For non JR pass travellers. Guide to use JR single ticket, basic rules, validity and stopover

Typical JR ticket is like this.
Typical JR ticket is like this.

I have received many inquiries about Tokyo-Osaka one way trip. I always recommend to use a regular ticket for this one way long distance train ride, such as from Tokyo to Kyoto, Tokyo to Osaka. Because it is cheaper than JR Pass 7-day. I have written the post about the fare calculation before.

But I think this post was not enough to explain the fare rule. JR single ticket rule is very complicated for the tourists from oversea. But you do not need to know everything. If you understand some basic rules, single ticket is more useful and it may save your cost.

In this post, I will show you some basic rules of the regular ticket for the long distance train ride and how to use and purchase it.

Continue reading For non JR pass travellers. Guide to use JR single ticket, basic rules, validity and stopover

Sample itinerary Tokyo to Osaka in just 7 days by Japan Rail Pass 7 days

Mt Fuji from Lake Shoji  	©Akira Okada/©JNTO
Mt Fuji from Lake Shoji ©Akira Okada/©JNTO

I have received many inquiries about Tokyo – Osaka one way trip from many readers. But Japan Rail Pass 7 days is too much for Tokyo (even Narita) to Osaka (even Kansai) one way trip. Single fare is much cheaper than 7 days pass price. So in this itinerary, I include Mt. Fuji, Hiroshima and Miyajima and still include Kyoto, Osaka and Tokyo. This itinerary can be done in just 7 days from airport to airport. But if you want to travel a little more slowly and stay longer, you can add some local deals beside 7 days pass. I tell you at the end of this post about add on plan. Of course you can do this itinerary from Osaka to Tokyo. Continue reading Sample itinerary Tokyo to Osaka in just 7 days by Japan Rail Pass 7 days

Sanin area train access guide. How to access to Kinosaki, Izumo, Matsue, Tottori and other major cities in Sanin area.

Limited Express Hamakaze crossing one of famous bridge, Amarube Bridge. (C) RSA - JR West KiHa 189 series DMU on a Hamakaze limited express service crossing the Amarube Viaduct on the Sanin Main Line
Limited Express Hamakaze crossing one of famous bridge, Amarube Bridge. (C) RSA – JR West KiHa 189 series DMU on a Hamakaze limited express service crossing the Amarube Viaduct on the Sanin Main Line

I published several post about the limited express trains to Sanin area, such as Super Oki, Super Matsukaze, Super Inaba, Super Hakuto and Hamakaze. But there are some more trains from Osaka and Kyoto to Kinosaki-Onsen area. And there are several gateway stations. You might be confused.

This post shows you all trains to Sanin area, such as northern part to Hyogo and Kyoto, Tottori, Shimane and northern part to Yamaguchi. I hope you will find the right way to the place where you want to go. Continue reading Sanin area train access guide. How to access to Kinosaki, Izumo, Matsue, Tottori and other major cities in Sanin area.

The fastest train access to Tottori from Osaka and Kyoto. Limited Express Super Hakuto

 Limited Express Super Hakuto is operated by high speed diesel fleet HOT 7000 series. (C) Mitsuki-2368 – Chizu Express Company HOT7000 Super hakuto

Limited Express Super Hakuto (スーパーはくと) connects Kyoto (京都), Shin-Osaka (新大阪), Osaka (大阪), Sannomiya (三ノ宮) and Himeji (姫路) with Tottori (鳥取) and Kurayoshi (倉吉). This it the fastest and most frequent direct train service to Tottori from Osaka, Kobe and Kyoto. But this train goes through non JR line, Chizu Kyuko Railway. That means you need to pay extra if you use this train by Japan Rail Pass. If you don’t want to pay extra, Limited Express Hamakaze is available between Osaka and Tottori. However there is only one round trip and travel time is 1.5 hours longer than Super Hakuto.

I think Super Hakuto may be your choice even if you have to pay extra on top of Japan Rail Pass. Let’s see about route, schedule and accommodations.

Route, schedule and travel time

 Outdoor hot springs alongside the river at Misasa Onsen ©Tottori Prefecture/©JNTO

There are seven round trips. Some of these seven round trips go to Tottori only, not Kurayoshi.
Kyoto/Osaka – Tottori : 5 trips
Kyoto/Osaka – Tottori/Kurayoshi : 2 trips
Tottori – Osaka/Kyoto : 6 trips
Kurayoshi/Tottori – Osaka/Kyoto : 1 trip

Trains are operated every 2 hours. Travel time is 2 hours 30 minutes from Osaka to Tottori and 3 hours from Kyoto to Tottori. You can take Limited Express Hamakaze without any extra charge on top of Japan Rail Pass. But it takes more than 4 hours to get Tottori from Osaka. I think it is worth getting on this train with extra charge. I will tell you about extra charge later.

