Category Archives: Stations in Shinetsu and Hokuriku

The world fastest art gallery, Genbi Shinkansen

Genbi Shinkansen is operated by remodeled E3 series that was used for Akita Shinkansen before.

Genbi Shinkansen (現美新幹線) is one of Shinkansen trains but it is very unique train. Many artworks are displayed in the carriages. It is like running art gallery. Exterior is also very cool. Fireworks displays are drawn on the trains.

Genbi is short word of Gendai Bijutsu. That means Modern Art. This train offers many modern artwork on board of high speed train, Shinkansen. That is why this train is called “The World Fastest Art Gallery”.

One of my reader, Tak has taken this train and he offered me to use his brilliant photos. I would like to tell you the details of this train with his photos. Thank you very much for your support, Tak san!

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

This fleet E653 series will be used for Limited Experss Shirayuki. (C) James Chuang

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

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

Overnight Express Train Twilight Express, most popular overnight train between Osaka and Sapporo

***Twilight Express was discontinued in 12 March, 2015. There is no overnight train option between Osaka and Hokkaido any more.***
Overnight Express train Twilight Express
Overnight Express train Twilight Express

Twilight Express is operated between Osaka and Sapporo. This is the longest service operation train in Japan. It takes more than 22 hours to reach Sapporo from Osaka. (If you take other way, it takes 22 hours 45 minutes.)

When you use a berth or a bedroom, Japan Rail Pass does not cover any accommodation charges and even Limited Express surcharge either. Even though you have to pay lots of the extra on Japan Rail Pass, the experience on board will be worthy. First class hospitality, the beautiful scenery and the sunset on the Sea of Japan, will be very memorable moment in your trip.

Anyway I tell you that the extra cost, timetable, checking the availability and the types of accommodations. Continue reading

Save time and money to go to Niigata from Tokyo by train. Overnight rapid train Moonlight Echigo

***This train usually runs in peak periods. But since summer peak season in 2014, this train has not run any more. It seems that this train service is discontinued.***
Moonlight Echigo is operated by old type express train 183 series.
Moonlight Echigo is operated by old type express train 183 series.

Moonlight Echigo (ムーンライトえちご) is the overnight rapid service train that is operated between Shinjuku (新宿) and Niigata (新潟). This train used to be a scheduled train. But it was changed to a seasonal train. It is usually operated in same season as Moonlight Nagara, such as spring break (two weeks from late March to early April), summer break (late July to the end of August) and Christmas holidays. These periods are the seasons when “Seisyun 18 ticket” is sold. Anyone can buy this ticket. You can ride any local train throughout Japan for 5 days at 11500 yen. This train can be used by this ticket. So it is always busy.

This train is fully covered by Japan Rail Pass. It may be hard to get a seat on this train because of only peak season operation. But it may be considerable for overnight transfer between Tokyo and Niigata, and any area in Tohoku and Hokuriku via Niigata. Let’s see the details about this train. Continue reading

Tohoku and Joetsu Shinkansen image gallery. Check the interior and accommodations.

E2 series (left) and 200 series (right)
E2 series (left) and original fleet 200 series (right). All 200 series were retired already.

Tohoku Shinkansen and Joetsu Shinkansen share the track between Tokyo and Omiya. So some types of trains are used on both Tohoku and Joetsu. I show you several types of trains that are used on Tohoku or Joetsu Shinkansen. If you are looking for the general information about these Shinkansens, please read Tohoku Shinkansen or Joetsu Shinkansen.

*If you are looking for the images of Akita, Yamagata or Nagano, please refer the following posts:

Akita Shinkansen
Yamagata Shinkansen
Nagano Shinkansen

*If you are looking for the images of the newest E5 series for Hayabusa (Gran class seat), please refer the following posts:

this post, Gran class and all class seat of Tohoku Shinkansen E5 series and Gran class for Hayabusa, Hayate and Yamabiko image gallery.

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Popular Steam Locomotive train, SL Banetsu Monogatari

902654_10151632611729924_1491466821_oThere are many steam locomotive trains in Japan. But this train, SL Banetsu Monogatari is only SL train that has Green seat. And it also has observation car, cafeteria and kids play space. I have received many nice photos of this train from one of my frequent reader, James. I would like to share the information of this train with you.

