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

Access to/from Sapporo and Asahikawa. Limited Express Kamui / Lilac

Limited express train Kamui
Limited express train Kamui

These limited express trains, Kamui and Lilac connect Sapporo (札幌) and Asahikawa (旭川). Kamui and Lilac run on exactly same segment. The only difference is accommodation. Only Lilac has Green seat and Kamui does not. But the reserved ordinary seat of Kamui is called “U seat”. It has better seat with some equipment. But it is a sort of Reserved Ordinary seat. So even Japan Rail Pass Ordinary can be used to take this seat.

In this post, I show you the details of these train. 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

Access to/from Sapporo and Hakodate. Limited Express Hokuto / Super Hokuto

Super Hokuto
Most of Hokkaido Limited Express trains are operating for a long transfer.

Hokuto and Super Hokuto are operated between Hakodate (函館) and Sapporo (札幌). These trains are connected with Hakucho/Super Hakucho at Hakodate. So if you want to transfer from Tokyo to Sapporo, take Tohoku Shinkansen, Hakucho/Super Hakucho (Shinaomori-Hakodate) and then take these train at Hakodate to Sapporo. Japan Rail Pass cover all these trains from Tokyo to Sapporo. You may have other choices from Tokyo to Sapporo. Even though this is very long trip, there are many trains and this is the easiest to get the ticket. Continue reading

Sample itinerary Four world heritage sites (Shirakawago, Kyoto, Hiroshima and Miyajima), Kanazawa and Kyoto 7 days by Japan Rail Pass

Light-up at Kiyomizu-dera temple
Light-up at Kiyomizu-dera temple
Light-up at Kiyomizu-dera temple
Light-up at Kiyomizu-dera temple

This itinerary includes four world heritage sites, Shirakawa-go, Kyoto, Hiroshima and Miyajima. This also includes two popular sites, Takayama and Kanazawa.

We don’t use Japan Rail Pass for the transfer to downtown Tokyo from Narita airport because most of tourists stay in Tokyo for the first several days. You will start to use your pass from Tokyo station. If you want to learn how to use Japan Rail Pass, please refer to How to use Japan Rail Pass to its maximum. Continue reading

How to access to Shirakawago from Takayama, Kanazawa, Takaoka and Toyama.

Very popular scene of Shirakawago from Tenshukaku view point
Very popular scene of Shirakawago from Tenshukaku view point

Shirakawago is known as UNESCO World heritage site and it is very very popular destination among oversea tourist in these days. You cannot access to this village by any train services. But there are many bus routes available from many cities around Shirakawago, such as Takayama, Kanazawa and some more.

In this post, I would like to share the information about access to Shirakawago, basic information of this village and some deals to cover the trip to Shirakawago. 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

Passenger’s review of “Hikari Railstar”

Hikari Rail Star at Okayama station
Hikari Rail Star at Okayama station

I took Hikari Rail Star from Okayama to Hiroshima on the way to Miyajima. This Hikari has a different paint from the regular Hikari. It is gray and orange. 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

No extra charge with Japan Rail Pass to take this overnight train! Passenger’s review of "Sunrise Seto"

Sunrise Seto / Sunrise Izumo

I took “Sunrise Seto” from Tokyo to Takamatsu on April 23, 2010.

I reserved “Nobi Nobi seat”. This is one of the reserved seat. But I could lie down to sleep. It seemed to be a berth. 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

Overnight train to/from Tokyo and Izumoshi via Okayama, Sunrise Izumo. JR Pass user can take with no extra charge!

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Sunrise Izumo is the Overnight train that operated between Tokyo and Yonago, Matsue and Izumo-shi in Sanin area. This train is combined with Sunrise Seto between Tokyo and Okayama.

Some of overnight train consist of the bedroom and the berth only. This train has the reserved seat. So Japan Rail Pass holder can take this train without the extra. This reserved seat is called “Nobi Nobi Seat”. It is like a berth and much more comfortable than the coach type seat. You can lie on the seat. And you have some privacy because there is a small partition between the seat and the seat.

But some of Japan Rail Pass users want to take a bedroom or another choice even though additional will be charged. Let’s see the accommodation of Sunrise Seto. Continue reading

Overnight train to/from Tokyo and Takamatsu via Okayama, Sunrise Seto. JR Pass user can take with no extra charge!

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Sunrise Seto is the Overnight train that operated between Tokyo and Takamatsu in Shikoku island. This train is combined with Sunrise Izumo between Tokyo and Okayama. This train depart late night and arrive early morning. If you want to save the time, this train is the perfect choice.

(Please see my passenger’s review too)

Some of overnight train consist of the bedroom and the berth only. This train has the reserved seat. So Japan Rail Pass holder can take this train without the extra. This reserved seat is called “Nobi Nobi Seat”. It is like a berth and much more comfortable than the coach type seat. You can lie on the seat. And you have some privacy because there is a small partition between the seat and the seat.

But some of Japan Rail Pass users want to take a bedroom or another choice even though additional will be charged. Let’s see the accommodation of Sunrise Seto. Continue reading

Save time and money! Learn more about Overnight Trains. Which overnight train can we take with no extra charge by JR Pass?

Overnight train Hamanasu runs between Aomori and Sapporo. It is very useful train to get Hokkaido. But it may be discontinued when Hokkaido Shiknansen open.
Overnight train Hamanasu runs between Aomori and Sapporo. It is very useful train to get Hokkaido. But it may be discontinued when Hokkaido Shiknansen open.

Japan Railways used to operate many overnight trains. But in these days, many of those train services were discontinued. Now the choice is very limited. 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

Direct transfer to Yamagata and Shinjo, Yamagata Shinkansen (bullet train)

Yamagata Shinkansen
Yamagata Shinkansen E3 series.

Yamagata Shinkansen is operated between Fukushima and Yamagata and Shinjo. But all train services are provided to/from Tokyo and go through Tohoku Shinkansen between Tokyo and Fukushima. It is usually coupled with Tohoku Shikansen “Yamabiko” between Tokyo and Fukushima. At Fukushima station, these trains are uncoupled. Yamagata Shinkansen go toward to Yamagata and Shinjo.

Yamagata Shikansen is sometimes called Mini Shinkansen. Because technically it is not “Real” Shinkansen. It is smaller and slower than common Shinkansen because of sharing the truck with the local trains between Fukushima and Shinjo via Yamagata.

In this post, I would like to show many photos of Yamagata Shinkansen train and explain about this train. 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

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

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

Japan Rail Pass and rail travel in Japan complete guide. Let's use the Japan Rail Pass to its maximum!!!