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Kyoto/Osaka and Tokyo During Golden Week 2019/2/6 16:21
Hi,

I made the awful decision of booking a Japan trip during Golden Week before I knew. We'll be landing at Haneda on the 30th of April at 5am. Here is what I'm currently thinking about doing:

30-Apr Tuesday Kyoto
1-May Wednesday Kyoto
2-May Thursday Kyoto
3-May Friday Osaka
4-May Saturday Tokyo
5-May Sunday Tokyo
6-May Monday Tokyo
7-May Tuesday Tokyo
8-May Wednesday Tokyo
9-May Thursday Tokyo

I heard that usually, it's better to visit Kyoto/Osaka during weekdays because it's less crowded and Tokyo is better on the weekends anyways. So, I was thinking about taking the Shinkansen on the day I land that way I can enjoy 4 days in Kyoto/Osaka as well as enjoying the weekend in Tokyo. I heard Tokyo has much better nightlife too which is something important to my GF and me.

So, I basically have two main concerns:
1. Should I be able to book a Shinkansen the same day I land during Golden Week? I was also thinking about just getting a JR Green Pass to have a better chance.
2. Does it still hold true during Golden Week that Kyoto/Osaka is better during weekdays and Tokyo is better during weekends?

Thank you!
by imsogucci  

Re: Kyoto/Osaka and Tokyo During Golden Week 2019/2/6 21:00
1. Should I be able to book a Shinkansen the same day I land during Golden Week? I was also thinking about just getting a JR Green Pass to have a better chance.

This year, Golden Week starts on 27th April and ends on 6th May. Usually Kyoto bound Shinkansen will be most crowded on 27th so going on 30th will be fine. But if you are worried about getting your seat, you might better take flight. ANA's promotional fare for Tokyo to Osaka (Itami, you can also fly to KIX or Kobe, Itami is more convenient) is 74.13 USD and you can book it right now. One more pros for the flight is luggage: you can take "check-in size" baggage for free. If you have such big baggage, Shinkansen is somewhat troublesome.

2. Does it still hold true during Golden Week that Kyoto/Osaka is better during weekdays and Tokyo is better during weekends?

As mentioned above, 30th is already in long weekends. As I checked the hotel price, Kyoto gets higher fare on 30 th than weekdays (such as 6th May). Tokyo is also more expensive on 30th than 6th, but the difference is smaller than in Kyoto. So as for the hotel rate, Tokyo first and then Kyoto is cheaper.
by frog1954 rate this post as useful

Re: Kyoto/Osaka and Tokyo During GW 2019 2019/2/7 08:58
It may be better to visit Kyoto on the 6th to 8th of May.

I suppose driving travelers to Kansai Region will start to go home mostly on the 6th of May (= the last day of the GW period) or the previous day.

Should I be able to book a Shinkansen the same day I land during Golden Week?

Do you have a smartphone or a tablet computer?
Do you hold your own valid credit card of any of the following brands?
: Visa, Mastercard, JCB, American Express, Diners Club.
Have you reached the age 18?

While you are in the U.S.A. (= your country),
you can download the application software
which is provided by JR-Central and JR-West for passengers' seat reservation on the Tokaido and San(')yo (#) Shinkansen.

If your answers to the above three questions are yes, you are highly likely to be able to utilize the app.

- Website for Tokaido Sanyo Shinkansen Reservation App
: Top
https://smart-ex.jp/en/
: FAQ about the reservation service
https://smart-ex.jp/en/faq/category01/

Reservation of Shinkansen train seats can be made
from 10:00 (Japan Standard Time) of the day one month prior to the boarding date.

I was also thinking about just getting a JR Green Pass to have a better chance.

Any Japan Rail Pass cannot pay off for your itinerary (planned at present).
Especially a Green Japan Rail Pass sounds never suitable for that purpose.

A Japan Rail Pass does not let you have rides of Shinkansen Nozomi trains.

On the Tokaido Shinkansen (Tokyo -- Kyoto -- Nagoya -- Shin-Osaka),
Hikari trains are much less frequently available compared to Nozomi trains.

Green Cars have much less seats in a train compared to Ordinary Class cars.

People who have a special reason to avoid crowdedness and go usually in an Ordinary Class car may choose a Green Car for their ride during the GW period.

