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.

*The information in this article is current at the time of writing.

JR Hokkaido (Hokkaido area)

Donan Sakura Exprss

This express train connects Sapporo with Hakodate and stop at major spots to view Sakura (=cherry blossom). It is operated by KIHA 183 North Rainbow Expres. If you are looking for more information about the interior of this fleets, please refer the post, Furano Lavender Express / Koyo Express. This summer/fall express train is operated by same type of car.

Operation dates

May 3-6, 2013

Timetable

Sapporo 08:04 Hakodate 12:12
Hakodate 14:44/td>

Mori 18:59

The train will stop at Shin-Sapporo, Minami-Chitose, Tomakomai, Higashi-Muroran, Oshamanbe and Goryokaku on the way to Hakodate.
The train will stop at Goryokaku, Onuma-Koen, Mori, Oshamanbe, Higashi-Muroran, Tomakomai, Minami-Chitose and Shin-Sapporo. You can take limited express Hokuto/ Super Hokuto instead of Donan Sakura Express. Hokuto and Super Hokuto connects Sapporo with Hakodate too.

SL Hakodate Onuma train

This train is operated by steam locomotive between Hakodate and Onuma Koen (Onuma park) to enjoy spring cherry blossom. There are reserved seat only. You need to book it before boarding.

Operation dates

April 27-30, May 1-6, 2013

Timetable

Hakodate 09:00 Mori 10:46
Mori 13:31 Hakodate 15:25

The train will stop at Goryokaku, Oshima-Ono and Onuma-Koen on the way to Mori.
The train will stop at Oshima-Sakara, Shikabe, Nagareyama-Onsen, Onuma-Koen, Oshima-Ono and Goryokaku.

Limited Express Asahiyama Zoo
Limited Express Asahiyama Dobutsuen

Limited Express Asahiyama Dobutsuen

This train connects Sapporo with Asahikawa and is operated by Asahiyama Zoo featured train. Asahiyama Zoo is the most popular and the best zoo in Japan. The interior of this train is designed by Dr. Abe, former chief zoo keeper of Asahiyama Zoo. I am sure kids will love it! If you travel with your kids, try to get on this train! This train has only reserved seat. (Japanese site link)

Operation dates
March 2,3,9,10,15-31 2013
April 6,7 2013
*Asahiyama Zoo will close from Apr 8 to 26.
*Summer schedule (May to August) will be released in late May.

Timetable
Sapporo 08:30 – Asahikawa 10:07
Asahikawa 16:05 – Sapporo 17:46
Train makes a stop at Iwamizawa and Takikawa.

Kushiro Shitsugen Norokko train

This train is operated by “Torokko” (open air type passenger’s car). This is a cruising train that goes through Kushiro marsh. Please refer the detail about this train at Kushiro Shitsugen Norokko train.

Operation dates
April 27-30, May 1-6,11-31 2013 *1 round trip (#1, #2) only
June 1-4,8-30 2013 *2 round trips

Timetable

Connection Train# Kushiro Higashi
Kushiro
Kushiro
Shitsugen
Hosooka Toro
Super Ozora#1 10:51 Arr
(Sapporo dep at 07:03)
#2 10:56 11:02 11:20 11:25 11:40
Super Ozora#3 13:03 Arr
(Sapporo dep at 09:04)
#4 13:49 13:55 14:13 14:18 14:35
Train# Toro Hosooka Kushiro
Shitsugen
Higashi
Kushiro
Kushiro Connection
#1 12:07 12:22 12:28 12:48 12:54 Super Ozora#10 13:25 Dep
(Sapporo arr at 17:17)
#3 15:06 15:21 15:27 15:54 16:00 Super Ozora#12 16:17 Dep
(Sapporo arr at 20:13)

If you are looking for more information about Kushiro Shitsugen Norokko train, please see the post, Kushiro Shitsugen Norokko train.

Furano Lavender Express / Furano Koyo Express

Furano is very popular spot in Hokkaido during summer season. Only this train takes you to Furano from Sapporo directly. Please refer the detail about this train at Furano Lavender Express / Koyo Express.
*Summer schedule (July to October) will be released in late May.

Operation dates
Train #1 and #6 — June 29,30 2013
Train #3 and #4 — June 8-30 2013

Timetable

Station/train# Sapporo Takikawa Furano Remarks
#1 07:55 09:00 09:55 Operated by Crystal Express that has double deck and compartment.
#3 09:06 10:05 11:03 Operated by Crystal Express that has double deck and compartment until June 28. Operated by North Rainbow Express after June 30.
Station/train# Furano Takikawa Sapporo Remarks
#4 16:35 17:23 18:29 Operated by Crystal Express that has double deck and compartment until June 28. Operated by North Rainbow Express after June 39.
#6 17:36 18:34 19:37 Operated by Crystal Express that has double deck and compartment.

