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VentureForth

Engineer
Joined
Jan 23, 2007
Messages
6,419
Location
West Melbourne, FL
In less than 15 hours, I'll be on a flight with my son, leaving Orlando, headed to Detroit then onward to Tokyo. In about 36 hours, I should be on a bus, riding through the crazy evening Tokyo traffic and in about 50 hours, I'll activate my JR Pass and then enjoying the next 7 days riding Japanese trains, eating Japanese food, forgetting more Japanese than I ever knew, and showing my 18 year old my old stompin' grounds. WOO HOO!
 
They got rid of trolley service last October, but I had no idea they got rid of vending machines onboard, too. A major loss in service.
They still have food stalls and restaurants in stations, vending machines on platforms, and nearby convenience stores. With the pass you can break up longer trips and stop for meal. While the cart was nice in a pinch it was never make-or-break like dining on Amtrak.
 
Is the pass a true hop-on, hop-off service, or is it like the Amtrak railpass where you still have to plan/book your route?
You will need a new ticket for any missed/modified Shinkansen segment but it's usually as simple as asking for one. That being said there are two sets of rules in effect right now depending on when a JR pass was purchased and activated, so it's possible the new rules have changed in a way that alters or precludes this option. Ironically it's the pay-as-you-go Suica card that acts more like hop-on, hop-off pass (but for regional and metro trains, trams, buses, etc.).
 
So on the Shinkansen, you book the train and seats, so no extra charge to break up the trip when using JR pass. Our issue was that we got on board and realized we didn't have anything to drink. We had to wait for a stop that had a five minute layover to wait for a Nozomi to leapfrog us in order to get to a vending machine on the platform. If you are a green car passenger, you can buy online for seat service.

The suica/pasmo card is just an automated fare deduction system from a prepaid card. You get penalized for getting off and on trains (ie A-->C is cheaper than A->B->C). Its real advantage is seamless accounting across most train and bus companies and about a 1% discount.

The biggest difference between the old JR pass and the new one since 10/1 is that the old one (which we grandfathered into) doesn't allow Nozomi at all. New one, 60% pricier, does allow Nozomi for yet another surcharge, even though the regular rate is identical for Nozomi, Hikari and Kodama. Thing is, Nozomi depart like every 5 minutes, Hikari every 30 minutes and most Kodama don't go all the way to Osaka from Tokyo. We were leapfrogged by two or three Nozomi on our trip.
 
If you are a green car passenger, you can buy online for seat service.
That decision sounds like leaving money on the table when they previously sold to the whole train instead of one or two cars. 👎

The suica/pasmo card is just an automated fare deduction system from a prepaid card. You get penalized for getting off and on trains (ie A-->C is cheaper than A->B->C). Its real advantage is seamless accounting across most train and bus companies and about a 1% discount.
You're penalized for leaving the gated area, not for switching trains per se, and this allows access to platform vending machines and sometimes food stalls. Even if you do leave the change in price is often negligible. To me the reduction in platform food stalls (hours and locations) was a bigger loss than losing the snack cart service, but I guess that's just the way of things these days. :(

Thing is, Nozomi depart like every 5 minutes, Hikari every 30 minutes and most Kodama don't go all the way to Osaka from Tokyo. We were leapfrogged by two or three Nozomi on our trip.
It makes sense as Nozomi represents the bulk of the available seats but at a 60% increase you'd hope the fare would be included.
 
To me the reduction in platform food stalls (hours and locations) was a bigger loss than losing the snack cart service, but I guess that's just the way of things these days. :(
That's the thing. You really need to prep for the three hour ride. Spontaneity is punished.

No food for three hours is just fine, but nothing to drink can be irritating.

A long way from when they used to have buffet cars on these trains!

Inflation has been minimal here for 30 years. That's great for Americans traveling on a strong dollar. Getting more for my buck than a LONG long time here. But consequently, domestic wages are stagnant while imported material costs are increasing at a global rate. They have to reduce costs, but I would have hoped that at least vending machines could pay for themselves on board.

Oh, they also got rid of onboard pay phones but no one cares.
 
Headed back to Tokyo. N700 Supreme. Bit nicer than the non-Supreme. This one has plugs in the armrest.

Another thing about no food and Nozomi... On Hikari, at least you have time at a couple stops while that Nozomi is leapfrogging you. If you are on the Nozomi, you get like 30 seconds at three stops.

Just need to know so you can prepare.
 

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