On this page we will share any feedback we have received about travelling in Japan. One of the advantages of receiving feedback is that it gives us ideas of places to include in future editions of Japan by Rail, but will also help anyone planning a trip.

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From Peter Schmid (December 2016)
We are very grateful to Peter Schmid for the following:

This year in November I visited Fukuoka and found an extension to a side trip you mentioned. On page 383 (3rd edition) [note from Japan by Rail: this is on p435 in the 4th edition] you mention an alternative view of Fukuoka by a short train/ ferry excursion. The price is by the way now 440 one-way. But there is a wonderful extension to this side trip form the ferry station (Saitozaki). You can rent a bike and get a fantastic ride around the small hill at the end of the peninsula of Shinkanoshima. The rent is ¥3000 for 3 hours and ¥1000 deposit. (You can also rent the bike on Shinkanoshima). There are pamphlets (partially in English) with suggestions for 1 -3 hours’ rides. It’s worth every minute, with fantastic views. The ride is sold under the label “Great ride into the blue”.
There is also a website with the offerings:
I was there during light rainfall, but still it was worth it.

[Note from Japan by Rail: we were also delighted because Peter Schmid said: Japan by rail is absolutely a must for every traveler to Japan, even in case you do not travel by train (would be stupid, but...) there are so many great tips and side trips not mentioned in many guides. I travel every year to japan and this guide is always in my hand luggage.]

From Andrew Picknell (July 2016)
Strictly speaking this is not feedback from a reader; this is text which there wasn't space for in the 4th edition of Japan by Rail and rather than having it sit unread by anyone we decided to add it to this page.

Trip to Wakkanai 稚内, the northernmost point in Hokkaido

Taking the Sarobetsu LEX train (approx 4hrs; there is also a slower local train) from Asahikawa to the northernmost point in Japan at Wakkanai ( is an enjoyable excursion. Your train may even screech to a halt to avoid the many deer en route to this wilderness outpost.

The further north you go, the more sparsely populated and wild the landscape becomes with the line darting between hills, skirting the sea on the left, and revealing beaches, marshes and the sight of Rishiri Island nearby. Fauna lovers may also spot white-tailed eagles and red fox whilst visitors among the sand dune forests around Wakkanai may even glimpse the highly localised Zootoca vivipara reptile.

At Wakkanai station, the new spacious atrium has a variety of locker sizes and amenities. Turn left at the exit gates, you will find helpful staff at the Tourist Board Information Centre 稚内観光協会 (daily 9am-9pm) with maps, timetables and pamphlets to help you. Wakkanai Select Café (10am-6pm) doubles as a souvenir shop (9am-7pm) but also harbours a small soba restaurant (10am-7pm) serving a good value tempura soba (¥430) and a delicious scallop ramen (¥980) if you are waiting for your train back to civilisation. The new building also accommodates a cinema.

Cape Soya, Wakkanai
(© Andrew Picknell)

What to see and do

Beyond the station, shop signs in Russian script suggest the close proximity of Sakhalin (Japanese territory until 1945) and the international entrepôt that is the port of Wakkanai.

Outside the National Park, the main attraction here is Cape Soya 宗谷岬, the northernmost point in the Japanese archipelago, accessible by bus from Gate 1 at the corner of the station (6/day; 50 mins; ¥2500 return; last bus out 7.30pm, last back departs 9pm). Here, if you strain, you are meant to be able to glimpse the Russian island of Sakhalin in the distance (your eyesight will need to be very good).

You can have your photograph taken at the Cape Soya Monument 日本最北端の地の碑 on the coast.

'Peace Park', Wakkanai
(© Andrew Picknell)

Cross the road and ascend the path into the ‘Peace Park’ to discover the Cape’s military history via a moving assembly of US/Japanese WWII memorials. It also contains the poignant ‘Tower of Prayer’ monument commemorating the 269 victims of Korean Air flight 007, shot down in 1983 by a Soviet air-to-air missile off the coast of Sakhalin during the height of Cold War tensions.