If you are looking for more information about trains for Furano Lavender Express, please see the post, Furano Lavender Express / Koyo Express.

Furano Biei Norokko train

This train is operated by “Torokko” (open air type passenger’s car). This is a cruising train that goes on Furano line. Please refer the detail about this train at Furano Biei Norokko train.
*Summer schedule (July to October) will be released in late May.

Operation dates
June 8-30 2013

Timetable

Station
train#
Asahikawa Biei Bibaushi kamifurano Lavender
Batake
Nakafurano Furano
#1 9:55 10:34 10:51 11:03 11:11 11:14 11:40
#3 13:02 13:18 13:33 13:40 13:44 13:52
#5 15:08 15:24 15:39 15:46 15:50 15:57
Station
train#
Furano Nakafurano Lavender
Batake
kamifurano Bibaushi Biei Asahikawa
#2 11:52 12:11 12:14 12:25 12:37 12:54
#4 13:59 14:18 14:21 14:33 14:46 15:03
#6 16:13 16:34 16:38 16:51 17:11 17:20 17:45

If you are looking for more information about Furano Biei Norokko train, please see the post, Furano Biei Norokko train.

SL/DL Fuyu no Shitsugen train (Winter train to Kushiro marsh by Steam Locomotive)

This train is operated by steam locomotive or diesel locomotive. This is a cruising train that goes through Kushiro marsh. It is similar type train to Kushiro Shitsugen Norokko train. But this train is not operated by Norokko train. There are reserved seat only. You need to book it before boarding.

Operation dates

March 1-3,8-9 2013 operated by steam locomotive
March 4-7 2013 operated by diesel locomotive

Timetable

Kushiro 11:09 Shibecha 12:24
Shibecha 13:52 Kushiro 15:10

This train stops at Higashi-Kushiro, Kushiro Shitsugen, Toro and Kayanuma.

Yushun Roman Express

This train connect Sapporo with majoe Sakura (cherry blossom) spots on Hidaka area. This train is operated by KIHA 183 Niseko Expres. If you are looking for more information about the interior of this fleets, please refer the post, Furano Lavender Express / Koyo Express.

Operation dates
May 11,12,18,19 2013

Timetable

Sapporo 09:06 Samani 13:36
Samani 14:34 Sapporo 18:59

This train stops at Shin-Sapporo, Minami-Chitose and all stations between Tomakomai and Samani.

Ryuhyo Norokko train

Shiretoko is very popular destination in winter time for Ryuhyo (流氷=Drift Ice) viewing. This train is operated in Drift Ice season for viewing by “Torokko” (open air type passenger’s car). Early March is still Drift Ice season.

Operation dates
Everyday from March 1-10 2013.

Timetable

#2 Shiretoko-Shari 08:55 Abashiri 10:00
#1 Abashiri 10:25 Shiretoko-Shari 11:22
#4 Shiretoko-Shari 11:57 Abashiri 12:57
#3 Abashiri 13:57 Shiretoko-Shari 14:55

*This train stop at Katsuradai, Masuura, Mokoto, Kitahama, Hamakoshimizu and Yamubetsu.

If you need more information about this train, please see this post, Ryuhyo Norokko train.

Ryuhyo Limited Express Okhotsk no Kaze

This limited express train is additional train of Limited Express Okhotsk between Sapporo and Abashiri. It is operated for Drift Ice season by KIHA 183 North Rainbow Express. This series is much better than standard 183 series for Okhotsk. If you go to Abashiri in this season. try to take this train.

Operation dates
Everyday from March 2,3,9,10 2013.

Timetable

Sapporo 07:55 Abashiri 13:21
Abashiri 14:17 Sapporo 19:37

*This train stop at Iwamizawa, Bibai, Sunagawa, Takikawa, Fukagawa, Asahikawa, Kamikawa, Maruseppu, Engaru, Ikutahara, Rubeshibe, Kitami, Bihoro and Memanbetsu.

If you are looking for more information about the interior of KIHA 183 series North Rainbow Express, please refer the post, Furano Lavender Express / Koyo Express. This summer/fall express train is operated by same type of car.

JR East (Tohoku and Kanto area)

Ozashiki Hiraizumi Sekai Isan train

You can use this train to the newest UNESCO World Heritage Hiraizumi from Sendai directly. This train is operated by the specialized Japanese style “Tatami”(=Ozashiki) train. This train has reserved seat only.

