Tag Archives: Kushiro

Schedule of 2017-18 winter seasonal trains of Japan Railways

Genbi Shinkansen that runs between Echigo-Yuzawa and Niigata is called the world fastest art gallery.
Genbi Shinkansen that runs between Echigo-Yuzawa and Niigata is called the world fastest art gallery.

Most of winter is shoulder season to travel. But New Year’s holidays from late December to Early January is the busiest season in Japan. And also early February is busy season in Hokkaido too because of Sapporo winter festival.

JR Group operate lots of seasonal trains during winter season. In this post, I show you many seasonal trains that will run in major tourist spots until the end of February.

*Spring seasonal train schedule (March to May) will come up in late January. Continue reading

Schedule of 2017 fall seasonal trains of Japan Railways

Renovated E3 series for Toreiyu Tsubasa

Autumn and spring are the good season to travel in Japan. In fall season, you may see the fall foliage in most part of Japan. You will be impressed by this amazing scenery.

JR Group operate lots of seasonal trains during fall season. In this post, I show you many seasonal trains that will run in major tourist spots until the end of November.

*Winter seasonal train schedule (December to February) will come up in late October. But you will find all JR Kyushu seasonal trains’ schedules until February, 2018. Continue reading

Schedule of 2016-17 winter seasonal trains of Japan Railways

Seasonal overnight train Moonlight Nagara is operated by this 185 series.
Seasonal overnight train Moonlight Nagara is operated by this 185 series.

Most of winter is shoulder season to travel. But New Year’s holidays from late December to Early January is the busiest season in Japan. And also early February is busy season in Hokkaido too because of Sapporo winter festival.

JR Group operate lots of seasonal trains during winter season. In this post, I show you many seasonal trains that will run in major tourist spots until the end of February. Continue reading

Hokkaido train operation status in fall 2016. Guide for substitute train and bus service.

Limited Express Okhotsk is suspended currently.
Limited Express Okhotsk is suspended currently.

Tomamu – Obihiro segment will open on 22nd December.

Hokkaido was hit by very severe typhoon in late August. Many train lines are closed by this storm and many trains are suspended currently. Substitute bus service and tentative train are operated but trip time is much longer than original schedule. And also the accommodation of some trains are totally different from Limited Express train interior. It offers just commute train accommodation. It is obviously inconvenient. If you cannot accept this situation, I recommend you to change your trip plan. It may not be a right time to visit there.

Anyway I will guide the substitute train and bus service in this post. Continue reading

Schedule of 2016 fall seasonal trains of Japan Railways

Fall foliage light up at Ninose station of Eizan Railway in Kyoto (C) Nkensei GFDL  or CC-BY-SA-3.0, via Wikimedia Commons
Fall foliage light up at Ninose station of Eizan Railway in Kyoto (C) Nkensei GFDL or CC-BY-SA-3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Autumn is the best season to travel in Japan. The climate is very mild and the scenery of fall foliage is breathtaking. JR will operate many seasonal trains for autumn high volume demand.

It is too many to introduce all seasonal trains. So I pick up the trains that run in the popular spots only. Continue reading

Schedule of 2015-16 winter seasonal trains of Japan Railways

Asahiyama Doubutsuen train runs betwen Sapporo and Asahikawa. It has Azahiyama Zoo specialized seats.
Asahiyama Doubutsuen train runs betwen Sapporo and Asahikawa. It has Azahiyama Zoo specialized seats.

In Japan, New Year holidays are the busiest period in entire year. Most of Japanese go back to hometown to stay with family in this season. This is Japanese traditional and classic.

Therefore the trains depart from major cities, like Tokyo, Osaka, Nagoya will be very busy in the beginning and opposite direction is busy in the end of holidays. Most of companies will be closed from Dec 30 to Jan 3. In this coming season, I expect Dec 29 and 30 will be busy. And everybody come back on January 2 and 3. So you should avoid to take a train on those days. In some of the trains, the occupancy rate may be more than 200%. As long as trains have non reserved seat, you can get on anyway without any reservation. But you will be forced to stay on the isle or passenger’s deck without seat. We see many passengers without seats in the train during those busiest days.

The movie below shows you the station and train in new year in 2013. You can find how it goes in New Year holidays.

Continue reading

Schedule of 2015 fall seasonal trains of Japan Railways

Setouchi Marine View runs between Hiroshima and Mihara via Kure line along the shore of Setonaikai sea.
Setouchi Marine View runs between Hiroshima and Mihara via Kure line along the shore of Setonaikai sea.

