Tag Archives: Sapporo

Furano Biei Norokko train, Easy rail trip around Furano area for everyone.

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

Furano (富良野) is one of most popular spot in Hokkaido. Especially July is the busiest season because the bloom of Lavender. You can enjoy Furano in not only summer season but also autumn. You may see the fall color leaves in September. The scenery in autumn is breathtaking too. Furano can be accessed directly from Sapporo (札幌) by Limited Express Furano Lavender Express / Furano Koyo Express from July to mid October. There are three round trips in the peak season. But if you want to have a nice rail excursion and enjoy the scenery from the train, I recommend you to take this train “Furano Biei Norokko train” (富良野・美瑛ノロッコ号). Of course you can take this train by Japan Rail Pass with no extra charge. Let’s see the details about this train. Continue reading

Direct transfer to Furano from Sapporo. Limited Express Furano Lavender Express / Furano Koyo Express

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

Furano Lavender Express (フラノラベンダーエクスプレス) and Furano Koyo Express (フラノ紅葉エクスプレス) are limited express trains to Furano (富良野) directly from Sapporo (札幌). These trains can be used by Japan Rail Pass with no extra charge. Furano is one of very popular spot in Hokkaido for the tourists. These trains are the seasonal operation trains because the lavender season in summer time and the fall color leaves in September are busy periods. So when you build your itinerary, please check the latest operation date before you put this train in your plan.

Seasonal trains information.

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

Overnight express train Cassiopeia, very popular overnight train between Tokyo and Sapporo

Cassiopeia is most popular overnight train in Japan.
Cassiopeia is most popular overnight train in Japan.

*This train was discontinued in March 2016.

Cassiopeia is operated between Ueno and Sapporo. This train is like Japanese version Oriental Express and is the most luxurious in three luxurious overnight trains (other two are Twilight Express and Hokutosei) in Japan.

If you want to take this train by Japan Rail Pass, you need to pay some extra charges. You have to pay Limited Express surcharge and the accommodation fee. And also this train goes through non Japan Railway line between Morioka and Aomori. So you have to pay the basic fare for this non Japan Railway line. Even though you have to pay lots of the extra on Japan Rail Pass, many Japan Rail Pass user are interesting in this train. So I tell you that the extra cost, timetable, checking the availability and the types of accommodations.

Extra charges for Japan Rail Pass user

Japan Rail Pass cover only basic fare on Japan Railway. So you have to pay these extra charges.

Extra basic fare: 5,330 yen (for non Japan Railway line between Morioka and Aomori)
Extra express surcharge: 2,940 yen (between Ueno or Omiya and any stations in Hokkaido)

And also you have to pay the accommodation fee. Please see the next chapter.

Types of Accommodation

Welcome drink for Cassiopeia Suite and Cassiopeia Deluxe
Welcome drink for Cassiopeia Suite and Cassiopeia Deluxe

Cassiopeia Suite with View

  • Rate: 25,490 yen per person, based on two persons.
  • TV, clock, private shower, private washroom, welcome drink (a bottle of wine, a small bottle of whiskey, water and soft drink), coffee, Yukata (Japanese night wear), bath towel, facial towel
  • There is only one room in the train. This room has a huge glass window. It is so hard to get this room.
  • Images:
    Overnight train Cassiopeia Overnight train Cassiopeia Overnight train Cassiopeia Overnight train Cassiopeia
    These following images are facilities. Cassiopeia Suite, Maisonette type has same as these things.
    Overnight train Cassiopeia Overnight train Cassiopeia Overnight train Cassiopeia Overnight train Cassiopeia Overnight train Cassiopeia

Cassiopeia Suite, maisonette

  • Rate: 25,490 yen per person, based on two persons.
  • TV, clock, private shower, private washroom, welcome drink (a bottle of wine, a small bottle of whiskey, water and soft drink), coffee, Yukata (Japanese night wear), bath towel, facial towel
  • There are six rooms in the train. This room is two levels. The first floor is the bedroom and the second floor is the living. The extra bed can be put in the living room and can be used for 3 persons. The extra charge for third person is 13,350 yen.
  • Images:
    Overnight train Cassiopeia Overnight train Cassiopeia Overnight train Cassiopeia Overnight train Cassiopeia Overnight train Cassiopeia

