Schedule of 2016 fall seasonal trains of Japan Railways

Fall foliage light up at Ninose station of Eizan Railway in Kyoto (C) Nkensei GFDL  or CC-BY-SA-3.0, via Wikimedia Commons
Fall foliage light up at Ninose station of Eizan Railway in Kyoto (C) Nkensei GFDL or CC-BY-SA-3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Autumn is the best season to travel in Japan. The climate is very mild and the scenery of fall foliage is breathtaking. JR will operate many seasonal trains for autumn high volume demand.

It is too many to introduce all seasonal trains. So I pick up the trains that run in the popular spots only. Continue reading

Matsumoto station guide. How to catch the bus to Takayama, Hotaka and Kamikochi. How to take a train to Nagano, Hakuba, Shinano-Omachi.

Matsumoto station from Oshiro-guchi (east side)
Matsumoto station from Oshiro-guchi (east side)

Matsumoto is the second biggest city in Nagano prefecture. But the station is not a huge terminal station, like Tokyo. But Matsumoto is the junction of many destinations by trains and buses. If you travel this area, you may have to change the trains and the buses at Matsumoto.

In this post, I would like to explain about Matsumoto station and Matsumoto bus terminal with many photos of this station. Continue reading

Crazy? But not impossible. Sample plan of day trip to Hakodate from Tokyo

Night view form Mt.Hakodate ©Hokkaido Tourism Organization/© JNTO
Night view form Mount Hakodate (C) Hokkaido Tourism Organization / JNTO

Hokkaido is very popular spot among foreign travelers. Hokkaido has nice yummy food, very attractive sightseeing spots and very different culture from mainland Japan. But some of you have short stay in Japan. You may not have enough time to visit Hokkaido. If you want to visit Hokkaido, I usually recommend you to spend 3 days minimum. However if you are okay to visit just the edge of Hokkaido, that is Hakodate, and okay with the short stay, you can visit Hakodate as day trip from Tokyo.

In this post, I will show you how to manage the day trip to Hakodate from Tokyo. Continue reading

Kanazawa station guide. How to catch the bus to the tourist spots. How to change between Hokuriku Shinkansen and other trains.

Tsuzumi Gate at Kanazawa station Kenrokuenguchi (east side). This gate is now one of the icons of Kanazawa.
Tsuzumi Gate at Kanazawa station Kenrokuenguchi (east side). This gate is now one of the icons of Kanazawa.

Kanazawa is most popular place in Hokuriku region. There are many tourist spots in this city, such as Kenrokuen garden, Kanazawa castle. Especially since Hokuriku Shinkansen opened in 2015, Kanazawa is much more accessible from Tokyo and it has been getting more popular. Kanazawa is also known as the gateway to UNESCO World Heritage Site, Shirakawago.

In this post, I would like to explain about Kanazawa station’s structures with many photos of this station. And I also show you how to take the bus to the tourist spots in town and to Shirakawago. Continue reading

Let’s take the train! Easily accessible places to see fall foliage!

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Fall season is round the corner. There are huge number of the spots to see fall foliage in Japan. But many of them are not accessible for overseas tourist. In this post, I would like to show you easy access spot to see fall foliage in Japan by regions. You can get the places to see fall foliage by train only. All places are located within walking distance from the station. You do not need to take a local bus. You do not need to drive! The route is very simple and you can enjoy gorgeous view by easy access! Continue reading

Nagoya station guide. How to transfer among Shinkansen, Kintetsu, Meitetsu, subway and JR local trains.

Nagoya station from Taiko-Dori side.
Nagoya station from Taiko-Dori side.

Nagoya is one of major cities in Japan and also this station is the gateway to many places, such as Takayama, Nagano, Matsumoto, Ise. Even if you will not intend to drop by Nagoya, you may need to change the trains in Nagoya. If you arrive in Chubu airport, you have to change the trains in Nagoya station.

In this post, I would like to tell you about Kyoto station. Nagoya station is a huge station and there are many trains arriving and departing. I will show you the structure of Nagoya station and how to transfer among many trains in this station. Continue reading

Trip to Tohoku, Chubu and Chugoku in 2016 winter – Part 11, Visit Kurashiki and go back to Osaka by 500 TYPE EVA Shinkansen

Kurashiki Bikan area
Kurashiki Bikan area

This post is continued from the previous post, Trip to Tohoku, Chubu and Chugoku in 2016 winter – Part 10, Trip from Nagano to Tokyo and taking Sunrise Seto.

