Japan 2015 (Jan-Feb)

Will be going to Japan for about 16 days in Jan-Feb 2015 with family, mainly to visit Sapporo Snow Fest and to try to catch some snowfall since some of them have yet to see snow.

Since we will be using the 14 days JR Pass, therefore we won't be taking any domestic flight for this trip.

Here is our (more or less) finalized itinerary (23/1 to 7/2 2015):
Day 1: Singapore to Tokyo. Visit J-World at Tokyo. Stay at Tokyo
(Blog entry Part 1 J-World / Blog entry Part 2 Pokemon store and Go Go Curry dinner)

Day 2: Visit One Piece event at Lagunasia. Stay at Nagoya (blog entry)

Day 3: Visit Kyoto. Stay at Osaka (blog entry)

Day 4: Visit Nara and Himeji. Stay at Osaka (blog entry)

Day 5: Osaka to Tokyo. Visit Tokyo. Stay at Tokyo.  (blog entry)

Day 6: Visit Echigo-Yuzawa and Karuizawa. Stay at Tokyo (blog entry)

Day 7: Tokyo to Kinugawa onsen. Visit Edo Wonderland. Stay at Kinugawa onsen. (blog entry)

Day 8: Kinugawa onsen to Tokyo. Visit Tokyo. Stay at Tokyo (blog entry)

Day 9: Tokyo to Hakodate. Visit Hakodate. Stay at Hakodate (blog entry)

Day 10: Visit Onumakoen. Hakodate to Noboribetsu. Stay at Noboribetsu onsen (blog entry)

Day 11: Noboribetsu to Tomamu. Stay at Tomamu (blog entry)

Day 12: Tomamu to Sapporo. Visit Sapporo. Stay at Sapporo (blog entry)

Day 13: Visit Otaru. Stay at Sapporo (blog entry)

Day 14: Visit Sapporo Snow Fest. Sapporo to Hakodate. Stay at Hakodate. (blog entry)

Day 15: Hakodate to Aomori. Visit Aomori. Aomori to Tokyo. Stay at Narita Airport. (blog entry)

Day 16: Tokyo to Singapore.

Since we used the 14 days JR Pass (which costs 46390yen, about S$514) to cover our JR trains and Shinkansen journeys between Day 2 to Day 15 of our trip, below is a breakdown of how much our train journeys would actually cost us had we not have the railpass coverage:

Minami Senju to Ueno: 170yen (6mins) JR Joban line local train
Ueno to Tokyo: 1020yen (5mins) Shinkansen Non-reserved seat
Tokyo to Nagoya: 10880yen (104mins) Shinkansen Reserved seat
Nagoya to Toyohashi: 3570yen (24mins) Shinkansen Reserved seat
Toyohashi to MikawaOtsuka: 240yen (17mins) JR Tokaido line local train
Mikawa Otsuka to Toyohashi: 240yen (11mins) JR Tokaido line local
Toyohashi to Nagoya: 3570yen (29mins) Shinkansen Reserved seat
Nagoya to Kyoto: 5590yen (34mins) Shinkansen Reserved seat
Kyoto to Inari: 140yen (5mins) JR Nara line local train
Inari to Kyoto: 140yen (5mins) JR Nara line local train
Kyoto to Shin-Osaka: 2810yen (15mins) Shinkansen
Shin-Osaka to Tennoji: 1190yen (20mins) Haruka Express Reserved seat
Tennoji to Nara: 470yen (37mins) JR Yamatoji Line Rapid train
Nara to Tennoji: 470yen (37mins) JR Yamatoji Line Rapid train
Tennoji to Shin-Osaka: 1190yen (20mins) Haruka Express Reserved seat
Shin-Osaka to Himeji: 3540yen (37mins) Shinkansen Reserved seat
Himeji to Shin-Osaka: 3540yen (37mins) Shinkansen Reserved seat
Shin-Osaka to Tokyo: 13940yen (180mins) Shinkansen Reserved seat
Tokyo to Ueno: 1020yen (5mins) Shinkansen Non-reserved seat
Ueno to Akihabara: 140yen (4mins) JR Yamanote Loop line
Akihabara to Shinjuku: 170yen (18mins) JR Chuo line
Shinjuku to Ueno (via Kanda): 200yen (19mins) JR Chuo line + JR Yamanote Loop line (transfer at Kanda)
Ueno to Echigo-Yuzawa: 6260yen (70mins) Shinkansen Reserved seat
Echigo Yuzawa to Takasaki: 3820yen (25mins) Shinkansen Reserved seat
Takasaki to Karuizawa: 2920yen (15mins) Shinkansen Reserved seat
Karuizawa to Ueno: 5500yen (64mins) Shinkansen Reserved seat
Ueno to Utsunomiya: 4520yen (45mins) Shinkansen Reserved seat
Utsunomiya to Imaichi: 670yen (35mins) JR Nikko line local train
Imaichi to Utsunomiya: 670yen (35mins) JR Nikko line local train
Utsunomiya to Ueno: 4520yen (44mins) Shinkansen Reserved seat
Ueno to Shibuya: 200yen (31mins) JR Yamanote Loop line
Shibuya to Ueno: 200yen (31mins) JR Yamanote Loop line
Ueno to Shin-Aomori: 16940yen (192mins) Shinkansen Reserved seat
Shin-Aomori to Hakodate: 5290yen (125mins) Ltd Exp Super Hakucho train Reserved seat
Hakodate to Onumakoen: 1880yen (22mins) Ltd Exp Super Hokuto Reserved seat
Onumakoen to Noboribetsu: 6120yen (118mins) Ltd Exp Super Hokuto Reserved seat
Noboribetsu to Minami-Chitose: 3120yen (42mins) Ltd Exp Suzuran Reserved seat
Minami-Chitose to Tomamu: 3690yen (84mins) Ltd Exp Super Tokachi Reserved seat
Tomamu to Sapporo: 5330yen (106mins) Ltd Exp Super Ozora Reserved seat
Sapporo to Otaru: 950yen (32mins) JR Rapid Airport train Reserved seat
Otaru to Sapporo: 640yen (32mins) JR Rapid Airport train Non-Reserved seat
Sapporo to Hakodate: 9030yen (212mins) Ltd Exp Super Hokuto train Reserved seat
Hakodate to Aomori: 5290yen (111mins) Ltd Exp Super Hakucho train Reserved seat
Aomori to Shin-Aomori: 190yen (6mins) Ltd Exp Tsugaru Non Reserved seat
Shin-Aomori to Tokyo: 17150yen (192mins) Shinkansen Reserved seat
Tokyo to Narita Airport T2: 2820yen (67mins) Narita Express train Reserved seat.

