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Train dec 28 & Jan 1 - Tokyo-Kyoto-Tokyo 2019/10/5 03:38
Hi - My family of 5 (2 teens, elementary schooler, husband and self) are planning to travel from Tokyo on Dec 28 to Kyoto, and then back to Tokyo on Jan 1 to catch our 6:45pm flight home. Questions:
1) should we book the T-K train ahead and if so is there a best recommendation on how to do so?
2) given how crowded I've read that the Tokyo train station can be, how far ahead should be arrive at the station to insure that we don't miss a pre-booked/reserved seat train?
3) can we take the luggage with us on the train or should we try to use one of the luggage services I've heard about (and if we do that will our luggage arrive in a timely manner?
4) do the trains run on Jan 1 (hopefully yes!) and if so, same questions as above. Also any suggestions on departure time from Kyoto? I'm thinking 11:45 or 12:00 noon for the 6:45pm international flight. I'm guessing that Tokyo might be quiet on Jan 1 - making it possibly more difficult to get a taxi to the airport form the train station?
Would love any and all advice!
Thanks in advance!
by travelingmama (guest)  

Re: Train dec 28 & Jan 1 - Tokyo-Kyoto-Tokyo 2019/10/5 05:23
1) should we book the T-K train ahead and if so is there a best recommendation on how to do so?

Yes, the 28th is going to be an extremely busy day. If you do not use a Japan Rail Pass and are from a country where you can use smartEX, you can use the following site to make reservations:
https://smart-ex.jp/en/

Otherwise, it will be difficult to make reservations before arriving in Japan. Note that trains later in the day are probably going to be less crowded than the trains in the first half of the day.

given how crowded I've read that the Tokyo train station can be, how far ahead should be arrive at the station to insure that we don't miss a pre-booked/reserved seat train?

If you have a reservation, then there is no need to arrive too early. I would recommend about 20-30 minutes to be safe.

3) can we take the luggage with us on the train or should we try to use one of the luggage services I've heard about (and if we do that will our luggage arrive in a timely manner?

If you have a seat reservation and moderate amount of luggage, there is no need to use a delivery service. Otherwise, it would be comfortable to use a delivery service.

4) do the trains run on Jan 1 (hopefully yes!)

Yes.

and if so, same questions as above.

January 1 is not very busy. You should be able to make advance reservations without problems after arriving in Japan.

Also any suggestions on departure time from Kyoto? I'm thinking 11:45 or 12:00 noon for the 6:45pm international flight.

Assuming you leave through Narita Airport, that would exactly be around the time I would consider leaving Kyoto.

I'm guessing that Tokyo might be quiet on Jan 1 - making it possibly more difficult to get a taxi to the airport form the train station?

Tokyo will be relatively quiet (besides popular shrines and temples). Whether you use Haneda or Narita Airport, I don't recommend to take a taxi to the airport. Trains are much cheaper and - in my opinion - more convenient.
by Uji rate this post as useful

Re: Train dec 28 & Jan 1 - Tokyo-Kyoto-Tokyo 2019/10/6 13:14
Other than the website being in Japanese, there should be no issue using the SmartEx page to book - it is not country dependent as far as I am aware - I use it a lot. Defiantly reserve seats, and if all you are doing is Tokyo-Kyoto return, then any additional cost compared to the rail pass is removed by actually being able to reserve in advance.

Also note, many of the reserved seats for something like the 28th December will be sold one month before as there is "pre-booking" from a week earlier. I saw this work recently when the services from one of the Rugby World Cup games sold-out a few minutes after the tickets went on sale. By the end of the day all the services from Shizuoka Stadium (Kakekawa) were gone. Even the next station along the line (Hamamatsu) had most seats pre-sold well before the game (I had trouble securing Green Car seats for someone because the trains were just selling out so quickly.)

28th is a Saturday - last few years all seats on the shinkansen between Tokyo and Osaka were sold out for both Saturday and Sunday ahead of NY. The idea that the later trains would be less busy later in the day does not align with recent history.
by JapanCustomTours rate this post as useful

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