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johnnychips

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Good evening

I will be visiting Japan at Easter for two weeks, and apart from knowing I will be arriving and departing from Tokyo, I haven't planned anything yet. I'm too old for this to be an InterRail type multi-stop trip, so have any members any knowledge or suggestions:

- I believe there is an all-Japan Rail pass, whose website is only half-working at the moment. It suggests 14 days for £349 - but are there supplements to pay? I can't get the bit which says on which trains etc. it is valid, to load.

- If I had three bases, Tokyo would evidently be one, so where would you suggest the other two could be?

- Are there any 'must see' railways (obviously apart from the bullet trains?)

- What about travel in cities - is it like Oyster cards?

- I read on the Foreign Office website that ATMs are rarer than the UK and may not accept UK cards anyway. Any comments?

- Do many people speak English?

- Are the toilets like Chinese ones? (Rather a strain for my creaking knees!)

In fact, any advice at all would be gratefully received, and I know I will get some good stuff off the members of this forum.
 
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atillathehunn

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Osaka and Kyoto well worth a look in.

There are also some wonderful, DMU operated rural lines still knocking round on the West side of the country. Really quite an experience.

Toilets generally western style, but it depends where you are and how much you're paying for your stay. Some places have a mixture of both.

Bring a stack of cash. HSBC will accept British cards, though. More international restaurants and hotels will accept cards, but don't rely on this.
 

tfzoofss

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24 Sep 2016
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2
Good evening

I will be visiting Japan at Easter for two weeks, and apart from knowing I will be arriving and departing from Tokyo, I haven't planned anything yet. I'm too old for this to be an InterRail type multi-stop trip, so have any members any knowledge or suggestions:

- I believe there is an all-Japan Rail pass, whose website is only half-working at the moment. It suggests 14 days for £349 - but are there supplements to pay? I can't get the bit which says on which trains etc. it is valid, to load.

- If I had three bases, Tokyo would evidently be one, so where would you suggest the other two could be?

- Are there any 'must see' railways (obviously apart from the bullet trains?)

- What about travel in cities - is it like Oyster cards?

- I read on the Foreign Office website that ATMs are rarer than the UK and may not accept UK cards anyway. Any comments?

- Do many people speak English?

- Are the toilets like Chinese ones? (Rather a strain for my creaking knees!)

In fact, any advice at all would be gratefully received, and I know I will get some good stuff off the members of this forum.
- The fixed price of JR Pass standard class is 46390 yen for 14 days and the prize in British Pound depends on which company do you purchase in. It covers all the trains, some of the buses and ferry routes operated by JR, including Shinkansen bullet train (Except "Nozomi" and "Mizuho", the fastest train type on Tokaido, Sanyo and Kyushu Shinkansen). For Limited Express and Shinkansen trains, you can even make seat reservation for reserved seat carriages.

- I highly recommend Kyoto (& Osaka), as well as Hiroshima for tourists first time to visit.

- There are so many to see in Japan with excellent view. The most popular attraction for local train is the Tadami Line in Fukushima Preference, but it is located in north east of Japan. There are also lots of sightseeing railway.

- If you arrive at Tokyo, a Suica card is equivalent to Oyster Card. It can be used in the entire Japan (except Okinawa). It is even more functional as it can be used for shopping such as convenience store and vending machine. You can get it from ticket machine, where english instruction is available. Note that some of the private railways and JR in rural areas do not accept Suica.

- Not sure if it accepts UK card or not. Japan is generally a cash society where cash is more preferred than credit card. ATM can be found in convenience stores.

- English ability of Japanese is relatively lower in Asian countries. For main tourist attractions, hotels and big train stations in big cities, staffs are able to speak some English but may be with Japanese accent. Most of the signs in railway stations provide English translation.

- There are still a few toilets using the old squat toilet. Nowadays Japanese toilets are even more advanced than British and they are called "Washlet". These toilet seats provide several buttons for cleaning our body after usage, as well as open/closing automatically. It also has a heating option for winter use.
 

Giugiaro

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Good to see someone interested in travelling to Japan.

The Japan Rail Pass ( http://www.japanrailpass.net/ ) is a pass that can only be purchased outside of Japan by non-Japanese residents. If you're going to travel a lot, it may cost you much less in total to rely on the Pass, even with the surcharges.

