Save time and money to go to Niigata from Tokyo by train. Overnight rapid train Moonlight Echigo

***This train usually runs in peak periods. But since summer peak season in 2014, this train has not run any more. It seems that this train service is discontinued.***
Moonlight Echigo is operated by old type express train 183 series.
Moonlight Echigo is operated by old type express train 183 series.

Moonlight Echigo (ムーンライトえちご) is the overnight rapid service train that is operated between Shinjuku (新宿) and Niigata (新潟). This train used to be a scheduled train. But it was changed to a seasonal train. It is usually operated in same season as Moonlight Nagara, such as spring break (two weeks from late March to early April), summer break (late July to the end of August) and Christmas holidays. These periods are the seasons when “Seisyun 18 ticket” is sold. Anyone can buy this ticket. You can ride any local train throughout Japan for 5 days at 11500 yen. This train can be used by this ticket. So it is always busy.

This train is fully covered by Japan Rail Pass. It may be hard to get a seat on this train because of only peak season operation. But it may be considerable for overnight transfer between Tokyo and Niigata, and any area in Tohoku and Hokuriku via Niigata. Let’s see the details about this train. Continue reading Save time and money to go to Niigata from Tokyo by train. Overnight rapid train Moonlight Echigo

The Tokaido, the Sanyo and the Kyushu Shinkansen (Bullet Train) train ride guide. Most popular train between Tokyo, Nagoya, Kyoto, Osaka, Hiroshima, Hakata and Kagoshima.

Shinkansen is the high speed train service in Japan. It is known as Bullet Train too.
The Shinkansen is the high speed train service in Japan. It is known as Bullet Train too.

The Shinkansen is the high speed train and the speed of the Shinkansen save your trip time. There are many Shinkansen lines in Japan now. In this post, I will explain you the Tokaido Shinkansen which is the first Shinkansen line in Japan. And also I will explain you the Sanyo and the Kyushu Shinkansen too. Because these two Shinkansen lines are connected with the Tokaido Shinkansen.

Continue reading The Tokaido, the Sanyo and the Kyushu Shinkansen (Bullet Train) train ride guide. Most popular train between Tokyo, Nagoya, Kyoto, Osaka, Hiroshima, Hakata and Kagoshima.

Direct access to Fukuoka (Hakata), Kumamoto, Kagoshima from Osaka. Kyushu Shinkansen

Kyushu Shinkansen Tsubasa
Kyushu Shinkansen Tsubame

Kyushu Shinkansen runs between Hakata and Kagoshima-Chuo. But many trains run from Shin-Osaka and carry many passengers from Kansai area to Kyushu. This is the best way to get Kyushu from Osaka and Hiroshima. But some trains are not covered by JR Pass. I would like to show you about this Shinkansen system in this post.

Continue reading Direct access to Fukuoka (Hakata), Kumamoto, Kagoshima from Osaka. Kyushu Shinkansen

Tohoku and Joetsu Shinkansen image gallery. Check the interior and accommodations.

E2 series (left) and 200 series (right)
E2 series (left) and original fleet 200 series (right). All 200 series were retired already.

Tohoku Shinkansen and Joetsu Shinkansen share the track between Tokyo and Omiya. So some types of trains are used on both Tohoku and Joetsu. I show you several types of trains that are used on Tohoku or Joetsu Shinkansen. If you are looking for the general information about these Shinkansens, please read Tohoku Shinkansen or Joetsu Shinkansen.

*If you are looking for the images of Akita, Yamagata or Nagano, please refer the following posts:

Akita Shinkansen
Yamagata Shinkansen
Nagano Shinkansen

*If you are looking for the images of the newest E5 series for Hayabusa (Gran class seat), please refer the following posts:

this post, Gran class and all class seat of Tohoku Shinkansen E5 series and Gran class for Hayabusa, Hayate and Yamabiko image gallery.

Continue reading Tohoku and Joetsu Shinkansen image gallery. Check the interior and accommodations.

Sanyo Shinkansen image gallery. Check the interior and accommodations.