Back at the station, walk the 4km scenic shoreline road towards Cape Noshappu ノシャップ岬. Striding beyond the fishing boats and their outlaid nets, you may spot small herds of deer and the occasional inquisitive red fox before finally reaching the sunset viewing point out to sea (look out for the dolphin statue). Among a severe backdrop of military radar installations and the second highest lighthouse in Japan; stand here and admire the imperfect outline of Mt Rishiri rising from the deep, a roughened replica of Mt Fuji, its craggy slopes reflecting the physical extremes pressing upon this corner of Hokkaido.

Back in town, a challenging clamber past Hokumon Jinja Shrine 北門神社 leads you into Wakkanai Park 稚内公園, replete with local monuments such as the Peace Gate Memorial offering wonderful sweeping views of the town and sea. From there you can also see the impressive Wakkanai Port North Breakwater Dome 港北防波堤ドーム, a concrete columned wave-shaped edifice built to protect the port from the biting Arctic winds and thrashing seas that torment the city in winter. The summer season does not last long here, with some locals beginning to wrap up warm as early as September.

You can follow the ‘Northern trail’ up to the Northern Memorial Museum 北方記念館 and take the lift up to the viewing platform at the top of the Motoe Hiraku Centennial Memorial Tower 開基百年記念塔 (June-Sep 9am-6pm ¥400, 6-9pm ¥200; May & Oct to 5pm) if you wish to catch the sunset although historical exhibits are all in Japanese.

From Wakkanai, you can take a ferry (; 2-4/day; approx 100 mins) to the two outlying islands of Rishiri-Rebun Sarobetsu National Park. Hiking the trails on Rishiri Island 利尻島 around the famous 1792m Mt Rishiri, is a popular pursuit for Tokyo salarymen, jetting in from Haneda. The marshlands there offer an abundance of birdlife, alpine gardens and natural mineral water sources. Only slightly more distant Rebun island 礼文島, known as the flower island, also offers an abundance of natural wonders for hikers and plenty of fresh local seafood such as urchin and atka mackerel (hokke) to sample.


If visiting in the first two weeks of August, be sure not to miss the dancing and fireworks of the Wakkanai Portside Antarctica Festival which prides itself on its Antarctica connection via two Sakhalin huskies Taro and Jiro who helped in Antarctica’s exploration. Their statues stand in Wakkanai Park.

Where to stay and eat

Dormy Inn Wakkanai ドーミーイン稚内 (☎ 0162-24-5489;; ¥5000/S, ¥8000/D, ¥9000/Tw), a 3-minute walk from the station, is a good budget choice for the traveller and offers an outstanding seafood-enhanced buffet breakfast (¥1500). There is a complimentary ramen noodle served (9.30-11pm) as well as an impressive rooftop spa to enjoy. You can also hire laptops for ¥1000.

A similar distance walk to the east from the station will bring you to ANA Crowne Plaza Hotel Wakkanai ANA クラウンプラザホテル稚内 (☎ 0162-23-8111; from ¥6300/S, ¥9300/D or Tw). A more upmarket yet good-value alternative, you can also enjoy the scenic views over a cocktail from the 12th floor Astral bar (Mohito ¥1240). Across the street on the far west corner from the Dormy Inn entrance you can eat delicious grilled seafood at Megure Izakaya (Sanma Pacific saury ¥480, hokke ¥800).

You can also dine in ANA Crowne Plaza Hotel’s admittedly expensive, season-focused Teppanyaki Hamanasu restaurant (5.30-9pm), or choose the cheaper 1st/ground floor Unkai restaurant option serving traditional Japanese dishes.

From Steven Wedema (January 2015)
We are very grateful to Steven Wedema for the following; we have added the Museum of History and Culture to the 4th edition of Japan by Rail and hopefully have made directions for the Oka Masaharu Memorial Peace Museum clearer.

I would like to contribute to your website with two comments on museums in Nagasaki:
The book does not mention the Nagasaki Museum of History and Culture (though it is marked on the Tourist Office map). This museum is well worth visiting for anyone interested in Nagasaki's history, particularly topics concerning that city's close ties with Europe (which of course are mentioned in connection with Deshima in your book). The collection is very well laid out and has English labelling throughout.

Oka Masaharu Memorial
Peace Museum
(© Steven Wedema)

I was also lucky enough to be approached by Mr Ryuhei Yoshizawa, a museum volunteer who offered me a guided tour through the museum in his very good English. With his erudite commentary and humorous remarks he made the visit to this museum well worthwhile for me.