Grand Total: 152168yen (about S$1737)  :)


  1. Hi there, thank you for your blog. Am planning a maiden trip to Japan and love how informative your blog is.

    I never knew about luggage forwarding courier! Good to find out more about it now as i will be travelling to heavy snow area too and wouldnt want to be lugging heavy luggage around.

    Any advice you can give?

    Thanks heaps!

    1. Try to memorise the location of your hotels before you leave for your trip.
      Because it is not fun trying to find your way in the snow while lugging your heavy luggage bags.

  2. Oh and Ill be heading to Sapporo for Snow Festival too!

    Who knows, might see you around somewhere!

  3. As usual, love reading your blog... Audrey

  4. hi,i'm planing my trip to hokkaido,if i buy 7days JR pass 29,110 yen .can it be use for
    Ueno to Shin-Aomori: 16940yen (192mins) Shinkansen Reserved seat
    Shin-Aomori to Hakodate: 5290yen (125mins) Ltd Exp Super Hakucho train Reserved seat
    Hakodate to Aomori: 5290yen (111mins) Ltd Exp Super Hakucho train Reserved seat
    Aomori to Shin-Aomori: 190yen (6mins) Ltd Exp Tsugaru Non Reserved seat
    Shin-Aomori to Tokyo: 17150yen (192mins) Shinkansen Reserved seat

    1. Sorry for the late reply, somehow my blog's settings got messed up and didn't send email alert to me regarding new comment posts.

      Back to your question,
      - Ueno to Shin-Aomori via Shinkansen Hayabusa: Yes, can use the 7days JR pass for reserved seat.
      - Shin-Aomori to Hakodate via Ltd Exp train: Yes, can use the 7 days JR Pass for reserved seat.
      - Hakodate to Aomori via Ltd Exp train: Yes, can use the 7 days JR Pass for reserved seat.
      - Aomori to Shin-Aomori via Ltd Exp train: Yes, can use the 7 days JR Pass
      - Shin-Aomori to Tokyo via Shinkansen Hayabusa: Yes, can use the 7 days JR Pass for reserved seats.

      I've actually did this exact route on my recent Feb 2015 trip using my 14 days JR Pass.

  5. hi, may i ask how much did you spend for the whole trip?

    1. Sorry, can't really remember, cuz I didn't actually note down all my expenditures during this trip.

  6. Went to Japan in April 2015 for my birthday, such an amazing experience and beautiful place, missing it so much ,just a whole different way of life , saving already for another trip soon hopefully, definitely a place to visit ☺❤

    1. Yes, I know how it feels. Ever since my first Japan trip in Dec 2010, I'm hooked on travelling to Japan. lol

  7. Hi Samantha, we are planning our 1st maiden trip to Hokkaido early December. May I know the reserved seats are for subway or JR? What happens if I don't purchase reserved seats? We have to select timings for the subways and JR when we purchase the ticket?

    1. subways (eg. the one running within Sapporo city) doesn't have reserved seats...so if seats are all taken up, you just stand for the journey. You can purchase these tickets when you arrive at the station via the ticket machines (there's english instruchtions, don't worry).

      For JR trains, most regular JR local trains don't have reserved seats, but for those that are Limited Express trains (Ltd Exp), then there's reserved seats and non-reserved seats cabins. You will have to select date and time of train and make prior booking at the JR ticketing office if you take Ltd Exp trains. There are usually train conductors onboard Ltd Exp trains to ensure everyone have the tickets and sitting at their appropriate seats.