The logo of Hikari Rail Star
The logo of Hikari Rail Star

Sanyo Shinkansen is operated between Shin-Osaka and Hakata. But Sanyo Shinkansen is connected with Tokaido Shinkansen (from Nagoya, Kyoto and Tokyo) at Shin-Osaka and Kyushu Shinkansen (from Kumamoto and Kagoshima) at Hakata.

Most of trains run from Tokyo (Nozomi and Hikari) are operated by Tokaido Shinkansen fleet, 700 series or N700 series. If you look for the images of these trains, please see Tokaido Shinkansen image gallery.

Most of trains to Kyushu, such as Kumamoto or Kagoshima-chuo (Mizuho and Sakura) are operated by Kyushu Shinkansen fleet, N700 series. If you look for the image of this train, please see N700 series for Kyushu Shinkansen Mizuho and Sakura.

In this post, I show you the images of 700 series and 500 series. These train sets are used as “Kodama” (stops at all stations) of Sanyo Shinkansen.

And you can find 800 series of Kyushu Shinkansen segment (Hakata – Kagoshima-Chuo) at Kyushu Shinkansen.

*Sonic Rail Garden has copyright for all images below.
Continue reading Sanyo Shinkansen image gallery. Check the interior and accommodations.

Tokaido Shinkansen image gallery. Check the interior and accommodations.

Original Shinkansen 0 series. It has been already disused.
Original Shinkansen 0 series. It has been already disused.

We cannot think about the travel in Japan without Shinkansen. Especially Tokaido Shinkansen (Tokyo-Shin Osaka) can be used for transfer to Kyoto and Osaka from Tokyo. Most of travellers take this Shinkansen once or more. Probably you want to see the interior of Shinkansen trains. There are several types of trains to be operated on Tokaido Shinkansen. I show you all types of trains of Tokaido Shinkansen trains. And also most of Tokaido Shinkansen trains go through on Sanyo Shinkansen between Shin-Osaka and Hakata. So if you take Sanyo Shinkansen, this post may be useful for you too.

*Sonic Rail Garden has copyright for all images below.
Continue reading Tokaido Shinkansen image gallery. Check the interior and accommodations.

What is the Shinkansen (bullet train)? Most convenient and the fastest train service throughout Japan.

Shinkansen

The Shinkansen (新幹線) is a high speed train service that is operated by JR. It is one of the fastest trains in world and sometimes called “Bullet Train”. JR has this high speed train network throughout Japan. You can save lots of your trip time by taking this train system.

I would like to share a basic information about the Shinkansen train system in this post.

Continue reading What is the Shinkansen (bullet train)? Most convenient and the fastest train service throughout Japan.

Popular Steam Locomotive train, SL Banetsu Monogatari

902654_10151632611729924_1491466821_oThere are many steam locomotive trains in Japan. But this train, SL Banetsu Monogatari is only SL train that has Green seat. And it also has observation car, cafeteria and kids play space. I have received many nice photos of this train from one of my frequent reader, James. I would like to share the information of this train with you.

I would like to thank you, James for your photos. Continue reading Popular Steam Locomotive train, SL Banetsu Monogatari

JR direct train to Ise from Nagoya. Rapid train Mie

Rapid train Mie goes on Sangu line to Toba and Ise-shi.
Rapid train Mie goes on Sangu line to Toba and Ise-shi.

Rapid train Mie (みえ) is operated between Nagoya (名古屋) and Toba (鳥羽) via Ise-shi (伊勢市) on Sangu line (参宮線). If you go to Ise by Japan Rail Pass, simply take this train. This is the easiest and most economical way. However it is not fully covered by Japan Rail Pass, because there is non JR lines on the route of this train. And also this is not limited express train. So the interior of this train is under express trains’ standard.

I will tell you the details about this train. And I show you extra charge on Japan Rail Pass too. Continue reading JR direct train to Ise from Nagoya. Rapid train Mie

Access to Mito, Katsuta and Iwaki from Ueno. Limited Express Hitachi and Tokiwa

E657 series is one of the newest fleets and is used for Limited Express Hitachi and Tokiwa.
E657 series is one of the newest fleets and is used for Limited Express Hitachi and Tokiwa.