Operation dates
April 27-29, May 25,26, June 22,23 2013

Timetable
Sendai 09:12 – Hiraizumi 11:15
Hiraizumi 14:52 – Sendai 16:43
This train makes a stop at Shiogama, Matsushima, Kashimadai, Kogota and Ichinoseki

Zipangu Hiraizumi train

You can use this train to the newest UNESCO World Heritage Hiraizumi from both side Morioka and Ichinoseki directly. This train is operated by specialized Zipangu train. Please see JR East official page. You can see some images of this train.

Timetable and operation dates

Station/train# Ichinoseki Morioka
#1 11:10 12:35 Sat, Sun and holiday from Apr 6-29, May 3-6,11,12, Jun 15,16,22,23
#3 11:01 15:52 Sat and Sun from Mar 2-31, Sat, Sun and holiday from Apr 6-29, May 3-6,11,12,25,26, Jun 15,16,22,23
Station/train# Morioka Ichinoseki Operation date
#2 09:43 10:58 Sat and Sun from Mar 2-31, Sat, Sun and holiday from Apr 6-29, May 3-6,11,12,25,26, Jun 15,16,22,23
#4 13:07 14:17 Sat, Sun and holiday from Apr 6-29, May 3-6,11,12, Jun 15,16,22,23

Zipangu Morioka Sendai train

You can use this train to the newest UNESCO World Heritage Hiraizumi from both side Morioka and Sendai directly. This train is operated by specialized Zipangu train. Please see JR East official page. You can see some images of this train.

Operation dates
May 18,19, Jun 29,30 2013

Timetable
Morioka 09:43 – Sendai 12:42
Sendai 14:40 – Morioka 17:21 (May 18,19)
Sendai 15:16 – Morioka 18:07 (Jun 29,30)

Rapid Hirosaki Sakura Matsuri train

This train connects Akita with Hirosaki. Hirosaki is located between Aomori and Akita. It is well known as the best location for cherry blossom in Tohoku region. This train is operated by legendary 583 series.

Operation dates
April 27-29, May 3-6 2013

Timetable
Akita 09:23 – Hirosaki 11:56
Hirosaki 16:09 – Akita 18:41
This train makes a stop at Matsuhima, Kogota, Furukawa, Iwadeyama, Yubikan, Kawatabi-Onsen, Naruko-Gotenyu, Naruko-Onsen, Nakayamadaira-Onsen, Akakura-Onsen, Mogami and Semi-Onsen.

Rapid Hirosaki Yozakura Kansho train

“Yozakura Kansho” means watching night view of cherry blossom. It is same route as above Hirosaki Sakura Matsuri train. But timetable is adjusted for night view.

Operation dates
April 27-29, May 3-6 2013

Timetable
Akita 12:32 – Hirosaki 15:19
Hirosaki 20:23 – Akita 23:03
This train makes a stop at Matsuhima, Kogota, Furukawa, Iwadeyama, Yubikan, Kawatabi-Onsen, Naruko-Gotenyu, Naruko-Onsen, Nakayamadaira-Onsen, Akakura-Onsen, Mogami and Semi-Onsen.

Rapid Hirosaki Oshiro Sakura train / Rapid Kakunodate Bukeyashiki Sakura train

This train connects Hirosaki with Kakunodate. Kakunodate is very famous spots as preserved samurai residence. It is very popular as cherry blossom spots too. This train goes through Akita Nairiku Juukan railway between Takanosu and Kakunodate. This section is not covered by both Japan Rail Pass and JR East Pass.

Operation dates
April 27-29, May 3-6 2013

Timetable
Kakunodate 14:27 – Takanosu 17:14 – Hirosaki 18:18
Hirosaki 08:29 – Takanosu 09:27 – Kakunodate 12:06

Some of Resort Shirakami are operated by the newest Hybrid train.
Some of Resort Shirakami are operated by the newest Hybrid train.

Rapid Resort Shirakami

This train connects Akita with Aomori through Gono line that has one of the greatest scenery. This train is operated by the specialized train or the newest Hybrid train. This train has only reserved seat.

Operation dates and timetable

Station/train# Akita Aomori Operation date
#1 (Akita to Aomori) 08:25 13:23 Fri, Sat, Sun from Mar 1-Apr 14 and every from Apr 19-Jun 30
#3 (Akita to Hirosaki) 11:01 15:52 Every from Apr 19-Jun 30
#5 (Akita to Aomori) 14:10 19:20 Fri, Sat, Sun from Mar 1-Apr 13 and every from Apr 20-Jun 30
Station/train# Aomori Akita Operation date
#2 (Aomori to Akita) 08:23 13:16 Sat, Sun from Mar 2-Apr 14 and every from Apr 20-Jun 30
#4 (Aomori to Akita) 13:51 18:52 Fri, Sat, Sun from Mar 1-Apr 14 and every from Apr 19-Jun 30
#6 (Hirosaki to Akita) 16:09 20:38 Every from Apr 19-Jun 30

This train makes a stop at Oiwaki, Hachirogata, Moritake, Higashi-Noshiro, Noshiro, Akita-Shirakami, Iwadate, Juniko, WeSpa-Tsubakiyama, Fukaura, Senjojiki, Ajigasawa, Mutsu-Morita, Kizukuri, Goshogawara, Mutsu-Tsuruta, Itayanagi, Kawabe, Hirosaki and Shin-Aomori. If you need more information about this train, please refer Rapid Resort Shirakami.

