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 Passenger’s review of “Hikari Railstar”

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

Wide View Hida is suspended until further notice due to Takayama line closure by heavy rain storm. Please see Train Operation Status to get the detailed information.

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

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

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

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 an overnight train which runs between Tokyo and Yonago, Matsue and Izumo-shi in Sanin area. This train is combined with Sunrise Seto between Tokyo and Okayama.

This train has many kinds of accommodations. One of these is called “Nobi Nobi Seat” which is like carpet section. This Nobi Nobi Seat is fully covered by JR pass. This is not very comfortable but you can lie on the seat. And you have some privacy because there is a small partition between the sections.

But some of Japan Rail Pass users want to take a bedroom or another choice even though additional will be charged. I will tell you the detailed information about the this train, Sunrise Izumo. Continue reading Overnight train to/from Tokyo and Izumoshi via Okayama, Sunrise Izumo. JR Pass user can take with no extra charge!

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 an overnight train that runs 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. It helps you to save your time.

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

This train has many kinds of accommodations. One of these is called “Nobi Nobi Seat” which is like carpet section. This Nobi Nobi Seat is fully covered by JR pass. This is not very comfortable but you can lie on the seat. And you have some privacy because there is a small partition between the sections.

But some of Japan Rail Pass users want to take a bedroom or another choice even though additional will be charged. I will show your the detailed information about 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!

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 have operated many overnight trains before. But in these days, many of those overnight train services were discontinued. Now the choice is very limited. Continue reading Save time and money! Learn more about Overnight Trains. Which overnight train can we take with no extra charge by JR Pass?

Connect Mainland (Aomori) with Hokkaido (Hakodate). Limited Express Hakucho / Super Hakucho

Limited Express Hakucho connect Honshu island with Hokkaido island.
Limited Express Hakucho connect Honshu island with Hokkaido island.

Super Hakucho and Hakucho is no longer running after Hokkaido Shinkansen opened in March, 2016. Now Hokkaido Shinkansen connects Tokyo and Hokkaido directly. Please see the following link to see the details of this Shinkansen line.

Direct access to Hokkaido from Tokyo, Hokkaido Shinkansen (bullet train)

Hakucho/Super Hakucho is operated between Shin-Aomori (新青森) and Hakodate (函館). These trains go through the longest tunnel in Japan, “Seikan Tunnel” and connect the main island in Japan, “Honshu” (本州) and Hokkaido (北海道). All these trains are scheduled to be connected with Tohoku Shinkansen at Shin-
Aomori station and Limited Express “Hokuto” and “Super Hokuto” to Sapporo at Hakodate. These trains used to connect Hachinohe with Hakodate via Aomori. But Tohoku Shinkansen was extended to Shin-Aomori on December 4, 2010. Departure location had been changed to Shin-Aomori instead of Hachinohe.

Both Hakucho and Super Hakucho are fully covered by Japan Rail Pass. But the accommodation between Hakucho and Super Hakucho is very different. So I would like to show you the difference and other details. Continue reading Connect Mainland (Aomori) with Hokkaido (Hakodate). Limited Express Hakucho / Super Hakucho

Tohoku Shinkansen (bullet train), the fastest train to Tohoku area from Tokyo.

E5 series is a flagship fleet on Tohoku Shikansen. this fleet is mostly used for Hayabusa and Hayate.
E5 series is the primary fleet on Tohoku Shinkansen.

Tohoku Shinkansen is the second oldest Shinkansen (a.k.a. Bullet Train) line in Japan and it connects Tokyo and Tohoku region, such as Shin-Aomori,Fukushima, Sendai, Morioka and Hachinohe. In March, 2016, Hokkaido Shinkansen was opened between Shin-Aomori and Shin-Hakodate-Hokuto. Hokkaido and mainland of Japan are connected by Shinkansen line via Seikan Tunnel which is the undersea tunnel. This new segment is called Hokkaido Shinkansen and it is technically different Shinkansen line. But many of trains run on both Tohoku and Hokkaido Shinkansen lines. Many trains connect Tokyo and Shin-Hakodate-Hokuto (near Hakodate) directly now. Please see the link below to get the detail of Hokkaido Shinkansen. Continue reading Tohoku Shinkansen (bullet train), the fastest train to Tohoku area from Tokyo.

Direct transfer to Yamagata and Shinjo, Yamagata Shinkansen (bullet train)

Yamagata Shinkansen
Yamagata Shinkansen E3 series.