Cassiopeia Deluxe

  • Rate: 17,180 yen per person, based on two persons.
  • TV, clock, private shower, private washroom, welcome drink (a bottle of wine, a small bottle of whiskey, water and soft drink), coffee, Yukata (Japanese night wear), bath towel, facial towel
  • There is only one room in the train. This room is one level suite and has a higher ceiling than Cassiopeia Suite maisonette. The sofa can be converted to the extra bed and can be used for 3 persons. The extra charge for third person is 9.540 yen.
  • Images:
    Overnight train Cassiopeia Overnight train Cassiopeia Overnight train Cassiopeia Overnight train Cassiopeia Overnight train Cassiopeia Overnight train Cassiopeia Overnight train Cassiopeia Overnight train Cassiopeia Overnight train Cassiopeia Overnight train Cassiopeia Overnight train Cassiopeia Overnight train Cassiopeia Overnight train Cassiopeia

Cassiopeia Twin (double decker)

  • Rate: 13,350 yen per person, based on two persons.
  • TV, clock, private washroom, welcome drink (soft drink), coffee, Yukata (Japanese night wear), facial towel (No private shower in the room. need to use the shared shower room at 310 yen for 6 minutes.)
  • This type of rooms are main stream in this train. This is like a standard twin room. These rooms are in the double decker car. Those rooms are located at the both lower level and higher level. But some of these rooms are located at the single level of this train. A few of these rooms at single level can be used for 3 persons. The extra charge for third person is 9.540 yen.
  • Images (Lower floor):
    Overnight train Cassiopeia Overnight train Cassiopeia Overnight train Cassiopeia Overnight train Cassiopeia Overnight train Cassiopeia Overnight train Cassiopeia
  • Images (Upper floor):
    Overnight train Cassiopeia Overnight train Cassiopeia Overnight train Cassiopeia Overnight train Cassiopeia
  • Images (located at single level):
    Overnight train Cassiopeia Overnight train Cassiopeia Overnight train Cassiopeia Overnight train Cassiopeia
  • Images (Triple type):
    Overnight train Cassiopeia Overnight train Cassiopeia Overnight train Cassiopeia Overnight train Cassiopeia Overnight train Cassiopeia Overnight train Cassiopeia
  • Images (Facilities):
    Overnight train Cassiopeia Overnight train Cassiopeia Overnight train Cassiopeia Overnight train Cassiopeia Overnight train Cassiopeia Overnight train Cassiopeia Overnight train Cassiopeia Overnight train Cassiopeia Overnight train Cassiopeia Overnight train Cassiopeia Overnight train Cassiopeia Overnight train Cassiopeia Overnight train Cassiopeia Overnight train Cassiopeia Overnight train Cassiopeia Overnight train Cassiopeia

Cassiopeia Compart

  • Rate: 22,890 yen per room, based on two persons.
  • TV, clock, private washroom, welcome drink (soft drink), coffee, Yukata (Japanese night wear), facial towel (No private shower in the room. need to use the shared shower room at 310yen for 6 minutes.)
  • This room is designed for the handicapped person. We only have one room in the train
  • Images:
    Overnight train Cassiopeia Overnight train Cassiopeia Overnight train Cassiopeia Overnight train Cassiopeia Overnight train Cassiopeia Overnight train Cassiopeia

Train Formation

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12
CSV/CSM CSM/CDX D CC/CT CT CT CT CT CT CT CT L

*CSV=Cassiopeia Suite with View CSM=Cassiopeia Suite Maisonette CDX=Cassiopeia Deluxe CT=Cassiopeia Twin CC=Cassiopeia Compart D=Dining Car L=Lounge Car
*Smoking is permitted on Car#2, 3, 5, 6 and 11.

Dining Car / Lounge Car

Meal is not included in the rate. And the reservation for dinner must be done by 23:00 on three days prior to the departure date. But simply you can make a reservation at the same time as booking for the room. You can choose Kaiseki Gozen (懐石御膳=Traditional Japanese style cuisine) or French four course. Japanese dinner is 5,500 yen. French course is 7,800 yen. And also you have to choose dinner time from 17:15-18:15 or 18:30-19:50 or 20:10-21:30. Dining car is the pub after 20:30. You don’t need to make a reservation.

