Advice for travel within Japan

Jun 21st, 2009, 11:33 AM
Original Poster
Join Date: Apr 2004
Posts: 144
Advice for travel within Japan

We will be in Japan in October for 12 nights. This will be our first time there.
We intend to divide our time between Sapparo, Tokyo and Kyoto with day trips in between.
A couple of questions.
1) Is it a good time to visit Hokkaido?
2) Factoring in time and cost, should we fly from Tokyo to Sapporo or take the train? We do plan on getting a 7-day JR Pass.

Thanks for your time.
dinks is offline  
Jun 21st, 2009, 10:01 PM
Join Date: Jan 2003
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1) Not sure, but I think the timing is good. Fall colors are in Tokyo/Kyoto around the third week of November. Farther north, in Sapporo, and a month earlier, maybe it will be colorful. Lots of evergreens up there, IIRC, anyway.

2) Maybe you don't actually need a JR Pass if you are just spending your time in those cities.

You could fly from Tokyo to Sapporo to Osaka and save a lot of time. Each of the two flights will cost between 10,000 and 12,500 if you get one of the special fares for visitors (I will post a link later). And if you fly from home into Tokyo and return from Osaka (or vice versa) you would hardly need to ride the train.

In Tokyo, JR is useful to/from the airport (tho there are good options like a hotel limo bus) and on some (inexpensive) routes in the city. It can also be used for travel to other places near Tokyo (Hakone, Kamakura, Nikko, e.g.) but there are other ways to go besides JR.

In Sapporo, I don't think your JR Pass would do any good. There are some good JR routes around Hokkaido, but if you are going to the area south of Sapporo, in the national parks, then buses are more convenient (and are available from both the airport and Sapporo city).

In Kyoto, you would not use a JR Pass at all. It would be useful to places in the region, but again, there are other rail options and there is a choice of passes.

So, a couple of questions for you.

When you weigh the cost I mentioned above with the time saved by flying, how does it work out? Or to put it another way, the JR Pass costs 28,300 yen and will cover all of your travel. How much is it worth it to you to not have to take those two long-haul train trips?

Give us a better idea of your itinerary in each location. Are you planning to base in those cities and explore the regions? Or are you going to concentrate on seeing the cities? (Do you really mean visiting Sapporo or do you mean you will visiting Hokkaido?)
mrwunrfl is offline  
Jun 21st, 2009, 10:06 PM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 15,199
Here is the link I mentioned:

If it was my trip, and was visiting the cities and don't going far afield, then I would pay the 22,000 yen for the star alliance airpass and fly NRT-CTS-OSA and then take the shinkansen 12,500 from Kyoto to Tokyo.
mrwunrfl is offline  
Jun 22nd, 2009, 08:23 AM
Original Poster
Join Date: Apr 2004
Posts: 144
Hi mrwunrfl.

We are going to fly into Tokyo or Sapporo from Korea and depart from Osaka.
Our thoughts are to use Tokyo and Kyoto as home bases from which to make side trips to places like Nara, Nikko, Hiroshima, etc. Based on our plans and the individual ticket prices from a site like hyperdia, it seems sensible to get a JR Pass.
Thanks for your continued help as any input is appreciated.
dinks is offline  
Jun 22nd, 2009, 12:33 PM
Join Date: Feb 2003
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I think going to Sapporo first is best, then fly to Tokyo and get vouchers for a JR pass that you initiate when you get to Tokyo. Kyoto-Hiroshima, Kyoto-Himeji and Tokyo-Kyoto on the Shinkansens should cover your JR pass costs.
BigRuss is offline  
Jun 24th, 2009, 07:11 AM
Join Date: May 2004
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1) Is it a good time to visit Hokkaido?

Yes, it is a great time to visit Hokkaido if the fall colors and cool temperatures surrounded by natural scenic beauty peak any interest in you.

If you plan to use the JR pass on specific days to see a specific town or an area then buy one. I would not buy one if I only was thinking of visiting Hiroshima, etc. With your lite train schedule you would limit your options on the ground imho and waste valuable time and money if you buy one.

hawaiiantraveler is offline  
Jun 24th, 2009, 08:56 AM
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Clarification: you get vouchers for the JR Pass in the US, then trade them in when you're in Japan. You cannot buy a JR Pass in Japan.
BigRuss is offline  
Jun 24th, 2009, 09:39 PM
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The sidetrip to Hiroshima from Kyoto makes the JR Pass worthwhile. Or, using the JR Pass from Sapporo to Tokyo would justify it and keep travel cost to a minimum at the expense of time.
mrwunrfl is offline  

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