Find your hotels in 218 cities throughout Japan!!!

Hotels and Ryokans in Tottori
Hotels and Ryokans in Kurayoshi

If you see the map below, you might think this train’s route seems to be a big detour. However this is the fastest route because Chizu Kyuko line is a high standard track for high speed train operation. And if you travel from Nagoya or Tokyo, you can transfer at Himeji.

Limited Express Super Hakuto makes a stop at these stations:
Kyoto (京都) – Shin-Osaka (新大阪) – Osaka (大阪) – Sannomiya (三ノ宮) – Akashi (明石) – Himeji (姫路) – Kamigori (上郡) – Sayo (佐用) – Ohara (大原) – Chizu (智頭) – Koge (郡家) – Tottori (鳥取) – Kurayoshi (倉吉)


View Limited Express Super Hakuto in a larger map

Extra charge on Japan Rail Pass

As I mentioned, you have to pay extra if you use this train by Japan Rail Pass. You have to pay 1,300 yen for the base fare. And also you have to pay one of these following fares:

Non Reserved Oridnary seat420 yen
Reserved Oridnary seat520 yen
Green seat1,040 yen

You can try to get on limited express Hamakaze without any extra charge. Please see the details at Access to Tottori from Osaka, Kobe and Himeji with no extra charge by JR Pass. Limited Express Hamakaze

Accommodation and train formations

 If you get the first row seat, you may get panoramic view. (C) Bakkai – Chizu Express Koiyamagata Station platform

Super Hakuto is operated by the Chizu Kyuko Railway’s HOT 7000 series. In ordinary class, the seat configuration is 2+2 and the seat pitch is 970 mm. But Reserved seat is a better seat than non reserved. Green class seat is one of the best seat in Kansai area. The seat configuration is 2+1 and the seat pitch is 1,160 mm. There are only 18 seats available on one train set. It is very popular and sold out very often. On board sales is available between Kamigori and Tottori only.

Train formation

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NRNRRR/GR

*G=Green seat R=Reserved ordinary seat NR=Non reserved ordinary seat
Smoking is not allowed on this train.

Green seat images
 
Photo credit : W0746203-1 (left), 663highland (right)

Unfortunately there is no most updated images of ordinary class seats. Please find it at Chizu Kyuko official site. The first seat images are reserved ordinary class seat an next one is non reserved ordinary class seat.

How to use JR West Kansai Area Pass. Compare pass and single fare.

Limited Express Haruka from KIX is covered by this pass.
The limited express Haruka from KIX is covered by this pass.

JR West Kansai Area Pass is one of the choices for the traveler who stays in Osaka and make some day trips to the surrounding places, such as Kyoto, Kobe, Nara, Himeji and Wakayama.

In this post, I would like to share the information about JR West Kansai Area Pass with you. And I will compare the price of the pass and the regular fare. You can find that you can get the worth by your trip or not.

Continue reading How to use JR West Kansai Area Pass. Compare pass and single fare.

Nara access guide from Osaka, Kyoto, Kansai airport and Kobe by JR, Kintetsu Railway and Airport bus

Todaiji is one of the popular spot in Nara. ©Nara Prefecture/©JNTO

Nara is the former capital city in Japan and it is older than Kyoto. Many shrines, temples and districts are listed on UNESCO World Heritage, National Heritage and/or National Treasure. When you travel in Kansai region, you may think about visiting or staying in Nara. If you go to Osaka or Kyoto from other cities, such as Tokyo, you can get there by Shinkansen. But when you go to Nara, there are several routes and options. The trip route to Nara is varied by your trip plan and/or the deal which you intend to use.

In this post, I would like to share the information about access to Nara by train and bus. Continue reading Nara access guide from Osaka, Kyoto, Kansai airport and Kobe by JR, Kintetsu Railway and Airport bus

Shin Osaka station guide. How to change Shinkansen, Haruka, Thunderbird and local train access to Osaka, Umeda and Namba

Conventional lines platform (front), Shinkansen terminal (back) (C) Outside view of the Shin Osaka station/Ariake

Shin-Osaka station is the place where you change to/from Shinkansen. If you travel in Osaka, you may use this station at least once. All Shikansen trains stop at this station and many limited express trains on conventional lines stop or depart from this station, Shin-Osaka.