I'd recommend you to have at least two Hubs. One at Tokyo, and one at Osaka.
At Osaka you're just an arms length from Kyoto, Kobe, Nara and Hiroshima. Each of the four cities from that zone of Japan will take a day to explore (Kyoto and Osaka probable two each), so plan well your journey.

From one of your journeys between Osaka and Tokyo, you can stop at Nagoya to stay a day to visit the city and the SCMaglev and Railway Park. There's also the Kyoto Railway Museum, but the SCMaglev is one you must not miss!

At Tokyo, there's the Saitama Railway Museum, probably the most important one in Japan, somewhat like the NRM in York.

While at Tokyo, if you can, try have a run at the Sotobo Line to Awa-Kamogawa. The scenery is beautiful, running both through urban areas, forests and beach. Get a return ticket right from Tokyo, or you'll find it harder to get it later in Kamogawa.

Travelling on JR is mostly like the British Rail Paper Ticket, and can be issued in any ticket office. There are also other private railway companies not integrated in JR, which may have different ticketing.
The best approach is to reach a Tourist Post and ask for information in local intermodal ticketing. Since most Metro are a "touch-in/touch-out" system, you can pay the lowest fare and then go to a Seisan-ki fare adjustment machine to pay the difference before leaving the station.
You should stand on the left side of the escalators, except in the Kansai region.

Long distance trains in Japan have two to three classes: Regular Jiyuu-seki (Unreserved), Regular ****ei-seki (Reserved), and Green Car (First Class).
****ei-seki and Green Car need to be reserved in advance, and a surcharge is applied, even with a railcard.

Visa is the most useful form of payment in Japan. But you'll find mostly cash&carry as the only option, so be prepared to search and lock onto an ATM. You'll probably be visiting it several times a day.

Japanese learn English at school since early age, but often it's broken and Americanized. Staff and Police generally are able to help quite effectively, but, just as it would be common elsewhere, getting away from major metropolitan areas will make finding a good English speaker increasingly harder.

There's a lot of vase style toilets, but be prepared since these ones are very high-tech, and English instructions are lacking. A lot of the modern ones have water and air sprays, music, built-in deodorant and other stuff to clean your buttocks free of paper and disguise your "service". If you find these to be too troublesome, you can either ask for help, or just resort to the gutter style toilets...

I have bought recently the Lonely Planet Japan Guidebook, and I would also recommend it for you. It makes the Portugal guidebook look like a joke, and there's a lot of interesting things that can be used in planning your journey.
I just learnt about a Private Model Rail Museum in Yokohama from this book, and probably there's a lot more to dig out from this book. Give it a shot at your local book shop before buying it. :)
--- old post above --- --- new post below ---
Look, I now that **** is an automatically censored word, but it's totally ruining my Japanese over here. You really do not want me to use actual 日本語 here, right? :)
 
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185

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Good to see someone interested in travelling to Japan.


Look, I now that **** is an automatically censored word, but it's totally ruining my Japanese over here. You really do not want me to use actual 日本語 here, right? :)

Is that like saying the ****ushima power station gave off a **** loud bang and it's now ****ed :lol:
 

rf_ioliver

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17 Apr 2011
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- Are there any 'must see' railways (obviously apart from the bullet trains?)

- Are the toilets like Chinese ones? (Rather a strain for my creaking knees!)

There is the line that was made famous by Microsoft's original Train Simulator :)

As for the toilets...a quick Google search will reveal highly automated things with more buttons and complexity than the trains....I have it on good authority that a wrong button press can be a "surprise" ...

t.

Ian
 

Giugiaro

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There is the line that was made famous by Microsoft's original Train Simulator :)

Which one of the two? The Hisatsu Line in Kyushu? Or the Odakyu Odawara Line + Hakone Tozan Line in Tokyo?

The Hisatsu Line is one worth the look, with outstanding scenery, but is far off to the South, in the Island of Kyushu.

The Odakyu Odawara Line would be interesting to have the experience of riding on one of the famous Romancecar Limited Express that the Odakyu Group is famous for.
The branch to Hakone-Yumoto isn't actually part of the Odakyu Odawara Line, and is actually part of the Hakone Tozan Line Mountain Railway, with change at Odawara station. It's important to note this since it will be awkward after these many years to ask for a Limited Express ticket to Hakone-Yumoto...


