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Takayama to Tokyo by bus or train?

Old Sep 23rd, 2008, 05:12 PM
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Takayama to Tokyo by bus or train?

I will be taking a 16 day trip with my husband in Oct-Nov.

My itinerary is more or less confirmed, but I'm just a bit undecided about the kind of JR pass I should get. This is my itinerary:

Day 1-2 Tokyo
Day 3 Nikko
Day 4-5 Kyoto
Day 6 Himeji and Kinosaki Onsen
Day 7-8 Kyoto based, with side trips to Osaka/ Nara
Day 9-10 Kanazawa
Day 11 Shirawakawa-go
Day 12 Takayama
Day 13-16 Tokyo

I'm trying to decide whether to take a 14 day pass, which will cover most of my intercity trips.

Another alternative is to take a 7 day pass, activate from day 3-9 and add a single train journey for the Takayama to TOkyo trip, plus airport transfer from Tokyo to Narita. The cost roughly makes out to be the same.

The above two options actually seem to be the same in practicality, even though one is 14 day pass, and the other is 7 day, because I'll be spending 4 days in between in Kanazawa, S-go and Takayama, where I can't take any JR transport.

Third alternative that I am considering very seriously and would appreciate all the advice I can get about, is to take a bus from Takayama to Tokyo, for the cost of 6500, vs train trip of 14000 roughly.
The only con is that the trip is 1.5 hrs slower. But that doesn't really matter that much. What my concern is is that I heard that the train ride from Takayama to Nagoya (en route to Tokyo) is one of the most scenic, and not to be missed. Although I'll be taking lotsa train rides in the week before, I don't want to miss it out if it's going to be so great. HOwever, if anyone can advise if the ride is not too dissimilar to what I'll be experiencing, eg. from Kyoto to Kanazawa? than I won't feel so bad about skipping it. Heheh.

The 7000+ I can save per pax is quite substantial, if I can help it.

Thanks in advance!
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Old Sep 23rd, 2008, 11:01 PM
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The scenic part of the Takayama line is to the north of Takayama - to Toyama, not south to Nagoya. It is ok to miss the part to Nagoya. It is a nice ride, has some scenery, but is mostly down a narrow valley.

The bus ride through the mountains also has some scenery. The bus ride is not particularly comfortable and it goes on some winding road.

Get an early start and you can stop at Kamikochi for an hour or two. You could stop in Matsumoto to see the castle. I don't know, but I doubt that you could stop at both of those places and still make it to Shinjuku that night. I mention Shinjuku because that was the destination sign on a bus that I saw in Hirayu Onsen. Goes to the Shinjuku Bus Terminal no doubt.

Your schedule is overbooked, quite ambitious at least. You will be traveling a lot and not seeing much at that pace. After the train rides and the buses from Kanazawa, I think taking the bus from Takayama would be very tiring. Train might not be that much better, tho.

If the 7000 is substantial then take the bus as you can make a nice stop enroute (buy tickets all the way through, if you can, or on arrival in Kamikochi immediately buy your onward ticket).

Weather (snow in the mountains) could be an issue, but I think you are traveling early enough. They have a tremendous snow clearing operation in those mountains. They had quite an effort going when I went to Shirakawago in January (when the bus from Kanazawa was not operating and I had to take the train to Takaoka to get a bus to S-go).

You could drop Nikko. Maybe spend a night in Matsumoto on your bus journey back to Tokyo.
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Old Sep 23rd, 2008, 11:07 PM
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The train from Takayama to Nagoya and then the shinkansen to Tokyo would be quite a bit more comfortable than the bus. You could also look into taking the train from Matsumoto to Shinjuku. It is a limited express train.
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Old Sep 23rd, 2008, 11:09 PM
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That is, your third option is bus from Takayama to Matsumoto and then JR train to Tokyo.
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Old Sep 23rd, 2008, 11:24 PM
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Actually the 14-day pass is not a bad idea. The savings by taking the bus is about 7000 minus the airport transfer (could be 3000) minus a few hundred, maybe 1000, yen taking JR trains in Tokyo on days 14-15. You'd be able to get all of the value of a 14-day pass, and of riding JR trains, though the cost may be 3000 to 4000 yen higher. If cash gets tight your pass will still get you to the airport.
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Old Sep 24th, 2008, 12:35 AM
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THanks mrwunrfl for the replies!!

