We had our travel agent book bullet train tickets along with our hotel in Kyoto. She booked the reserved train for us, which means we had assigned seats on a specific train at a specific time. The Shinkansen picks up at Shin-Yokohama station, so give yourself extra travel time to get from the Yokohama station over to the Shin-Yokohama station. We took the Blue Subway line. A couple of tips when you are traveling with kids on the bullet train.
- The trains do not load like an airplane. The process is very fast so be on the platform early, ready to load with kids. This isn’t the time to run to the bathroom for an emergency potty break. There are bathrooms on the train. To give you an idea of how fast the process is, we were still finding our seats when the train started on its way again. Match up the car number on your ticket with the overhead signs and times on the platform.
- The seats were bench style with lots of leg room, which means the seats weren’t very deep. My youngest (4 years old) was able to be a lap child, but the bench style is a huge drawback for lap kids. You don’t have the full support of a seat underneath your legs which made for a very long and uncomfortable ride for me. If you don’t mind paying, buy a seat for your lap child, or expect to be a bit uncomfortable. One more detail to consider is the seats are either 3 across or 2 across depending on which you prefer to purchase.
- I don’t remember seeing an area for larger suitcases. Maybe I missed it? Something to check into so you know the best way to pack. I had a carryon size suitcase for me and the two boys which fit in the rack above our seats.
- There is a snack cart and trash bins on the train.
New Miyako Hotel, Kyoto Station
Along with the train tickets, the travel agent booked us at the New Miyako Hotel right outside the busy Kyoto train station. When traveling with young kids, this had many advantages. I always look for convenience when traveling by myself with the kids. Not only are the train lines right outside our hotel, but the bus station was on the other side. And although we didn’t utilize the buses, I was told there was a daily city bus pass for 500yen with English speaking agents who can tell you exactly which bus line to take to get to and from your destination. We wanted to spend half our time down in Osaka as well and having the rapid train right there meant a shorter train trip to and from both days we spent down there. The Kyoto train station has numerous restaurant choices as well. We ate breakfast and dinner most days at the train station, which kept us out of the more expensive and less kid friendly hotel restaurants. Check in time is pretty strict, so if you get there early, check your bags in with the attendant and go explore the city.
If I were traveling with just my husband and no kids, I would not have stayed at the New Miyako Hotel. The hotel in October was so incredibly hot. It takes a lot for me to call down to the front desk and complain, but the air conditioned rooms they claim to have are tied to the entire floor, not room specific and the first night we were there it was too hot to comfortably sleep. The windows only open a few inches so airflow is pretty non-existent. They finally brought me a fan and after putting that near the window we were able to draw in a little bit of cooler air outside and slept the rest of the nights. The beds were harder than I would have preferred, but not uncomfortably so like the hotel reviews I had read stated.
Stay tuned for posts from our travels to Kyoto, Osaka and Nara!