questions & answers: itinerary check

6 full days only!

6 full days only!

Hello,

we are arriving to Japan (Tokyo-Narita) on the early evening of December,10 and will be departing from there on December,16 early evening. We definitely will be buying 7-days JR passes. However, I have no idea how to fit my super-ambitious plan into the time frame that we have, so I am respectfully offering a list of places (in no particular order) which we'd like to visit, with some comments and the question: is it even close to possible?

Here goes:

  1. a day in Kyoto - probably, will need a whole day, as we'd like to not only visit the "musts" (Kinkaku-ji, Ryoan-ji, Daitoku-ji, Kodai-ji, Kiyomizu-dera), but would also like to peak into the Kyoto National Museum. I think we can skip the Gion;
  2. a day trip to Korakuen garden - we're hoping for a half-day and make it to the Himeji castle the same day;
  3. I have no idea how long will this take, but is it possible to visit two small townships in Wakayama in one day: Kushimoto and Shirahama - both interest us for mural paintings by Nagasawa Rosetsu (and Maruyama Okyo) in Muryo-ji and Sodo-ji temples. I believe Muryo-ji is in Kushimoto and Sodo-ji in Shirahama, but I might be wrong;
  4. we would like to be in Tokyo for December 14th Gishi-sai at Sengaku-ji station, but that's not a "must"; in general, we're only interested in National Museum and Senso-ji; maybe Imperial Palace, but not sure;
  5. I know it sounds crazy, but - we can sleep on trains - we're really interested in seeing Poroto Kotan on Hokkaido; and I know there is a night train ... What do you say, experts?

Thank you so very much for your time and consideration. Yelena

Pigser28
Pigser28

Hi Yelena!

Woah! this is super ambitious. I hope you're feeling up to a challenge :D. Below I have a technically possible itinerary for you to follow, but it comes with a strong warning that you'll be doing a lot of travelling....! (and possibly with jetlag!) That said, here's how you technically could do it, but please please read the recommendation afterwards!

10th. Tokyo sleep
11th. Kyoto full day, Kyoto sleep (early morning bullet! lots to do! You may have to cut down your temple visits.)
12th. Okayama morning, Himeji afternoon, Kyoto evening, Kyoto sleep
13th. Kushimoto, Shirahama, Kyoto sleep. (early start this day, Kushimoto is 3.5hrs from Kyoto, but you can sleep on the way there)
14th. Tokyo day. (early bullet to Tokyo, late bullet to Shin-Aomori. Gonna be a huge day, so leave all your luggage in a coin locker at Tokyo on arrival and pick up later in the day when you get the train north.
15th. Shin-Aomori to Noboribetsu for Poroto Kotan. Make sure you stop off in a Noboribetsu onsen at some point! Sleeper train from nearby Higashimuroran station to Aomori in the late evening, arriving early into Aomori on the 16th.
16th. Bullet train back to Tokyo, day in Tokyo, and then onto Narita in the evening as normal.

So here's how you could technically do it all...... but.....

My recommendation is to really consider dropping Poroto Kotan as it requires you to spend a lot of your time travelling for 1 destination. If you did drop this you could space out your Kyoto time more evenly, or spend more time in Tokyo at the beginning or end of your trip. I really recommend you think about this, especially if it's a holiday! :)

By the way, as you'll be moving around so much, I recommend you stay in hotels as close to the stations as you can. For Tokyo this means looking into places around Tokyo station or Shinagawa station, and for Kyoto you should look for hotels, well, around Kyoto station :)

Hope this helps!

Af705d2483ca769d2753af956a5d149b?s=50&d=mm
mari
Expert_button_2

Dear Expert,

thanks for your help! We did use the JRP site a lot during last couple of days and came up with slightly different itinerary, which allows us to include most of what we wanted to see; here is how it looks;

December 10: arriving to Narita at 16:30, getting to Tokyo station and at 21:36 departing by Shinkansen Hayabusa 5 via Sendai, and from there by Ltd Express Super Hokuto 1, arriving to Noburibetsu @ 9:13

December 11: departing Noburibetsu @ 10:16 by Muroran line and arriving to Shiraoi at 10:36; spending time in Poroto Kotan, back to Shiraoi station and departing it @ 14:49 by Ltd Express Suzuran 4, ariving Noburibetsu 15:00. Taking 15:34 Twilight Express from Noburibetsu to Kyoto.

December 12: arriving Kyoto at 12:15, spending the day and night there.

December 13: departing Kyoto 8:36 by Ltd express Kuroshio 3, arriving Kushimoto at 12:20; after seeing Muryo-ji, leaving Kushimoto for Koza at 14:45 by JR Kinokuni line, seeing Joju-ji there and leaving Koza at 18:24 by Ltd Express Kurosho 32 to Shin-Osaka, where we spend the night in a hotel close to station.

December 14: departing Shin-Osaka to Himeiji by Shinkansen Hikari 495 @ 8:35, arriving to HImeiji @ 9:10, seeing the WHite Heron castle and departing Himeiji at 13:00 by Nozomi 105 for Okayama, arriving Okayama @13:21, seeing Koraku-en. Depating Okayama @ 17:35 by Ltd Express Shiokaze 21, arriving Matsuyama at 20:25, spending the night there.

December 15: touring Matsuyama castle, spending time in onsen and depating Matsuyama @ 19:36 by Ishizuchi 32 via Sakaide with transfer to Ltd express Sunrise Seto, arriving to Tokyo @ 7:08.

