Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Shinkansen Trip to Osaka (大阪)

Osaka to Tokyo is about an hour with a plane but as this was close to New Year's holiday the price for plane tickets skyrocketed as usual assuming one could find a ticket. I always wanted to try the famous "Bullet train" or Shinkansen (新幹線) as they are called around here so this provided me with the opportunity. There are three different kinds of Shinkansens based on how many stops they make. Kodama (こだま) is what can be considered the most local one making stops most frequently. Then comes the Hikari (ひかり) and Nozomi (のぞみ) which makes the least number of stops (for example between Tokyo and Osaka Nozomi makes only one or two stops while Kodama makes about ten).
It is possible to reserve tickets for the Shinkansen on the internet but someone still needs to go pick up the tickets at one of the bigger JR stations. The alternative is just going to the station and buying the tickets without making a reservation beforehand but this can be problematic. Other than choosing the origin and the destination, and the type of Shinkansen, one needs also needs to choose the type of car. Each shinkansen has three kinds of cars - reserved seating (most cars are like this), green (most luxurious with most legroom etc.) and non-reserved (only a few cars in every train. If you are late, you end up standing potentially for multiple hours.) Not affecting the price is whether smoking is allowed in the car. JR has a good webpage explaining everything about tickets - http://www.jreast.co.jp/e/ticket/index.html.

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