Limited Express Hitachi (ひたち) and Tokiwa (ときわ) are operated mostly between Shinagawa, Tokyo, Ueno and Katsuta, Iwaki via Mito on Joban line. These trains were operated as Super Hitachi and Fresh Hitachi from Ueno station before March 13, 2015. After that, these trains depart from Shinagawa station via Tokyo station. It is much more convenient to get on this train from Tokyo now. These trains connect most of cities along the coast side in Ibaragi and southern part of Fukushima.

If you travel to Mito, Iwaki, Yumoto Hot Springs resort, this train gives you directly transfer from Tokyo, Shinagawa and Ueno.

This train is fully covered by Japan Rail Pass. I will tell you the details about this train. Continue reading Access to Mito, Katsuta and Iwaki from Ueno. Limited Express Hitachi and Tokiwa

Access to Iida and Tenryu river valley from Toyohashi, Limited Express Inaji

Limited Express Inaji is operated by JR Central 373 series.
Limited Express Inaji is operated by JR Central 373 series.

Limited Express Inaji (伊那路) is operated between Toyohashi (豊橋) and Iida (飯田) via Iida line (飯田線). This train connects most of cities and towns along Tenryu river. If you need to access to Iida, Tenryukyo and other places in Southern Shinshu region, this train may suitable for your trip.

Iida line is not well known for the tourist. And there is no world famous sightseeing spots along this line. However the scenery is breathtaking. Especially you will see Tenryu river valley and Southern Alps mountains through the window when you take this train.

This train is fully covered by Japan Rail Pass. Let’s see the details about this train. Continue reading Access to Iida and Tenryu river valley from Toyohashi, Limited Express Inaji

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 SL Hakodate Christmas Fantasy. Enjoy winter scenery between Hakodate and Onuma.

Limited Express Ayame. Access to Kashima-Jingu and Choshi

Limited Express Ayame by E257-500 series (C) 800px-JRE_seriesE257_type500_LimitedExpressAyame - E3uematsu
Limited Express Ayame by E257-500 series (C) 800px-JRE_seriesE257_type500_LimitedExpressAyame – E3uematsu

This train has been discontinued in March 2015.

Limited Express Ayame (あやめ) is operated between Tokyo (東京) and Choshi (銚子), Kashima-Jingu (鹿島神宮). Choshi is well know as home of soy sauce and fishing port. Kashima-Jingu is one of the most famous shrine in Japan.

Let’s see this trains’ route, schedule and accommodations. Continue reading Limited Express Ayame. Access to Kashima-Jingu and Choshi

Limited Express Shiosai. Access to Choshi from Tokyo.

Limited Express Shiosai by newer E257 series
Limited Express Shiosai by newer E257 series

Limited Express Shiosai (しおさい) is operated between Tokyo (東京) and Choshi (銚子), Naruto (成東), Sakura (佐倉). Choshi is located at the mouth of Tone river. This city is very well know as home of soy sauce. And also Choshi is one of the biggest fishing port. There are lots of fresh seafood, like sardines, bonito, and tuna.

Let’s see this trains’ route, schedule and accommodations. Continue reading Limited Express Shiosai. Access to Choshi from Tokyo.

Limited Express Wakashio. Access to Katsuura and Awa-Kamogawa in Boso peninsula from Tokyo

Limited Express Wakashio by newer E257 series (C) Sonic Rail Garden
Limited Express Wakashio by newer E257 series (C) Sonic Rail Garden

Limited Express Wakashio (わかしお) is operated between Tokyo (東京) and Kazusa-Ichinomiya (上総一ノ宮), Katsuura (勝浦), Awa-Kamogawa (安房鴨川). This train runs along the east coast of Boso peninsula in Chiba prefecture. The east coast of Boso peninsula face to Pacific Ocean. This is very popular spots for local tourist in Tokyo.

