Category Archives: side trip

How to access to Nara by Japan Rail Pass. If you don’t use JR Pass, Kintetsu Railway is more convenient.

Todaiji is one of the popular spot in Nara. ©Nara Prefecture/©JNTO

Nara is former capital city in Japan and it is older than Kyoto. Some of shrines, temples and districts are listed as UNESCO World Heritage Site. When you travel in Kansai area, you may think about trip to Nara or stay in Nara. If you go to Osaka or Kyoto from other cities, such as Tokyo, you can get on Shikansen. It is easy and very accessible. How about Nara? It is not very accessible as much as Kyoto or Osaka. But it is easy. Especially if you use Japan Rail Pass, JR West Kansai Area Pass and Kansai WIDE Area Pass, you can access to Nara by JR lines without any extra charge. And Kintesu Railway (private railway company) connects Osaka/Kyoto with Nara too.

In this post, I would like to share the information about access to Nara by train. Continue reading

How to access to Kusatsu Onsen. Japan Rail Pass covers all part of trip to Kusatsu

Yubatake (湯畑=hot springs field) is the landmark in Kusatsu. ©Visual Gunma/©JNTO

There are so many hot springs in Japan. Kusatsu Onsen is located in northern part of Gunma. It is well known as one of the most three famous hot springs in Japan. Other two are Arima Hot Springs in Hyogo and Gero Hot Springs in Gifu.

In this post, I would like to share the information about access to Kusatsu Onsen with you. Continue reading

Easy trip from Sendai. How to access to Matsushima by Japan Rail Pass

Godaido is one of the best EASY-ACCESS view point. (C) JP Rail
Godaido is one of the best EASY-ACCESS view point. (C) JP Rail

Matsushima (松島) is one of “Three Views of Japan” (Matsushima, Amanohashidate and Miyajima). There are more than 200 hundred broken islands in Matsushima bay. You can enjoy the scenery from the land or on the cruise boat. As probably you know, this region was damaged by the great earthquake in March, 2011. However Matsushima was not damaged very seriously because of many islands.

I strongly recommend you to visit Matsushima since it can be accessed from Sendai very easily. It is only 40 minutes trip by Senseki line local train. Of course it is fully covered by Japan Rail Pass.

I visited Matsushima on this past March. I show you how to get there. Continue reading

How to access to Takachiho by bus. How much can we use Japan Rail Pass?

Takachiho Gorge and Manai Falls (C) JP Rail

Takachiho (高千穂) is known as the land of Japanese Mythology (日本神話). There are lots of shrines and places that are related to Mythology. And also Takachiho Gorge is one of the “Must-See” spot in southern Kyushu area.

I visited there in mid March, 2012. I would like to share my experience with you. I hope this will be helpful for your trip to Takachino. Continue reading

Japan Railways is the best way to access Mt. Fuji? How much can we use Japan Rail Pass to go to Mt. Fuji?

Tokaido Shinkansen and Mt. Fuji ©Akira Okada/©JNTO
Tokaido Shinkansen and Mt. Fuji ©Akira Okada/©JNTO

As you know, Mt. Fuji is the highest mountain in Japan. Sometimes we can see it even from downtown Tokyo. And when you travel to west from Tokyo by Shinkansen, you will be able to see this beautiful shaped mountain through the window on your right side.

*If you want to see Mt. Fuji on Shinkansen, when you reserve the ticket for Tokaido Shinkansen, try to get D which is isle side, or E which is window side unless you travel as party of 3. The seat configuration on Shinkansen is 3 (A,B,C) + 2 (D,E). (If you take Green seat, C and D are the right place to see it.) Even if you travel to opposite direction (from Osaka to Tokyo), the seat configuration is same. D and E are always on the mountain side.

Of course Mt. Fuji is one of most popular destination for the tourists. We have several choices to enjoy Mt. Fuji. Let’s see how much you can use Japan Rail Pass to get Mt. Fuji. Continue reading

Japan Rail Pass is the best way to explore Kyoto? How to use Japan Rail Pass in Kyoto

Kyoto Imperial Palace ©Akira Okada/©JNTO
Kyoto Imperial Palace ©Akira Okada/©JNTO

Kyoto (京都) is most famous sightseeing destination in Japan. Most of you visit Kyoto by Japan Rail Pass. Hikari and Kodama on Tokaido Shinkansen can take you to Kyoto. You might stay in Kyoto for multiple days and use Japan Rail Pass before arrival at Kyoto and after departure from Kyoto. Some of you are wondering if we can use Japan Rail Pass to explore Kyoto?

In this post, I tell you how much you can use Japan Rail Pass to explore in Kyoto. Continue reading

How to access World Heritage Mt. Koya. Japan Rail Pass can be used to get Mt. Koya?