I would like to thank you, James for your photos. Continue reading

Access to Iida and Tenryu river valley from Toyohashi, Limited Express Inaji

Limited Express Inaji is operated by JR Central 373 series.
Limited Express Inaji is operated by JR Central 373 series.

Limited Express Inaji (伊那路) is operated between Toyohashi (豊橋) and Iida (飯田) via Iida line (飯田線). This train connects most of cities and towns along Tenryu river. If you need to access to Iida, Tenryukyo and other places in Southern Shinshu region, this train may suitable for your trip.

Iida line is not well known for the tourist. And there is no world famous sightseeing spots along this line. However the scenery is breathtaking. Especially you will see Tenryu river valley and Southern Alps mountains through the window when you take this train.

This train is fully covered by Japan Rail Pass. Let’s see the details about this train. Continue reading

The fastest way to get Kanazawa from Tokyo, Limited Express Hakutaka

Limited Express Hakutaka is operated by 681 or 683 series.
Limited Express Hakutaka is operated by 681 or 683 series.

This train will be discontinued on March 13, 2015. Hokuriku Shikansen will start to run on March 14, 2015. You can get Kanazawa and Toyama by Shinkansen from Tokyo without any transfer and much faster. The name of “Hakutaka” will be one of Hokuriku Shinkansen’s name. If you need an access to Kanazawa from Tokyo, please find more info at the post, Hokuriku Shinkansen, direct access to Kanazawa, Nagano and Toyama from Tokyo.

Hakutaka is operated between Echigo-Yuzawa and Kanazawa. Some trains are extended to operate to Fukui and Wakura-Onsen. If you go to Toyama or Kanazawa, take Joetsu Shinkansen to Echigo-Yuzawa and transfer to this train. This route is the fastest. But this train, Hakutaka is operated on Hokuetsu Kyuko Railway between Muikamachi and Naoetsu. So Japan Rail Pass does not cover this section. That means you need to pay the extra. If you do not want to pay extra and have a time, take other express train, Hokuetsu from Nagaoka. Hokuetsu is slower and operated by older fleet. But this train is operated on JR line only. So there is no restriction with using Japan Rail Pass. If you need more information about Hokuetsu, please refer this page, Limited Express Hokuetsu. Continue reading

Direct transfer to Kanazawa from Nagoya, Limited Express Shirasagi

683 series is the primary fleet for limited express train in Hokuriku region.
683 series is the primary fleet for limited express train in Hokuriku region.

Shirasagi (しらさぎ) runs between Nagoya (名古屋) and Kanazawa (金沢). This train is the fastest transfer from Nagoya/Maibara (米原) to Hokuriku region, such as Kanazawa and Fukui (福井). This train is very popular for both business and leisure travellers. Because there are several popular locations along this trains’s route, like Awara-Onsen (芦原温泉) hot springs, Kaga-Onsen (加賀温泉) hot spring, and Kanazawa.

This train, Shirasagi is fully covered by Japan Rail Pass. Let’s see the details. Continue reading

Save money and time going to Kanazawa, Overnight Express train Noto

Overnight Express Noto is operated by 485 series. (C) Sui-setz / 800px-JR_East_485_Express_Noto
Overnight Express Noto is operated by 485 series. (C) Sui-setz / 800px-JR_East_485_Express_Noto

*Since March 2012, this train has not been operated. Even though JR East has not announced officially anything about this train, this train seemed to be discontinued.

Not (能登) is the overnight express train that is operated between Ueno (上野) and Kanazawa (金沢). This train used to be a scheduled train. But it was changed to a seasonal train in Mar, 2010. It is usually operated on every Friday and in peak season, such as spring holidays (late April to early May), Obon hoidays (mid August) and Christmas holidays. This train was operated on Saturday before Mar 2011. But JR cut down the operation days because they tried to make vehicle occupancy higher.

