hakodate church

JR East-South Hokkaido Rail Pass user guide. Perfect deal for the travelers who visit Tokyo and Sapporo by train.

Night view form Mt.Hakodate ©Hokkaido Tourism Organization/© JNTO
Night view form Mt.Hakodate. Hakodate is one of the popular places in Hokkaido. ©Hokkaido Tourism Organization/© JNTO

This pass covers Narita airport, Greater Tokyo, Gala Yuzawa, Nikko, whole part of Tohoku region, Hakodate, Otaru, Noboribetsu, Lake Toya and Sapporo. You also may use this pass to get Lake Kawaguchi and Hakone even though this pass covers these trips partially. You cannot use this pass to get central, northern and eastern Hokkaido, such as Furano, Asahikawa, Shiretoko, Kushiro. JR Pass is better choice if you intend to visit these places.

In this post, I would like to share the information of this pass with you. And I will show you some sample rate and compare the pass value and single fares. You may find that JR East-South Hokkaido Rail Pass suits your plan or not.

Prices and valid period

JR East-South Hokkaido Rail Pass Flex 6-day

 Purchase outside Japan
or online
Purchase inside Japan
Adult26,900 yen27,930 yen
Child
(6-11 years old)
13,450 yen13,960 yen

*Child who is 5 years old and younger is free but you have to share the seat with child. If you want to have a seat for child too, you have to purchase child pass for even younger than 5 years old.
*If you want to purchase this pass in advance at the authorized agent, you may see the list of JR Pass travel agent. You can purchase it at same travel agents as JR Pass.

JR Pass official site

This pass is valid for Flex 6-day only. You can pick any 6 days in 14 days period. There is no Green pass choice. When you exchange/purchase this pass, you can decide which day you will start to use. This is the first day of 14 days period.

One day means midnight to midnight, technically 0:00 to 23:59. Even if you start using the pass at 23:00. you spend one full day for just one hour. So try to start in the morning. It does not make any senses to start to use in the evening.

Coverage area

This pass covers eastern part of mainland of Japan, such as Tokyo, Kanto region, Tohoku region, and southern part of Hokkaido. Please see the coverage map in the link below:

Official site of JR East-South Hokkaido Rail Pass

This pass covers the following major spots in the area.

  • Tokyo
  • Yokohama
  • Nikko
  • Kamakura
  • Gala Yuzawa
  • Otsuki (gateway to Lake Kawaguchi)
  • Odawara (gateway to Hakone)
  • Izu peninsula (Atami, Ito, Shimoda)
  • Kusatsu
  • Karuizawa
  • Sendai, Matsushima
  • Akita, Kakunodate
  • Aomori, Hirosaki
  • Gono line (the route of Resort Shirakami)
  • Hakodate
  • Toya, Date-Monbetsu (gateway to Lake Toya)
  • Noboribetsu
  • Otaru
  • Sapporo

The following places are not located in the coverage area. You CANNOT use this pass to access these following places.

Of course western part of mainland, like Osaka, Nagoya, Kyoto, Hiroshima, Shikoku and Kyushu are not covered either.

Valid trains and lines

H5 series will run on Hokkaido Shinkansen as Hayabusa and Hayate. This fleet is same series as Tohoku Shinkansen E5 series. (C) By Sukhoi37 (Own work),  JR Hokkaido H5 series shinkansen set H1 approaching Sendai Station on a test run,CC BY-SA 4.0 , via Wikimedia Commons
Hokkaido Shinkansen is covered by this pass. (C) By Sukhoi37 (Own work), JR Hokkaido H5 series shinkansen set H1 approaching Sendai Station on a test run,CC BY-SA 4.0 , via Wikimedia Commons

All JR trains that run in the coverage area are covered by this pass except Tokaido Shinkansen between Tokyo and Atami. But I would like to show you major trains.

I have checked the press release several times. I could not find any other express trains in coverage trains list. But in my understanding, the following express and rapid trains are covered.

JR deals covers basically JR trains only. But Tokyo-Osaka Hokuriku ArchPass covers some “NON JR” railway trains. The following railways are NON JR companies but those are covered by Tokyo Wide Pass.

