Travel Tips

Tips for Travelers to the WPC 2019 in Kyoto, Japan

If you haven’t already planned for Kyoto, now is the time to start finalizing some of your plans to attend the 5th World Parkinson Congress. Thanks to WPC Program Committee member, Victor McConvey, RN, in Australia, here are a few tips to help get you there and get you around.

Getting there by AIR
Taxi Stands at Kyoto Station
Getting around
Subway
Bus Travel
Taxi Travel
Sleeping in Kyoto
Take your shoes off
Dining
Walking about
Health and wellbeing
Medications
DBS
Food
Toilets
Traditional Japanese baths
Security and Personal Safety


Getting there by AIR

We are proud to inform you that the official transporter for the event is Air Canada! When travelling by air to any Osaka airport, from any city in any country, you will receive a 10 % discount. This rebate will apply to the first 500 passengers booking with the promo code below. How to obtain your discount :

Go to www.aircanada.com. Enter your promo code: EMXRZJB1

Enter this promo code in the search tool to register online and get an instant 10% off from anywhere within the vast Air Canada network. Your flight must land and depart in Osaka (ITM,KIX,UKB) (AS) Your travel dates must between May 28th 2019 and June 14th 2019

Osaka (KIX) is the best airport to fly into for the WPC as there is a fast train connection from the airport to Kyoto. If you fly into Tokyo you will need to travel into the city center to get a train to Kyoto. Tokyo has two airports, Narita (NRT) which handles most of the long-haul travel but is a long way outside of Tokyo. Haneda (HND) is closer to Tokyo, but has fewer flights. If you do choose to visit Tokyo first, you’ll be able to buy a ticket on the bullet train, the Shinkansen, from Tokyo directly to the Kyoto train station.

When you buy a train ticket the automatic machines have a limited menu in English, there are also station ticket offices with staff who can help you. While they may not speak much English, they will be very helpful. If you have pre-booked a JR rail pass beware that once you have activated the pass is active for its duration, the ticket offices at the stations will be able to provide you with seat reservations which are not available before you arrive in Japan. (If you have booked a Green line pass you will need to get a seat reservation)

When you arrive at Kyoto train station you can exit out the north side of the station or the south side of the station. You should look on a map to see where your hotel it and exit accordingly. WPC has booked many hotels around the Kyoto train station. It’s convenient because the subway system runs underneath so it’s easy to access when traveling to the Convention Center.

 

Travel tip #1: If your flight into KIX or out of KIX is arriving quite late or departing quite early and you have concerns about gong form KIX to Kyoto by train when you are tired, we suggest staying the night at the airport at the Nikko Hotel. It’s connected to the airport, easily accessible and often you can find cheap rooms by scouring the internet for deals. This will alleviate your stress upon arrival or departure.

Travel tip #2: WPC strongly suggests that all delegates purchase travel insurance when getting the airline ticket.

Travel tip #3: WPC also encourages delegates traveling with Parkinson’s that you ask for extra support from the airline. This will help expedite your time waiting in lines and keep you as comfortable as possible on your travel and from Kyoto.


Taxi Stands at Kyoto Station
Kyoto station, there are two taxi queues. One of the queues (the foreign queue) has drivers who speak some English and often that line is shorter than the other lines!


Getting around
Google translate is a valuable tool and will translate your hotel address or any important messages into Japanese making it easier to be understood. You can also use the camera on your phone and use Google translate, to translate Japanese into English, it isn’t always perfect but it’s enough to get you by!

(Tip: We suggest that you save the name of your hotel right in your phone on your calendar as soon as you book it. So you can pull it up and show it to your driver. Most hotel websites have the address in English and Japanese, so you can copy both languages to make it easier for you and the driver. This is also useful for other times while you are traveling in Kyoto.)

Subway

(Subway Tip: Download a Kyoto Subway map app to your phone BEFORE your trip!)

In Kyoto the subway is totally accessible with elevators in every stations, escalators and stairs.

Subway times: Kyoto's subway runs from around 5.30am until 11.55pm, 7 days a week with reduced services at the weekends and public holidays.

Subway fees: Single fares for adults on the system range from 210-340 yen and 110-170 yen for minors depending on how far you are traveling. There are a number of travel cards available including the Kyoto Sightseeing Pass Card (one day card 1,200 yen for adults and 600 yen for children; two-day card is 2000 yen for adults and 1000 yen for children). The pass is valid for the subway and city buses. An all-day inner-city bus pass is 500 yen for adults and 200 yen for children.

When you buy your subway tickets, you’ll want to make sure you buy the ticket that is the correct amount from your location to the end of the green line, to the Kokusai Kaiken, also known as the Convention Center. From Kyoto Station, on the green line, it’s 11 stops to the end of the green line to reach the Kokusaikaiken. Best to exit at the front of the train when you get to the last stop.

