questions & answers: general japan travel

26d24n japan travel help

26D24N Japan Travel Help

I'll be traveling around Japan for the first 21days of my trip and I'm intending to get 2 Metro Pass (Special 2-Days Open Ticket for ¥980 each) to be used on the last 3 days in Tokyo.

Here's the route.
Narita Airport > Kyoto > Nara > Osaka > Kobe > Fukuoka > Kumamoto Day Trip > Fukuoka > Kagoshima > Hakodate > Sapporo > Kawagoe > Yokoyama > Hakone Day Trip > Yokohama > Tokyo > Narita Airport

I'll like to seek help planning how to get around the above location with JR Pass.
Also I'm not sure if I should rearrange the travel location to make travelling smoother.

ifigma
ifigma

Hi there!

You do have a really big leap from Kagoshima to Hakodate in the middle of your trip, and also have a fairly big trip from Narita to Kyoto on arrival. How about visiting Kawagoe on arrival, and then heading up to Hakodate/Sapporo first. You could then loop back to Yokohama and follow your trip down and up with good numbers of stops in both directions. Something like:

  1. Narita
  2. Kawagoe
  3. Hakodate
  4. Sapporo
  5. Yokohama
  6. Kyoto
  7. Nara
  8. Fukuoka/Hakata
  9. Kumamoto
  10. Fukuoka
  11. Kagoshima
  12. Kobe/Hiroshima
  13. Osaka
  14. Hakone overnight (with a Hakone Free Pass)
  15. Tokyo
  16. Narita airport

This way round your travel should be more managable, and you ought to get a lot more out of the trip. All the locations to list are accessible with the JR Pass except Hakone, for which the JR Pass will get you as far as Odawara. From Odawara you should use the non-JR Odakyu lines upto Hakone itself. Here are a set of sample itineraries for you to use as a starter up to when you return to Tokyo:

  1. Narita airport terminal 1 > Kawagoe: ¥5,970 (144mins, 125km)
  2. Kawagoe > Hakodate: ¥17,830 (391mins, 863km)
  3. Hakodate > Sapporo(jr): ¥8,390 (209mins, 318km)
  4. Sapporo(jr) > Yokohama: ¥22,770 (594mins, 1225km)
  5. Yokohama > Kyoto: ¥12,390 (164mins, 492km)
  6. Kyoto > Nara: ¥690 (44mins, 41km)
  7. Nara > Hakata: ¥14,600 (233mins, 674km)
  8. Hakata > Kumamoto: ¥4,990 (35mins, 118km)
  9. Kumamoto > Hakata: ¥4,790 (35mins, 118km)
  10. Hakata > Kagoshima: ¥9,970 (103mins, 292km)
  11. Kagoshima > Kobe(hyogo): ¥22,020 (304mins, 951km)
  12. Kobe(hyogo) > Osaka: ¥390 (25mins, 33km)
  13. Osaka > Odawara: ¥12,270 (159mins, 472km)
  14. Odawara > Tokyo: ¥1,450 (36mins, 83km)

JR ticket cost: ¥,138,520 for 14 legs

You can look up precise train timetables and costs at the Hyperdia travel planning website and learn how to use Hyperdia for JR Pass holders through our video blog.

Hope this helps!

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mari
Expert_button_2

Hi. The reason why I left Hokkaido last was because I wanted to have more buffer time to book Hamanasu Night train from Tokyo to Aomori to save one night of accommodation. I'll be travel to Japan next year late March early April. How much buffer time should I have in order to book the Hamanasu ticket?

Is there any other way to rearrange them so that I can have higher chances of getting the Hamanasu ticket?
Also I'm only going to Hakone for 1 day. So is it worth it to get the 2 day pass?

ifigma
ifigma

I'll will like to also ask what's the difference between Hamanasu and Akebono Night train?

ifigma
ifigma

Using the night trains with a JR Pass is always a bit tricky and cannot be relied on when making your plans as you are unable to place your reservation for the train before you get to Japan. It's hard to give any specific guidance on making reservations on the sleepers other than "leave yourself as much time as possible" as you were planning.

If you are set on using a sleeper, how about moving the Hokkaido trip to the very end of your journey after your travel to Hakone and Yokohama. This way you'll have a breather around Tokyo before embarking on a trip north, and will give yourself maximum amount of time to reserve a place.

Both Hamanasu and Akebono night trains have free accommodation for JR Pass holders. In terms of the quality of the free accommodation they are much the same (extremely minimal - carpeted area + sheet/pillow. The Hamanasu slightly edges it here I think as it has heated carpeting), but the Akebono is a longer (and more balanced) overnight trip. Personally, I think I'd go for the Hayabusa to Shin-Aomori and Hamanasu to Sapporo option. I also think there is more chance of reserving this train.

If you are planning on going to Hakone for 1 day only you may be better off just purchasing individual tickets from Odawara as needed. For example, Odawara to Sounzan is just over ¥1000 each way. This is in contrast to the 2 day Hakone Free Pass at ¥3900. Bear in mind that you'll still have to pay for Hakone Ropeway (¥1330 round trip from Sounzan to Togendai) and also for the Hakone sight seeing cruise as needed, but tickets could work out as a slightly cheaper, (but less flexible) option.

Hope this helps!

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mari
Expert_button_2

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