Of course this train is 100% covered by Japan Rail Pass, Kanto Area Pass and JR East Pass. Let’s see this trains’ route, schedule and accommodations. Continue reading Limited Express Wakashio. Access to Katsuura and Awa-Kamogawa in Boso peninsula from Tokyo

Limited Express Sazanami. Access to Kimizu and Tateyama in Boso peninsula from Tokyo

Limited Express Sazanami by newer E257 series
Limited Express Sazanami by newer E257 series

Limited Express Sazanai (さざなみ) is operated between Tokyo (東京) and Kimizu (君津). This train runs along the west coast of Boso peninsula in Chiba prefecture. Continue reading Limited Express Sazanami. Access to Kimizu and Tateyama in Boso peninsula from Tokyo

Access to Tsuwano, Izumo, Matsue from Yamaguchi. Limited Express Super Oki

Super Oki is operated by high speed diesel unit with tilting system KIHA 187 series. (C) kazusan – JR West KiHa 187 series DMU on a Super Oki service on the Yamaguchi Line in Japan

Limited Express Super Oki (スーパーおき) is operated between Tottori (鳥取), Yonago (米子) and Shin-Yamaguchi (新山口). This train connects all major cities in Sanin area with Shinkansen station Shin-Yamaguchi. Especially you can access to west part of Sanin area, such as Masuda (益田), Hamada (浜田), Odashi (大田市) where is UNESCO World Heritage Iwami Ginzan Silver Mine gate station, this train is your choice. And you can use this train for transfer among Matsue (松江), Izumoshi (出雲市) and other cities in Sanin area. Other limited express Super Matsukaze is operated between Tottori and Masuda. You can use both trains for inter-city transfer in Sanin area. Moreover don’t forget than Tsuwano (津和野) is on the way. This small town is called “Sanin’s little Kyoto”.

But if you go to Yonago, Matsue and Izumoshi from Tokyo, Nagoya, Osaka, Kyoto or other cities in east part of Japan, Limited Express Yakumo (やくも) that departs from Okayama (岡山) is much faster. On the other hand, if you access to Matsue or Izumoshi from Kyushu, Super Oki is faster. Please make sure the timetable at Hyperdia when you make your plan. Continue reading Access to Tsuwano, Izumo, Matsue from Yamaguchi. Limited Express Super Oki

Inter-city train in Tottori and Shimane. Limited Express Super Matsukaze

Super Matsukaze is operated by KIHA 187 series that is high speed with tilting system.

Limited Express Super Matsukaze (スーパーまつかぜ) is operated between Tottori (鳥取), Yonago (米子) and Masuda (益田). This train connects all major cities in Sanin area. Matsue (松江) has castle and Samurai district. Izumoshi (出雲市) is very well known by Japan’s second most important shrine, Izumo Taisha. Odashi (大田市) is a gate station to UNESCO World Heritage Iwami Ginzan Silver Mine. You can travel all these cities by Super Matsukaze. It is no doubt that this train is essential to travel in Sanin area. This train is fully covered by JR pass and JR West Sanyo Sanin Area Pass.

By the way, you can transfer to Limited Express Yakumo (やくも) to Okayama (岡山) at Yonago. The primary trains from Tottori to Okayama is Limited Express Super Inaba (スーパーいなば). But this train goes through non JR railway, Chizu Kyuko Railway. You have to pay extra if you use this train from Tottori. If you take Super Matsukaze and Yakumo, you can avoid to pay extra to Okayama from Tottori on Japan Rail Pass. But travel time is 1.5 hours longer than Super Inaba. Please check the details about Tottori – Okayama transfer at the post, The fastest train access to Tottori from Okayama. Limited Express Super Inaba. Continue reading Inter-city train in Tottori and Shimane. Limited Express Super Matsukaze

The limited express Super Inaba train guide. The fastest train access to Tottori from Okayama

Super Inaba is operated by KIHA 187 series. It is usually only two cars in the formation. (C) Mitsuki-2368 – West Japan Railway DC kiha 187 series Super inaba

Limited Express Super Inaba (スーパーいなば) connects Okayama (岡山) with Tottori (鳥取). It is connected with Shinkansen and Sunrise Izumo/Sunrise Seto. This is the fastest access to Tottori from Tokyo by Sunrise Seto and Sunrise Izumo. If you access to Tottori from Okayama and to the west from Okayama, such as Hiroshima, Hakara and all places in Kyushu and Shikoku. But this train goes through non JR line, Chizu Kyuko Railway. It is operated on same route as Super Hakuto between Kamigori and Tottori. That means you need to pay extra if you use this train by Japan Rail Pass. If you don’t want to pay extra, get on Limited Express Yakumo from Okayama to Yonago and transfer to another Limited Express Super Matsukaze or Limited Express Super Oki to Tottori. However travel time of this combination is at least 1.5 hours longer than Super Inaba. Sometimes it may take more because of connection at Yonago.