Yamagata Shinkansen is operated between Fukushima and Yamagata and Shinjo. But all train services are provided to/from Tokyo and go through Tohoku Shinkansen between Tokyo and Fukushima. It is usually coupled with Tohoku Shikansen “Yamabiko” between Tokyo and Fukushima. At Fukushima station, these trains are uncoupled. Yamagata Shinkansen go toward to Yamagata and Shinjo.

Yamagata Shikansen is sometimes called Mini Shinkansen. Because technically it is not “Real” Shinkansen. It is smaller and slower than common Shinkansen because of sharing the truck with the local trains between Fukushima and Shinjo via Yamagata.

In this post, I would like to show many photos of Yamagata Shinkansen train and explain about this train. Continue reading Direct transfer to Yamagata and Shinjo, Yamagata Shinkansen (bullet train)

How to access to Hakodate and Sapporo in Hokkaido by railway.

Sapporo in winter time is so beautiful.
Sapporo shows very beautiful scenery in winter time.

Hokkaido is very popular destination in these days. Especially Sapporo is very well known because it is the biggest city in Hokkaido and is it the base city of the biggest winter festival in the world. Hakodate is located in southend of Hokkaido. This small city is also very popular among tourist. It is also the gate city of Hokkaido if you take train or ferry.

If you have JR Pass, JR East South Hokkaido Rail Pass, train trip to Hakodate or Hokkaido is fully covered. Actually we can get Sapporo in same day from Tokyo and even Osaka by Shinkansen and Limited express trains. However it is such a long long trip. I would like to show you the sample trip plan and you will find the trip time from Tokyo and Osaka. Continue reading How to access to Hakodate and Sapporo in Hokkaido by railway.

Limited Express Thunderbird timetable and the train information. The train to Kanazawa from Osaka and Kyoto.

683 series is the primary fleet for limited express train in Hokuriku region, such as Thunderbird and Shirasagi.
683 series is the primary fleet for limited express train in Hokuriku region, such as Thunderbird and Shirasagi.

Limited Express Thunderbird runs between Osaka, Shin-Osaka, Kyoto, Fukui, and Kanazawa. One round trip is operated to Wakura-Onsen. This train is the fastest train between Osaka/Kyoto and Kanazawa. If you go to Kanazawa from Osaka, simply take this express train.

This train is fully covered by Japan Rail Pass, Kansai Hokuriku Area Pass, Takayama Hokuriku Area Pass. I will tell you the detail information about this train in this post.

Continue reading Limited Express Thunderbird timetable and the train information. The train to Kanazawa from Osaka and Kyoto.

Intercity train between Niigata and Kanazawa. Limited Express Hokuetsu

Limited Express "Hokuetsu"
Limited Express Hokuetsu

This train was discontinued on March 13, 2015. Hokuriku Shikansen has started to run on March 14, 2015. You can get Kanazawa and Toyama by Shinkansen from Tokyo without any transfer and much faster. If you need an access to Kanazawa from Tokyo, please find more info at the post, Hokuriku Shinkansen, direct access to Kanazawa, Nagano and Toyama from Tokyo.

If you need to transfer between Toyama/Kanazawa and Niigata, you have to take Hokuriku Shinkansen and transfer to limited express Shirayuki at Jouetsu-Myoko station. Unfortunately there will be no choice to take direct train service between Kanazawa/Tokyo and Niigata. Please find more info at the post, Limited Express Shirayuki. Intercity express between Joetsu-Myoko and Niigata.

Hokuetsu (北越) is operated between Niigata and Kanazawa. If you go to Kanazawa or Toyama from Tokyo, you may take Joetsu Shinkansen and transfer to this train at Nagaoka station.

Hokuetsu is fully covered by Japan Rail Pass. But if you are hurry, you have a choice to take Hakutaka. But Hakutaka is operated on both JR lines and Non JR lines. That means you need to pay the extra. I would like to show you the details about Hokuetsu and the difference between Hokuetsu and Hakutaka. Continue reading Intercity train between Niigata and Kanazawa. Limited Express Hokuetsu

How to access to Asakusa. Can we get Asakusa by Japan Rail Pass?

Nakamise street has lots of shops on the road to Senso-ji temple in Asakusa. ©Taito City/©JNTO
Nakamise street has lots of shops on the road to Senso-ji temple in Asakusa. ©Taito City/©JNTO

Asakusa (浅草) is very popular district in Tokyo. We have Senso-ji, Buddhist temple there. We also have some more temples, so many Japanese souvenir shops and Ryokan (Japanese style accommodation that has Tatami room).

