questions & answers: itinerary check

bus timetable matsumoto, takayama, kanazawa and when to start jr pass

Bus timetable Matsumoto, Takayama, Kanazawa and when to start JR pass

Hi, can someone please take a look at my itinerary? I need to know if there is an English website where I can check the bus timetable from Aso station to Kurokawa onsen in December and should I start a JR pass on Day 9?

Day 1. Arrive Tokyo about 6.30am.
Day 2. Tokyo
Day 3.Tokyo
Day 4.Tokyo- Matsumoto
Day 5.Matsumoto – Takayama. Do we need to book the bus in advance?
Day 6.Takayma-shirakawago-Kanazawa. Do we need to book the seats in advance?
Day 7. Dec: Kanazawa
Day 8.Dec: Kanazawa
Day 9. Kanazawa-Osaka (start 14 day pass) Should we start JR pass today?
Day10. Osaka-Koyasan
Day 11. Koyasan-Hiroshima
Day 12. Hiroshima
Day 13. Hiroshima-Kurokawa Onsen. Is there a bus timetable in English from Aso station to Kurokawa onsen?
Thurs 14. Kurokawa Onsen
Day 15. Kurokawa-Kyoto
Day 16. Kyoto
Day 17. Kyoto
Day 18. Kyoto
Day 19. Kyoto-Tokyo
Day 20. Tokyo
Day 21. Tokyo-Kamakura
Day 22. Tokyo
Day 23. Tokyo-Narita airport

panda
panda

Hi there!

Wow! Looks like a great trip! Here are some thoughts for you:

Bus from Aso to Kurokawa

The Kyusanko bus from Mt Aso to Kurokawa onsen will cost ¥1500. You can see the following timetables for departures (from Aso Station to Kurokawa onsen) here and here (google translate). You should certainly contact the tourism information desks at Aso station who will be able to offer further help on this. They do speak english so you should get a lot of great tips that way:

  • ASO Information Center. tel.0967-34-0751 (9:00-18:00; Telephone service is not available on Mon. & Thu.)
  • Aso Volcano Museum Information Center tel.0967-34-2111 (9:00-17:00)

If you do go to Kurokawa, you should certainly use the lockers at Aso station to store your luggage and go and see the volcano if you have time!

Bus from Matsumoto to Takayama, and from Takayama to Kanazawa via shirakawago

Reservations are not required for the Matsumoto-Takayama line, but it's worth bearing in mind that it will be first come first served so you should arrive well in advance of travel.

For the Takayama - Shirakawago - Kanazawa bus, certain buses do require reservations. I think this line is likely to be quite busy so I recommend calling ahead and reserving your tickets. You can call the Nohi Bus Reservation Center on +81 (577) 32-1688 between 9:00-18:00 JST.

Best use of the JR pass

As you'll be travelling by bus from Matsumoto to Kanazawa I think you've got the right idea to start your JR Pass validity on the 9th. If you can move one day in Tokyo from the end of your trip to the start at the start you will be able to also include the trip back to Narita inside the JR Pass, but aside from that small modification I think you're plans are good.

Tips for Tokyo

As you'll be doing a lot of travel in Tokyo, I recommend you look into the Keisei Skyline + 2 day unlimited metro pass deal for your travel from/to Narita Airport. You can also purchase further special discounted 2 day metro passes at Narita working out at ¥490/day. (note these discounted metro passes are only available at Narita Airport).

Hope this helps!

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mari
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Thank you so much for the reply, Mari. We were in Japan for 11 nights in 2010 and we were travelling on a fast pace. This time we want to take it easy and spend more time looking at things in Tokyo.

When we arrive Tokyo, I was thinking of getting a Suica & N'EX pass to get to our hotel in Shinjuku and travel within Tokyo with the pass and top it up if we need to. But now that you mentioned the Keisei Skyline +2 day unlimited metro pass, I will look into it, too. On the day we arrive, we will drop our luggage off at the hotel, then go to Asakusa and later the Tokyo Skytree. I doubt that we would be doing much travelling that day as we'd be tired from a long flight. On the 2nd day we will be going to Ginza and surrounding areas, then dinner in Roppongi and back to Shinjuku. On the 3rd day we'll be around Shinjuku as we have to meet up with my sister and her husband and perhaps we'll take them to Harajuku as well. Looking at the above plans, do you think we’d be better off to get a Suica & N'EX pass or the Keisei Skyline +2 day unlimited metro?