  • Tokyo Monorail (Haneda-Airport – Hamamatsucho)
  • Izu Kyuko Railway (Ito – Izukyu-Shimoda)
  • Limited Express Nikko and Kinugawa between Shinjuku and Tobu-Nikko, Kinugawa-Onsen
    *The trains from Asakusa station are not covered at all.
  • Aoimoi Railway
  • IGR Iwate Galaxy Railway
  • Sendai Airport Trains

If you arrive in or depart from Haneda airport, trip by Monorail is fully covered by this pass. You can exchange your pass at JR East Travel Service Center Haneda.

You may not be able to exchange or purchase your pass at Haneda from early arrival and late departure. As of February 2016, the window at Haneda is open between 7:45 and 18:30 only.

In Tokyo, subway is not covered by this pass. You have to add single fare or city deal. Please see the coverage in Tokyo at the link below:

Compare single fare and JR East-South Hokkaido Rail Pass

When you think about purchasing this deal, you must know that you can get the worth or not. I show you some sample rates.
*All rates are approximate and it is based on the base fare and the reserved seat limited express supplement in regular season. The fare may be varied by the season.

Trip from Tokyo to Sendai

Total fare is 11,500 yen for one way. You need to have some more trips if you want to use this pass.

Trip from Tokyo to Sapporo

Total fare is 32,000 yen for one way. One way trip is enough to be paid off.
*Single ticket may be cheaper because JR East and Hokkaido will sell some discount ticekt. But I believe this trip is still enough to use this pass.

Trip from Narita airport to Tokyo

The fare is around 4,000 yen.

Trip between Karuizawa and Tokyo by Shinkansen

Total fare is about 6,000 yen for one way. This is not enough to use this pass by only this trip.

Trip to Nikko or Kinugawa-Onsen from Shinjuku or Ikebukuro by the limited express train, Nikko or Kinugawa

Total fare is 4,500 yen for one way to either Nikko or Kinugawa-Onsen. You have to use the pass more to get the worth of this deal.

Trip to Nikko from Tokyo by the Shinkansen and a local train

If you stay at east side of Tokyo, like Shinagawa, Tokyo, Ueno, this route may be faster than direct express from Shinjuku. Total fare is around 6,000 yen for one way.

Trip to Gala Yuzawa from Tokyo by the Shinkansen

Total fare is about 7,000 yen for one way. You can get the worth of this deal easily by only this trip.

Trip to Odawara, Atami or Izukyu-Shimoda from Tokyo by the limited express train, Odoriko or Super View Odoriko

Total fare is 2,940 yen to Odawara for one way by Odoriko and 3,190 yen for one way by Super View Odoriko.
Total fare is 3,800 yen to Atami for one way by Odoriko and 4,180 yen for one way by Super View Odoriko.
Total fare is 6,260 yen to Izukyu-Shimoda for one way by Odoriko and 6,640 yen for one way by Super View Odoriko.
If you visit Shimoda, this pass is cheaper.
*Shinkansen runs from Tokyo to Odawara and Atami. But this Shinkansen line, “Tokaido Shinkanse” is not covered by this pass because Tokaido Shinkansen does not belong to JR East but JR Central that is different company.

Trip between Narita Airport and Tokyo, Shinagawa, Shinjuku or Yokohama by Narita Express

Total fares are 3,020 yen for Tokyo, and 3,190 yen for Shinagawa or Shinjuku.

Trip between Haneda Airport and Hamamatsucho by Tokyo Monorail

Single fare is 490 yen for one way.

Fares in downtown Tokyo

You can take any local trains, like Yamanote line, Chuo line by this pass. But the fares in downtown Tokyo is quite reasonable. If you take a local train from Tokyo to Shinjuku, the fare is 200 yen. When you calculate the fares and compare this pass and single fare, you can ignore the fares in downtown Tokyo. It does not help to get worth very much.

