Trip to Shikoku in 2015 spring – Part 3, staying at Morinokuni Hotel in Nametoko canyon.

Matsumaru station entrance. There is no station staffs but day use Onsen facility is in the station building.
Matsumaru station entrance. There is no station staffs but day use Onsen facility is in the station building.

This post is continued from Trip to Shikoku in 2015 spring – Part 2, from Toyo port to Matsumaru via Matsuyama.

I spend one hour to get Matsumaru station by Yodo line local train. This is the nearest station for Morinokuni Hotel. But it took another 30 minutes to get Hotel. Hotel staff picked up us at the station and gave us a ride. If we drive, it is more accessible but if we take public transportation, it is not. Continue reading

Trip to Shikoku in 2015 spring – Part 2, from Toyo port to Matsumaru via Matsuyama.

At Matsuyama castle. Plum trees were blooming.
At Matsuyama castle. Plum trees were blooming.

Continue from Trip to Shikoku in 2015 spring – Part 1, taking Orange Ferry from Osaka to Toyo port.

Ferry arrived at Toyo port. This port is 10 minutes away from JR Nyugawa station. Nyugawa is located at west part of Ehime prefecture in Shikoku island.

Breakfast was issue in that morning. I could not find the place to eat breakfast. Breakfast was available in the ferry. But we had to wake up before 6:00 am. It was too early and too tough for my daughter. I googled before we departed but I could not find any places near Nyugawa station. There were some convenience stores and first food. But those were at least 10 minutes walk away from the station. I could not find any solutions but the bus arrived at the station. Continue reading

Guide to take trains in Kobe. How to choose the best route by train to get the major spots?

Night view of Kobe Harborland and Meriken Park
Night view of Kobe Harborland and Meriken Park

You may be overwhelmed by train services in Kobe. Actually it is much easier to handle than Osaka and Kyoto. Most of places to see are located in downtown Kobe. Many of them can be accessed on foot from major stations directly. However understanding train system is a key to save your time. Kobe can be combined with Himeji easily. You may spend half day in Kobe and enjoy in Osaka rest of the day.

For travelling in Kansai area, there are many types of deals, such as ICOCA, Kansai Thru Pass, JR Pass, Kansai Area Pass and many more. Each pass has different conditions. You have to understand which train system is covered by your pass. And also Kobe is very closed to Osaka. You may not have many chances to take a train and that means single fare may be the best option for you.

In this post, I will show you the route map and explain all train systems in Kobe. Continue reading

Himeji station guide. How to get Himeji castle from the station

Himeji station terminal building at north side.
Himeji station terminal building at north side.

Himeji station is the gateway to UNESCO World Heritage Site, Himeji Castle. It is very popular day trip destination from Kobe and Osaka. You can get Himeji by JR trains, Shinkansen and Sanyo / Hanshin Railway.

How to access to Himeji and Kobe from Osaka

I would like to explain about these station’s structures and show you some images of Himeji station. And I also show you how to get Himeji castle from the station too. Continue reading

Trip to Osaka Kaiyukan Aquarium by Osaka Kaiyu Ticket

Whale shark tank is the biggest reason to visit Osaka Kaiyukan Aquarium.
Whale shark tank is the biggest reason to visit Osaka Kaiyukan Aquarium.

The last time I went to Osaka Kaiyukan is 20 years ago. At that time, Kaiyuka had just opened and very busy. In my memory, there was only huge tank and I did not have a good memory. In this past March, I visited there and the first time in last 20 years. My daughter wanted to go and my family members wanted to go there with us too. I recognized Kaiyukan Aquarium was not bad at this time.

Anyway I used Osaka Kaiyu Ticket at this time and I would like to share my experience in Kaniyukan Aquarium with you. Continue reading

Schedule of 2015 summer seasonal trains of Japan Railways

Overnight train Hokutosei will be done in this summer. The last departure is August 22 from Sapporo.
Overnight train Hokutosei will be done in this summer. The last departure is August 22 from Sapporo.

In Japan, the peak period during summer time is mid August that is called “Obon”. Most of Japanese go back to hometown and stay with family. All transportation will be busy from major cities at the beginning and back to major cities at the end. In 2015, the following dates will be busy.

Outgoing (from major cities) — August 12 and 13. Maybe August 7, 8 and 9
Incoming (to major cities( — August 15 and 16

If you travel during this period, I recommend you to avoid to make a trip to same direction as local tourist. It will be super busy.

