Tuesday, July 29, 2008

A tool to check train seat availabilities

Unlike the thorough Deutsche Bahn site in Germany, there is no train seat booking sites in English besides the one offered by JR East. However it covers only the Shinkansen and limited express trains mainly running in the Northern Japan where not many tourists from abroad are interested in.

JR East booking site

Seems many tourists intend to travel Tokyo and Western Japan such as Kyoto and Hiroshima. The thing is that most people have no means to make train seat reservations until they come to Japan for the Tokaido-Sanyo Main Line Shinkansen, or for other trains to popular destinations such as to Takayama. I presume many people plan to utilize the Japan Rail Pass.

Even though you can't make reservations, there is a way to search train seat availabilities online beforehand.

JR Cyber Station site

If your computer recognizes Japanese characters, and you'd like to check vacancies on the trains running in Japan in advance by yourself, you might give it a go by following my directory.

■ 乗車月日

■ 乗車時刻

■ お乗りになる列車
■ 乗車駅・降車駅




乗車月日 / Boarding date: month / day
乗車時刻 / Boarding time: hour / minute
お乗りになる列車 / Type of train: when you click the arrow, there will appear a drop-down with train names.

==Update on 29th June 2011==

New Shinkansen train names such as Mizuho, Sakura, Hayabusa have been added in the list below.
cyberstation new

1st line; asking you to choose one of them below
2nd line; Nozomi, Hikari, Mizuho, Sakura and Tsubame
3rd line; Kodama
4th line; Hayabusa, Hayate, Yamabiko, Nasuno, Tsubasa and Komachi
5th line; Toki, Tanigawa ans Asama
th line; Tsubame
7th line; Choose here if you aren't traveling on Shinkansen, e.g. (limited) express trains e.g. Hida for Takayama

If you choose from between 2nd and 6th lines, station names will appear automatically in Japanese.They are all Shinkansen stations.

乗車駅・降車駅 / Choose the original and destined stations, and press the blue icon.
Fill the blanks in case you will take some other train than the Shinkansen.
Then the result will come up.

Typical names of the stations tourists are likely to use:
東京 / Tokyo
品川/ Shinagawa
新横浜 / Shin-Yokohama
小田原/ Odawara (Gateway to Hakone)
名古屋 / Nagoya
京都 / Kyoto
新大阪 / Shin-Osaka
姫路/ Himeji
広島 / Hiroshima
博多/ Hakata (Fukuoka)
熊本 / Kumamoto
鹿児島中央 / Kagoshima-Chuo

I now try to check the
Shinkansen ordinary class seat availability for 9th August from Tokyo to Kyoto.
The results are:

08 月 09 日 東京 → 京都 / On August 9th, From Tokyo to Kyoto

空席案内 ( Train seat vacancies )
グリーン席Green Class
列車名 ( train # )
( dep )
( arr )
禁煙席 喫煙席 禁煙席 喫煙席
のぞみ 107号 / Nozomi 107
08:00 10:21
ひかり 363号 / Hikari 363
08:03 10:48 ×
のぞみ 11号<全席禁煙> / Nozomi 11
08:10 10:28
のぞみ 175号 / Nozomi 175
08:13 10:34
のぞみ 109号 08:20 10:41
のぞみ 13号 08:30 10:50 ×
ひかり 405号 / Hikari 405
08:33 11:14 ×
のぞみ 111号 08:40 11:01
のぞみ 211号 08:47 11:08
のぞみ 63号 08:50 11:11 ×
のぞみ 113号 09:00 11:21 ×
ひかり 365号 09:03 11:48

Man taking a seat = reserved seat
Clover in green color = Green class
'B' in the bed = B (second) class sleeper berth

Remarks below:

△:空席が残りわずかです。--Nearly full
×:満席です。 --Full
-:該当する席はありません。または予約できません。 No service on that particular train (e.g. Green car seats), or
unable to book.
*:喫煙席はありませんが、喫煙ルームが設置されています。--No smoking allowed in all seats, but there are designated smoking areas on some of the carriages. (
Shinkansen series N700)

So as of today ( 30th July, 2008 ), most of the non-smoking ordinary reserved seats on the Tokaido Shinkansen leaving Tokyo between 8 and 9 am on 9th August are fully booked.

Another example is the limited express Hida from Nagoya to Takayama at 6:00 am on 9th August. Choose the date, departure timeut the original and destined stations in the blanks.

Station names in Japanese:
名古屋: Nagoya
高山: Takayama

The results are as below.