In this post, I would like to show you some images and explain about this station. You will get the information about transfer among trains. Continue reading Shin Osaka station guide. How to change Shinkansen, Haruka, Thunderbird and local train access to Osaka, Umeda and Namba

Kansai WIDE Area Pass user guide. The best deal for the traveler who want to travel Kansai and surrounding areas, such as Okayama, Kurashiki, Kinosaki and Kumano.

Kinosaki Onsen is one of most popular hot springs in Japan. ©Toyooka City/©JNTO
Kinosaki Onsen is one of most popular hot springs in Japan. ©Toyooka City/©JNTO

Since Kansai WIDE Area Pass was released in April, 2012, this deal has been very popular for the tourist who wants to travel outside Kansai, like Kinosaki Onsen, Kii peninsula and Okayama/Kurashiki. This pass covers much bigger area than other Kansai area passes, like JR West Kansai Area Pass, Kansai Thru Pass. I am very happy that tourist tries to visit not only Osaka, Kyoto and Kobe but also outside Kansai.

In this post, I would like to show you the details of this pass and make sure the difference from other passes.

Continue reading Kansai WIDE Area Pass user guide. The best deal for the traveler who want to travel Kansai and surrounding areas, such as Okayama, Kurashiki, Kinosaki and Kumano.

How to use and how much can we use Japan Rail Pass in downtown Osaka?

Osaka Castle is one of the most popular spot in Osaka. ©JNTO
Osaka Castle is one of the most popular spot in Osaka. ©JNTO

I supposed to write about the transfer among Kobe (神戸), Osaka (大阪) and Kyoto (京都). But I should explain about JR (Japan Railway) lines in downtown Osaka. I believe the information about the location of JR stations and rail system let you understand the rail system outside of Osaka easily.

And this post may help the tourists who will start the trip from Osaka. Some of you are not sure to buy 7 days pass or 14 days pass for your trip. You may learn how much you can use Japan Railway line when you stay in Osaka. For example, if you travel in Japan for 10 days and stay in Osaka for the first 3 days, you may not use Japan Railway line when you stay in Osaka. As a result, you can buy 7 days pass.

Anyway I show you JR line in downtown Osaka and I compare JR lines and Osaka subway lines. Continue reading How to use and how much can we use Japan Rail Pass in downtown Osaka?

How to access to Kanazawa and Toyama from Tokyo, Osaka, Kyoto, Nagoya and Niigata.

Kenrokuen is one of the biggest names in Kanazawa and also one of three  top gardens in Japan.  ©Ishikawa Prefecture Tourist Association and Kanazawa Convention Bureau/© JNTO
Kenrokuen is one of the biggest names in Kanazawa and also one of three top gardens in Japan. ©Ishikawa Prefecture Tourist Association and Kanazawa Convention Bureau/© JNTO

Kanazawa is one of the big names in Japan. It has lovely preserved town and Kenrokuen garden that is one of three well known gardens with Kairakuen (Mito) and Korakuen (Okayama). Kanazawa is located in Hokuriku region. In this region, Toyama is well known as the gateway to Tateyama-Kurobe Alpine Route.

In mid March, 2015, Hokuriku Shinkansen open and both Kanazawa and Toyama are very accessible from Tokyo. In this post, I would like to show you about access from Tokyo, Osaka, Nagoya and Niigata. Continue reading How to access to Kanazawa and Toyama from Tokyo, Osaka, Kyoto, Nagoya and Niigata.

Direct transfer to Kinosaki from Osaka, Limited Express Konotori

This 287 series is newer fleet for Limited Express Kounotori. (C) Jonathan Ayre
Limited Express Kounotori and Kinosaki are operated by the newest 287 series. (C) Jonathan Ayre

Konotori connects Shin-Osaka (新大阪) and Osaka (大阪) with Kinosaki-Onsen (城崎温泉), Toyooka (豊岡) and Fukuchiyama (福知山). When you go to the popular hot springs town, Kinosaki or one of “Three Views of Japan”, Amanohashidate from Osaka, you may take this train.