*The schedule after April has not been released yet.

Rapid SL Banestsu Monogatari

It is operated by steam locomotive and old style passenger’s cars between Niigata and Aizu-Wakamatsu.

Operation dates
Sat, Sun and holidays from Apr 6 to Jun 23

Timetable
Niigata 09:43 – Aizu-Wakamatsu 13:31
Aizu Wakamatsu 15:25 – Niigata 19:00
This train makes a stop at Niitsu, Gosen, Sakihana, Mikawa, Tsugawa, Hideya, Nozawa, Yamato, Kitakata and Shiokawa.

Rapid Resort Minori

This train connects Sendai with Shinjo via Naruko Onsen. It is operated by specialized train. You can see some images at JR East Sendai branch site.

Operation dates
Fri, Sat, Sun and holidays from Mar 1 to Jun 30

Timetable
Sendai 09:25 – 11:00 Naruko Onsen 11:25 – Shinjo 12:28
Shinjo 15:00 – 15:58 Naruko Onsen 16:00 – Sendai 17:37

This train makes a stop at Matsuhima, Kogota, Furukawa, Iwadeyama, Yubikan, Kawatabi-Onsen, Naruko-Gotenyu, Naruko-Onsen, Nakayamadaira-Onsen, Akakura-Onsen, Mogami and Semi-Onsen.

Rapid Resort View Furusato

This train connects Nagano with Minami-Otari via Matsumoto, Shinano-Omachi and Hakuba. It is operated by Hybrid train. You can see some images at JR East Nagano branch site.

Operation dates
Fri, Sat, Sun and holidays from Mar 1 to Jun 30

Timetable
Nagano 09:03 – 10:24 Matsumoto 10:41 – 10:59 Hodaka 11:26 – 11:46 Shinano Omachi 11:51 – 12:25 Hakuba 12:30 – 12:44 Minami Otari
Minami Otari 15:13 – 15:28 Hakuba 15:32 – 16:08 Shinano Omachi 16:13 – 16:38 Hodaka 16:47 – 17:15 Matsumoto 17:23 – 18:28 Nagano

Overnight Rapid Moonlight Echigo

This is very popular and hard to get the seat. This train does not have any non reserved seat. This train is operated by old type Limited Express cars. But there is no berth or compartment.

Operation dates
March 18-31, April 26-30, May 1-6 2013

Timetable
Shinjuku 23:10 – Niigata 04:51
Niigata 23:38 – Shinjuku 05:10
This train makes a stop at Ikebuuro, Omiya, Takasaki, Nagaoka, Mitsuke, Higashi-Sanjo, Kamo and Niitsu.

Overnight Rapid Moonlight Shinshu 81

This is very popular and hard to get the seat. This train does not have any non reserved seat. This train is operated by old type Limited Express cars. But there is no berth or compartment.

Operation date
March 1,8,15,22,29, April 26, May 2,3 2013

Timetable
Shinjuku 23:54 – Hakuba 05:40
*There is no train to Shinjuku from Hakuba
This train makes a stop at Tachikawa, Hachioji, Otsuki, Shioyama, Kofu, Kobuchizawa, Chino, Kamisuwa, Shimosuwa, Okaya, Tatsuno, Shiojiri, Matsumoto, Toyoshina, Hodaka, Shinano-Omachi and Kamishiro.

JR Central (Chubu, Tokai and Hokuriku)

Overnight Rapid Moonlight Nagara

This is very popular and hard to get the seat. This train does not have any non reserved seat. This train is operated by old type Limited Express cars. But there is no berth or compartment.

Operation dates
To Ogaki – March 22-30 2013
To Tokyo – March 23-31 2013

Timetable

stations time stations time
Tokyo 23:10 Ogaki 22:49
Shinagawa 23:18 Gifu 22:59
Yokohama 23:36 Nagoya 23:20
Odawara 00:31 Toyohashi 00:17
Numazu 01:08 Hamamatsu 00:55
Shizuoka 01:50 Shizuoka 01:55
Hamamatsu 03:11 Numazu 03:19
Nagoya 05:24 Yokohama 04:41
Gifu 05:43 Shinagawa 04:58
Ogaki 05:51 Tokyo 05:05

If you are looking for more information about Moonlight Nagara, please see the post, Rapid train Moonlight Nagara.

