Visit by Japan Rail Pass! How to access to Lake Towada (Towadako).

Lake Towada (autumn season)
Lake Towada (autumn season)

This lake is one of the most beautiful lake in Japan and most popular destination in Tohoku Area (North part of main island). Especially it has very colorful and amazing view in autumn. JR Tohoku Bus operate the schedule bus to Towadako. This bus service is included in Japan Rail Pass. So you can go there with NO EXTRA charge. Continue reading

Access to Hakata, Kumamoto and Kagoshima from Osaka. Kyushu Shinkansen “Mizuho” and “Sakura”

Kyushu Shinkansen Sakura and Mizuho give you direct trainsfer to Shin-Osaka from Kyusyu.
Both Mizuho and Nozomi on Sanyo Shinkansen are covered by this deal.

Kyushu Shikansen will be scheduled to operate all part of line on March 12, 2011. It will be connected with Sanyo Shinkansen at Hakata station. JR Kyushu and JR West will start to operate new express train service between Shin-Osaka (新大阪) and Kagoshima-Chuo (鹿児島中央).

Mizuho will be the fastest train service. It will stop at Shin-Kobe, Okayama, Hiroshima, Kokura, Hakata and Kumamoto. It will take 3 hours and 45 minutes. 4 round trips will be scheduled to operate. Sakura will stop at some more stations, Himeji (姫路), Fukuyama (福山), Shin-Yamaguchi (新山口), Shin-Tosu (新鳥栖), Kurume (久留米) and Shin-Yatsushiro (新八代). It will be operated once an hour. After Sakura will be operated, the similar train service, Hikari Rail Star, will be stopped to operate.

JR Kyushu and JR West showed new fleet, N700-7000 series that will be used for Mizuho and Sakura to media. Please see the post, N700 series for Kyushu Shinkansen Mizuho and Sakura.

Find your hotels in 218 cities throughout Japan!!!

ANA Hotel Kumamoto New Sky Located by Shirakawa river
Tokyu Hotel Kagoshima Spectacular views of Mt. Sakurajima

The newest and fastest train! Tohoku Shinkansen “Hayabusa”

The newest train on Tohoku Shikansen E5 series (C) sukhoi37
The newest train on Tohoku Shikansen E5 series (C) sukhoi37

Tohoku Shinkansen will be extended to Shin-Aomori on this coming December 4. The fastest train that is called “Hayabusa” will be operated on March 2011. We will have 2 round trips between Tokyo and Shin-Aomori, and 1 round trip between Tokyo and Sendai. (Please refer another post to check the timetable.)

This train will have Ordinary class, Green class and the brand new class which is called “Gran class”. The same type of service as the first class on the flight will be provided on Gran class.

Images gallery of Gran class
Seat 1
Seat 2
Meal on board (Western style)
Meal on board (Japanese style)
Amenities

If you are looking for the images of Hayabusa and E5 series, please refer this post, Gran class and all class seat of Tohoku Shinkansen E5 series and Gran class for Hayabusa, Hayate and Yamabiko image gallery.

Japan Railway did not announce that Japan Rail Pass user can take this class without the extra fare. The surcharge of this class 5,000 yen more than Green class. So the extra surcharge for Japan Rail Pass user will be expected.

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.

Access to Izu and Atami from Tokyo/Yokohama. Limited Express Odoriko / Super View Odoriko

Super View Odoriko is serviced by newer car 251 series.
Super View Odoriko connects Tokyo and Izu. But you may use this train to get Odawara.

Odoriko and Super View Odoriko are limited express trains to Izukyu-Shimoda (伊豆急下田) or Shuzenji (修善寺) in Izu peninsula (伊豆半島) from Tokyo. As probably you know, Izu peninsula is one of most famous hot springs resort area in Japan. These express trains take you to many places, such as Atami (熱海), Ito (伊東) and Atagawa (熱川), in Izu hot springs resort from Greater Tokyo area.