And also, the public school is closed from July 20 to August 31 for summer break. This period is busier than usual too.

JR Group operate lots of seasonal trains during summer season. Especially JR Group add lots of extra trains. It is too many to introduce all seasonal trains. So I pick up the popular trains and are operated in the popular spot. Continue reading

Trip to Tokyo Disneyland and Tokyo DisneySea in 2015 spring, Part 3. Visiting Tokyo DisneySea with small child.

Volcano is the icon of Tokyo DisneySea.
Volcano is the icon of Tokyo DisneySea.

This post is continued from the previous post, Trip to Tokyo Disneyland and Tokyo DisneySea in 2015 spring, Part 2. Visiting Tokyo Disneyland with small child.

I spent 2 days for Tokyo Disneyland and Tokyo DisneySea. In this post, I would like to tell you about my second day at Tokyo DisneySea. I have already explained about ticket and planning at the previous post. I will talk about my experience in Tokyo DisneySea only. Continue reading

Trip to Tokyo Disneyland and Tokyo DisneySea in 2015 spring, Part 2. Visiting Tokyo Disneyland with small child.

Cinderella's castle is the icon of Disneyland.
Cinderella’s castle is the icon of Disneyland.

This post is continued from the previous post, Trip to Tokyo Disneyland and Tokyo DisneySea in 2015 spring, Part 1. Preparation and access from Narita.

I would like to share my experience of visiting Disneyland. But also I would like to tell you about planning. I think this is very important to visit Tokyo Disneyland. First of all, I would like to tell you what I did before visiting. And then I will tell you about visiting there. Continue reading

Trip to Tokyo Disneyland and Tokyo DisneySea in 2015 spring, Part 1. Preparation and access from Narita.

Cinderella castle is the icon of Tokyo Disneyland.
Cinderella castle is the icon of Tokyo Disneyland.

I visited Tokyo Disneyland and DisneySea with my daughter who just became 6 years old when she was there. It was the first time to visit there in last 20 years for me. I did not remember about the last trip 20 years ago. And also it was the first time to visit there with small child. So I was almost the first timer almost, maybe same as you.

I usually talk about train trips and other transportation in this website. But I have learned many things about Tokyo Disney Resort (Disneyland and DisneySea) as “the first timer”. Even though I am not the expert of Tokyo Disneyland, I believe the things that I have learned will help you to prepare and build the plan to visit the wonderland, Tokyo Disney Resort.

I would like to share my experience and tips about visiting Tokyo Disney Resort in three parts. In this first post, I would like to show you access from Narita airport and preparation before I was there. Continue reading

Namba stations guide. How to change the trains among Nankai, Kintetsu, Hanshin, subway and JR.

Nankai Namba station building (C) By Own work (Own work) [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
Nankai Namba station building (C) By Own work (Own work) [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

Namba is one of two downtown cores with Umeda in Osaka. This is popular spot to shop and sightseeing. And also some of you may transfer trains at Namba. But there are many railways and stations in Namba. You may be overwhelmed to understand the location and station structure.

In this post, I would like to show you the locations of each Namba stations. And you will learn how to change the trains in Namba. Continue reading

Kansai airport transportation guide. Find info about station, ticket, airport bus and high speed ferry

Kansai Airport station ticket gates, JR (blue/left) and Nankai Railway (red/left)
Kansai Airport station ticket gates, JR (blue/left) and Nankai Railway (red/left)

Airport is tourist friendly spot. But you may be hurry when you arrive in Japan, especially if you arrive in late night. As I wrote about late night arrival, trains do not run 24 hours. After midnight, the transportation to Osaka is very limited. Some of you want to know exact location of station, bus stop, ticket office.

In this post, I would like to show you these following topics:

  • Overview of Kansai airport arrival level
  • JR and Nankai Railway’s Kansai airport station
  • Limousine bus stops and ticket counter
  • High speed ferry service counter

Continue reading

Kansai Hokuriku Area Pass. Perfect deal for the traveller who wants travel to Kansai, Kanazawa and Toyama.

