Category Archives: Aomori, Shin-Aomori, Hirosaki

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.

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Alternatives of Overnight train Twilight Express, in case that you cannot make a reservation.

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

Twilight Express is one of the most popular train in Japan. (C) Sonic Rail Garden
Twilight Express is one of the most popular train in Japan. (C) Sonic Rail Garden

Twilight Express is very popular. Many tourists might think about taking this luxury overnight train. But you have a problem. Twilight Express cannot be reserved online. The only way to reserve it from outside of Japan is calling Odekake net 078-341-7903 in Japanese and you have to pick up your ticket in JR West, Shikoku or Kyushu stations. You cannot pick up it in other areas, like Tokyo. Otherwise You need to go to a reservation window at the station in Japan. Ticket is started to sell one month prior to the departure date. That means it may be sold out when you arrive in Japan. So you need to think about alternatives if you have a plan to take this train. I tell you several options for the case that you cannot make Twilight Express.

Twilight Express departs from Osaka at 11:50am and arrive in Sapporo at 09:52am, and depart from Sappro at 12:52pm and arrive in Osaka at 14:05pm. I try to make an alternatives as same schedule as possible. 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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My trip from Aomori to Sapporo on March 19, 2012 by Hamanasu Carpet car.

Hamanasu just arrived at Aomori station (C) JP Rail.com
Hamanasu just arrived at Aomori station (C) JP Rail.com

In my site, JPRail.com, the post that is written about Overnight Express Hamanasu is very popular. I got on Carpet car of Hamanasu on March 19, 2012 from Aomori to Sapporo. I would like to share this experience with you. And I tell you what I did before I got on the train. Continue reading

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

More E5 series will be introduced for Hayabusa, Hayate and Yamabiko. (C) Sonic Rail Garden
More E5 series will be introduced for Hayabusa, Hayate and Yamabiko. (C) Sonic Rail Garden

E5 series was introduced for Tohoku Shinkansen in this past March. This is the first fleet that has Glan Class seat and it became very popular topic. This class is higher class than Green class. And it is still very hard to get the ticket. Finally I can you the images of all class and facility in this fleet.

If you are looking for the general informations about these Shinkansens, please read Tohoku Shinkansen or Joetsu Shinkansen. If you are looking for the images of other trains on Tohoku and Joetsu Shinkansen, please see the post, Tohoku and Joetsu Shinkansen image gallery. If you are looking for the images of Akita, Yamagata and Nagano Shinkansen, please refer the following posts:

Akita Shinkansen
Yamagata Shinkansen
Nagano Shinkansen

Continue reading

Alternatives of Overnight train Cassiopeia and Hokutosei, in case that you cannot make a reservation.

Overnight Limited Express train Cassiopeia (C) Sonic Rail Garden
Overnight Limited Express train Cassiopeia (C) Sonic Rail Garden
***Hokutosei was discontinued as scheduled train in 14 March, 2015. Now Hokutosei runs as seasonal train until end of summer. It will be discontinued after it. Please find operation date at the post, Schedule of 2015 spring seasonal trains of Japan Railways.***

Both Cassiopeia and Hokutosei very popular. Many tourists have a plan to take one of these trains. However these overnight trains cannot be reserved online. The only way to reserve it from outside of Japan is calling Odekake net 078-341-7903 in Japanese and you have to pick up your ticket in JR West, Shikoku or Kyushu stations. You cannot pick up it in other areas, like Tokyo. Otherwise You need to be the reservation window at the station in Japan. Ticket is started to sell one month prior to the departure date. That means it may be sold out when you arrive in Japan. So you must have a back up plan when you try to make a reservation after arrival.

I tell you several options for the case that you cannot make Cassiopeia or Hokutosei. Continue reading

Rail cruising in UNESCO World Heritage Shirakami mountains by Rapid train Resort Shirakami

HB-E300 Buna train set is the newest fleets for Resort Shirakami.

Resort Shirakami (リゾートしらかみ) is a rapid train that is operated between Akita (秋田) and Aomori (青森). This train is named from UNESCO World Heritage site “Shirakami mountains (白神山地)”. This train runs on Gono line (五能線) along the shoreline of Sea of Japan. Gono line is known as one of the most scenic lines. The view is amazing.