Super View Odoriko is serviced by newer cars 251 series. This series has three double-deck cars and even other cars have higher passenger’s deck with the huge panoramic windows. If you pay the single regular fare, the limited express surcharge for Odoriko is cheaper than Super View Odoriko. But it is same for Japan Rail Pass user. Why don’t you take Super View Odoriko? Continue reading

Access to Nagasaki from Fukuoka (Hakata). Limited Express Kamome

Limited express Kamome is operated by one of the most updated train, JR Kyushu 885 series.
Limited express Kamome is operated by one of the most updated train, JR Kyushu 885 series.

This limited express train connects the gateway city in Kyushu, Hakata with very historical port city Nagasaki. Some of trains are operated between Hakata and Saga, Hizen-Kashima. When you go to Nagasaki, take Shinkansen to Hakata and change this train to Nagasaki. Unzen Amakusa National Park from Isahaya.

This express train can be used by Japan Rail Pass without any restriction. So let’s see the details. Continue reading

Access to Oita and Beppu from Fukuoka (Hakata). Limited Express Sonic

Limited Express Sonic (883 series)
Limited Express Sonic (883 series)

This limited express train is one of most popular limited express train that is serviced by JR Kyushu. This connects Hakata and Kokura with Oita and Saeki. If you go to the popular hot springs resort, Beppu, this train is that you need to take after you get off Shinkansen at Kokura or Hakata. Of course this train is fully covered by Japan Rail Pass.

This train is operated by JR Kyushu’s newest fleet 885 and 883 series. I would like to share the information about the accommodations. Let’s see the details about this train.

Route, schedule and trip time

This express train connect Hakata with Oita in 2 hours and 30 minutes, and connect Kokura with Oita in 1 hour and 30 minutes. Sonic services run every 20 to 40 minutes for daytime. 32 round trips a day are operated.

You can check the timetable at JR Kyushu website (English).


View Sonic in a larger map

Stations

Hakata (博多) x
Yoshizuka (吉塚) *
Kashii (香椎) *
Fukuma (福間) *
Togo (東郷) *
Akama (赤間) *
Orio (折尾) x
Kurosaki (黒崎) x
Yahata (八幡) x
Tobata (戸畑) *
Kokura (小倉) x
Shimosone (下曽根) *
Yukuhashi (行橋) x
Unoshima (宇島) *
Nakatsu (中津) x
Yanagigaura (柳ヶ浦) *
Usa (宇佐) *
Kitsuki (杵築) *
Kamegawa (亀川) *
Beppu (別府) x
Oita (大分) x
Tsurusaki (鶴崎) x
Ozai (大在) x
Kosaki (幸崎) x
Usuki (臼杵) x
Tsukumi (津久見) x
Saiki (佐伯) x

x:All trains stop *:some trains stop

Accommodation

Kamome is operated three types of trains, 885 series and 883 series. 885 is the newest and fastest. But 883 series has better interior and seat. So if you have a time when you book a reserved seat, check which train will be used for your train. Try to avoid 885 series.

*Sonic Rail Garden has copyright for all images of accommodations below.

885 series

Limited Express Sonic (885 series)
Limited Express Sonic (885 series)

Sonic serviced by this series is called “White Sonic” (=白いソニック=Shiroi Sonic). 885 series equip the leather seat for both Green and Ordinary. It looks good and have very sophisticated atmosphere, but this seat is very slippery and has very strong leather smell.

The seat configuration on Green class 1+1+1 and the seat pitch is 1150mm. The seat pitch on Ordinary class is 980mm. Every single ordinary class seats on car #2 have the power outlet. If you want to charge your batteries or use your laptop, try to get the seat on car #2. Car #3 is called “Ochitsuki Kukan” (=落ち着き空間=Calm and quiet space). This car has dark painted wall and less lighting. And you will see lots of Japanese modern art in this car. You can enjoy this car as Art Gallery.

