I am graduate student in history who is beginning a language course in Hakodate on the 7th June. I have extra time prior to the program and I had hoped to make an 7-day itinerary to correspond with your 7-day pass. Impecunious student that I am, I would prefer a sleeper-train that did not incur extra cost and which would allow me to arrive in Hakodate by noon or so on the 7th June. Do I need to make reservations prior to arrival?
I had also thought of doing some sort of itinerary in Kansai to get a fuller sense of the country. The obvious destinations are Kyoto and Nara, but it strikes me that I won't have time to fully explore these places with so little time, and that I might make better use of the pass by visiting other places. Do you have recommendations that work well with the rail-pass? Or are Kyoto and Nara really the places to go, even if I might have opportunity to visit them later? I like history and hiking and am not shy of more obscure sites if they have merit.
Thank you very much for your help!
over 4 years ago
Here are some thoughts for you:
For the sleeper to Hakodate, you will have to make a reservation as soon as you arrive in Japan and have your Japan Rail Pass present. The JR Pass is only 100% valid for certain types of sleeper, and we have another forum post explaining the options for rail pass holders here.
If you're sure you will be visiting Kyoto and Nara at a later point of your trip, then I recommend you take a look at Kurashiki old town, Himeji (though the outside of the Castle is shrouded for renovation, many areas are still accessible), Osaka, Hiroshima, and Ise Jingu, the largest shrine in Japan, and shrine to Amaterasu, the sun godess of Japan. In the Ise Jingu surroundings you'll also find many other shrines and good hiking/walking in a very beautiful part of Japan.