Alternatives of Overnight train Twilight Express, in case that you cannot make a reservation.

***Twilight Express was discontinued in 12 March, 2015. There is no overnight train option between Osaka and Hokkaido any more.***

Twilight Express is one of the most popular train in Japan. (C) Sonic Rail Garden
Twilight Express is one of the most popular train in Japan. (C) Sonic Rail Garden

Twilight Express is very popular. Many tourists might think about taking this luxury overnight train. But you have a problem. Twilight Express cannot be reserved online. The only way to reserve it from outside of Japan is calling Odekake net 078-341-7903 in Japanese and you have to pick up your ticket in JR West, Shikoku or Kyushu stations. You cannot pick up it in other areas, like Tokyo. Otherwise You need to go to a reservation window at the station in Japan. Ticket is started to sell one month prior to the departure date. That means it may be sold out when you arrive in Japan. So you need to think about alternatives if you have a plan to take this train. I tell you several options for the case that you cannot make Twilight Express.

Twilight Express departs from Osaka at 11:50am and arrive in Sapporo at 09:52am, and depart from Sappro at 12:52pm and arrive in Osaka at 14:05pm. I try to make an alternatives as same schedule as possible. Continue reading Alternatives of Overnight train Twilight Express, in case that you cannot make a reservation.

Tohoku and Joetsu Shinkansen image gallery. Check the interior and accommodations.

E2 series (left) and 200 series (right)
E2 series (left) and original fleet 200 series (right). All 200 series were retired already.

Tohoku Shinkansen and Joetsu Shinkansen share the track between Tokyo and Omiya. So some types of trains are used on both Tohoku and Joetsu. I show you several types of trains that are used on Tohoku or Joetsu Shinkansen. If you are looking for the general information about these Shinkansens, please read Tohoku Shinkansen or Joetsu Shinkansen.

*If you are looking for the images of Akita, Yamagata or Nagano, please refer the following posts:

Akita Shinkansen
Yamagata Shinkansen
Nagano Shinkansen

*If you are looking for the images of the newest E5 series for Hayabusa (Gran class seat), please refer the following posts:

this post, Gran class and all class seat of Tohoku Shinkansen E5 series and Gran class for Hayabusa, Hayate and Yamabiko image gallery.

Continue reading Tohoku and Joetsu Shinkansen image gallery. Check the interior and accommodations.

Shin-Aomori station guide. How to change the train, Shinkansen, Super Hakucho and other local trains.

The exterior of Shin-Aomori station. It looks new because this station opened in 2010.
The exterior of Shin-Aomori station. It looks new because this station opened in 2010.

Hokkaido Shinkansen was opened in March 26, 2016. You can get Hokkaido by Shinkansen directly without changing trains at Shin-Aomori.

I have received some questions about train transfer at Shin-Aomori station. Shin-Aomori is the last station of Tohoku Shinkansen from Tokyo. And this station is the place to change the train to Hokkaido, like Hakodate and Sapporo. Some travellers worry about the transfer. They are not sure how big Shin-Aomori station and how many minutes is a enough to transfer the trains.

I show you map and images. I hope this instruction will help you to plan your itinerary. Continue reading Shin-Aomori station guide. How to change the train, Shinkansen, Super Hakucho and other local trains.

Summary of Japan Railway’s timetable revision in March, 2012

Overnight limited Express train Nihonkai (C) Sonic Rail Garden
Overnight limited Express train Nihonkai will be discontinued as a schedule train. (C) Sonic Rail Garden

Japan Railway usually revise the timetable every March. Hayabusa on Tohoku Shinkansen, Mizuho and Sakura on Kyushu Shinkansen were introduced in this past March. All JR six companies released the outline of next timetable revision in March 2012. I will show you the outline about this timetable revision.

Overnight train, Nihonkai and Kitaguni will be discontinued as a scheduled train.

I already mentioned this news on Twitter. Now it is officially confirmed. Continue reading Summary of Japan Railway’s timetable revision in March, 2012

More chance to get Gran Class on Tohoku Shinkansen on Nov 19, 2011

Gran Class seat on E5 series (C) Sonic Rail Garden
Glan Class seat on E5 series (C) Sonic Rail Garden

Gran Class ticket on Hayabusa is one of Japan Railway’s ticket that is hardest to get. But JR East will add more E5 series train that equips Gran Class. JR East announced that E5 series is going to be used for Hayate and Yamabiko. They offer Gran Class service on Hayate and Yamabiko too! JR East will start to use E5 series for these following trains on November 19, 2011: Continue reading More chance to get Gran Class on Tohoku Shinkansen on Nov 19, 2011

Alternatives of Overnight train Cassiopeia and Hokutosei, in case that you cannot make a reservation.

Overnight Limited Express train Cassiopeia (C) Sonic Rail Garden
Overnight Limited Express train Cassiopeia (C) Sonic Rail Garden
***Hokutosei was discontinued as scheduled train in 14 March, 2015. Now Hokutosei runs as seasonal train until end of summer. It will be discontinued after it. Please find operation date at the post, Schedule of 2015 spring seasonal trains of Japan Railways.***

Both Cassiopeia and Hokutosei very popular. Many tourists have a plan to take one of these trains. However these overnight trains cannot be reserved online. The only way to reserve it from outside of Japan is calling Odekake net 078-341-7903 in Japanese and you have to pick up your ticket in JR West, Shikoku or Kyushu stations. You cannot pick up it in other areas, like Tokyo. Otherwise You need to be the reservation window at the station in Japan. Ticket is started to sell one month prior to the departure date. That means it may be sold out when you arrive in Japan. So you must have a back up plan when you try to make a reservation after arrival.

I tell you several options for the case that you cannot make Cassiopeia or Hokutosei. Continue reading Alternatives of Overnight train Cassiopeia and Hokutosei, in case that you cannot make a reservation.

Compare interior of Tohoku Shinkansen Hayabusa with Hayate

All trains on Tohoku and Joetsu shinkansen. From left to right, E5 (Hayabusa), E3 (Komachi), E2 (Hayate), 200 (Toki/Tanigawa), E4 Max, E1 Max
All trains on Tohoku and Joetsu shinkansen. From left to right, E5 (Hayabusa), E3 (Komachi), E2 (Hayate), 200 (Toki/Tanigawa), E4 Max, E1 Max

All line of Tohoku Shinkansen will be restored soon. Of course the fastest train “Hayabusa” will be operated too. Now I show you the article about comparison Hayabusa and Hayate on Tohoku Shinkansen.

Hayabusa has Gran class that is upper class than Green class. When I wrote this post, I had not received enough images of Gran class and other class’ seat of E5 series that has Gran class. Continue reading Compare interior of Tohoku Shinkansen Hayabusa with Hayate

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)

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 Japan Rail Pass. You can visit there without any extra charge.

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

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.