If you are a first time visitor, you don’t know how big is Japan Rail Pass (a.k.a. JR Pass). Actually it’s not handy size. I had an experience that I almost lost it! One of my reader, Tak gave me a very useful information. He found the perfect size case at 100 yen in Japan. I would like to share this information with you.
I wrote about train system in Kyoto before. But I have received many inquiries about Osaka too. I think it is very complicated for travellers from overseas. There are three types of railway, JR, Osaka Municipal Subway and Private company’s railways. Once you understand train system, you can find the best location to stay, the best deal for trains ride and the fastest way to visit that you want to see.
As probably you know, there are many types of deals, such as ICOCA, Kansai Thru Pass, JR Pass, Kansai Area Pass, Osaka Subway Eco Card and Osaka Unlimited Pass. Each pass has different conditions. You must understand the coverage of your pass.
In this post, I tell you about using these deals and explain all train systems in Osaka.
Train system in Kyoto may be complicated for you. There are three types of railway, JR, Kyoto City Subway and Private company’s railways. Actually it’s a key to travel in Kyoto smoothly and avoid wasting your valuable time. Of course city of Kyoto has city wide bus service. But during peak season, bus service runs behind the schedule sometimes due to traffic congestion.
And also, there are many types of deals, such as ICOCA, Kansai Thru Pass, JR Pass, Kansai Area Pass, Kyoto city pass. Each pass has different conditions. You have to understand which train system is covered by your pass.
In this post, I tell you about using these deals and explain all train systems in Kyoto.
Shinshu region is located in the heart of Japan. You might have heard Nagano where held winter Olympic games in 1998. There are lost of popular cities in this region, such as Nagano, Karuizawa and Matsumoto. And also Shinano-Omachi is well known as the gate way station to Tateyama-Kurobe Alpine route. Hakuba is very popular ski resort in winter season.
Takayama is one of the most popular destinations for overseas travelers. Especially spring and fall seasons are very popular since the festivals are held. This city is also known as the gateway to UNESCO World Heritage Site, Shirakawago. I would like to tell you about the access to Takayama in this post.
Izu is one of the most popular hot springs resort in Kanto area. It is very accessible from Tokyo. You can enjoy even day trip if you like. There are several popular spots in Izu peninsula. I would like to share the information about the access to Izu with you in this post.
I published several post about the limited express trains to Sanin area, such as Super Oki, Super Matsukaze, Super Inaba, Super Hakuto and Hamakaze. But there are some more trains from Osaka and Kyoto to Kinosaki-Onsen area. And there are several gateway stations. You might be confused.
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:
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 Another idea of overnight transfer to Hokkaido, using ferry service between Aomori and Hakodate
If you have JR pass, you want to use it to get Hakone. However JR pass does not cover the trip to Hakone completely.
There are several ways to get Hakone from Tokyo. But in this post, I focus on using JR pass for the trip to Hakone. I will show you which train you can take by JR pass not only from Tokyo but also from Osaka, Kyoto and Nagoya.
As you probably have already known, the train system in Japan is very complicated. Especially in the major cities, there are lots of railways. You might not understand the difference between Japan Railways (JR), subways and private railways.
In Kansai area, such as Osaka, Kyoto, Kobe, Nara, Himeji and Wakayama, many trains runs among these cities. You may be overwhelmed. But it is very important to understand the train system. This is a key to make a trip much more smoothly and save your trip time.
I would like to explain about JR lines and the private railway companies in Kansai area in this post. You may find which train line is the best for your trip.
I supposed to write about the transfer among Kobe (神戸), Osaka (大阪) and Kyoto (京都). But I should explain about JR (Japan Railway) lines in downtown Osaka. I believe the information about the location of JR stations and rail system let you understand the rail system outside of Osaka easily.
And this post may help the tourists who will start the trip from Osaka. Some of you are not sure to buy 7 days pass or 14 days pass for your trip. You may learn how much you can use Japan Railway line when you stay in Osaka. For example, if you travel in Japan for 10 days and stay in Osaka for the first 3 days, you may not use Japan Railway line when you stay in Osaka. As a result, you can buy 7 days pass.
Kansai airport is the international airport in Osaka. It is the gateway to Kyoto, Nara, Kobe and Wakayama too. There are many ways to get downtown Osaka, Kyoto and Kobe. In this post, I will explain about the terminal of Kansai airport, the access route to major places in Kansai region, and how to choose the deal which suits your trip plan.
JR West operates many commute trains, rapid and local between 5:30 am and midnight. But when you travel in Kansai area by JR trains, special rapid service trains are the best way to travel among cities, like Osaka, Kyoto, Kobe, Nara, Wakayama and Kansai airport. These “Special” rapid service skips many stations and much faster than rapid and local trains. If you use JR pass, you may take limited express trains. But these rapid service trains are sometimes faster than express trains and run much more frequently. That means you do not check the timetable. These are commute trains and mostly very busy in even daytime and late night, but it is convenient. It is a key to understand this rapid train system to travel among cities in Kansai area.