Rapid Nice Holiday Kisoji

This train goes on Chuo line and stop at the station where is near the post towns in Edo period.

Operation dates
April 27-29, May 3-6, June 8-9 2013

Timetable
Nagoya 08:16 – 11:10 Shiojiri
Shiojiri 14:18 – 17:11 Nagoya

*This train stops at Nakatsugawa, Minami-Kiso, Agematsu, Kiso-Fukushima, Yabuhara, Narai, Kiso-Hirasawa

JR West (Kansai, Hokuriku and Chugoku)

Twilight Express

As you know, this is most popular train in Japan. The extra departure will be operated in Holidays periods.

Operation dates
Regular departure is Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday to Sapporo, and Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday and Sunday to Osaka. And these following dates will be added.
to Sapporo — Everyday from April 26 to May 6 and from June 19 to 30, 2013
to Osaka — Everyday from April 27 to May 7 and from June 20 to 30, 2013

Timetable
Osaka 11:50 – Sapporo 09:52
Sapporo 14:05 – Osaka 12:52
If you need more information about Twilight Express, please refer the post, Overnight Express Train Twilight Express.

SL Yamaguchi

This train is operated by C57 type steam locomotive between Shin-Yamaguchi and Tsuwano. This train has only reserved seat. (Japanese site link)

Operation dates
May all Saturday, all Sunday, May 3 and 6, 2013
June all Saturday, all Sunday
July all Saturday, all Sunday and July 15, 2013
August 1-4,9-18,23-25,30-31 2013
September all Saturday, all Sunday, September 16 and 23, 2013
October all Saturday, all Sunday, and October 14, 2013
November 2,3, 2013

Timetable
Shin-Yamaguchi 10:48 – Tsuwano 12:58
Tsuwano 15:19 – Shin-Yamaguchi 17:04
This train makes a stop at Yuda-Onsen, Yamaguchi, Niho, Shinome, Choumonkyo, Jifuku, Nabekura and Tokusa.

Rapid Setouchi Marine View

This train was operated between Hiroshima and Mihara via Kure line. This train is operated by specialized train. Please check the images at the following links (JR West official site): Exterior | Reserved seat | Non reserved seat

Operation dates
March 20,23,24,30,31, 2013
April 6,7,13,14,20,21,27-29, 2013
May 3-6,11,12,18,19,25,26, 2013
June 1,2,8,9,15,16,22,23,29,30, 2013
Schedule after July TBA

Timetable
Hiroshima 10:06 – Kure 10:52 – Mihara 12:27
Mihara 13:25 – 14:59 Kure 15:19 – Hiroshima 16:07
This train makes a stop at Hiro and Takehara too.

Misuzu Shiosai

This train is operated between Shin-Shimonoseki and Takibe/Senzaki on Sannin line. Sannin line of this section is very scenic. You can enjoy watching the coastline of Nihonkai sea. This train makes several stops where you can see the nice view. Please check the images at the following links (JR West official site): Exterior | Interior
*This train may be operated by a regular train until March 16 and June 11-16.

Operation dates and timetable
March 1 to 15, 2013
Sat, Sun and holidays from March 16 to June 30, 2012

Train# Shin
Shimonoseki
Shimonoseki Takibe Nagatoshi Senzaki Remarks
#1 09:59 10:08
10:21
11:33 12:25
12:27
12:31
#3 16:47 18:09 No operation after March 16
Train# Senzaki Nagatoshi Takibe Shimonoseki Shin
Shimonoseki
Remarks
#2 12:47 12:50
12:52
13:44 14:56
#4 18:19 19:25
19:31
19:41 No operation after March 16

*This train is a local train. The train stops at most of stations.

JR Kyushu (Kyushu)

Limited Express Aso Boy!

This train is operated to Mt. Aso from Kumamoto by the train that have the panoramic windows at the both end. This train has only reserved seat. Please see the post, Access to Mt. Aso from Kumamoto. Kids friendly train, Limited Express Aso Boy! to get the details about this train.

Operation dates
March 2,3,9,10,16-31 2013
April 1-7,13,14,20,21,27-30 2013
May 1-6,11,12,18,19,25,26 2013
June 1,2,8,9,15,16,22,23,29,30 2013
July 6,7,13-31 2013
August 1-31 2013
September 1,7,8,14-16,21-23,28,29 2013

Timetable

Station/train# Kumamoto Tateno Aso Miyaji
#101 10:28 11:15 11:49 12:00
#103 13:55 14:33 15:14 15:23
Station/train# Miyaji Aso Tateno Kumamoto
#102 12:22 12:27 13:01 13:40
#104 15:40 15:44 16:26 17:13

This train makes a stop at Shin-Suizenji, Suizenji, Higo-Otsu and Akamizu too.