Autumn is the best season to travel in Japan. The climate is very mild and fall foliage is amazing. JR will operate many seasonal trains and introduce some new trains.

It is too many to introduce all seasonal trains. So I pick up the trains that run in the popular spots only. Continue reading

Schedule of 2015 summer seasonal trains of Japan Railways

Overnight train Hokutosei will be done in this summer. The last departure is August 22 from Sapporo.
Overnight train Hokutosei will be done in this summer. The last departure is August 22 from Sapporo.

In Japan, the peak period during summer time is mid August that is called “Obon”. Most of Japanese go back to hometown and stay with family. All transportation will be busy from major cities at the beginning and back to major cities at the end. In 2015, the following dates will be busy.

Outgoing (from major cities) — August 12 and 13. Maybe August 7, 8 and 9
Incoming (to major cities( — August 15 and 16

If you travel during this period, I recommend you to avoid to make a trip to same direction as local tourist. It will be super busy.

And also, the public school is closed from July 20 to August 31 for summer break. This period is busier than usual too.

JR Group operate lots of seasonal trains during summer season. Especially JR Group add lots of extra trains. 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 2014-15 winter seasonal trains of Japan Railways

Limited Express Asahiyama Zoo
Limited Express Asahiyama Dobutsuen

In Japan, New Year holidays are the busiest period in entire year. Most of Japanese go back to hometown in this season. So the trains depart from major cities, like Tokyo, Osaka, Nagoya will be very busy. Most of companies will be closed from Dec 30 to Jan 3. In this coming season, I expect Dec 27, 28, 29 and 30 will be busy. And everybody come back on January 3 and 4. So you should avoid to take a train on those days. In some of the trains, the occupancy rate may be more than 200%. As long as trains have non reserved seat, you can get on anyway without any reservation. But you will be forced to stay on the isle or passenger’s deck without seat. There are many passengers without seats in the train during those busiest days.

The movie below shows you the station and train in new year in 2013. You can find how it goes in New Year holidays.

Continue reading

Schedule of 2014 summer seasonal trains of Japan Railways

Moonlight Nagara is operated by 183 series.
Moonlight Nagara is very popular overnight train because it can be taken without limited express surcharge. (but reserved seat fee applicable)

Summer is not the best season to visit Japan except Hokkaido because of climate. It is very hot and humid. But local demand is quite high. Especially Obon season is one of three busiest period in Japan. Obon period is usually from August 13 to 16. In this year 2014, August 17 is Sunday. So the last day of Obon period is 17 of August. The trains to major cities will be very crowded. On the other hand, trains from major cities will be very crowded on August 13. Some of Japanese will start Obon vacation on August 10, Saturday. Anyway please keep that mid August will be very busy in your mind. You must reserve a seat if you travel in this period. Otherwise you have to stand up on the isle or passengers deck in very crowded train.

JR Group operate lots of seasonal trains during all spring season. Especially JR Group add lots of the extra trains on those above holidays. 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 2014 spring seasonal trains of Japan Railways

"Ohanami" is very popular outside party with viewing cherry blossom.  © Y.Shimizu/© JNTO
“Ohanami” is very popular outside party with viewing cherry blossom. © Y.Shimizu/© JNTO

Spring is the best season to visit Japan because of the cherry blossom. And also between late April and the beginning of May is one of the busiest period. It is called “Golden Week” in Japan. April 29, May 3, 4, and 5 are National holidays. I recommen you to avoid travelling on those days. It’s not surprised if trains are full.

JR Group operate lots of seasonal trains during all spring season. Especially JR Group add lots of the extra trains on those above holidays. 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 2013-14 winter seasonal trains of Japan Railways

Ryuhyo Norokko train is at Kitahama station. This is very small station, but there is small cafe in the station.

In Japan, New Years holidays are crazy busy. In this year, I expect everybody will go back to hometown on Dec 28 and 29. And return trip will be January 4 and 5. I recommend you to avoid getting a train on those days. The vehicle occupancy rate may be more than 200%. As long as trains have non reserved seat, you can get on anyway without any reservation. But you will be forced to stay on the isle or passenger’s deck without seat. There are many passengers without seats in the train during those busiest days. Continue reading

Schedule of 2013 fall seasonal trains of Japan Railway

Some of Resort Shirakami are operated by the newest Hybrid train.
Resort Shirakami is one of the most popular cruising train in Japan.