If you take Cassiopeia Suite or Cassiopeia Deluxe, Room service is available for only the first dining time, 17:15-18:15. And Also you can choose Cassiopeia Tokusei Bento (カシオペア特製弁当=Cassiopeia Special Dinner Box) at 3,500 yen. Of courese you need to order this dinner box three days before the boarding.

You don’t need to make a reservation for the breakfast. They open at 06:30. They have Japanese style and Western style. Both breakfast are same price at 1,600 yen.

They sell regular dinner box (Japanese Bento, Sandwich and so on) and drinks. If you cannot make a reservation for the dining car, you still can get something to eat. Of course you can get something before boarding.

Image (Dining car interior) : Overnight train Cassiopeia Overnight train Cassiopeia Overnight train Cassiopeia Overnight train Cassiopeia Overnight train Cassiopeia Overnight train Cassiopeia Overnight train Cassiopeia Overnight train Cassiopeia Overnight train Cassiopeia Overnight train Cassiopeia

Image (Pub time menu) : Overnight train Cassiopeia Overnight train Cassiopeia Overnight train Cassiopeia

Image (Breakfast menu) : Overnight train Cassiopeia Overnight train Cassiopeia

Image (Cassiopeia Bento) : Overnight train Cassiopeia Overnight train Cassiopeia

Lounge car is open for the public. You can enjoy the view through the panoramic glass windows. You can see the iamges of Dining car and Lounge car here on JR East website.

And also smoking is not permitted in Lounge car, but it is permitted in and dining car. Please don’t upset that!
*Since March 17, 2012, smoking is not permitted in both dining car and lounge car.

Image (Lounge car) : Overnight train Cassiopeia Overnight train Cassiopeia Overnight train Cassiopeia Overnight train Cassiopeia Overnight train Cassiopeia Overnight train Cassiopeia

Image (Public washroom) : Overnight train Cassiopeia Overnight train Cassiopeia

Image (Shared shower room) : Overnight train Cassiopeia Overnight train Cassiopeia Overnight train Cassiopeia Overnight train Cassiopeia Overnight train Cassiopeia

Reservation and space availability

It is very difficult for Japan Rail Pass user to make a booking. Because you cannot make a reservation online. All you can do is going to the station to take it. Japan Railway starts to sell the ticket 30 days prior to the departure date. Most of Japan Rail Pass user start to use the pass right after arrival. So if you have a plan to take this train, you need to think about the back up plan. You have to expect that you won’t be able to make it!

*If you have a friend who speaks Japanese, you can ask to make a call to JR West odekake net at 078-341-7903. This reservation center can take a reservation for all JR trains. However you need to pay surcharge and accommodation fee. Japan Rail Pass do not cover any surcharge and accommodation fee on overnight trains. So it is not a big issue. And also you have to pick up your ticket in JR West, Shikoku or Kyushu’s stations. You cannot pick up ticket in other areas, like Tokyo, Niigata, Aomori, Hokkaido.

But you can check the availability online. Please access this page on JR East website. It is in Japanese but it is not complicated. You will see like this table.

曜日 上野発 札幌発
1 17 O
18 O
19 O
20
21
22 X
23

From left to right, Month (月), Day (日), Week-day (曜日), Departure from Ueno (上野発), Departure from Sapporo (札幌発). So the second row means January 17, Monday. Cassiopeia is not operated from Ueno to Sapporo. So you see “-“. On the other hand, you see “O” from Sapporo. It means that lots of rooms are still available. Please see the sixth row. You see “△” departure from Ueno. It means almost sold out. If you see “X”, it means completely sold out. Please check in last minutes before you depart from your country.

Operation dates will be different after March 14, 2015. Please find it at Schedule of 2015 spring seasonal trains of Japan Railways. I wrote the dates until September, 2015.

But you need to think about alternative in case that you cannot make it. If you need any ideas about a back up plan, please refer the post, Alternatives of overnight train Cassiopeia and Hokutosei. I suggest several itineraries.

