Luxury overnight cruising train trip in Kyushu

JR Kyushu have been planning to operate a deluxe overnight train. According to some major newspapers in Japan, JR Kyushu seem to complete the plan. They may start to take a reservation in this coming summer.
This is the first multi-day cruising train trip in Japan. Probably this is much more luxury than Twilight Express and Cassiopeia. I don’t think I can afford this train trip. But it is very interesting. So I would like to share all information that I know at this point. Continue reading Luxury overnight cruising train trip in Kyushu

Kyushu Shinkansen N700 series for Mizuho, Sakura and Tsubame image gallery

N700 series was introduced for Mizuho and Sakura when Kyushu Shinkansen was completed. (C) Sonic Rail Garden
N700 series was introduced for Mizuho and Sakura when Kyushu Shinkansen was completed. (C) Sonic Rail Garden

N700 series was introduced for Kyushu Shinkansen in this past March. The fleet is the newest and the fastest on Kyushu and Sanyo Shinkansen. If you will use Japan Rail Pass, you may take this train as Sakura from Shin-Osaka to Hakata, Kumamoto or Kagoshima-Chuo.
This series is basically on same types of N700 series on Tokaido-Sanyo Shinkansen. But this series is strictly called N700-7000/8000. The exterior is not much different between N700 and N700-7000/8000. But the interior is quite different. This N700-7000/8000 is much better than original N700. Of course this has the best facility on Sanyo and Kyushu Shinkansen. Some of my frequent visitors rate Green class of this series higher than even the highest seat in Japan, Glan class of E5 series on Tohoku Shinkansen. Let’s see the interior images of this beautiful train. Continue reading Kyushu Shinkansen N700 series for Mizuho, Sakura and Tsubame image gallery

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

Schedule of 2011 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 good season to travel in Japan. JR Group operate lots of seasonal trains during this 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.

JR Hokkaido (Hokkaido area)

Kushiro Shitsugen Norokko train

This train is operated by “Torokko” (open air type passenger’s car). This is a cruising train that goes through Kushiro marsh. Please refer the detail about this train at Kushiro Shitsugen Norokko train. This train is extended to operate to Kawayu Onsen (Kawayu hot springs) in October. Continue reading Schedule of 2011 fall seasonal trains of Japan Railway

JR Kyushu will introduce the newest train to Amakusa and Kumamoto area, A ressha de Iko (Take the ‘A’ train)

Kiha 185 series will be remodeled for the newest train. (C) Sonic Rail Garden
Kiha 185 series will be remodeled for the newest train. (C) Sonic Rail Garden

JR Kyushu announce that they will introduce the newest limited express train, “A Ressha de Iko” (A列車で行こう=Take the ‘A’ train) on October 8, 2011. They will operate two round trips of this train on weekends, holidays and Christmas holidays between Kumamoto (熊本) and Misumi (三角). This train stops at only Uto (宇土). The timetable has not been announced yet. I will let you know right after I get.

KIHA 185 series that is used for Trans-Kyushu Limited Express is going to be remodeled. The train is two car formations. Continue reading JR Kyushu will introduce the newest train to Amakusa and Kumamoto area, A ressha de Iko (Take the ‘A’ train)

Schedule of 2011 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.

JR Group operate lots of seasonal trains during summer peak 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.

JR Hokkaido (Hokkaido area)

Kushiro Shitsugen Norokko train

This train is operated by “Torokko” (open air type passenger’s car). This is a cruising train that goes through Kushiro marsh. Please refer the detail about this train at Kushiro Shitsugen Norokko train. Continue reading Schedule of 2011 summer seasonal trains of Japan Railways

Sample itinerary Kyushu 7 days by Japan Rail Pass 7 days pass

Former Glover Residence is one of the popular spot in Nagasaki. ©Nagasaki City/© JNTO
Former Glover Residence is one of the popular spot in Nagasaki. ©Nagasaki City/© JNTO

