questions & answers: using the japan rail pass

traveling from tokyo to sapporo then back to tokyo by train in feb

Traveling from Tokyo to Sapporo then back to Tokyo by train in feb

Hi
In Feb 2013 I'm traveling from tokyo to sapporo, i would like to do this by train using the railpass, what is the best way to do this, i would like to use a sleeper, is this possible? or would i be better off catching a bullet train to Aomori then another train to Sapporo? is this possible? and is this the same from Sapporo to Tokyo?
I have 2 nights free in my 3 weeks in Japan if i cannot catch a sleeper overnight train is there a nice city to see at this time of year that's inbetween Tokyo and Sapporo?
any help with this would be very nice thankyou..

morgan
morgan

Hi Morgan,

I think if I was in your position I would aim to use the Hayabusa Shinkansen up to shin-Aomori and then use the Hamanasu sleeper from Aomori up to Sapporo. Although berths must be paid for, JRPass holders can use the nobi-nobi carpeted areas for free. The same would be recommended on return.

For a great alternative experience at that time of year I recommend Onsen in the Nagano area of the Japan Alps. In Feb it should be a snowy wonderland - perfect for relaxing in an outside hotspring bath. For inspiration, these places are great:

Hope this helps!

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mari
Expert_button_2

thanks mari but isn't there a sleeper that travels from tokyo to sapporo what's wrong with this, can the jrpass be used for this train?
if its better the other way what is a good town to use as a halfway point to maybe catch the shinkansen in the morning to then spent the day there then catch the next train the next morning although i would perfer a sleeper from tokyo to sapporo.
thankyou for your help..

morgan
morgan

Hi Morgan,

There are sleeper trains from Tokyo all the way up to Sapporo, but non that are valid for use with the JR Pass I'm afraid (They are called Cassiopeia and Hokutosei for reference). You can use the JR Pass on the sleeper from Tokyo to Aomori (the Akebono), but I don't think this is as efficient a method as I mentioned before because inside Hokkaido there are no shinkansen bullets so you'll be on a (fairly long) express train from Aomori to Sapporo. I think on balance you should take advantage of the high speed Hayabusa shinkansen that will take you up to Aomori and then sleep the slower train leg up to Sapporo.

While I recommend doing the journey in one sitting (sample itinerary), you could look into stopping around Aomori itself, or look into a trip to Towada-ko

Hope this helps!

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mari
Expert_button_2

thanks again i'm in Japan for 3 weeks. seeing Tokyo, Sapporo & Niseko, 2 nights were going to be on the train but that does not seem to be working out so the idea that i have 2 nights free, my thought is i can either extend where i'm staying but i have to catch 2 trains 1 that is 3 to 4 hours & the other 4 to 5 hours why not just catch the first 1 early in the morning get off & see somewhere else in Japan then catch the next train the next morning. so if anybody has any ideas of stuff to see around Aomori or a town or city close by this would be helpful.. THANKYOU

the only other question i have is do i have to book these trains

morgan
morgan

Hi Morgan,

You must book the sleepers or the Hayabusa shinkansen if you think you'll use these, but otherwise seat reservations are not required (though free for JR Pass holders).

As another suggestion, how about Hachinohe or Noboribetsu Onsen for an overnight stay before you hit the Honshu mainland?

Hope this helps!

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mari
Expert_button_2

Hey Mari Thankyou for your help so far
. I have worked out what i am going to, do from Tokyo i am going to catch a Shinkansen Hayate to Shin-Aomori first thing in the mourning then from Shin-Aomori to Hakodate i will catch a LTD.EXP.Super Hakucho.. Then have a nice day in Hakodate. The next mourning i will catch a LTD.EXP.Super Hokuto from Hakodate to Sapporo.. on the way back i will do the same in reverse

My questions are
will the railpass cover all of this?
does any of this need to be booked? (i will not need the sleeper)
what does carpeted mean is this seated?
i will have my wife & 2 kids with me do i need to know anything i might of missed with this?
thankyou once again for your help.. :)

morgan
morgan

Hi Morgan!

Yes, all of these trains are covered by the JR Pass so you should be all set. Non of these need to be booked in advance (there is non-reserved seating), but you may want to do so to ensure that you all can sit together.

Carpeted in sleeping cars means there is a carpeted area to recline in (they are not seats). I'm not sure I've seen the word used with normal non-sleeper trains.

I think you're all set - have a great trip!

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mari
Expert_button_2

thanks mari
went to Japan in Feb2013 & had a great time the railpass was a great idea & i was able to book all of these trains using the railpass. the Japanese people were always happy,friendly & super helpful it was such a beautiful place to visit for me & my family everybody had such a great time...

tips.. use Hyperdia to work out the trains you wish to catch

     book these trains as soon as you get to Japan
     the railpass does not work on non JR trains (mostly subways)
     Japanese people will help so if you dont speak Japanese ask simple straight forward questions
morgan
morgan

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