questions & answers: using the japan rail pass

understanding the timetables

Understanding the timetables

Hi,

My family and I are planning on traveling to Japan at the end of August. We are flying into Tokyo and traveling up to Hokkaido to sightsee and for work. Then we will travel down through Honshu sight seeing along the way. We plan on going all the way Yamaguchi area. I don't yet know the exact itinerary because I am trying to get an idea of travel time between places. Upon using the timetables I noticed that every leg of trip I put in has a charge to it. I think I have everything unchecked that I should and thus don't understand the charges. I thought that if you bought a JR Pass it covered everything. Can someone explain this to me.

The other question I have is traveling between Tokyo and Hakodate. We want to travel the night we fly in (we get in late afternoon) and do an overnight since we have 2 young kids and this would be easier. However, we want to stop at Hakodate. The reason we would like to stop there is we would like to try to make reservations to travel the Seikan Tunnel and stop at Tappi-Kaitei and I understand that is one of the places to make a reservation. We would actually want to do this upon leaving Hokkaido about a week later. I'm very confused as to how to find an overnight train on the search that is of reasonable cost and doesn't transfer trains at 11:30 pm (when kids would be asleep). Any advise would be great.

Thank you in advance for any help!
Brandi

brandip
brandip

Hello Brandi,

I assume that you are using Hyperdia for planning your itinerary? Hyperdia always displays different fares and ticket prices. These are what you would pay for a given route, if you don't use a JR Pass. For instance have a look at the route Sendai - Tokyo&arv_node=TOKYO&via_node01=&via_node02=&via_node03=&year=2014&month=07&day=07&hour=07&minute=13&search_type=0&search_way=&transtime=undefined&sort=0&max_route=5&airplane=off&ship=off&bus=off&privately=off&lmlimit=null&search_target=route&facility=reserved&sum_target=7). You can see the following price: Total:¥ 11,200 (Fare:¥ 5,940 Seat Fee:¥ 5,260) The total is the fare you would pay for the itinerary. Which is made up of the fare - the price for the distance traveled and the seat fee, which is a special charge for Shinkansen and other high speed trains, local trains don't have this. Lastly you may also see the reserved seat fee, this is the price you pay for reserving a seat in advance. All these are included in the JR Pass.

Also good to know may be that you can leave the option on NOZOMI / MIZUHO / HAYABUSA (SHINKANSEN) between Hokkaido and Tokyo, as the Hayabusa train is included in the JR Pass. Once you travel south of Tokyo, take this option off as the Nozomi and Mizuho trains are not.

As for night trains, there are only a view night trains remaining in Japan and they don't run every day of the week. These night trains are generally booked full well in advance and my advise actually would be to use the Shinkansen during the day.

Hope this helps!
Daniel

72a8815842aa5db137c135807bd6bb11?s=50&d=mm
Daniel-san
Expert_button_2

Daniel,

Thank you for your response. You were correct that I was using Hyperdia and I hoped that was the case as far as the cost. We have decided to take your advice and look into other options than the overnight train. Now we think we might spend the night just outside of Tokyo when we arrive and travel up the coast to Matsushima. We realized that day will be the 23rd so we are going to go up to Omagari to see the fireworks. Do you know if it would be more better to stay that night in Akita due to the amount of people who will be attending the competition?

Also, how do you reserve seats on the train? Can we do it before we arrive in the country and activate our passes? I would like to have seats reserved for the first few days of our trip ahead of time since we have 4 adults and 2 kids traveling together.

Thank you again for all of your help.
Brandi

brandip
brandip

Hi Brandi,

Glad to hear that you can make the journey by day. About Omagari, I've not been to the fireworks myself so it's hard for me to say. In general though, fireworks are immensely popular and it may be better to stay near Akita, an other option is to reserve your accommodation well in advance.

For seat reservation, the best thing is to go the a JR Station and make the seat reservations in person. It is also possible to reserve seats in advance in the Tohoku region online using this website: http://www.eki-net.com/pc/jreast-shinkansen-reservation/English/wb/common/Menu/Menu.aspx

Hope this helps too!
Daniel

72a8815842aa5db137c135807bd6bb11?s=50&d=mm
Daniel-san
Expert_button_2

Daniel,

Do you know much about the hotels? We have looked into some and need one with 2 beds for 4 people (2 adults and 2 small children). Every time we plug that in to a website it tells us to get 2 rooms. This seems a bit odd since the kids are very young (under 6). Is this an unusual request for hotel rooms? I have read that it is easier to book rooms over the internet or via e-mail. Do we just need to try to book all of the rooms through e-mail to get the accommodations that we need? Thank you again in advance.

Brandi

brandip
brandip

Hi Again!

Hotels can be a little tricky. I don't have children myself (not yet anyway) and don't have experience booking hotels for them. What I would recommend is using hotel booking websites for Japan, such as Japanican.com and search using your own preferences. In general, booking websites do work a lot better than e-mail. Other booking websites you could also try include agoda and bookings.com.

Hope this helps with the bookings!
Daniel

72a8815842aa5db137c135807bd6bb11?s=50&d=mm
Daniel-san
Expert_button_2

Daniel,

Thank you for all of your help. I will check out some of the booking websites you suggested.

Brandi

brandip
brandip

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.