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.

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

Access to Haneda by Tokyo Monorail is covered now! Japan Rail Pass new rules

Tokyo Monorail

Tokyo Monorail is included in the pass.

As of October 21, 2010, you can use Tokyo monorail that is operated between Haneda airport and Hamamatsucho (浜松町) by Japan Rail Pass. But you cannot exchange the actual pass because there is no Japan Railway station at Haneda airport. That means you cannot take Tokyo Monorail with no extra charge by Japan Rail Pass right after arrival at Haneda airport.

If you want to have more informations about access to Haneda, please refer this page.

Condition changed for taking Aoimori Railway

As of December 4, 2010, JAPAN RAIL PASS can be used for Aoimori Railway Line in the limited cases. If you want to take Ominato line at Noheji station, you can use Aoimori Line from Aomori or Hachinohe. But you cannot get off the train in Aoimori Railway line. And also if you use the overnight train, you have to pay the regular fare and surcharge for Aoimori Railway.

The reason why Japan Railway change the condition is starting to operate Tohoku Shinkansen between Hachinohe and Shin-Aomori. Before Tohoku Shinkansen was started to operate between Hachinohe and Shin-Aomori, this line was owned by Japan Railway. But after that, this section was transfered to the private company, Aoimori Railway. Ominato line was no longer connected with any Japan Railway lines.

Kyushu Shinkasen will be started to operate between Shin-Yatsushiro and Hakata on March 12, 2011. This section will be owned by JR Kyushu after that. I think we will not have any big changes. But Japan Railway did not announce anything about using Japan Rail Pass for Kyushu Shinkansen’ fastest train “Mizuho” and Tohoku Shinkansen’ fastest train “Hayabusa“. I will keep checking and let you know as soon as possible.

*Hayabusa except Gran Class can be used by Japan Rail Pass. But Mizuho cannot be used by Japan Rail Pass.

Find your hotels in 218 cities throughout Japan!!!

Weekly Mansion Shinagawa Tokyo Weekly apartment for your long stay
Mystays Inn Kamata Tokyo Only 5 minutes from JR Kamata

How to access to Lake Towada (Towadako). Fully covered by JR Pass

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

This lake is one of the most beautiful lakes in Japan and very popular destination in Tohoku region. Especially in autumn season, many tourists visit this lake and Oirase rapid on the way to Lake Towada to see such an amazing fall foliage. JR Tohoku Bus operates the schedule bus to Lake Towada from either Hachinohe and Aomori. This bus service is covered by JR Pass and JR East Pass Tohoku. You can visit there without any extra charge by these passes.

Continue reading How to access to Lake Towada (Towadako). Fully covered by JR Pass

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.