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Schedule of 2017 summer seasonal trains of Japan Railways

Rapid train, Kira Kira Uetsu runs between Niigata and Sakata on Uetsu line along the coast.

I cannot say that summer is the best season to visit Japan. It’s very hot and very humid. But it’s vacation season anyway. School summer break kick off on July 20 in most of area. And mid August is called “Obon”. It is one of the busiest period in the year. If you travel in this period, train may be booked out quickly. Please see the details in the link below:

2017 busiest period to travel by train. Tips to book your seat in even busy period

JR Group operate lots of seasonal trains during summer season. In this post, I show you many seasonal trains that will run in major tourist spots until the end of September.

*Autumn seasonal train schedule (October to November) will come up in late August. But you will find all schedules until February, 2018 for trains in Kyushu. Continue reading

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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Cruising train Izu Creile offers you very comfortable train experience to Izu peninsula from Odawara.

Izu Creile runs along very scenic shoreline in Izu peninsula.

Izu Creile was introduced in summer 2016. It runs between Odawara and Izukyu-Shimoda via Atami, Ito, other major spots in Izu peninsula as seasonal cruising train. It has very nice interior and you can enjoy very scenic view of shoreline from the large panoramic window.

I have received many photos of this train from my reader, James. Now I can write about this train with many beautiful pictures from James. Thank you very much for your support, James!

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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

Limited time operation. Specialized Shinkansen train 500 TYPE EVA

2016 winter Japan trip 1168

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

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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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

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

Toreiyu Tsubasa. First ever Shinkansen train that has foot bath.

The first ever Shinkansen cruise train, Toreiyu Tsubsa. (C) James Chuang
The first ever Shinkansen cruise train, Toreiyu Tsubsa. (C) James Chuang

Shinkansen run as fast intercity transfer. But this train, “Toreiyu Tsubsa” shows us completely different concept as Shinkansen train. This Shinkansen train does not run very fast. It stops at all stations and it gives you warm atmosphere to spend the time in the train with your family or friend.

My reader, James and Tak gave us many photos of this train. I would like to share the photos and information with you.
I would like to thank you, James and Tak for sharing the beautiful photos. Continue reading

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

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

Tokaido and Sanyo Shinkansen (Bullet Train), Most popular train to Kyoto, Osaka, Hiroshima and Hakata from Tokyo.

Shinkansen is the high speed train service in Japan. It is known as Bullet Train too.
Shinkansen is the high speed train service in Japan. It is known as Bullet Train too.

Tokaido Shinkansen is the oldest and busiest Shinkasen line and it is operated between Tokyo, Nagoya, Kyoto and Osaka. Sanyo Shinkansen is operated between Osaka, Okayama, Hiroshima and Hakata (Fukuoka). Both lines are connected each other. Many trains, “Nozomi” that is the fastest train on Tokaido-Sanyo Shinkansen, run from Tokyo to Hiroshima and some of those run to even Hakata.

Most of Hikari run between Tokyo and Shin-Osaka, But some of those run to Okayama and Hiroshima.

Sanyo Shinkansen connected to Kyushu Shinkansen at Hakata. Many trains, Mizuho and Sakura are operated between Shin-Osaka and KUmamoto or Kagoshima-Chuo directly. Please see the post, Kyushu Shinkansen to get details.

Many of you will use this train system between Osaka/Kyoto and Tokyo. In this post, I would like to share the information of this train system with you. Continue reading

Direct access to Fukuoka (Hakata), Kumamoto, Kagoshima from Osaka. Kyushu Shinkansen

Kyushu Shinkansen Tsubasa
Kyushu Shinkansen Tsubasa

Kyushu Shinkansen runs between Hakata and Kagoshima-Chuo. But many trains run from Shin-Osaka and carry many passengers from Kansai area to Kyushu. This is the best way to get Kyushu from Osaka and Hiroshima. But some trains are not covered by JR Pass. I would like to show you about this Shinkansen system in this post. 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.

Continue reading

Sanyo Shinkansen image gallery. Check the interior and accommodations.

The logo of Hikari Rail Star
The logo of Hikari Rail Star

Sanyo Shinkansen is operated between Shin-Osaka and Hakata. But Sanyo Shinkansen is connected with Tokaido Shinkansen (from Nagoya, Kyoto and Tokyo) at Shin-Osaka and Kyushu Shinkansen (from Kumamoto and Kagoshima) at Hakata.

Most of trains run from Tokyo (Nozomi and Hikari) are operated by Tokaido Shinkansen fleet, 700 series or N700 series. If you look for the images of these trains, please see Tokaido Shinkansen image gallery.

Most of trains to Kyushu, such as Kumamoto or Kagoshima-chuo (Mizuho and Sakura) are operated by Kyushu Shinkansen fleet, N700 series. If you look for the image of this train, please see N700 series for Kyushu Shinkansen Mizuho and Sakura.

In this post, I show you the images of 700 series and 500 series. These train sets are used as “Kodama” (stops at all stations) of Sanyo Shinkansen.

And you can find 800 series of Kyushu Shinkansen segment (Hakata – Kagoshima-Chuo) at Kyushu Shinkansen.

*Sonic Rail Garden has copyright for all images below.
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Tokaido Shinkansen image gallery. Check the interior and accommodations.

Original Shinkansen 0 series. It has been already disused.
Original Shinkansen 0 series. It has been already disused.

We cannot think about the travel in Japan without Shinkansen. Especially Tokaido Shinkansen (Tokyo-Shin Osaka) can be used for transfer to Kyoto and Osaka from Tokyo. Most of travellers take this Shinkansen once or more. Probably you want to see the interior of Shinkansen trains. There are several types of trains to be operated on Tokaido Shinkansen. I show you all types of trains of Tokaido Shinkansen trains. And also most of Tokaido Shinkansen trains go through on Sanyo Shinkansen between Shin-Osaka and Hakata. So if you take Sanyo Shinkansen, this post may be useful for you too.

*Sonic Rail Garden has copyright for all images below.
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What is Shinkansen (bullet train)? Most convenient and the fastest train service throughout Japan.

Shinkansen

Shinkansen (新幹線) is high speed train service that is operated by JR. It is one of the fastest train in world and sometimes called “Bullet Train”. JR has this high speed train network throughout Japan. You can save lots of your trip time by using this train system.

Most of you use this train system in your trip. I would like to share the basic information about this train system, Shinkansen. Continue reading

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 Mito, Katsuta and Iwaki from Ueno. Limited Express Hitachi and Tokiwa

E657 series is one of the newest fleets and is used for Limited Express Hitachi and Tokiwa.
E657 series is one of the newest fleets and is used for Limited Express Hitachi and Tokiwa.

Limited Express Hitachi (ひたち) and Tokiwa (ときわ) are operated mostly between Shinagawa, Tokyo, Ueno and Katsuta, Iwaki via Mito on Joban line. These trains were operated as Super Hitachi and Fresh Hitachi from Ueno station before March 13, 2015. After that, these trains depart from Shinagawa station via Tokyo station. It is much more convenient to get on this train from Tokyo now. These trains connect most of cities along the coast side in Ibaragi and southern part of Fukushima.

If you travel to Mito, Iwaki, Yumoto Hot Springs resort, this train gives you directly transfer from Tokyo, Shinagawa and Ueno.

This train is fully covered by Japan Rail Pass. I will tell you the details about this train. 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

SL Hakodate Christmas Fantasy. Enjoy winter scenery between Hakodate and Onuma.

SL Hakodate Christmas Fantasy arrived at Onuma-Koen station. (C) Takuji Okubo

Before you read this article, I would like to let you know that this post is written by one of my frequent visitor, Takuji san. He offered me to share his experience about SL Hakodate Christmas Fantasy train. I would like to thank you, Takuji san for your work.

*This train was discontinued in December, 2014.

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It’s December, Christmas is coming soon and I would like to introduce a train of the festive season. This steam train with Christmas decoration runs in Hakodate Hokkaido area during the Christmas season every year. “On the seasonal SL train “Hakodate Christmas Fantasy”, our train crews wear Santa Clouse costume to bring the mood for Christmas.” (JR Hokkaido) I have taken this train in 2010 and I would like to share the information. Continue reading

Limited Express Ayame. Access to Kashima-Jingu and Choshi

Limited Express Ayame by E257-500 series (C) 800px-JRE_seriesE257_type500_LimitedExpressAyame - E3uematsu
Limited Express Ayame by E257-500 series (C) 800px-JRE_seriesE257_type500_LimitedExpressAyame – E3uematsu

This train has been discontinued in March 2015.

Limited Express Ayame (あやめ) is operated between Tokyo (東京) and Choshi (銚子), Kashima-Jingu (鹿島神宮). Choshi is well know as home of soy sauce and fishing port. Kashima-Jingu is one of the most famous shrine in Japan.

Let’s see this trains’ route, schedule and accommodations. Continue reading