Koyasan (Mt. Koya) (C) JNTO
World Heritage site Koyasan (Mt. Koya) too. (C) JNTO

Mt. Koya (Koyasan=高野山) has been getting popular destination recently. The fastest way to get Mt. Koya is using Nankai Railway line (=南海電車). They take you to Gokurakubashi (=極楽橋) station where is the nearest station to Mt. Koya and easily transfer to the funicular to Mt. Koya. But you cannot use Japan Rail Pass to take Nankai Railway. So I show you how to get Mt. Koya by Japan Railway as much as we can. Then let’s see the difference of cost and time between using Japan Railway and using Nankai Line.
Continue reading

How to access World Heritage Shiretoko by railway. Japan Rail Pass can be used to access there?

Shiretoko Pass is the highlight of Shiretoko peninsula. (C) JNTO
Shiretoko Pass is the highlight of Shiretoko peninsula. (C) JNTO

Shiretoko is one of UNESCO World heritage site in Japan. Shiretoko cannot be accessed by only rail, you need to take the bus from the station. You have two way to access to Shiretoko. The first one is from Abashiri(網走) via Shiretoko-Shari(知床斜里). The other one is to access from Kushiro(釧路). The nearest station is Shiretoko-Shari(知床斜里). So if you want to save the money, take Abashiri via Shiretoko-Shari route. Let’s see the time and extra cost.


View How to get Shiretoko in a larger map

Access from Abasiri via Shiretoko-Shari

This is most popular route to access Shiretoko. Shiretoko-Shari is 40 minutes away from Abashiri by the local train. Abashiri can be accessed by Limited express train “Okhotsk” from Sapporo where is the biggest city in Hokkaido. But we only have 4 trips of express train from Sapporo. And one more trip is added in Ryuhyo (Drift ice) season. This seasonal train is called “Ryuhyo Limited Express Okhotsk no Kaze”. This express train is operated by the different type train set from regular trains. Please see the details on Ryuhyo Limited Express Okhotsk no Kaze.
Then you need to take a local train to get Shiretoko-Shari. There are also only 9 local trains from Abashiri to Shiretoko-Shari. It is very limited access by rail. In Drift ice season, there are some additional train between Abashiri and Shiretoko-shari too. This train is called “Ryuhyu Norokko train”. This train is designed for Drift ice watching from the train. Please see the details about this train at Ryuhyo Norokko train.

If you stay in Sapporo, your sample itinerary is the following;
07:21 Depart from Sapporo by Ltd Express Okhotsk 1
12:46 Arrive at Abashiri
13:25 Depart from Abashiri by the local train
14:12 Arrive at Shiretoko-Shari
14:20 Depart from Shiretoko-Shari by bus (operated by Shari Bus company)
*This website is in Japanese only.
15:10 Arrive at Utoro

If you stay in Abashiri, your sample itinerary is the following;
06:41 Depart from Abashiri by the local train
07:22 Arrive at Shiretoko-Shari
08:00 Depart from Shiretoko-Shari by bus (operated by Shari Bus company)
*This website is in Japanese only.
08:50 Arrive at Utoro

These itineraries are based on 2010 summer schedule. If you travel in winter time, the bus service is very limited. The bus fare is 1,490 yen from Shiretoko-Shari to Utoro one way, from Utoro to Rausu at 1,310 yen, and some bus take you to directly to Rausu from Shiretoko-Shari at 2,410 yen.

Utoro(ウトロ) is located in the west coast side of Shiretoko Peninsula. It is the gate town to go around Shiretoko. You can access to Shiretoko Five Lakes, Kamuiwakka Falls and Shiretoko Pass from Utoro. And also you can access to Rausu(羅臼), the east side of Shiretoko Peninsula, via those sightseeing spot. It takes another 50 minutes from Utoro to Rausu.

Access from Kushiro

You can access to Kushiro from Sapporo by Limited Express Super Ozora. We have 7 trips from Sapporo to Kushiro. So it is a bit more convenient than Abashiri. You can access to Rausu from Kushiro by bus. It takes about 3 hours and 30 minutes. We have four trips in weekdays. But we only have two trips in weekend. By the way, this bus line is the longest operated local bus in Japan.

If you stay in Sapporo, your sample itinerary is the following;
09:04 Depart from Sapporo by Ltd Express Super Ozora 3
13:03 Arrive at Kushiro
13:50 Depart from Kushiro by bus (operated by Akan Bus company)
*This website is in Japanese only.
17:35 Rausu

If you stay in Kushiro, your can take the first departure at 07:35 from Kushiro. It will arrive at 11:05. We have another two departures in weekdays only at 10:05 and 16:00 from Kushiro. The bus fare is 4,740 yen one way. We have two departures at 06:40 and 12:45 from Rausu everyday. And another two departures at 09:10 and 16:50 in weekdays only.