This train is not an express train but this cruising train offers very comfortable interior. It is operated by specialized train and it does not have any non reserved seat. This train is operated on weekend, holidays and the peak periods only. If you use Japan Rail Pass (JR Pass), JR East Pass, JR-East South Hokkaido Rail Pass, you can take this train with no extra charge.

I show you some images of this train and tell you the details of this train in this post. Continue reading

Overnight limited express train Nihonkai

Overnight train Nihonkai is the best way to save the time from Osaka to Aomori (C) Sonic Rail Garden
Overnight train Nihonkai is the best way to save the time from Osaka to Aomori (C) Sonic Rail Garden
***This train scheduled service was discontinued on March, 2012 due to small demand. It is operated as a seasonal operation train. Please refer the most updated operation date at Seasonal Trains Schedule.***

Nihonkai (日本海) is one of JR Overnight Express trains. It connects Osaka (大阪) with Akita (秋田) and Aomori (青森). This train has only the berth. So if you will use Japan Rail Pass, Japan Rail Pass does not cover an accommodation charge and also limited express surcharge. Even though Japan Rail Pass cover a basic fare, Nihonkai is still considerable way to get Aomori from Osaka. Let’s see the types of accommodation and extra charge. Continue reading

Tips for taking Gran Class of Tohoku Shinkansen Hayabusa

The newest train on Tohoku Shikansen E5 series (C) sukhoi37
The newest train on Tohoku Shikansen E5 series (C) sukhoi37

JR East started to operate 2 round trips of Hayabusa after suspension by earthquake. It takes more than 4 hours between Tokyo and Shin-Aomori. Extra 1 hour is spent to get Aomori by Hayabusa. Because there is maximum speed restriction between Omiya and Morioka due to the damage by earthquake. I hope it will be restored with 100% soon.

*JR East lifted a speed limit in some area. Now it takes about 3 hours 30 minutes from Tokyo to Shin-Aomori. It is still 20 minutes more than the regular timetable.

I read the report on Nikkei Trendy. It is one of major magazine by Nihon Keizai Shinbun (Japan Economy Newspaper). There are a lot of images about accommodation, meal, drink and so on. I would like to share this report with you all here. Continue reading

Compare interior of Tohoku Shinkansen Hayabusa with Hayate

All trains on Tohoku and Joetsu shinkansen. From left to right, E5 (Hayabusa), E3 (Komachi), E2 (Hayate), 200 (Toki/Tanigawa), E4 Max, E1 Max
All trains on Tohoku and Joetsu shinkansen. From left to right, E5 (Hayabusa), E3 (Komachi), E2 (Hayate), 200 (Toki/Tanigawa), E4 Max, E1 Max

All line of Tohoku Shinkansen will be restored soon. Of course the fastest train “Hayabusa” will be operated too. Now I show you the article about comparison Hayabusa and Hayate on Tohoku Shinkansen.

Hayabusa has Gran class that is upper class than Green class. When I wrote this post, I had not received enough images of Gran class and other class’ seat of E5 series that has Gran class. Continue reading

Intercity transfer between Aomori and Akita, Limited Express Tsugaru

Limited Express Tsugaru operated by E751 series
Limited Express Tsugaru operated by E751 series

Tsugaru is an inter-city train that connects Aomori with several cities in Akita Pre. (秋田県) and Aomori Pref. (青森県), such as Hirosaki (弘前) and Oodate (大館). You can transfer from Tohoku Shinkansen at Shin-Aomori, and Akita Shinkansen at Akita. If you go to Hirosaki or Oodate, using Tohoku Shinkanse is the faster than Akita Shinansen connection. Of course this train and Tohoku or Akita Shinkansen are fully covered by Japan Rail Pass. Continue reading

Overnight transfer to Aomori/Akita from Tokyo, No extra charge on Japan Rail Pass! Overnight limited express Akebomo