Basically the 7000 savings that I calculated has already taken into account the airport transfer, so I will probably be able to save 7000 taking everyhting into consideration.

As for the bus journey, it seems to be only an hour or so longer than the train. THough it may not be as comfortable as the train, two of us will save 2x7000..
especially if you say the train ride isn't that spectacular from takayama to nagoya...

as for stops to kamikochi and matsumoto, as you say , my schedule is already rather packed, I do not think I will want to stop at those places, perhaps save them for another trip next time round heh! I will be visiting Nikko for sure- already booked the accommodation at Turtle Inn as well, plus all the accommodation following that...


I'll be travelling from 18 Oct to 3 Nov. My days in Kanazawa to Takayama are 26 - 30 Oct, so I think the snow possibly won't be such an issue?? I've sent an email that I got in another posting of yours to the TI of Takayame, waiting for their reply. Was trying to ask about the bus bookings. By the way, thank you SO MUCH for that contact, and all your postings and advice!! It's really a great help.

Yes, the bus does go to Shinjuku, and I'll need to transfer to Ueno where I'll be staying, but that's only 100+ yen, and I've got a SUICA pass from the first day by getting the SUICA Nex combi...

So, as far as I can see, if I follow according to the plan, I'll still be saving the 7000 per pax if I take the bus?

Appreciate your comments!!

Thanks!
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Old Sep 24th, 2008, 10:25 PM
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Ok. So it is pretty much the end of October. I have a 2 year old bus schedule from Takayama. It shows buses going to Kamikochi but the last run was Oct. 30. The last scheduled day to Norikura is Oct. 31. I guess that you have figured out that the buses you want to take will be running on the day you want.

If Kamikochi is enroute it would be a good stop. If you can get tix in Takayama all the way through to Shinjuku with 2 hours in Kamikochi then I really recommend it There is a place right at the bus stop where you can leave your bag (for a small fee). You won't be traveling with more than one piece each, right?

I think I saw that Shinjuku bound bus at the Hirayu Onsen stop, which was my destination, as a day trip from Takayama (an hour away). I went there for a soak. So, if I found that the Shinjuku bus didn't go via Kamikochi then I might stop for a soak at one of the places by the bus stop. But that's me.

I think I gave you all the info you needed in the first paragaph of my first reply
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Old Sep 24th, 2008, 10:57 PM
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I think you should be seeing fall colors in the mountains about that time.
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Old Sep 25th, 2008, 06:03 AM
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HI there,

Thanks for the feedback and help. THis is what I got from a website showing the bus timings from Shinjuku to Takayama - in case anyone may find this helpful.


By bus


1) Shinjuku (Tokyo) -- Takayama

Timetable chart

Shinjuku Takayama in operation
7:00 12:30 18th July until 9th November 2008
8:00 13:30 all year round
9:00 14:30 all year round
14:30 20:05 all year round
16:00 21:35 all year round
23:00 5:30 18th July until 31st August 2008


Takayama Shinjuku in operation
6:30 12:00 all year round
8:00 13:30 all year round
13:30 19:00 all year round
14:30 20:00 18th July until 9th November 2008
15:30 21:00 all year round
16:30 22:00 18th July until 31st August 2008


Price: One way; 6,500 yen, return; 11,700 yen (7-day validity)
Contact #s to book:
Keio Bus: (03)5376-2222
Nohi Bus: (0577)32-1688



I don't have the info on the routes passing the places you mentioned e.g. Kamikochi, so I can't comment on those.

I'm just hoping that the tourist info service at Takayama replies me soon, so I can confirm the bus reservations with them, hopefully, then I can buy the 7 day pass.