Timetable

Timetable will be different after March 14, 2015. Please find it at Schedule of 2015 spring seasonal trains of Japan Railways. I wrote the dates until September, 2015.

station/direction Ueno to Sapporo Sapporo to Ueno
Ueno (上野) 16:20 09:25
Omiya (大宮) 16:45 09:00
Utsunomiya (宇都宮) 17:50 07:50
Koriyama (郡山) 19:13 06:15
Fukushima (福島) 19:52 05:36
Sendai (仙台) 20:59 04:33
Ichinoseki (一ノ関) 22:08
Morioka (盛岡) 23:16
Hakodate (函館) 05:02 21:12
Mori (森) 05:52 20:18
Yakumo (八雲) 06:18 19:51
Oshamanbe (長万部) 06:43 19:15
Toya (洞爺) 07:13 18:42
date-Monbetsu (伊達紋別) 07:25 18:28
Higashi-Muroran (東室蘭) 07:44 17:57
Noboribetsu (登別) 08:00 17:37
Tomakomai (苫小牧) 08:33 17:06
Minami-Chitose (南千歳) 08:55 16:46
Sapporo (札幌) 09:32 16:12

Overnight Express Train Hokutosei, most popular overnight train between Tokyo and Sapporo

Overnight Express train Hokutosei
Overnight Express train Hokutosei

*This train was discontinued as scheduled train on March 13, 2015. Now this train is seasonal operation. Please find the operation dates at Schedule of 2015 spring seasonal trains of Japan Railways. It will run until August and it will be discontinued completely. Now it is VERY DIFFICULT to book for this train. I highly recommend you to avoid to use this train in your plan.

Hokutosei is operated between Ueno and Sapporo. This train is like Japanese version Oriental Express and is operated on the same route as the most luxurious overnight train, Cassiopeia. 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.

Sample itinerary Hokkaido 7 days by Japan Rail Pass 7 days

Night view form Mt.Hakodate ©Hokkaido Tourism Organization/© JNTO
Night view form Mt.Hakodate ©Hokkaido Tourism Organization/© JNTO

This itinerary includes UNESCO world heritage site, Shiretoko and several highlights in Hokkaido.

We don’t use Japan Rail Pass for the transfer between downtown Tokyo and Narita or Haneda airport. This itinerary starts from/to Tokyo. Continue reading

Access to Kushiro and Obihiro from Sapporo. Limited Express Super Ozora / Super Tokachi

Limited express Super Ozora
Limited express Super Ozora and most of express trains are covered by Hokkaido Round Tour Pass.

When you go to South East part of Hokkaido, these trains take you there. Super Ozora and Super Tokachi are operated on same route. Super Ozora connect Sapporo and Kushiro. Super Tokachi connect Sapporo and Obihiro. These trains are very popular and the reserved seats are sold out very often. Especially JR Hokkaido give you a great service in Green car. Sometimes Green car is sold out earlier than Ordinary class. Both trains are fully covered by Japan Rail Pass. So if you have a plan to take these trains, I strongly recommend you to reserve your seat when you exchange your Japan Rail Pass.

I would like to share the information about these trains with you. Continue reading

Access to Abashiri from Sapporo. Limited Express Okhotsk / Taisetsu

Limited express train Okhotsk
Limited express train Okhotsk

Limited Express Okhotsk and Taisetsu take you to Abashiri from Sapporo and Asahikawa. Abashiri is well known as drift ice viewing in winter time. And also when you go to the world heritage site, Shiretoko, you may use this train to Abashiri and transfer to the local train to Shiretoko-Shari. If you need the information about the access to Shiretoko, please see one of my posts, “How to get Shiretoko“.

You can take this train by Japan Rail Pass with no restriction. I would like to show you the information about these trains. Continue reading

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/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

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

Compare Japan Rail Pass and regular fare. Which one has a greater value or cheap?

Tokaido Shinkansen
Most common fleet of Tokaido-Sanyo Shinkansen N700 sereis, a.k.a. Bullet train.

When you think about buying Japan Rail Pass, you may compare the price of Japan Rail Pass and a single fare. But it is very hard to get an exact fare because the fare rule of Japan Railway is so complicated. So I will give you some examples and consider which way has greater value. Continue reading