Assessment

If you travel from Tokyo to southern Hokkaido, like Hakodate, Otaru and Sapporo by train, this is a good deal. You may add trip to Nikko, Izu, Fuji and Hakone , Gala Yuzawa, any places in Tohoku region. If you use this pass, you must be sure that you do not visit outside coverage area, such as, Osaka, Kyoto, Nara, Kobe, Hiroshima, Kyushu, Takayama, Kanazawa and Nagoya. This pass does not cover eastern and northern part of Hokkaido either, such as Furano, Asahikawa, Kushiro, Shiretoko, Abashiri and Wakkanai.

You may be wondering which one is better, this deal or Japan Rail Pass (a.k.a. JR Pass). JR Pass 7 days is sold at 29,100 yen. But you have to use this pass in 7 consecutive days.

On the other hand, JR East-South Hokkaido Rail Pass Flex 6 days is sold at 26,000 yen. Price is a bit cheaper and you can pick any 6 days in 14 days valid period. But the coverage area is much smaller than JR Pass. JR Pass covers throughout Japan.

If you want to visit Kansai area, such as Osaka, Kyoto, Nara and/or Kobe, this deal does not suit your trip plan. If you visit both Kansai area and Hokkaido from Tokyo, even 14 days JR pass is way cheaper than single fare.

I hope this post will help you to pick up the right deal for your trip!

195 thoughts on “JR East-South Hokkaido Rail Pass user guide. Perfect deal for the travelers who visit Tokyo and Sapporo by train.”

  1. Hi Takeshi,

    I I am planning to go to Japan in the end of December 2019 to beginning of January 2020. with a total of 12 days

    My itinerary is as follows:
    * Day 1 .. New Chitose Sapporo – Sapporo
    * Day 2 .. Around Sapporo
    * Day 3 .. Sapporo – Otaru – Sapporo
    * Day 4 .. Sapporo – Teine – Sapporo
    * Day 5 .. Sapporo – Noboribetsu
    * Day 6 .. Noboribetsu – Lake Toya – Hakodate
    * Day 7 .. Hakodate
    * Day 8 .. Hakodate – Sendai
    * Day 9 .. Sendai – Tokyo
    * Day 10 – 11 . Tokyo
    * Day 12 Tokyo – Narita

    I am confused whether my trip covered by JR East South Hokkaido pass. And if yes, is it worth to purchase JR East South Hokkaido since it has 6 flexible days only out of 14 days usage? Which trip you recommend to use the JR East South Hokkaido pass? Another question is about what do you think about this ititenary? is it too packed considering i will travel with my kids ? I am also worried about the luggage that I carry through the trip.

    Thanks for your help in advance.

    Susanto

    1. Hi Susanto,

      You can use JR East-South Hokkaido Rail Pass for day 3, 5, 6, 8, 9 and 12. You may pay the regular fare for day 1, 2, 4 and 7. You can buy Kitaca instead:
      http://www2.jrhokkaido.co.jp/global/english/ticket/kitaca/index.html

      You can add Tokyo Subway Ticket on day 10 and 11 as you need.
      https://jprail.com/travel-informations/other-rail-passes/rail-pass-for-visitors/compare-many-discount-tickets-and-passes-for-sightseeing-tokyo-how-to-choose-the-right-tickets.html

      Cheers,

      Takeshi / JPRail.com

  2. Hi Takeshi,
    I am planning to use the JR East South Hokkaido pass from Tokyo to Hakodate on day 1 of my trip. There are 9 of us. Are the morning trains usually crowded? What is my chance of reserving tickets on the shinkansen that will leave in within 3 hours?

    Thank you,
    Elaine

    1. Hi Elaine,

      Usually it is not hard to book. But if you travel in the busy period, long weekend, New Years day break, it’s hard to book. All trains to Hakodate require the reservation. You cannot take the train to Hakodate without booking. So you have to take the risk.

      Cheers,

      Takeshi / JPRail.com

          1. Hi Takeshi

            Will you be able to advise on Furano Biei Norokko train route and timings for Sep 2019? Also does it have a hop on hop off option, or you sit throughout the duration? Thanks in advance.

  3. Hello Takeshi-San

    We will be travelling to the following places from 17 Oct to 26 oct 2019.
    Would sincerely appreciate if you could advise me if I am buying the right JR pass .
    JR east -south Hokkaido Rail Pass – 6 days to cover all the below itinerary.

