Hokkaido Train Guide. Guide of the access route to major places in Hokkaido by train

Aoi Ike (blue pond) near Biei

Hokkaido is very very popular destination. There are lots of places to see. However this island is quite large. You must know the best way between the places to save your trip time.

In this post, I will show you the train network in Hokkaido. You will find most time efficient way.

Continue reading Hokkaido Train Guide. Guide of the access route to major places in Hokkaido by train

Summary of 2019 spring seasonal trains of JR trains

Spring is the amazing season to travel in Japan.

I think everybody agree that spring is the best season to travel. The cherry blossom is amazing, gorgeous and unforgettable. Therefore this season is very busy. Especially the period from late March to early April is the spring break of the public school in Japan. This period is usually the peak period of the cherry blossom in southside of Japan. It is busy season.

Do not forget “Golden Week”. Japan has many holidays from late April to early May. Especially 2019’s Golden Week will be very special. The emperor will retire and the prince will take over. Please see the link below to find the detailed information about the calendar.

2019 busiest period to travel by train. Tips to book your seat in even during the busy period.

JR Group operate lots of seasonal trains during the spring peak period. In this post, I will show you many seasonal trains that will run in major tourist spots until the end of June.

If you are looking for the schedule of the seasonal trains for the summer season (July to September), please see the post below to find the information:

Continue reading Summary of 2019 spring seasonal trains of JR trains

Peach / Vanilla Kita Hokkaido Free Pass

Cape Soya is northernmost point in Japan. (C) By Rsa [GFDL or CC-BY-SA-3.0], from Wikimedia Commons

I introduced Peach / Vanilla Higashi Hokkaido Free Pass in the previous post. That covers eastern Hokkaido and available for anybody who arrive in New Chitose airport or Kushiro airport by Peach Air or Vanilla Air. In this post, I will show you very similar deal which is Peach / Vanilla Kita Hokkaido Free Pass. This is designed for the trip to northern part of Hokkaido. If you are under 25 years old, you can get this pass at U25 discount rate.

I would like to show you how you use this pass. Continue reading Peach / Vanilla Kita Hokkaido Free Pass

Peach / Vanilla Higashi Hokkaido Free Pass

Farm near Furano, typical scenery in Hokkaido (C) Furano / JNTO

I explain many deals in this site but these are mostly available for overseas tourist only. In this post, I would like to show you the deal for both resident and overseas tourist in this post. This deal, Peach / Vanilla Higashi Hokkaido Free Pass is designed for the trip to eastern part of Hokkaido. If you are under 25 years old, you can get this pass at U25 discount rate.

I would like to show you how you use this pass. Continue reading Peach / Vanilla Higashi Hokkaido Free Pass

Furano Biei Rail Ticket is the perfect choice for the trip to Furano, Biei and Asahikawa.

Patchwork Hill is one of popular spots in Biei. (C) JTA/ JNTO

If you think about making a day trip or a few days trip to Furano and Biei from Sapporo, this deals, “Furano Biei Rail Ticket” is the best deal. This ticket includes unlijmited ride in these areas and round trip from Sapporo.

In this post, I will tell you the detailed information about this deal. I also show you the comparison between this ticket and Hokkaido Rail Pass.

Continue reading Furano Biei Rail Ticket is the perfect choice for the trip to Furano, Biei and Asahikawa.

Summary of 2018 summer seasonal trains of JR trains

Specialized fleet of HIGH RAIL 1375(C) D-s-yama [CC BY-SA 4.0], from Wikimedia Commons

Summer is very hot and humid in Japan. It is not the best season to travel. However summer is very busy travel season. In Japan, most public schools have summer break from July 20 to August 31. This period is busier than usual. Especially mid August is called “Obon”. This is one of the busiest season. Many of Japanese go back to hometown and spend the time with families. It is Japanese tradition. Many of trains are booked out very quickly. Please see the link below to learn more:

2018 busiest period to travel by train. Tips to book your seat in even busy period

All JR companies add lots of seasonal trains during all summer season. In this post, I show you many seasonal trains that will run in major tourist spots until the end of September.

