Trip Review: Narita Express and Tokaido Sanyo Shinkansen
Japan loves trains and it’s not surprising given that their trains are efficient, fast, and clean. After our ANA First Class Square flight landed, we took the Narita Express from Narita International Airport to Tokyo Station since we were staying nearby. When we left Tokyo for Hiroshima, we boarded the Tokaido Sanyo Shinkansen, better known as the bullet train.
How You Can Do It
Normally, the Narita Express costs 3,020 JPY one-way between the airport and Tokyo Station; this price is for the Ordinary Car, which is what I recommend, because the Green Car (first class) is not worth the extra money for this short ride. If you have a foreign passport, however, you can pay just 1,500 JPY for the one-way from Narita International Airport to Tokyo Station. The special price is not valid for the reverse route from Tokyo Station to Narita International Airport.
A direct Nozomi Shinkansen from Tokyo Station to Hiroshima Station takes about 4 hours, and a one-way ticket costs 18,040 JPY for a non-reserved seat. A reserved seat costs 840 JPY more, and I highly recommend it, because you can select a seat ahead of time and choose the side of the train with just two seats rather than the side with three seats and getting stuck in the middle. I recommend using the site Hyperdia for looking up train times and ticket prices.
For both the Narita Express and the Shinkansen, you can buy the tickets with the Barclays Arrival credit card, which has no foreign exchange fees. Because train tickets are a travel purchase, you can then redeem part of the 44,000 miles signup bonus for the charges!
Narita Express and Shinkansen
Many foreign visitors like to get the JR Rail Pass since they will be taking multiple trains during their time in Japan, and the JR Rail Pass will help them save money. Because we were just taking the Narita Express one-way and one Shinkansen from Tokyo to Hiroshima, we did not buy the JR Rail Pass. In addition, the JR Rail Pass excludes travel on certain trains, such as the faster Nozomi trains, and we wanted to minimize our travel time between Tokyo and Hiroshima.
All seats on the Narita Express are reserved while seats on the Shinkansen can be reserved or non-reserved. As mentioned earlier, I recommend paying the extra fee for a reserved seat on the Shinkansen especially if you are traveling with someone. Having said that, all the seats on all the trains in Japan are clean and comfortable with reasonable leg room. Don’t forget to grab a delicious bento lunch box from Ekiben Matsuri in Tokyo Station before you hop on the Shinkansen!
The Main Point
The Narita Express and Shinkansen make getting around Japan fun and enjoyable. In fact, eating a bento lunch box while riding the Shinkansen is one of those must-do activities while you are visiting Japan. Just be aware of all the ways you can save money especially if you hold a foreign passport. In addition, I recommend the Barclays Arrival credit card for the trip, because the card has no foreign exchange fees, and you can redeem the large signup bonus miles on your train ticket purchases in Japan.
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