For the Takayama - Shirakawago - Kanazawa bus, how much time in advance do I need to call in advance? Do they speak English or should I ask the hotel reception in Tokyo to reserve the seats for us?

When I was planning the itinerary before I booked the hotels, I thought of moving one day in Tokyo from the end of our trip to the start so that we can use our JR pass back to Narita airport. But we want to do some shopping in Tokyo this time and we want to leave that till last.

panda
panda

Hi there,

I see! - your trip didn't sound like a first timer! :)

I think if you're going to Shinjuku for your hotel, you'll be better off getting the SUICA + NEX deal as the NEX goes directly to Shinjuku. You may want to also look into buying the [1 or 2 day metro passes without the Keisei skyline(http://www.tokyometro.jp/en/ticket/value/travel/index.html#anc01) but it will depend on your travel plans in Tokyo I think (The 2 day unlimited metro passes work out at ¥490 per day, so are pretty good value).

For the buses, I recommend reserving as soon as you have firm plans as Shirakawago is a World Heritage Site. Nohi bus should be able to take your reservation in English, but if you run into problems I'm sure your hotel will be happy to help you place your booking.

Hope this helps - sounds like a great trip, especially Kamikochi! Make sure you dress warm!

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mari
Expert_button_2

Thanks again, Mari. I might give them a call today actually. Not sure if they will take bookings this far in advance.

panda
panda

You mentioned "Kamikochi" I don't think we will be going there. It shuts down during winter. It is open from April 20 to November 15. We will be leaving Australia on November 29 and our last day in Japan is December 22.

panda
panda

I can't use the "metro pass" on the JR line or can I?

panda
panda

My mistake! I'd assumed you were using that route to visit Kamikochi, but you'll be out of season during your time in Japan if you're leaving at the end of November.

The metro pass can only be used on metro lines (not valid on JR), but you should be able to make good use of it around Tokyo depending on your schedule.

Always worth a try with bookings for the bus - you're within 1 month in advance so I'd expect them to take a booking (I think it will be first come first served).

Hope this helps!

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mari
Expert_button_2

I called the Nohi Bus Reservation Center and they asked me to call back again on November 5 as I wanted to book for December 5. Their English wasn’t very good, but I hope that they can at assist me with the bookings over the phone. The lady that I spoke to said that I could pay cash on December 5, but I don't see how they can guarantee the seats without a deposit upfront.

Can you please take a look whether to buy the Metro pass or keep topping up the Suica pass would be the best option?. Here is what I was planning to do on the day we arrive Tokyo. Purchase the Suica & N'EX pass and go to Shinjuku to drop our luggage off at the hotel. Day 1. Shinjuku-Asakusa-Tokyo Skytree station-Shinjuku.
Day 2. Shinjuku-Ginza-Roppongi-Shinjuku

Should we buy the Metro pass for Day 1 and Day 2 and keep the suica card for Day 3 if we need to go to Harajuku or use it at 7/11 or vending machines? I looked up http://www.hyperdia.com/en/ and tried to work out the fares, but I got a bit confused as there are a number of routes that you can take and some of them are quite expensive. I remember the last time we were there and we were shocked at how fast our credit on the suica card ran out. We thought it was quite expensive travelling within Tokyo. Perhaps we were using more expensive routes?

panda
panda

Hi Panda,

Normally reservations in Japan are taken based on trust, so you should be fine there I think without payment upfront. Be sure to let them know if you don't think you'll be able to make the bus so they can free up your seat for another traveller.

Sometimes totting up the cost of Metro Passes can be quite a challenge. As you're doing lots of travel, I think it'll be best to draw up rules of thumb for comparison based on the minimum Tokyo Metro fare of ¥160 for all trips under 6km. This would mean you'll have something like:

  1. Shinjuku. Asakusa. Sky Tree. Shinjuku: ¥640 (¥160*4, but bear in mind the Skytree will need non-Metro travel also)
  2. Shinjuku. Ginza. Roppongi. Shinjuku: ¥640 (¥160*4)

These costs may increase, but generally I think they are good enough for comparison to the 2 day Metro pass daily charge of ¥490. (the Metro pass would be a better option in both these cases I think). A good approach is to purchase enough metro passes to cover all your trip, and then use the ¥1500 on the Suica as a fill in for areas not covered by the Metro service.