Another chance, from Dovetail Games Train Simulator, would be the recently released Wakayama & Sakurai Lines, near Osaka.
I already checked the Wakayama Line on Youtube and, to be sincere, it looks far better in real life than it does on the simulator. ;)
 

Three-Nine

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Hi, this is a quick reply as I'm a bit short on time this evening.

Japan Rail Passes are typically valid on "Kodoma" (stopping) and "Hikari" (limited stop express) shinkansen, not "Nozomi" (express) shinkansen. If you catch a "Nozomi" service you will have to pay a supplement. Seat reservations may be made for free if you hold a Japan Rail Pass. In certain parts of the country, these services are referred to by different names but typically have the same three tier-system, with the "express" service usually being prohibited to rail pass holders.

Travel in cities depends on which city. Many Japanese local lines in cities use a smartcard system (there are a number of different ones in use) but in Tokyo you are likely to be largely using the "Yamanote" line, which you can use the Japan Rail Pass on. Note that the Tokyo "Metro", which is a subway and separate from surface lines like the "Yamanote" or "Chuo" lines does not accept these passes. You can also buy day passes from ticket vending machines which normally have an English option at most stations.

If you make a mistake on a fare for a local journey or are unsure what fare to get, buy the cheapest and then you can "adjust" the fare at "fare adjustment" machines at the other end.

A good resource for Japanese train times is here:

http://www.hyperdia.com/en/

I'm not sure when Easter is next year but if it coincides with the cherry blossom season, you will probably want to book your accommodation some way ahead - my last trip to Tokyo back in April it was noticeable just how many more tourists there seemed to be than on previous trips and there have been news reports in the Japanese media that this putting pressure on hotel room availability.

Most Japanese post offices have a cash machine that should accept international cards; however, these can be restricted to use during the post office opening hours.

A new rail museum has recently opened near Kyoto.

I would suggest starting your trip in Osaka or Kyoto and head to Tokyo for the last week of your visit. You don't have to do it that way but Tokyo can be a bit overwhelming and the other two cities can help you "settle in" as it were. If you have the time, Kumamoto down South is a lovely small city in a slightly more rural area of Japan, though some of its main attractions were badly damaged in the recent earthquake.

Toilets are of three main types: Asian squat-type, Western-style, and ToiletBorg 3000. Care should be taken with the latter as misuse of the controls can result in arcs of water jetting across your room or nether regions...

In larger cities, enough English is usually spoken that you can get by but don't rely on it. Main stations are usually going to be better at handling English than smaller ones; try getting your request in writing as this may help. With the Olympics looming, the Japanese government is making a push to provide more information to foreign tourists, and at least in larger cities some businesses are making an effort to provide, for example, English language menus. You are most likely to have troubles in smaller towns or when ordering food at a more traditional restaurant.

It is possible to arrange visits or meetings with Japanese students or families and this can be a good way to get to know the people better; if you have any Japanese contacts now is the time to make use of them!

If you would like to PM me, I can send you a slightly tongue-in-cheek guide I've written about visiting Japan, not as a substitute for a guidebook but to cover some of the things I've found out through experience...
 
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J-2739

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Hi, this is a quick reply as I'm a bit short on time this evening.

Japan Rail Passes are typically valid on "Kodoma" (stopping) and "Hikari" (limited stop express) shinkansen, not "Nozomi" (express) shinkansen. If you catch a "Nozomi" service you will have to pay a supplement. Seat reservations may be made for free if you hold a Japan Rail Pass. In certain parts of the country, these services are referred to by different names but typically have the same three tier-system, with the "express" service usually being prohibited to rail pass holders.

Travel in cities depends on which city. Many Japanese local lines in cities use a smartcard system (there are a number of different ones in use) but in Tokyo you are likely to be largely using the "Yamanote" line, which you can use the Japan Rail Pass on. Note that the Tokyo "Metro", which is a subway and separate from surface lines like the "Yamanote" or "Chuo" lines does not accept these passes. You can also buy day passes from ticket vending machines which normally have an English option at most stations.

If you make a mistake on a fare for a local journey or are unsure what fare to get, buy the cheapest and then you can "adjust" the fare at "fare adjustment" machines at the other end.

A good resource for Japanese train times is here:

http://www.hyperdia.com/en/

I'm not sure when Easter is next year but if it coincides with the cherry blossom season, you will probably want to book your accommodation some way ahead - my last trip to Tokyo back in April it was noticeable just how many more tourists there seemed to be than on previous trips and there have been news reports in the Japanese media that this putting pressure on hotel room availability.