*Fall seasonal train schedule (October and November) will come up in late August. But you can find many of JR East train schedules until September, 2018. You also can find JR Kyushu train schedules until February, 2019. Continue reading Summary of 2018 summer seasonal trains of JR trains

Schedule of 2018 spring seasonal trains of Japan Railways

EVA Type 500 train runs as regular scheduled Kodama on Sanyo Shinkansen.
EVA Type 500 train has been running as regular scheduled Kodama on Sanyo Shinkansen for a few years. But it will be done on in this coming May.

Spring is the best season to visit Japan because of the cherry blossom. Spring break of public school in Japan usually starts from the last week of March to the first week of April. This two weeks period is much busier than usual. And also between late April and the beginning of May is one of the busiest period in the year. It is known as “Golden Week” in Japan. April 29, May 3, 4, and 5 are National holidays. If you travel in this period, train may be booked out quickly. Please see the details in the link below:

2018 busiest period to travel by train. Tips to book your seat in even busy period

All JR companies add lots of seasonal trains during all spring season. In this post, I show you many seasonal trains that will run in major tourist spots until the end of June.

*Summer seasonal train schedule (July to September) will come up in late May. But you can find JR East train schedules until September, 2018. You also can find JR Kyushu train schedules until February, 2019. Continue reading Schedule of 2018 spring seasonal trains of Japan Railways

Takikawa station guide. How to catch a local train to Furano.

Takikawa station building exterior (C) Mister0124 [CC BY-SA 4.0]

Takikawa is not well known as the tourist spot. And this station is not a mega terminal station. But this station is the junction of Sapporo, Asahiawa and Furano. If you travel to Furano from Sapporo, you may need to transfer train at this station, Takikawa. If you do so, you may want to know what this station looks.

In this post, I would like to explain about Takikawa station with some photos.

Takikawa station overview

Takikawa is located in the middle of Hokkaido between Sapporo and Asahikawa. Trains depart and arrive at Takikawa from the following destinations:

  • Hakodate line to/from Sapporo, Asahikawa
  • Nemuro line to/from Furano, Shintoku, Obihiro, Kushiro

*Nemuro line is closed between Higashi-Shikagoe and Shintoku since storm hit this area in 2016. There is no direct trains running from Takikawa to Shintoku, Obihiro and Kushiro at this point. If you go to Obihiro or Kushiro, you may go to Sapporo and catch Limited Express Ozora or Tokachi to Obihiro and Kushiro. It may be faster.
Substitute bus is available for this closed segment.

Station structure, tracks and platforms

 The platforms from the bridge walkway

Before I start to explain about this station, I would like you to refer the station map in JR Hokkaido official site. It is in Japanese but you may find what Takikawa station looks like.

JR Hokkaido official site, Takikawa station map

 The walkway on the bridge
 Digital signage shown in both Japanese and English

Takikawa station is one level structure. All platforms and the station building are located on the ground floor. There is a walkway bridge over the platforms. This walkway connects all platforms and station building. There are elevators at all platforms for your convenience.

 Stairs at the platform for track #4 and #5
 Elevators are equipped at all platforms.
Find your hotels in 500 cities throughout Japan!!!

Hotels in Asahikawa
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Hotels in Furano

Platforms

Track #Line / TrainDesitnation
1Local train on Nemuro lineAshibetsu, Furano, Higashi-Shikagoe
4,5Limited Express Lilic
Limited Express Kamui
Limited Express Soya
Limited Express Okhotsk
Local, Rapid on Hakodate line
Sapporo, Iwamizawa
6,7Limited Express Lilic
Limited Express Kamui
Local, Rapid on Hakodate line
Limited Express Okhotsk
Limited Express Soya
Fukagawa, Asahikawa
Abashiri
Wakkanai

Track #1 is attached with the station bulding.

