Pages in topic:   [1 2] >
Off topic: off topic: asking for a travel advise to Tokyo and Kyoto
Thread poster: arterm

arterm  Identity Verified
Russian Federation
Local time: 12:08
Member (2002)
English to Russian
Oct 22, 2008

Dear Colleagues

I wanted to ask you something a little bit off topic to translation service.

I am now booking a trip for me, my wife and my then 1.5 year old son to Tokyo and Kyoto, Japan. the trip would happen in December and is a promising holiday venture for us. But Japan seems to be enigmatic for us and our travel agent seems to charge too much for many services. So I am trying to gather some more realistic information. Your help would be very much appreciated.

I hope you could kindly help me with the following questions.

We are going to land at Tokyo Narita airport and the plan is to
immediately move to Kyoto to be there and travel around from 20th till
24th of December, after that we plan to go to Tokyo and stay there
until our flight back to Russia on the 30th of December.
In this connection I wanted to ask about few practical things:

1) Is it a good idea to use Shinkansen train from Tokyo to Kyoto when
we land at 11:45 AM at Narita? Our touristic agency tells us we can
have a cab for 140 USD (around 14000 yen) (or a bus for 30 USD) to a
Shinkansen station in Tokyo from the airport and then the Shinkansen
one way ticket to Kyoto would be another 180 USD (18000 yen) per
person. With this regard I wanted to ask how realistic these rates are
and would not it be easier to buy the tickets and get the taxi to
Shinkansen station just in place without overpaying our agent and
booking these from Russia. I have also found that there is a JR Pass
for foreigners wich is around 300 USD for 7 days, maybe this would be
useful as it gives access to all JR transport except Nozomi train? In
short we are not yet sure how to better go from Narita airport
directly to Kyoto.

2) We want to have some relaxed schedule yet to see the Kyoto and
Tokyo without a rush, thus we were considering to book some
Russian-speaking guides but they ask 400 EUR per person for a city
tour. At the same time I see that English-speaking guides ask from 150
USD full day (not yet sure if this is a per person rate). So the
question is are these Russian guys realistic and should we possibly
prefer English-speaking tours?

Apart of these mercantile matters I would just like to hear your
friendly advise on what should we do and maybe not to do.


And of course we would be more than happy to meet and hangout with some of you guys, who might happen to be in the same cities which we shall visit.

Sincerely,

Arterm Sedov


Direct link Reply with quote
 

Katalin Horváth McClure  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 04:08
Member (2002)
English to Hungarian
+ ...
Definitely get the JR pass Oct 22, 2008

The JR pass for foreign tourists is a great thing.
My parents and my brother used that pass when they came to visit me when I lived in Tokyo and we traveled all around Japan (of course, to Kyoto as well).
Nozomi is just one of the bullet trains (Shinkanzens), there are many others and they are not much slower, so the pass is a great money saver. Your baby boy would not need a ticket for any JR trains.

Read the details here:
http://www.kintetsu.com/jrpass/?gclid=CNun__z_u5YCFQVxFQodmGS4LA

The only thing is that you have to buy the pass BEFORE you arrive to Japan. You will not get the actual pass, you wil get a voucher that you will need to exchange when you get to Japan. You can do it at Narita Airport, both terminal 1 and 2 have exchange offices.
I am not sure how you could buy it on your own while in Russia - you need to do some research to see if there is a Kintetsu office in your area. If not, perhaps somebody in the US (nudge nudge wink) can help you buy it and send it over to you.

If it was me, my plan would be to arrive to Narita, get my JR pass, then take the Narita Express (the pass should be valid for that) and go to Tokyo station. Narita Express is a fast and very convenient train. From there, take the bullet train to Kyoto.

As for booking guides - well, I am not sure I would do that. There are excellent guidebooks, and the main tourist places have English signs. (Although I must admit I did not pay attention to that too much as I could speak/read Japanese, so I was taking care of my parents in that regard.) Having your little boy along may complicate things a bit as you would probably need to take things slower than what tourist guides are normally used to.

You may be able to find a kind ProZian to help you down there - who knows?

Katalin


Direct link Reply with quote
 

Alex Farrell  Identity Verified
Japan
Local time: 17:08
Japanese to English
Reasonable rates Oct 23, 2008

I think the information you got on rates sounds about right. Japan is an expensive place aside from 100 yen shops. If you want to save money on a guide, why not go with a good guidebook, like Lonely Planet's Kyoto guidebook?

http://www.amazon.com/Kyoto-City-Guide-Chris-Rowthorn/dp/1740598458/ref=pd_bbs_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1224736103&sr=8-1

The latest version was printed in July, and when I first got here it was all I needed. Besides, a lot of signs, pamphlets, menus etc. are in English in areas where the tourists go, so I think you'll be okay.