Most Japanese post offices have a cash machine that should accept international cards; however, these can be restricted to use during the post office opening hours.

A new rail museum has recently opened near Kyoto.

I would suggest starting your trip in Osaka or Kyoto and head to Tokyo for the last week of your visit. You don't have to do it that way but Tokyo can be a bit overwhelming and the other two cities can help you "settle in" as it were. If you have the time, Kumamoto down South is a lovely small city in a slightly more rural area of Japan, though some of its main attractions were badly damaged in the recent earthquake.

Toilets are of three main types: Asian squat-type, Western-style, and ToiletBorg 3000. Care should be taken with the latter as misuse of the controls can result in arcs of water jetting across your room or nether regions...

In larger cities, enough English is usually spoken that you can get by but don't rely on it. Main stations are usually going to be better at handling English than smaller ones; try getting your request in writing as this may help. With the Olympics looming, the Japanese government is making a push to provide more information to foreign tourists, and at least in larger cities some businesses are making an effort to provide, for example, English language menus. You are most likely to have troubles in smaller towns or when ordering food at a more traditional restaurant.

It is possible to arrange visits or meetings with Japanese students or families and this can be a good way to get to know the people better; if you have any Japanese contacts now is the time to make use of them!

If you would like to PM me, I can send you a slightly tongue-in-cheek guide I've written about visiting Japan, not as a substitute for a guidebook but to cover some of the things I've found out through exnce...

Oh, can you send me a PM too? Japan has always been one of those places I must visit!!
 

WideRanger

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It's now much easier to use ATMs in Japan. International cards are accepted in Post Offices (watch the opening times, though), as well as a lot of convinience stores. HSBC has closed down in Japan. Credit Card are increasingly accepted too. You'll be asked a strange question each time you use it - how many times do you want to pay. This relates to the Japanese system of specifying how many instalments you will pay in. It's irrelevent to foreign cards so just say 'one' if the cashier persists

Japan Rail passes can be used on all day trains run by the JR group except Nozomi and Mizuho trains. You cannot use these trains at all, even by paying a surcharge. Most of the lines suggested above are run by private operators - you can't use it on these either. The normal rule of thumb for Japan railpasses is that the breakeven point (as opposed to buying normal tickets) is normally a return shinkansen ticket from Tokyo to Kyoto. They are never worthwhile if you are predominantly going to be using local trains. If you are going to spend significant time in Tokyo, a one week JR railpass (targetted just on the time you are doing long-distance travel) will be better value than a two week one. Not a thing to say on a Railway forum, but planes are almost always cheaper than shinkansen if you book in advance.

Don't bother with 'Green Car' tickets if you are using the shinkansen. They are not worth the extra money. The standard class seats on most trains are superior to UK First Class.

Remember that there are often two competing railways between many places. The privately run ones are normally cheaper than JR. This is especially the case between Narita airport and Tokyo, where the most famous JR Airport express train is 3 times more expensive than the local commuter trains run by the priavte company and not significantly quicker.

If you are going at Easter, you might want to think about using the Seishun 18 Kippu (translates roughly to Youth ticket). It's actually available to anyone (most users are 'older'), and is very, very cheap - at current exchange rates it's about £40 for 5 days of unlimited travel (which don't have to be consecutive). The down side is that you can only use the slowest local trains. I personally prefer it if I'm not in a rush, because they have much more character (shinkansen can be quite clinical), and you can get a driver's eye view most of the time. You can also buy them at any JR station in Japan.

As others have said, Tokyo and Kyoto are the most important cities for typical Japanese experience. Nara and Himeji are worth seeing for the old buildings. I wouldn't bother with Osaka - it's Japan's answer to Birmingham but without the culture, and it's just as easy to base yourself in Kyoto. Hiroshima has the Atomic Bomb memorial park, which is depressing in the extreme and Miyajima, which is quite nice. There's not much else there.