Train formation

1 2 3 4 5 6
G R R R NR NR NR

Images
Green seat Sonic 885 series Green seat Sonic 885 series Green seat Sonic 885 series Green seat Sonic 885 series Green seat Sonic 885 series Green seat

Ordinary seat Sonic 885 series Ordinary seat Sonic 885 series Ordinary seat Sonic 885 series Ordinary seat

Sanitary space Sonic 885 series sanitary space Sonic 885 series sanitary space Sonic 885 series sanitary space Sonic 885 series sanitary space Sonic 885 series sanitary space

Common space Sonic 885 series common space Sonic 885 series common space Sonic 885 series common space Sonic 885 series common space Sonic 885 series common space Sonic 885 series common space Sonic 885 series common space

883 series

This train is called “Wonderland Express”. When this train was introduced, the eccentric design was in the news. But now this train was renovated. This eccentric design had gone. But you will still see some originative items in the car. Green class has a lounge space just behind cockpit. You will get the power outlet at window seat on car#1, both Green and Ordinary. If you want to charge your batteries or using the laptop, try to get a window seat on car#1.

Train formations

1 2 3 4 5 6 7
G R R R NR NR NR NR

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

Images
Green seat Sonic 883 series Green seat Sonic 883 series Green seat Sonic 883 series Green seat Sonic 883 series Green seat Sonic 883 series Green seat Sonic 883 series Green seat Sonic 883 series Green seat Sonic 883 series Green seat Sonic 883 series Green seat

Ordinary seat Sonic 883 series Ordinary seat Sonic 883 series Ordinary seat Sonic 883 series Ordinary seat Sonic 883 series Ordinary seat Sonic 883 series Ordinary seat Sonic 883 series Ordinary seat Sonic 883 series Ordinary seat Sonic 883 series Ordinary seat Sonic 883 series Ordinary seat

Sanitary space Sonic 883 series sanitary space Sonic 883 series sanitary space Sonic 883 series sanitary space Sonic 883 series sanitary space Sonic 883 series sanitary space

Common space Sonic 883 series common space Sonic 883 series common space Sonic 883 series common space Sonic 883 series common space

Access to Kushiro and Obihiro from Sapporo. Limited Express Super Ozora / Super Tokachi

Limited express Super Ozora
Limited express Super Ozora and most of express trains are covered by Hokkaido Round Tour Pass.

When you go to South East part of Hokkaido, these trains take you there. Super Ozora and Super Tokachi are operated on same route. Super Ozora connect Sapporo and Kushiro. Super Tokachi connect Sapporo and Obihiro. These trains are very popular and the reserved seats are sold out very often. Especially JR Hokkaido give you a great service in Green car. Sometimes Green car is sold out earlier than Ordinary class. Both trains are fully covered by Japan Rail Pass. So if you have a plan to take these trains, I strongly recommend you to reserve your seat when you exchange your Japan Rail Pass.

I would like to share the information about these trains with you. Continue reading

Access to Abashiri from Sapporo. Limited Express Okhotsk / Taisetsu

Limited express train Okhotsk
Limited express train Okhotsk

Limited Express Okhotsk and Taisetsu take you to Abashiri from Sapporo and Asahikawa. Abashiri is well known as drift ice viewing in winter time. And also when you go to the world heritage site, Shiretoko, you may use this train to Abashiri and transfer to the local train to Shiretoko-Shari. If you need the information about the access to Shiretoko, please see one of my posts, “How to get Shiretoko“.

You can take this train by Japan Rail Pass with no restriction. I would like to show you the information about these trains. Continue reading

Overnight train to/from Sapporo and Aomori. Express Hamanasu

Overnight train Hamanasu at Aomori station
Overnight train Hamanasu at Aomori station

Hamanasu was discontinued in mid March, 2016. There is no overnight train service options available to Hokkaido.