***This train scheduled service was discontinued in March, 2014 due to small demand. It is operated as a seasonal operation train. Please refer the most updated operation date at Seasonal Trains Schedule.***
Overnight train "Akebono"
Overnight train Akebono

This overnight train is operated between Ueno and Aomori. Japan Railway operate 3 overnight trains between Tokyo and Tohoku or Hokkaido. But only “Akebono” has the reserved seat. The other two trains, “Hokutosei” and “Cassiopeia”, have only the sleeper. If you take sleeper class by Japan Rail Pass, Japan Rail Pass is valid for the basic fare only. You have to pay not only sleeper class surcharge but also limited express surcharge. That means you do not need to pay the extra to get “Akebono” because this train has the reserved seat. Continue reading

The newest and fastest train! Tohoku Shinkansen “Hayabusa”

The newest train on Tohoku Shikansen E5 series (C) sukhoi37
The newest train on Tohoku Shikansen E5 series (C) sukhoi37

Tohoku Shinkansen will be extended to Shin-Aomori on this coming December 4. The fastest train that is called “Hayabusa” will be operated on March 2011. We will have 2 round trips between Tokyo and Shin-Aomori, and 1 round trip between Tokyo and Sendai. (Please refer another post to check the timetable.)

This train will have Ordinary class, Green class and the brand new class which is called “Gran class”. The same type of service as the first class on the flight will be provided on Gran class.

Images gallery of Gran class
Seat 1
Seat 2
Meal on board (Western style)
Meal on board (Japanese style)
Amenities

If you are looking for the images of Hayabusa and E5 series, please refer this post, Gran class and all class seat of Tohoku Shinkansen E5 series and Gran class for Hayabusa, Hayate and Yamabiko image gallery.

Japan Railway did not announce that Japan Rail Pass user can take this class without the extra fare. The surcharge of this class 5,000 yen more than Green class. So the extra surcharge for Japan Rail Pass user will be expected.

On Feb 1, 2011, I confirmed that Japan Rail Pass can be used for Hayabusa. But if you take Gran Class, you need to pay the extra. Please refer this post to see the details.

Overnight train to/from Sapporo and Aomori. Express Hamanasu

Overnight train Hamanasu at Aomori station
Overnight train Hamanasu at Aomori station

Hamanasu was discontinued in mid March, 2016. There is no overnight train service options available to Hokkaido.

This overnight express train is operated between Aomori and Sapporo. If you want to save your time and you don’t want to spend your money for Hotel in Sapporo, this overnight train is the best choice. Especially when you want to transfer to Tokyo from Sapporo as early as possible, this train is connected with the earliest Tohoku Shinkansen at Shin-Aomori. Continue reading

Connect Mainland (Aomori) with Hokkaido (Hakodate). Limited Express Hakucho / Super Hakucho

Limited Express Hakucho connect Honshu island with Hokkaido island.
Limited Express Hakucho connect Honshu island with Hokkaido island.

Super Hakucho and Hakucho is no longer running after Hokkaido Shinkansen opened in March, 2016. Now Hokkaido Shinkansen connects Tokyo and Hokkaido. Please see the following link to see the details of this Shinkansen line.

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

Hakucho/Super Hakucho is operated between Shin-Aomori (新青森) and Hakodate (函館). These trains go through the longest tunnel in Japan, “Seikan Tunnel” and connect the main island in Japan, “Honshu” (本州) and Hokkaido (北海道). All these trains are scheduled to be connected with Tohoku Shinkansen at Shin-
Aomori station and Limited Express “Hokuto” and “Super Hokuto” to Sapporo at Hakodate. These trains used to connect Hachinohe with Hakodate via Aomori. But Tohoku Shinkansen was extended to Shin-Aomori on December 4, 2010. Departure location had been changed to Shin-Aomori instead of Hachinohe.

Both Hakucho and Super Hakucho are fully covered by Japan Rail Pass. But the accommodation between Hakucho and Super Hakucho is very different. So I would like to show you the difference and other details. Continue reading

Tohoku Shinkansen (bullet train), the fastest train to Tohoku area from Tokyo.