On the last day of my trip, I disembarked from Sunrise Seto at Okayama. After that, I visited Kurashiki and went back to Shin-Osaka by specialized Shinkansen train, “500 TYPE EVA”. Continue reading

Trip to Tohoku, Chubu and Chugoku in 2016 winter – Part 10, Trip from Nagano to Tokyo and taking Sunrise Seto

Sunrise Izumo and Sunrise Seto are only scheduled overnight trains in Japan.
Sunrise Izumo and Sunrise Seto are only scheduled overnight trains in Japan.

This post is continued from Trip to Tohoku, Chubu and Chugoku in 2016 winter – Part 8, winter light up event in Kanazawa.

I would like to tell you about the second half of 6th day of my trip in this post. I went to Tokyo from Nagano via Matsumoto. And I got on the overnight train, Sunrise Seto from Tokyo. Continue reading

Trip to Tohoku, Chubu and Chugoku in 2016 winter – Part 9, Visit Snow Monkey Park in Nagano

Monkeys enjoy  natural hot springs at Snow Monkey Park.
Monkeys enjoy natural hot springs at Snow Monkey Park.

This post is continued from Trip to Tohoku, Chubu and Chugoku in 2016 winter – Part 8, winter light up event in Kanazawa.

On 6th day, I dropped by Nagano on the way to Tokyo to see snow monkey. I have been to Nagano many times. But actually it was the first time to visit snow monkey park. I would like to show how I accessed there. Continue reading

Trip to Tohoku, Chubu and Chugoku in 2016 winter – Part 8, Winter light up event in Kanazawa

One of the gates of Kanazawa castle
One of the gates of Kanazawa castle

This post is continued from Trip to Tohoku, Chubu and Chugoku in 2016 winter – Part 7, visit Takayama and Kanazawa.

On the last part of 5th day, I visited several places in Kanazawa. Actually I did not plan to stay in Kanazawa when I built a plan. But I found Kanazawa held winter light up event. I changed the plan. I would like to show you this event in this post. Continue reading

Trip to Tohoku, Chubu and Chugoku in 2016 winter – Part 7, visit Takayama and Kanazawa

Preserved path in Takayama. It is very popular tourist district in Takayama.
Preserved path in Takayama. It is very popular tourist district in Takayama.

This post is continued from Trip to Tohoku, Chubu and Chugoku in 2016 winter – Part 6, Takaoka to Shirakawago via Himi line, Johana line and Shirakawago.

My trip report is still on 5th day. After visiting Shirakawago, I went to Takayama and then travel to Kanazawa. Continue reading

Trip to Tohoku, Chubu and Chugoku in 2016 winter – Part 6, Takaoka to Shirakawago via Himi line, Johana line and Shirakawago

Snowman in Shirakawago welcomes you in winter time.
Snowman in Shirakawago welcomes you in winter time.

This post is continued from Trip to Tohoku, Chubu and Chugoku in 2016 winter – Part 5, Matsumoto to Takaoka via Toyama.

On 5th day, I started the round trip to Himi in early morning. And then I went down to Takayama via Johana line and Shirakawago. Continue reading

Trip to Tohoku, Chubu and Chugoku in 2016 winter – Part 5, Matsumoto to Takaoka via Toyama

Old style name plate of Matsumoto station
Old style name plate of Matsumoto station

This post is continued from Trip to Tohoku, Chubu and Chugoku in 2016 winter – Part 4, Nagoya to Matsumoto via Magome.

The second half of 4th day of my trip, I took whole part of Oito line from Matsumoto to Itoigawa. And then I took Hokuriku Shinkansen to Shin-Takaoka with dinner stop at Toyama. Continue reading

Trip to Tohoku, Chubu and Chugoku in 2016 winter – Part 4, Nagoya to Matsumoto via Magome

It was a beautiful day when I left Nagoya station.
It was a beautiful day when I left Nagoya station.

This post is continued from Trip to Tohoku, Chubu and Chugoku in 2016 winter – Part 3, Kakunodate to Nagoya via Sendai and Yamadera.

On 4th day of my trip, my trip was getting crazier and crazier. I visited the places as many as I could. Please do not copy my trip plan but I am sure I can share tons of information from my trip. I made a trip from Nagoya to Takaoka in Toyama prefecture. I dropped by Magome, Matsumoto, Shinano-Omachi, Itoigawa and Toyama on the way to Takaoka. I will show you the first half of 4th day of my trip. Continue reading

Trip to Tohoku, Chubu and Chugoku in 2016 winter – Part 3, Kakunodate to Nagoya via Sendai and Yamadera

Most famous view of Yamadera
Most famous view of Yamadera

This post is continued from Trip to Tohoku, Chubu and Chugoku in 2016 winter – Part 2, Akita airport to Kakunodate.

