The Covid-19 infection is still spreading, and there is no prospect for the future.
This website provides information on rail travel in Japan. However, I think everyone is wondering when we can go to Japan. I myself cannot help but want to go early.
So this time I will explain about the current immigration restrictions on Japan and prospects for lifting restrictions. I will also show you about domestic travel circomstance in Japan, status of international and domestic flights, the operating status and congestion of Japanese railways, accommodations and attractions.
Tomamu – Obihiro segment will open on 22nd December.
Hokkaido was hit by very severe typhoon in late August. Many train lines are closed by this storm and many trains are suspended currently. Substitute bus service and tentative train are operated but trip time is much longer than original schedule. And also the accommodation of some trains are totally different from Limited Express train interior. It offers just commute train accommodation. It is obviously inconvenient. If you cannot accept this situation, I recommend you to change your trip plan. It may not be a right time to visit there.
JR Group sell “Railway anniversary day’s unlimited ride ticket (鉄道の日記念 JR全線乗り放題きっぷ)” in October. Because the first railroad was open between Shinbashi and Yokohama in October 14, 1872. October 14 is railway anniversary day in JR Groups. Especially this year, 2012 is 25th anniversary of JR Group founded. In commemoration of the 25th year, this ticket will be sold at 7,500 yen for three consecutive days. This ticket basically will be sold for the local. So anyone can purchase it. Even though there are some restrictions, such as ticket do not cover any express trains, the residents who cannot purchase special discount ticket, like JR Pass, maybe consider to use this pass. I will show you the details about this ticket. Continue reading Fall JR rapid and local trains unlimited ride ticket 3 days at 7500 yen. Available for both residents and visitors.
JR Kyushu have been planning to operate a deluxe overnight train. According to some major newspapers in Japan, JR Kyushu seem to complete the plan. They may start to take a reservation in this coming summer. This is the first multi-day cruising train trip in Japan. Probably this is much more luxury than Twilight Express and Cassiopeia. I don’t think I can afford this train trip. But it is very interesting. So I would like to share all information that I know at this point. Continue reading Luxury overnight cruising train trip in Kyushu
Japan Railway usually revise the timetable every March. Hayabusa on Tohoku Shinkansen, Mizuho and Sakura on Kyushu Shinkansen were introduced in this past March. All JR six companies released the outline of next timetable revision in March 2012. I will show you the outline about this timetable revision.
Overnight train, Nihonkai and Kitaguni will be discontinued as a scheduled train.
JR East announced that they will sell Tohoku Ouen Pass (東北応援パス). “Ouen (応援)” means Supporting in Japanense. This pass will be sold for supporting Tohoku region where is seriously damaged by the great earthquake in this past March. This pass motivate tourists go to Tohoku region and spend money there to revitalize economy there. Anybody can buy this pass. If you travel outside from Japan, you can buy Japan Rail Pass or JR East Pass. But if you live in Japan as a student or work permit, you cannot buy these pass for visitors. This pass may be considerable for you.
***I updated this following information on November 5, 2011.***
Between Shirahama (白浜) and Kumanoshi (熊野市) on Kii line (紀伊本線) in Kii peninsula were closed due to huge typhoon. JR West and JR Central announced they will complete to restore on December 3, 2011. Continue reading Operation status on Kii line
Gran Class ticket on Hayabusa is one of Japan Railway’s ticket that is hardest to get. But JR East will add more E5 series train that equips Gran Class. JR East announced that E5 series is going to be used for Hayate and Yamabiko. They offer Gran Class service on Hayate and Yamabiko too! JR East will start to use E5 series for these following trains on November 19, 2011: Continue reading More chance to get Gran Class on Tohoku Shinkansen on Nov 19, 2011
JR Kyushu announce that they will introduce the newest limited express train, “A Ressha de Iko” (A列車で行こう=Take the ‘A’ train) on October 8, 2011. They will operate two round trips of this train on weekends, holidays and Christmas holidays between Kumamoto (熊本) and Misumi (三角). This train stops at only Uto (宇土). The timetable has not been announced yet. I will let you know right after I get.
On Feb 5, 2011, the first Hayabusa was on sale. But the first Hayabusa train to Shin-Aomori from Tokyo was sold out in ONLY 40 seconds!!! The fisrt Hayabusa from Shin-Aomori to Tokyo was sold out in one hour and 30 minutes. I don’t talk about only Gran Class, but any class on Hayabusa. I expected it would be popular. But this is more than what I expected.
I tried to access online site, and check the possibility for the booking of Hayabusa. I made it. Yes, we can.
If you want to book online, access to JR East Shinkanse reservation. You have to be a member. You need to have a credit card to guarantee the booking (not for payment).
I read most of the major Japanese news paper. They said Hayabusa was sold out on Mar 5, 2011. But I could book it. I could make a reservation for even Gran Class. I did not click “Submit” on the last page. So I don’t know that the reservation would be completed or not.
Anyway you can make a reservation before you depart from your country. If you want to take Hayabusa, I strongly recommend to book in advance.