08 月 09 日 名古屋 → 高山 / On August 9th, from Nagoya to Takayama
空席案内 / Train seat vacancies
普通席 ordinary
グリーン席 Green
A寝台 First class sleeper
B寝台 Second class sleeper
列車名 / Train names
発時刻 ( dep )
着時刻 ( arr )
禁煙席 喫煙席 禁煙席 喫煙席 禁煙席 喫煙席 禁煙席 喫煙席
ひだ 1号 / Hida #1
07:43 10:04 - - - - -
ひだ 3号 08:43 10:52 - - - - -
ひだ 5号 09:43 12:13 - - - - -
ひだ 7号 10:48 13:07 - - - - -
ひだ 9号 11:48 14:16 × - - - - -
ひだ 11号 12:48 15:17 - - - - -
ひだ 95号 13:48 16:13 - - - - - -
ひだ 13号 14:48 17:08 - - - - -
ひだ 15号 15:48 18:20 - - - - -
ひだ 17号 17:48 20:15 - - - - -
ひだ 19号 19:43 22:07 - - - - - -

As of today ( 30th July, 2008 ), many of Hida trains are still vacant.

Last example is an overnight sleeper train 'Hokutosei' from Ueno to Sapporo. Try to search vacancies for the same day as above cases. The departure time should be chosen as 19:00

08 月 09 日 上野 → 札幌 / On August 9th, From Ueno to Sapporo 
空席案内 / Train vacancies info
B寝台B class, or second class sleeper
列車名 / Train name
発時刻 ( dep )
着時刻 ( arr )
禁煙席 喫煙席 禁煙席 喫煙席 禁煙席 喫煙席 禁煙席 喫煙席
北斗星号 / Hokutosei
19:03 11:15 - - - - - - × ×

It's completely booked up.

==Newly added on 30th June 2011==

Search results for 16th July 2011 as of 20:00 on 30th June 2011

07 月 16 日 新大阪 → 博多 / 16th July, from Shin-Osaka to Hakata

列車名 発時刻 着時刻 禁煙席 喫煙席 禁煙席 喫煙席
のぞみ 95号<全席禁煙> / Nozomi #95
07:12 09:40 ×
ひかり 545号 / Hikari Railstar #545
07:20 10:09 - -
みずほ 603号<全席禁煙> / Mizuho #603
07:50 10:15 × -
のぞみ 97号<全席禁煙> 07:58 10:27
さくら 599号<全席禁煙> / Sakura #599
08:02 10:46 -
のぞみ 99号<全席禁煙> 08:21 10:50
のぞみ 1号<全席禁煙> 08:27 10:55
のぞみ 3号<全席禁煙> 08:45 11:13
さくら 547号<全席禁煙> 08:59 11:39 × × -
のぞみ 5号<全席禁煙> 09:09 11:43
のぞみ 7号<全席禁煙> 09:29 11:59
のぞみ 9号<全席禁煙> 09:45 12:13 ×

This site works from 6:30 to 22:30 in Japanese time.
Wish I could motivate you to try this site.

Express train

Access to Takayama

Takayama is a small charming plaza famous for its well-preserved quarter with Edo-style streets, surrounded by mountains.
This time I feature access info to Takayama from various places in Japan.

takayama location

----- ----- ----- ----- -----

Index on this page ( Links to each item )

A-1) From Tokyo by Shinkansen Hikari (Nozomi) and limited express Wideview Hida via Nagoya

A-2) Connecting trains list from Western Japan (until Nagoya, in conjunction with Hida trains)

A-3) To Tokyo by limited express Wideview Hida and Shinkansen Hikari via Nagoya

A-4) Connecting trains list to Western Japan (from Nagoya, in conjunction with Hida trains)

A-5) Full fare chart (Hikari or Kodama in reserved seats)

B-1) Shinjuku (Tokyo) -- Takayama bus service

B-2) Osaka -- Takayama bus service

B-3) Nagoya -- Takayama bus service

B-4) Matsumoto -- Takayama bus service

C) Access to Shirakawago/Kanazawa from Takayama

----- ----- ----- ----- ----

A) By train

1) From Tokyo by Shinkansen Hikari (Nozomi) and limited express Wideview Hida via Nagoya. Basically the Japan Rail Pass applicable all the way.

