Seeking Help with First Trip to Japan

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Jan 26th, 2016, 01:21 AM
  #61
 
Join Date: Nov 2010
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We are also visiting Japan (for a wedding) in Aug/Sept 2016 ( hot time for a wedding I think)
I've read much of the comments FF have written and we also will change a few days itineraries
Thank you
Jj
dondonandjj is offline  
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Jan 29th, 2016, 11:39 PM
  #62
 
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The two nights on Miyajima was my *proposal* in place of your itinerary showing 2 in Hiroshima but I tried to convey that I'd personally just do 1 in each, or 2 in Miyajima and none in Hiroshima. 3 nights in that area feels a lot in total to me, especially when you could certainly enjoy more time in Kanazawa or elsewhere. But at the same time it may well be that you've identified a lot more you want to do in Hiroshima than I did and that's fair enough.
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Jan 30th, 2016, 02:49 AM
  #63
 
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Thanks, mrwunrfl, I'm wondering what else hyperdia has to offer that I don't know about. For example, is there a way to tell when the shortest trip is between 2 points instead of searching hour by hour?
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Jan 30th, 2016, 09:32 AM
  #64
 
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I don't see a way to do that, FromDC. Sometimes you don't want the fastest route, Do you want 151 min from Hiroshima to Nara with 2 transfers or 155 min with 1 transfer?

Here are two strategies for getting closer to what you want.

1) No need to search hour-by-hour. Do a search and scan the results to find the latest departure time. Your next search would be 1 minute later than that.

You can also change your Route Output option to 10. That will expand the time range of the results. With that setting, a search for Hiroshima to Nara departing 06:28. The latest departure is 08:13.

Next search should be 08:14 departure. The latest departure in those results is 10:13.

So, in two searches we can see departures over 3 hours 35 min.

2) You could try unchecking the options for Ordinary Train and Private Railway. This narrows the results down to shinkansen and limited express trains. Of course, this is no good if your are going to/from a place like Nara (no shinkansen or ltd exp) or Koyasan (no JR).

Doing this may or may not help, so you might have to play with it depending on O/D.

I tried it on a couple of routes and found an interesting result. It is misleading.

Click the link below. Notice that the departure time is 06:38 but the first result is 20:33, over 14 hours later! I knew Hikone was not served by shinkansen but didn't know there were ltd exp trains from Kyoto. There are only those 2 all day and they are at night.

Travel time on the ltd exp is 45 min with no transfer.

Check the box for Ordinary Train and search again. See a 06:42 Hikari to Maibara and then a JR local to Hikone. Take time is 45 min.

So the strategy doesn't work well for Kyoto->Hikone. But it can give an idea of the quickest travel duration.
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Jan 30th, 2016, 09:43 AM
  #66
 
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The short answer, FromDC, is: I think not.
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Feb 24th, 2016, 08:07 AM
  #67
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What train passes to buy, if any???
In our 23 day trip, we will be taking the train 5 times for trips of 3 hours or more. Here are the possible trains/ routes departing around our desired times; they seem to favor the JR trains. I don't know if it is any savings to buy a JR pass. Here is a general outline.

Day 5 train from Tokyo to Takayama (need to book soon, its the time of their famous autumn festival) 1 transfer from Shinkansen Noisome to Ltd Express

Day 9 Kanazawa to Nara 1 trnfr from Ltd Express to JR Nara Line

Day 12 Kyoto to Koyasan 3to 4 transfers: JR Special Rapid,JR Yamatoji Rapid,Shinimamiya, Gokurakubashi

Day 19 Koyasan to Hiroshima 4 t0 5 transfers cable to Gokurakubashi, NakaKoya Line,to NK Express, Shinmamiya, Dobutsuen-mae, Shin-Osaka

Day 21 Hiroshima to Tokyo Shinkansen Nozomi
Of course, I don’t understand any of the above!
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Feb 24th, 2016, 10:56 AM
  #68
 
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Nozomi is a type of shinkansen and you can't use one with a 7- 14- or 21-day JR Pass.

That's 17 days. I did a quick check and think that the 21-day pass at ¥59,350 is more than it would cost if you paid for individual tickets. But it depends on lhow you could use those extra 4 days of validity (like if you were planning to use the Narita Express or a day trip to Nikko).