This overnight express train is operated between Aomori and Sapporo. If you want to save your time and you don’t want to spend your money for Hotel in Sapporo, this overnight train is the best choice. Especially when you want to transfer to Tokyo from Sapporo as early as possible, this train is connected with the earliest Tohoku Shinkansen at Shin-Aomori. Continue reading

Access to/from Sapporo and Asahikawa. Limited Express Kamui / Lilac

Limited express train Kamui
Limited express train Kamui

These limited express trains, Kamui and Lilac connect Sapporo (札幌) and Asahikawa (旭川). Kamui and Lilac run on exactly same segment. The only difference is accommodation. Only Lilac has Green seat and Kamui does not. But the reserved ordinary seat of Kamui is called “U seat”. It has better seat with some equipment. But it is a sort of Reserved Ordinary seat. So even Japan Rail Pass Ordinary can be used to take this seat.

In this post, I show you the details of these train. Continue reading

Access to Nagano from Nagoya and Osaka. Limited Express Shinano

Limited Express "Shinano"
Limited Express Shinano runs 13 round trips a day.

Limited express train “Shinano” takes you to 1998 Winter Olympic host city, Nagano (長野) from Nagoya (名古屋). And also one of 13 round trips is extended to operate to Osaka (大阪). If you go to Hida Mountains (a.k.a. Norther Alps), you can use this train to Matsumoto (松本), and transfer to local train Oito line bound for Shinano-Omachi (信濃大町), Hakuba (白馬) and Minami-Otari (南小谷). And also there are some preserved small town in Kiso Valley (木曽谷) along Chuo line where this train goes through. These towns are getting popular for the tourist from overseas these days.

This train is fully covered by Japan Rail Pass with no restriction. Let’s see the details. Continue reading

Access to/from Sapporo and Hakodate. Limited Express Hokuto / Super Hokuto

Super Hokuto
Most of Hokkaido Limited Express trains are operating for a long transfer.

Hokuto and Super Hokuto are operated between Hakodate (函館) and Sapporo (札幌). These trains are connected with Hakucho/Super Hakucho at Hakodate. So if you want to transfer from Tokyo to Sapporo, take Tohoku Shinkansen, Hakucho/Super Hakucho (Shinaomori-Hakodate) and then take these train at Hakodate to Sapporo. Japan Rail Pass cover all these trains from Tokyo to Sapporo. You may have other choices from Tokyo to Sapporo. Even though this is very long trip, there are many trains and this is the easiest to get the ticket. Continue reading

Sample itinerary Four world heritage sites (Shirakawago, Kyoto, Hiroshima and Miyajima), Kanazawa and Kyoto 7 days by Japan Rail Pass

Light-up at Kiyomizu-dera temple
Light-up at Kiyomizu-dera temple
Light-up at Kiyomizu-dera temple
Light-up at Kiyomizu-dera temple

This itinerary includes four world heritage sites, Shirakawa-go, Kyoto, Hiroshima and Miyajima. This also includes two popular sites, Takayama and Kanazawa.

We don’t use Japan Rail Pass for the transfer to downtown Tokyo from Narita airport because most of tourists stay in Tokyo for the first several days. You will start to use your pass from Tokyo station. If you want to learn how to use Japan Rail Pass, please refer to How to use Japan Rail Pass to its maximum. Continue reading

How to access to Shirakawago from Takayama, Kanazawa, Takaoka and Toyama.

Very popular scene of Shirakawago from Tenshukaku view point
Very popular scene of Shirakawago from Tenshukaku view point

Shirakawago is known as UNESCO World heritage site and it is very very popular destination among oversea tourist in these days. You cannot access to this village by any train services. But there are many bus routes available from many cities around Shirakawago, such as Takayama, Kanazawa and some more.

In this post, I would like to share the information about access to Shirakawago, basic information of this village and some deals to cover the trip to Shirakawago. Continue reading

How to access to Nikko. Learn about how to get Nikko by Japan Rail Pass with no extra charge.

Nikko Toshogu shrine is one of the highlights in Nikko.
Nikko Toshogu shrine is one of the highlights in Nikko.