Tokaido ShinkansenLimited express Hida--
TokyoShinagawaOdawaratrain#Nagoya arrNagoya deptrain#TakayamaRemarks
--6:00--N997:297:43Hida110:04JR pass inapplicable on N99

Train names:
N; Shinkansen Nozomi
H; Shinkansen Hikari
Hida; limited express Wideview Hida

In order to take Nozomi99, you need to pay the full fare even if you have a JR pass.
Shinagawa to Nagoya: 10,780 yen in a reserved seat

Schedules at Tokyo, Shinagawa and Odawara: departures
Schedules at Takayama: arrivals


2) Connecting trains list from Western Japan (until Nagoya, in conjunction with Hida trains)

Tokaido-Sanyo ShinkansenLtd Exp. Hida
HakataHIJOKJtrain#HimejiS.OSAKyototrain#NGO arrNGO depTakayama
--------Osaka 7:59
8:379:4810:30 H54810:51/10:5911:4011:56H47012:3212:4815:17

*1: ( ) stands for departures on weekends.
*2: Hida25 runs from Osaka to Takayama directly.

HIJ; Hiroshima
OKJ; Okayama
S.OSA; Shin-Osaka
NGO; Nagoya
H; Shinkansen Hikari
/; arrival/departure ( Transfer possible on the same platform at Himeji )

All schedules are departures except for ones at Takayama and Himeji(arrivals).


3) To Tokyo by limited express Wideview Hida and Shinkansen Hikari via Nagoya. The Japan Rail Pass is applicble on all the trains below.

Limited express HidaTokaido Shinkansen--
Takayamatrain#Nagoya arrNagoya deptrain#OdawaraShinagawaTokyoRemarks

Train names:
H; Shinkansen Hikari
Hida; limited express Wideview Hida

Schedules are all arrivals except for ones at Takayama, unless specified (Nagoya).

4) Connecting trains list to Western Japan (from Nagoya, in conjunction with Hida trains)

Ltd Exp. HidaTokaido-Sanyo Shinkansen
Taka depNGO arrNGO deptrain#KyotoS.OSAHimejitrain#OKJHIJHakata
----------20:59 dep21:29H58721:5022:3423:48

Taka; Takayama
NGO; Nagoya
S.OSA; Shin-Osaka
OKJ; Okayama
HIJ; Hiroshima
H; Shinkansen Hikari
K; Shinkansen Kodama
Hida; Limited express Wideview Hida
/; arrival/departure ( Transfer possible on the same platform at Himeji )

Hida36 runs directly from Takayama to Osaka.

All schedules are arrivals except for ones at Takayama, Nagoya, Shin-Osaka and Himeji(departures).

5) Full fare chart (Hikari or Kodama in reserved seats)

SegmentOne way price: yen
Takayama -- Tokyo, Shinagawa14,300
Takayama -- Odawara12,410
Takayama -- Nagoya5,870
Takayama -- Kyoto9,680
Takayama -- Shin-Osaka10,310
Takayama -- Himeji12,200
Takayama -- Okayama14,300
Takayama -- Hiroshima16,410
Takayama -- Hakata19,980

B) By bus

1) Shinjuku (Tokyo) -- Takayama

Timetable chart

ShinjukuTakayamain operation
8:0013:30all year round
9:0014:30all year round
14:3020:05all year round
16:0021:35all year round

TakayamaShinjukuin operation
6:3012:00all year round
8:0013:30all year round
13:3019:00all year round
15:3021:00all year round

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

2) Osaka -- Takayama



Price: one way: 5,500 yen, return: 9,900 yen
Contact #s to book:
Nohi Bus: (0577)32-1688
Kintetsu Bus: (06)6772-1631
* Purchase the ticket by 4 days prior to departure after making a telephone booking.

3) Nagoya -- Takayama

Nagoya StationTakayama

TakayamaNagoya Station

Price: one way; 2,900 yen, return; 5,000 yen (4-day validity)
Contact #s to book:
Meitetsu Bus: 052-582-0489
Nohi Bus: (0577)32-1688
You can also purchase the ticket at a ticket counter in any JR stations, or major travel agencies e.g. JTB.


4) Matsumoto - Takayama

Link to alpico site

C) Access to Shirakawago/Kanazawa from Takayama

Bus timetable between Takayama and Shirakawago / Kanazawa


Sunday, July 27, 2008

Index on my blog

Please click one of the titles below you are interested in.