    17 /10 Day 1 – Arrive Narita airport – Tokyo – take Narita Express
    – Tokyo to Shin Hakodate -Hokuto – Hakodate /Hayabusa /
    tohoku shinkansen
    ( Can I only buy or reserve the ticket when I reach Narita ? )

    18/10 Day 2 & Day 3 – explore Hokkaido
    ( Understand tram cannot use this JR pass , am I right?)

    19/10 Day 4 – Hakodate to Hachinoche ( explore hachinoche – hoshino resorts
    ( do I need to change train in Aomori or is there a direct train using this
    pass ?)

    20/10 day 5 – Hachinoche to Lake Towada By JR Mizumi bus
    )( noted bus is not covered by this pass )

    21/10 Day 6 – lake Towada back to Aomori
    ( is there any train ( covered by this pass ) back to Aomori ?

    22/10 day 7 & 8 – Aomori – 2 nights
    take train to Hirosaki / explore

    24/10 day 9 & 10 – Aomori to Tokyo byTohoku Shinkansen
    explore Ueno
    last day – narita express
    Also much appreciated if you could advise how to maximum the usage of the ticket using the correct train.

    Thank you so much and kind regards
    Elin

    1. Hi Elin san,

      You may use JR East South Hokkaido Rail Pass for your trip. I’m sure that you can use it for Narita to Hakodate, Hakodate to Hachinohe, Aomori to/from Hirosaki, and Aomori to Tokyo. You have two more days. If you go somewhere in Hokkaido from Hakodate, you can use it. You can use it for Tokyo to Narita as well. Try to use the pass for the long trip.

      There is on trains from Lake Towada to Aomori. You will take the bus to Aomori from Lake Towada and it is not covered by the pass. You cannot use the pass for the tram in Hakodate either as you think.

      When you reach Narita, you can reserve a seat for Hakodate. But for the trip after day 2, you can reserve the seat online.
      https://www.eki-net.com/pc/jreast-shinkansen-reservation/English/wb/common/Menu/Menu.aspx?_ga=1.4778995.1325107855.1421419524

      Cheers,

      Takeshi / JPRail.com

  4. Hi there,

    I am planning to go to Japan in mid December 2019.

    My itinerary is as follows:
    * Kansai airport – Osaka
    * Osaka – Kyoto
    * Kyoto – Tokyo
    * Tokyo – Sapporo
    * Sapporo – Niseko
    * Niseko – Sapporo
    * Sapporo – New Chitose airport

    I am a bit confused with the purchase of the JR pass. I understand that purchasing a JR pass for me is worth the money for my trip since i’ll be going to Sapporo from Tokyo. However, is there different kinds of JR pass that I need to purchase (i.e. east or west or north or south)? I read in a post that “JR East-South Hokkaido Rail Pass” is recommended for travellers from going from Tokyo to Sapporo. However, does this “JR East-South Hokkaido Rail Pass” also cover the JR travel for Kansai airport – Osaka or Osaka – Kyoto or Kyoto – Tokyo too?

    Thanks for your help in advance.

    1. Hi Novena,

      JR pass is the best choice because JR East-South Hokkaido Rail Pass does not cover KIX-Osaka, Osaka-Kyoto, Kyoto-Tokyo. JR pass is only deal which covers whole part of your trip.

      You still have to buy some more deal because JR Pass does not cover subway, city bus and non JR trains in Osaka, Kyoto, Tokyo and Sapporo. But JR pass covers most part of your trip. JR pass is required anyway.

      Cheers,

      Takeshi / JPRail.com

      1. H there

        Thank you so much for your quick response!
        Ahh.. so the JR pass and “JR East-South Hokkaido Rail Pass” are two totally different tickets? I think that’s what I got confused with!

        Just to confirm, the train ticket that I will need to buy is called ‘JR Pass’? This JR pass will cover the routes for:
        * Kansai airport – Osaka
        * Osaka – Kyoto
        * Kyoto – Tokyo
        * Tokyo – Sapporo
        * Sapporo – New Chitose airport?