There may be passengers who, in order to save several hundred yen of the Shinkansen surcharge, dare to do without seat reservation and get packed in a train car.

#: Here "San" and "yo" are not linked in the Japanese pronunciation, so I prefer the indication with an apostrophe between them. JR-West now uses "Sanyo" in many cases. 
by omotenashi rate this post as useful

Re: Kyoto/Osaka and Tokyo During GW 2019 2019/2/7 09:15
Due to the circumstances which are unique to the year 2019,
no pure weekday will be in Japan during the GW period of the year,
which consists of the ten days from the 27th of April until the 6th of May (#1) (#2).

So, the tendency of crowdedness during the GW period will not be the same as it was in the recent several years (when some weekdays were included).

Presumably extra Nozomi and Hikari trains will be scheduled during this GW period.
A timetable which is distributed via the web may not list seasonal extra trains.

#1: The 1st of May 2019, because the present Crown Prince is to ascend the Imprerial Throne on that day, is designated as a public holiday. For the rule of turning one day between two national holidays into a public holiday, this special holiday is treated the same as a national holiday. The 29th of April (Emperor's Birthday) and the 3rd of May (Constitution Day) are national holidays. Therefore, the 30th of April and the 2nd of May 2019 become public holidays.

#2: Regarding the peculiarity of the GW period of 2019, some problems are pointed out, like that clinics may be closed for a very long duration. 
by omotenashi rate this post as useful

Re: Kyoto/Osaka and Tokyo During Golden Week 2019/2/7 09:35
I made the awful decision of booking a Japan trip during Golden Week

It is not an awful decision - Japan is a great place to visit and the cries of terrible transport during this time is often simply scare-mongering among those that don't know what it is like to travel at this time of year. I travel in GW every year, with groups - no problems.
by JapanCustomTours rate this post as useful

Correction 2019/2/7 12:03
My previous description related to Golden Week has a part going back to late Showa Era.

The 29th of April, which was once celebrated as Emperor's birthday, is now Showa Day. 
by omotenashi rate this post as useful

Re: Kyoto/Osaka and Tokyo During Golden Week 2019/2/7 12:37
1. Everywhere is hectic during the golden week. Especially the trains. If you`re ok to stand on the shinkansen, go for it, but if not, securing a seat on the plane might be a better choice.

2. I don`t think weekdays/weekends matter much during the golden week, it`s so crazy. The only smart move is to travel really early or really late.

Hope that helps!
by Japan (guest) rate this post as useful

Re: Kyoto/Osaka and Tokyo During Golden Week 2019/2/7 22:57
Hi!

I use to go to Japan for Golden Week on a semi regular basis before I had a child. I actually really enjoyed going then. If my daughter was not in school, I would still want to go then. I'm one of those people who enjoys flower viewing and the wisteria and azaleas are beautiful. It's not listed on this website but if you go to Kyoto I highly recommend Nagaoka Tenman-gu for it's beautiful azaleas. I also really enjoyed the wisteria in Uji. It's really not that hard to secure a seat on a shinkansen in advance and if all reserved seats are taken just show up a little early for non-reserved. You're two people, not a big group of 4+ individuals, if you can't pre book a seat, it might be worth it to travel a little further to Tokyo Station vs. Shinagawa since all Tokkaido shinansen trains start service there so your chances of getting a non-reserved seat are extremely high. You'll know when you are returning from Kyoto so you should be able to pre-book that, though a lot of people get off in Kyoto so it's not that hard to find a non-reserved seat there as well, if worst comes to worst.

I'm also from the USA and I too prefer to start in Kyoto even though I can't get a direct flight to KIX. I find I tend to have jetlag for my first few days (and my child for the first week) and there are more early morning activities I find appealing in Kyoto than in Tokyo. So I tend to like to go to Kyoto first for that reason, but I don't know how you tend to deal with jetlag.

Please don't feel too discouraged!

by rkold rate this post as useful

Re: Kyoto/Osaka and Tokyo During Golden Week 2019/2/8 07:03
Indeed, for spring flowers, late April and early May is an excellent time to go to Japan.
You'd need to go way up north to chase cherry blossoms, but there are also the tulips, wisteria, peonies, azaleas, nemophila, roses, shibazakura, irises, and more.
by Ken (guest) rate this post as useful

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