How to transfer between Nagoya and Osaka/Kyoto by train

Which one is better, Shinkansen (left) or Kintetsu (right) ?

If you have to move between Nagoya and Osaka (or Kyoto), you have two choices, Shinkansen or Kintetsu railway. I would like to compare these two choices and tell you pros and cons of each choice.

Continue reading How to transfer between Nagoya and Osaka/Kyoto by train

Sample itinerary Tokyo to Osaka plus Hakone, Takayama, Shirakawago and Kyoto in 7 days by Japan Rail Pass

Very popular scene of Shirakawago from Tenshukaku view point

7 days JR Pass price is almost same as round trip fare between Tokyo and Osaka by Shinkansen. That means if you have one way trip from Tokyo to Osaka or reverse, JR Pass is not worthwhile using. However if you add some trips when you stay in Osaka and Tokyo, you may use JR pass 7 days.

In this post, I add Hakone (trip to Odawara) and Takayama in this sample itinerary. And try to take Shinkansen (bullet train) as much as possible to get the worth of JR pass 7 days. Continue reading Sample itinerary Tokyo to Osaka plus Hakone, Takayama, Shirakawago and Kyoto in 7 days by Japan Rail Pass

Platt Kodama, one way deal among Tokyo, Nagoya, Kyoto and Shin-Osaka by the Shinkansen

Shinkansen is the high speed train service in Japan. Kodama is the slowest train on Tokaido-Sanyo Shinkansen line.
Shinkansen is the high speed train service in Japan. Kodama is the slowest train on Tokaido-Sanyo Shinkansen line.

When you move among Tokyo, Nagoya, Kyoto and Shin-Osaka, you may think to take the Shinkansen (a.k.a. bullet train). If you have a round trip between Tokyo and Kyoto/Shin-Osaka, JR pass is the best choice. But even 7 days JR pass price is almost equal to the round trip fare and the seat fee of the Shinkansen between Tokyo and Shin-Osaka. JR pass is not the best choice for one way movement.

Platt Kodama may be the solution for the traveler who make only one way trip from Tokyo to Kyoto or Osaka (or versa). Because it is a sort of the Shinkansen one way trip discount ticket among Tokyo, Nagoya, Kyoto and Shin-Osaka.

I would like to show you this ticket in this post.

Continue reading Platt Kodama, one way deal among Tokyo, Nagoya, Kyoto and Shin-Osaka by the Shinkansen

Limited time operation. Specialized Shinkansen train 500 TYPE EVA

2016 winter Japan trip 1168

This project had been done already. 500 Type EVA is no longer available. This train was already repainted and refurbished again. And this train is now operated as “Hello Kitty Shinkansen”.

This is the collaboration of the Shinkansen and very popular Japanese Anime “New Generation Evangelion (link to Wikipedia)” as the Sanyo Shinkansen 40 years anniversary special project. This unique Shinkansen fleet has very different exterior that is painted by Evangelion color. And also it has Evangerion exhibition in car #1. There are many more Evangerion characters and designs in the trains. If you are a fan of this anime, you must be excited. Even if you are not familiar with this anime, you will be impressed by these decorations.

I just have got on this train in this early February, 2016. I would like to share the information and many photos of this train with you.

Continue reading Limited time operation. Specialized Shinkansen train 500 TYPE EVA

How to choose the deals for access to/from Kansai Airport

Kansai Airport arrival  level at ground floor
Kansai Airport arrival level at ground floor

If you arrive in Kansai airport, most of you go to Osaka, Kyoto, Kobe or maybe Nara, Wakayama. There are many deals that you can choose. You maybe confused and overwhelmed to pick up. In this post, I would like to show you all available deals and help you to find the best deal for you.

If you have plan to stay in Osaka for entire stay and make day trips to other places from Osaka, the following post may help you to build your itinerary.

How to build the itinerary and choose the deals for Osaka stay 5 to 7 days.
Continue reading How to choose the deals for access to/from Kansai Airport

How to build the itinerary and choose the deals for Osaka stay 5 to 7 days.

Dotonbori is very popular place to eat and shop near Namba. ©Osaka Convention & Tourism Bureau/©JNTO
Dotonbori is very popular place to eat and shop near Namba. ©Osaka Convention & Tourism Bureau/©JNTO

I think many travellers prefer to stay in one place and visit surrounding areas as day trip. I have received many inquiries about Osaka stay and visit surrounding areas, like Kyoto, Kobe, Nara as day trip. I understand that it’s quite easy to stay in one place and enjoy the trip with luggage free.