This itinerary includes all part of Kyushu and covers many popular spots in Kyushu island in 7 days. So you can simply use Japan Rail Pass 7 days. You may start this itinerary either from Tokyo or from Osaka. But if you can start this from Tokyo, you need to skip Sasebo and Saikai National Park because of the time. And also you need to take the overnight train Sunrise Seto/Izumo if you start this from Tokyo on 7th day. Otherwise you cannot complete this itinerary. As long as you catch “Nobi Nobi seat” on Sunrise Seto or Izumo before the date change, you can continue to travel without any extra charge. (Please refer Japan Rail Pass official site, “Notes regarding use” point 6.)

If you start this trip from Osaka, you can add sightseeing in Osaka, Kyoto and Kobe before or after trip. You don’t need to use Japan Rail Pass for Osaka, Kyoto and Kobe. You can take the private railway company, such as Hankyu Railway (Kyoto-Osaka-Kobe), Keihan Railway (Osaka-Kyoto), and Hanshin Railway (Osaka-Kobe). You can buy a single fare or day pass. And also JR West sell JR West Kansai Area Pass. This pass covers Kyoto, Osaka, Kobe, Nara and Kansai Airport. If you want to take an easy ride, this pass lets your trip easier. Continue reading Sample itinerary Kyushu 7 days by Japan Rail Pass 7 days pass

Trans-Kyushu Limited Express (Kyushu Odan Tokkyu), train connects Kumamoto to Beppu via Aso.

Limited Express Trans Kyushu Limited Express and Kumagawa are operated by KIHA 185 series.
Limited Express Trans Kyushu Limited Express and Kumagawa are operated by KIHA 185 series.

Trans-Kyushu Limited Express (Kyushu Odan Tokkyu=九州横断特急) connects both west and east coast of Kyushu. It connects Beppu, Oita and Kumamoto. The biggest volcano, Mt. Aso is located in the middle of this trains’ route.

Due to a huge damage by earthquake, a part of Houhi line between Aso and Kumamoto is closed. This train runs only between Beppu, Oita and Aso until further notice.

Trans-Kyushu Limited Express is covered by Japan Rail Pass fully. I will explain about the train’s route, schedule and accommodations of these trains. Continue reading Trans-Kyushu Limited Express (Kyushu Odan Tokkyu), train connects Kumamoto to Beppu via Aso.

West Japan (Kyoto, Hiroshima and Kyushu) 7 days sample itinerary by Japan Rail Pass 7 days

Kyoto Imperial Palace ©Akira Okada/©JNTO
Kyoto Imperial Palace ©Akira Okada/©JNTO

This itinerary includes Kyoto, Osaka, Hiroshima, Miyajima and North part of Kyushu (Hakata, Nagasaki, Aso and Beppu). This starts from Tokyo and your Japan Rail pass will be started to use from Tokyo station. You may start this itinerary from Shinagawa station, if you arrive at Haneda airport early morning. And of course, you can start this itinerary from Osaka or Kansai airport too. Osaka and Kansai airport are much closer to Kyoto than Tokyo. If you start this itinerary from Osaka, the itinerary is more smooth and easier. Continue reading West Japan (Kyoto, Hiroshima and Kyushu) 7 days sample itinerary by Japan Rail Pass 7 days

Japan Rail Pass can be used for Kyushu Shinkansen. But not for Mizuho

N700-7000 series is new fleet to use for Sakura and Mizuho.
N700-7000 series is new fleet to use for Sakura and Mizuho. (C) Mitsuki-2368

I have received the email from JR West. They confirmed Japan Rail Pass can be used for Kyushu Shinkansen. But Japan Rail Pass can be used for only Sakura that is the second fastest train between Shin-Osaka and Kagoshima-Chuo. We cannot take Mizuho that is the fastest train between Shin-Osaka and Kagoshima-Chuo by Japan Rail Pass. JR West and Kyushu applied same fare table as Nozomi. So Japan Rail Pass does not cover even the basic fare. If you take Mizuho, you have to pay the full fare.