        I understand that within each cities, I will need to get additional train/subway/bus passes as the JR pass does not cover many inner cities. I am just concerned with the travel between different cities above and want to make sure I purchase the correct JR pass ticket and it would be worth the money.

        Thank you again,
        Novena

  5. Question:
    I know The JR Pass will cover the base fare on overnight trains, including the Sunrise Express.
    I will be in Japan on the 14th of Jun,2019, and I want to reserve for (5)seats on the Sunrise Express train on the 23rd of Jun, 2019 /
    Do you think it possible to get the seats?
    Because no way to reserve overnight train tickets online, seat reservation must be made on the telephone or at the ticket office
    How to get the phone number to call?

    1. Hi Chinh,

      Phone reservation is no longer available. The only way to book is at the window. So you must book it after you arrive in Japan.
      If you look for the space on Sunrise Izumo (Tokyo-Izumoshi), it may be hard. If you look for Sunrise Seto (Tokyo-Takamatsu), it may be easier. If you look for the space Tokyo-Okayama or some stations between these two stations, you can take either Sunrise Seto or Sunrise Izumo. It is much easier to book. Usually it is not hard to book for this train in June. But I cannot say how busy the train will be. It’s sometimes very hard to book for even weekdays in the shoulder season. If you put this train in your trip plan, I recommend you to have a back up plan.

      Cheers,

      Takeshi / JPRail.com

  6. Hi Takeshi,
    I am planning a trip from Sendai to Hakone.
    I saw that you can reach Odawara from Tokyo using this pass by limited express train.
    So, my plan was to take shinkansen from Sendai to Tokyo. But from Tokyo to Odawara, which train should I take which is covered by this pass? What is the limited express train?

    Thanks in advance.
    Kelvin

  7. Hi Takeshi
    Using JR East South Pass :HND- Kinugawaonsen -Kitakami
    Looking at the above route map, Kinugawaonsen is shown on the map.
    Can you confirm if my trip is covered using the JR East South. After Kitakami, I’m heading toAomori then Sapporo which I know is covered.

    I’m only asking about this sector:
    Haneda- Kinugawaonsen
    Kinugawaonsen-Kitakami

    I rang JR East today and was told I cannot use any trains on the Tobu line if using JR East Sth pass and there is extra charge if using it. I’m familiar with JR lines but not Tobu.
    Can you help clarify?

    Your new site looks very impressive
    Thanks
    Anne

    1. Hi Anne,

      This pass covers Tobu line partially. This rule might be very confusing. Please see the link below to find “Valid trains”.
      http://www.jreasthokkaido.com/easthokkaido/e/

      It says,
      “This pass can be used for travel on local and rapid trains between Shimo-imaichi and Tobu-nikko/Kinugawa-onsen on Tobu Railway Lines. Between Kurihashi and Shimo-imaichi Stations, the pass may be used only on limited express trains that connect directly with Tobu Railway Lines.”

      This means limited express Nikko and Kinugawa. Please see the link below:
      https://jprail.com/travel-informations/tips-for-japan-rail-pass/limited-express-nikko-and-kinugawa.html

      This train is covered by this pass. But if you take this train, you have to go to Shinjuku from Haneda. This pass covers Monorail from Haneda to Hamamatsucho and Yamanote line from Hamamatsucho to Shinjuku. But when you get Shinjuku, I don’t know this train still is available. Most of trains depart in the morning:
      http://www.eki-net.com/pc/jreast-shinkansen-reservation/english/wb/common/timetable/e_lex_tobu_d/index.html

      If you can take limited express “Kinugawa”, you can use this pass. If not, you have to go to Nikko by Shinkansen and Nikko line local train. And then change trains at Nikko/Tobu-Nikko stations, and then take Tobu railway to Kinugawa onsen. You may need to change trains at Tobu Railway Shimo-Imaichi station too. These trips are covered by this pass too.