This train is fully covered by Japan Rail Pass. It might be hard to get a seat on this train since this train is always busy. But it is considerable for overnight transfer between Tokyo and Kanazawa. Let’s see the details about this train. Continue reading

Intercity transfer between Niigata and Akita, Limited Express Inaho

E653 series was transferred from Joban line's limited express Hitachi. And it was fully renovated and it looks a brand new fleet. (C) James Chuang
E653 series was transferred from Joban line’s limited express Hitachi. And it was fully renovated and it looks a brand new fleet. (C) James Chuang

Inaho is an inter-city train that connects Niigata with several cities in Shonai area (庄内地方) where is located between Niigata and Akita, such as Murakami (村上) and Tsuruoka (鶴岡) and Akita (秋田). You can transfer from Joetsu Shinkansen at Niigata and Akita Shinkansen at Akita. If you go to Akita from Tokyo, take Tohoku and Akita Shinkansen. This route is way faster than Joetsu Shinansen and Inaho. If you go to several cities in Shonai area (庄内地方) where is located between Niigata and Akita, such as Murakami (村上) and Tsuruoka (鶴岡) , Joetsu Shinkansen and Inaho route is faster than Tohoku, Akita Shinaknsen and Inaho from Akita route. Of course Japan Rail Pass cover both Akita route and Niigata route. There is no restriction with using Japan Rail Pass. Continue reading

Train to Matsumoto, Kofu and Hakuba from Shinjuku, Limited Express Azusa, Super Azusa and Kaiji

E351 series is the primary fleet for Super Azusa.
E351 series is the primary fleet for Super Azusa.

These trains connect Shinjuku with Kofu (甲府) in Yamanashi Pref, Matsumoto (松本) and Minami-Otari (南小谷) in Nagano Pref. These trains go through the mountain area. You can use these trains to access to Lake Kawaguchi area in Mt. Fuji, Akaishi Moutains (a.k.a. Southern Alps), southern part of Nagano pref. and Hida Mountains (a.k.a. Norther Alps). Especially Hida Mountains are very popular to ski and snowboard. Since Nagano held Winter Olympic Games, this area has been getting well known. And also it is very popular area for climbing and hiking in Japan too! Hida Mountains are located in Nagano pref. So you may think about using Nagano Shinkansen. But Nagano Shinkansen takes you to city of Nagano and northern part of Nagano pref. If you access there, you need to access from Matsumoto in south part of Nagano pref.

There is no restriction with using Japan Rail Pass. Let’s learn about route, schedule and accommodations of these trains. Continue reading

Access to Nagano from Nagoya and Osaka. Limited Express Shinano

Limited Express "Shinano"
Limited Express Shinano runs 13 round trips a day.

Limited express train “Shinano” takes you to 1998 Winter Olympic host city, Nagano (長野) from Nagoya (名古屋). And also one of 13 round trips is extended to operate to Osaka (大阪). If you go to Hida Mountains (a.k.a. Norther Alps), you can use this train to Matsumoto (松本), and transfer to local train Oito line bound for Shinano-Omachi (信濃大町), Hakuba (白馬) and Minami-Otari (南小谷). And also there are some preserved small town in Kiso Valley (木曽谷) along Chuo line where this train goes through. These towns are getting popular for the tourist from overseas these days.

This train is fully covered by Japan Rail Pass with no restriction. Let’s see the details. Continue reading

Learn more about train to Takayama. Passenger’s review of "Wide View Hida"

Wide View Hida at Toyama station
Wide View Hida by KIHA85 series at Toyama station (C) JP Rail

I took “Wide View Hida 6” from Toyama to Nagoya on Apr 27, 2010. This express train is operated mostly between Takayama and Nagoya. Only 4 of 20 round trips are operated between Toyama and Nagoya. Hida 6 is the first departure from Toyama to Nagoya.

I had an ordinary reserved seat at a third raw on the 8th car. This train will combined some more cars at Takayama station. My car number is eight but this was the first car between Toyama and Takayama.

This limited express train is called “Wide View Hida” because the huge windows are equipped. You will enjoy the scenery of mountains, stream and gorge. Continue reading

Access to Kanazawa from Osaka and Kyoto. Limited Express Thuderbird

683 series is the primary fleet for limited express train in Hokuriku region, such as Thunderbird and Shirasagi.
683 series is the primary fleet for limited express train in Hokuriku region, such as Thunderbird and Shirasagi.

