To Bullet or Not to Bullet Train
If you’re going to be in Japan and traveling outside don’t even think about it anymore, just get the JR Rail Pass; it will save you money! After doing a lot of calculations debating especially since we weren’t going to be able to use the full seven days, I was considering whether it was worth it.
But since we were going to be going to Kyoto and going from Narita airport, it just made sense so prior to our trip, we bit the bullet and purchased the tickets prior to our trip (also simply because buying it outside of Japan is the only way to purchase the pass).
The Bullet Train is the Only Way to Travel in Japan
If you want to buy this, you have to buy this while not in Japan. Once you arrive, for us, we arrived in Narita, after customs we took the escalator downstairs to the JR Rail Service Center to get the whole process started.
While standing in line, be sure to show the lady walking around your pre-purchased passes and she will hand you a form to fill out to claim your passes. Once you make it to the counter, hand the paperwork along with your passport over to the attendant and she/he will help you with everything you need from getting the official pass, booking your seats etc. Once finished, head downstairs to the Narita Express and you can be on your way exploring all that is Japan.
You have two options of either reserving seats or not reserving seats. As you can imagine during busier times of the day which I have yet to wrap my head around, I was assured finding a seat can be problematic. But if you are of the adventurous sort there are train cars that are for the unreserved only. If you are like ourselves and would prefer to reserve seats just in case then you will want to schedule that ahead of time at the Japan Railway Office.
Reserve Your Seat
Seats that that have been reserved come with tickets that are clearly labeled matching your train and train car. To find your car look at the right side of your ticket for train car number and seat number. As you walk along the train platform you will see numbers aligning with the individual train cars. There are storage areas at the back of the sections, especially if you are traveling with the larger variety. However if you are traveling light with carry on, there are convenient overhead space above your seats to place your bags.
The seat itself is fairly roomy with ample leg space and the option to recline nicely. Best part about it is that there are outlets located in your seat handle so that you can charge your devices while you’re enjoying your ride. Depending where you are seated you may find them behind you or along the bottom of the sidewall by your feet. If you were unable or forgot to pick up food and drink on your way to the train you are not out of luck.
On the train itself, an attendant will come around selling food/drinks so if you’re starving after the plane ride without time to grab some food, wait for them to come around and you can grab a quick snack. Also be sure to have your Jr Pass ticket and passport handy because train staff will come by to check if you’re a paying customer and more importantly if you’re on the right train.
Other than that, sit back, relax and enjoy the ride!
F8T Tip If you plan on taking the train throughout Japan, be sure to look into getting the Japan Rail Pass which can only be purchased outside of Japan.
How do you like to get around a country?