We recommend that you try the subway line a few times after you arrive to get comfortable with the best entrance and most accessible entrance. For example, a subway entrance may have 8 different access points, on eight different corners and only one has an elevator. If you need an elevator, you’ll want to check this well ahead of time so you know which corner to head to each morning.

When you enter the subway barrier, remember to take your ticket as you will need to use that ticket to exit as well. Don’t throw it away! If you buy a refillable card, you’ll just tap the card to enter and tap the card to exit. Not all subway lines connect so if you book a hotel far from the green line you may have to catch a bus to get to your subway line or change one time from one train to another. There are plenty of hotels close to the green subway line which leads to the conference venue. Look on the WPC Hotel list or consult a map of Kyoto hotels on the internet.

Bus travel 
There is an excellent network of busses which will get you to most of the sights. Google maps on your smart phone will help find the most direct route and will give you information on which bus to take. The flat fare for an adult bus ticket it Y230 (Y=Yen) which you pay at the end of your journey. It great to have the exact money however most bus have change machines which take Y500 coins or Y1000 notes next to where you pay. Bus etiquette is observed, you cue in an orderly way alongside the road and enter via the rear door and get off through the front door and pay at the same time. Passengers will stand for the elderly or disabled people, although sometimes they will refuse the offer.


Taxi travel
Taxis are also plentiful very clean and roomy, most drivers don’t speak English however are very helpful in working out how to get you to where you need to go. The taxi doors are opened and closed by the driver. Ride sharing applications such as Japan Taxi are available in Kyoto. Most hotels will provide you with a card with their name and address in Japanese you can show cab drivers to get you home. Sometimes, if you are traveling with two or three other people, it may just be easiest to travel by taxi rather than subway. You’ll get a sense for this and be able to gauge the cost and time needed once you arrive.

 


Sleeping in Kyoto
The WPC has booked a wide range of hotels for delegates. You are not obligated to book at the WPC hotels, but we suggest that you consider it since we have vetted them and we know they are near the best subway line to reach the Convention Center.

There are a range of options but western beds are most common in hotels, however some hotels offer Japanese style futons on Tatami mats. Traditional Japanese style sleeping can be comfortable for a night or two but remember it can be harder getting up from so lowdown!

Take your shoes off
Never walk on the tatami mats with your shoes! Many hotels, monuments, or religious buildings will expect that you will take your shoes off before entering the room. Slippers, socks, or even bare feet are acceptable. The key will be to have shoes that are easy to slip on and off. The Convention Center allows shoes everywhere with the exception of the Tea House which is on the grounds behind the Convention Center and will be open to our delegates a few hours each day.

(Shoes TipThe key to easy entry and exit from places that require no shoes will be to have shoes that are easy to slip on and off, such a loafers. Something that does not require tying laces each time you put them on.)

Dining
There are a range of restaurants, many of the smaller local ones may not have English language menus, but will often have pictures or even plastic models of food to give you a guide. If you opt for western type food, it can be more expensive. Breakfast, there are a few bakeries and cafes in Kyoto who serve western breakfasts, which may mean toast, coffee and scrambled eggs. Most hotels have breakfast included in their fee, so check before you venture out for a breakfast. Even if it’s not included in their fee, you can still purchase breakfast from the hotel. While that will be a more expensive option, it may be the most convenient option. There are a many convenience stores and small supermarkets around Kyoto where snacks can be purchased. The green tea ice cream is not to be missed!

(Dining Tip: Lunch will be provided to all delegates within the convention center all four days of the congress)


Walking about
Kyoto is quite a flat city which sprawls so walking can be a good way of getting around. The main streets have wide footpaths but can be crowded at times. Like the rest of the world, people like to text, play games on their phones and walk at the same time. Smaller streets often don't have any footpaths at all and are very narrow with buildings up to the edges of the road. Traffic generally moves slowly and it is safe to walk. The biggest hazard when walking is bicycles! Even though there are a network of bike paths on the roads cyclists will use the footpaths as well, sometimes swerving onto the footpaths to avoid a red light. 


Jay walking is frowned upon even when there is no traffic people stop at crossings.
The Scholars Path is a pleasant walk by the river and playing fields and is little cooler than the city. We recommend you spend a few days in Kyoto and see the top sites, before the WPC starts. An easy website to access and use is: https://www.japanvisitor.com Once on this page, click the Guide option along the navigation bar and choose Kyoto.


