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14th February 2020

Trains

Trains

Shinkansen

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To Hakuba The Shinkansen, or the Bullet Train as known by English speaking countries (which sounds a bit reminiscent of the pre-war and wartime Japanese plan and the military tone of those days), do not directly connect Hakuba to Tokyo. You may either take the highspeed Hokuriku Shinkansen to Nagano (City) then bus to Hakuba, or the Ltd Exp Azusa train on the lower speed conventional line.

For the Hokuriku Shinkansen b/w Tokyo and Nagano operated by JR East, foreigners can reserve online 1 month in advance. Beware the tickets have to be collected 1 day prior to actual travel date. The Tokyo train station is a tourist destination in itself, with the fascinating rush of people bustling about, the many food options to choose from, and the endless souvenir shops. Trains from Narita Airport arrive at underground platforms #1-4 so theres quite an eye-opening hike up to the Shinkansen Bullet trains which leave from platforms #20-23. The Nagano bullet train (Asama Shinkansen) departs Tokyo Station regularly throughout the day (you can check train timetables here), and the super speedy trip (at over 200kph) takes only 90 minutes.

Although Shinkansen Kagayaki doesnt have unreserved cars, Shinkansen Hakutaka and Asama have unreserved cars. At least, you will be able to ride unreserved cars Hakutaka and Asama without reservation. Just for the record, Hokuriku means Toyama, Ishikawa (Kanazawa) and Fukui Prefecture which belong JR West. Estimated travel time: 3 hours

The high speed shinkansen service (also called the bullet train) will get you from Shin-Osaka Station to Kyoto Station in 15 minutes for 1,420 yen. This is the fastest and most comfortable route from Osaka to Kyoto, and might be worthwhile if you have a Japan Rail Pass to cover the cost.

Storage lockers @ train stations can be used up to 15 days

Here are some links that came in handy while planning this part of our trip: