Category Archives: News

Hokkaido train operation status in fall 2016. Guide for substitute train and bus service.

Limited Express Okhotsk is suspended currently.
Limited Express Okhotsk is suspended currently.

Tomamu – Obihiro segment will open on 22nd December.

Hokkaido was hit by very severe typhoon in late August. Many train lines are closed by this storm and many trains are suspended currently. Substitute bus service and tentative train are operated but trip time is much longer than original schedule. And also the accommodation of some trains are totally different from Limited Express train interior. It offers just commute train accommodation. It is obviously inconvenient. If you cannot accept this situation, I recommend you to change your trip plan. It may not be a right time to visit there.

Anyway I will guide the substitute train and bus service in this post. Continue reading

Suspension and schedule change of overnight trains, Hokutosei, Cassiopeia and Hamanasu

IMG_0987

JR Hokkaido and JR East have just announced that overnight trains that go through Seikan tunnel will be suspended or schedule changed in this coming fall and winter. As you probably know, Hokkaido Shinkansen will be open in spring 2016. JR Hokkaido will inspect and maintain the tracks and tunnels. That is the reason why this segment will be shut off. Continue reading

Japan Rail Pass will not cover any highway bus service soon.

Overnight highway bus service, Dream
Overnight highway bus service, Dream is very valuable overnight service between Osaka/Kyoto/Nagoya and Tokyo

According to Japan Rail Pass official site, Japan Rail Pass that will be exchanged after April 1, 2013 will not cover any JR Highway bus services any more.

  • Sapporo – Otaru
  • Morioka – Hirosaki
  • Tokyo – Nagoya – Kyoto – Osaka (Daytime highway service)
  • Tokyo – Nagoya/Kyoto/Osaka (Overnight service “Dream”)
  • Osaka – Tsuyama
  • Tokyo – Tsukuba center

Continue reading

Fall JR rapid and local trains unlimited ride ticket 3 days at 7500 yen. Available for both residents and visitors.

Special Rapid Service operated by JR West 223 series.
Special Rapid Service in Kansai area is covered by this pass. It is quite fast.

JR Group sell “Railway anniversary day’s unlimited ride ticket (鉄道の日記念 JR全線乗り放題きっぷ)” in October. Because the first railroad was open between Shinbashi and Yokohama in October 14, 1872. October 14 is railway anniversary day in JR Groups. Especially this year, 2012 is 25th anniversary of JR Group founded. In commemoration of the 25th year, this ticket will be sold at 7,500 yen for three consecutive days. This ticket basically will be sold for the local. So anyone can purchase it. Even though there are some restrictions, such as ticket do not cover any express trains, the residents who cannot purchase special discount ticket, like JR Pass, maybe consider to use this pass. I will show you the details about this ticket. Continue reading

Kyushu Shinkansen 2 days unlimited ride ticket for summer vacation. Kid price is only 1000 yen for 2 days!

Kyushu Shinkansen Tsubasa
Kyushu Shinkansen Tsubasa

JR Kyushu is trying to get more tourist in the last stretch of summer vacation. They will start to sell Kyushu Shinkansen 2 days unlimited ride ticket on August 20, 2012. You can ride non reserved ordinary seat of Kyushu Shinkansen and any trains on conventional lines run parallel with Kyushu Shinkansen. This is very similar to unlimited ride ticket that was sold in this past March. But it was only one day ticket and kid price is 2000 yen. This ticket gives you much better deal. Continue reading

Kyushu Train Operation status. Closed sections due to heavy rain in mid July, 2012

Ltd exp Yufuin no Mori was suspended, but it is back to normal now. (C) Sonic Rail Garden
Ltd exp Yufuin no Mori was suspended, but it is back to normal now. (C) Sonic Rail Garden

Revised, August 4,2013 (Japan time) — All closed section has been opened on this day.

Revised, September 24,2012 (Japan time) — I update these following info when the status has been changed. It seems to take a long time to repair the closed sections on Houhi line and Kyudai line.
*All sections are repaired except the section between Miyaji and Bungo-Takeda on Houhi line. Continue reading

My trip to Kyushu, Tohoku and Hokkaido in 5 days.

Thank you for supporting Japan!
Thank you for supporting Japan!

Dear readers,
I will leave Japan today and head back to Vancouver, Canada. I stayed in Japan for 9 nights and spend 5 days for my trip. It was crazy busy trip. I tried to take a train as many as I could. Continue reading

Please pray for Japan.

Link to Tourism TOHOKU Portal Site

Dear readers,

Thank you for visiting my website, JPRail.com.

As you know, it has been just one year since Tohoku great earthquake and tsunami hit Japan at 14:16 on March 11, 2011.

Japan, especially Tohoku area where was damaged, have been recovering. However Japan still have the radiation issue of Fukushima nuclear power plant and many more problems. Japan still need your support. If you are thinking about traveling Japan, please don’t hesitate to travel. Travelling Japan is a great support. Japan never disappoint you. Although I hope that you can travel the Tohoku area, you can travel Kyoto, Osaka, Kyushu, Hokkaido and any places in Japan. It will be a huge contribution to Japanese economy and a big energy to recovery.

Although I can give you the information about railroad travel in Japan, I am very happy if it helps you to plan your travel Japan and encourage you to travel Japan.

I will be staying in Japan from Mar 13 to Mar 23. I will be travelling many places in Japan. Especially in Tohoku, I have a plan to visit Matsushima, Kakunodate and Aomori. I would like to show you my trip on this website or Facebook.

I know many readers have already been to Japan after earthquake. I know you are a big fan of Japan. I would like to thank you all for supporting Japan.

At last, please pray for Japan today on March 11.

Best Regards,

Takeshi Shimomura
JP Rail.com

Luxury overnight cruising train trip in Kyushu

JR Kyushu have been planning to operate a deluxe overnight train. According to some major newspapers in Japan, JR Kyushu seem to complete the plan. They may start to take a reservation in this coming summer.
This is the first multi-day cruising train trip in Japan. Probably this is much more luxury than Twilight Express and Cassiopeia. I don’t think I can afford this train trip. But it is very interesting. So I would like to share all information that I know at this point. Continue reading

Summary of Japan Railway’s timetable revision in March, 2012

Overnight limited Express train Nihonkai (C) Sonic Rail Garden
Overnight limited Express train Nihonkai will be discontinued as a schedule train. (C) Sonic Rail Garden

Japan Railway usually revise the timetable every March. Hayabusa on Tohoku Shinkansen, Mizuho and Sakura on Kyushu Shinkansen were introduced in this past March. All JR six companies released the outline of next timetable revision in March 2012. I will show you the outline about this timetable revision.

Overnight train, Nihonkai and Kitaguni will be discontinued as a scheduled train.

I already mentioned this news on Twitter. Now it is officially confirmed. Continue reading

Two days unlimited ride on Japan Railways in Tohoku area, Tohoku Ouen Pass

Matsushima is one of three greatest scenery in Japan. ©JNTO
Matsushima is one of three greatest scenery in Japan. ©JNTO

JR East announced that they will sell Tohoku Ouen Pass (東北応援パス). “Ouen (応援)” means Supporting in Japanense. This pass will be sold for supporting Tohoku region where is seriously damaged by the great earthquake in this past March. This pass motivate tourists go to Tohoku region and spend money there to revitalize economy there. Anybody can buy this pass. If you travel outside from Japan, you can buy Japan Rail Pass or JR East Pass. But if you live in Japan as a student or work permit, you cannot buy these pass for visitors. This pass may be considerable for you.

Anyway I would like to share the information about this pass with you. Continue reading

Updated information of train operation status after Typhoon 15

I update information at new Train Operation status page now.

***As of October 1, 2011, I revised most updated information.***

As you know, 15th typhoon hit central and eastern part of Japan. Many trains were suspended and delay from the evening on September 21 to the morning on September 22. Now it is almost back to normal. But we still have some delay and suspension. Please see the following: Continue reading

Operation status on Kii line

Wide View Nanki is suspended between Kumanoshi and Kii Katsuura due to the damage by typhoon. (C)800px-JRC_Kiha85_Series01 / User:Kansai explorer
Wide View Nanki is suspended between Kumanoshi and Kii Katsuura due to the damage by typhoon. (C)800px-JRC_Kiha85_Series01 / User:Kansai explorer

***I updated this following information on November 5, 2011.***

Between Shirahama (白浜) and Kumanoshi (熊野市) on Kii line (紀伊本線) in Kii peninsula were closed due to huge typhoon. JR West and JR Central announced they will complete to restore on December 3, 2011. Continue reading

More chance to get Gran Class on Tohoku Shinkansen on Nov 19, 2011

Gran Class seat on E5 series (C) Sonic Rail Garden
Glan Class seat on E5 series (C) Sonic Rail Garden

Gran Class ticket on Hayabusa is one of Japan Railway’s ticket that is hardest to get. But JR East will add more E5 series train that equips Gran Class. JR East announced that E5 series is going to be used for Hayate and Yamabiko. They offer Gran Class service on Hayate and Yamabiko too! JR East will start to use E5 series for these following trains on November 19, 2011: Continue reading

JR Kyushu will introduce the newest train to Amakusa and Kumamoto area, A ressha de Iko (Take the ‘A’ train)

Kiha 185 series will be remodeled for the newest train. (C) Sonic Rail Garden
Kiha 185 series will be remodeled for the newest train. (C) Sonic Rail Garden

JR Kyushu announce that they will introduce the newest limited express train, “A Ressha de Iko” (A列車で行こう=Take the ‘A’ train) on October 8, 2011. They will operate two round trips of this train on weekends, holidays and Christmas holidays between Kumamoto (熊本) and Misumi (三角). This train stops at only Uto (宇土). The timetable has not been announced yet. I will let you know right after I get.

KIHA 185 series that is used for Trans-Kyushu Limited Express is going to be remodeled. The train is two car formations. Continue reading

JP Rail.com gives you more images!

Overnight express train Hamanasu
Overnight express train Hamanasu

I have a great news for you!
I got an approval to use the images from Sonic Rail Garden. This Japanese website has tons of images. Especially this site has the images of interior. So you can find the details about the accommodations.
I am upgrading my old posts. I did Overnight express train Akebono, Hamanasu, one of the most popular post Sunrise Seto and Surise Izumo. Please see these page and find the details about the trains. I hope you will be satisfied with this upgrade.

I’m going to upgrade one by one and write new post too. Stick around!

Tohoku Shinkansen Hayabusa can be booked online.

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

On Feb 5, 2011, the first Hayabusa was on sale. But the first Hayabusa train to Shin-Aomori from Tokyo was sold out in ONLY 40 seconds!!! The fisrt Hayabusa from Shin-Aomori to Tokyo was sold out in one hour and 30 minutes. I don’t talk about only Gran Class, but any class on Hayabusa. I expected it would be popular. But this is more than what I expected.

I tried to access online site, and check the possibility for the booking of Hayabusa. I made it. Yes, we can.

If you want to book online, access to JR East Shinkanse reservation. You have to be a member. You need to have a credit card to guarantee the booking (not for payment).

Oops!

I read most of the major Japanese news paper. They said Hayabusa was sold out on Mar 5, 2011. But I could book it. I could make a reservation for even Gran Class. I did not click “Submit” on the last page. So I don’t know that the reservation would be completed or not.

Anyway you can make a reservation before you depart from your country. If you want to take Hayabusa, I strongly recommend to book in advance.

Japan Rail Pass can be used for Kyushu Shinkansen. But not for Mizuho

N700-7000 series is new fleet to use for Sakura and Mizuho.
N700-7000 series is new fleet to use for Sakura and Mizuho. (C) Mitsuki-2368

I have received the email from JR West. They confirmed Japan Rail Pass can be used for Kyushu Shinkansen. But Japan Rail Pass can be used for only Sakura that is the second fastest train between Shin-Osaka and Kagoshima-Chuo. We cannot take Mizuho that is the fastest train between Shin-Osaka and Kagoshima-Chuo by Japan Rail Pass. JR West and Kyushu applied same fare table as Nozomi. So Japan Rail Pass does not cover even the basic fare. If you take Mizuho, you have to pay the full fare.

Of course we take Tsubame that is operated between Hakata and Kagoshima-Chuo. If you cannot take Sakura, you can take Hikari or Kodama to Hakata, then transfer to Tsubame.

If you want to see the images of trains’ interior, please see the post, N700 series for Kyushu Shinkansen Mizuho and Sakura

Find your hotels in 218 cities throughout Japan!!!

ANA Hotel Kumamoto New Sky Located by Shirakawa river
Tokyu Hotel Kagoshima Spectacular views of Mt. Sakurajima

Japan Rail Pass can be used for Hayabusa (Revised on Feb 2, 10)

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

Since I have received a response about the extra charge on Green Pass from my reader, I noticed I gave the wrong information. I apologize and revise the informations.

I just received the notice from JR East. I am very happy to confirm that Japan Rail Pass will be able to used for Hayabusa.

Details and conditions

Ordinary Class
Both Japan Rail Pass Ordinary and Green can be used. No extra charge.

Green Class
Japan Rail Pass Green can be used with no extra charge.

Gran Class
Japan Rail Pass cover only the basic fare. If you want to take this class, you have to pay both Limited Express surcharge and Gran Class charge. As of Feb, 2011, the extra charges on Japan Rail Pass are the following:

Tokyo to Sendai : Ltd Exp charge 4,810 yen / Gran Class surcharge 9,000 yen (If you upgrade from Green, surcharge is 4,000 yen Even Green Pass cover only the basic fare.)
Tokyo to Morioka : Ltd Exp charge 5,650 yen / Gran Class surcharge 9,000 yen (If you upgrade from Green, surcharge is 4,000 yen Even Green Pass cover only the basic fare.)
Tokyo to Shin-Aomori : Ltd Exp charge 6.500 yen / Gran Class surcharge 10,000 yen (If you upgrade from Green, surcharge is 5,000 yen Even Green Pass cover only the basic fare.)

If you are looking for the details about Hayabusa, please refer this page. If you are looking for the timetable of Hayabusa, please refer this page.

Tohoku Shinkansen Hayabusa timetable released

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

JR East will start to operate the newest and fastest express train “Hayabusa” on Tohoku Shinkansen on March 5, 2011. They released the timetable for Hayabusa. I will show you that. But Japan Railway still did not announce that Japan Rail Pass can be used for Hayabusa or not. So please wait for that.

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.

Timetable (from Tokyo to Shin-Aomori)

Station / Train Hayabusa 1 Hayabusa 3 Hayabusa 5
to Sendai
Tokyo (東京) 8:12 9:36 21:36
Omiya (大宮) 8:37 10:01 22:01
Sendai (仙台) 9:48 11:12 23:12
Morioka (盛岡) 10:32 11:56
Shin-Aomori (新青森) 11:22 12:46

Timetable (from Shin-Aomori to Tokyo)

Station / Train Hayabusa 2
from Sendai
Hayabusa 4 Hayabusa 6
Shin-Aomori (新青森) 6:10 18:14
Hachinohe (八戸) 6:34
Morioka (盛岡) 7:04 19:04
Sendai (仙台) 6:25 7:49 19:49
Omiya (大宮) 7:35 8:59 20:59
Tokyo (東京) 8:00 9:24 21:24

JR East has Hayabusa special website now. http://www.jreast.co.jp/e5/top-html.html
It’s in Japanese only. But it has tons of images and some English words. You may understand it.

Kyushu Shinkansen tentative schedule after Mar 12 released

kyushu-shinkansen-timetable
Click this image. You will be able to understand how to read Kyushu Shinkansen tentative timetable in Japanese.

As probably you know, Kyushu Shinkansen will be opened all section between Hakata and Kagoshima-Chuo on Mar 12, 2011. JR Kyushu released the tentative schedule. You can see the timetable here(PDF).

But this timetable is only in Japanese. So I made some sample timetable with Japanese-English translation. Before you take a look at the timetable, please click this image.

This timetable consists of 4 page as PDF file. Each page has two directions. The top half of the page is the timetable for Shin-Osaka to Kagoshima-Chuo via Hiroshima, Hakata and Kumamoto. The bottom half is the timetable for Kagoshima-Chuo to Shin-Osaka via Kumamoto, Hakata and Hiroshima.

N700 series will be used as Mizuho and Sakura.
N700 series will be used as Mizuho and Sakura.

We will have four round trips for the fastest train, “Mizuho”. We will have Mizuho or Sakura mostly once an hour between Shin-Osaka and Kaghoshima-Chuo. It takes 3 hours and 46 minutes by Mizuho from Shin-Osaka to Kagoshima-Chuo. It takes about 4 hours to 4 hours 30 minutes by Sakura between Shin-Osaka and Hakata.

We will have four departures an hour between Hakata and Kumamoto, and two departures between Hakata and Kagoshima-Chuo.

Unfortunately JR Group did not announce anything about Japan Rail Pass validity to take these new trains, Mizuho and Sakura. I will let you know right after I get an information.

Find your hotels in 218 cities throughout Japan!!!

ANA Hotel Kumamoto New Sky Located by Shirakawa river
Tokyu Hotel Kagoshima Spectacular views of Mt. Sakurajima

Access to Haneda by Tokyo Monorail is covered now! Japan Rail Pass new rules

Tokyo Monorail
Tokyo Monorail

Tokyo Monorail is included in the pass

As of October 21, 2010, you can use Tokyo monorail that is operated between Haneda airport and Hamamatsucho (浜松町) by Japan Rail Pass. But you cannot exchange the actual pass because there is no Japan Railway station at Haneda airport. That means you cannot take Tokyo Monorail with no extra charge by Japan Rail Pass right after arrival at Haneda airport.

If you want to have more informations about access to Haneda, please refer this page.

Condition changed for taking Aoimori Railway

As of December 4, 2010, JAPAN RAIL PASS can be used for Aoimori Railway Line in the limited cases. If you want to take Ominato line at Noheji station, you can use Aoimori Line from Aomori or Hachinohe. But you cannot get off the train in Aoimori Railway line. And also if you use the overnight train, you have to pay the regular fare and surcharge for Aoimori Railway.

The reason why Japan Railway change the condition is starting to operate Tohoku Shinkansen between Hachinohe and Shin-Aomori. Before Tohoku Shinkansen was started to operate between Hachinohe and Shin-Aomori, this line was owned by Japan Railway. But after that, this section was transfered to the private company, Aoimori Railway. Ominato line was no longer connected with any Japan Railway lines.

Kyushu Shinkasen will be started to operate between Shin-Yatsushiro and Hakata on March 12, 2011. This section will be owned by JR Kyushu after that. I think we will not have any big changes. But Japan Railway did not announce anything about using Japan Rail Pass for Kyushu Shinkansen’ fastest train “Mizuho” and Tohoku Shinkansen’ fastest train “Hayabusa“. I will keep checking and let you know as soon as possible.

*Hayabusa except Glan Calss can be used by Japan Rail Pass. But Mizuho cannot be used by Japan Rail Pass.

Find your hotels in 218 cities throughout Japan!!!

Weekly Mansion Shinagawa Tokyo Weekly apartment for your long stay
Mystays Inn Kamata Tokyo Only 5 minutes from JR Kamata