E5 series is a flagship fleet on Tohoku Shikansen. this fleet is mostly used for Hayabusa and Hayate.
E5 series is a flagship fleet on Tohoku Shikansen. this fleet is mostly used for Hayabusa and Hayate.

Tohoku Shinkansen is the second oldest Shinkasen (a.k.a. Bullet Train) line in Japan and it connects Tokyo with Shin-Aomori via Ueno, Omiya, Fukushima, Sendai, Morioka and Hachinohe. “Tohoku” means Northeast in Japanese. So Tohoku region is north part of Honshu island (main island).

Many trains of Tohoku Shinkansen are coupled with Akita Shinkansen “Komachi” or Yamagata Shinkansen “Tsubasa”. These trains give you direct access to other cities in Tohoku area.

On March 26, 2016, Hokkaido Shinkansen was opened between Shin-Aomori and Shin-Hakodate-Hokuto. Hokkaido and mainland of Japan are connected by Shinkansen line via undersea tunnel. This new segment is called Hokkaido Shinkansen and it is technically different Shinkansen line. But many of trains run on both Tohoku and Hokkaido Shinkansen lines. Many trains connect Tokyo and Shin-Hakodate-Hokuto (near Hakodate) directly now. Please see the link below to get the detail of Hokkaido Shinkansen.

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

I would like to share the information about this Shinkansen train with you.

*If you are looking for the images of these train’s interior, please refer Tohoku and Joetsu Shinkansen image gallery.

Types of train, schedule and trip time

There are four types of trains in service. These trains are all non smoking. You can take any trains on Tohoku Shinkasen by Japan Rail Pass. We don’t have any restriction except the first class that is called “Gran Class”.

Hayate by E2 series on Tohoku Shinkansen
E2 series is still main fleets of Tohoku Shinkansen. But many of this fleets have been replaced by E5 series.

Hayabusa

This is the fastest train that connects Tokyo with Shin-Aomori. This is the first train that has most expensive and luxury seat, “Gran class”. Gran Class is the first ever upper class seat than Green Class. When Hayabusa started to run, only Hayabusa had Gran class. But now many of other trains on Tohoku Shinkansen, such as Hayate, Yamabiko and Nasuno are operated by E5 series and have Gran class too.

All of Hayabusa stops at Omiya, Sendai and Morioka. Some of Hayabusa stop at Ueno, Furukawa, Ichinoseki and Kitakami. And also Hayabusa that runs to north from Morioka stop at most of stations between Morioka and Shin-Aomori. Trip time of Hayabusa are the following:

Tokyo to Sendai — 1.5 hours
Tokyo to Morioka — 2 hours 20 minutes
Tokyo to Shin-Aomori — 3 to 3.5 hours

You can find some more information at the following links:
Extra charge for boarding Gran Class on top of Japan Rail Pass
Gran class and all class seat of Tohoku Shinkansen E5 series image gallery.

And as I mentioned, many trains run between Tokyo and Shin-Hakodate-Hokuto now. Most of trains go to Shin-Hakodate-Hokuto is Hayabusa.

Hayate

Hayate was the fastest train before Hayabusa was introduced. Most of Hayate was replaced by Hayabusa. Now there are 3.5 round trips between Tokyo and Morioka. And 1 round trip between Morioka and Shin-Aomori run as well. The trip time of Hayate are the following:

Tokyo to Sendai — 1 hour and 45 minutes
Tokyo to Morioka — 2 hours and 30 minutes
Tokyo to Shin-Aomori — 3 hours and 35 minutes

Yamabiko

Yamabiko runs mostly between Tokyo and Sendai. But some of this train goes to Morioka. Most of Yamabiko stop at Ueno, Omiya, Utsunomiya, Koriyama and Fukushima between Tokyo and Sendai. A few Yamabiko skip Ueno, Utsunomiya and Koriyama. Meanwhile some of Yamabiko stop at all stations on this section. Yamabiko that run to Morioka stop at all stations between Sendai and Morioka.

Some of Yamabiko are coupled with Yamagata Shinkansen “Tsubasa” between Tokyo and Fukushima.