Limited Express Umisachi-Yamasachi

This train goes through Nichinan coastline. Please see the details at my post.

Operation dates
March 2,3,9,10,16-26, 28-31 2013
April 1,2,4-7,13,14,20,21,27-30 2013
May 1-6,11,12 2013
June No operation
July 13-16,18-23,25-30 2013
August 1-6,8,13,15-20,22-27,29-31 2013
September 1,7,8,14-16,21-23,28,29 2013

Timetable

Stations to Nango to Miyazaki
Miyazaki (宮崎) 10:06 17:14
Minami-Miyazaki (南宮崎) 10:11 17:09
Tayoshi (田吉) 10:15 17:06
Kodomonokuni (子供の国) 10:25 16:51
Aoshima (青島) 10:28 16:48
Kitago (北郷) 10:56 16:23
Obi (飫肥) 11:06-11:16 16:00-16:13
Nichinan (日南) 11:23 15:54
Aburatsu (油津) 11:26 15:50
Nango (南郷) 11:42 15:35

Rapid SL Hitoyoshi

This train is connects Kumamoto with Hitoyoshi by steam locomotive and specialized passenger’s cars.

Operation dates
March 16-26,28-31 2013
April 1-2,4-8,12-15,19-22,26-30 2013
May 1-7,10-12,17-19,24-26 2013
June 1,2,8,9,15,16,22,23,29,30 2013
July 6,7,12-16,18-23,25-30 2013
August 1-6,8-13,15-20,22-27,29-31 2013
September 1,2,6-9,13-17,20-24,27-30 2013
October 4-7,11-15,18-21,25-28 2013
November 1-5,8-11,15-18,22-24 2013

Timetable

Station/train# From Kumamoto
to Hitoyoshi
From Hitoyoshi
to Kumamoto
Kumamoto (熊本) 09:44 17:13
Shin-Yatsushiro (新八代) 10:25 16:30
Yatsushiro (八代) 10:31/10:38 16:25
Shiraishi (白石) 11:21/11:26 15:23/15:28
Isshochi (一勝地) 11:41/11:51 14:58/15:08
Hitoyoshi (人吉) 12:13 14:38

A Ressha de Iko (A列車で行こう=Take the ‘A’ train)

This train connects Kumamoto with Misumi. Misumi is the gateway station for Amakusa. JR Kyushu add one more trip after March 16.

Operation dates
March 2,3,9,10,16-31 2013
April 1-7,12-15,19-22,26-30 2013
May 1-7,10-13,17-20,24-27 2013
June 1,2,8,9,15,16,22,23,29,30 2013
July 6,7,13-31 2013
August 1-31 2013
September 1,7,8,14-16,21-23,28,29 2013

Timetable
Until Mar 10

Station/train# Kumamoto Uto Misumi
#1 10:36 10:46 11:44
#3 14:08 14:18 14:46
Station/train# Misumi Uto Kumamoto
#2 11:20 11:47 11:59
#4 14:52 15:19 15:31

After March 16

Station/train# Kumamoto Uto Misumi
#1 10:36 10:46 11:44
#3 12:20 12:30 13:02
#5 14:41 14:51 15:18
Station/train# Misumi Uto Kumamoto
#2 11:21 11:48 11:59
#4 13:55 14:23 14:33
#6 16:19 16:50 17:00

19 thoughts on “Schedule of 2013 spring seasonal trains of Japan Railways”

  1. I have read most of your travel blogs and I do find them helpful. Thank you for your efforts. My question revolves around our wish to travel from Kumumoto to Nobeoka We would like to see Mt Aso and then continue to takachiho gorge and get to nobeoka at the end of one days travel. Is this possible?

    1. Hi Graham,

      It is very difficult. If you see both in one day, you have to find the way to move from Aso to Takachiho. Kumamoto-Takachiho bus runs only two trips a day.
      http://jprail.com/destinations/kyushu-area/my-trip-to-takachiho-how-to-access-to-takachiho-how-much-can-we-use-japan-rail-pass.html
      Takamoricho is the nearest bus stop and you can get there by Minami Aso Railway from JR Tatsuno station. However bus departs there at 11:00 and 17:20. 11:00 is too early and 17:20 is too late.

      In last season, sightseeing bus is available from Kumoaoto to Nobeoka via Aso and Takachiho. But it’s not been announced at this point.