Too bad you're coming in December. Fall and spring are definitely the best times.

Have fun!

- Alex


Direct link Reply with quote
 

arterm  Identity Verified
Russian Federation
Local time: 12:08
Member (2002)
English to Russian
TOPIC STARTER
thank yu guys! Oct 23, 2008

Thank you very much for the rapid answers

We have already requested our agent to obtain the JR Pass.
Hopefully it wont be surcharged as outrageously as the rest of service they offer.

Though everyone says that Japan is expensive when I compare the prices I see on English speaking sites to local prices in Saratov, Russia I do not see any serious difference. And many things are just cheaper, for instance a flight from Tokyo to Kyoto costs exactly the same as from Saratov to Moscow, but I guess you wont find a 30 years old plane in Japan as they do have here.

So for a Russian Japan seems to be an okay priced country aside of local middle-men activities. Yet living outside Moscow we have to use their service inevitably.


Another question is how comfortable would be the JR Express train? Is it okay to go to Shenkansen station on this train with a small kid after 10 hours of flight? Or maybe a taxi would be a better choice? On the other hand, we have found information that taxi and buses in Japan are not optimal due to ever congested traffic. Here at home we refrain to use taxi or public transportation (and either just walk or drive on our own car), but experience shows they are rather comfortable in many other countries. So I wonder how crowded and comfortable would the short range Japan trains be.



[Edited at 2008-10-23 22:55]


Direct link Reply with quote
 

Katalin Horváth McClure  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 04:08
Member (2002)
English to Hungarian
+ ...
Narita Express - your best choice Oct 23, 2008



Another question is how comfortable would be the JR Express train? Is it okay to go to Shenkansen station on this train with a small kid after 10 hours of flight? Or maybe a taxi would be a better choice?


See more info and inside pictures of the Narita Express train:
http://www.jreast.co.jp/e/nex/

The seats are very comfortable, and as far as I remember, everybody must buy a seat, so there is no standing. The advantage over the cab is that you can walk around with your child, there is a bathroom, and the ride is smooth. I would not trade it for a taxi ride.

I think if you do not want to stay overnight in Tokyo before going to Kyoto, your best choice is riding the Narita Express to Tokyo station. You will need to find the Shinkanzen tracks (Tokyo station is very big) but there are tons of signs.

Katalin


Direct link Reply with quote
 

arterm  Identity Verified
Russian Federation
Local time: 12:08
Member (2002)
English to Russian
TOPIC STARTER
you are awesome :) Oct 23, 2008

[quote]Katalin Horvath McClure wrote:



See more info and inside pictures of the Narita Express train:
http://www.jreast.co.jp/e/nex/

I think if you do not want to stay overnight in Tokyo before going to Kyoto, your best choice is riding the Narita Express to Tokyo station. You will need to find the Shinkanzen tracks (Tokyo station is very big) but there are tons of signs.

Katalin



WOW! You are awesome, Katalin,


We indeed do not want to stay in Tokyo overnight to save on transportation and to save time.


Direct link Reply with quote
 

arterm  Identity Verified
Russian Federation
Local time: 12:08
Member (2002)
English to Russian
TOPIC STARTER
advance seat reservation? Oct 23, 2008

Hi!

at http://www.jreast.co.jp/e/nex/ I found that JR Express seats require an advance reservation
Any experience on how it works from outside of Japan and in combination with JR Pass? Do they provide siting places for JR Pass holders?


Direct link Reply with quote
 

arterm  Identity Verified
Russian Federation
Local time: 12:08
Member (2002)
English to Russian
TOPIC STARTER
seems to be a problem with Shinkansen Oct 23, 2008

Even if you are traveling on a JAPAN RAIL PASS, if you do not collect your Reserved Seat Limited-Express Ticket by 9:00 p.m. (21:00, Japan Standard Time) on the day before departure, cancellation fees will be applied and the reservation will be cancelled.

That is what I read at JR site. Does it mean that I cant just go to Shinkansen and have to be in Japan one day before the departure and take the ticket in advance?

Maybe I miss something?