On 3rd day of my trip, I left Kakunodate, visited Yamadera and then go to Nagoya. It was such a long day. But after I visited Yamadera, my mother took a flight from Sendai. I was a solo traveler. My trip was getting busier and busier. I squeezed the places as many as I could after Sendai. Continue reading

Trip to Tohoku, Chubu and Chugoku in 2016 winter – Part 2, Akita airport to Kakunodate

2016 winter Japan trip 146

This post is continued from Trip to Tohoku, Chubu and Chugoku in 2016 winter – Part 1, Quick trip to Hiroshima from Osaka

On second day of my trip, I flied to Akita and visited Kakunodate. I have been to Kakunodate but my mother had asked me to take her to Kakunodate. Actually she requested Takachiho and Kakunodate.
We had already done Takachiho 4 years ago. This was another task of me. I had JR pass but I booked the domestic flight from Itami (another Osaka airport) to Akita. She is Japanese and she can not get JR Pass. So we flied to Akita to visit Kakunodate and Yamadeara at the beginning part of my trip and I shared these two days with my mother. Continue reading

Trip to Tohoku, Chubu and Chugoku in 2016 winter – Part 1, Quick trip to Hiroshima from Osaka

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I made the trip to Japan in this past February. At that time, I visited Hiroshima, Kakunodate, Yamadera, Magome, Matsumoto, Shirakawago, Takayama, Kanazawa, Nagano Snow Monkey valley and Kurashiki. That was super busy trip and visited many many places in just 7 days. I do not think you can copy this trip and I do not want you all to follow this itinerary. I really really enjoyed this trip but it was super super crazy. Continue reading

Yokohama and Kamakura access guide. Find the right deal and route from your place to stay.

Red Brick Warehouse is very popular shopping site in Yokohama Waterfront Area. (C) Y.Shimizu / JNTO
Red Brick Warehouse is very popular shopping site in Yokohama Waterfront Area. (C) Y.Shimizu / JNTO

Yokohama and Kamakura are very popular places to visit from Tokyo as day trip. Of course you can visit these places from other places, like Osaka and Kyoto. But there are several routes to get Yokohama and Kamakura from Tokyo. If you visit these places from Osaka, Kyoto and Nagoya, you will consider to drop by these places on the way to Tokyo. But is this a right way. Should we go to Tokyo first and then go back to Yokohama?

In this post, I show you the major access to Yokohaama and Kamakura from Tokyo. And I show you how to get Yokohama and Kamakura on the way to Tokyo from Osaka, Kyoto and Nagoya. Continue reading

JR East Pass Tohoku. Flex 5 days pass in 14 days period to cover Tokyo, surrounding area of Tokyo and Tohoku region.

Cherry blossom in Kakunodate Samurai Residence district. It is one of the highlights in Tohoku region. (C) Akita Prefecture / JNTO
Cherry blossom in Kakunodate Samurai Residence district. It is one of the highlights in Tohoku region. (C) Akita Prefecture / JNTO

JR East has decided to divide JR East into two regional passes, JR East Pass Niigata and Nagano, and JR East Pass Tohoku. Current JR East pass will be discontinued in the end of March and these two JR East passes will be on sale. In this post, I would like to explain one of these passes, JR East Pass Tohoku in this post. Continue reading

JR East Pass Niigata and Nagano. Flex 5 days pass in 14 days period to cover Kanto region, Nagano and Niigata.

Zenko-ji temple in Nagano (left) and Yuzawa Onsen in Niigata (right)  (C) Nagano Prefecture / JNTO
Zenko-ji temple in Nagano (left) and Yuzawa Onsen in Niigata (right) (C) Nagano Prefecture / JNTO

JR East has decided to divide JR East into two regional passes, JR East Pass Niigata and Nagano, and JR East Pass Tohoku. Current JR East pass will be discontinued in the end of March and these two JR East passes will be on sale. In this post, I would like to explain one of these passes, JR East Pass Niigata and Nagano in this post. Continue reading

Limited time operation. Specialized Shinkansen train 500 TYPE EVA

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This is a collaboration of Shinkansen and very popular Japanese Anime “New Generation Evangelion (link to Wikipedia)” as Sanyo Shinkansen 40 years anniversary special project. This unique Shinkansen fleet has very different exterior that is painted by Evangelion color. And also it has Evangerion exhibition in car #1. There are many more Evangerion characters and designs in the trains. If you know this anime, you must be excited. Even if you are not familiar with this anime, you will be impressed by these decorations.