      Cheers,

      Takeshi / JP Rail

      1. Thank you for your prompt reply…pardon my lateness.. ; – ) .. I appreciate the difficulties of easily navigating around mountainous regions with sparse populations. This will not stop us from enjoying the delights of Kyushu and I look forward to following your blogs for many years to come….Domo arigato gozaimas…hope I got that right

        1. Hi Graham,

          When I will get new info about sightseeing bus, I will share it on my Facebook page. If you have an account of Facebook, please stick around.
          Both Aso and Takachiho are quite scenic and very interesting place. I hope you will enjoy your trip in Kyushu. 🙂

          Cheers,

          Takeshi / JP Rail

  2. Dear Takeshi-san,

    Many thanks for the information on your site: my family and I recently travelled on the Hayato-no-Kaze, Shinpei, and SL Hitoyoshi to Kumamoto (Oct 2013).

    It’s a great day trip, and I recommend it to all travellers in Kyushu.

    Please note, it’s really geared for local travellers, and none of the trains really accommodate large amounts of luggage.

    Due to the popularity of SL Hitoyoshi, to get a reserved seat, which is the best guarantee of riding, you need to book ONE MONTH in advance. If you aren’t doing this through a travel agency, it’s best to get someone in Japan to do this at a train station (Midori no mado-guchi).

    The scenery is gorgeous, and for the shutterbugs there are plenty of opportunities to take photos as the trains make regular periodic stops allowing time for snaps of the train, stations and environs.

    At each stop the locals give hearty, friendly waves and traders eagerly sell tasty snacks and (all important) omiyage. Please support them.

    Thanks again Takeshi for the info on this site, which made planning our trip so much easier.

    Regards,

    Dwayne.

    PS – try the shochu sorbet+vanilla ice cream on the SL Hitoyoshi.

    1. Hi Dwayne,

      Thank you very much for sharing your experience.

      I love Kyushu trains too. But I’ve never taken SL Hitoyosi yet. 🙁
      I will try Shochu sorbet someday. 🙂

      Cheers,

      Takeshi / JP Rail

  3. Dear Takeshi-san,

    I will go to Kyushu in Oct and I plan to take some JR scenic trains such as SL Hitoyoshi/Isaburo/Hayato no Kase on Oct 18 as well as Yufuin no mori on Oct 24.

    I’d like to know if these trains will be busy, should we make reservation in advance? If so, how do we do it if we are to use JR rail pass? We will arrive Japan on Oct 15 which might be too late to reserve for some popular trains.

    Or should we opt out and not use JR pass and ask my Japanese friend to buy the ticket for us now?

  4. Good morning, Takeshi-san,

    we just came back from Japan and I can report that we had an excellent and timely ride with SL Hitoyoshi from Kumamoto all the way to Hitoyoshi and back. No problem with seat reservations although the outbound service was heavily patronised by Taiwanese Tourist Groups. We managed to get the two most comfortable single chair seats on the observation deck of car 3 – from Kumamoto at the end of the train on April, 12, from Hitoyoshi right behind the SL. JR Kyushu ladies spoke very good English and offered a good choice of souvenirs from the buffet car.

    I also can report an excellent and timely journey on April, 11 from Kagoshima-Chuo to Ibusuki and back with the new LEX and straight back and a comfortable journey on April, 10 with Yufuin-no-mori 3 from Hakata to Yufuin which got delayed 25 mins. into Yufuin, due to some electrical mishaps (generator/aircon).

    All the best,
    Christoph.

    N.B. On our journey back to Kansai Airport on April, 13 two LEX Haruka (departing Shinosaka 15.45 and 16.45 hrs.) were cancelled due to unknown reasons. I had never experienced that !

    1. Hi Christoph san,

      Thank you for sharing your experience. I’m also happy to hear that you enjoyed the trip a lot!

      Kyushu and Hokkaido have may tourist from overseas. Both companies’s staffs are well educated. Even they cannot speak English very fluently, they always to try to communicate and let a customer happy. I was very impressed by some of JR Kyushu trains too. But I have never take “Ibutama” from Kagoshima-Chuo.

      I hope you will visit other places in Japan one day.

      Cheers,

      Takeshi / JP Rail

  5. Dear Takeshi-san,

    I’m going to Sapporo in May. We will stay in Sapporo city from 2-5 May and 8-10 May, 5-6 May in Hakodate and 7th May in Noboribetsu.

    I heard that we can buy Hokkaido Rail Pass or Sapporo-Otaru 1 day welcome pass to go around Hokkaido. But I still not very clear about the JR train system appreciate if you can help me.

    1. I saw in JR Rail Japan website, that is a model course for “visit the cherry blosoms in southern’. If I buy the Hokkaido 5 days Rail Pass in Singapore, can I take the Donan Sakura Express & SL Hakodate-Onuma Trains? If can, how can we make a seat reservation in advance for Train, twinkle bus if we buy the Hokkaido Rail Pass in Singapore?