Of course, this train, Kounotori can be used by Japan Rail Pass with no restriction. Let’s see about route, schedule and accommodations of these trains. Continue reading Direct transfer to Kinosaki from Osaka, Limited Express Konotori

Overnight limited express train Nihonkai

Overnight train Nihonkai is the best way to save the time from Osaka to Aomori (C) Sonic Rail Garden
Overnight train Nihonkai is the best way to save the time from Osaka to Aomori (C) Sonic Rail Garden

***This train scheduled service was discontinued on March, 2012 due to small demand. It is operated as a seasonal operation train. Please refer the most updated operation date at Seasonal Trains Schedule.***

Nihonkai (日本海) is one of JR Overnight Express trains. It connects Osaka (大阪) with Akita (秋田) and Aomori (青森). This train has only the berth. So if you will use Japan Rail Pass, Japan Rail Pass does not cover an accommodation charge and also limited express surcharge. Even though Japan Rail Pass cover a basic fare, Nihonkai is still considerable way to get Aomori from Osaka. Let’s see the types of accommodation and extra charge. Continue reading Overnight limited express train Nihonkai

How to access from Kansai airport to downtown Osaka, Kyoto and Kobe

JR Limited Express Haruka is one of the popular way from KIX to get Osaka.
JR Limited Express Haruka is one of the popular way from KIX to get Osaka.

Kansai airport is the international airport in Osaka. It is the closest international airport to Kyoto, Nara and Kobe too. There are many ways to get downtown Osaka, Kyoto and Kobe. In this post, I give you basic information about the route to major spots in Osaka. I also have another links below to tell you about Kansai airport. Continue reading How to access from Kansai airport to downtown Osaka, Kyoto and Kobe

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

Rapid train service to Kansai Airport and Wakayama from Osaka. Kansai Airport Rapid Service and Kishuji Rapid Service

Typical Rapid Service trains (JR West 223 and 225 series)
Kansai Airport Rapid Service trains (JR West 223 and 225 series)

These trains connect downtown Osaka (=大阪) with Kansai airport (=関西空港) and Wakayama (=和歌山). Both Kansai Airport and Kishuji Rapid Services are combined to operate between Tennoji (=天王寺) and Hineno (=日根野). Those trains are uncoupled at Hineno, then each trains go to Kansai Airport or Wakayama. If you arrive at Kansai airport, you can take Kansai Airport Rapid Service instead of airport access express “Haruka“. Of course both Limited Express Haruka and this rapid train are fully covered by Japan Rail Pass. But if you buy a single ticket, you may consider to take this train.

Continue reading Rapid train service to Kansai Airport and Wakayama from Osaka. Kansai Airport Rapid Service and Kishuji Rapid Service

JR Special Rapid Service, most useful train among Osaka, Kyoto, Kobe and Himeji.

Many passengers are waiting for Special Rapid Service in Osaka station. Special Rapid is very popular for both commuters and the travelers.

Special Rapid Service is the fastest local train that is operated between Tsuruga (=敦賀) and Kamigori (=上郡) via Kyoto (=京都), Shin-Osaka (=新大阪), Osaka (=大阪), Sannomiya (=三ノ宮), Kobe (=神戸) and Himeji (=姫路). Especially JR West compete with Hankyu (=阪急) and Keihan (=京阪) between Kyoto and Osaka, with Hankyu and Hanshin (=阪神) between Osaka and Kobe. So JR West have to offer fast and good quality of services. As a result, the time required by this train is faster than Shinkansen between Osaka and Kyoto. Since Shinkansen do not have a station in downtown Kobe, this trains is faster than Shinkansen between Osaka and Kobe too. Of course this train is fully covered by Japan Rail Pass. Let’s see the details.

Continue reading JR Special Rapid Service, most useful train among Osaka, Kyoto, Kobe and Himeji.

Most economical transfer, No express surcharge! Rapid Service Network in Kansai area

Special rapid trains route map (Click to enlarge)
Special rapid trains route map (Click to enlarge)

JR West operates many commute trains, rapid and local between 5:30 am and midnight. But when you travel in Kansai area by JR trains, special rapid service trains are the best way to travel among cities, like Osaka, Kyoto, Kobe, Nara, Wakayama and Kansai airport. These “Special” rapid service skips many stations and much faster than rapid and local trains. If you use JR pass, you may take limited express trains. But these rapid service trains are sometimes faster than express trains and run much more frequently. That means you do not check the timetable. These are commute trains and mostly very busy in even daytime and late night, but it is convenient. It is a key to understand this rapid train system to travel among cities in Kansai area.

In this post, I would like to show you the route of Rapid service trains network and how to use these trains. Continue reading Most economical transfer, No express surcharge! Rapid Service Network in Kansai area

Kansai Airport Limited Express Haruka route and timetable. Direct access to Shin Osaka, Tennoji and Kyoto from Kansai airport

Limited Express Haruka connects Kansai airport and Kyoto via Tennoji and Shin-Osaka.
Limited Express Haruka connects Kansai airport and Kyoto via Tennoji and Shin-Osaka.