Thunderbird is operated between Osaka (大阪) and Wakura-Onsen (和倉温泉), Kanazawa (金沢). This train is the fastest transfer from Osaka/Kyoto to Kanazawa. This train is very popular for both business and leisure travellers. Because there are several popular location along this trains’s route, like Awara-Onsen (芦原温泉) hot springs, Kaga-Onsen (加賀温泉) hot spring, Kanazawa and Wakura-Onsen hot spring. If you go to Kanazawa from Osaka, simply take this express train.

This train used to run to Toyama via Kanazawa. But on March 14, 2015, Hokuriku Shinkansen was opened and it connects Tokyo, Nagano, Toyama and Kanazawa directly. Now you have to transfer from Limited Express Thunderbird to Hokuriku Shinkansen when you go to Toyama from Osaka or Kyoto.

This train is fully covered by Japan Rail Pass. Let’s see the details. Continue reading

Intercity train between Niigata and Kanazawa. Limited Express Hokuetsu

Limited Express "Hokuetsu"
Limited Express Hokuetsu

This train was discontinued on March 13, 2015. Hokuriku Shikansen has started to run on March 14, 2015. You can get Kanazawa and Toyama by Shinkansen from Tokyo without any transfer and much faster. If you need an access to Kanazawa from Tokyo, please find more info at the post, Hokuriku Shinkansen, direct access to Kanazawa, Nagano and Toyama from Tokyo.

If you need to transfer between Toyama/Kanazawa and Niigata, you have to take Hokuriku Shinkansen and transfer to limited express Shirayuki at Jouetsu-Myoko station. Unfortunately there will be no choice to take direct train service between Kanazawa/Tokyo and Niigata. Please find more info at the post, Limited Express Shirayuki. Intercity express between Joetsu-Myoko and Niigata.

Hokuetsu (北越) is operated between Niigata and Kanazawa. If you go to Kanazawa or Toyama from Tokyo, you may take Joetsu Shinkansen and transfer to this train at Nagaoka station.

Hokuetsu is fully covered by Japan Rail Pass. But if you are hurry, you have a choice to take Hakutaka. But Hakutaka is operated on both JR lines and Non JR lines. That means you need to pay the extra. I would like to show you the details about Hokuetsu and the difference between Hokuetsu and Hakutaka. Continue reading

Nagano Shinkansen, direct access to Nagano and Karuizawa from Tokyo.

Most of  train is operated by this fleet, E6 / W6 series.
Most of train is operated by this fleet, E6 / W6 series.

This Shinkansen services are operated between Tokyo and 1988 Olympic winter game host city, Nagono via Ueno, Omiya, Takasaki and Karuizawa. This Shinkansen will be extended to Kanazawa by 2014 and this route is the original plan. This Shinkansen share the rail with Joetsu Shinkansen between Omiya and Takasaki. If you travel from Niigata to Nagano, you can transfer to Shinkansen at Takasaki station.

*Nagano Shinkansen will be extended to Kanazawa as Hokuriku Shinkansen on 14 March 2015. Please see the post about Hokuriku Shinkansen to see the details. Continue reading

Joetsu Shinkansen, access to Niiagata, Nagaoka and Echigo Yuzawa

Hayate by E2 series on Tohoku Shinkansen
E2 series is main train set on Joetsu Shinkansen.

Joetsu Shinkansen is the third oldest Shinkasen (a.k.a. Bullet Train) line and it is operated between Tokyo and Niigata via Ueno, Omiya, Takasaki and Nagaoka. Joetsu is the old name of area where is between Niigata and Gunma. Echigo-Yuzawa is one of well known hot springs town in this area. It also has nice ski slope. JR East that owns Joetsu Shinkansen also owns Gala Yuzawa ski slope. You can access this ski slope directly from Gala Yuzawa station. In winter season, many Joetsu Shinkansen trains run directly to Gala Yuzawa station.

In this post, I will show you the details of Joetsu Shinkansen. Continue reading