Welcome to Japan Guide ( Narita Airport )

Narita Express to Tokyo Proper, Japan Rail Pass validation and 'Suica and NEX' information

Narita Express temporary timetable as of 10 June 2011

Keisei Line to Nippori and Ueno

Navigation and guide upon arrival at Osaka Kansai Airport (KIX)

Japan Railpass validation procedures at Kansai Airport Station, and limited express Haruka and Osaka bound rapid trains info

Limousine bus from Kansai Airport

Info on Nankai Line to Osaka Namba from Kansai Airport

Series 700 on Hikari and Kodama on Tokaido - Sanyo Shinkansen

Getting around Tokyo

Getting around Kyoto

One day trip to Hakone from Tokyo

Getting around Hiroshima and Miyajima in a day

Visit to Himeji Castle / It's now under renovation.

Visit to Mt Koya (Koya-san)

Hieizan Enryakuji Temple

Connections between Kawaguchiko and Tokyo, Western Japan

Access info to Takayama

Basic train schedule search on Hyperdia

How to deal with Hyperdia, a train schedule search site

The way to Hokkaido from Tokyo part 1 (by train)

The way to Hokkaido from Tokyo part 2 (by air and by ferry)

Tokaido-Sanyo Shinkansen faretable on Hikari and Kodama

Mishima - Gotemba - Kawaguchiko bus timetable / Not updated yet

Kawaguchiko - Kofu Bus Timetable

Bus connections between Hakone-Yumoto and Gotemba

Transfer from Narita Express to Shinkansen at Tokyo and Shinagawa Stations

The way to Sunroute Plaza Shinjuku and Hotel Century Southern Tower from Narita Express Platform

Directions to Sunroute Plaza without going up and down stairs all the way from the NEX track at Shinjuku

Japan Rail Pass

Japan Air Pass

Transfer between Shinkansen, Narita Express and Yamanote Line at Shinagawa

Access to Keio Plaza Hotel from Shinjuku Station

A tool to check train seat availabilities

Navigation from the Narita Express platform to the West Exit (and some others) in JR Shinjuku Station

Navigation from JR Shinjuku Station to Shinjuku Keio Highway Bus Terminal

Airline meals (1)

Puratto Kodama, a discount Shinkansen ticket

Trip to Yufuin, Oita

Limousine Bus Durations from Narita Airport to Central Tokyo

Transfer guide from Sobu Rapid Line to the other JR Lines at Tokyo Station

Limousine Bus duration track records (NRT to Central Tokyo)

Seishun 18 Kippu (Youth 18 Ticket) and Railway Day Memorial ticket

Transfer to Keiyo Line at Tokyo

Transfer navigation from Keisei to JR Lines at Nippori Station

Transfer guide from Keisei to JR Sobu Lines at Funabashi

The way from Narita Airport to Maihama

English - Japanese point it sheet

Discounted Nozomi ticket

Directions to Shibuya Tokyu Inn from JR Shibuya Station

Directions to Shibuya Excel Hotel Tokyu from JR Shibuya Station


JR East Pass Special


Access to Keio Plaza Hotel from Shinjuku Station

Keio Plaza Hotel in Shinjuku is one of the very reputable hotels in Tokyo. Because of it's huge capacity on top, many tourists stay there. I'll feature the way to there from inside JR Shinjuku Station via West exit.

I covered other people's faces on the images to protect their privacy. I'm sorry for lowering the quality of the photos...

For those who head to Keio Plaza Shinjuku from Narita Airport, I'd also recommend using the limousine bus besides the Narita Express. According to a rep at Limousine Bus company, it's not always the case the duration from NRT to Keio Plaza exceeds 2 hours. The convenience that you can directly get to the hotel from the airport is hard to beat in one hand.

NRT Limousine Bus timetable from and to the hotels in Shinjuku
Limousine and Metropass for 3,100 yen

Link to JR Shinjuku Station map
The west exit is located on the middle right on the map.

Link to Keio Plaza official site

shinjuku map001

The red line indicates the route from the Shinjuku Station West Exit. The green line indicates the route from the Narita Express platform #5 and 6 to the west exit.
( Google Map )

Walk down the hallway located on the first right on the Shinjuku Station map toward the west gate.

Clear the west exit.

If you're not confident on how to get to the hotel, inquire the police officer of the way. Even though they don't speak English, with only the word of your destination they will understand and assist you.

Follow the signboard directions.

Keep walking on the left side of the roundabout. In case your luggage is heavy, and you don't feel like walking anymore, catch a taxi from the rank on the right of this photo. It's slightly less than 10 minutes walk from here.

Go on walking.

Walk down until you get out of this underground walkway, then you will soon spot Keio Plaza on your left.

Enjoy your stay!