questions & answers: general japan travel

food

Food

Hi Daniel,

Yes, I am planning my second trip to Japan as my daughter is studying at Doshisha University this year. We plan on starting out in Kyoto. My husband and I are planning on getting JR Passes and I know my daughter is not eligible for a pass since she is there on a student visa. Is there any way she can get a discount as a student?

Also, when we were there last time, we got a Suica+Narita Express card because we landed in Tokyo. Do they have such a card from Kansai, Osaka? We're going to want to get from Kansai to Kyoto. I'm trying to figure out how to get around from Osaka to Kyoto to Kobe economically without using our passes. I'm trying to only get a one week JR Pass. We will be leaving from Tokyo at the end of our trip however.

I haven't firmed up my itinerary yet, so I may be back to you with more question.

Thanks for all your input. I enjoy reading all our answers to people's questions. Very informative.

marpatco
marpatco

Sorry, I forgot to mention my question about food. I decided to leave it out, so the title is a bit misleading. Ha!

marpatco
marpatco

Hi there!

Thinking from the title that this would be a topic discussing the merits of the Japanese cuisine, so I was a little surprised when it was a about rail travel. Nevertheless you are at the right place!

As you are aware only people that enter under a tourist visa are eligible for a JRPass, still there are discounts to be had for students and people traveling without one.

JR does offer a 20% discount on normal train tickets for student if the distance traveled is over 101km but the student will require an official certificate provided by the school or University. Every university have their own way of doing this and some don't offer this at all, so I would recommend contacting Doshisha about this. This discount is also refereed to as Gakuwari (lit. student discount).

Additionally you can buy a tickets in advance at so called "Discount ticket shop" these shops allow you to buy tickets in advance with (a small) discount.

A 3rd option is to buy return tickets, some routes allow for discounts if you buy the return tickets at the same time. This can depend on the distance and trains involved, the best thing to do is to ask the JR Staff if a return discount is available for the traveled route.

All the above is very handy if you travel on the Bullet rail or other limited express train. Local travel generally is not very expansive so you'll be find with normal tickets. This includes travel within Kansai, such as Osaka and Kobe. The Suica card also works in Kansai so you can keep using the one you have or you can opt for the Icoca + Haruka package which is the same idea as the Narita + Suica package but for Kansai. The Icoca + Haruka includes an Icoca card (which is like Suica) and a nicely discounted ticket on the Haruka Express, which brings you to Kyoto in Style and comfort.

I think this should cover all your questions so far, let me when you brew up some more :)
-Daniel

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Daniel-san
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Hi Daniel,
I was going to discuss the food. Last time in Japan I was able to enjoy all of it, but now I have since developed food sensitivities that give me migraines. Unfortunately most foods are highly used in Japanese cuisine such as: beans and peas, fermented foods like kimchi, soy sauce (won't eat natto so don't have to worry about those) and MSG. Big problem for me this time around and don't know how to avoid it. Any suggestions besides just eating rice and salad? Could I actually request no soy sauce or MSG at restaurants?

Thanks for the travel info. That's a great help. I will get back to you when we settle our itinerary.

marpatco
marpatco

Hi Again!

Traveling in Japan with certain food allergies or intolerances can be a problem. It can even perceived as rude to request special servings or ask for changes to the menu. Especially MSG can be a problem because it is processed in many kinds of food and even in rice when you eat at cheap and fast food restaurants. The main problem is that most people haven't even heard of MSG. The best way to avoid these kinds of food is to eat authentic dishes, consisting of meat and fish and avoid (dip) sauces.

There's a couple of good blogs out there of people visiting Japans with similar problems and a Google search and find some great tips!

Let me know if I can help with anything else!
Daniel

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Daniel-san
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