Japan Railway operate Rapid trains throughout Japan. Especially lots of Rapid trains are operated in urban area, such as Greater Tokyo. In Tokyo, these trains are operated basically for commuters. But there are many operation routes. Of course you can use these trains for your exploring in surrounding Tokyo area. These trains connect Tokyo (=東京) and Shinjuku (=新宿) with Yokohama (=横浜), Kamakura (=鎌倉), Odawara (=小田原) (for Hakone (=箱根)), Utsunomiya (=宇都宮) (for Nikko (=日光)), Mito (=水戸), Narita airport (=成田空港) and even Atami (=熱海) (Izu peninsula hot springs (=伊豆半島)). These trains are fully covered by Japan Rail Pass. If you have Japan Rail Pass Green, most of Rapid trains in Greater Tokyo have double decker Green cars. You will feel same type of atmosphere in a commute train. Continue reading No express surcharge! Fast, economical and convenient! Rapid service network in Greater Tokyo
JR (Japan Railway) is the biggest train company’s group in Japan. When you travel in Japan by train, you will take JR train. Because JR has a local train network in cities and operates many inter-city long distance trains. But a train system in Japan is very complicated. Because there are lots of train companies which are not under JR group. It is very hard to find which train JR is or not. And also there are many companies under JR group. Actually these companies under JR group are financially separated. It sometimes makes inconvenience for passengers.
In this post, I would like to explain about JR train network. And I also mention about Non JR train networks.
When you travel by the JR express train in Japan, you have a few choices of the seat. Most of the JR express trains offer two classes, Green and Ordinary. Those are like business class seat and economy class seat on the fight. And the highest class seat, “Gran class” is available on some of the Shinkansen lines. Some express trains in Kyushu offer Deluxe Green class. And there are some trains which offer the compartment.
Green class is better than Ordinary class definitely. But it is pricey. Before choosing the class of seat, you should know how much better Green class is than Ordinary class. And you should know what the benefit of Green class is. Especially if you intend to buy JR Pass, you will consider which you will get, Green seat pass or Ordinary seat pass.
In this post, I would like to focus on the seat of JR trains. You will know the layout of the seat, a leg space, benefit of higher class seat. I believe you can judge which seat is your choice after reading this post.
Kyoto (京都) is most popular destination in Japan. You may visit Kyoto by Japan Rail Pass, Kansai Area Pass, Kansai Wide Area Pass, Kansai Hiroshima Area Pass and other JR West Rail Passes. You may be wondering how much you can use your pass to explore Kyoto?
These trains connect Shinjuku in Tokyo and Nikko, Kinugawa-Onsen. These trains run on JR line and Tobu Railway line. That means you have to pay extra if you use JR Pass. JR Pass cover JR line portion only. But if you use JR East Passes, such as JR East Pass Nagano Niigata, Tokyo Wide Pass, JR East Pass Tohoku, both JR line and Tobu Railway lines are covered. This may be complicated for you.
In this post, I will tell you about the limited express Nikko and Kinugawa. I also show you the extra fare on top of JR Pass.
If you want to save the time and save your money to stay hotel, overnight transfer is considerable. Many travelers move among Tokyo, Kyoto and Osaka. We have a few ways to take overnight transfer among these cities by Japan Rail Pass too. I would like to tell about it in this post. Continue reading Overnight transfer between Tokyo and Kyoto/Osaka
Mt. Koya (Koyasan) is one of very popular destinations in Kansai area. Most common way to Mt. Koya is Nankai Railway line. It takes you to Gokurakubashi station where is located at the base of Mt. Koya. You may transfer to the funicular to Mt. Koya.
If you use JR deals, such as JR Pass (nationwide pass), Kansai area pass, Kansai Hiroshima area pass and other JR West passes, you cannot use the pass because Nankai Railway is not JR. If you do not use these JR deals, you may use other deals, such as Kansai Thru Pass, Koyasan World Heritage Pass.
You may use these JR deals partially to get Mt. Koya if you want.
In this post, I would like to show you the way to get Mt. Koya and also tell you how you use the deal.
This lake is one of the most beautiful lakes in Japan and very popular destination in Tohoku region. Especially in autumn season, many tourists visit this lake and Oirase rapid on the way to Lake Towada to see such an amazing fall foliage. JR Tohoku Bus operates the schedule bus to Lake Towada from either Hachinohe and Aomori. This bus service is covered by JR Pass and JR East Pass Tohoku. You can visit there without any extra charge by these passes.