Trip to Tohoku, Chubu and Chugoku in 2016 winter – Part 2, Akita airport to Kakunodate

2016 winter Japan trip 146

This post is continued from Trip to Tohoku, Chubu and Chugoku in 2016 winter – Part 1, Quick trip to Hiroshima from Osaka

On second day of my trip, I flied to Akita and visited Kakunodate. I have been to Kakunodate but my mother had asked me to take her to Kakunodate. Actually she requested Takachiho and Kakunodate.
We had already done Takachiho 4 years ago. This was another task of me. I had JR pass but I booked the domestic flight from Itami (another Osaka airport) to Akita. She is Japanese and she can not get JR Pass. So we flied to Akita to visit Kakunodate and Yamadeara at the beginning part of my trip and I shared these two days with my mother. Continue reading Trip to Tohoku, Chubu and Chugoku in 2016 winter – Part 2, Akita airport to Kakunodate

JR East Pass Tohoku. Flex 5 days pass in 14 days period to cover Tokyo, surrounding area of Tokyo and Tohoku region.

Cherry blossom in Kakunodate Samurai Residence district. It is one of the highlights in Tohoku region. (C) Akita Prefecture / JNTO
Cherry blossom in Kakunodate Samurai Residence district. It is one of the highlights in Tohoku region. (C) Akita Prefecture / JNTO

JR East has decided to divide JR East into two regional passes, JR East Pass Niigata and Nagano, and JR East Pass Tohoku. Current JR East pass will be discontinued in the end of March and these two JR East passes will be on sale. In this post, I would like to explain one of these passes, JR East Pass Tohoku in this post. Continue reading JR East Pass Tohoku. Flex 5 days pass in 14 days period to cover Tokyo, surrounding area of Tokyo and Tohoku region.

What is the Shinkansen (bullet train)? Most convenient and the fastest train service throughout Japan.

Shinkansen

The Shinkansen (新幹線) is a high speed train service that is operated by JR. It is one of the fastest trains in world and sometimes called “Bullet Train”. JR has this high speed train network throughout Japan. You can save lots of your trip time by taking this train system.

I would like to share a basic information about the Shinkansen train system in this post.

Continue reading What is the Shinkansen (bullet train)? Most convenient and the fastest train service throughout Japan.

Trip to Tohoku and Nagano in 2013 winter – Part 4, from Akita to Hirosaki by Resort Shirakami

Resort Shirakami old type KIHA-40 series Kumagera formation (C) JP Rail
Resort Shirakami old type KIHA-40 series Kumagera formation (C) JP Rail

This post is continued from Trip to Tohoku and Nagano in 2013 winter – Part 3, from Ueno to Akita by Akebono

After I got off Akebono at Akita, I was going to ride Resort Shirakami. But it would depart at 8:38 am. I had almost 2 hours. I was looking for somewhere to stay for 2 hours near Akita station in early morning. Continue reading Trip to Tohoku and Nagano in 2013 winter – Part 4, from Akita to Hirosaki by Resort Shirakami

Trip to Tohoku and Nagano in 2013 winter – Part 3, from Ueno to Akita by Akebono

Overnight Limited Express Akebono is one of the way to get Aomori. (C) JP Rail
Overnight Limited Express Akebono is one of the way to get Aomori. (C) JP Rail

This post is continued from Trip to Tohoku and Nagano in 2013 winter – Part 2, Tokyo station

At Ueno station before getting on Overnight Limited Express Akebono

Before you get on Overnight trains, you have to make sure that you should purchase some food and drink. So far, only Cassiopeia, Twilight Express and Hokutosei have a dining car and on-board sales. Other overnight trains, Akebono, Sunrise Seto/Izumo and Hamanasu do not have those services. Akebono does not have even vending machines. If you get on Akebono, you must finish dinner and get something to eat and drink before boarding. Continue reading Trip to Tohoku and Nagano in 2013 winter – Part 3, from Ueno to Akita by Akebono

Two days unlimited ride on Japan Railways in Tohoku area, Tohoku Ouen Pass

Matsushima is one of three greatest scenery in Japan. ©JNTO
Matsushima is one of three greatest scenery in Japan. ©JNTO

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.

Anyway I would like to share the information about this pass with you. Continue reading Two days unlimited ride on Japan Railways in Tohoku area, Tohoku Ouen Pass

Sample itinerary Tohoku 7 days by Japan Rail Pass 7 days

Yamadera is located between Yamagata and Sendai. ©JNTO
Yamadera is located between Yamagata and Sendai. ©JNTO

This itinerary includes all part of Tohoku and covers many popular spots, such as Nikko, Zao, Matsushima, Hiraizumi, Oirase, Lake Towada, Shirakami Sanchi and Kakunodate, in 7 days. So you can simply use Japan Rail Pass 7 days. I also try to minimize an extra cost.

You may start this itinerary either from Tokyo or from Osaka. But if you can start this from Osaka, you need to take the overnight train Sunrise Seto/Izumo from Osaka to Tokyo. As long as you catch “Nobi Nobi seat” on Sunrise Seto or Izumo before the date change, you can travel without any extra charge. Continue reading Sample itinerary Tohoku 7 days by Japan Rail Pass 7 days

Rail cruising in UNESCO World Heritage Shirakami mountains by Rapid train Resort Shirakami

HB-E300 Buna train set is the newest fleets for Resort Shirakami.

