Full Speed Ahead – The Shinkansen Experience
More than two months has already passed since my trip in Japan. It feels like it was only yesterday that I was exploring and discovering first-hand a lot of things in the Land of the Rising Sun but who would have known it has already been that long. How quickly time passed is almost similar to how it felt like speeding through the tracks while riding atop the Shinkansen.
When I was in Japan, I ended my 10-day vacation with an overnight trip to Kyoto. I went from Yokohoma (Shin-Yokohama station) to Kyoto to Yokohama (Shin-Yokohama station) in roughly 24 hours. And mind you, the distance from Yokohama to Kyoto, one-way, is approximately 450 kilometers. You can probably say there is some sort of teleportation happening there.
Since the Shinkansen can travel to a maximum of 300km/hr, it can go from Shin-Yokohama to Kyoto in about two hours, covering the 450-kilometer distance between them. Without the Shinkansen, this super short land travel will not be possible.
Riding the Shinkansen to travel in different vastly separated locations in Japan definitely cuts down the travel time but it does not come cheaply. One-way Shinkansen ride from Shin-Yokohama to Kyoto has a fare price of at least JPY 12,000 (~PhP 6,000). But it was a price I was willing to pay in exchange of comfort (2-hour travel time) and to compensate for my time in Japan, which was quickly running out then.
Since we were spending a night in Kyoto (with a few friends from iBP) and we wanted it to be hassle-free so it was quite wise to book a tour for round-trip Shinkansen and hotel accommodation, which we got from JAPANiCAN.com. The tour was priced at JPY 23,900 (~PhP 11,950) and we were booked at the swanky Karasuma Kyoto Hotel. Time is a major constraint for our trip in Kyoto so we wanted save more of it and spend it visiting different temples. Moreover, I think it was a good deal since if we compute the round-trip fare, it will already be at least JPY 24,000 (PhP 12,000). With the booked tour, it looked like our hotel was free of charge.
Known for its efficiency (like any other train in Japan), the Shinkansen arrives on time and leaves on the dot. It waits for no one so if you miss your train, you can chance on other trains but you lose your reserved seat and may spend the whole trip standing up. So if you are traveling via Shinkansen, make sure to be at your platform on schedule. You don’t want to spend that much money just to stand up on a super fast train. Though it is pretty stable inside the train, the 2-hour trip is a valuable amount of time to steal some shuteye.
Insider tip: With clear skies, mid-way through the ride, you might have a nice peek of Mt. Fuji. Lucky to have seen it. (Photo credit: Isabel Reyes, taken using a Samsung Galaxy S III)
For detailed info about the Shinkansen, visit Japan-Guide.
For fares and charges, check out JR-East and search for Tokaido Shinkansen (Nozomi trains). Shin-Yokohama (or Tokyo) to Kyoto (or Osaka) route can be found there.
Story about Kyoto will be posted soon…
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