ICFP 2016 Travel Information
ICFP 2016 will take place in Nara, the ancient capital of Japan, 13 centuries ago.
This is a small city, but with many old temples and shrines. For tourist information about Nara, visit Nara visitor’s bureau homepage.
For general information on Japan tourism, visit Japan National Tourism Information.
View ICFP2016 locations and hotels in a larger map.
Weather in Nara
Weather in early September in Nara is still warm and humid. It can be sunny with temperatures above 20°C, but it can also be cooler with wind and rain.
Getting to Japan and Nara
Getting to KIX
Kansai International Airport (KIX) is most convenient for the direct arrival to Nara.
By limousine bus: Limousine bus connecting between Kansai Intl. airport and the center of Nara city daily (timetable). It stops at Nara Hotel, Kintetsu Nara station, and JR Nara station. The fare for the one-way trip is JPY 2050 and it takes 90 minutes approx. Tickets can be purchased at the bus-stop from the automatic machine. Your card may not be accepted by the machine but bank-notes are taken and change is provided.
By train: Take JR Kansai Airport Express HARUKA to Tennoji station, then take JR Yamatoji line to JR Nara station (75 - 90 minutes). The fare is about JPY 2400 (or JPY 2700 with seat reservation).
Foreign visitors can purchase “ICOCA & HARUKA”, a set of a discounted ticket for HARUKA express and a pre-paid smart card ICOCA. “ICOCA & HARUKA” can be reserved online.
From Kintetsu Nara / JR Nara stations to Conference Site
The conference site is about 1.6km away (20 minutes on foot) from Kintetsu Nara station and is about 2.4km away (30 minutes on foot) from JR Nara station.
Commuter buses are connecting these stations and the conference site.
- From Nara station, wait at the East-2 bus stop; From Kintetsu Nara station, wait at the bus stop no. 1.
- Take a bus line 70, 72, 97 bound for “Kasugataisha-honden” (3 buses per hour in the morning) and get off at the bus stop “Nara-kasugano-kokusai-forum-Iraka-mae”, which in front of the conference site. The journey takes 9-12 minutes.
- Either, take a bus line 2 “Nara City Loop (clockwise)” (10 buses per hour in the morning) and get off at “Todaiji-Daibutsuden/Kasugataisha-mae”. The journey takes 4-8 minutes and additionally a few minutes of walk.
For the return trip in the evening, walk to the bus stop “Todaiji-Daibutsuden/Kasugataisha-mae” and take a bus line 1, 70, 72, 97.
For more information on bus transports at Nara, see this brochure.
One and two days bus passes can be purchased from the Bus and Tourist Information Offices.
Getting to NRT / HND / NGO
There are several international airports in the east and central Japan.
- Narita International Airport (NRT)
- Tokyo International Airport (Haneda Airport, HND) This airport is more convenient than Narita, because it has more connecting flights to airports around Osaka. Limousine bus service is operating between Haneda and Narita. (time table, etc.)
- Chubu Centrair International Aiport (NGO)
1) From NRT and HND airports, you may take a connceting flight to the following airports around Osaka:
- Kansai International Airport
- Osaka International Airport (Itami Airport, ITM) Limousine bus service connecting Itami and Nara is available (time table).
- Kobe Airport (UKB) Take Kobe port liner to Sannomiya (18 min), then go to the Hanshin Kobe-Sannomiya station under the ground and take a rapid express train to Nara (82 min).
2) Alternatively, you may take a JR Shinkansen train to go to JR Kyoto station, then take another train to Nara. Major Shinkansen stations with connections to the above international airports are:
- Tokyo station - Narita International Airport: Take Narita Express (approx. 80 minutes)
- Shinagawa station - Haneda Airport: Take Keikyu Main/Airport Line (13-20 minutes).
- Nagoya station - Chubu Centrair International Airport: Take Meitetsu Mu-Sky (28-33 minutes)
With the fastest Shinkansen train Nozomi, the journey to JR Kyoto station takes about 140 minutes from Tokyo, 130 minutes from Shinagawa and 40 minutes from Nagoya.