I have received the email from JR West. They confirmed Japan Rail Pass can be used for Kyushu Shinkansen. But Japan Rail Pass can be used for only Sakura that is the second fastest train between Shin-Osaka and Kagoshima-Chuo. We cannot take Mizuho that is the fastest train between Shin-Osaka and Kagoshima-Chuo by Japan Rail Pass. JR West and Kyushu applied same fare table as Nozomi. So Japan Rail Pass does not cover even the basic fare. If you take Mizuho, you have to pay the full fare.
Gran Class Japan Rail Pass cover only the basic fare. If you want to take this class, you have to pay both Limited Express surcharge and Gran Class charge. As of Feb, 2011, the extra charges on Japan Rail Pass are the following:
Tokyo to Sendai : Ltd Exp charge 4,810 yen / Gran Class surcharge 9,000 yen (If you upgrade from Green, surcharge is 4,000 yen Even Green Pass cover only the basic fare.) Tokyo to Morioka : Ltd Exp charge 5,650 yen / Gran Class surcharge 9,000 yen (If you upgrade from Green, surcharge is 4,000 yen Even Green Pass cover only the basic fare.) Tokyo to Shin-Aomori : Ltd Exp charge 6.500 yen / Gran Class surcharge 10,000 yen (If you upgrade from Green, surcharge is 5,000 yen Even Green Pass cover only the basic fare.)
If you are looking for the details about Hayabusa, please refer this page. If you are looking for the timetable of Hayabusa, please refer this page.
JR East will start to operate the newest and fastest express train “Hayabusa” on Tohoku Shinkansen on March 5, 2011. They released the timetable for Hayabusa. I will show you that. But Japan Railway still did not announce that Japan Rail Pass can be used for Hayabusa or not. So please wait for that.
On Feb 1, 2011, I confirmed that Japan Rail Pass can be used for Hayabusa. But if you take Gran Class, you need to pay the extra. Please refer this post to see the details.
As probably you know, Kyushu Shinkansen will be opened all section between Hakata and Kagoshima-Chuo on Mar 12, 2011. JR Kyushu released the tentative schedule. You can see the timetable here(PDF).
But this timetable is only in Japanese. So I made some sample timetable with Japanese-English translation. Before you take a look at the timetable, please click this image.
This timetable consists of 4 page as PDF file. Each page has two directions. The top half of the page is the timetable for Shin-Osaka to Kagoshima-Chuo via Hiroshima, Hakata and Kumamoto. The bottom half is the timetable for Kagoshima-Chuo to Shin-Osaka via Kumamoto, Hakata and Hiroshima.
We will have four round trips for the fastest train, “Mizuho”. We will have Mizuho or Sakura mostly once an hour between Shin-Osaka and Kaghoshima-Chuo. It takes 3 hours and 46 minutes by Mizuho from Shin-Osaka to Kagoshima-Chuo. It takes about 4 hours to 4 hours 30 minutes by Sakura between Shin-Osaka and Hakata.
We will have four departures an hour between Hakata and Kumamoto, and two departures between Hakata and Kagoshima-Chuo.
Unfortunately JR Group did not announce anything about Japan Rail Pass validity to take these new trains, Mizuho and Sakura. I will let you know right after I get an information.
As of October 21, 2010, you can use Tokyo monorail that is operated between Haneda airport and Hamamatsucho (浜松町) by Japan Rail Pass. But you cannot exchange the actual pass because there is no Japan Railway station at Haneda airport. That means you cannot take Tokyo Monorail with no extra charge by Japan Rail Pass right after arrival at Haneda airport.
If you want to have more informations about access to Haneda, please refer this page.
Condition changed for taking Aoimori Railway
As of December 4, 2010, JAPAN RAIL PASS can be used for Aoimori Railway Line in the limited cases. If you want to take Ominato line at Noheji station, you can use Aoimori Line from Aomori or Hachinohe. But you cannot get off the train in Aoimori Railway line. And also if you use the overnight train, you have to pay the regular fare and surcharge for Aoimori Railway.
The reason why Japan Railway change the condition is starting to operate Tohoku Shinkansen between Hachinohe and Shin-Aomori. Before Tohoku Shinkansen was started to operate between Hachinohe and Shin-Aomori, this line was owned by Japan Railway. But after that, this section was transfered to the private company, Aoimori Railway. Ominato line was no longer connected with any Japan Railway lines.
Kyushu Shinkasen will be started to operate between Shin-Yatsushiro and Hakata on March 12, 2011. This section will be owned by JR Kyushu after that. I think we will not have any big changes. But Japan Railway did not announce anything about using Japan Rail Pass for Kyushu Shinkansen’ fastest train “Mizuho” and Tohoku Shinkansen’ fastest train “Hayabusa“. I will keep checking and let you know as soon as possible.
*Hayabusa except Gran Class can be used by Japan Rail Pass. But Mizuho cannot be used by Japan Rail Pass.