My second comment concerns the Oka Masaharu Memorial Peace Museum, which you very commendably do mention. I can only encourage readers to visit this small museum. Its underlying message is that Japan will never normalise its relationships with its neighbours if it does not face up to its wartime crimes. This message is delivered forcefully, if by simple means.

Its collection looks a bit jaded in places and the museum obviously does not have the funding or the status it deserves; the lady at the reception said that the city council "does not like this museum" and thus has omitted it from the official Tourist Office map. All the more reason for anybody with a historical interest to visit it along with the (very well funded) Nagasaki Atomic Bomb Museum. I am including a photograph of the entrance of the museum because it is so hard to spot for non-Japanese readers...

From Greg Sanders (June 2014)
We are grateful to Greg Sanders for these updates - we will also add the information to the News/updates page.

Tsukiji is now asking visitors that don't make the Tuna auction to stay out of the more business area until 9 am. You can wander around the shops and restaurants and the vegetable delivery area nearby and I'm not sure if the rule is widely respect, but it is there and prominent.

Japan by Rail's commentWe have checked and it does seem that anyone who doesn't get there early enough to get a place in the designated tuna auction observation area must stay out of the business area until after 9am. This is because ever-increasing numbers of people want to visit Tsukiji. Even if some people doesn't seem to be respecting this rule we do hope the crowsds won't follow as it is important to remember this is a workplace and everyone is under pressure to get the fish out and on its way to restaurants and shops as soon as possible. Also note that the main part of Tsukiji is moving to Shin-Toyosu in November so the whole Tsukiji area will change after that.

Modern Transportation Museum closed April 6, 2014 (if we read the sign right)
We went during the prescribed hours.

Japan by Rail's comment: This is correct. JR West has now opened a new Railway Museum in Kyoto in Umekoji Park; it is the biggest railway museum in Japan (see the 4th edition of Japan by Rail for details.

The 2-day card was discontinued at the end of last fiscal year (thus March 2014). They have a one-day card.

Japan by Rail's comment: The one-day card now comes in two versions: one costs ¥840 and includes travel on the trams (streetcars) in Hiroshima as well as the ferry to and from Miyajima (but not the JR ferry). The other pass (¥600) just covers travel on the trams in Hiroshima.

From Louise Archer (April 2014)
We received an email from Louise Archer who was quite understandably upset about a comment on p272 in the 3rd edition of Japan by Rail. This text has been revised and the 4th edition now includes details about Shiobara-onsen. The comment in the 3rd edition said:

'After Utsunomiya all Nasunos and some Yamabikos call at Nasu-Shiobara (158km) and at Shin-Shirakawa (185km). However, there is little reason to stop at either.'

Clearly we should never have said there is little reason to stop somewhere as Japan is full of places to discover. The comment was meant in a relative sense compared to the previous stop which was the access point for the well-known Nikko. So, we asked Louise Archer to send more details and are now putting her feedback, as well as our comments, on this page. When we do the next edition of Japan by Rail we will research this area more thoroughly.

Louise Archer: I live in Otowara in Tochigi prefecture and I have a blog about my travels if you have an interest:

Japan by Rail's comment: Nozaki is the JR station for Otowara. It is the second stop (10-35 mins depending on which train you take) on the JR Utsunomiya Line from Nasu-Shiobara. The first stop is Nishi-Nasuno which Louise says is also convenient for the area.

There are many interesting things I can think of and a few from my blog would be...
• Seiji Fujishiro Gallery - Famous Kiri-e artist
• Sessho seiki legend stone
• Shikano Yu onsen dated back 1300 years
• Heisei- no- mori donated by the Imperial family, it abuts onto the Imperial Villa and is a beautiful walk, well planned out and with a information centre
• Nasu no Yoichi comes from here and has his own museum and shrine
• Basho came this way and haiku stones are throughout the Kurobane area
• Nasu Garden Outlet - Famous local Shopping Mall

• Ungan-ji Temple
Japan by Rail's comment: To reach Ungan-ji you need a car, or possibly a bicycle, from Otowara.
If you have a car and want to explore Tochigi this website would be useful:

• Daio ji Temple
Japan by Rail's comment: For further Daio-ji information see:

• Dragon Falls - Ryuku no taki - great hike and waterfalls
Japan by Rail's comment: Ryuku no taki (Dragon Falls) can be accessed from Nikko (

Onsens we have 3 main areas:
Access by train:]
Japan by Rail's comment: Another useful source of information is

Shiobara onsen
Shiobara onsen is best reached by JR bus from Nasu - every hour from the station (this is included in the 4th edition).