Hope this helps!

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mari
Expert_button_2

For instance, on http://www.hyperdia.com/en/ when I put in Shinjuku I can see two options either Shinjuku (JR) or Shinjuku (Toei) to ASAKUSA(TOBU/SUBWAY). Can I use the metro pass all the way to ASAKUSA(TOBU/SUBWAY)?

panda
panda

For planning metro travel, I recommend you use the Tokyo Metro site which has a really good journey planner. Here's the trip from Shinjuku to Asakusa for you (¥230).

Hope this helps!

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mari
Expert_button_2

Sorry I'm kind of confused here. I think the metro pass doesn't cover Toei line and it doesn't cover JR line either. Can you please take a look at route #1 below link? Do I use the Suica pass to go on the Shinjuku (JR) JR Chuo/Ome Special Rapid Service, then use the Metro pass at Kanda Tokyo Metro Ginza Line? Yet in route #2, I can't use the Metro pass at all is that right? Route #2 is only JR and Toei Subway Asakusa Line. To be honest I'm still not familiar with the train system. I don't know how we did it but it was pretty expensive on the Suica pass.

http://www.hyperdia.com/en/cgi/en/search.html?dep_node=SHINJUKU%28JR%29&arv_node=ASAKUSA%28TOBU%2FSUBWAY%29&via_node01=&via_node02=&via_node03=&year=2012&month=11&day=30&hour=10&minute=30&search_type=0&search_way=&transtime=undefined&sort=0&max_route=5&ship=off&lmlimit=null&search_target=route&facility=reserved&sum_target=7

panda
panda

It's not a problem!

  • For route 1 in your link, Hyperdia is recommending you use the JR lines to go to Kanda (using Suica, JR pass or ticket), and then to Asakusa using the Metro Ginza line (using Metro Pass or ticket).
  • For route 2, you are not being shown any metro lines (JR and Tobu) so you would not use the metro pass here at all.

I think the best way to think about it is that there are Major and Minor rail operators in Tokyo:

Major operators

  1. JR
  2. Tokyo Metro

Minor Operators

  1. Toei
  2. Keio
  3. Tobu
  4. Other...

In general you can visit most places using the major operators, but hyperdia will recommend you to also use minor operators if it matches the time you select even if you can do it using 100% metro, or 100% JR lines, such as the route from Shinjuku to Asakusa. I recommend bypassing hyperdia for Tokyo travel if you have a metro pass, and simply use the Tokyo metro travel planner I linked to above in conjunction with this map of Tokyo metro lines in the city.

As you're charged for most line changes in Japan, travel on Suica alone will be fairly expensive - the Metro pass is really a good deal I think.

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mari
Expert_button_2

Oh ok, thank you so much. No wonder the credit on the suica card went down so quickly as we didn't know any better. We just kept topping up and topping up. I hope we wouldn't be so lost this time. Thank you once again. I really appreciate your help.

panda
panda

Oh, you said that the Skytree will need non-metro. So if I want to travel from Asakusa to Skytree can I use the Suica card on the ASAKUSA(TOBU/SUBWAY)? What is the best route to go back to Shinjuku from Tokyo Skytree station as the Skytree is not listed on the Metro line? Do we have to go back to Asakusa station again?

panda
panda

Hi there!

The Suica is really handy as a fill in card, but it can be drained really really fast if you're not careful!

About the Skytree, as it's built by Tobu railways, I had assumed it would only be accessible via Tobu rail, but that's not the case - you can get there by metro! :)

You can access Skytree via the metro by either travelling to Oshiage station on the Hanzomon line, or even walk from Ueno station on the Ginza line. Here's more information on how to access the Skytree.

Referencing the Tokyo Metro Map, the best route back from Skytree to Shinjuku on the Metro will be to use the Hanzomon line from stop Z14 to Otemachi (Z08), and then transfer to the Marunouchi line (M18) to Shinjuku (M08).

Hope this helps!

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mari
Expert_button_2

Thank you so much. You've been a great help and we will definitely buy the Metro pass at Narita airport.

panda
panda

No Problem! Have a great trip!

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mari
Expert_button_2

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