Super Inaba is the best route to Tottori from Okayama and west part of Japan anyway. I will show you about route, schedule and accommodations.

Continue reading The limited express Super Inaba train guide. The fastest train access to Tottori from Okayama

The limited express Hamakaze for access to Tottori, Hamasaka, Kasumi from Osaka, Kobe and Himeji with no extra charge by JR Pass

The limited express Hamakaze by 189 series at Osaka station

The Limited Express Hamakaze (はまかぜ) connects Osaka (大阪) and Tottori (鳥取) Kasumi (香住) and Hamasaka (浜坂). Even though there is only one round trip, Hakamaze is only train that connects Osaka and Tottori directly by JR Pass without any extra charge. Actually the primary train goes to Tottori from Osaka is the limited express Super Hakuto. This train is much more frequent and much faster than Hamakaze. But this train goes through Non JR line, Chizu Kyuko Railway. Therefore you have to pay extra charge if you take this train by JR Pass.

In this post, I will show you the route, schedule and accommodations.

Continue reading The limited express Hamakaze for access to Tottori, Hamasaka, Kasumi from Osaka, Kobe and Himeji with no extra charge by JR Pass

The limited express Super Hakuto train guide. The fastest train access to Tottori from Osaka and Kyoto

 Limited Express Super Hakuto is operated by high speed diesel fleet HOT 7000 series. (C) Mitsuki-2368 – Chizu Express Company HOT7000 Super hakuto

Limited Express Super Hakuto (スーパーはくと) connects Kyoto (京都), Shin-Osaka (新大阪), Osaka (大阪), Sannomiya (三ノ宮) and Himeji (姫路) with Tottori (鳥取) and Kurayoshi (倉吉). This it the fastest and most frequent direct train service to Tottori from Osaka, Kobe and Kyoto. But this train goes through non JR line, Chizu Kyuko Railway. That means you need to pay extra if you use this train by Japan Rail Pass. If you don’t want to pay extra, Limited Express Hamakaze is available between Osaka and Tottori. However there is only one round trip and travel time is 1.5 hours longer than Super Hakuto.

I think Super Hakuto may be your choice even if you have to pay extra on top of Japan Rail Pass. Let’s see about route, schedule and accommodations.

Route, schedule and travel time

Outdoor hot springs alongside the river at Misasa Onsen ©Tottori Prefecture/©JNTO

There are seven round trips. Some of these seven round trips go to Tottori only, not Kurayoshi.
Kyoto/Osaka – Tottori : 5 trips
Kyoto/Osaka – Tottori/Kurayoshi : 2 trips
Tottori – Osaka/Kyoto : 6 trips
Kurayoshi/Tottori – Osaka/Kyoto : 1 trip

Trains are operated every 2 hours. Travel time is 2 hours 30 minutes from Osaka to Tottori and 3 hours from Kyoto to Tottori. You can take Limited Express Hamakaze without any extra charge on top of Japan Rail Pass. But it takes more than 4 hours to get Tottori from Osaka. I think it is worth getting on this train with extra charge. I will tell you about extra charge later.

Find your hotels in 218 cities throughout Japan!!!

Hotels and Ryokans in Tottori
Hotels and Ryokans in Kurayoshi

If you see the map below, you might think this train’s route seems to be a big detour. However this is the fastest route because Chizu Kyuko line is a high standard track for high speed train operation. And if you travel from Nagoya or Tokyo, you can transfer at Himeji.