Nikko (日光) is very popular destination for the tourist from the foreign countries because it is World Heritage site. You can see lots of very historical temples and shrines. Continue reading

Passenger’s review of “Hikari Railstar”

Hikari Rail Star at Okayama station
Hikari Rail Star at Okayama station

I took Hikari Rail Star from Okayama to Hiroshima on the way to Miyajima. This Hikari has a different paint from the regular Hikari. It is gray and orange. Continue reading

Learn more about train to Takayama. Passenger’s review of "Wide View Hida"

Wide View Hida at Toyama station
Wide View Hida by KIHA85 series at Toyama station (C) JP Rail

I took “Wide View Hida 6” from Toyama to Nagoya on Apr 27, 2010. This express train is operated mostly between Takayama and Nagoya. Only 4 of 20 round trips are operated between Toyama and Nagoya. Hida 6 is the first departure from Toyama to Nagoya.

I had an ordinary reserved seat at a third raw on the 8th car. This train will combined some more cars at Takayama station. My car number is eight but this was the first car between Toyama and Takayama.

This limited express train is called “Wide View Hida” because the huge windows are equipped. You will enjoy the scenery of mountains, stream and gorge. Continue reading

No extra charge with Japan Rail Pass to take this overnight train! Passenger’s review of "Sunrise Seto"

Sunrise Seto / Sunrise Izumo

I took “Sunrise Seto” from Tokyo to Takamatsu on April 23, 2010.

I reserved “Nobi Nobi seat”. This is one of the reserved seat. But I could lie down to sleep. It seemed to be a berth. Continue reading

How to access to Miyajima from Hiroshima by local train. No extra charge for Japan Rail Pass user.

Itsukushima Shrine in Miyajima
Itsukushima Shrine in Miyajima

Miyajima is one of the World Heritage site in Japan. It is very popular destination for the tourists.

You can access to Miyajima by Japan Rail Pass with no extra charge. But you have to take a local train and Ferry. I show you some images and explain how to get there. Continue reading

Overnight train to/from Tokyo and Izumoshi via Okayama, Sunrise Izumo. JR Pass user can take with no extra charge!

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Sunrise Izumo is the Overnight train that operated between Tokyo and Yonago, Matsue and Izumo-shi in Sanin area. This train is combined with Sunrise Seto between Tokyo and Okayama.

Some of overnight train consist of the bedroom and the berth only. This train has the reserved seat. So Japan Rail Pass holder can take this train without the extra. This reserved seat is called “Nobi Nobi Seat”. It is like a berth and much more comfortable than the coach type seat. You can lie on the seat. And you have some privacy because there is a small partition between the seat and the seat.

But some of Japan Rail Pass users want to take a bedroom or another choice even though additional will be charged. Let’s see the accommodation of Sunrise Seto. Continue reading

Overnight train to/from Tokyo and Takamatsu via Okayama, Sunrise Seto. JR Pass user can take with no extra charge!

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Sunrise Seto is the Overnight train that operated between Tokyo and Takamatsu in Shikoku island. This train is combined with Sunrise Izumo between Tokyo and Okayama. This train depart late night and arrive early morning. If you want to save the time, this train is the perfect choice.

(Please see my passenger’s review too)

Some of overnight train consist of the bedroom and the berth only. This train has the reserved seat. So Japan Rail Pass holder can take this train without the extra. This reserved seat is called “Nobi Nobi Seat”. It is like a berth and much more comfortable than the coach type seat. You can lie on the seat. And you have some privacy because there is a small partition between the seat and the seat.

But some of Japan Rail Pass users want to take a bedroom or another choice even though additional will be charged. Let’s see the accommodation of Sunrise Seto. Continue reading

Save time and money! Learn more about Overnight Trains. Which overnight train can we take with no extra charge by JR Pass?

Overnight train Hamanasu runs between Aomori and Sapporo. It is very useful train to get Hokkaido. But it may be discontinued when Hokkaido Shiknansen open.
Overnight train Hamanasu runs between Aomori and Sapporo. It is very useful train to get Hokkaido. But it may be discontinued when Hokkaido Shiknansen open.

Japan Railways used to operate many overnight trains. But in these days, many of those train services were discontinued. Now the choice is very limited. Continue reading

Japan Rail Pass and rail travel in Japan complete guide. Let's use the Japan Rail Pass to its maximum!!!