Tag Archives: Hakodate

Sample itinerary Tokyo, Kyoto, Osaka and Hokkaido 10 days by Japan Rail Pass 7 days

Clock Tower is Sapporo’s icon.

I have posted the sample itinerary that includes Kyoto, Osaka and Hokkaido before. But at that time, Hokkaido Shinkansen was not open. Current train schedule and operation are completely different from that time. At this time, I revise all train schedule and update the information. And I add many more detailed information and help you to build your plan much more.

In this post, I would like to share this new itinerary. It is 10 days trip plan but I used 7 days JR pass. Local deals are added at the beginning and the end of the trip to shrink the total cost. But mostly JR pass covers the trip. Actually JR Pass 7 days gives you super saving! Continue reading

Schedule of 2016 fall seasonal trains of Japan Railways

Fall foliage light up at Ninose station of Eizan Railway in Kyoto (C) Nkensei GFDL  or CC-BY-SA-3.0, via Wikimedia Commons
Fall foliage light up at Ninose station of Eizan Railway in Kyoto (C) Nkensei GFDL or CC-BY-SA-3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Autumn is the best season to travel in Japan. The climate is very mild and the scenery of fall foliage is breathtaking. JR will operate many seasonal trains for autumn high volume demand.

It is too many to introduce all seasonal trains. So I pick up the trains that run in the popular spots only. Continue reading

Crazy? But not impossible. Sample plan of day trip to Hakodate from Tokyo

Night view form Mt.Hakodate ©Hokkaido Tourism Organization/© JNTO
Night view form Mount Hakodate (C) Hokkaido Tourism Organization / JNTO

Hokkaido is very popular spot among foreign travelers. Hokkaido has nice yummy food, very attractive sightseeing spots and very different culture from mainland Japan. But some of you have short stay in Japan. You may not have enough time to visit Hokkaido. If you want to visit Hokkaido, I usually recommend you to spend 3 days minimum. However if you are okay to visit just the edge of Hokkaido, that is Hakodate, and okay with the short stay, you can visit Hakodate as day trip from Tokyo.

In this post, I will show you how to manage the day trip to Hakodate from Tokyo. Continue reading

Schedule of 2016 summer seasonal trains of Japan Railways

The newest Shinkansen train, Genbi Shinkansen runs between Echigo-Yuzawa and Niigata.
The newest Shinkansen train, Genbi Shinkansen runs between Echigo-Yuzawa and Niigata.

In Japan, the peak period during summer time is mid August that is called “Obon”. Most of Japanese go back to hometown and spend the time with family. All transportation will be busy from major cities at the beginning and back to major cities at the end. I wrote the busy dates and some tips to avoid this situation at the link below:

2016 busiest period to travel by train. Tips to book your seat in even busy period.

And also, the public school is closed from July 20 to August 31 for summer break. This period is busier than usual too.

JR Group operate lots of seasonal trains during summer season. Especially JR Group add lots of extra trains. It is too many to introduce all seasonal trains. So I pick up the popular trains and are operated in the popular spot. Continue reading

JR East-South Hokkaido Rail Pass user guide. Perfect deal for the travelers who visit Tokyo and Sapporo by train.

Night view form Mt.Hakodate ©Hokkaido Tourism Organization/© JNTO
Night view form Mt.Hakodate. Hakodate is one of the popular places in Hokkaido. ©Hokkaido Tourism Organization/© JNTO

This brand new pass will be released in April, 2016. This pass covers Narita airport, Greater Tokyo, Gala Yuzawa, Nikko, whole part of Tohoku region, Hakodate, Otaru, Noboribetsu, Lake Toya and Sapporo. You also may use this pass to get Lake Kawaguchi and Hakone even though this pass covers these trips partially. You cannot use this pass to get central, northern and eastern Hokkaido, such as Furano, Asahikawa, Shiretoko, Kushiro. Japan Rail Pass (a.k.a. JR Pass) is better choice if you intend to visit these places.