Limited Express Super Hakuto makes a stop at these stations:
Kyoto (京都) – Shin-Osaka (新大阪) – Osaka (大阪) – Sannomiya (三ノ宮) – Akashi (明石) – Himeji (姫路) – Kamigori (上郡) – Sayo (佐用) – Ohara (大原) – Chizu (智頭) – Koge (郡家) – Tottori (鳥取) – Kurayoshi (倉吉)


View Limited Express Super Hakuto in a larger map

Extra charge on Japan Rail Pass

As I mentioned, you have to pay extra if you use this train by JR Pass. You have to pay 1,320 yen for the base fare. And also you have to pay one of these following fares:

Non Reserved Oridnary seat430 yen
Reserved Oridnary seat530 yen
Green seat1,060 yen

You can try to get on limited express Hamakaze without any extra charge. Please see the details at the post below:

Accommodation and train formations

 If you get the first row seat, you may get panoramic view. (C) Bakkai – Chizu Express Koiyamagata Station platform

Super Hakuto is operated by the Chizu Kyuko Railway’s HOT 7000 series. In ordinary class, the seat configuration is 2+2 and the leg space is 970 mm. Green class seat is one of the best seat in Kansai area. The seat configuration is 2+1 and the leg space is 1,160 mm. There are only 18 seats available on one train set. It is very popular and sold out very often.

Train formation

12345
NRNRRR/GR

*G=Green seat R=Reserved ordinary seat NR=Non reserved ordinary seat
Smoking is not allowed on this train.

Green class seat (C) W0746203-1
Green class seat (C) 663highland
Ordinary seat (C) Sonic Rail Garden
Ordinary seat (C) Sonic Rail Garden

Nara access guide from Osaka, Kyoto, Kansai airport and Kobe by JR, Kintetsu Railway and Airport bus

Todaiji is one of the popular spot in Nara. ©Nara Prefecture/©JNTO

Nara is the former capital city in Japan and it is older than Kyoto. Many shrines, temples and districts are listed on UNESCO World Heritage, National Heritage and/or National Treasure. When you travel in Kansai region, you may think about visiting or staying in Nara. If you go to Osaka or Kyoto from other cities, such as Tokyo, you can get there by Shinkansen. But when you go to Nara, there are several routes and options. The trip route to Nara is varied by your trip plan and/or the deal which you intend to use.

In this post, I would like to share the information about access to Nara by train and bus.

Continue reading Nara access guide from Osaka, Kyoto, Kansai airport and Kobe by JR, Kintetsu Railway and Airport bus

The limited express Kusatsu train guide. The direct access to Kusatsu-Onsen from Ueno, Tokyo


Kusatsu Onsen Yubatake, (C) Kusatsu Onsen Tourism Association/JNTO

The limited express Kusatsu runs between Ueno in Tokyo and Naganohara-Kusatsuguchi. Naganohara-Kusatsuguchi station is the nearest station to one of most famous hot springs resort, Kusatsu. JR Bus Kanto operates the local bus to Kusatsu Onsen.

I will explain about this train and access to Kusatsu Onsen by the bus from Naganohara-Kusatsuguchi station.

Continue reading The limited express Kusatsu train guide. The direct access to Kusatsu-Onsen from Ueno, Tokyo

New Chitose Airport access guide. How to get Sapporo, Otaru and other cities in Hokkaido.

New Chitose airport station is located at the underground of the terminal building. (C) JP Rail

New Chitose airport (新千歳空港) is the biggest airport in Hokkaido and the primary gateway for the trip to Hokkaido by flights. Some of you start your trip from this airport.

In this post, I would like to share the guide of the access between this airport and Sapporo and Otaru. I will also show you how to take the trains to most of major cities in Hokkaido.

Continue reading New Chitose Airport access guide. How to get Sapporo, Otaru and other cities in Hokkaido.

The train access guide for the late arrival and the early departure at Haneda Airport

If you arrive at Haneda by Tokyo Monorail, the station is located at same level as departure floor. (C) JP Rail
If you arrive at Haneda by Tokyo Monorail, the station is located at same level as the departure floor. (C) JP Rail

I have received many inquiries regarding the late arrival and the early departure at Haneda. I will show you the detailed timetable between Haneda Airport and downtown Tokyo by Tokyo Monorail and Keikyu Railway (Keihin Kyuko Railway) in this post.

Continue reading The train access guide for the late arrival and the early departure at Haneda Airport