Asakusa is nice place to stay. But if you access from downtown core of Tokyo, such as Tokyo or Shinjuku station, I recommend you to take subway. JR does not have a station in Asakusa. JR has “Asakusa-bashi” station. But it might make you be confused. This station is not located in Asakusa. It takes at least 20 minutes walk. Both Tokyo Metro and Tokyo Toei subway lines have stations in Asakusa.

In this post, I will show you the access to Asakusa from major stations in Tokyo Continue reading How to access to Asakusa. Can we get Asakusa by Japan Rail Pass?

How to access to Tsukiji Market by Japan Rail Pass

Tsukiji Market is the biggest fish market in Japan. ©JNTO
Tsukiji Market is the biggest fish market in Japan. ©JNTO

Tsukiji Market was closed on October 6, 2018 and moved to new market, Toyosu Market on October 11, 2018.

This is the most popular destination for the foreign travellers in Metro Tokyo. Tsukiji Market (築地市場) is the biggest wholesale market in Japan. You can see “Seri” that means the auction. Especially viewing Seri for Tuna is very popular. It is held from 5:00 am to 6:30 am on weekdays. You can taste very fresh sushi at the reasonable price!

You can get Tsukiji Market by Japan Railway. But you need to walk. So I show you how to get there by Japan Railway only for Japan Rail Pass user. And also I show you most popular and convenient way that is using subway. Continue reading How to access to Tsukiji Market by Japan Rail Pass

Nagano Shinkansen, direct access to Nagano and Karuizawa from Tokyo.

Most of  train is operated by this fleet, E6 / W6 series.
Most of train is operated by this fleet, E6 / W6 series.

*Nagano Shinkansen will be extended to Kanazawa in March 2015 and now it is called Hokuriku Shinkansen. Please see the link below to learn more:

Hokuriku Shinkansen, direct access to Kanazawa, Nagano and Toyama from Tokyo

This Shinkansen services are operated between Tokyo and 1988 Olympic winter game host city, Nagono via Ueno, Omiya, Takasaki and Karuizawa. This Shinkansen will be extended to Kanazawa by 2014 and this route is the original plan. This Shinkansen share the rail with Joetsu Shinkansen between Omiya and Takasaki. If you travel from Niigata to Nagano, you can transfer to Shinkansen at Takasaki station.

Continue reading Nagano Shinkansen, direct access to Nagano and Karuizawa from Tokyo.

Joetsu Shinkansen, access to Niiagata, Nagaoka and Echigo Yuzawa

Hayate by E2 series on Tohoku Shinkansen
E2 series is main train set on Joetsu Shinkansen.

Joetsu Shinkansen is the third oldest Shinkasen (a.k.a. Bullet Train) line and it is operated between Tokyo and Niigata via Ueno, Omiya, Takasaki and Nagaoka. Joetsu is the old name of area where is between Niigata and Gunma. Echigo-Yuzawa is one of well known hot springs town in this area. It also has nice ski slope. JR East that owns Joetsu Shinkansen also owns Gala Yuzawa ski slope. You can access this ski slope directly from Gala Yuzawa station. In winter season, many Joetsu Shinkansen trains run directly to Gala Yuzawa station.

In this post, I will show you the details of Joetsu Shinkansen. Continue reading Joetsu Shinkansen, access to Niiagata, Nagaoka and Echigo Yuzawa

Limited Express Wide View Hida timetable and the train information. The train access to Takayama and Hida

 Wide View Hida runs between Osaka and Takayama by this 3 cars train set.

Wide View Hida is the limited express train which connects Nagoya, Takayama and Toyama. This train equips very huge windows. It offers very scenic view through this panoramic window along the route. That is why this train is called “Wide View”.

This train is a primary way to get Takayama. This has been very popular for the tourists from overseas in these days. This train is fully covered by JR Pass and Takayama Hokuriku Area Tourist Pass. I will explain about this train in this post.

Timetable and Route

Wide View Hida runs once an hour between Nagoya and Takayama. A few trips are extended to operate to Hida-Furukawa and Toyama. It takes 2.5 hours to get Takayama from Nagoya and 4 hours to get Toyama from Nagoya.

And also one round trip runs between Osaka and Takayama. If you take this Osaka departure Wide View Hida, you can get Takayama directly from Osaka, Shin-Osaka and Kyoto.