In this post, I would like to show you the detail of this pass. And I show you some sample rate and compare the pass value and single fares. You may find this suits your plan or not. Continue reading

Schedule of 2016 spring seasonal trains of Japan Railways

EVA Type 500 train runs as regular scheduled Kodama on Sanyo Shinkansen.
EVA Type 500 train runs as regular scheduled Kodama on Sanyo Shinkansen.

Spring is the best season to visit Japan because of the cherry blossom. And also between late April and the beginning of May is one of the busiest period. It is called “Golden Week” in Japan. April 29, May 3, 4, and 5 are National holidays.

2016 Golden Week Calendar
Apr 29 (Fri) Holiday
Apr 30 (Sat)
May 1 (Sun)
May 2 (Mon)
May 3 (Tue) Holiday
May 4 (Wed) Holiday
May 5 (Thu) Holiday
May 6 (Fri)
May 7 (Sat)
May 8 (Sun)

May 2 and May 6 are regular weekday. But many residents in Japan will take extra day off and make longer holidays. Therefore it will be very busy from April 29 to May 8. I recommend you to avoid travelling during this period. I’m not surprised if trains are booked out.

JR Group operate lots of seasonal trains during all spring season. Especially JR Group add lots of the extra trains on those above holidays. It is too many to introduce all seasonal trains. So I pick up the popular trains and are operated in the popular spot. 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.

Continue reading

Schedule of 2015 fall seasonal trains of Japan Railways

Setouchi Marine View runs between Hiroshima and Mihara via Kure line along the shore of Setonaikai sea.
Setouchi Marine View runs between Hiroshima and Mihara via Kure line along the shore of Setonaikai sea.

Autumn is the best season to travel in Japan. The climate is very mild and fall foliage is amazing. JR will operate many seasonal trains and introduce some new trains.

It is too many to introduce all seasonal trains. So I pick up the trains that run in the popular spots only. Continue reading

Schedule of 2015 summer seasonal trains of Japan Railways

Overnight train Hokutosei will be done in this summer. The last departure is August 22 from Sapporo.
Overnight train Hokutosei will be done in this summer. The last departure is August 22 from Sapporo.

In Japan, the peak period during summer time is mid August that is called “Obon”. Most of Japanese go back to hometown and stay with family. All transportation will be busy from major cities at the beginning and back to major cities at the end. In 2015, the following dates will be busy.

Outgoing (from major cities) — August 12 and 13. Maybe August 7, 8 and 9
Incoming (to major cities( — August 15 and 16

If you travel during this period, I recommend you to avoid to make a trip to same direction as local tourist. It will be super busy.

And also, the public school is closed from July 20 to August 31 for summer break. This period is busier than usual too.

JR Group operate lots of seasonal trains during summer season. Especially JR Group add lots of extra trains. It is too many to introduce all seasonal trains. So I pick up the popular trains and are operated in the popular spot. Continue reading

Schedule of 2015 spring seasonal trains of Japan Railways

"Ohanami" is very popular outside party with viewing cherry blossom.  © Y.Shimizu/© JNTO
“Ohanami” is very popular outside party with viewing cherry blossom. © Y.Shimizu/© JNTO

Spring is the best season to visit Japan because of the cherry blossom. And also between late April and the beginning of May is one of the busiest period. It is called “Golden Week” in Japan. April 29, May 3, 4, and 5 are National holidays. I recommend you to avoid travelling on those days. It’s not surprised if trains are full.

JR Group operate lots of seasonal trains during all spring season. Especially JR Group add lots of the extra trains on those above holidays. It is too many to introduce all seasonal trains. So I pick up the popular trains and are operated in the popular spot. Continue reading

Schedule of 2014 fall seasonal trains of Japan Railways

Furano Biei Norokko train goes on Furano line. (C) 800px-Norokkogou-furano-biei / Birdman
Furano Biei Norokko train takes you one of most popular spot, Furano and Biei. (C) 800px-Norokkogou-furano-biei / Birdman

Fall season is very popular to travel in Japan. Fall foliage is amazing. Weather is very nice. It’s highly recommended to train in this season.

Many seasonal trains will run during this season. I show you seasonal trains information mostly for September, October and November, 2014 in this post.

