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Feature StoryKyoto

An overnight bus to Tokyo

If you’ve been keeping up with my posts, I think you’ve seen this pattern of me misjudging all the situations I’ve been putting myself in.

My mom’s coming!

A couple of months after I got accepted into this program, I decided to stay an extra week after my program ended. I eventually convinced my mom to come visit with me in Japan. I was stoked!

Immediately, I start watching prices to find the best flight for her.

One thing about myself is that I would rather take the inconvenience of a longer layover to have a cheaper flight. Now my mom and I are a lot alike, but this is not one of those cases.

My mom at Meiji Shrine in Tokyo.

So sure, I will compromise. But there is was no way I would allow her to pay $700 more to meet me in Kyoto (the location when my program ended). Instead, I would just find my way back to Tokyo.

Now, I didn’t tell my mom she would be flying into a different city before she purchased her ticket. I just didn’t want her to find some reason why she shouldn’t come or that she should spend more money to fly to meet me in Kyoto… so I didn’t tell her.

I knew that I was just going to have to do what I needed to do to get back to Tokyo from Kyoto. I mean, how hard could it be? Right? Right.

Here is where I messed up

After she purchased her ticket, I then looked at possible transportation from Kyoto to Tokyo. The only options I saw were a plane flight that would have been about $170 or a train ride on the shinkansen (bullet train) that was $159.

I have a real talent of suppressing stressful situations until it’s absolutely necessary to deal with them. So, I quickly exited that search page and told myself: “Everything will work out. I have no choice but to come up with a solution.” I would just have to find a way to meet my mom in Tokyo.

Fast forward to two days before my program ended, and I still had no plan to get to Tokyo.

When I had looked up the price of the shinkansen, I didn’t really believe that it would be $159. I thought the cookie on my search showed that I was in the U.S. and that it just boosted the price. Nope. It was still $159. Great.

I’m a college student. I don’t come from a wealthy family. I had to work for the hard-earned money for this trip.

Here where I got lucky

The Asia Institute and Texas State University scheduled my program with amazing tour guides and advisors. They were so knowledgeable about the location, including the little things that make up Japan’s culture.

One of our tour guides recommended an overnight bus option to get back to Tokyo. Now, I can imagine what you are thinking. A college student in her 20s traveling overnight in a foreign country – no way!

The highway buses in Japan

I mind you. I have made some questionable traveling choices in my life, but this overnight bus was far from crazy. Later that evening, my guide got in touch with our Asia Institute advisor and she sent me the link to the website that would save me: Kosokubus.com – The highway buses in Japan.

What is really nice about this bus company, and Japan in general, is that they have women-only options as well as many other amenities. Tickets are sent to you by email after making reservations. This takes the hassle out of finding the bus office to pick up a ticket, or losing them.

Though I’m pretty optimistic, I chose the women-only bus, just to be safe. It departed at 11:22 p.m. and arrived in Tokyo at about 7:30 a.m. The best part was it only cost me about $15!

The bus had curtains that you could close to block the extra light from cities we drove through and had complimentary blankets and pillows.

The bus ride was smooth. Plenty of space for luggage and your legs. The seats reclined more than your average seats on planes and in cars. Because it was an overnight trip, you have the option to sleep the whole trip. I think this is an ideal option for traveling on a budget in Japan. It let me get to Tokyo before my mom, while saving me money and time I could dedicate to seeing Japan.

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