I believe autumn is the best season to travel in Japan. Fall color leaves are magnificent. It will be unforgettable moment. JR Group operate lots of seasonal trains during this season and increase the number of trains. I show you seasonal trains information mostly for September, October and November, 2013 in this post.

It is too many to introduce all seasonal trains. So I pick up the trains that run in the popular spots only. Continue reading

Schedule of 2013 summer seasonal trains of Japan Railways

Furano Biei Norokko train goes on Furano line. (C) 800px-Norokkogou-furano-biei / Birdman
Furano Biei Norokko train takes you one of most popular spot, Furano and Biei. (C) 800px-Norokkogou-furano-biei / Birdman

In Japan, summer school break start from mid July and until end of August. And Obon period in mid August is one of two busiest period in Japan. (Other one is New Years day break) Most of train will be packed. There are so many standing passengers on isle and passenger’s deck.

JR Group operate lots of seasonal trains in this summer season too. Especially in Obon period, so many additional trains will run. 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

Hokkaido Unlimitd Train Ticket and Southern Hokkaido Unlimited Train Ticket for resident in Japan

Clock tower is the icon of Sapporo.
Clock tower is the icon of Sapporo.

JR East and JR Hokkaido have just announced that they will two types of unlimited ride ticket for trip to Hokkaido from Tokyo. If you go to Japan from outside of Japan, you have lots of choices, like Japan Rail Pass, JR East Pass or Hokkaido Area Pass. But if you are in Japan as resident, you cannot purchase these tickets for overseas travellers. So if you want to go to Hokkaido by train, this ticket may be your choice. Only Japanese information will be provided by JR East (JR東日本). So I would like to share the information about this ticket with you here in English. Continue reading

Schedule of 2012 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 very popular season to travel in Japan for local tourist too. JR Group operate lots of seasonal trains during this season and increase the number of trains. I show you seasonal trains information mostly for October and November, 2012 in this post. If you are looking for the information of seasonal train that is operated in September only, please see 2012 summer seasonal trains information.

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

Hokkaido Rail Pass. The best deal for rail trip in Hokkaido for oversea visitors.

World famous Sapporo Snow Festival (C) Yasufumi Nishi / (C) JNTO
World famous Sapporo Snow Festival (C) Yasufumi Nishi / (C) JNTO

If you will travel in Hokkaido only, Hokkaido Rail Pass is the best choice for you. But if you travel in other cities and areas, even just staying in Tokyo, you may consider about other passes. You should compare and find which one is more suitable for you.

In this post, I show you the details about Hokkaido Rail Pass. And I will compare Hokkaido Rail Pass and Japan Rail Pass Continue reading

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

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

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

Kushiro Shitsugen Norokko train, Easy rail trip to Kushiro Marsh for everyone.

Kushiro Shitsugen Norokko train goes through Kushiro marsh. (C) 640px-Kushiro_shitugen_norokko_train / 欅
Kushiro Shitsugen Norokko train goes through Kushiro marsh. (C) 640px-Kushiro_shitugen_norokko_train / 欅

Kushiro Shitsugen (Kushiro marsh=釧路湿原) is national park and has the largest marsh wetland in Japan. It is well known as the home of endangered Japanese Cranes (丹頂鶴). JR Hokkaido’s Senmo line goes through this wetland and gives you a great scenery. Kushiro Shitsugen Norokko train (釧路湿原ノロッコ号) is operated on this line from late April to late September. This is the easiest way to enjoy a day excursion in Kushiro Shitsugen from Kushiro. And Kushiro can be reached by Limited Express Super Ozora from Sapporo easily. Both Super Ozora and Kushiro Shitsugen Norokko train are fully covered by Japan Rail Pass.

Let’s see the detail about this train. Continue reading

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

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

How to access World Heritage Shiretoko by railway. Japan Rail Pass can be used to access there?

Shiretoko Pass is the highlight of Shiretoko peninsula. (C) JNTO
Shiretoko Pass is the highlight of Shiretoko peninsula. (C) JNTO

Shiretoko is one of UNESCO World heritage site in Japan. Shiretoko cannot be accessed by only rail, you need to take the bus from the station. You have two way to access to Shiretoko. The first one is from Abashiri(網走) via Shiretoko-Shari(知床斜里). The other one is to access from Kushiro(釧路). The nearest station is Shiretoko-Shari(知床斜里). So if you want to save the money, take Abashiri via Shiretoko-Shari route. Let’s see the time and extra cost.