It is too many to introduce all seasonal trains. So I pick up the trains that run in the popular spots only. 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

Schedule of 2013 summer seasonal trains of Japan Railways

Furano Biei Norokko train goes on Furano line. (C) 800px-Norokkogou-furano-biei / Birdman
Furano Biei Norokko train takes you one of most popular spot, Furano and Biei. (C) 800px-Norokkogou-furano-biei / Birdman

In Japan, summer school break start from mid July and until end of August. And Obon period in mid August is one of two busiest period in Japan. (Other one is New Years day break) Most of train will be packed. There are so many standing passengers on isle and passenger’s deck.

JR Group operate lots of seasonal trains in this summer season too. Especially in Obon period, so many additional trains will run. It is too many to introduce all seasonal trains. So I pick up the popular trains and are operated in the popular spot. Continue reading

Schedule of 2013 spring seasonal trains of Japan Railways

One of the famous hot springs, Kinosaki Onsen is also a nice place to see cherry blossom. ©Toyooka City/©JNTO
One of the famous hot springs, Kinosaki Onsen is also a nice place to see cherry blossom. ©Toyooka City/©JNTO

Spring is the best season to travel. The cherry blossom can be seen throughout Japan from late March to late April. And also between late April and the beginning of May is one of the busiest period. It is called “Golden Week” in Japan. April 29, May 3, 4, and 5 are National holidays. If you can, lease try to avoid travelling on those days. Many trains are almost full.

JR Group operate lots of seasonal trains during all spring season. Especially JR Group add lots of the extra trains on those above holidays. It is too many to introduce all seasonal trains. So I pick up the popular trains and are operated in the popular spot. 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.

——————————

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

Hokkaido Rail Pass. The best deal for rail trip in Hokkaido for oversea visitors.

World famous Sapporo Snow Festival (C) Yasufumi Nishi / (C) JNTO
World famous Sapporo Snow Festival (C) Yasufumi Nishi / (C) JNTO

If you will travel in Hokkaido only, Hokkaido Rail Pass is the best choice for you. But if you travel in other cities and areas, even just staying in Tokyo, you may consider about other passes. You should compare and find which one is more suitable for you.

In this post, I show you the details about Hokkaido Rail Pass. And I will compare Hokkaido Rail Pass and Japan Rail Pass Continue reading

My trip from Hakodate to Ueno (Tokyo) on March 20, 2012 by sleeper train Hokutosei

I arrived at Hakodate from Minami-Chitose by Ltd Exp Hokuto 183 series. (C) JP Rail
I arrived at Hakodate from Minami-Chitose by Ltd Exp Hokuto 183 series. (C) JP Rail

(Read previous post)

This is the last post of my trip to Tohoku and Hokkaido in this past March. I will write about visiting in Hakodate and getting on sleeper express train, Hokutosei in this post. As probably you know, Hokutosei is one of the train that is very hard to book. I will tell you how I did it. Continue reading

My trip from Sapporo to Otaru and Hakodate on March 20, 2012 by Rapid Airport and Limited Express Hokuto

Odori koen (Odori Park) is one of the popular spot in Sapporo. (C) JP Rail
Odori koen (Odori Park) is one of the popular spot in Sapporo. (C) JP Rail

I had a trip from Aomori to Sapporo by Overnight Express Hamanasu on March 19, 2012. After arrival in Sapporo, I continued my trip in southern part of Hokkaido in just one day. I knew this was very busy trip. But I wanted to visit as many as possible.

Even though my itinerary was too busy to recommend you, my experience may give you some ideas to plan your trip. Continue reading

Hakodate station guide. How to change the train, Super Hakucho, Super Hokuto and other local trains.

Hakodate station building (C) JP Rail
Hakodate station building (C) JP Rail

On March 26, 2016, Hokkaido Shinkansen was opened and Shin-Hakodate-Hokuto station was opened. Hakodate is not transfer point to get Aomori any more. You may get Aomori, Morioka, Sendai and Tokyo by Hokkaido Shinkansen from Shin-Hakodate-Hokuto. It takes about 20 minutes between Shin-Hakodate-Hokuto and Hakodate.