Nasu Kogen Onsen - Nasu Yumoto
Nasu Kogen is best reached by JR Bus from Nasu-Shiobara station:
Japan by Rail's comment: A bus operates hourly from Nasu-Shiobara to Nasu Onsen ( or, or; 50 mins; about ¥1300). From here you can explore Heisei-no-mori (see Louise Archer’s comment above). Also in the area is Shika-no-yu onsen which is open to the public ie you don’t have to be staying in a ryokan.

Each region has many, many onsen and wonderful ryokan....
Travel in the region is a combination of train and JR bus mostly. I have a car, but there are tour buses at the station all the time.

I feel like Tochigi is the forgotten prefecture sometimes, it isn't the flashy Tokyo or funky Osaka but its a very real Japan, I have rice field outside my bedroom window, everything is seasonal and local and there is lots of history.. the royal family appreciate it, they have a villa here in Nasu Kogen....
Restaurants are plentiful and food cheap but beautifully fresh.. Onsen in the region are often old and basic, but delightful, sitting in a rotenburo with the river rushing by right next to you..

I forgot Mashiko is also in Tochigi - You'd probably use Utsunomiya station as an access point... But that's a great place with a couple of pottery festivals a year..
Japan by Rail's comment: The pottery festivals in Mashiko ( are held in Golden Week and early November. Toya Bus operates a service from Utsunomiya to Mashiko (60 mins) but another option is to take the Mito line from Oyama to Shimodate. Then take the Moka railway to Mashiko. (See also p270 in Japan by Rail re the Moka line).

From LR (June & July 2013)

  • See LR's itinerary – an itinerary that didn't include a JR rail pass.

    Additional feedback from LR (July 2013)
    Kyoto was effectively fully booked for about four weeks from late March, because of the cherry-blossom season. I hadn’t anticipated it would be so busy and so hard to get a room, even a couple of months ahead. I did get a (business-hotel) room in the end, but I met a couple of UK guys who, faced with the same problem, commuted every day into Kyoto from Osaka, because they had a rail pass. They said it took just 10 minutes on the shinkansen! A nifty alternative, I thought, given the circumstances.

    Japan by Rail's comment: We decided to do this once because all the hotels we considered staying in near Kyoto Station were fully booked. The added flexibility gained by having a Japan Rail Pass, or indeed any of the JR regional passes, is a huge advantage.

    • I stayed at the Family Inn in Tokyo, which I absolutely loved. Great ‘local-neighbourhood’ feel (low-rise area, full of elderly folk on bicycles, tatami shop, etc): walkable (just) from Ikebukuro, with two other nearer local train stops too.

    Japan by Rail's comment: Family Inn Saiko is now included in the 4th edition.

    • I was really interested to see that some carriages on most (all?) Tokyo trains are women-only during commuting hours. Also in the Kobe area.

    Japan by Rail's comment: Even in rural Wakayama there are women-only carriages at peak times.

    • A fantastic, ultra-modern vegetarian sushi place in Roppongi, good value for lunch (¥1500 for 10 pieces).

    • Highly recommend Daikichi Minshuku in Tsumago: nice views, lovely old-fashioned tatami rooms and exquisite, outstanding traditional meals.
    The Hanaya, however, also in Tsumago was not at all interesting: modern and a bit tacky.

    • In Arashiyama, Kyoto, I was bowled over by the vast and gorgeous stroll garden of Okochi Sanso’s villa.

    • The Eko-In temple accommodation on Koya-san does interesting evening tours of the graveyard (Okunoin) in English, led by their English-speaking monk (who studied in Manchester).

    • Absolutely loved Hyperdia - a fantastic JbyR recommendation.