Sample Itinerary

If you want to enjoy Shiretoko and another sightseeing area in the east part of Hokkaido, take Abashiri via Shiretoko to Kushiro. You access to Lake Mashu, Lake Akan and Kushiro Marsh on the way to Kushiro from Shiretoko or from Kushiro. If you want to see Kushiro Marsh, take the local train from Shiretoko-shari to Kushiro. Please refer one of 7 days sample itineraries, Hokkaido 7 days. If you want to enjoy Shiretoko, save time and not to hesitate to spend extra cost, take the bus from Rausu. You must see Shiretoko both Utoro and Rausu.

Visit by Japan Rail Pass! How to access to Lake Towada (Towadako).

Lake Towada (autumn season)
Lake Towada (autumn season)

This lake is one of the most beautiful lake in Japan and most popular destination in Tohoku Area (North part of main island). Especially it has very colorful and amazing view in autumn. JR Tohoku Bus operate the schedule bus to Towadako. This bus service is included in Japan Rail Pass. So you can go there with NO EXTRA charge. Continue reading

How to access to Nikko. Learn about how to get Nikko by Japan Rail Pass with no extra charge.

Nikko Toshogu shrine is one of the highlights in Nikko.
Nikko Toshogu shrine is one of the highlights in Nikko.

Nikko (日光) is very popular destination for the tourist from the foreign countries because it is World Heritage site. You can see lots of very historical temples and shrines. Continue reading

How to access to Miyajima from Hiroshima by local train. No extra charge for Japan Rail Pass user.

Itsukushima Shrine in Miyajima
Itsukushima Shrine in Miyajima

Miyajima is one of the World Heritage site in Japan. It is very popular destination for the tourists.

You can access to Miyajima by Japan Rail Pass with no extra charge. But you have to take a local train and Ferry. I show you some images and explain how to get there. Continue reading

How to access to Hakodate and Sapporo in Hokkaido by railway.

Sapporo in winter time is so beautiful.
Sapporo in winter time is so beautiful.

Sapporo is the biggest city in Hokkaido and is very well known as the base city of the biggest winter festival in the world.

We can get Sapporo in same day from Tokyo and Osaka by Shinkansen and Limited express trains. And also we can take an overnight train too. Let’s see the sample itinerary. Continue reading

How to access to Asakusa. Can we get Asakusa by Japan Rail Pass?

Nakamise street has lots of shops on the road to Senso-ji temple in Asakusa. ©Taito City/©JNTO
Nakamise street has lots of shops on the road to Senso-ji temple in Asakusa. ©Taito City/©JNTO

Asakusa (浅草) is very popular district in Tokyo. We have Senso-ji, Buddhist temple there. We also have some more temples, so many Japanese souvenir shops and Ryokan (Japanese style accommodation that has Tatami room).

Asakusa is nice place to stay. But if you access from downtown core of Tokyo, such as Tokyo or Shinjuku station, I recommend you to take subway. JR does not have a station in Asakusa. JR has “Asakusa-bashi” station. But it might make you be confused. This station is not located in Asakusa. It takes at least 20 minutes walk. Both Tokyo Metro and Tokyo Toei subway lines have stations in Asakusa.

In this post, I will show you the access to Asakusa from major stations in Tokyo Continue reading

How to access to Tsukiji Market by Japan Rail Pass

Tsukiji Market is the biggest fish market in Japan. ©JNTO
Tsukiji Market is the biggest fish market in Japan. ©JNTO

This is the most popular destination for the foreign travellers in Metro Tokyo. Tsukiji Market (築地市場) is the biggest wholesale market in Japan. You can see “Seri” that means the auction. Especially viewing Seri for Tuna is very popular. It is held from 5:00 am to 6:30 am on weekdays. You can taste very fresh sushi at the reasonable price!

You can get Tsukiji Market by Japan Railway. But you need to walk. So I show you how to get there by Japan Railway only for Japan Rail Pass user. And also I show you most popular and convenient way that is using subway. Continue reading

How to access to Cape Erimo (Erimo Misaki) by Japan Rail Pass.

Cape Erimo (Erimo Misaki)
Cape Erimo (Erimo Misaki)

Cape Erimo (=Erimo Misaki=襟裳岬) is located at south end of Hokkaido. There is more than 60m height cliff around the cape and 7km long shore reef to offshore. It is facing the open water of Pacific Ocean. A lot of harbor seals can be seen there.

You can access Cape Erimo by JR local line and bus without any additional charge by JR Pass, but Hokkaido Rail Pass does not cover the bus to Cape Erimo. Continue reading

How to access to Ryusendo (Limestone cave) by Japan Rail Pass

Ryusendo - You can explore the lon cave without any special equipment.
Ryusendo – You can explore the lon cave without any special equipment.

Ryusendo (=龍泉洞) is one of three biggest limestone caves in Japan. It has some crystal clear blue lakes in the cave. You can see three lakes during viewing the cave and third lake is 98m deep. Ryusendo has very well maintained path in the cave. So you don’t worry about any special equipments. Continue reading