Dotonbori (Osaka/left) and Higashi Chaya district (Kanazawa/right)   	©Osaka Government Tourism Bureau/©JNTO  (Osaka/left) / © Kanazawa City/© JNTO (Kanazawa/right)
Dotonbori (Osaka/left) and Higashi Chaya district (Kanazawa/right) ©Osaka Government Tourism Bureau/©JNTO (Osaka/left) / © Kanazawa City/© JNTO (Kanazawa/right)

Kansai Hokuriku Area Pass will be released after three JR West’s new passes, Sanyo Sanin Area Pass, Kansai Hiroshima Area Pass and Hiroshima Yamaguchi Area Pass. It will be on sale on 14th March, 2015. This is the first ever deal that covers Kansai area (Kyoto, Osaka, Nara, Kobe) and Hokuriku area (Kanazawa, Toyama). JR West has been selling Kansai Wide Area Pass and Hokuriku Area Pass. This pass is the deal that these passes are combined. It is much more convenient than combination of two passes and much easier to purchase.

I believe this pass will be very useful for travellers who stay in Kansai and travel to Hokuriku area and other area of outside Kansai. I am very happy to share the information of this pass with you in this post. Continue reading

Schedule of 2015 spring seasonal trains of Japan Railways

"Ohanami" is very popular outside party with viewing cherry blossom.  © Y.Shimizu/© JNTO
“Ohanami” is very popular outside party with viewing cherry blossom. © Y.Shimizu/© JNTO

Spring is the best season to visit Japan because of the cherry blossom. And also between late April and the beginning of May is one of the busiest period. It is called “Golden Week” in Japan. April 29, May 3, 4, and 5 are National holidays. I recommend you to avoid travelling on those days. It’s not surprised if trains are full.

JR Group operate lots of seasonal trains during all spring season. Especially JR Group add lots of the extra trains on those above holidays. It is too many to introduce all seasonal trains. So I pick up the popular trains and are operated in the popular spot. Continue reading

Fuji Hakone access guide by train and bus from both Tokyo and Osaka / Kyoto / Nagoya.

View of Mt Fuji from Lake Kawaguchi
View of Mt Fuji from Lake Kawaguchi

Mt. Fuji is obviously one of most popular spots in Japan. There are many place to visit around Mt. Fuji. And there are many ways to get there. And also there are several deals to explore Mt. Fuji. In this post, I show you the location to visit surrounding Mt. Fuji and how to visit access these places from major cities. And also I show you how to use the deals to visit Mt. Fuji area. Continue reading

Limited Express Shirayuki. Intercity express between Joetsu-Myoko and Niigata

This fleet E653 series will be used for Limited Experss Shirayuki. But this photo is Limited Express Inaho's train set. The exterior will be different for Shirayuki. (C) James Chuang
This fleet E653 series will be used for Limited Experss Shirayuki. But this photo is Limited Express Inaho’s train set. The exterior will be different for Shirayuki. (C) James Chuang

Limited Express Shirayuki will start to run on March 14, 2015 when is the same time as Hokuriku Shikansen open.

Limited Express Shirayuki will be operated between Niigata and Hokuriku Shinkansen’s new station, Joetsu-Myoko that is 5 stations away from Naoetsu. Continue reading

Hokuriku Shinkansen, direct access to Kanazawa, Nagano and Toyama from Tokyo.

E7 series is one of the newest Shinkansen fleets for Hokuriku Shinkansen (C) Rsa (Own work) [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/)], via Wikimedia Commons
E7 series is one of the newest Shinkansen fleets for Hokuriku Shinkansen (C) Rsa (Own work) [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/)], via Wikimedia Commons

This Shinkansen lines is currently called “Nagano Shinkansen”. On March 14. 2015, this Shinkansen lines will be extended to Kanazawa and will be called official name “Hokuriku Shinkansen”. This Shinkansen will offer us much faster transport mode than current train services. So this Shinknansen line is covered by Japan Rail Pass fully and JR East Pass covers between Tokyo and Joetsu-Myoko station.

It does not open yet. But some of you have already started to make an itinerary for next spring. I would like to show you the information about this Shinkansen service with you. Continue reading

Kansai Hiroshima Area Pass. Perfect deal for the traveller who wants travel both Kansai and Hiroshima.