 The view from track #1

Track #2 and #3 are used for the freight trains and there is no platforms for these tracks.

Furano line train mostly depart from track #1. But some of them depart from track #4.

 Platform at Track #4 (left) and #5 (right)

Track #4 and #5 are used for westbound, Iwamizawa and Sapporo. These tracks share same platform. Track #6 and #7 for eastbound, Fukagawa, Asahikawa, Abashiri and Wakkanai and these tracks share same platform too. If you come from Sapporo and need to change train to Furano, you need to move from track #6 or #7 to track #1.

Ticket gate/Exit

 Ticket gate

Takikawa station has only one ticket gate. It is a small station and very simple layout.

The station building has the waiting space but this station does not have any stores and kiosks.

 Waiting space

There is no convenience stores and shops around the station. You do not have any chances to buy nearby this station. I recommend you to prepare something to eat before coming to this station if you need.

I have taken a local train from Furano to Takikawa. You can find my trip report in the link below. I hope it will give you some idea.

I am glad if this post assist you to build your plan.

Asahikawa station guide. Guide to change trains and buses to Asahiyama Zoo and Sounkyo.

Asahikawa station from north side

Asahikawa is the second biggest city in Hokkaido. Asahikawa is well known as Asahiayama zoo which is one of most popular zoos in Japan. And also Asahikawa is the gateway to Biei, Furano, Sounkyo and Daisetsu mountain.

Many trains runs between Sapporo and Asahikawa. And also train which goes to Wakkanai and Abashiri stop at Asahikawa. You may change trains at Asahikawa.

In this post, I would like to explain about Asahikawa station and surrounding the station with many photos. Continue reading Asahikawa station guide. Guide to change trains and buses to Asahiyama Zoo and Sounkyo.

Schedule of 2017 summer seasonal trains of Japan Railways

Rapid train, Kira Kira Uetsu runs between Niigata and Sakata on Uetsu line along the coast.

I cannot say that summer is the best season to visit Japan. It’s very hot and very humid. But it’s vacation season anyway. School summer break kick off on July 20 in most of area. And mid August is called “Obon”. It is one of the busiest period in the year. If you travel in this period, train may be booked out quickly. Please see the details in the link below:

2017 busiest period to travel by train. Tips to book your seat in even busy period

JR Group operate lots of seasonal trains during summer season. In this post, I show you many seasonal trains that will run in major tourist spots until the end of September.

*Autumn seasonal train schedule (October to November) will come up in late August. But you will find all schedules until February, 2018 for trains in Kyushu. Continue reading Schedule of 2017 summer seasonal trains of Japan Railways

Trip to Hokkaido in 2017 winter – Part 5, Asahikawa to Takikawa via Biei

Furano line local train at Asahikawa station

This post is continued from Trip to Hokkaido in 2017 winter – Part 4, Sapporo Snow Festival and stay in Asahikawa.

On day 3, I started my trip from Asahikawa and my destination was Hakodate. On the way to Hakodate, I dropped by Bibaushi (Biei area), Noboribetsu and Lake Toya. In this post, I would like to show you the first part of day 3 trip which is walking in Biei. Continue reading Trip to Hokkaido in 2017 winter – Part 5, Asahikawa to Takikawa via Biei

Schedule of 2017 spring seasonal trains of Japan Railways

Genbi Shinkansen that runs between Echigo-Yuzawa and Niigata is called the world fastest art gallery.
Genbi Shinkansen that runs between Echigo-Yuzawa and Niigata is called the world fastest art gallery.

Spring is the best season to visit Japan because of the cherry blossom. And also between late April and the beginning of May is one of the busiest period in the year. It is called “Golden Week” in Japan. April 29, May 3, 4, and 5 are National holidays. If you travel in this period, train may be booked out quickly. Please see the details in the link below:

2017 busiest period to travel by train. Tips to book your seat in even busy period

JR Group operate lots of seasonal trains during all spring season. Especially JR Group add lots of the extra trains in Golden Week. In this post, I show you many seasonal trains that will run in major tourist spots until the end of June.