I personally think the cities can be overrated, it's the coutryside that's really great in Japan. If you have the time, and the right ticket, it's worth going to:
- Sakurajima and Aso, two active volcanos in Kyushu
- The countryside around Takayama, north of Nagoya, for nice mountains and traditional villages
- Kamakura, for temples etc very easily accesible from Tokyo
- Nikko, for some spectacular scenary, and relatively close to Tokyo.
- Mount Fuji - but don't make a special trip, the best view is from any of the trains from Tokyo to Osaka on the Tokaido lines (both Shinkansen and traditional lines)

The Saitama Railway museum is very good (the driving simulators are great - watching visitors dressed up in railway staff uniform to use the simulators is even funnier). However it is a bit of a faff to get to.

English is spoken widely in the big cities, but less in out of the way places. However, most Japanese will try really hard to communicate somehow - they will be more embarrassed than you.
 

rf_ioliver

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Which one of the two? The Hisatsu Line in Kyushu? Or the Odakyu Odawara Line + Hakone Tozan Line in Tokyo?

Been a long time, forgot there were two Japanese lines in MSTS...I guess then if you're in the Tokyo area that the Odawara + Hakone line is a must I hear. I believe there are some spas in Hakone which are well worth visiting?

t.

Ian
 

Three-Nine

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One slightly less advertised advantage of the Japan Rail Pass is that if you need a loo, you can always pop into a Japan Rail station using your pass and use their public facilities... :)
 

theageofthetra

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Could you also PM me that guide. Some very useful info, thanks. Are there any advantages to using an agent here to book train tickets? I found it useful for China with the ticket being delivered by courier to your hotel, yes it was more expensive but saved a lot of queuing and translation issues over there.
 

johnnychips

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Thank you again. I bought my plane tickets today (return Manchester-Tokyo) so I will start planning, and no doubt be back with further questions!
 

dutchflyer

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about Japan Rail Pass:
that for 7 days is about equal to a SKS-return Tokyo-Osaka/Kyoto
that for 14 days is about equal to a SKS-return Tokyo-Kyushu (end of line).
Money saving tip if open for more; JR also runs overnight buses (dreambus) from Tokyo to Kyoto/Osaka, which are coverd by that pass (advance REServation needed-can be done at any green window), you can even use it on the very last day of validity-to arrive next morning. Comfy separate seats business-class style (3 separate rows).
For the free REServations, many stations have small leaflets with the translation-you fill it out and hand over to clerk.
And Japan still has lots of printed timetable books-in any bookstall in stations, vary in size, some have some english. Most pass-sellers give you a free small main-trains only printed timetable with it.
You need to exchange the pass-voucher for the real thing when in JPN-can only be done at major stations, but in about any town with INT airports.
 

theageofthetra

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Are there any decent English websites for steam or other heritage operations which would be operating this Nov? -I have found some sites online but most seem out of date
 

WideRanger

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Are there any decent English websites for steam or other heritage operations which would be operating this Nov? -I have found some sites online but most seem out of date

I don't know of any simple way. This website (https://www.jreast.co.jp/e/joyful/index.html) gives details of all of the Joyful (i.e. special) trains in the JR East area, which includes the running steam trains. In many cases you can use JR rail passes for these trains with a small supplement.

I can only find the timetables for each train in a simple format in Japanese. But you can work them out in English with a bit of work. Use Hyperdia, entering in the names of the two end stations given for the train run. After it suggests a train, click on the 'Interval Timetable' option, which should give you a list of all trains running between the two stations on the day you have chosen. Look for the train name that corresponds to the special you want. Then repeat the process for any days you might be in the area until you find a day when the train appears in the timetable. You'll need to buy a seat reservation once you get to Japan (you can do this from any JR station anywhere in the country).

Or get a friend who can read Japanese to look on the Japanese pages, where the dates of operation can be found.
 

theageofthetra

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Thats usefull- where are you getting the links to the timetables (even if in Japanese) Thx
 

WideRanger

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Thats usefull- where are you getting the links to the timetables (even if in Japanese) Thx

What you need to do is convert the name of the train in English into Japanese. For some of them you can do that by putting the english name into Wikipedia (English version), and it will give the Japanese name in brackets at the top of the article. As an example, if you want to use SL Banetsu Monogatari (Which translates as: 'SL'=Steam Locomotive, 'Banetsu' is the name of the line which it runs on, 'Monogatari' roughly means story) the name in Japanese script is ばんえつ物語 (It misses out the SL bit)

Then copy and paste that into Google, and try to see if there are any JR-East websites that come up. In this case https://www.jreast.co.jp/railway/joyful/c57.html

The calender of operation is at the bottom of the page. In Japanese, the format for months is <year>年<number of month>月
 

theageofthetra

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I've booked flights- very good value at the moment with Air France. Into Tokyo and out of Osaka and have about 3 1/2 weeks this November.

