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Travel in Japan over winter holidays/New Years

about 3 years ago
4 responses

Hi. We are a family of four who will be traveling to Japan over our winter holidays this year, Dec. 20, 2014-Jan. 2, 2015. I have been reading the posts in the forum, but I would still like to have someone look over our itinerary to see if it makes sense and meets the requirements/restrictions of a JRPass (14day), since I speak NO Japanese and figuring it out there could be difficult. Could you take a look at it and let me know what you think?

Several questions:

  1. We will each be traveling with a large rolling duffle for luggage. Will it be hard to store the luggage on the trains during any of this busy traveling season?

  2. Should we have any trouble getting seat reservations for the various trains if we wait to do it when we arrive at Narita and get our passes?

  3. I might consider getting the Green Car passes (First Class), if it would mean we would have an easier time getting seat reservations, and also alleviate any luggage storage difficulties. I don't care so much about the luxury aspect, but want to have our travel be simple and easy and without complication (as much as possible). Do you think it's worth it?

  4. Would Green Card passes mean we could take the Nozomi trains to/from Tokyo to Kyoto? That might be worth it in an of itself.

  5. Can you remind me if the Tokyo-Kyoto and Kyoto-Tokyo trains are covered by the JRPass as long as they are not Nozomi trains? If not, do we need to buy tickets separately? How?

  6. Finally, you will see that I have simplified our itinerary to minimize train transfers when possible, sensing that this might be the best way to avoid problems. Do you see anything else I could do to simplify?

Okay, I think that's it. Here's the plan. Please let me know if you see any problems or things that can be simplified.


December 21
Arrive Narita Intl, Airport. At airport, trade in JR vouchers for actual passes.
Train to Tokyo Central Station. Night in hotel near train station.

December 22
Train from Tokyo Central Station to Nagano
#513 Shinkansen Asama dep. Tokyo 9:52am - arr. Nagano 11:26am

Nagano Electric Railway Ltd. Express (must buy these tickets at Nagano station?)
dep. Nagano 12:08pm - arr. Yudanaka 12:54pm

Stay 2 nights at ryokan in Shibu

December 24
Train from Yudanaka Station to Nagano
Nagano Electric Railway Ltd. Express (must buy these tickets at Nagano station?)
dep. 11:58am - arr. 12:44pm

Train from Nagano to Tokyo Central Station
526 Shinkansen Asama, dep. Nagano 13:10pm - arr. Tokyo 14:56pm

stay 5 nights in Tokyo

December 29
Train from Tokyo Central Station to Kyoto (Central)
469 Shinkansen Hikari
dep Tokyo 11:03am - arr. Kyoto 13:47pm

stay 4 nights in Kyoto, over New Years

January 2
Train from Kyoto Station to Narita Airport
462 Shinkansen Hikari
dep. Kyoto 9:56am - arr. Tokyo Central Station, 12:40pm

27 Narita Express
dep. Tokyo Central Station 13:03pm - arr Narita 14:02pm

Flight leaves Narita Intl. at 6:15pm

12201 posts
about 3 years ago
Expert button 2

Hello there,

1.) Luggage should not be too much of a problem most trains have a decent amount of space to store your suitcases.

2.) Reservations should not be a problem either. The period around new year is always busy so make your reservations 3-4 days in advance, this way you won't encounter any problems.

3.) Personally I would consider Green Class to skip some of the traveling crowds and enjoy a bit more relaxation whilst traveling. However Green Class will not give you better chances for seat reservations or luggage storage.

4.) Nozomi trains are not included in any JR Pass, so this is also not a reason to go for a Green pass.

5.) Yes they are completely covered!

6.) It all looks good, you've done your research well. There is no unnecessary travel time.

I feel my answer is a bit short compared to your post but I think that I covered everything. Let me know if you have any questions or remarks.

Happy travels!

4 posts
about 3 years ago


Thank you so much for your feedback. It's true, I'm rather thorough. But your confirmation of our plans takes a real load off of my mind, as we've never traveled to Japan before, I know nothing of the language (I usually try to gain some working knowledge of the language to ease the travel a bit, but it's not happening this time), and it's a busy time of year. I just didn't want to miss anything. I appreciate so much your taking the time to look things over.


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