This train, Aso Boy! connects Kumamoto and Beppu via Aso. When you go to Mt. Aso by a train, take the Shinkansen to Kumamoto and transfer to this train. This is the easiest way to get there.
This train offers not only access to Aso but also a big fun, especially if you travel with child(ren). This train is operated by the refurbished Kiha-183 series. This was completely redesigned by JR Kyushu chief designer, Eiji Mitooka. The facilities of this train make both parents and children enjoy the ride to Aso.
You will find how nice this train is for kids in this article.
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
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
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.
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 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.
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.)
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.