The landmarks . Tsutenkaku tower (Osaka/left) and Atomic Bomb Dome (Hiroshima/right)  ©JNTO (Osaka/left) / ©Hiroshima Convention & Visitors Bureau (Hiroshima/right)
The landmarks . Tsutenkaku tower (Osaka/left) and Atomic Bomb Dome (Hiroshima/right) ©JNTO (Osaka/left) / ©Hiroshima Convention & Visitors Bureau (Hiroshima/right)

Kansai Hiroshima Area Pass is one of JR West’s new products that was introduced in March, 2015. This is the first ever deal that covers Kansai area (Kyoto, Osaka, Nara, Kobe) and Hiroshima area. At this point, we have to choose the deal from very limited selections, Kansai Wide Area Pass or Sanyo Area Pass. We have to pay extra if we use Kansai Wide Area Pass. Sanyo Area Pass is too much and it does not include outside Kansai area, like Kii peninsula and Kinosaki Onsen. This pass will be the One for the traveller who travel both Kansai and Hiroshima. It is cheaper than Sanyo Area Pass. And it is wider coverage area than Kansai Wide Area Pass.

I believe this pass will be very popular. I am very excited to show you this pass in this post. Continue reading

Sanyo Sanin Area Pass. It is much better deal than Sanyo Area Pass.

Tsuwano (left), Atomic Bomb Dome (upper right) and Miyajima (lower right) are popular place to visit in the coverage area. ©Shimane Prefectural Goverment/©JNTO (Tsuwano/left) /   	©Hiroshima Convention & Visitors Bureau (Atomic bomb towere/upper right) / ©Yasufumi Nishi/©JNTO (Miyajima/lower right)
Tsuwano (left), Atomic Bomb Dome (upper right) and Miyajima (lower right) are popular place to visit in the coverage area. ©Shimane Prefectural Goverment/©JNTO (Tsuwano/left) / ©Hiroshima Convention & Visitors Bureau (Atomic bomb towere/upper right) / ©Yasufumi Nishi/©JNTO (Miyajima/lower right)

This will be on sale in March, 2015 and will replace currently selling Sanyo Area Pass. This pass includes all Sanyo Area Pass coverage area, such as Kyoto, Osaka, Kobe, Himeji, Hiroshima, Miyajima and Hakata. This pass also includes Sanin area (Matsue, Izumo, Tsuwano), Hikone, Maibara, Tsuruga, Wakayama and even part of Shikoku. It is wider coverage area, cheaper price and longer duration.

I feel JR West try to penetrate overseas travellers market deeper and deeper. It improve the product.

In this post, I tell you the details about this deal. Continue reading

Hiroshima Yamaguchi Area Pass. Designed for the tourists who travel to Hiroshima from Hakata.

Tsuwano (left) and Miyajima are popular place to visit in the coverage area. ©Shimane Prefectural Goverment/©JNTO (Tsuwano/left) / ©Yasufumi Nishi/©JNTO (Miyajima/right)
Tsuwano (left) and Miyajima are popular place to visit in the coverage area. ©Shimane Prefectural Goverment/©JNTO (Tsuwano/left) / ©Yasufumi Nishi/©JNTO (Miyajima/right)

JR West will release new three deals in March, 2015. Hiroshima Yamaguchi Area Pass is one of these three deals. This is the first pass that cover only Hiroshima and Yamaguchi, and Shinkansen to Hakata. If you arrive in Fukuoka airport and only stay in Kyushu but want to travel to Hiroshima, this pass helps you. It is the perfect option for the trip to Hiroshima from Hakata, Kyushu.

I would like to show you this pass in this post. Continue reading

Enjoy premium Japanese Sake on board. Cruising train Koshino Shu*Kura

You can enjoy Jazz performance and great view of Sea of Japan on board. (C) James Chuang
You can enjoy Jazz performance and great view of Sea of Japan on board. (C) James Chuang

This train, “Koshino Shu*Kura (越乃Shu*Kura)” was introduced in this past summer as seasonal cruising train. This train runs in Niigata prefecture. Niigata is known for one of the biggest production of rice in Japan. And also many kinds of premium Japanese Sake (rice wine) are produced by this rice in this district. This train has theme of Japanese Sake and you can taste many kinds of Sake on board. This train’s name, “Koshino Shu*Kura” means Echigo district (=Koshino) where the area train runs, Japanese Sake (=Shu), snow flake(=*) and brewery (=Kura). And also this train runs along the coast of Sea of Japan. You also can enjoy the beautiful scenery.

My reader, James Chuang posted many photos of this train. He allowed me to use these photos and I was very impressed! I would like to share the photos and information with you.

Thank you, James for sharing the beautiful photos. Continue reading

Kintetsu Rail Pass, Most affordable deal for Osaka/Kyoto-Nagoya and access to Ise.

Kintetsu Railway has the biggest limited express train network in all private railway companies.
Kintetsu Railway has the biggest limited express train network in all private railway companies.