*Summer seasonal train schedule (July to September) will come up in late May. But you will find all schedules until February, 2018 for trains in Kyushu. Continue reading Schedule of 2017 spring seasonal trains of Japan Railways

Schedule of 2016 summer seasonal trains of Japan Railways

The newest Shinkansen train, Genbi Shinkansen runs between Echigo-Yuzawa and Niigata.
The newest Shinkansen train, Genbi Shinkansen runs between Echigo-Yuzawa and Niigata.

In Japan, the peak period during summer time is mid August that is called “Obon”. Most of Japanese go back to hometown and spend the time with family. All transportation will be busy from major cities at the beginning and back to major cities at the end. I wrote the busy dates and some tips to avoid this situation at the link below:

2016 busiest period to travel by train. Tips to book your seat in even busy period.

And also, the public school is closed from July 20 to August 31 for summer break. This period is busier than usual too.

JR Group operate lots of seasonal trains during summer season. Especially JR Group add lots of extra trains. It is too many to introduce all seasonal trains. So I pick up the popular trains and are operated in the popular spot. Continue reading Schedule of 2016 summer seasonal trains of Japan Railways

Schedule of 2016 spring seasonal trains of Japan Railways

EVA Type 500 train runs as regular scheduled Kodama on Sanyo Shinkansen.
EVA Type 500 train runs as regular scheduled Kodama on Sanyo Shinkansen.

Spring is the best season to visit Japan because of the cherry blossom. And also between late April and the beginning of May is one of the busiest period. It is called “Golden Week” in Japan. April 29, May 3, 4, and 5 are National holidays.

2016 Golden Week Calendar
Apr 29 (Fri) Holiday
Apr 30 (Sat)
May 1 (Sun)
May 2 (Mon)
May 3 (Tue) Holiday
May 4 (Wed) Holiday
May 5 (Thu) Holiday
May 6 (Fri)
May 7 (Sat)
May 8 (Sun)

May 2 and May 6 are regular weekday. But many residents in Japan will take extra day off and make longer holidays. Therefore it will be very busy from April 29 to May 8. I recommend you to avoid travelling during this period. I’m not surprised if trains are booked out.

JR Group operate lots of seasonal trains during all spring season. Especially JR Group add lots of the extra trains on those above holidays. It is too many to introduce all seasonal trains. So I pick up the popular trains and are operated in the popular spot. Continue reading Schedule of 2016 spring seasonal trains of Japan Railways

Schedule of 2015 spring seasonal trains of Japan Railways

"Ohanami" is very popular outside party with viewing cherry blossom.  © Y.Shimizu/© JNTO
“Ohanami” is very popular outside party with viewing cherry blossom. © Y.Shimizu/© JNTO

Spring is the best season to visit Japan because of the cherry blossom. And also between late April and the beginning of May is one of the busiest period. It is called “Golden Week” in Japan. April 29, May 3, 4, and 5 are National holidays. I recommend you to avoid travelling on those days. It’s not surprised if trains are full.

JR Group operate lots of seasonal trains during all spring season. Especially JR Group add lots of the extra trains on those above holidays. It is too many to introduce all seasonal trains. So I pick up the popular trains and are operated in the popular spot. Continue reading Schedule of 2015 spring seasonal trains of Japan Railways

Schedule of 2014 fall seasonal trains of Japan Railways

Furano Biei Norokko train goes on Furano line. (C) 800px-Norokkogou-furano-biei / Birdman
Furano Biei Norokko train takes you one of most popular spot, Furano and Biei. (C) 800px-Norokkogou-furano-biei / Birdman

Fall season is very popular to travel in Japan. Fall foliage is amazing. Weather is very nice. It’s highly recommended to train in this season.

Many seasonal trains will run during this season. I show you seasonal trains information mostly for September, October and November, 2014 in this post.

