questions & answers: using the japan rail pass

japan railpass traveling from kyushu to hokkaido

Japan Railpass Traveling from Kyushu to Hokkaido


I am planning my trip to Japan and I need some help. I want to start my journey in Fukuoka and wanna travel across Kyushu (e.g. Kagoshima, Beppu, Nagasaki, Miyazaki) and after that I wanna head to Hokkaido (Sapporo, Hakodate, Kushiro).

I am going to buy a 7 day Japan Rail Pass.

My questions are:

Which kinds of trains I am allowed to take?

I know that I am not allowed to take NOZOMI and Mizuho Shinkansen.

Which kind of local trains, Shinkansens and JR buses I am allowed to take which the Japan Rail Pass?

Do I need a reservation for a night train, even if I am staying in a typical seat which I would use, in case if I would travel by day? I don't need a sleeping bed/seat.

Please, can you help me.

Thank you very much.


Well first, you don't give enough info on your plans. You write you wish to start in Fukuoka, but where will you leave Japan from? To see all the places you mention, then presumably go back to Tokyo to leave the country within 7 days is simply not realistic. To travel from Fukuoka (Hakata) to Hakodate in a best case scenario (taking a Nozomi, which you already stated you can't) would take almost 11½ hours, completely murdering a whole day. Without the Nozomi it'd take well over 12 hours on a train.

So you could certainly try that, and definitely get your money's worth, but it is not at all practical.

If you could extend your trip, use a 14 day pass, and visit some places along the way, it would be a lot more enjoyable and less frenzied.

If you can't, the only real practical solution is to see Kyushu on a JR Kyushu Rail Pass, then fly to Hokkaido - you can fly very cheaply these days from Fukuoka to Sapporo for less than US$90 one way and arrive in less than 2½ - with plenty of time to do more sightseeing in the day. Look into a ticket on Jet Star or ANA's Experience Japan Fare. There are regional rail passes for Hokkaido too.

For what trains and buses are and are not eligible on a JR Pass, see this info.

Personally, I would just use a week and see either Kyushu or Hokkaido. There is more than enough in both to take up a week's worth of travel. For Fukuoka, don't miss the Nanzoin Temple which is one of Japan's finest yet almost totally unknown to the outside world. There is a lot that could fill an entire day - see here. Kagoshima could fill up a whole day nicely too - Sakurajima is wonderful, plus the Senganen Garden is superb. Beppu is famous for its hot springs, but its Hells Tour, plus monkey park/aquarium are all terrific. Nagasaki is the most interesting city on the island and worth a couple of days. Miyazaki is famous for Takachiho but you can't use any JR Pass to get there.

Good luck!



Sorry I forgot to mention that I am flying into Okinawa. After Okinawa I will be flying to Fukuoka. I want to visit a few cities like Nagasaki, Kumamoto, Kagoshima, Miyazaki and Beppu. I don't wanna spend 1 whole day in a city. That's the reason I wanna see as much as possible.

I want to spend 3 days in total in Kyushu after that I am going to Sapporo by train.

So this will be my second trip to Japan, I have already seen places like Hiroshima, Osaka, Kyoto, Nagoya, Nikko, Nara, Mt. Fuji, Yokohama , Kobe, Miyajima and Tokyo. That's the reason I don't want to visit these parts of Japan.

After that I want to go Sapporo by Shinkansen, leaving from Fukuoka.
I will spend 2-3 days in Hokkaido and after that I will take the train back to Tokyo to fly back home

I just wanted to know, if I can take local or express trains and if they are included in the Japan Rail Pass or do I have to buy the JR Kyushu or JR Hokkaido Pass?

After reading the terms and condition of the Japan Rail Pass, I couldn't find the informations which I needed. To be honest I don't wanna buy two different kind of Rail Passes like the JR local pass and the Japan Rail Pass.

Travel itinerary

27th June - 30th June Okinawa
1st July Okinawa to Fukuoka by plane
2nd July First day of my Japan Rail Pass
2nd - 4th July traveling across Kyushu, Kagoshima, Nagasaki, Miyazaki, Beppu
5th July Fukuoka to Sapporo by Shinkansen
6th-7th Sapporo, Kushiro, Wakkanai

8th of July Sapporo to Tokyo by Shinkansen. Last day of the Japan Rail Pass
9th - 11th July Tokyo

I do really appreciate your help.

Thank you very much in advance.


Hi there,

It's going to be quite a journey but the JR Pass covers the Shinkansen all the way from Kagoshima to Aomori and the limited express trains from there to Sapporo.

You can't use the Mizuho/Nozomi Services between Kagoshima - Tokyo but you can use the Sakura and Hikari Shinkansen instead.

So the JR Pass works for the itinerary above but it's going to be a crazy trip!

Hope this helps,

Expert button 2

Hello Toraneko and Daniel-san,

Thank you really much for answering all the questions regarding Japan Rail Pass.

You two, are doing a great job.

All the best.

Best Regards,



As it says in the link I provided above, under JAPAN RAIL PASS Scope of Validity, "All JR Group Railways-Shinkansen"bullet trains" (except any reserved or non-reserved seat on “NOZOMI” and “MIZUHO” trains) limited express trains, express trains, and rapid or local trains, and the BRT. (With some exceptions)". So you can take limited express and express trains as well.

However, it is simply not possible to go from Hakata to Sapporo by rail in one day, even if you were to leave on the earliest bullet train from Fukuoka. At best you can make it up to Hakodate, then the following morning take another train for the last 3½ hour leg into Sapporo.

Three days in Kyushu for all the places that you mentioned is not actually seeing much, if anything - certainly not leisurely - to be candid. You could drop Miyazaki from the itinerary as well if you are going at such a pace - there is not much there that is worth the time of trying to do it in a day (actually you'd be spending more time on the train getting in and getting out than you'd be able to be there).

It will also take about 4 hours one way to get from Sapporo to Kushiro. Sapporo to Wakkanai is just over 5 hours one way.
Kushiro to Wakkanai would be going through Sapporo, and take 9½ hours, so that is not going to happen unless you just want to spend all your time on trains.
It is simply not possible to travel all over in Hokkaido in just 2 days and see anything. I love your spirit - but you are being too ambitious. Plus to go from Sapporo to Tokyo by train will take another 9½ hours.

I suggest you use a site like Hyperdia to check rail times, and adjust your itinerary accordingly.

Best of luck.


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