      When you go to Kitakami, you have take limited express Kinugawa to Omiya and then take Tohoku Shinkansen to Kigatami Otherwise take local trains on Tobu Railway and JR Nikko line to Utsunomiya and then take Tohoku Shinkansen to Kitakami.
      https://jprail.com/destinations/world-heritage-destinations/how-to-access-to-nikko-from-tokyo-there-are-three-ways-from-tokyo-shinjuku-and-asakusa.html

      Cheers,

      Takeshi / JPRail.com

      1. Hi Takeshi
        It is indeed very confusing. I wish it was simpler …
        I looked at different options using Hyperdia and Jorudan and I think Utsunomiya is probably a convenient station to use.
        Example
        HND-Utsunomiya-Kinugawaonsen and pay whatever small extras.
        Also Kinugawaonsen-Utsunomiya-Kitakami,again paying extras.

        I have non negotiable times to catch the hotel shuttles from Kinugawaonsen and Kitakami to my next destination.

        As far as JR trains I know where to organise the reservations online. Do you know how to make reservations on Tobu trains?

        1. Hi Anne,

          You cannot move between Kinugawa onsen and Utsunomiya directly. You have to change trains at Nikko or maybe you can do in Shimo-Imaichi. But in this case, you have to walk between Tobu Railway Shimo-Imaichi station and JR Imaichi station. It takes 15 minutes but I do not recommend you to do this. You may lose the way and even 15 minutes walk may be too much with luggage. As I told you, you should change trains at Nikko.

          Some hotels in Kinugawa onsen bus service between Kinugawa onsen and Utsunomiya. But I’m not sure the hotel where you stay offers it or not. It’s not free but this is the easiest way. Please ask your hotel to make sure. If they don’t, you have to change trains as I explained above.

          Cheers,

          Takeshi / JPRail.com

          1. Hi Takeshi,
            Thank you for setting me straight. I’ll re-look at the trains again.

            I agree the 15 min walk between Shimoimaichi -Imaichi is not recommended. I intend using taxi between stations. Most likely I’ll only have a small overnight bag.

            I’m not staying in Kinugawaonsen. It’s only a transit point. I have to take a 2 hr bus to Meteobuchi, then change to the hotel transport.

            Thank you once again for all the help.

  8. Hi Takeshi!

    I’m planning to get the JR East-South Hokkaido Pass, and would appreciate if you can check the itinerary below, if I should reorder any of the days to maximise the pass:

    Day 1 (Pass Day 1):
    Arrive at Narita Airport
    Keisei Skyliner to Ueno
    Shinkansen to Sendai
    Overnight in Sendai

    Day 2:
    Explore Sendai
    Overnight in Sendai

    Day 3 (Pass Day 2):
    Forward luggage from Sendai to Hachinohe
    Travel to Geibikei via Ichinoseki
    Visit Geibikei Gorge, take the boat ride
    Travel to Moroika on the Pokemon train
    Overnight in Moroika

    Day 4:
    Bus 106 from Moroika to Miyako
    Bus from Miyako to Jodogahama
    Explore Jodogahama + Small Boat Tour
    Bus from Jodogahama to Miyako
    Kita Sanriku Kotatsu Train from Miyako to Kuji
    JR Train from Kuji to Hachinohe
    Overnight in Hachinohe

    Day 5:
    Explore Hachinohe
    Overnight in Hachinohe

    Day 6 (Pass Day 3):
    JR Train from Hachinohe to Aomori
    Deposit luggage in hotel
    JR Train from Aomori to Hirosaki
    Explore Hirosaki
    JR Train from Hirosaki to Aomori
    Overnight in Aomori

    Day 7 (Pass Day 4):
    JR Mizuumi Bus from Aomori to Mount Hakkoda Ropeway
    Take the ropeway & explore Mount Hakkoda
    JR Mizuumi Bus from Mount Hakkoda Ropeway to Nenokuchi
    Explore the lake
    Walk along the Oirase Stream towards Ishigado
    JR Mizuumi Bus from Ishigado to Aomori
    Overnight in Aomori

    Day 8 (Pass Day 5):
    Shinansen from Aomori to Hakodate
    Drop luggage in hotel
    JR Train from Hakodate to Noboribetsu
    Explore Noboribetsu
    JR Train from Noboribetsu to Hakodate
    Overnight in Hakodate

    Day 9:
    Explore Hakodate
    Overnight in Hakodate

    Day 10 (Pass Day 6):
    Shinkansen from Hakodate to Tokyo
    Drop luggage
    JR Train from Tokyo to Katsuta
    Shuttle Bus to Hitachi Seaside Park
    Explore Hitachi Seaside Park
    JR Train from Katsuta to Tokyo
    Overnight in Tokyo

    Day 11:
    Explore Tokyo

    Day 12:
    Explore Tokyo
    Keiseiki Skyliner from Tokyo to Narita Airport

    Thank you!

