16 Nov 2013
There are 2 alternatives to get to Kyoto from Osaka. Either via the hankyu or the Jr train, being that we are so near JR, it only made sense for us to head to Kyoto via JR limited express train ( shin kaisoku = 新快速)
There are many passes options available in Japan for foreign travelers and u really need to calculate to make ur sums worthwhile. Unless u take 2 trips of Shinkansen to different prefecture, normally it isn't really worthwhile to buy the 3 day or7 day passes.
However, having the Suica train card ( bought from my previous Tokyo trip) is so useful because u don't have to look at the train chart and q to buy your ticket. There is no discount but it's the convenience that makes life easier. Unlike in Tokyo, It took me a few mins to figure out how to buy the individual subway train for my man since you must know the train line name in addition to the stop u need to make.
The limited expres train ticket can be bought from the same ticket counter as per the normal trains, I wasn't too sure if that button that says Kyoto is the correct train, so I had the lady at the gantry to help me. I was correct but it's always safer to ensure it's the limited express (新快速) ( about under 30mins to Kyoto) and not the standard normal train (普通) which stops at every station.
We headed to the F&B section for breakfast. Not much that appeals to us really so we settled on fried rice. It was way too salty for mine so I couldn't finish it. I had the normal dry crab fried rice but my man had their popular egg topping crab rice. His was ok initially but after a while, he felt the thirst come on. I tried the add on (tsuika = 追加) homemade traditional almond pudding for 100 yen and that was nice.
The train is jammed pack and very often u will be required to stand. I was lucky to get a seat but not my man.
I can't rem why it was more confusing the last time traveling from Osaka to Kyoto several years back then. Now, everything and signage is so darn clear that it's impossible to get lost I think. I could read the signs and instructions better this time round...but I'm sure they have made vast improvements with the streams of foreigners visiting Kyoto from Osaka daily. For one, I'm pretty sure there were no blue stickers on the ground in the past to differentiate the lines.
Very often, I find japan trains to be very warm inside each cabin so I have gotten smart over the years. Have a sturdy warm but light weight jacket that u can strip off and leave u with a Tshirt or loose top so that u don't have to sweat like a pig inside the warm train, and ur arms won't ache from having to lug the jacket the entire way.
If u want a seat and are not rush for time, u can always stand in line and wait for the next train and u will be first in line. The trains depart about every 15mins apart though depending on the departure time, not all trains are limited express I think. U can check the website in advance for the train schedule. Else, grab the train schedule from the train station master before or while u buy the ticket.