I wrote about Shin-Aomori station on the previous post. Most of travellers who go to Hokkaido get on Tohoku Shinkansen from Tokyo to Shin-Aomori, and then Limited Express Super Hakucho from Shin-Aomori to Hakodate. Now it is time to transfer to Limited Express Super Hokuto/Hokuto to Sapporo at Hakodate. This will be your first step on Hokkaido!

I show you map and images. You may know how to transfer the trains, Super Hakucho and Super Hokuto. And also I show you about Hakodate station. Continue reading

Schedule of 2012 summer seasonal trains of Japan Railways

Some of Furano Lavender Express are operated by Kiha183 Crystal Express train.
Some of Furano Lavender Express are operated by Kiha183 Crystal Express train.

In summer season, the busiest period is mid August. This period is called “Obon (お盆)”. Everybody try to go back to hometown in this period. In this year 2012, August 10 to 19 will be Obon period. Especially the direction to go out from major cities on Aug 10-12 and the direction to go into major cities on Aug 17-19 will be much busier. These dates are weekend days. Everybody will try to move on these dates. If you travel in this period, try to go opposite direction. It makes you to travel much easier.

JR Group operate lots of seasonal trains during all summer season and increase the number of trains in Obon period. It is too many to introduce all seasonal trains. So I pick up the popular trains and are operated in the popular spot. Continue reading

Another idea of overnight transfer to Hokkaido, using ferry service between Aomori and Hakodate

Tsugaru Kaikyo Ferry
Tsugaru Kaikyo Ferry

In this website, the pages of overnight trains, such as Twilight Express, Cassiopeia, Hokutosei and Hamansu, are very popular. You can save time and money to take an overnight train. I understand why it is so popular. However as I explained you about reservation in the post “How to reserve seat”, we do not have any online reservation to get a seat or berth before departure. I already explained about the alternatives of several overnight trains in the following links:

Alternatives of Overnight train Twilight Express
Alternatives of Overnight train Cassiopeia and Hokutosei

But these alternatives on the above links are not enough. I think most of travellers are very stressful because they cannot reserve a seat before departure. Now I would like to share the information about another option to get Hokkaido by overnight transfer. It is the ferry services between Aomori and Hakodate. It is not covered by Japan Rail Pass. But the fare starts from 1710 yen and they have a midnight ferry service too. It may be considerable for some of the travellers. Let’s see the details. Continue reading

Schedule of 2011-12 winter seasonal trains

KIHA183 Crystal Express is one of the trains to use for Tomamu-Sahoro Express trains. (C) Sonic Rail Garden
KIHA183 Crystal Express is one of the trains to use for Tomamu-Sahoro Express trains. (C) Sonic Rail Garden

Some part of winter season is the busiest period. Especially in Japan, New Years holidays are crazy busy. In this year, December 30, 11 (Fri) and January 4, 12 (Sun) will be busiest days. Please try to avoid taking a train on those days. the vehicle occupancy rate may be more than 200%. Sometimes it is almost impossible to get in or out from the train.

Even though Japan is very small country, Japan have several climate zone. It is icy freeeeeezing weather in Hokkaido. South part of Kyushu have very mild weather. It is very interesting season to travel. But if you travel in Hokkaido, Tohoku or Hokuriku region, please expect the delay due to snow. I do not recommend you to make a tight schedule.

Anyway JR Group operate lots of seasonal trains during all winter season. But it is too many to introduce all seasonal trains. So I pick up the popular trains and are operated in the popular spot. Continue reading

Throughout Japan 14 days sample itinerary by Japan Rail Pass 14 days pass

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

This itinerary includes many popular spots throughout Japan in 14 days. This itinerary starts from Tokyo. But if you want to start from Osaka, you can start from Day 11 to Day 14, and then start from Day 1 to Day10. Actually 14 days in not enough to see all popular spots in Japan. I include Hokkaido in this itinerary. But it does not include Shiretoko because of not enough time. I could not include south part of Kyushu, Hakone and Mt. Fuji either. If you can give up Tohoku part, you can get more time in Hokkaido. Of course you can go to Shiretoko.