But many of you struggle to plan and choose the deals. In this post, I show you 5 days Osaka stay sample itinerary. You will learn how to choose the deals for your trip. Of course you can extend to stay, like 6 days, 7 days, as many as you want.

Continue reading How to build the itinerary and choose the deals for Osaka stay 5 to 7 days.

Alternatives of Overnight train Twilight Express, in case that you cannot make a reservation.

***Twilight Express was discontinued in 12 March, 2015. There is no overnight train option between Osaka and Hokkaido any more.***

Twilight Express is one of the most popular train in Japan. (C) Sonic Rail Garden
Twilight Express is one of the most popular train in Japan. (C) Sonic Rail Garden

Twilight Express is very popular. Many tourists might think about taking this luxury overnight train. But you have a problem. Twilight Express cannot be reserved online. The only way to reserve it from outside of Japan is calling Odekake net 078-341-7903 in Japanese and you have to pick up your ticket in JR West, Shikoku or Kyushu stations. You cannot pick up it in other areas, like Tokyo. Otherwise You need to go to a reservation window at the station in Japan. Ticket is started to sell one month prior to the departure date. That means it may be sold out when you arrive in Japan. So you need to think about alternatives if you have a plan to take this train. I tell you several options for the case that you cannot make Twilight Express.

Twilight Express departs from Osaka at 11:50am and arrive in Sapporo at 09:52am, and depart from Sappro at 12:52pm and arrive in Osaka at 14:05pm. I try to make an alternatives as same schedule as possible. Continue reading Alternatives of Overnight train Twilight Express, in case that you cannot make a reservation.

Sanyo Shinkansen image gallery. Check the interior and accommodations.

The logo of Hikari Rail Star
The logo of Hikari Rail Star

Sanyo Shinkansen is operated between Shin-Osaka and Hakata. But Sanyo Shinkansen is connected with Tokaido Shinkansen (from Nagoya, Kyoto and Tokyo) at Shin-Osaka and Kyushu Shinkansen (from Kumamoto and Kagoshima) at Hakata.

Most of trains run from Tokyo (Nozomi and Hikari) are operated by Tokaido Shinkansen fleet, 700 series or N700 series. If you look for the images of these trains, please see Tokaido Shinkansen image gallery.

Most of trains to Kyushu, such as Kumamoto or Kagoshima-chuo (Mizuho and Sakura) are operated by Kyushu Shinkansen fleet, N700 series. If you look for the image of this train, please see N700 series for Kyushu Shinkansen Mizuho and Sakura.

In this post, I show you the images of 700 series and 500 series. These train sets are used as “Kodama” (stops at all stations) of Sanyo Shinkansen.

And you can find 800 series of Kyushu Shinkansen segment (Hakata – Kagoshima-Chuo) at Kyushu Shinkansen.

*Sonic Rail Garden has copyright for all images below.
Continue reading Sanyo Shinkansen image gallery. Check the interior and accommodations.

Easy trip to Nanki Shirahama from Osaka. Part 1 from Shin-Osaka to Shirahama by train

283 series train was called "Super Arrow". (C) JP Rail
283 series train was called “Super Arrow”. (C) JP Rail

Shirahama is located at the west coast of Kii peninsula, Wakayama prefecture. You can get there by Limited Express Kuroshio from Shin-Osaka and Tennoji directly. There are some marine attractions, such as glass boat and popular theme park, Adventure World. If you travel with your kids, this spot is considerable. Because I had a trip with my 4 years old daughter and she was so happy.

I had a trip to Shirahama in last year but I did not have a chance to write about this. Now I would like to share it with you. Continue reading Easy trip to Nanki Shirahama from Osaka. Part 1 from Shin-Osaka to Shirahama by train

What is the Shinkansen (bullet train)? Most convenient and the fastest train service throughout Japan.

Shinkansen

The Shinkansen (新幹線) is a high speed train service that is operated by JR. It is one of the fastest trains in world and sometimes called “Bullet Train”. JR has this high speed train network throughout Japan. You can save lots of your trip time by taking this train system.

I would like to share a basic information about the Shinkansen train system in this post.

Continue reading What is the Shinkansen (bullet train)? Most convenient and the fastest train service throughout Japan.

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

Ise access guide. Kintetsu is the best way but we can use JR Pass too.

