We’d left the house a little after 9 am, after tidying it up. It was a hot summer day in Tokyo and we were sweating more than we thought it would be possible. We walked the 10ish minutes to the train station carrying our bags excited: it was going to be the kids’ first shinkansen ride.
Even though we had to change trains twice on the way, not once being able to sit or take the bags off our backs, we were still excited.
The platform of the shinkansen was like any other train station in Tokyo, but with one difference: there were bullet trains all around. All kinds of bullet trains, from the simple Kodama to the super fancy EVA type. The kids had a blast there.
When the train arrived, it had to be cleaned. It took less than 5 minutes, but it took so long and we just couldn’t stand still. We were the first in line because we wanted to get the back seats – they have a place for the luggage behind it and we did.
But it was a bit disappointing. The seats (even though a lot more spacious) looked like airplane seats. That was it.
It was fast, comfortable, it had plugs to charge the devices and a person came in selling overpriced food and drinks.
From the inside, it didn’t feel nor look like it was super fast. Even the landscape seemed to be going on an average speed.
The kids’ comment was: it looks like a train on the outside and like a plane on the inside. It doesn’t feel fast.
But it was.
So we decided not to ride any more bullet trains during our trip. But oh, life plays tricks and we ended up paying the over JPY 10.000/person ticket again.
The thing is: we went to Universal Studios Osaka on the day before our travel. We had to go on Friday, as we had a typhoon on Tuesday and a holiday on Thursday. We came home a bit before midnight. The kids were super tired (aka grumpy, impatient, crying and all that) on our travel date and having 4 of those (plus 2 adults in the same state) on a 10-hour bus ride didn’t seem so attractive. Driving was the best option, but we ruled it out as it would take around 6 hours and the price ended up being only a little bit cheaper than the shinkansen. The shinkansen took 3 hours – and it was due to heavy rain, as it usually takes a bit over 2 hours.
Here are a few tips for those of you thinking of taking a bullet train in Japan with kids:
– avoid Monday mornings and Friday afternoons.
– there’s a space on the back of every car where you can leave big pieces of luggage, just make sure you keep your eye on it as they might think it’s a terrorist attack.
– use Hyperdia to check out prices, routes and time-tables of trains in Japan IN ENGLISH.
– children under 6 ride for free (but they need to go on the lap if the train becomes full) and children under 12 pay half-price.
– you can take any food you want, so buy and take your food and drink to the train.
– there’s a lot of options, so don’t fret if you miss one train (or if it’s too full). There’ll be another soon.
– take something for the kids to do during the ride, as it gets boring after a while.
– there’s free wifi on some trains, but not all. Try it.
– there’s a toilet in between the cars, and they’re usually cleaner than the station toilets.
– make sure to buy tickets for the non-smoking cars.
That’s it! Leave us a comment telling us if and where you’ve ridden a bullet train before!