    Original feedback from LR; June 2013
    A couple of things that made my life easier:
    1) Having the Suica card. Following JbyR advice, I bought it as the package at Narita. Getting around Tokyo with that was so much easier: I didn't have to worry about what line I was changing to or from, didn't have to fiddle about with ticket machines. Plus you can top it up before you exit from the ticket gates, so you don't need to know in advance necessarily how much remains on the card, nor how much your journey will cost. It was also accepted in Kansai, but not universally.

    2) Takkyubin luggage-forwarding! See Takkyubin's website
    I only cottoned on to this towards the end, but it made my life so much easier. I sent my large suitcase direct from my Kyoto hotel to Kansai Airport and spent the next four days in Kansai almost luggage-free – perfect. Amazingly, the delivery only cost ¥1890 – well worth it. Had I thought about it earlier, I would have bought all sorts of ceramics and sent them to the airport too.

    Japan by Rail's comment: We have included details of this service in the 4th edition.

From Adam Durkacz (resident in Japan); February 2013
  • Recommended places in and around Shiga (Note from Japan by Rail: Shiga is a prefecture in the Kansai region; it lies east of Kyoto and its capital is Otsu. Its main feature is Biwa-ko (Lake Biwa).

    * Otsu Keihan railway – Ishiyamadera, Omi Jingu and Sakamoto (Enryakuji)
    * JR Biwako Line – Azuchi (Azuchi Castle), Hikone (Hikone Castle; see p188 in the 3rd edition of Japan by Rail and p236 in the 4th edition.)
    * JR Tsuge Line – Koka (ninja village)
    * JR Ogaki Line – Sekigahara (site of an epic battle in 1600; the town has lots of ruins and memorials)
    * Omi Tetsudou – Shigaraki (for pottery)

From Shaun de Boo; January 2013
  • Just one thing is required to enjoy travel in Japan - Patience. In and around Tokyo on JR Lines and the Metro destiantions and station names are in Japanese and English. It is the same of the Shinkansen and in Yokohama, Nagoya and Osaka [and other places as well, I expect]. Therefore, if you wait a little while you can read in English all the information that you need. Trains are very reliable - I have travelled as far as Kobe from Tokyo quite easily. I have also reserved train sets on JR via the internet. This requires pre-registration and is OK but it seems that you cannot book a return ticket in this way.

From Alla Bradley; January 2013
  • Things that were impressive about JR:
    * Trains very punctual, clean, spacious
    * Passenger seats rotate to face the direction of the journey
    * Plenty of legroom and luggage space in the overhead compartments
    * Very clean toilets
    * Private cubicles with well-lit mirrors (useful for women who need privacy to do make-up)
    * Friendly, polite conductors bow to all passengers when entering carriage and to individual passengers when checking tickets

    Trips we did:
    Day return Kyoto–Nara (~50 minutes one way) – Todaiji, Isuien Garden

    Day return Kyoto–Hiroshima (2 hours one way) – Memorial park and museum

    Kyoto–Yokohama (3 hours one way)

    Kyoto–Tokyo (3 hours one way). Can be done as a day trip if leave early. We went to Tokyo once for a day trip from Kyoto in order to meet a contact during the week when we were still staying in Kyoto; the following week we made another trip to Tokyo, where this time we stayed for a week to do sightseeing.

From Malcolm Fairman; December 2012

The points Malcolm Fairman makes about having one base and doing day trips from there and also taking express, or rapid, trains to the closest station before transferring to a local train are very useful.

  • On the Sakura Shinkansen service started last year, which runs from Shin-Osaka to Kagoshima-chuo, if you use free seating then the first two cars are 3 and 2 seating. However, if you book a seat you are put in cars 3-8 where the seating has been upgraded to Green class seats with 2 and 2. These are much wider, taller and, I found, much more comfortable. In car 4 there is a small Green class area where the seats are a different colour and include free magazines etc, but basically you get to use Green car seats at no extra cost simply by reserving a seat.

  • You can easily do day trips from Osaka to Kyushu. For instance I got the 06:25 from Osaka and arrived in Kumamoto at 09:50. I went to the castle and then returned on the 15:26 arriving back in Shin-Osaka at 18:44.