You can find the timetable in the link below:

JPRail.com PDF timetable (valid until mid October 2019)

This train departing from Osaka is coupled with the train from Nagoya at Gifu.

Please find the train operation route in the map below:

 Limited Express Wide View Hida operation route map (click to view large)

Accommodation

Wide View Hida is serviced by KIHA-85 series. This train has huge glass windows which give you the spectacular scenery along Takayama line. “Wide View” is a worthy of the name.

This series has two types of Green car that are 2+2 seat configuration and 2+1 seat configuration. 2+1 seat configuration is wider and has a bigger leg space. The seat pitch is 1160mm on 2+2 seat configuration and 1250mm on 2+1 seat configuration. 1160mm is the standard. So 2+1 seat gives you a great deal! If you want to take this seat, try to reserved a seat on car#10. 2+2 Green car is always at the middle of the train. 2+1 is always at the front of the formation. And also Ordinary class is good too. The seat pitch is 1000mm. This is bigger than the standard.

When you take this train at Nagoya, the seat is set with the back toward. Because this train change the direction at Gifu. It takes only 20 minutes from Nagoya to Gifu. You can change to the front toward if you want by yourself.

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

Find your hotels in 500 cities throughout Japan!!!

Hotels in Takayama
Hotels and Ryokans in Shirakawago
Hotels in Nagoya

Train formation

There are many train formations. Some Wide View Hida do not have Green car.

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Car#1-4 operate from Nagoya to Takayama. And Car#8-10 operate from Nagoya to Toyama

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Car#1-3 operate from Nagoya to Takayama/Hida-furukawa, Car#8-10 operate from Nagoya to Toyama

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In car #2, there are ordinary reserved seats and Green seats.

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NRRRNRR / GRR

This formation is used for Osaka departure and Nagoya departure combination. Car #1 to #3 run to/from Osaka and the rest of cars run to/from Nagoya. These two train sets are coupled / uncoupled at Gifu station and run together between Gifu and Takayama. In car #6, there are ordinary reserved seats and Green seats.

Images

Green seat 2+2 configuration

Green seat 2+1 configuration

Ordinary seat

Sanitary space

How to access to Cape Erimo (Erimo Misaki) by Japan Rail Pass.

Cape Erimo (Erimo Misaki)
Cape Erimo (Erimo Misaki)

Cape Erimo (=Erimo Misaki=襟裳岬) is located at south end of Hokkaido. There is more than 60m height cliff around the cape and 7km long shore reef to offshore. It is facing the open water of Pacific Ocean. A lot of harbor seals can be seen there.

You can access Cape Erimo by JR local line and bus without any additional charge by JR Pass, but Hokkaido Rail Pass does not cover the bus to Cape Erimo. Continue reading How to access to Cape Erimo (Erimo Misaki) by Japan Rail Pass.

How to access to Ryusendo (Limestone cave) by Japan Rail Pass

Ryusendo - You can explore the lon cave without any special equipment.
Ryusendo – You can explore the lon cave without any special equipment.

Ryusendo (=龍泉洞) is one of three biggest limestone caves in Japan. It has some crystal clear blue lakes in the cave. You can see three lakes during viewing the cave and third lake is 98m deep. Ryusendo has very well maintained path in the cave. So you don’t worry about any special equipments. Continue reading How to access to Ryusendo (Limestone cave) by Japan Rail Pass

How to reserve a seat of Japan Railway trains. How about online reservation available?

Tohoku Shinkansen E5 series run mostly as Hayabusa and Hayate. These trains have only reserved seat. You cannot take this train without seat reservation.
Tohoku-Hokkaido Shinkansen Hayabusa has only a reserved seat car. You cannot take this train without a seat reservation.

When you take Shinkansen or Limited Express train, you may book a seat and some trains require you a seat reservation. Though some of the express train have a non-reserved seat, you should book a reserved seat if you can. If you use JR Pass, Hokkaido Rail Pass, JR East Pass, Tokyo Wide Pass, Sanyo San’in Area Pass and Kyushu Area Pass, these passes cover a reserved seat fee. You should use this benefit. And also I strongly recommend to secure your seat especially in the peak seasons, such as late April to the first week of May (a.k.a. Golden Week), August 10 to 20 (It is called “Obon” which is a summer break.) and December 29 to the first week of January.

I would like to explain you how to get a reserved seat.

Continue reading How to reserve a seat of Japan Railway trains. How about online reservation available?