I have received many inquiries about Nagoya-Osaka or Kyoto trip. There are lots of travellers who arrive in Chubu (Nagoya) airport and depart from Kansai (Osaka) airport or reverse or arrive in/depart from Chubu. Even if you have round trip between Nagoya and Osaka, JR Pass is too expensive choice. And there is no options to cover both Nagoya and Osaka/Kyoto by JR. One way ticket from Nagoya to Osaka or Kyoto by Shinkansen is very common choice. However JR is not only railway that connect Nagoya, Osaka and Kyoto. Kintetsu Railway that is the biggest private railway company operates many trains among these three cities, Nara, Ise and Yoshino. Kintetsu Railway has very useful deal for the travellers who want to travel in this area.

In this post, I would like to show you Kintetsu Rail Pass and Kintetsu Rail Pass Wide. Continue reading

Sample itinerary of Tokyo, Hakone, Kyoto and Osaka classic route in 7 days

Highest mountain, Mt. Fuji from Lake Ashi, Hakone  ©Odakyu Electric Railway/©JNTO
Highest mountain, Mt. Fuji from Lake Ashi, Hakone ©Odakyu Electric Railway/©JNTO

Some of you are wondering if you should use JR pass or not for one way trip from Tokyo to Osaka via Hakone and Kyoto. Actually JR pass does not meet this trip. The price of 7 days JR pass is 29100 yen. One way base fare from Tokyo to Kyoto or Shin-Osaka plus Shinkansen surcharge is around 14000 yen. As long as you have one way trip from Tokyo to Kyoto or Osaka, JR pass is way more expensive than single fare. Even if you use JR pass when you stay in Tokyo, Kyoto and Osaka, it is not realistic to spend another 15000 yen. Base fare in these cities is 200 to 500 yen.

In this post, I show you sample itinerary and some deals in these cities. Continue reading

Day trip to Hiroshima and Miyajima from Osaka/Kyoto

One of well known places in Japan, World Heritage Site, Miyajima Itsukushima shrine.  ©Hiroshima Prefecture / ©JNTO
One of well known places in Japan, World Heritage Site, Miyajima Itsukushima shrine. ©Hiroshima Prefecture / ©JNTO

Hiroshima and Miyajima are very popular and obviously these are “Big Name”s in Japan. Some of you want to visit these place but you may be hesitating to visit there because of tight schedule.

If you stay in Osaka or Kyoto, Hiroshima and Miyajima can be visited as day trip. If you can stay there for even one night, that is much better. But you may prefer to have “Baggage Free” day trip.

In this post, I show you sample itinerary to visit Hiroshima and Miyajima as day trip. Continue reading

Schedule of 2014-15 winter seasonal trains of Japan Railways

Limited Express Asahiyama Zoo
Limited Express Asahiyama Dobutsuen

In Japan, New Year holidays are the busiest period in entire year. Most of Japanese go back to hometown in this season. So the trains depart from major cities, like Tokyo, Osaka, Nagoya will be very busy. Most of companies will be closed from Dec 30 to Jan 3. In this coming season, I expect Dec 27, 28, 29 and 30 will be busy. And everybody come back on January 3 and 4. So you should avoid to take a train on those days. In some of the trains, the occupancy rate may be more than 200%. As long as trains have non reserved seat, you can get on anyway without any reservation. But you will be forced to stay on the isle or passenger’s deck without seat. There are many passengers without seats in the train during those busiest days.

The movie below shows you the station and train in new year in 2013. You can find how it goes in New Year holidays.

Continue reading

How to build the itinerary and choose the deals for Osaka stay 5 to 7 days.

Dotonbori is very popular place to eat and shop near Namba. ©Osaka Convention & Tourism Bureau/©JNTO
Dotonbori is very popular place to eat and shop near Namba. ©Osaka Convention & Tourism Bureau/©JNTO

I think many travellers prefer to stay in one place and visit surrounding areas as day trip. I have received many inquiries about Osaka stay and visit surrounding areas, like Kyoto, Kobe, Nara as day trip. I understand that it’s quite easy to stay in one place and enjoy the trip with luggage free.

But many of you struggle to plan and choose the deals. In this post, I show you 5 days Osaka stay sample itinerary. You will learn how to choose the deals for your trip. Of course you can extend to stay, like 6 days, 7 days, as many as you want. Continue reading

Japan Rail Pass and rail travel in Japan complete guide. Let's use the Japan Rail Pass to its maximum!!!