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

Another idea of overnight transfer to Hokkaido, using ferry service between Aomori and Hakodate

Tsugaru Kaikyo Ferry
Tsugaru Kaikyo Ferry

In this website, the pages of overnight trains, such as Twilight Express, Cassiopeia, Hokutosei and Hamansu, are very popular. You can save time and money to take an overnight train. I understand why it is so popular. However as I explained you about reservation in the post “How to reserve seat”, we do not have any online reservation to get a seat or berth before departure. I already explained about the alternatives of several overnight trains in the following links:

Alternatives of Overnight train Twilight Express
Alternatives of Overnight train Cassiopeia and Hokutosei

But these alternatives on the above links are not enough. I think most of travellers are very stressful because they cannot reserve a seat before departure. Now I would like to share the information about another option to get Hokkaido by overnight transfer. It is the ferry services between Aomori and Hakodate. It is not covered by Japan Rail Pass. But the fare starts from 1710 yen and they have a midnight ferry service too. It may be considerable for some of the travellers. Let’s see the details. Continue reading Another idea of overnight transfer to Hokkaido, using ferry service between Aomori and Hakodate

Schedule of 2011-12 winter seasonal trains

KIHA183 Crystal Express is one of the trains to use for Tomamu-Sahoro Express trains. (C) Sonic Rail Garden
KIHA183 Crystal Express is one of the trains to use for Tomamu-Sahoro Express trains. (C) Sonic Rail Garden

Some part of winter season is the busiest period. Especially in Japan, New Years holidays are crazy busy. In this year, December 30, 11 (Fri) and January 4, 12 (Sun) will be busiest days. Please try to avoid taking a train on those days. the vehicle occupancy rate may be more than 200%. Sometimes it is almost impossible to get in or out from the train.

Even though Japan is very small country, Japan have several climate zone. It is icy freeeeeezing weather in Hokkaido. South part of Kyushu have very mild weather. It is very interesting season to travel. But if you travel in Hokkaido, Tohoku or Hokuriku region, please expect the delay due to snow. I do not recommend you to make a tight schedule.

Anyway JR Group operate lots of seasonal trains during all winter season. But 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 2011-12 winter seasonal trains

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

Ekiben (Boxed meal at the station or in the train) in Hokkaido

Oshamanbe Kanimeshi is one of the most well known Ekiben in Japan.
Oshamanbe Kanimeshi is one of the most well known Ekiben in Japan.

Bento (弁当) is the classic boxed meal in Japan. Especially Bento that is sold at station is called “Ekiben”. “Eki” (駅) means station and “Ben” (弁) is an abbreviation of the Bento. Major department store hold an exhibition that show many Ekiben from all over Japan very often. Ekiben is one of the food culture in Japan. Nobody knows how many Ekiben we have in Japan now. According to Ekiben archives, it says more than 3000 Ekiben in Japan. Even though I pick up the popular Ekibens, it is too many to share the information with you in one post. First of all, I would like to show you the popular Ekiben in Hokkaido with you. Continue reading Ekiben (Boxed meal at the station or in the train) in Hokkaido

Two most popular spots in 7 days! Sample itinerary Kyoto and Hokkaido 7 days by Japan Rail Pass 7 days pass

Kinkakuji temple in Kyoto ©Akira Okada/©JNTO
Kiyomizu-dera temple in Kyoto ©Akira Okada/©JNTO

I have received some inquiries about trip to Kyoto and Hokkaido in only 7 days. It is packed but it is not impossible. I would like to share the sample itinerary which covers Kyoto and Hokkaido. Continue reading Two most popular spots in 7 days! Sample itinerary Kyoto and Hokkaido 7 days by Japan Rail Pass 7 days pass

Sample itinerary Hokkaido 7 days by Japan Rail Pass 7 days

Night view form Mt.Hakodate ©Hokkaido Tourism Organization/© JNTO
Night view form Hakodate mountain (C) Hokkaido Tourism Organization / JNTO

This itinerary includes most of popular spots of Hokkaido in 7 days. Departure and arrival places are Tokyo. You can start using 7 days JR pass when you leave Tokyo. Continue reading Sample itinerary Hokkaido 7 days by Japan Rail Pass 7 days

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 Overnight train to/from Sapporo and Aomori. Express Hamanasu

The Limited Express Super Hokuto train guide and the timetable. The train connects Sapporo and Hakodate.

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

Super Hokuto runs between Hakodate and Sapporo. This train is connected to Hokkaido Shinkansen at Shin-Hakodate-Hokuto. So if you move from Tokyo to Sapporo, take Tohoku-Hokkaido Shinkansen and take this train for Shin-Hakodate-Hokuto to Sapporo. Japan Rail Pass covers all these trains from Tokyo to Sapporo.

Continue reading The Limited Express Super Hokuto train guide and the timetable. The train connects Sapporo and Hakodate.

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

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 it holds the biggest winter festival in the world. Hakodate is located in southend of Hokkaido. This small city is also very popular among tourists. It is also the gate city of Hokkaido if you take a train or a ferry.

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

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