Health and wellbeing
Depending on where you are flying from, there will be a time difference. While it’s only a 2-hour time difference between Melbourne, Australia and Japan, there is a 13-16 hour time difference from the across the USA and around a 6 – 8 hour time difference from across Europe. So plan accordingly for jet lag if you know you’ll experience it. We suggest arriving a few days early, if at all possible, to adjust your sleep and medication, if necessary.

Conferences are busy and energizing, but make sure you take it easy you don't have to go to everything- have breaks during the day and drink water! Might be best to bring your own water bottle so you are never without water.

The public transport system is efficient you can have a break away back in your hotel or rest in one of Kyoto's beautiful gardens for an hour or so if you wanted. If you don’t feel like going back to you hotel, take note that the WPC will offer its usual Wellness Way rooms at the WPC, including a Quiet & Meditation room where delegates will be able to rest and even take a nap if jet lag is too much.

(Health tip: When you arrive onsite, take time to find the various rooms you are planning to attend sessions in and find the Quiet Room so you know where to go if you need to lie down for a bit.)


Medications
Ensure you have brought more than enough medications for your stay in Kyoto. Not all of the types and strengths are available in Japan.

(Medications tip: WPC advises that people taking any medication, whether for Parkinson’s or another issue, that you bring THREE times what you think you will need and keep those three sets in different locations, such as your suitcase, your carry on and the bag you always carry with you. This way, in the event of a suitcase getting lost, you have your meds. If you remember, back in 2010 a pesky volcano erupted in Iceland grounding all airplanes between Europe and North America for one week. Just in case a catastrophe hits, we want to make sure you have the meds you need while you are in Japan.)


DBS
If you have DBS and are traveling remember to pack your DBS controller or recharger and any support numbers that you may use to help trouble shoot. Airports in Japan usually have walk through metal detectors which if you have DBS (or any implanted devise) should be avoided and a manual pat-down will be performed. If you are asked to go through a full body scanner let the security staff know you have an implanted electronic devise, some of the scanners do not affect them.


Food
Eat well and drink plenty, the diet in Japan is quite different, fish, meat, soy, and rice are the staples. There are plenty of vegetables, but they are probably different from what you are used to eating and may not always suit your taste buds, so we suggest that if constipation is a problem make sure you bring along some of your regular laxative. Adding some extra fiber, such as a dose of Metamucil can also help with this.

(Food Tip: WPC suggests that if you have strict dietary needs, have allergies, or you just know you are not an adventurous eater, that you pack some of your favorite snack bars or easy to carry snacks to to have on hand each day.)


Toilets
There are plenty of clean and free public toilets in Kyoto. In your hotel and in many restaurants toilet controls can be a little complicated, heated seats, bidets, dryers and toilet seats that play music. It is also customary for men to take a seat! It makes going to the toilet an adventure and you will be googling: where to get a Japanese toilet by the end of the WPC!

You may notice in public restrooms they sometimes have “sound machines”. This is because it’s considered rude for others to hear your sounds in the toilet, so people will camouflage their own sounds with the sound machine which may create white noise or chirping birds.


Traditional Japanese baths
One of the things many tourists do in Japan is head to an onsen or a Japanese bathhouse. This can be a great way to relax. The bathhouses are generally segregated into male and female sections. Some tips if you go to an onsen. Most onsens will let you “rent” or “hire” a towel, beware this may not be included in the cost of entry and you may need to rent one. Make sure to check before you get naked! The bath is for soaking and contemplating life not for washing! Wash before you get into the bath, make sure you wash all the soap off as getting soap in the bathwater is considered a taboo in Japan. You can relax in the bath for as long as you want, however, the water temperature will be around 41C/105F. The high temperature won’t make your Parkinson’s worse, but it may have an impact on your Blood Pressure, in particular making it go low causing you to feel dizzy or even faint when you get out- so make sure you do this slowly!


Security and Personal Safety
Japan is safe, people are helpful and respectful of elderly people. There is little crime and if you lose something it is likely it will be handed in to lost property or the Police station. Very few people speak or understand spoken English, but they may read English. Either way, most people are very keen to help and Kyoto, being a tourist hot bed, has more English-speaking workers than other cities in Japan. When trying to communicate be patient, speak slowly and clearly, and remember thank you and smiles are universal.

If your local organization does not have a wallet card for “I have Parkinson’s” in English and Japanese, stay tuned for the card the WPC will be producing for all delegates who attend the WPC 2019 who have PD. These will be offered as downloadable AND printed for onsite dissemination.

(Security Tip: We encourage all WPC delegates, whenever traveling internationally, to save the contact info for your countries Embassy and Consulate in your phone. In the event of an emergency either with you while traveling in Kyoto, or your home country, you should have these numbers programmed into your phone for easy access at all times.)

 


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