View How to get Shiretoko in a larger map

Access from Abasiri via Shiretoko-Shari

This is most popular route to access Shiretoko. Shiretoko-Shari is 40 minutes away from Abashiri by the local train. Abashiri can be accessed by Limited express train “Okhotsk” from Sapporo where is the biggest city in Hokkaido. But we only have 4 trips of express train from Sapporo. And one more trip is added in Ryuhyo (Drift ice) season. This seasonal train is called “Ryuhyo Limited Express Okhotsk no Kaze”. This express train is operated by the different type train set from regular trains. Please see the details on Ryuhyo Limited Express Okhotsk no Kaze.
Then you need to take a local train to get Shiretoko-Shari. There are also only 9 local trains from Abashiri to Shiretoko-Shari. It is very limited access by rail. In Drift ice season, there are some additional train between Abashiri and Shiretoko-shari too. This train is called “Ryuhyu Norokko train”. This train is designed for Drift ice watching from the train. Please see the details about this train at Ryuhyo Norokko train.

If you stay in Sapporo, your sample itinerary is the following;
07:21 Depart from Sapporo by Ltd Express Okhotsk 1
12:46 Arrive at Abashiri
13:25 Depart from Abashiri by the local train
14:12 Arrive at Shiretoko-Shari
14:20 Depart from Shiretoko-Shari by bus (operated by Shari Bus company)
*This website is in Japanese only.
15:10 Arrive at Utoro

If you stay in Abashiri, your sample itinerary is the following;
06:41 Depart from Abashiri by the local train
07:22 Arrive at Shiretoko-Shari
08:00 Depart from Shiretoko-Shari by bus (operated by Shari Bus company)
*This website is in Japanese only.
08:50 Arrive at Utoro

These itineraries are based on 2010 summer schedule. If you travel in winter time, the bus service is very limited. The bus fare is 1,490 yen from Shiretoko-Shari to Utoro one way, from Utoro to Rausu at 1,310 yen, and some bus take you to directly to Rausu from Shiretoko-Shari at 2,410 yen.

Utoro(ウトロ) is located in the west coast side of Shiretoko Peninsula. It is the gate town to go around Shiretoko. You can access to Shiretoko Five Lakes, Kamuiwakka Falls and Shiretoko Pass from Utoro. And also you can access to Rausu(羅臼), the east side of Shiretoko Peninsula, via those sightseeing spot. It takes another 50 minutes from Utoro to Rausu.

Access from Kushiro

You can access to Kushiro from Sapporo by Limited Express Super Ozora. We have 7 trips from Sapporo to Kushiro. So it is a bit more convenient than Abashiri. You can access to Rausu from Kushiro by bus. It takes about 3 hours and 30 minutes. We have four trips in weekdays. But we only have two trips in weekend. By the way, this bus line is the longest operated local bus in Japan.

If you stay in Sapporo, your sample itinerary is the following;
09:04 Depart from Sapporo by Ltd Express Super Ozora 3
13:03 Arrive at Kushiro
13:50 Depart from Kushiro by bus (operated by Akan Bus company)
*This website is in Japanese only.
17:35 Rausu

If you stay in Kushiro, your can take the first departure at 07:35 from Kushiro. It will arrive at 11:05. We have another two departures in weekdays only at 10:05 and 16:00 from Kushiro. The bus fare is 4,740 yen one way. We have two departures at 06:40 and 12:45 from Rausu everyday. And another two departures at 09:10 and 16:50 in weekdays only.

Sample Itinerary

If you want to enjoy Shiretoko and another sightseeing area in the east part of Hokkaido, take Abashiri via Shiretoko to Kushiro. You access to Lake Mashu, Lake Akan and Kushiro Marsh on the way to Kushiro from Shiretoko or from Kushiro. If you want to see Kushiro Marsh, take the local train from Shiretoko-shari to Kushiro. Please refer one of 7 days sample itineraries, Hokkaido 7 days. If you want to enjoy Shiretoko, save time and not to hesitate to spend extra cost, take the bus from Rausu. You must see Shiretoko both Utoro and Rausu.

Sample itinerary Hokkaido 7 days by Japan Rail Pass 7 days

Night view form Mt.Hakodate ©Hokkaido Tourism Organization/© JNTO
Night view form Mt.Hakodate ©Hokkaido Tourism Organization/© JNTO

This itinerary includes UNESCO world heritage site, Shiretoko and several highlights in Hokkaido.

We don’t use Japan Rail Pass for the transfer between downtown Tokyo and Narita or Haneda airport. This itinerary starts from/to Tokyo. Continue reading