questions & answers: general japan travel

north japan

North Japan

Hi,

Last year we visited for almost 3 weeks south Japan to Tokyo.
This summer we want to visit Hokkaido and and the region north to Tokyo.
Your recommendations as last year are most welcome.

Thanks

Eli

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Hi Eli,

Hokkaido is great, especially the area between Sapporo - Hakodate. Besides the cities there's lake Toya and Noboribetsu which is a famous onsen town. North/East of Sapporo there's Furano, known for it beautiful flowers and Asahikawa. Do you have any special interests? It's easier to give you some recommendations when I know what kind of things you wish to visit.

Hope this helps!
Daniel

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Daniel-san
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Hi Daniel,

Thanks but I'll ask the question in different way:
if you have 2 weeks, what you'd recommend to do in Hokkaido and all the way to Tokyo (without visiting Tokyo).
Why it is better (or not) to to use the train in Hokkaido and not a rented car?

Best Regards

Eli

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Hi Eli!

I've actually made this trip a couple of times. Personally I love Sapporo city and stay there most of the time. Then again the route Sapporo - Tokyo is rather long so you may as well make the best of it and make a couple of stops on the way.

I've used our interactive map to make a selection of the places with I've found worth visiting along the way.

In Hokkaido I would also recommend a visit to Daisetsusan Nation Park you can climb Mount Asahidake or make great hikes in the surrounding area.

As for car travel in Japan, my experience is very limited here. Personally I prefer the train as it travels much faster and you can study or read a book whilst traveling. Be sure to check distances before hand if you do want to travel by car as Tohoku and Hokkaida are much bigger than they seem on a map.

Hope this gives you some ideas.
-Daniel

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Daniel-san
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Thanks Daniel,

Let's say I plan 7 days form Hokkaido to Tokyo by train. What main places/cities I should visit?

Best Regards

Eli

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Hi Again!

An great start could be:

Sapporo - Otaru, either a day trip from Sapporo or 1 nights stay.
Otaru - Lake Toya (for nature) or Noboribetsu (for Onsen) 1 night.
Then on the Hakodate (1 night).
Hakodate - Hirosaki (1 night)
Hirosake - Sendai and Matsushima. (1night).
Sendai - Nikko, one night in Nikko and travel to Tokyo the following evening.

What do you say?
Daniel

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Daniel-san
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Hi Daniel,

Thanks to your reply.
As we visited already Nikko I think we'll depart to Seoul from Niigita in the morning.
What would you recoomend then?

Best Regards

Eli

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Hi Eli,

Why not explore Niigata in that case? Alternatively you could make a trip to an other place around Tokyo, such as Kamakura or Yokohama.

Best Wishes,
Daniel

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Daniel-san
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Hi Daniel

Thanks for your reply.
Between 2-8/8 there are 3 festivals in (Neputa, Kantu & Sendai).
How do you recommend to use the best of one week pass starting Sapporo on 2/8 (I fly from Niigata on the 9/8)

Thanks

Eli

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Hi Daniel

As there almost no accommodation near Aomori and Hirosaki I want to book 2 nights 4-6/8 in Hachinohe.
I checked the time table from both cities to Hachinohe and I can leave by 2100 and come back to the hotel.
What I don't know if it is covered by the rail pass.
On the night of the the 6/8 I'll stay in Akita,
on the night of the 7/8 in Sendai
on the night of the 8/8 near Niigata A/P

What do you say?
I need still to add 2 days from Sapporo. What do you recommend?
Thanks in advance
Eli

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Hi Eli!

Hachinohe is a much more interesting place than Aomori, so nothing lost there :)

I am not completely sure about your question about what is covered but ALL shinkansen in Tohoku are included and you can travel between Sendai, Akita, Niigata, Aomori, Hirosaki, Hachinohe etc without extra charge.

For two days in Sapporo what are you looking for? Do you want to see something in the city or explore around?
You you seen this website ? http://gosapporo.com/ it has some great ideas.

Hope this helps!
Daniel

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Daniel-san
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Hi Daniel,

Thanks
I'll explain better. There are several festivals in the above days (http://www.jreast.co.jp/e/season/summer/kitatohoku.html)
Therefore I cannot stay in Aomori or Hirosaki as it is fully booked. My question- if I stay in Hachinohe can I still get back by train after the festival is over?
My second question- In Hokkaido I plan to stay 8 days before executing the pass. I have 2.5 days to spent on the way from Sapporo to Hachinohe, what do recommend to do? Is the pass covers all train from Hokkaido to south?

Best Regards

Eli

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Hi Eli,

Yes I don't think that should be a problem at all, most festivals end around 9.00pm which still allows for 3 hours of travel before the Shinkansen retire for the night. Just be sure to reserve to tickets before hand as more people may have the idea of taking a train back somewhere.

As for what to visit between Sapporo - Tohoku, definately make a stop over at Hakadote. Mount Hakodate is a great visit during a clear day. You can also see mainland Japan from there.

Also if you want to experience some of the fast nature Hokkaido has to offer (but don't want to travel much) make a stop at the Shikotsu-Toya National Park. Visit it once during summer for 2 days which was just great!