Kansai Airport Limited Express Haruka may be your first train if you arrive in Kansai airport. It is operated between Kansai (Osaka) airport, Tennoji, Shin-Osaka, Kyoto, Kusatsu and Maibara. But please be careful that Haruka does not stop at Osaka station. It stop at Tennoji and Shin-Osaka. If you want to go to Osaka station, you have to transfer to the local train at Shin-Osaka. This express train has 30 round trips a day and are operated mostly every 30 minutes.

Continue reading Kansai Airport Limited Express Haruka route and timetable. Direct access to Shin Osaka, Tennoji and Kyoto from Kansai airport

Overnight transfer Niigata – Kyoto and Osaka, Overnight Express Train Kitaguni

Overnight express train Kitaguni (C) Sonic Rail Garden
Overnight express train Kitaguni (C) Sonic Rail Garden

This train was discontinued.

Kitaguni(きたぐに) is one of very few express trains in Japan Railway Group. This train is the overnight train that connects Osaka/Kyoto area with Niigata area. If you want to save the time and save your budget for the hotels in Osaka, Kyoto or Niigata, this train is perfect choice. This train has non reserved ordinary seat. So you can take this train without any extra charge by Japan Rail Pass. Kitaguni has some sleeper cars and Green class too. If you have Japan Rail Pass Green pass, you can take Green car with no extra cost. But you need to pay extra to use sleeper class by using any Japan Rail Pass. I will tell you the extra charge and show you some images. Continue reading Overnight transfer Niigata – Kyoto and Osaka, Overnight Express Train Kitaguni

Overnight transfer between Tokyo and Kyoto/Osaka

Sunrise Izumo and Sunrise Seto are only scheduled overnight trains in Japan.

If you want to save the time and save your money to stay hotel, overnight transfer is considerable. Many travelers move among Tokyo, Kyoto and Osaka. We have a few ways to take overnight transfer among these cities by Japan Rail Pass too. I would like to tell about it in this post. Continue reading Overnight transfer between Tokyo and Kyoto/Osaka

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 Four world heritage sites (Shirakawago, Kyoto, Hiroshima and Miyajima), Kanazawa and Kyoto 7 days by Japan Rail Pass

Light-up at Kiyomizu-dera temple
Light-up at Kiyomizu-dera temple

This itinerary includes four world heritage sites, Shirakawa-go, Kyoto, Hiroshima and Miyajima. This also includes two popular sites, Takayama and Kanazawa.

Do not use Japan Rail Pass for the transfer to downtown Tokyo from Narita airport because most of tourists stay in Tokyo for the first several days. You will start to use your pass when you leave from Tokyo. There are lots of deals available for Narita to Tokyo. Continue reading Sample itinerary Four world heritage sites (Shirakawago, Kyoto, Hiroshima and Miyajima), Kanazawa and Kyoto 7 days by Japan Rail Pass

Overnight train to/from Tokyo and Izumoshi via Okayama, Sunrise Izumo. JR Pass user can take with no extra charge!

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Sunrise Izumo is an overnight train which runs between Tokyo and Yonago, Matsue and Izumo-shi in Sanin area. This train is combined with Sunrise Seto between Tokyo and Okayama.

This train has many kinds of accommodations. One of these is called “Nobi Nobi Seat” which is like carpet section. This Nobi Nobi Seat is fully covered by JR pass. This is not very comfortable but you can lie on the seat. And you have some privacy because there is a small partition between the sections.

But some of Japan Rail Pass users want to take a bedroom or another choice even though additional will be charged. I will tell you the detailed information about the this train, Sunrise Izumo. Continue reading Overnight train to/from Tokyo and Izumoshi via Okayama, Sunrise Izumo. JR Pass user can take with no extra charge!

Overnight train to/from Tokyo and Takamatsu via Okayama, Sunrise Seto. JR Pass user can take with no extra charge!

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Sunrise Seto is an overnight train that runs between Tokyo and Takamatsu in Shikoku island. This train is combined with Sunrise Izumo between Tokyo and Okayama. This train depart late night and arrive early morning. It helps you to save your time.

No extra charge with Japan Rail Pass to take this overnight train! Passenger’s review of Sunrise Seto

This train has many kinds of accommodations. One of these is called “Nobi Nobi Seat” which is like carpet section. This Nobi Nobi Seat is fully covered by JR pass. This is not very comfortable but you can lie on the seat. And you have some privacy because there is a small partition between the sections.

But some of Japan Rail Pass users want to take a bedroom or another choice even though additional will be charged. I will show your the detailed information about the accommodation of Sunrise Seto. Continue reading Overnight train to/from Tokyo and Takamatsu via Okayama, Sunrise Seto. JR Pass user can take with no extra charge!