On Day 4, we travelled from Tokyo to Kyoto via Japan’s high-speed railway or Shinkansen.
Travelling within Japan via train or bus service is efficient and convenient due to its extensive network. There were trains every ten minutes making the two-hour journey to Kyoto. From our perspective there are only two problems with the train service in Japan. You have to physically purchase the tickets from a rail station. We bought our train tickets the day before with the assistance of our tour guide. I’m sure we would have been able to buy them easily ourselves but it was certainly more efficient with her assistance. And the other problem is that the tickets are quite expensive. The cost for a one-way ticket from Tokyo to Kyoto for one adult is over 14,000 yen; which is $175 CAD (at our current crappy exchange rate) or $120 USD. Thankfully children under 6 are free so we only had to pay for one child at half the price of an adult ticket.
My advice if you are planning a trip to Japan is to budget well and make wise decisions based on your budget. Everything is expensive here. Mid-range hotels with good reviews are $250+ CAD per night. We were able to save money by staying at Airbnb apartments for most of the places we visited. A meal for one person without a drink on average costs about 1000 yen and above. Our budget was a very conservative 10,000 yen per day for food for our family. That’s $85 USD or $125 CAD which might be acceptable to some of you but it’s quite high to us, especially having been living in China and travelling around Southeast Asia. So we were looking at a significant budget for Japan (over $600 CAD per day!) when we added the four main travel costs of transportation, accommodation, food and sightseeing. Thankfully I’m really good at finding cost saving strategies (i.e. hiring a personal tour guide instead of going on group tours, staying at Airbnb apartments instead of hotels, etc.)
Despite the cost of travelling in Japan we would come back. It’s a beautiful country with incredibly nice people and delicious food. The Japanese people will go out of their way to help you. We have been personally helped in subway stations, on the street and walking down a mountain. As for the food, we haven’t had a bad meal yet.
I’ve digressed into the business of travelling Japan. Tomorrow I will get back to the fun of travelling Japan:) Up next, Kyoto.