From JR Kyoto station to Nara city center, JR and another train company Kintetsu offer the following lines:
JR Nara line: Take JR Miyakoji Express to JR Nara Station (45 minutes). After arriving at JR Kyoto station by Shinkansen, go to the ticket gate for the connecting JR trains; do not go outside of the ticketed zone.
Kintetsu Nara line: Take a Kintetsu Limited Express (35 minutes, seat reservation is required). Kintetsu Kyoto station and JR Kyoto station are in the same building.
To search train connections in Japan by yourself, visit HyperDia.
Japan Rail Pass
People who plan to do some tourism in Japan may be interested in the Japan Rail Pass, which allows to travel on all lines of JR (the main railway company), including the bullet trains. A week-long pass is approximately the price of a round trip from Tokyo to Nara. Note however that the standard pass does not allow you to use the fastest Nozomi trains.
Pre-paid card ICOCA for trains and buses
ICOCA is a smart card you can use to pay for trains, undergrounds and buses of various companies in Japan. You can buy it (JPY 1500 charge + JPY 500 deposit) in a JR West ticket office. You can top it up at JR stations, Kintetsu-line stations, and any other stations accepting ICOCA in major cities in Japan.
ICOCA can also be used to pay bus fares at Nara. Since April 2016, all the major smart cards issued in Japan is valid for the payment of bus ride at Nara.
Currency and International withdrawal.
The Japanese currency is JPY (japanese yen), with USD 1 = JPY 113 and EUR 1 = JPY 123 (March 3 2016).
Currency exchange offices can be found at every international airport. In the city center, currency exchange service is available at major hotels and banks (incl. Japan Post Bank).
International cash withdrawal service (via internaltional credit, cash cards, etc.) is available at ATMs operated by specific banks in the Nara city listed below.
You can find Seven-bank ATMs at 7-eleven CVS stores and some other places. Service is available 24 hours a day in English (and other several languages). For Seven-bank ATM locations in the city center, see this map.
Japan Post Bank ATMs
Japan Post offices offer their own Bank ATMs. Service is available in english and is operating 7:00AM - 11:55PM on Mondays and the day after a holiday, 0:05AM - 11:55PM on Weekdays other than Monday, and 0:05AM - 9:00PM on Sundays and holdays. Find Japan Post Bank ATMs by Visa locator (Locations1, near the conference site, Locations2, near JR Nara station).
You are advised to make sure the brand of your (bank, credit, etc.) card is supported by these ATMs in advance. (Notice that Maestro-branded EMV card issued outside of Asia/Pacific region is subject to a limited availability of service. See the website of MasterCard.)
For a general information on cashing in Japan, visit this page.
Though credit cards are getting prevalent in Japan, there still remain some restaurants, shops, taxis, public transports that don’t accept payment by cards. You are advised to keep a small amount of cash with you. Where credit cards are available for payment, major brands of credit cards (such as VISA and MasterCard) are acceptable. It is advisable to carry your passport for the purpose of photo identification.
Tipping is not a common practice in Japan. It is rarely seen and you are not expected to do that almost under any circumstances.
Only exceptions are stays at traditional Japanese-style inns (so-called Ryokan) or dining at decent Japanese cuisines (so-called Ryotei), where you may optionally hand a small bill put in an envelope to the waiter who is in charge of taking care of you. This is however a rather old-fashioned practice that is common only at traditional and high-categorized places.
Emergency phone number.
To call ambulance or fire brigade, dial 119. To call police, dial 110. No area code is needed.
The Nara City Hospital is relatively close to the conference site, about 1km south of Araike pond (see map). Consultations are open on weekday mornings (Monday to Saturday), from 8:30 to 11:30. The phone number is 0742-24-1251.
Power plugs and voltage
All of Japan uses Type A power plugs (like in the USA for instance) at 100V (different from USA, but usually ok). The frequency is 60Hz in the west of Japan (including Nara), 50Hz in the east (including Tokyo).
After a long day at the conference, going to a public bath may be a good way to relax. Some of them are real hot springs. Here is as list at @nifty Onsen.
For extra information or comments on this page, please send mail to
icfp-local at researchr.org.