Best Wishes,
Daniel

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Daniel-san
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Hello,

We postponned last year trip and we plan it this year. What we plan is the followingv (focus on the festivals):
start the pass (3/8) at Hakodate or Sapporo and travell to Hachinoe.
Hachione- Hirosaki and back (when is the last train please?.
Hachinoe- Aomori and back.
Hachinoe- Sakata.
Sakata- Akita and back (two times).
Sakata- Densai.
Densai- Tokyo on the seventh day.
Can I use all fast train with the Pass? Price wise do you recommend the one week pass?
Any other place to visit between Hachinoe and Tokyo.

Hope hearing from you

Best Regaerds

Eli

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Hi,
Forgot me?
Thanks
Eli

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Hi Eli,

Sorry for the late follow up! It's better to start a new topic instead of replaying to an old one. As it is not always easy for me to keep track of older questions. I've put this one on my rader though, so feel free to follow up!

As for the JR Pass! A 7 day JR Pass would make for very good savings! Just a normal ticket Sapporo - Tokyo would almost pay for the pass. You would make very good savings with all the additional travel added in. The JR Pass will cover all your travel (if Dendai=Sendai) and all trains in Tohoku are covered. Including the super fast Hayabusa and Super Komachi Shinkansen.

Hope this helps!
Daniel

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Daniel-san
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Hi Daniel,

Thanks for your reply,
My dates of using the psaa are the festivals in Aomori, Hirosaki and Sendai.
On the first day of the pass (3/8) I need to travell from Sapporo in the morning to Aomori and
late evening to Hachinohe to my hotel (no free rooms in Aomori alrrady!).
My question- can I find myself without a seat as the train might be fully booked?

Thanks in advance

Eli

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Hi Eli,

Yes the Tohoku region is not very busy most time of the year but hotels sell out quickly during festivals :)

However I don't think that you will have a problem finding seats in advance.

JR East also offers online reservations for JR Pass holders in the Tohoku region, so you could just go ahead and reserve them in advance.

-Daniel

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Daniel-san
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Hi Daniel,

Thanks for quick reply.
The problem in my opinion is that one of the difficult trip is from Sapporo to Aomori and later to Hachinohe
which I plan to do on the first day (3/8) of the Pass so I cannot reseve any sits but only in the morning of trip
that mighht be too late. Or may be I'm wrong and I can reserve sits even before my pass is not yet effective,
What do you say?

Best Regards

Eli

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Hi Eli,

Yes tickets may be reserved before you start using the JR Pass, however you do have to pick them up 1 day before departure.

All the details are on the website I linked.

Let me know if something remains unclear!
Daniel

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Daniel-san
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Hi Daniel,

It's clear about JR East but from Sapporo to Aomori how reservation can be done?

Thanks

Eli

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Hi Eli,

I checked Sapporo - Aomori for you and I thought that it was possible to do so via the JR East website, however I can't find it either.

I did find the JR Hokkaido website and it does allow for reservations to be made online. However they don't do so for the JR Pass. I guess you could reserve the ticket and later re-book it in person at a ticket office but this would mean that you'd have to pay the cancellation fee.

The JR Hokkaido reservation can be found here:
https://www3.jrhokkaido.co.jp/rail-en/asp/RWY010.aspx

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Daniel-san
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Hi Daniel,

As I plan to travell during the Festival period I wnat to be sure (or almost) that I can reserve my seats
and use the rail pass.
I'll arrive to Sapooro on the 22/7. As I understood I can issue the JR Pass on the 23/7 and already reraserve my seats
for the 3/8 trip in the morning from Sapporo to Hachninohe and later this day from Hachinohe to Aomoro and back to Hachinohe with last train. Is it fesible? Is all the route coverred by JR Pass including the SHINKANSEN HAYABUSA?

Thnks a lot

Eli

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Hi Eli,

I was wondering how bookings are coming along.

It is indeed correct that you can exchange the JR Pass and start making reservations at the same time. You will have more than enough time to make seat reservations.

All of these routes are covered by the JR Pass, this includes the super fast Hayabusa Shinkansen.

Have a good weekend ahead!
Daniel

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Daniel-san
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Hi Daniel,

Thanks.
Can I use the pass for overnight train from Sapporo to Aomori and than continue Hachinohe?
Another quetion- can I buy a partial ticket as I want to start the pass on mid-night when I'm already in the train?

Thanks

Jappy New Year

Eli

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Hey Eli,

Merry Christmas!

Yes that is possible! The Hamanasu train between Sapporo and Aomori is covered. You may also purchase a ticket to the station that the train passes first after midnight and then use the JR Pass for the rest :)

A Japantastic year for you too!
Daniel

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Daniel-san
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Hi Daniel,

Thanks for your reply.
How much will the cost of a sleeper?
Do you think that 10 days before departure in August it is emough time to reserve seats or sleepers?

Best Regards

Eli

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Hey Eli,

Hope you had a good Christmas (or a couple of good days if you don't celebrate it).

The Hamanasu passes Datamombestsu after midnight, so you could buy a ticket to there (¥ 5,690 with the Hamanasu/Express train) or use local trains (¥ 2,810) to travel there before midnight and board the Hamanasu there.

I needed 20 days to reserve a seat in time (but that was in April), however it really depends on the day of the week and if there are groups traveling or not. It's hard to predict.

Hope this helps,
Daniel

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Daniel-san
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