Anyway this is a sample. I hope this sample itinerary help you When you make your own plan. Continue reading

Ekiben (Boxed meal at the station or in the train) in Hokkaido

Oshamanbe Kanimeshi is one of the most well known Ekiben in Japan.
Oshamanbe Kanimeshi is one of the most well known Ekiben in Japan.

Bento (弁当) is the classic boxed meal in Japan. Especially Bento that is sold at station is called “Ekiben”. “Eki” (駅) means station and “Ben” (弁) is an abbreviation of the Bento. Major department store hold an exhibition that show many Ekiben from all over Japan very often. Ekiben is one of the food culture in Japan. Nobody knows how many Ekiben we have in Japan now. According to Ekiben archives, it says more than 3000 Ekiben in Japan. Even though I pick up the popular Ekibens, it is too many to share the information with you in one post. First of all, I would like to show you the popular Ekiben in Hokkaido with you. Continue reading

Two most popular spots in 7 days! Sample itinerary Kyoto and Hokkaido 7 days by Japan Rail Pass 7 days pass

Kinkakuji temple in Kyoto ©Akira Okada/©JNTO
Kiyomizu-dera temple in Kyoto ©Akira Okada/©JNTO

I received some questions about possibility visiting Kyoto and Hokkaido in only 7 days. So I show you itinerary about Kyoto and Hokkaido.
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.

Day 1
06:23am Depart from Tokyo station by Tokaido Shinkansen Hikari 501.
09:15am Arrive at Kyoto station. After arrival, enjoy exploring in Kyoto.
*Hikari departs at Tokyo station every 30 minutes. If you want to depart a bit later, you can take later Hikari. If you arrive at Narita or Haneda early morning, you can transfer to Kyoto on the arrival day.
*You can start this itinerary from Osaka / Kansai airport

Day 2
Full day free in Kyoto

Dotonbori(道頓堀) is most popular spot in downtown Osaka.
Dotonbori(道頓堀) is most popular spot in downtown Osaka.

Day 3
Transfer to Osaka station. You can take a local train to Osaka. Shin-Kaisoku (新快速=Rapid urban service) will take you to Osaka from Kyoto in 30 minutes. Shin-Kaisoku departs at Kyoto every 15 minutes. After arrival, exploring in downtown Osaka.
24:34(00:34 in Day 4) Take Sunrise Seto/Izumo at Osaka station. Overnight in the train.

Day 4
07:08am Arrive at Tokyo station
07:32am Depart from Tokyo station for Shin-Aomori by Tohoku Shinkansen Hayate 15.
11:09am Arrive at Shin-Aomori station.
11:35am Depart from Shin-Aomori station for Hakodate by Limited Express Super Hakucho 15.
13:44pm Arrive at Hakodate station.
14:00pm Depart from Hakodate station by Limited Express Hokuto 11.
15:55pm Arrive at Date-Monbetsu. Catch a local bus to Toyako Onsen (洞爺湖温泉=Lake Toya Hot Springs Resort). Additional fare is 580 yen for one way.
Enjoy Japanese Onsen!

Day 5
Take a local bus to Date-Monbetsu station.
10:15am Depart from Date-Monbetsu station for Sapporo by Limited Express Super Hokuto 3.
11:47am Arrive at Sapporo. After arrival, enjoy sightseeing Sapporo or short trip to Otaru.

Downtown Sapporo  © Y.Shimizu/© JNTO
Downtown Sapporo © Y.Shimizu/© JNTO

Day 6
10:37am Depart from Sapporo station for Hakodate by Limited Express Super Hokuto 10.
13:52pm Arrive at Hakodate station. After arrival, enjoy exploring in Hakodate.

Day 7
11:19am Depart from Hakodate for Shin-Aomori by Limited Express Hakucho 29.
13:28pm Arrive at Shin-Aomori station
13:42pm Depart from Shin-Aomori by a href=”http://jprail.com/trains/tohoku-shinkansen.html”>Tohoku Shinkansen Hayate 28.
17:08pm Arrive at Tokyo.
*If you start this itinerary, take Tokaido Shinkansen Hikari from Tokyo to Shin-Osaka. We still have lots of Hikari bound for Shin-Osaka.