Direct link Reply with quote
 

arterm  Identity Verified
Russian Federation
Local time: 12:08
Member (2002)
English to Russian
TOPIC STARTER
non-reserved seats seems to exist Oct 23, 2008

A non-reserved seat (except for “NOZOMI” trains on the Tokaido and Sanyo Shinkansen) can be used simply by showing your JAPAN RAIL PASS.

Direct link Reply with quote
 

Katalin Horváth McClure  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 04:08
Member (2002)
English to Hungarian
+ ...
Calm down... Oct 24, 2008

Artem,
Calm down... And read slowly...


First of all, you would not be able to make your reservation on that website from Tokyo to Kyoto anyway, as it is on the Tokaido line. You could only do it for the Narita Express, but you are right, it does make it sound like you have to pick up the tickets the day before.
Besides, what if you got all your reservations beforehand and then your flight is late?

You can always get your reserved seats right there (maybe not for the very next train if the airport is crowded) - this would depend on the time and day do you arrive, I guess. You can also just get on the train and use the non-reserved seats (people will be lining up for those). Now, I am not sure if they got away with smoking cars - I think last time I rode on these trains there were still smoking cars, so I assume you would want to avoid those if they still exist.


Direct link Reply with quote
 

arterm  Identity Verified
Russian Federation
Local time: 12:08
Member (2002)
English to Russian
TOPIC STARTER
thank you for the hint Oct 24, 2008

It seems to me I will either use non-reserved seats or will ask my agent to reserve them duly as anyway they will be selling the pass itself

Direct link Reply with quote
 
yonyon
Australia
Local time: 19:08
English to Japanese
+ ...
Definitely use the Narita Express to Tokyo then change to Shinkansen. Oct 29, 2008

First of all, it is realistic to use rail after arrival in the morning.

About the rail pass idea, it starts from 37800 per person for 7 days. A round trip to Kyoto on shinkansen costs you 27040 per person. You cannot share the pass between your family, so you would have to buy two for you and your wife. After the trip to Kyoto you will still have more than 10,000 yen left on each card. Do you think you will use it up? Narita express is about 2940 yen per way (5880 round trip). You will still have 4880 yen left on each of your pass. If you are afraid that you may not use up the value of the card, it will be wiser to buy tickets every time you take the JR train. Japan has a prepaid rail card system and you can buy it on a vending machine. The prepaid card can be shared between your family so it may be wiser to buy the shinkansen and narita express tickets from the counter (because the amount is big) and then buy a smaller amount prepaid card (such as 1000 or 3000 yen card) and when you need to buy local train tickets, keep using the prepaid card until it becomes empty. You can recharge the card again at any station with a vending machine. The prepaid card are also operator-blind. You can buy any connection ticket involving two or three different train/subway operators. JR pass can be used only for JR lines.

So When you arrive at Narita and clear the customs, follow the signs to train station, and buy the Narita Express tickets to Tokyo Station. When you arrive in Tokyo Station, proceed to Shinkansen entrance. This route is used by many international arrivals so there are elevators and escalators everywhere. Shinkansen entrance have a different set of turnstiles and you will need to buy shinkansen tickets from a counter nearby.

Shinkansen non-reserved seats will be okay because there are so many shinkansen services during the day, and you are riding one from the starting point (Tokyo).

Shinkansen line to Kyoto and Osaka is THE main line, so you can expect to have a departure every 15 minutes. Choose the one that you don't have to rush to catch because you need to do something on the platform as follows: On the platform there will be sometimes two or three different lines forming. It may be that the first set of lines are for the next train, second set of the lines are for the one after the next. A train consists of reserved and non-reserved sections and they are further divided into smoking and non-smoking cars. So, what you need to do is when you arrive on the platform, quickly run the length of the platform and find out where to line up to get on a non-reserved non-smoking train car. (This is because if you jump on the train from a random door and have to walk throught the train to a non-reserved non-smoking car, it will be hard with suitcases, and you may not have seats left when you finally arrive in your section.) Ask someone like a business person and find out which line of people you should join. A lot of Japanese busienss people speak English. You also have to be careful not to get on a Nozomi (superfast) shinkansen as it incurrs additional charge.

On your way back, you will be using the Shikansen service from the middle of the service. Kyoto is not a starting point, so non-reserved section may already be full. Once you arrived in Kyoto, consult your hotel staff or guide and if you think it better to have reserved seats, go to the Kyoto station or any other JR station nearby and buy the reserved tickets for your return trip.

As for the guide, the rates for Russian guide is fairly moderate. It's not like they can have a client every day.