It is too many to introduce all seasonal trains. So I pick up the trains that run in the popular spots only. Continue reading Schedule of 2014 fall seasonal trains of Japan Railways

Schedule of 2014 summer seasonal trains of Japan Railways

Moonlight Nagara is operated by 183 series.
Moonlight Nagara is very popular overnight train because it can be taken without limited express surcharge. (but reserved seat fee applicable)

Summer is not the best season to visit Japan except Hokkaido because of climate. It is very hot and humid. But local demand is quite high. Especially Obon season is one of three busiest period in Japan. Obon period is usually from August 13 to 16. In this year 2014, August 17 is Sunday. So the last day of Obon period is 17 of August. The trains to major cities will be very crowded. On the other hand, trains from major cities will be very crowded on August 13. Some of Japanese will start Obon vacation on August 10, Saturday. Anyway please keep that mid August will be very busy in your mind. You must reserve a seat if you travel in this period. Otherwise you have to stand up on the isle or passengers deck in very crowded train.

JR Group operate lots of seasonal trains during all spring season. Especially JR Group add lots of the extra trains on those above holidays. It is too many to introduce all seasonal trains. So I pick up the popular trains and are operated in the popular spot. Continue reading Schedule of 2014 summer seasonal trains of Japan Railways

Schedule of 2013 fall seasonal trains of Japan Railway

Some of Resort Shirakami are operated by the newest Hybrid train.
Resort Shirakami is one of the most popular cruising train in Japan.

I believe autumn is the best season to travel in Japan. Fall color leaves are magnificent. It will be unforgettable moment. JR Group operate lots of seasonal trains during this season and increase the number of trains. I show you seasonal trains information mostly for September, October and November, 2013 in this post.

It is too many to introduce all seasonal trains. So I pick up the trains that run in the popular spots only. Continue reading Schedule of 2013 fall seasonal trains of Japan Railway

Schedule of 2013 summer seasonal trains of Japan Railways

Furano Biei Norokko train goes on Furano line. (C) 800px-Norokkogou-furano-biei / Birdman
Furano Biei Norokko train takes you one of most popular spot, Furano and Biei. (C) 800px-Norokkogou-furano-biei / Birdman

In Japan, summer school break start from mid July and until end of August. And Obon period in mid August is one of two busiest period in Japan. (Other one is New Years day break) Most of train will be packed. There are so many standing passengers on isle and passenger’s deck.

JR Group operate lots of seasonal trains in this summer season too. Especially in Obon period, so many additional trains will run. It is too many to introduce all seasonal trains. So I pick up the popular trains and are operated in the popular spot. Continue reading Schedule of 2013 summer seasonal trains of Japan Railways

Hokkaido Unlimitd Train Ticket and Southern Hokkaido Unlimited Train Ticket for resident in Japan

Clock tower is the icon of Sapporo.
Clock tower is the icon of Sapporo.

JR East and JR Hokkaido have just announced that they will two types of unlimited ride ticket for trip to Hokkaido from Tokyo. If you go to Japan from outside of Japan, you have lots of choices, like Japan Rail Pass, JR East Pass or Hokkaido Area Pass. But if you are in Japan as resident, you cannot purchase these tickets for overseas travellers. So if you want to go to Hokkaido by train, this ticket may be your choice. Only Japanese information will be provided by JR East (JR東日本). So I would like to share the information about this ticket with you here in English. Continue reading Hokkaido Unlimitd Train Ticket and Southern Hokkaido Unlimited Train Ticket for resident in Japan

Schedule of 2013 spring seasonal trains of Japan Railways

One of the famous hot springs, Kinosaki Onsen is also a nice place to see cherry blossom. ©Toyooka City/©JNTO
One of the famous hot springs, Kinosaki Onsen is also a nice place to see cherry blossom. ©Toyooka City/©JNTO

Spring is the best season to travel. The cherry blossom can be seen throughout Japan from late March to late April. And also between late April and the beginning of May is one of the busiest period. It is called “Golden Week” in Japan. April 29, May 3, 4, and 5 are National holidays. If you can, lease try to avoid travelling on those days. Many trains are almost full.