December 16: in Tokyo, see National museum (opens @ 9:30) in Ueno, take a deep breath and go to Narita for return flight @ 18:45.

So, there are, of course some questions: a)how do we go about reserving the sleeper cars and what is the difference between sleeper car A, B and electric car? 2)do we need to reserve seats besides the sleepers - on all trains or only on some of them - and what would be the total surcharges per person, considering that we will have a 7 day JR pass (based on your recommendations about various sleeper cars and need for reserved seats on all other trains)? 3) we are also concerned about the connection - marked with a curved arrow in the itinerary - between Ishizuchi 32 and Ltd Express Sunrise Seto in Sakaide (on our trip from Matsuyama to Tokyo on December 15): Itinerary lists only 2 minutes for it - how is it possible?

Thanks so much for your help!

Pigser28
Pigser28

Hi there,

Here are some thoughts on your plans:

  1. Sleeper cars can only be reserved once you are in Japan and have your JR Pass at the JR ticket office. Because of this they can be hard to get places on. In my previous itinerary I fitted one in at the end of your trip thinking that you'd be able to reserve your place right at the start of your trip, maximising your chances of reserving a place. It may be harder to do this if you plan on using the sleepers early on in your trip. (but it may be possible, so you should try!).
  2. In general A class accommodation will be a private room, whereas B class sleeper accommodation will be a bunk in a shared cluster of 4. A will be more expensive than B. I think Electric Car may refer to the carpeted areas which are free for JR Pass holders to use on the sunrise seto (AKA nobi-nobi seats). Note that the JR Pass only covers the basic fare on the Twilight Express and both the accommodation and express fee will be charged.
  3. When you are on a tight schedule it's always a good idea to book your seats I think at least for the longer distance travel you plan on doing. I recommend bringing your printed itinerary with you and asking the JR staff to reserve all possible seats for you at the start of your trip.
  4. I think 2 minutes is too short to transfer trains. You should leave at least 10-15 minutes for this to be safe. I think you should plan on leaving Matsuyama on an earlier train.

Please note that there is no guarantee your sleeper cars will have spaces on them before you arrive, so I recommend you have a backup plan (eg, Youth Hostel, or cheap business hotel locations and alternative day time trains) in case you cannot use these trains, especially for your trip back to Tokyo for your flight.

Hope this helps!

Af705d2483ca769d2753af956a5d149b?s=50&d=mm
mari
Expert_button_2

Dear Expert,

there are still some questions that I need addressed. I do understand that I cannot reserve anything on the night train from here, but I can hope that I'll be able tom secure some seats upon arrival. But I'd like to know in more details what is electric cars - there is something listed as upper/middle/lower, so it doesn't sound like those are the carpeted areas - or I'm misunderstanding something? Also, I understand that only sleeper A has a private shower - are there any showers for common usage on the night trains? I'd like to have an opportunity to take a shower, since we might be spending a lot of time on night trains.

Sincerely,

thanks for your help again!

Pigser28
Pigser28

Hi there!

Both sleepers you mention have pay for shower facilities if you are not using the A class accommodation. Can you paste a link to the electric car information you have found for me to check? I know that in the sunrise seto carpeted areas for example, there are upper and lower carpeted bunks, so it could refer to that, or perhaps it could refer to the position in the train? I've not heard the passenger cars referred to in this way so I'm a little lost I'm afraid (In Japanese the electric car refers to the locomotive part of the train!).

Look forwards to hearing from you!

Af705d2483ca769d2753af956a5d149b?s=50&d=mm
mari
Expert_button_2

Dear Expert,

this is the link you were asking for; I understand the confusion, but if you use the drop-down in the seat fee, you'll see what I'm talking about. Also, please, check out the route which starts from Matsuyama at 19:36 - look at what the itinerary tells in Sakaide - what does this arrow mean and how is it possible? (That's what I was referring to earlier).

http://www.hyperdia.com/cgi/en/search.html?dep_node=MATSUYAMA%28EHIME%29&arv_node=TOKYO&via_node01=&via_node02=&via_node03=&year=2012&month=12&day=15&hour=17&minute=00&search_type=0&search_way=&transtime=undefined&sort=0&max_route=5&airplane=off&ship=off&lmlimit=null&search_target=route&facility=reserved&sum_target=7

You've been very prompt with your responses and very gracious, thank you!

Pigser28
Pigser28

This must be referring to berths that are in the same car as the electric engine.

Here are some train and berth maps for you to look at. I'm afraid they are in Japanese, but I think you should be able to get an idea of the sort of layout:

  1. Berth layout
  2. Passenger car layout
  3. Photo gallery of berths
  4. Photo gallery of outside of train

!sunrise seto

As you can see from the passenger car layout and above photo, the front car has berths as well as being the front electric motor of the train. I believe the electric car accommodation refers to this which would also explain the slightly cheaper price for these berths. Upper possibly refers to those berths located closes to the front of the train. There is no mention of this difference in the Japanese documentation, so it could simply be a description of the different prices that Hyperdia is exposing to you that normally would only be viewable by JR staff!

Hope this helps!

Af705d2483ca769d2753af956a5d149b?s=50&d=mm
mari
Expert_button_2

Order your Japan Rail Pass Online

Starting from $254.00 for 7 days of unlimited Japan Rail travel

Please note: we are only able to handle order related enquiries via our online direct support. Commercial advertising is prohibited as per our website terms.