Have you ever travelled between Kanto and Kansai by a highway bus? Tickets can be super cheap within a price range of ¥7,000 for a night ride and around ¥6,000 for a day ride and you might “save” time when getting the night bus by sleeping most of the time. If you are lucky enough, you can get a good sleep and feel fresh enough to enjoy the next day.
But the reality looks different and most of the time it is no bed of roses: seating is extremely tight, the bus has several stops and each time your precious sleep is interrupted so you end up being totally exhausted upon the arrival and you basically “lost” one night of sleep.
An alternative to this dilemma would be the Shinkansen, but prices for tickets between Shinagawa and Shin-Osaka start from ¥13,000. So how can we solve this problem? It is easy: you just need to purchase special Platt Kodama tickets through JR Tokai Tours at their office in Tokyo, Shinagawa, Shinjuku or at their Shin-Yokohama office.
As with most good stuff, these Shinkansen discount tickets have their ‘price’: there are certain limitations and different procedures when compared to ‘regular’ Shinkansen tickets. They have to be purchased at least one day in advance and can not be bought on the same day.
Also, they are only valid for the Kodama Shinkansen bullet trains. For those who did not know, there are three kinds of Shinkansen bullet trains: Nozomi, Hikari and Kodama, with Kodama being the ‘slowest’ ones of the three, since it stops at all local Shinkansen stations.
Additionally, the stations you can board or exit are limited and are as follows:
Finally, dates can not be changed once tickets are purchased.
Though there are certain conditions and the tickets are still more expensive than a highway bus, the convenience, the real (!) time-saving and the comfort you will get from a Shinkansen ride are worth the plus ¥2,000-3,000 for a trip and you will definitely not regret it.
More Information: JR tours website (English)