questions & answers: itinerary check

koyasan to sapporo

Koyasan to Sapporo

Hi, I will be in Koyasan on August 9 (Friday morning), and need to be in Sapporo by the end of the day Saturday. Ideally, I'd like to take an overnight train on Friday. Do I need to go back to Kyoto, or is there a better way to connect to the main line from Koyasan? Also, is it possible to reserve seats on an overnight train in advance?

Thanks for any advice. I'd like to use my JR Pass as much as possible.

chicacan1
chicacan1

Hi there,

I think you are best of by taking the local non JR line to Osaka, from there you can get on the high speed Shinkansen Tokyo and up north. The JR Pass will cover all the trains up to and in Hokkaido but this will be a very long trip.

I night train is indeed a good option. You have a couple of options here, you can either take the Akebono that travels between Tokyo and Aomori or you can take the Hamanasu train from Aomori to Sapporo. Both trains can be taken for free with the JR Pass if you take a normal seat.

I hope this helps,
Daniel

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Daniel-san
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Just one extra note: If you do take a night train, make sure to get your seat reservations ASAP. The trains are very popular and sell out quickly, especially during summer.

I would recommend trying to make the reservations the moment that you arrive in Japan and exchange your JR Pass.
Having a plan B ready (such as a night stop over at Aomori) is a good idea too!

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Daniel-san
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Thank you, Daniel-San, that's very helpful. Just one more question - - would the Twilight Express from Osaka to Sapporo be a good alternative? I know that we would have to pay extra for the sleeper accommodation, but I'm thinking that might be worth it. Also, I've read that it's very difficult to get a seat on this train (we'll be travelling in August). However, we have a Japanese friend who maybe could reserve tickets for us.

We want to take the train to Sapporo on August 9, and will be arriving in Tokyo and activating our JR Pass on August 5. By then, I'm thinking that the Twilight Express would likely be sold out. Would it be possible for our Japanese friend to call the JR West office on July 9 to buy the Twilight Express tickets for us? I'm wondering if it's a problem if the tickets are purchased on her credit card, but she is not there when we go to pick them up.

thanks again!

chicacan1
chicacan1

Hi Again,

Yes the Twilight Express would make a great alternative but it would still costs a decent amount of money, even with the JR Pass. I have not made the ride myself but it is a great experience from what I have heard. Reservations can be made 30 days in advance from 10 a.m. and having your friend call to make the reservations is a good idea! Making a reservation online in Japanese is also a possibility, this way you get a code/bar-code by email which you can then use to collect the tickets.

You could also look into getting a flight there, this may be even more cheaper than the night train. Especially since many domestic companies offer discounts to foreigners.

Still if you have the possibility to take the Twilight express, take it!

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Daniel-san
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Hello again,

We are reconsidering the idea of doing Osaka to Sapporo on an overnight train, as this seems like an awfully long trip.

Instead, we have a possible itinerary that includes an overnight in Aomori. Does this look OK to you?

Friday, Aug. 9:
Osaka to Tokyo on the Shinkansen Hikari 470 (dep. 13:40/arr. 16:40)
Tokyo to Shin-Aomori on the Hayate (dep.16:56/arr. 20:33 OR dep. 17:56/arr. 21:28)

Sat., Aug. 10
Shin-Aomori to Sapporo on the Hakucho 11 (dep. 10:16/arr. 15:44)

Would it be unrealistic to do the transfer in Tokyo in 16 minutes?

If you have a suggestion for a better itinerary, please let us know. Much appreciated!!

chicacan1
chicacan1

Hi Again!

First let me say well planned! I could not have done it better myself.
Staying at or around Aomori is a great way to cut the trip in half. I have done so a couple of times myself too.

About your transfer at Tokyo, I think you will be fine with 16 minutes. A transfer from the Shinkansen to a local train may require a little more time but Shinkansen transfers are generally very quick. You will change from the Tokaido Shinkansen to the Tohoku Shinkansen at Tokyo station. This means you will have to go trough a separate gate, when you arrive at Tokyo station follow the signs with Tohoku Shinkansen an you will be fine.

As for staying the night in Aomori, hotels there tend to be rather expansive. You can save some money by staying in Hachinohe the stop before Aomori or Hirosaki. Both places have some good sightseeing too, where Aomori is somewhat uninspiring.

I hope this helps,
-Daniel

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Daniel-san
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