JR Group operate lots of seasonal trains during all spring season. Especially JR Group add lots of the extra trains on those above holidays. It is too many to introduce all seasonal trains. So I pick up the popular trains and are operated in the popular spot. Continue reading Schedule of 2013 spring seasonal trains of Japan Railways

Fall JR rapid and local trains unlimited ride ticket 3 days at 7500 yen. Available for both residents and visitors.

Special Rapid Service operated by JR West 223 series.
Special Rapid Service in Kansai area is covered by this pass. It is quite fast.

JR Group sell “Railway anniversary day’s unlimited ride ticket (鉄道の日記念 JR全線乗り放題きっぷ)” in October. Because the first railroad was open between Shinbashi and Yokohama in October 14, 1872. October 14 is railway anniversary day in JR Groups. Especially this year, 2012 is 25th anniversary of JR Group founded. In commemoration of the 25th year, this ticket will be sold at 7,500 yen for three consecutive days. This ticket basically will be sold for the local. So anyone can purchase it. Even though there are some restrictions, such as ticket do not cover any express trains, the residents who cannot purchase special discount ticket, like JR Pass, maybe consider to use this pass. I will show you the details about this ticket. Continue reading Fall JR rapid and local trains unlimited ride ticket 3 days at 7500 yen. Available for both residents and visitors.

Schedule of 2012 fall seasonal trains of Japan Railway

KIHA183 Niseko Express is used for Furano Koyo Express (C) Sonic Rail Garden
KIHA183 Niseko Express is used for Furano Koyo Express (C) Sonic Rail Garden

Fall is very popular season to travel in Japan for local tourist too. JR Group operate lots of seasonal trains during this season and increase the number of trains. I show you seasonal trains information mostly for October and November, 2012 in this post. If you are looking for the information of seasonal train that is operated in September only, please see 2012 summer seasonal trains information.

It is too many to introduce all seasonal trains. So I pick up the popular trains and are operated in the popular spot. Continue reading Schedule of 2012 fall seasonal trains of Japan Railway

Schedule of 2012 summer seasonal trains of Japan Railways

Some of Furano Lavender Express are operated by Kiha183 Crystal Express train.
Some of Furano Lavender Express are operated by Kiha183 Crystal Express train.

In summer season, the busiest period is mid August. This period is called “Obon (お盆)”. Everybody try to go back to hometown in this period. In this year 2012, August 10 to 19 will be Obon period. Especially the direction to go out from major cities on Aug 10-12 and the direction to go into major cities on Aug 17-19 will be much busier. These dates are weekend days. Everybody will try to move on these dates. If you travel in this period, try to go opposite direction. It makes you to travel much easier.

JR Group operate lots of seasonal trains during all summer season and increase the number of trains in Obon period. It is too many to introduce all seasonal trains. So I pick up the popular trains and are operated in the popular spot. Continue reading Schedule of 2012 summer seasonal trains of Japan Railways

Throughout Japan 14 days sample itinerary by Japan Rail Pass 14 days pass

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

This itinerary includes many popular spots throughout Japan in 14 days. This itinerary starts from Tokyo. But if you want to start from Osaka, you can start from Day 11 to Day 14, and then start from Day 1 to Day10. Actually 14 days in not enough to see all popular spots in Japan. I include Hokkaido in this itinerary. But it does not include Shiretoko because of not enough time. I could not include south part of Kyushu, Hakone and Mt. Fuji either. If you can give up Tohoku part, you can get more time in Hokkaido. Of course you can go to Shiretoko.

Anyway this is a sample. I hope this sample itinerary help you When you make your own plan. Continue reading Throughout Japan 14 days sample itinerary by Japan Rail Pass 14 days pass