I have been dealing with a local agent who seems to suggest that although they can book a ticket on a couple of the steam and other tourist trains in Kyushu a seat can't be booked until I arrive in Japan. This sort of defeats the object of booking in advance as I have been advised that seats on the SL Hiyotoshi in particular sell out as soon as the 30 day window opens. Is it the case that a seat reservation can't be made on any Japanese train until you are in the country?

I am unsure about the railpass as there seem to be so many exceptions as to which services it can be used on.

I will probably fly Tokyo to to Kumamoto (will rent a car there) and then use rail back via Hiroshima to Kyoto with a few day rail trips in Tokyo and Kyoto.

Any advice appreciated
 

Three-Nine

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As far as I'm aware, seat reservations on regular Japanese trains can only be made in- country (though presumably travel agencies may have a means to do so?) but for non-"special" trains this is not normally a problem; reservations can be made on most trains up to departure, though bear in mind that staff don't always give you a lot of time to get to the platform.

The value of the railpass really does depend a bit on what you're planning to do; I've once made a similar journey to what you seem to be doing and didn't buy a pass but on all my other trips I have, at least in part because most of them involved lengthy shinkansen trips. As others have commented, the "break-even" point seems to be a couple of trips roughly the distance between Tokyo and Kyoto, though just for convenience alone the pass can be useful. The "restrictions" you mention, unless you're planning on a lot of trips on private (non-JR) railways, are really a minor issue.

Kumamoto is a lovely city but suffered quite badly during the recent earthquake; I would normally have recommended a visit to Kumamoto castle but it was badly damaged during the quake; the beautiful Suzenji garden was also damaged but not I believe to the same extent and is well worth a visit. Kikuchi Gorge is approx an hours drive from Kumamoto and is a really scenic location - get a fish-on-a-stick from the seller at the gorge entrance, they're incredible!
 
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WideRanger

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As far as I'm aware, seat reservations on regular Japanese trains can only be made in- country (though presumably travel agencies may have a means to do so?) but for non-"special" trains this is not normally a problem; reservations can be made on most trains up to departure, though bear in mind that staff don't always give you a lot of time to get to the platform.

The value of the railpass really does depend a bit on what you're planning to do; I've once made a similar journey to what you seem to be doing and didn't buy a pass but on all my other trips I have, at least in part because most of them involved lengthy shinkansen trips. As others have commented, the "break-even" point seems to be a couple of trips roughly the distance between Tokyo and Kyoto, though just for convenience alone the pass can be useful. The "restrictions" you mention, unless you're planning on a lot of trips on private (non-JR) railways, are really a minor issue.

Kumamoto is a lovely city but suffered quite badly during the recent earthquake; I would normally have recommended a visit to Kumamoto castle but it was badly damaged during the quake; the beautiful Suzenji garden was also damaged but not I believe to the same extent and is well worth a visit. Kikuchi Gorge is approx an hours drive from Kumamoto and is a really scenic location - get a fish-on-a-stick from the seller at the gorge entrance, they're incredible!

JR will only allow you to get a reservation at the same time or after you have a ticket. If you are getting a JR railpass, you will only receive your ticket when you exchange your voucher at a railway station. That's why you can't get a reservation now.

Most of the time, reservations really aren't necessary, unless you are travelling during the main holiday periods (Look up 'Golden Week', 'Silver Week' and 'Obon'). The vast majority of trains have non-reseved carriages, and you can walk up and get on. And most of the reservations are made on the day of travel anyway, so you can always go to the station 30 minutes before your planned train, and normally get a reserved seat. This is especially the case between Tokyo and Kyoto/Osaka where there is a train every few minutes. It may be tighter on the steam trains - I have never tried.

Kumamoto is proper Japan, and I agree it is a great idea. If you can make side trips to Mount Aso and Kagoshima, you'll enjoy it. If you are doing it that way, don't start your JR-Rail pass until after you have arrived in Kumamoto. You may get away with just getting the one-week ticket.
 

theageofthetra

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Good point re a one week pass to get from Kumamoto to Osaka. As it is too expensive staying in Kyoto I would be using the Shinkansen to visit from Osaka too, so may be worth it.
 

