The Tohoku Shinkansen connects Tokyo and Tohoku region, such as Shin-Aomori, Fukushima, Sendai, Morioka and Hachinohe. In March, 2016, this Shinkansen line extended to Hokkaido. This new segment is called the Hokkaido Shinkansen. Although these Shinkansen have different names, many trains operate as one line. And also the Yamagata Shinkansen and the Akita Shinkansen also have different names, but theae lines operate from Tokyo as an integral part of the Tohoku Shinkansen.
In this post, I will explain about the Tohoku, the Hokkaido, the Akita and the Yamagata Shinkansen lines.
Winter is cold in Japan but it is still very popular season. Especially northern and mountain areas, such as Hokkaido, Shirakawago, Echigo-Yuzawa are very popular for Asian tourist to see the snow. And New Year’s holidays from late December to Early January is the busiest season in Japan. This is very challenging to book a seat in New Year’s holidays period. Early February is busy season in Hokkaido because of Sapporo winter festival. And also many Asian tourist come over Japan in Chinese New Years period.
In this post, I show you many seasonal trains that will run in major tourist spots from December 2019 to February 2020.
I think everybody agree that spring is the best season to travel. The cherry blossom is amazing, gorgeous and unforgettable. Therefore this season is very busy. Especially the period from late March to early April is the spring break of the public school in Japan. This period is usually the peak period of the cherry blossom in southside of Japan. It is busy season.
Do not forget “Golden Week”. Japan has many holidays from late April to early May. Especially 2019’s Golden Week will be very special. The emperor will retire and the prince will take over. Please see the link below to find the detailed information about the calendar.
Summer is very hot and humid in Japan. It is not the best season to travel. However summer is very busy travel season. In Japan, most public schools have summer break from July 20 to August 31. This period is busier than usual. Especially mid August is called “Obon”. This is one of the busiest season. Many of Japanese go back to hometown and spend the time with families. It is Japanese tradition. Many of trains are booked out very quickly. Please see the link below to learn more:
Spring is the best season to visit Japan because of the cherry blossom. Spring break of public school in Japan usually starts from the last week of March to the first week of April. This two weeks period is much busier than usual. And also between late April and the beginning of May is one of the busiest period in the year. It is known as “Golden Week” in Japan. April 29, May 3, 4, and 5 are National holidays. If you travel in this period, train may be booked out quickly. Please see the details in the link below:
I cannot say that summer is the best season to visit Japan. It’s very hot and very humid. But it’s vacation season anyway. School summer break kick off on July 20 in most of area. And mid August is called “Obon”. It is one of the busiest period in the year. If you travel in this period, train may be booked out quickly. Please see the details in the link below:
I usually have quick trip to Japan in mid February. In this year, I had another quick trip, 3 nights 4 days and visited Hokkaido. In this trip, I visited Sapporo snow festival, Biei, Noboribetsu, Lake Toya and Hakodate. This was super busy trip and this is not recommended for all travelers. However you may get some idea from my trip report. I hope my trip experience help you to build your plan.
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 in the year. It is called “Golden Week” in Japan. April 29, May 3, 4, and 5 are National holidays. If you travel in this period, train may be booked out quickly. Please see the details in the link below:
JR Group operate lots of seasonal trains during all spring season. Especially JR Group add lots of the extra trains in Golden Week. In this post, I show you many seasonal trains that will run in major tourist spots until the end of June.
In Japan, the peak period during summer time is mid August that is called “Obon”. Most of Japanese go back to hometown and spend the time with family. All transportation will be busy from major cities at the beginning and back to major cities at the end. I wrote the busy dates and some tips to avoid this situation at the link below:
This is one of the deals by JR East. This pass suits a traveler who travel in Tokyo, surrounding area (Kanto region) and Tohoku region. Tohoku offers lots of hot springs, very famous summer festival and lots of nature. In this post, I would like to explain you how to use JR East Pass Tohoku.
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.
2016 Golden Week Calendar Apr 29 (Fri) Holiday Apr 30 (Sat) May 1 (Sun) May 2 (Mon) May 3 (Tue) Holiday May 4 (Wed) Holiday May 5 (Thu) Holiday May 6 (Fri) May 7 (Sat) May 8 (Sun)
May 2 and May 6 are regular weekday. But many residents in Japan will take extra day off and make longer holidays. Therefore it will be very busy from April 29 to May 8. I recommend you to avoid travelling during this period. I’m not surprised if trains are booked out.
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 recommend you to avoid travelling on those days. It’s not surprised if trains are full.
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:
This pass covers eastern part of Honshu island (main island) in Japan, such as Tohoku region, surrounding Tokyo, Mt. Fuji, Izu peninsula and most part of Nagano. You can take any trains in the coverage area with a few exception. If you will be a temporary visitor, you are eligible to purchase this deal.
The biggest difference from any other JR Passes is valid periods. You don’t need to use this pass in consecutive days. You can pick any 5 days within 14 days.
Let’s see the details about this pass. I also compare with other passes, such as JR Pass and Kanto Area Pass.
Spring is the best season to travel. The cherry blossom can be seen throughout Japan from late March to late April. 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. If you can, lease try to avoid travelling on those days. Many trains are almost full.
Matsushima is one of “Three Views of Japan” (Matsushima, Amanohashidate and Miyajima). There are more than 200 hundred broken islands in Matsushima bay. You can enjoy the scenery from the land or on the cruise boat. As probably you know, this region was damaged by the great earthquake in March, 2011. However Matsushima was not damaged very seriously because of many islands.
I strongly recommend you to visit Matsushima since it can be accessed from Sendai very easily. It is only 40 minutes trip by Senseki line local train. Of course it is fully covered by Japan Rail Pass.
I visited Matsushima on this past March. I show you how to get there.
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.
E5 series was introduced for Tohoku Shinkansen in this past March. This is the first fleet that has Glan Class seat and it became very popular topic. This class is higher class than Green class. And it is still very hard to get the ticket. Finally I can you the images of all class and facility in this fleet.
If you are looking for the general informations about these Shinkansens, please read Tohoku Shinkansen or Joetsu Shinkansen. If you are looking for the images of other trains on Tohoku and Joetsu Shinkansen, please see the post, Tohoku and Joetsu Shinkansen image gallery. If you are looking for the images of Akita, Yamagata and Nagano Shinkansen, please refer the following posts:
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.
JR East announced that they will sell Tohoku Ouen Pass (東北応援パス). “Ouen (応援)” means Supporting in Japanense. This pass will be sold for supporting Tohoku region where is seriously damaged by the great earthquake in this past March. This pass motivate tourists go to Tohoku region and spend money there to revitalize economy there. Anybody can buy this pass. If you travel outside from Japan, you can buy Japan Rail Pass or JR East Pass. But if you live in Japan as a student or work permit, you cannot buy these pass for visitors. This pass may be considerable for you.
This itinerary includes all part of Tohoku and covers many popular spots, such as Nikko, Zao, Matsushima, Hiraizumi, Oirase, Lake Towada, Shirakami Sanchi and Kakunodate, in 7 days. So you can simply use Japan Rail Pass 7 days. I also try to minimize an extra cost.
You may start this itinerary either from Tokyo or from Osaka. But if you can start this from Osaka, you need to take the overnight train Sunrise Seto/Izumo from Osaka to Tokyo. As long as you catch “Nobi Nobi seat” on Sunrise Seto or Izumo before the date change, you can travel without any extra charge. Continue reading Sample itinerary Tohoku 7 days by Japan Rail Pass 7 days