Nasuno

Nasuno is operated as short distance transfer train and is operated between Tokyo and Oyama, Nasu-Shiobara or Koriyama only. This train stops all stations on this segment.


View Tohoku Shinkansen (Bullet Train) in a larger map

Stations

Station Hayabusa Hayate Yamabiko Nasuno
Tokyo (東京) x x x x
Ueno (上野) * x * x
Omiya (大宮) x x x x
Oyama (小山) | | * x
Utsunomiya (宇都宮) | | * x
Nasushiobara (那須塩原) | | * x
Shinshirakawa (新白河) | | * |
Koriyama (郡山) | | * x
Fukushima (福島) | | x
Shiraishizao (白石蔵王) | | *
Sendai (仙台) x x x
Furukawa (古川) * x x
Kurikomakogen (くりこま高原) * x x
Ichinoseki (一ノ関) * x x
Mizusawaesashi (水沢江刺) * x x
Kitakami (北上) * x x
Shinhanamaki (新花巻) * x x
Morioka (盛岡) x x x
Iwatenumakunai (いわて沼宮内) * x
Ninohe (二戸) * x
Hachinohe (八戸) * x
Shichinohe (七戸十和田) * x
Shin-Aomori(新青森) x x

x:All trains stop *:some trains stop |: all trains skip

Accommodations and train formation

There were many types of trains on Tohoku Shinkansen before. But now E5 and E2 are main stream of Tohoku Shinkansen. And E3 series for Yamagata Shinkansen “Tsubasa” and E6 series for Akita Shinkansen “Komachi” are coupled with Hayabusa or Yamabiko. Andt E3 series and E6 series are sometimes used as Tohoku Shinkansen trains.

*If you are looking for the images of these train’s accommodations, please refer Tohoku and Joetsu Shinkansen image gallery. And also you can see some images of E6 series on Akita Shinkansen and E3 series on Yamagata Shinkansen.

Train formation

E5 series (images)

Hayabusa and Hayate formation

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
R R R R R R R R G GC

Yamabiko formation

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
NR NR NR NR NR R R R G GC

Nasuno formation

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
NR NR NR NR NR NR R R G GC

NR:Non Reserved Ordinary class R:Reserved Ordinary class G:Reserved Green class GC:Reserved Gran class

E5 series + E6 series

E6 series is usually used as Komachi. But some of Tohoku Shinkansen trains (not Hayabusa and Komachi combination) are operated as these two series combination. Please see Akita Shinkansen post to see the image of E6 series.

Hayabusa formation

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17
R R R R R R R R G GC G R R R R R R

Yamabiko formation

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17
NR NR NR NR NR R R R G GC G NR NR NR NR NR NR

Nasuno formation

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17
NR NR NR NR NR NR R R G GC G NR NR NR NR NR NR

NR:Non Reserved Ordinary class R:Reserved Ordinary class G:Reserved Green class GC:Reserved Gran class

E2 series (images)

Hayate formation

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
NR NR NR NR NR R R R G R

Yamabiko formation

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
NR NR NR NR NR NR NR R G R

Nasuno formation

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
NR NR NR NR NR NR R R G R

R:Reserved Ordinary class seat NR:Non Reserved Ordinary class seat G:Reserved Green class

E5 series + E3 series (previous Komachi fleet)

This E3 series was used as Komachi before E6 series was introduced. This E3 series is the extra train sets for peak hours and seasonal operation. Some of Yamabiko and Nasuno are operated as these two series combination.

Yamabiko formation

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16
NR NR NR NR NR R R R G GC G NR NR NR NR NR

Nasuno formation

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16
NR NR NR NR NR NR R R G GC G NR NR NR NR NR

NR:Non Reserved Ordinary class R:Reserved Ordinary class G:Reserved Green class GC:Reserved Gran class

E2 series + E3 series (images)

*E3 series for Yamagata Shinkansen Tsubasa is sometimes used for Nasuno with E2 series.

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17
NR NR NR NR NR NR R R G R G NR NR NR NR NR NR

NR:Non Reserved Ordinary class R:Reserved Ordinary class G:Reserved Green class GC:Reserved Gran class