Cheers!
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Old Oct 8th, 2008, 05:39 AM
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Hi there,

Just thought I'd report that I've managed to get the bus booked through the Takayama Tourist Info service. They're really helpful over there- responding to emails very quickly, often within a day or two.

REally excited about the trip now.
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Old Oct 9th, 2008, 04:06 PM
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patfoo,

what is the email address?

interested on a report when you get back on your trip and the bus ride. Have fun!

Aloha!
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Old Oct 9th, 2008, 11:55 PM
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Hi hiwaianntraveler,

The email is: [email protected]
The person I corresponded with is called Saori Sawada. She is extremely helpful! She has helped me book ALL my bus transport, from Kanazawa to S-go, S-go to Takayama, Takayama to Shinjuku. We can't book these unless we know Japanese, which I don't, so it's all thanks to her help that I feel better now! Though I heard that it IS possible to just book when you get there, a day or two beforehand. But it just feels better to know that the arrangements are taken care of before you get there.

I'm bringing with me from Singapore some little tokens for all these nice people and the innkeepers. It's just a small pack with a durian confectionary, and some local BBQ pork and coconut sweets. All vacuum packed of course. Hope they'll like it!

Oh, and yes, I'll definitely come back with a report! Cheers!
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Old Oct 10th, 2008, 09:36 AM
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'It's just a small pack with a durian confectionary, and some local BBQ pork and coconut sweets.'

Be careful. Most meat products, whether vacuum packed, tinned or not, are banned from being brought into Japan, without an inspection certificate issued by the foreign government acceptable to Japanese authorities.
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Old Oct 10th, 2008, 11:10 AM
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http://www.customs.go.jp/english/summary/passenger.htm

Alec, I was just looking for the information regarding what you said, but there doesn't seem to be any in the above link.

Is there any link you have about this?

Thanks!
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Old Oct 10th, 2008, 01:03 PM
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http://www.maff.go.jp/aqs/english/product/import.html should have the necessary info.
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Old Oct 14th, 2008, 07:42 PM
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Alec, thanks for the tip. I've verified with the Japanese authorities through email. What you said is true. They prohibit that stuff. Guess I'll need to get something else then. Thanks!
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Old Oct 15th, 2008, 06:32 PM
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Last week I travelled by bus from Kanazawa to Takayama (stopping in Shirakawa for the day) and then took the bus over to Matsumoto and train to Tokyo. We spent about 3 hours in Matsumoto before catching the train to Tokyo which gave us plenty of time to go and see the castle there.

In terms of cost it was certainly not making the best use of our JR Pass but we considered it money well spent. Really enjoyed having the day in Shirakawa. The bus trip itself is mostly through tunnels so don't think you are going to see much in great scenery on the way. However, the bus trip from Takayama to Matsumoto did indeed provide us with some fantastic scenery. The autumn colurs were all coming out and will be fabulous by end of October, early November. It was a nice modern bus and trip was comfortable.

We also used Saori to book our tickets from Kanazawa through to Takayama. She was very helpful. We picked up our bus ticket across to Matsumoto the day we were travelling without any trouble.

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Old Apr 20th, 2009, 05:49 AM
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For future reference for anyone seeking this topic in the future, we took the bus from Takayama to Tokyo on April 17, 2009. It was very comfortable. It included 3 stops where we could get out and look around a bit, use the restroom, get something to eat, etc. There was a toilet on the bus, but we never needed to use it. Great views of the Japanese Alps. A lot less expensive than the train and only took 1/2 hour longer to Shinjuku.

We did not get a rail pass as it didn't save us any money on our particular itinerary--we used buses more than trains where the time difference wasn't significant. I would say that if you are obese, then trains would be better.
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Old Apr 20th, 2009, 08:31 AM
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How about a trip report Rufus about your trip? Sounds like you had a good time. Really would like to hear about your take on travel in Japan.

Aloha!
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Old Apr 20th, 2009, 09:07 AM
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Yes. I will be posting a trip report as soon as jetlag tones down a bit.
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