You are going Kanazawa-Nara-Kyoto-Koyasan. I think you'd be better off going to Koyasan from Nara on non-JR trains.

If you are willing to move Hiroshima after Kanazawa then you can get a 7-day pass starting on Day 5 departing Tokyo and ending Day 11 when traveling from Hiroshima to Nara or Kyoto. You can use a different pass for Koyasan/Nara/Kyoto. Then just buy a ticket to Tokyo.
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Feb 24th, 2016, 11:10 AM
  #69
 
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Joining the discussion late - for your travels in Kansai you might look at the local area passes, but with the trip via Takayama and then towards Kyoto that would probably be via Nagoya (and yes the trip Toyama to Takayama is very scenic, as is the route Takayama to Nagoya.
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Feb 26th, 2016, 06:19 AM
  #70
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I am checking to see if 3-4 hotels wee want are available two days later to accommodate this proposed changed. If I cannot change the dates, I could buy a one way ticket for day 5 and then buy a 14 day pass, correct?
I read that you can only buy tickets or the pass 30 months in advance of travel, is that correct? What website would you use to buy the pass?
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Feb 26th, 2016, 07:36 AM
  #71
 
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>>could buy a one way ticket for day 5 and then buy a 14 day pass, correct?

That would cost more than a 21-day pass.
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Feb 26th, 2016, 10:36 AM
  #72
 
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There are different types of shinkansen: Kodama, Hikari & Nozomi.

1) Kodama - stop at every station so the trip takes longer, but the train fare is lower too.
2) Hikari, (or Sakura) – is a class in between the other two.
3) Nozomi - the newest trains with the fewest stops - but are not available to JR Pass holders.

I am not sure you can buy train tickets outside of Japan (unless you have some one in Japan who will purchase train tickets for you before your arrival.)

The Validity Period of a Japan Rail Pass voucher is "Within three months from the date the Exchange Order was issued", so you don't want to purchase the voucher too far ahead. You must turn in your voucher to exchange for a JR Pass within 3 months of the voucher's issuing date.

To purchase a JR Pass voucher, read http://www.japanrailpass.net/en/purchase.html#step_01
and click on the "North America" button link, scroll down past Canada to see list of sellers in USA, then purchase online from a seller close to your home. We paid $14 for FedEx shipping, and received the voucher in 2 to 3 business days.
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Feb 26th, 2016, 11:11 AM
  #73
 
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There are actually many types of shinkansen (either train name and model). For instance, for Hiroshima back to Shin-Osaka you will probably be on the Sakura, and then swap to Hikari. The difference between Hikari and Nozomi is just the number of stops (they run the same speed).

One way Tokyo to Takayama is around Y15,000 and the difference between the 14 and 21 day rail pass is only 13,000, so you may as well go for the longer pass.

Also, you might find the trains via Toyama less crowded - I struck a day last year where there were only five reserved seats available on the day, but the unreserved carriage only had eight people plus my group - lots of space.
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Feb 28th, 2016, 08:28 AM
  #74
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I'm beginning to understand. So if I get a 21 day pass, I would have to wait until day 21 of my train travels to purchase/validate the pass?
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Feb 28th, 2016, 09:15 AM
  #75
 
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No. That is not correct.
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Feb 28th, 2016, 09:36 AM
  #76
 
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For your September trip, you can purchase the voucher any time starting mid-June-ish but have it in hand by the end of August.

¥59,350 for a 21-day pass

Rearranging the trip as I suggested above would cost:
¥29,110 for a 7-day pass
¥13,710 for a Kyoto to Tokyo shinkansen
=======
¥42,820
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Feb 28th, 2016, 09:49 AM
  #77
 
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>>So if I get a 21 day pass, I would have to wait until day 21 of my train travels to purchase/validate the pass?<<

mrwunrfl already gave you a short answer. The long answer is to go to this Japan Rail Pass page on Japan-Guide:
http://www.japan-guide.com/e/e2361.html

Scroll half way down the page to read sections titled:
Where and how can the voucher be exchanged?
Selecting a starting date in the future
How to use the Japan Rail Pass
etc
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Feb 28th, 2016, 10:33 AM
  #78
 
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Good info from japan-guide. It has a link to an agent for buying the voucher. They offer some pretty good deals. The quoted price of $249 for a 7-day is less than the current exchange rate. Plus free FedEx, a guide book, and a map and a timetable.
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