This building is Naiku Kaguraden. It is one of the buildings in one of two shrines, Naiku and Gaiku.
This building is Naiku Kaguraden. It is one of the buildings in one of two shrines, Naiku and Gaiku.

Ise is well known as home of Ise Grand Shrine (Ise Jingu). This is one of the most sacred and most famous Shinto shrine throughout Japan. And most part of Ise area is located in Ise-Shima National Park. There are lots of beautiful scenery and you can enjoy many kinds of fresh seafood. If you are family traveller, there are aquarium in Toba area and Shima Spanish village theme park in Shima area. There are many kinds of attraction for all types of travellers.

Ise, Toba and Shima areas are very accessible by Kintetsu Railway’s train. Most of domestic travellers use this train. But if you are Japan Rail Pass user, you can use the pass with small restriction. I tell you about access to this area by both Kintetsu trains and JR trains. Continue reading Ise access guide. Kintetsu is the best way but we can use JR Pass too.

ICOCA and Haruka, Kansai One Pass and Haruka, and Haruka discount ticket. Very flexible and good deal for tourist who stay in Kansai.

Limited Express Haruka at Kansai Airport station
The Limited Express Haruka at Kansai Airport station

You may travel in Kansai area only and not travel throughout Japan. You may have one way trip from Osaka to Tokyo. For these travelers, Kansai One Pass/ICOCA and Haruka gives you a good deal for the transfer from Kansai airport to Osaka or Kyoto, and the local sightseeing in Kansai region.

This deal gives you access to Osaka or Kyoto by the limited express Haruka and some preloaded e-money in ICOCA or Kansai One Pass.

I will tell you what this deal is and how to use it in this post.

Continue reading ICOCA and Haruka, Kansai One Pass and Haruka, and Haruka discount ticket. Very flexible and good deal for tourist who stay in Kansai.

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.

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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

12345
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.

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

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

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

Kansai airport terminal, station, train pass and access guide

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

Kansai airport is the international airport in Osaka. It is the gateway to Kyoto, Nara, Kobe and Wakayama too. There are many ways to get downtown Osaka, Kyoto and Kobe. In this post, I will explain about the terminal of Kansai airport, the access route to major places in Kansai region, and how to choose the deal which suits your trip plan.

Continue reading Kansai airport terminal, station, train pass and access guide

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

How to access to Mt. Koya (Koyasan)

Koyasan (Mt. Koya) (C) JNTO
World Heritage site Koyasan (Mt. Koya) too. (C) JNTO

Mt. Koya (Koyasan) is one of very popular destinations in Kansai area. Most common way to Mt. Koya is Nankai Railway line. It takes you to Gokurakubashi station where is located at the base of Mt. Koya. You may transfer to the funicular to Mt. Koya.

If you use JR deals, such as JR Pass (nationwide pass), Kansai area pass, Kansai Hiroshima area pass and other JR West passes, you cannot use the pass because Nankai Railway is not JR. If you do not use these JR deals, you may use other deals, such as Kansai Thru Pass, Koyasan World Heritage Pass.

You may use these JR deals partially to get Mt. Koya if you want.

In this post, I would like to show you the way to get Mt. Koya and also tell you how you use the deal.

Continue reading How to access to Mt. Koya (Koyasan)

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

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

The limited express Kuroshio train guide. The train takes you to Kii, Kumano, Shingu, Katsuura and Shirahama from Osaka and Kyoto

Panda Kuroshio
One of train sets has Panda face.

The limited express Kuroshio connects Kii peninsula, Kyoto, Shin-Osaka and Tennoji. This is the train which you take to get Shingu, Kii-Katsuura, Shirahama, Kii-Tanabe. These places are known as the gateway to UNESCO World Heritage site, “Sacred Sites and Pilgrimage Routes in the Kii Mountain Range”.

This train is covered by JR Pass, Kansai Wide Area Pass, Kansai Hiroshima Area Pass and Kansai Hokuriku Area Pass.

I will show you more information about this train in this post.

Continue reading The limited express Kuroshio train guide. The train takes you to Kii, Kumano, Shingu, Katsuura and Shirahama from Osaka and Kyoto

Passenger’s review of “Hikari Railstar”

Hikari Rail Star at Okayama station
Hikari Rail Star at Okayama station

I took Hikari Rail Star from Okayama to Hiroshima on the way to Miyajima. This Hikari has a different paint from the regular Hikari. It is gray and orange. Continue reading Passenger’s review of “Hikari Railstar”