Of course we take Tsubame that is operated between Hakata and Kagoshima-Chuo. If you cannot take Sakura, you can take Hikari or Kodama to Hakata, then transfer to Tsubame.

If you want to see the images of trains’ interior, please see the post, N700 series for Kyushu Shinkansen Mizuho and Sakura

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ANA Hotel Kumamoto New Sky Located by Shirakawa river
Tokyu Hotel Kagoshima Spectacular views of Mt. Sakurajima

Kyushu Shinkansen tentative schedule after Mar 12 released

kyushu-shinkansen-timetable
Click this image. You will be able to understand how to read Kyushu Shinkansen tentative timetable in Japanese.

As probably you know, Kyushu Shinkansen will be opened all section between Hakata and Kagoshima-Chuo on Mar 12, 2011. JR Kyushu released the tentative schedule. You can see the timetable here(PDF).

But this timetable is only in Japanese. So I made some sample timetable with Japanese-English translation. Before you take a look at the timetable, please click this image.

This timetable consists of 4 page as PDF file. Each page has two directions. The top half of the page is the timetable for Shin-Osaka to Kagoshima-Chuo via Hiroshima, Hakata and Kumamoto. The bottom half is the timetable for Kagoshima-Chuo to Shin-Osaka via Kumamoto, Hakata and Hiroshima.

N700 series will be used as Mizuho and Sakura.
N700 series will be used as Mizuho and Sakura.

We will have four round trips for the fastest train, “Mizuho”. We will have Mizuho or Sakura mostly once an hour between Shin-Osaka and Kaghoshima-Chuo. It takes 3 hours and 46 minutes by Mizuho from Shin-Osaka to Kagoshima-Chuo. It takes about 4 hours to 4 hours 30 minutes by Sakura between Shin-Osaka and Hakata.

We will have four departures an hour between Hakata and Kumamoto, and two departures between Hakata and Kagoshima-Chuo.

Unfortunately JR Group did not announce anything about Japan Rail Pass validity to take these new trains, Mizuho and Sakura. I will let you know right after I get an information.

Find your hotels in 218 cities throughout Japan!!!

ANA Hotel Kumamoto New Sky Located by Shirakawa river
Tokyu Hotel Kagoshima Spectacular views of Mt. Sakurajima

Kyushu Shinkansen “Mizuho” and “Sakura” which run between Shin-Osaka, Hiroshima, Hakata, Kumamoto and Kagoshima

Kyushu Shinkansen Sakura and Mizuho give you direct trainsfer to Shin-Osaka from Kyusyu.
Both Mizuho and Nozomi on Sanyo Shinkansen are covered by this deal.

Kyushu Shikansen will be scheduled to operate all part of line on March 12, 2011. It will be connected with Sanyo Shinkansen at Hakata station. JR Kyushu and JR West will start to operate new express train service between Shin-Osaka (新大阪) and Kagoshima-Chuo (鹿児島中央).

Mizuho will be the fastest train service. It will stop at Shin-Kobe, Okayama, Hiroshima, Kokura, Hakata and Kumamoto. It will take 3 hours and 45 minutes. 4 round trips will be scheduled to operate. Sakura will stop at some more stations, Himeji (姫路), Fukuyama (福山), Shin-Yamaguchi (新山口), Shin-Tosu (新鳥栖), Kurume (久留米) and Shin-Yatsushiro (新八代). It will be operated once an hour. After Sakura will be operated, the similar train service, Hikari Rail Star, will be stopped to operate.

JR Kyushu and JR West showed new fleet, N700-7000 series that will be used for Mizuho and Sakura to media. Please see the post, N700 series for Kyushu Shinkansen Mizuho and Sakura.

Find your hotels in 218 cities throughout Japan!!!

ANA Hotel Kumamoto New Sky Located by Shirakawa river
Tokyu Hotel Kagoshima Spectacular views of Mt. Sakurajima