    2. How to buy the Hokuto Sakura bus ticket for Hakodate sakura viewing?

    3. My JR tain journey are asf;-
    Sapporo – Otaru-Sapporo – 3 or 4 May
    Sapporo – Hakodate – 5th May
    Hakodate – Onumakoen – Noboribetsu – 7th May
    Noboribetsu – Sapporo – 8th May

    Appreciate if you can advise what kind of pass/discount tikcet shall I buy.

    Thanks you
    May Yong

    1. Hi May-san,

      The answers for you are the following:

      1. You can take both trains. But you cannot make a reservation before you come to Japan. Please see the following links:
      http://www2.jrhokkaido.co.jp/global/english/railpass/rail01.pdf
      http://jprail.com/travel-informations/basic-informations/timetable-and-reservation/how-to-reserve-seat.html

      2. The easiest way to purchase is at Sapporo station, Twincle Plaza.
      http://www2.jrhokkaido.co.jp/global/pdf/e/spring_hakodate.pdf
      http://www2.jrhokkaido.co.jp/global/english/idesk/index.html

      3. Hokkaido Rail Pass Flex 4 days may be suitable for your trip. But the price may be very close to total single fares. I show some sample fare at the following link:
      http://jprail.com/travel-informations/other-rail-passes/rail-pass-for-visitors/hokkaido-rail-pass-the-best-deal-for-rail-trip-in-hokkaido-for-oversea-visitors.html

      If you use 3 days of 4 days for 5/5, 5/7 and 5/8, you still have one more day to use flex pass. If you visit somewhere other than Otaru when you stay in Sapporo, such as Asahikawa or Furano, Flex 4 days gives you the greatest deal. As you see the above link, round trip fare to Hakodate from Sapporo is cheaper than 4 days Flex pass. You will drop by Noboribetu. So your total fares will be higher than round trip fare to Hakodate from Sapporo. But I estimate total single fares is still slightly than Flex 4 days.

      Cheers,

      Takeshi / JP Rail

  6. Dear Takeshi-san,

    please allow un update to my request of today:

    I now was able to print the JR Kyushu schedule of SL Hitoyoshi – no need to email it to me.

    I found out be reading this excellent thread entirely that SL Banetsu Monogatari operates also in April from Niigata which is not in the region we are travelling to – no need for more comments.

    Thank you and best regards,
    Christoph.

  7. Dear Takeshi-san,

    thank you for your detailed information. On April 12 we will arrive at Kumamoto by Sakura in the morning to catch SL Hitoyoshi. Can I book the Box Seats with our JR Rail Pass Green (I guess SL Hioyoshi has only Ordinary Class, which is fine with us) ?

    By the way, I was unable to print out the link you kindly have provided. Could you email the page of JR Kyushu with the date schedule of SL Hitoyoshi only straight to my email adress ?

    Also, I did not find SL Banetsu Monogatari, so I guess this is a summer only seasonal service and we will only be in Kyushu (Hakata) from April, 9 to April, 12. So no chance for travelling with SL Banetsu Monogatari

    Thank you in advance for your kind assistance to this matter.

    Best wishes,

    Christoph.

    1. Hi Christoph,

      You can book SL Hitoyoshi with Japan Rail Pass. But I’ve heard SL Hitoyoshi is always busy. Just in case, please expect that you cannot make it.

      Cheers,

      Takeshi / JP Rail

  8. Takeshi-san,

    domo arigato gozaimas for your excellent post.

    Is SL Hitoyoshi really operating in both directions on Friday, April 12 ?

    It would be excellent,because we are on Kyushu this day -but the Hyperdia schedule website does not show SL Hitoyoshi (perhaps because it is a seasonal train).

    Can we book with JP Rail Pass Green seats at the Observation Lounge of SL Hitoyoshi (which car number ?) or only Box seats (which car number?) or is this SL service without reservations ?

    Thank you very much in advance for your kind reply,
    Christoph.

    1. Hi Christoph,

      Yes, it will run on Apr 12. Check page 3 (JR Kyushu released PDF) at the following link:
      http://www13.jrkyushu.co.jp/newsreleaseweb.nsf/9dd28b8cb8f46cee49256a7d0030d2e6/b75d83a5d1e9d60449257afd003bc5f3/$FILE/%E3%80%90%E5%88%A5%E7%B4%99%EF%BC%91%EF%BD%9E%EF%BC%94%E3%80%91%E9%81%8B%E8%BB%A2%E6%97%A5%E3%82%AB%E3%83%AC%E3%83%B3%E3%83%80%E3%83%BC.pdf

      You cannot book observation seat. It is public space. You maybe mixed up SL Hitoyoshi with SL Banetsu Monogatari. Banetsu Monogatari will have green seat for this coming summer season.

      Cheers,

      Takeshi / JP Rail

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