    One thing you have not mentioned at all is the reconstructed third century village at Yoshinogari. This is in Kyushu and again within easy reach from Shin-Osaka. The actual village is amazing and you can easily spend half a day there or more. When I went there were more guides dressed in the costume of the period than there were visitors. I saw virtually no one. The houses in many cases are complete inside and out. All wood and straw. There is also a partly opened burial mound. See Yoshinogari's website.

    To get there get the Sakura from Shin-Osaka, then get off at Hakata. There is literally about four minutes to dash to the JR platform to get a rapid train to Nagasaki, you get off at the first stop, Tosu. Then a local from there to Yoshinogari arriving 15 minutes later. The park is a clearly marked walk (750 metres) away. Really interesting sight and well worth a visit if you have an interest in Japanese history. It is on the Hakata–Nagasaki line but you need to be on a local train otherwise it will flash by in any other train.
  • Takeda Castle This the Japanese often refer to as the Machu Picchu of Japan and it is. To get to it you go from Himeji on a two-carriage train that leaves once an hour and the last stop before the destination is Takeda. It takes about 80 minutes.

    When you leave the station, turn to your left until you see a small passageway that goes under the tracks (a storm drain by any other name). You need to bend low as it is only 5ft high. On the other side turn left again heading back to the station and opposite the station is a small road that turns into a path on the right. That is the direct way up. It is a long climb up stony rocks which form a staircase.

    If you are healthy you will make it to the top, though several pounds lighter then when you started. Another way up is get a taxi that takes you to the car park near the top. That costs ¥1250 but saves time and masses of energy! For more information visit the Japan Castle website. Please see the picture for an idea of what is to be seen.

    The castle is famous for being above the clouds, as many mornings the surrounding clouds are actually below the castle. You have to be there early apparently to get this so good luck. There is a tourist office at the station manned by several people who sell books on the castle including a really good photo book put together by a photographer who filmed the place for a 12-month period. The book costs ¥2800 but the pictures are to die for. Bring food and drinks as the village doesn't have a lot that I saw near the station.
  • A mention on how to use trains might be an idea. Basically if going somewhere if you are able work out the fast train that stops near the target town and then simply get off at the last stop before and catch a local.

    Many visitors think it is best to get a local all the way along which takes a long time if travelling whereas a rapid or special rapid overtakes the local trains about every five or six stations. So for instance if you were to go to Shukugawa on the Kobe–Osaka line, you would catch a rapid from Osaka, get off at Nishinomiya and then take the local to Sakura Shukugawa.

    And as its name suggests, during the cherry-blossom period the little concrete enclosed Shukugawa is a beauty spot and one that people from all over the Kansai region travel to. Avoid Saturdays and Sundays as it's like trying to leave a World Cup football match the masses of people are so heavy and security guards try to control the crowds...been there, done it, now I stick to weekdays if I want to wander along taking in the cherry blossoms.

    JR only built the station about six years ago due to public pressure and the fact they were losing out big time to Hankyu and Hanshin both of which stop there. Hankyu is the easiest as its station bridges over the river. But the JR one is only about 500 metres down the main road that runs up the river.

From Silvia F; June 2012 (2 weeks)
  • We were based in Osaka and did short day trips in the Kansai area: Kyoto, Nara, Kobe and surroundings. I think this is the best way to get to know the Kansai area, which has some of the most interesting places in Japan, specially if you do not have a lot of days available.

    Visiting the gardens of Kyoto has to be one of the highlights of our stay in Japan. Since we had been to Kyoto before, this time we avoided the most popular spots (Kinkakuji, Ginkakuji, etc) and decided to visit the less popular ones, like: Heian Jingu, Murin-an, Shisen-do and Manshu-in. If you manage to avoid the crowds, it is a wonderful experience to wander calmly and get to know the gardens at your own pace.

    Another of the Kansai treats is to visit some of Tadao Ando's buildings. We took some time to visit Azuka Museum, which is remotely set in the woods near Osaka. There we discovered the ancient Japanese burials - not so unlike the Pyramids.

    And, of course, if you are staying in Osaka you never run out of options of places to eat. One of our favourite places is Daruma Kushiage, a yakitori restaurant just under the Tsutenkaku Tower in central Osaka. The atmosphere there is very lively and surely is the best way to get to know the locals.

    The above are just some of the highlights from our last trip, and we feel that Japan has still a lot more to offer us. Can't wait to go back!!