Resort Shirakami (リゾートしらかみ) is a rapid train that is operated between Akita (秋田) and Aomori (青森). This train is named from UNESCO World Heritage site “Shirakami mountains (白神山地)”. This train runs on Gono line (五能線) along the shoreline of Sea of Japan. Gono line is known as one of the most scenic lines. The view is amazing.

This train is not an express train but this cruising train offers very comfortable interior. It is operated by specialized train and it does not have any non reserved seat. This train is operated on weekend, holidays and the peak periods only. If you use Japan Rail Pass (JR Pass), JR East Pass, JR-East South Hokkaido Rail Pass, you can take this train with no extra charge.

I show you some images of this train and tell you the details of this train in this post. Continue reading Rail cruising in UNESCO World Heritage Shirakami mountains by Rapid train Resort Shirakami

Overnight limited express train Nihonkai

Overnight train Nihonkai is the best way to save the time from Osaka to Aomori (C) Sonic Rail Garden
Overnight train Nihonkai is the best way to save the time from Osaka to Aomori (C) Sonic Rail Garden

***This train scheduled service was discontinued on March, 2012 due to small demand. It is operated as a seasonal operation train. Please refer the most updated operation date at Seasonal Trains Schedule.***

Nihonkai (日本海) is one of JR Overnight Express trains. It connects Osaka (大阪) with Akita (秋田) and Aomori (青森). This train has only the berth. So if you will use Japan Rail Pass, Japan Rail Pass does not cover an accommodation charge and also limited express surcharge. Even though Japan Rail Pass cover a basic fare, Nihonkai is still considerable way to get Aomori from Osaka. Let’s see the types of accommodation and extra charge. Continue reading Overnight limited express train Nihonkai

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

Newer E6 series (red color fleet) at Tokyo station (C) James Chuang
Newer E6 series (red color fleet) at Tokyo station (C) James Chuang

Technically Akita Shinkansen means the line between Morioka and Akita. But most of trains are operated between Tokyo and Akita via Morioka as the train name, “Komachi” (こまち).

All Komachi trains are coupled with the fastest Tohoku Shinkansen train, “Hayabusa” between Tokyo and Morioka. Those trains are uncoupled at Morioka. Of course both Akita and Tohoku Shinkansen are fully covered by Japan Rail Pass and JR East Pass. Continue reading Direct access to Akita from Tokyo, Akita Shinkansen (bullet train)

Express train service between Aomori and Akita, Limited Express Tsugaru

Limited Express Tsugaru operated by E751 series
Limited Express Tsugaru operated by E751 series

Tsugaru is an inter-city train that connects Aomori with several cities in Akita Pre. (秋田県) and Aomori Pref. (青森県), such as Hirosaki (弘前) and Oodate (大館). You can transfer from Tohoku Shinkansen at Shin-Aomori, and Akita Shinkansen at Akita. If you go to Hirosaki or Oodate, using Tohoku Shinkanse is the faster than Akita Shinansen connection. Of course this train and Tohoku or Akita Shinkansen are fully covered by Japan Rail Pass. Continue reading Express train service between Aomori and Akita, Limited Express Tsugaru

Express train service between Niigata and Akita, Limited Express Inaho

E653 series was transferred from Joban line's limited express Hitachi. And it was fully renovated and it looks a brand new fleet. (C) James Chuang
E653 series was transferred from Joban line’s limited express Hitachi. And it was fully renovated and it looks a brand new fleet. (C) James Chuang

Inaho is an inter-city train that connects Niigata with several cities in Shonai area (庄内地方) where is located between Niigata and Akita, such as Murakami (村上) and Tsuruoka (鶴岡) and Akita (秋田). You can transfer from Joetsu Shinkansen at Niigata and Akita Shinkansen at Akita. If you go to Akita from Tokyo, take Tohoku and Akita Shinkansen. This route is way faster than Joetsu Shinansen and Inaho. If you go to several cities in Shonai area (庄内地方) where is located between Niigata and Akita, such as Murakami (村上) and Tsuruoka (鶴岡) , Joetsu Shinkansen and Inaho route is faster than Tohoku, Akita Shinaknsen and Inaho from Akita route. Of course Japan Rail Pass cover both Akita route and Niigata route. There is no restriction with using Japan Rail Pass. Continue reading Express train service between Niigata and Akita, Limited Express Inaho

Overnight transfer to Aomori/Akita from Tokyo, No extra charge on Japan Rail Pass! Overnight limited express Akebomo


***This train scheduled service was discontinued in March, 2014 due to small demand.***

Overnight train "Akebono"
Overnight train Akebono

This overnight train is operated between Ueno and Aomori. Japan Railway operate 3 overnight trains between Tokyo and Tohoku or Hokkaido. But only “Akebono” has the reserved seat. The other two trains, “Hokutosei” and “Cassiopeia”, have only the sleeper. If you take sleeper class by Japan Rail Pass, Japan Rail Pass is valid for the basic fare only. You have to pay not only sleeper class surcharge but also limited express surcharge. That means you do not need to pay the extra to get “Akebono” because this train has the reserved seat. Continue reading Overnight transfer to Aomori/Akita from Tokyo, No extra charge on Japan Rail Pass! Overnight limited express Akebomo