    1. Hi Valerie,

      I would like to tell you only one thing. JR East South Hokkaido Rail Pass does not cover JR Bus. It is covered by only JR Pass. JR East South Hokkaido Rail Pass + bus fare is more expensive than JR Pass 7 days. But you must use JR pass in consecutive days. 7 days pass cannot cover your trip. So your choice is still JR East South Hokkaido Rail Pass and need to add a bus fare. You may use one day of JR East South Hokkaido Rail Pass for day 4 or taking Narita Express on day 12.

      Cheers,

      Takeshi / JPRail.com

  9. Hi Takeshi,

    Your site is amazing and I always check your site before I plan my Japan trip. Your site is even better and more detailed than any of the JR official sites I visited.

    I am sending my parents to Japan next month. This is the first time they go there by themselves and they don’t speak any Japanese. They will go in Kansai airport, then later join a tour that will bring them through Takayama, Shirakawago, Kawakuchiko etc and the tour will bring them to Tokyo. My parents will then stay on and plan to visit Hakodate for Sakura viewing. They will leave Japan from Narita airport. I am now planning their itinerary before and after their joining of the tour.

    Here are my questions,

    1. For an old couple with suitcases, is it easier for them to take the bus to Kyoto or the Haruka train from KIX? They don’t speak the language so they worry that they may miss the stop also. I read about the ICOCA and Haruka package deal. For someone who plan to go everywhere in taxi in Kyoto, is it still a good deal or they better off just buy the Haruka one way ticket?

    2. They plan to get the JR East-South Hokkaido pass for their Hakodate trip from Tokyo. Can they get it when they arrive in Kyoto or do they have to get it when they are already in JR East area? They would of course like to book it the earliest possible time in case it gets full.

    Thank you so so much for your help

    1. Hi Joey,

      1. Actually it’s not much different between Haruka and bus. Both go to Kyoto station and trip time is not much different either. Some travelers do not like bus because of motion sickness. So if your parents are okay with either way, you can choose whichever they like.

      In these days, the number of tourist to Japan is huge. Most of them do not speak Japanese. Many location, transportation, accommodation are much more overseas tourists friendly. They will be okay.
      https://jprail.com/travel-informations/travel-tips/signage-and-announcement-in-the-station-and-train.html

      They may use ICOCA and Haruka deal. They can add Kansai one pass instead of ICOCA. ICOCA and Kansai one pass are basically same. But Kansai one pass offers discount at many location.
      http://www.westjr.co.jp/global/en/ticket/icoca-haruka/
      https://kansaionepass.com/en/about.html?info=1

      JR East South Hokkaido Rail Pass cannot be purchased in Kyoto and any other places in Kansai area. They need to get it after they arrive in Tokyo. They can book a seat online to Hakodate if they like:
      https://www.eki-net.com/pc/jreast-shinkansen-reservation/English/wb/common/Menu/Menu.aspx?_ga=1.4778995.1325107855.1421419524

      Cheers,

      Takeshi / JPRail.com

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  • Please do not ask me to make your itinerary. Because I am not your personal travel agent. I am very happy to check your itinerary. But please try to make the plan by yourself. In this website, there are lots of resources to make your plan.
  • Please do not ask me about the access to your hotel. You can google your hotel and find it at hotel website or google map easily.
  • I cannot recommend any hotels other than which I have stayed. Basically I cannot talk about hotels in this site. The number of hotels are too many to talk about by my experience.
  • If you want to ask me which pass suits your plan, please tell me your detailed itinerary and location to stay. I cannot choose any deals without the detailed itinerary because I have to compare the total single fare and deals.
  • Please do not ask me to reply to your inquiry by email. In this website, I would like to share all information with any readers. I do not communicate with you directly.

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