Good luck.
yonyon


Direct link Reply with quote
 

arterm  Identity Verified
Russian Federation
Local time: 12:08
Member (2002)
English to Russian
TOPIC STARTER
Thanks yonyon! Oct 29, 2008

Your advise is amazing and very detailed

We have managed to reserve JR Pass for 283 USD per adult for 7 days and for 140 USD for the kid
I was thinking of paying it today. It seems to be cheaper than what you expected, is not it? I guess simply buying the tickets would be around 690 with the 50% kid's discount. Or am I mistaking?

So to sum up:
1) Having JR Pass (exchanged from a voucher) when we are in Narita, Tokyo after landing we can simply go to Narita Express non-reserved seats and then to the nearest Shinkansen train also to non-reserved seats. Then in Kyoto we would use the JR Pass to reserve the reserved seats to Tokyo. By the way, maybe we could reserve the seats from Tokyo during the day of arrival with this JR Pass?

2) I was going to pay for JR Pass voucher today total 709 USD for 7 days for three tickets. Do you think this is reasonable? Unfortunately this voucher is non-refundable and we will actually insure it for the case of non-arrival to Japan along with the rest of our expenses (it is a usual practice in Russia to have insurance for the case of non-departure or non-arrival).


Thanks again
Arterm

[Edited at 2008-10-29 07:43]


Direct link Reply with quote
 

arterm  Identity Verified
Russian Federation
Local time: 12:08
Member (2002)
English to Russian
TOPIC STARTER
yonyon might be right that simply buyin the tickets may be okay Oct 29, 2008

I have counted that buying tickets when in Japan to get to Kyoto and back would be around 870 USD
Yet JR Pass would give us some economy and chances to go to some other places for free.

I am now a bit frustrated

[Edited at 2008-10-29 08:06]


Direct link Reply with quote
 
yonyon
Australia
Local time: 19:08
English to Japanese
+ ...
Wait! Oct 29, 2008

Have you already gone to buy the pass?
You don't pay anything for your 1.5-year-old son. JR does not charge until the child turns 6.

Okay I hope I caught you before you went to buy the pass for three of you.
I'm now editing this message.

So anyway, depending on the exchange rates, you may be better off buying the JR rail pass. And you are right that you can go to other places using the pass. But you have to be careful because JR pass is valid only for JR. If you want to go to Nikko or Hakone (close to Mt. Fuji), which is pretty nice towns close to Tokyo, there are private rail companies that offer much cheaper and better services to these destinations.

So if you have bought the JR pass, you should choose destinations that involve JR travel and take the max value out of your money. Some places I could recommend would be
Kanazawa (Kenrokuen Japanese Garden: although there won't be flowers in December, it turns into a piece of magnificent beauty with a bit of snow),
Kusatsu (hot spring spa with lots of Japanese-style inns),
Aizu-wakamatsu (if you drink, go there, a famous town of lots of sake breweries,)
Gifu (Shirakawago: old Japanese thatched-roof houses for large families to keep silkworms in the roof space, preserved from the old days, World Heritage site, it's a piece of beauty in snow, too.)

You can use JR pass for JR bus services too. If rail travel requires too many transits, look for bus service that takes you directly to the township you want to visit. With a bit of patience, you can communicate with transport network people in English especially at big stations like Tokyo, and tourist attractions. Many of them are trained to serve overseas customers and they are keen to help.

You still have a lot of time to plan your trip to perfection, so good luck.



[Edited at 2008-10-29 10:15]


Direct link Reply with quote
 
Pages in topic:   [1 2] >


To report site rules violations or get help, contact a site moderator:

Moderator(s) of this forum
Takeshi MIYAHARA[Call to this topic]

You can also contact site staff by submitting a support request »

off topic: asking for a travel advise to Tokyo and Kyoto

Advanced search






Protemos translation business management system
Create your account in minutes, and start working! 3-month trial for agencies, and free for freelancers!

The system lets you keep client/vendor database, with contacts and rates, manage projects and assign jobs to vendors, issue invoices, track payments, store and manage project files, generate business reports on turnover profit per client/manager etc.

More info »
WordFinder
The words you want Anywhere, Anytime

WordFinder is the market's fastest and easiest way of finding the right word, term, translation or synonym in one or more dictionaries. In our assortment you can choose among more than 120 dictionaries in 15 languages from leading publishers.

More info »



Forums
  • All of ProZ.com
  • Term search
  • Jobs
  • Forums
  • Multiple search