shinosaka station takes 15 minutes. Within the two cities though, Kyoto relies chiefly on the bus and subway, while Osaka relies more on subway, private rail companies, and JR.

Many thanks for your responses.

I think we will take the NEX-Suica package for Tokyo as it seems an easier way and also makes it easier for us to get around in Tokyo.

I have also checked the one-way train prices and it does not seem worthwhile to take the JR pass as Tokyo to Kyoto is 13,520 Yen and Kyoto to Osaka is abt 2,000 Yen. But could I ask would we purchase these train tickets? Is there any way we pre-buy them?

I have another question on the train route from Kyoto to Osaka. Looking at the train stops, I noticed that there are 2 routes - SHINKANSEN to Shin-Osaka and then change the train to Osaka station or direct local train services which get to Osaka station. As we are staying at Hilton Osaka, which is at Osaka station, am I correct to say that we will take the direct local train?

Lastly, could I ask if there is any special package to travel from Osaka and Kansai airport? And if there are any special travel pacakages to travel within Kyoto and Osaka, like the city bus pass mentioned.


You don%26#39;t need to pre-purchase tickets unless you are traveling during Japanese holidays. As Shinkansen between Tokyo and Kyoto run very often (multiple trains hourly), you can just show up and either buy reserved seats (a little more expensive) or unreserved at the JR Ticket Window at the station (large neon green signs). I suggest you buy Nozomi since the fare difference is very small. Definitely avoid Kodama trains though as they take much longer.

From Kyoto to Osaka, if you don%26#39;t have a JR Pass, buy the 540 Yen regular JR ticket instead. You can ride the JR Special Rapid Line and it only takes 30 minutes to Osaka station. It%26#39;s not worthwhile to save 15 minutes by riding Shinkansen or the Limited Express and paying 3 to 5 times more.

Osaka is indeed the correct station instead of Shinosaka. Again, don%26#39;t take Shinkansen in this case since you would have to transfer and pay more.

Depending on your itinerary, the JR West Pass or Kansai Thru Pass (Surutto) may save you some money. Japan Guide has an excellent analysis:

The Hilton Osaka is near Osaka Station, take the ';JR SPECIAL RAPID'; trains, not the Shinkansen.


Hankyu Railways connects Central Kyoto in the same amount of time (if you factor in the transit time from Central Kyoto to JR Kyoto Station) for cheaper then JR trains:

(select OSAKA-KYOTO)

both JR special rapid and Hankyu trains are unreserved seats, so purchase tickets the day you travel.

Also, if you want to travel to Kyoto on a discount kodama shinkansen ticket for only 9800 yen one way (save over 3000yen one way)

check out the Kodama Puratto Economy Plan:


Many thanks for all your helpful responses. You have certainly helped me understand how to make my way round Japan. Tks so much!!!

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