      For reserved seat tickets, means you pay slightly more than the non-reserved seat tickets, and in return you will get a seat number printed on your ticket which is the seat you will be seated at throughout the train journey onboard that train. For non-Reserved seat ticket, means you can take that particular train but only at the non-Reserved seats cabins...where seatings are on a first-come-first-served basis...meaning, if all seats are taken up at the non-reserved seat cabins, you'll have to stand on the entire train journey.

      For the train between New Chitose Airport to Sapporo station, it's a regular JR train, but some have reserved seat cabins. Since it's just a short 35mins train ride, I'd recommend that you just get a non-reserved seat ticket (either from the JR ticketing office at the New Chitose airport station, next to the gantries, or from the ticketing machines) for the journey. At the very most, you'd just have to stand for 35mins.
      Same as the train from Sapporo station to Otaru station. The journey is just about 40mins.

      However, if you intend to travel to places like Noboribestu, Asahikawa, Tomamu, Toya, Hakodate...then it's Ltd Exp trains...so you'd have to purchase your tickets in advanced from the JR ticketing offices.

  8. Hi, I am planning a trip to Tokyo, Osaka and Kyoto. My flight is to and fro Tokyo airport. Any advice do I need to get JR pass?

    1. If you are travelling from Tokyo to Kyoto/Osaka, then back to Tokyo again within the 7 days period, then yes, it's probably worth getting the 7 days JR railpass.
      Would be even more worth it if you can squeeze in at least 1 of your airport train (Narita Express train) between Narita Airport and Tokyo within the 7 days period too.

  9. Hi samantha, i am going to Jigokudani Monkey Park. Is it advise to buy the tokyo wide pass even though it does not include all the way to yudanaka or i shld just buy separately? I am going there directly from narita airport and will be going to disneysea after yudanaka.

    1. When is your trip and what time will your flight be arriving at Narita?
      Bear in mind that it is a long journey from Narita Airport all the way to Monkey park:
      - about 70mins train ride from Narita Airport to Tokyo station.
      - about 85-100mins Shinkansen bullet train ride from Tokyo station to Nagano station.
      - 45-70mins for train ride from Nagano to Yudanaka (about 1 train every hourly)
      - about 25mins for bus ride from Yudanaka station to the bus stop nearest to the entrance to the walking trail to monkey park. This bus has infrequent departure times.
      - walk about 30-45mins to reach the monkey park itself.

      Depending on what time you start your journey towards Monkey park, the sun might be down by the time u arrive there, since sun sets around 4pm odd during winter season.

      If I were u, I'd still get the Tokyo Wide pass, since it will cover Narita Express train + the Shinkansen from Tokyo to Saku-daira.
      You'd have to purchase single trip fares from Saku-daira to Nagano, and Nagano to Yudanaka.

    2. Thanks so much for ur reply. I will be reaching narita airport on 21dec 8am. From there i will travel to yudanaka and stay there for 2 nights. Due to time constraints, after yudanaka i will train straight to disneysea.

    3. Hmm, then probably something like this:
      0915-1017 Narita Airport to Tokyo station
      1032-1152 Tokyo to Nagano via Shinkansen
      1210-1254 Nagano to Yudanaka via Nagano Electric Railway Ltd Exp train (next train in 1hr's time, so you will probably have to rush abit at Nagano station to exit Nagano station and walk down to the underground Nagaden Nagano Electric Railway station just outside Nagano station to buy tickets + catch the train. There's no toilet onboard this train if I recalled correctly)

      Then at Yudanaka, take bus (not too sure of bus schedule) to Monkey park. But you'd probably have to figure out a way to store your luggage. I don't recall seeing lockers at Yudanaka station though.

    4. Just 18mins for buying tickets and catch the train is so tight! Is it possible?haha

    5. It is possible. But might have to run abit.
      The Nagano electric railway station is just outside Nagano station, so it's not too far of a walk.
      The only thing is you'd have to lug your luggage down the stairs since I didn't see any elevator/escalator down to the underground station.

    6. Thank you so much for your guidance samantha :)

  10. hello hi, im planning to go to osaka, kyota, nara, tokyo and gala yuzawa. Is it worth it for me to just buy the JR pass?

  11. hi sam, thanks very much for writing this blog. very detail

    i like your blog. very informative. 😀

    me, my husband and my teen boy plan for a snow trip near tokyo (2nights) in beginning of jan. it will be first time for my son to see the snow. we want to learn skiing and other snowy activity, and also enjoy the scenery, we want to stay in a budget value ryokan with private facilities, where easy to reach places to eat and also train/gondola station. we’re not sure if better to visit niigata or nagano perfecture, and which area is best to stay. with the short trip i think it’s best not to be too adventurous on the spot and have important things ready waiting for you, like where to rent snow equipment, access of transportation (easy to arrange) etc

    would be nice to get your advise. thanks a lot