WideRanger

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Good point re a one week pass to get from Kumamoto to Osaka. As it is too expensive staying in Kyoto I would be using the Shinkansen to visit from Osaka too, so may be worth it.

Bear in mind that Kyoto is very close to Osaka, and you really don't have to be restricted to using Shinkansen for travel between the two. The local trains (both JR and provate) are pretty quick, and much, much cheaper than Shinkansen if you don't have a JR rail pass.

If you want a cheap hotel chain, try Toyoko Inn. It's like Premier Inn but with Smaller (but much cleaner) rooms. They have an english language website too.
 

dutchflyer

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17 Oct 2013
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In fact beside SKS there are 3 ways to commute Os-Ky: by JR-normal and by 2 private raiwlays, wich are among the cheapest on JPN- I remember fares in the 300/400 JPY range-slightly over 2 GBP (still). Both towns also have daytickets for the metro only and for metro+bus or with few rides use the national SUICA chipcard. A tourist magnet is also Nara-slightly to the east and of course with frequent links with both.
 

Three-Nine

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Going back to sightseeing in the Kumamoto area, the Mt. Aso area is beautiful but unfortunately might be best to avoid it for a while, the volcano there erupted last night (ash and rocks I understand) and further activity is expected. Kumamoto prefecture really has not had much luck this year...
 

theageofthetra

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27 May 2012
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Found a very useful heritage rail site for Japan- Japanese Restored Steam Trains
http://homepage3.nifty.com/EF57/museum/E-museum.htm.

So will be using a UK agent to book the following steam/scenic services as they can sell out as soon as the 30 day window opens

Arrive Tokyo

1) The steam service on the Chichibu line near Tokyo

Have a week in Tokyo then flying on one of the cheap ANA flights to help attract tourists back to Kyushu. There are also massive hotel subsidies being paid by the Government to attract tourists back. £75 off a two night stay for example.

2) SL Hiyotoshi steam trip from Kumamoto to Hiyotoshi on Kyushu

3) Will do a trip down to Ibusuki changing at Kagoshima for the scenic service with the seats which all face the sea - the interiors look impressive too.

4) May squeeze in the A Train scenic trip from Kumamoto too.

Head over to Beppu where will have a car for a couple of days to explore.

Train Beppu (via the coastal route) to Yudaonsen near Yagoshima for a couple of days to visit Hagi and the caves in Akiyoshidai then

5) SL Yamaguchi steam trip up to the village of Tsuwano

Train to Hiroshima for a couple of nights then a night in Himeji and 6 nights in Osaka.

Am amazed how many regular JR lines run steam on a almost weekly basis even in November. I would say it rivals the UK, Australia or NZ for the enthusiasm for and availability of heritage and scenic rail. On top of that there are all the 'Joyful' or scenic trains all over Japan of which I hope to squeeze a few more in.

Given that a flight with decent times with a major carrier was available for just £500 a month before travel I can see myself going back in late spring (avoiding Golden Week) to do some more of the heritage rail trips and hopefully do Hokkaido and the central Alps
 

johnnychips

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19 Nov 2011
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3,022
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All hotels etc booked and Japan Rail Pass ordered.

I was wondering if any readers had experience of the Pasmo or Suica charge cards that can be used on the metros and buses. It seems that when they were brought out they were geographically restricted to Tokyo, but that use has since been extended to other areas. I have done a lot of Googling and I get the impression I could use one or the other in both Tokyo and Kyoto but not Nagasaki - these are the three places I am staying.

Has anybody any knowledge or experience of these?
 

anme

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8 Aug 2013
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1,777
All hotels etc booked and Japan Rail Pass ordered.

I was wondering if any readers had experience of the Pasmo or Suica charge cards that can be used on the metros and buses. It seems that when they were brought out they were geographically restricted to Tokyo, but that use has since been extended to other areas. I have done a lot of Googling and I get the impression I could use one or the other in both Tokyo and Kyoto but not Nagasaki - these are the three places I am staying.

Has anybody any knowledge or experience of these?

Suica can indeed be used on all public transport in Tokyo. It also works in Kyoto and most other Japanese cities. Pasmo should be the same. I haven't been to Nagasaki, but as you say googling suggests that Suica and Pasmo don't work there.
 
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