I just have got on this train in this early February, 2016. I would like to share the information and many photos of this train with you. Continue reading

JR East-South Hokkaido Rail Pass user guide. Perfect deal for the travelers who visit Tokyo and Sapporo by train.

Night view form Mt.Hakodate ©Hokkaido Tourism Organization/© JNTO
Night view form Mt.Hakodate. Hakodate is one of the popular places in Hokkaido. ©Hokkaido Tourism Organization/© JNTO

This brand new pass will be released in April, 2016. This pass covers Narita airport, Greater Tokyo, Gala Yuzawa, Nikko, whole part of Tohoku region, Hakodate, Otaru, Noboribetsu, Lake Toya and Sapporo. You also may use this pass to get Lake Kawaguchi and Hakone even though this pass covers these trips partially. You cannot use this pass to get central, northern and eastern Hokkaido, such as Furano, Asahikawa, Shiretoko, Kushiro. Japan Rail Pass (a.k.a. JR Pass) is better choice if you intend to visit these places.

In this post, I would like to show you the detail of this pass. And I show you some sample rate and compare the pass value and single fares. You may find this suits your plan or not. Continue reading

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

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You may be overwhelmed by train system in Tokyo. It is very complicated because there are many train lines and many different railway companies. There are lots of deals available but you may not be able to find the coverage of the pass.

In this post, I will show you all subway lines and JR lines in downtown core of Tokyo. And I will also tell you about train system surrounding in Tokyo too. Because some of trains that come from outside Tokyo go to downtown Tokyo via subway line. This is actually one of the reason why it is so difficult to understand train system in Tokyo

Let’s see and learn it together! Continue reading

Schedule of 2016 spring seasonal trains of Japan Railways

EVA Type 500 train runs as regular scheduled Kodama on Sanyo Shinkansen.
EVA Type 500 train runs as regular scheduled Kodama on Sanyo Shinkansen.

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.

2016 Golden Week Calendar
Apr 29 (Fri) Holiday
Apr 30 (Sat)
May 1 (Sun)
May 2 (Mon)
May 3 (Tue) Holiday
May 4 (Wed) Holiday
May 5 (Thu) Holiday
May 6 (Fri)
May 7 (Sat)
May 8 (Sun)

May 2 and May 6 are regular weekday. But many residents in Japan will take extra day off and make longer holidays. Therefore it will be very busy from April 29 to May 8. I recommend you to avoid travelling during this period. I’m not surprised if trains are booked out.

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

Direct access to Hokkaido from Tokyo, Hokkaido Shinkansen (bullet train)

H5 series will run on Hokkaido Shinkansen as Hayabusa and Hayate. This fleet is same series as Tohoku Shinkansen E5 series. (C) By Sukhoi37 (Own work),  JR Hokkaido H5 series shinkansen set H1 approaching Sendai Station on a test run,CC BY-SA 4.0 , via Wikimedia Commons
H5 series will run on Hokkaido Shinkansen as Hayabusa and Hayate. This fleet is same series as Tohoku Shinkansen E5 series. (C) By Sukhoi37 (Own work), JR Hokkaido H5 series shinkansen set H1 approaching Sendai Station on a test run,CC BY-SA 4.0 , via Wikimedia Commons

Hokkaido Shinkansen will be opened on March 26, 2016 between Shin-Aomori and Shin-Hakodate-Hokuto. This will be the newest Shinkansen (Bullet Train) line technically. However this line is connected with Tohoku Shinkansen at Shin-Aomori. Many of trains run through Tohoku Shinkansen to Shin-Hakodate-Hokuto from Tokyo. You will be able to get Hokkaido from Tokyo directly by this Shinkansen train.

However Hokkaido Shinkansen will be partial open. You can get southern Hokkaido only. You still need to transfer to get most of Hokkaido. such as Sapporo. And also Shin-Hakodate-Hokuto station is not located in downtown of Hakodate. You need to transfer to get Hakodate.

I mentioned many negative things at the beginning. But it will be much more convenient and faster than current trains. There are a few things that you need to know before taking Hokkaido Shinkansen. I would like to show you the detail of Hokkaido Shinkansen and will also give you some tips to use this Shinkansen line in this post.

*Additional info
JR Group has announced that Hokkaido Shinkansen is fully covered by Japan Rail Pass, a.k.a. JR pass.

Continue reading

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