questions & answers: using the japan rail pass

12 days jr pass & itinerary suggestion for hokkaido, tohoku & tokyo

12 Days JR pass & itinerary suggestion for Hokkaido, Tohoku & Tokyo


I'll be traveling solo to Japan for the first time in Oct/Nov for 12 days. I plan to do Hokkaido & Tohoku with a bit of Tokyo. I need your help in suggesting two things - firstly is my below given itinerary good or does it need any changes and secondly which JR Pass would be best suited for me.

28/10/16: Arrive at Tokyo Narita Airport & and travel via JR Train to Sendai. Explore the town.
I'll be traveling to Japan for the first time in Oct/Nov for 12 days. I plan to do Hokkaido & Tohoku with a bit of Tokyo. I need your help in suggesting two things - firstly is my itinerary good to go and secondly which JR Pass will be ideal for me. This is my planned itinerary:

29/10/16: Leave Sendai early morning to travel to Yamagata, Zao Onsen and check-in at a Hotel

30/10/16: Leave early morning to travel to Matsushima. Do local sightseeing & spend the night here.

31/10/16: Take train to Hakodate. Spend 2 nights here. Explore the city on tram. Spend an evening on Mount Hakodate.

1/11/16 : Explore Hakodate & Lake Toya

2/11/16: Take train to Noboribetsu. Visit the Noboribetsu onsen, the Jigokudani (Hell Valley) and the Oyunuma Pond. Spend a night here.

3/11/16 : Take the JR train to Sapporo. Explore the local attractions

4/11/16: Take a train to Furano. Then head to Farm Tomita followed by Biei for the Shirahige Waterfall and Blue River. Return to Sapporo at night

5/11/16 : Visit Sapporo morning market and have a day trip to Otaru.

6/11/16: Take a JR train/Flight back to Tokyo

7/11/16 : Explore Mt. Fuji. Or Tokyo cities - Harajuku, Asakusa, etc

8/11/16: Return home from Tokyo

Thanks in advance!


Hello there,

Looks like a lot of fun! The route is logical and I don't have any improvements there.

My advice for the places you plan to visit is: keep the season in mind. It will be colder already in November and not everything may be open. For instance, Furano and Biei won't have any flowers (what they are famous for). Instead, you could add a visit to one of the national parks, like Onuma Koen or hike around Asahi-dake.

I would also recommend a visit to Yamadera near Yamagata, it's best visited during the fall season and very beautiful. It's half a day trip from Yamagata.

For the JR Pass and return to Tokyo. I recommend using a 14 day JR Pass, you can make very good savings compared to normal tickets and the train back to Tokyo is also fully covered. On the return to Tokyo, it does take about 7 hours by train but it is free and much more relaxed than flying. You just get on the train and there is only one transfer at Shin-Hakodate.

Hope this helps,


Thanks a lot. Very useful.

Just one last query. I hope the long train journey won't make me too tired and i won't waste too much time in traveling. Someone suggested to take a flight to Sendai instead of a train.


Hi again,

Sorry for the late reply, I thought I had already done so.

Trains in Japan are really comfortable, better than economy class on flights. I would just take the train if you go to Sendai but flying is not a bad alternative.


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