Updates and news

The 5th edition of Japan by Rail is available for sale in many parts of the world – see the Buy the book page for details.

The updates below are all arranged in the same way the book is ordered so look for the relevant page number. Please note that they now refer to the 5th edition of Japan by Rail. We have deleted entries where updated information was provided for the 4th edition.

On this page we will also 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.

We will also include any new museums or other attractions we hear about that we think will be of interest but which are not in the current edition of the book.

We will try to keep this website as up to date as possible, but if you find anything in the 5th edition that has changed we would very much appreciate hearing from you so we can put the update here for the benefit of everyone! Go to the Contact us page to contact Japan by Rail.

Introduction – colour pages

p6 COVID-19

It is not necessary to have any (PCR) tests before going to Japan or on arrival. It is also no longer necessary to show a valid vaccination certificate or a Covid-19 Negative test certificate when you enter Japan. Mask-wearing is now a matter of personal choice. Places such as hotels, restaurants, museums and shops may still encourage people to use hand sanitiser and may take your body temperature.  

Planning your trip

Rail passes


p29  Sadly due to the price increases (see below) the Japan Rail Pass  is no longer the bargain of the century unless you plan to travel on several long shinkansen (bullet train) journeys, though we don’t know anyone who doesn’t enjoy being on a shinkansen.

p30  Japan Rail Pass prices  The dollar equivalent for the 7-day Green class pass should say $387 not $37. However, note that the cost of Japan Rail Passes has now changed – see below for the details – and therefore also the equivalent exchange rates.

Since 1st October 2023 there has only been one price for all Japan Rail Pass options so the cost is the same whether you buy a pass in Japan or before going. The downside is that prices have increased by 65-74%.

The Ordinary Class 7-/14-/21-day passes now cost ¥50,000/80,000/100,000.

The Green Class 7-/14-/21-day passes now cost ¥70,000/110,000/140,000.

The UK£ and US$ equivalents in February 2024 are:

Ordinary Class

7-day     ¥50,000                   £262.39                   $332.50

14-day  ¥80,000                   £419.82                   $532.01

21-day  ¥100,000                £524.78                   $665.01

Green Class

7-day     ¥70,000                   £367.35                   $465.51

14-day  ¥111,000                £582.50                   $738.16

21-day  ¥140,000                £734.69                   931.01

This is a considerable increase and means that unless you travel a lot and for long distances it will be hard to get value from a 7- or 14-day pass. 

Apart from the cost the only significant change to the Japan Rail Pass announced so far is that pass-holders can now travel on Nozomi/Mizuho services subject to an additional charge depending on the distance travelled. For example, the additional charge for a Nozomi ticket from Tokyo/Shinagawa to Kyoto or Shin-Osaka is ¥4960 and to Hiroshima is ¥6500. From Shin-Osaka to Hakata is ¥4960 and from Hakata to Kagoshima-Chuo on a Mizuho service is ¥4500. These tickets can only be bought for journeys during the validity of your Japan Rail Pass.

As long as you include one long shinkansen journey, such as going to Nagasaki (¥27,000 one-way) or Kagoshima (Kagoshima-Chuo; ¥29,360 one-way) in Kyushu from Tokyo, or north to Hakodate (¥23,760 one-way) in Hokkaido you could still get value from the pass, but it will be worth planning your itinerary and then work out the likely travel costs and compare those to the price of the Japan Rail Pass. 

The regional JR passes now may be worth considering if you don’t want to travel too much. However, many of them have increased in price as well. And the real bonus of the Japan Rail Pass has always been its flexibility as you can travel wherever you want unlike the regional passes where you are restricted to a particular area. For more information see Itinerary planning below.

p30  The text should say that in addition to the purchaser passes can be bought for up to six other people at a time so in effect for seven.

pp29-30 (Buying the Japan Rail Pass) and pp39-40 (How to use the Japan Rail Pass)

However you bought your Japan Rail Pass the actual pass is now, in effect, a machine-readable ticket. At ticket gates it can only be used at machines with a slot to insert tickets – some machines are dedicated IC card machines – though there will always be at least one such machine, usually more.


p31  JR Regional pass prices box The prices of many of these passes increased from October 2023. See the details below..

JR East

Tohoku Area ¥30,000 instead of ¥20,000

Niigata, Nagano Pass ¥27,000 instead of ¥18,000

Tokyo Wide Pass ¥15,000 instead of ¥10,180

JR East & JR West

From March 16th 2024 the Hokuriku Arch Pass will cost ¥30,000 whether bought before arriving in Japan, online or when in Japan.  It will be valid on the new shinkansen services up to Tsuruga – and of course from there to Kyoto/Osaka on a limited express service.

JR West 

All Area Pass ¥26,000 instead of ¥23,000 (unlimited seat reservations now)

Sanyo Sanin Area  ¥23,000 instead of ¥20,000 (unlimited seat reservations now)

Kansai Hokuriku Area Pass ¥19,000 instead of ¥17,000

Kansai Wide Area ¥12,000 instead of ¥10,000 (unlimited seat reservations now)

Kansai Hiroshima ¥17,000 instead of ¥15,000 (unlimited seat reservations now)

Hiroshima Yamaguchi ¥15,000 instead of ¥13,000 (unlimited seat reservations now)

Okayama Hiroshima Yamaguchi ¥17,000 instead of ¥15,000 (unlimited seat reservations now)

Kansai Area 1/2/3/4 days ¥2800/4800/5800/7000 instead of ¥2400/4600/5600/6800 (includes seat reservation for Haruka Limited Express service only and also only twice ie to and from the airport)

JR West & JR Central

Takayama Hokuriku Area ¥19,800 instead of ¥14,260 (valid for up to six seat reservations now)

Ise Kumano Wakayama Area ¥16,500 instead of ¥11,210 (valid for up to six seat reservations now)

JR West & JR Shikoku 

Setouchi Area ¥22,000 instead of ¥19,000 (unlimited seat reservations now)

JR West & JR Kyushu

Sanyo-Sanin Northern Kyushu Pass 7-day ¥26,000 instead of ¥23,000/24,500/25,000 (unlimited seat reservations now)

JR Hokkaido

5-day ¥20,000 instead of ¥19,000

7-day ¥26,000 instead of ¥25,000

10-day ¥32,000 (new in October 2023)

JR Kyushu

All Area   3-/5-/7-day ¥20,000/22,500/25,000 instead of ¥17,000/18,500/20,000

Northern Kyushu  3-/5-day ¥12,00015,000 instead of ¥10,000/14,000

Southern Kyushu   3-day ¥10,000 instead of ¥8000

JR Shikoku

3-/4-/5-/7-day ¥12,000/15,000/17,000/20,000 instead of ¥9000/10,000/11,000/13,000.

If bought in Japan the pass costs ¥500 more.

Reserved seat book of tickets now costs ¥1200 and can be used for four reserved seat tickets on the JR Seto-Ohashi Line from Kojima towards the south and on Tosa Kuroshio Railway.

p31 & p34 JR Regional rail passes    For details of the Hokuriku Area Pass see https://www.westjr.co.jp/global/en/ticket/pass/hokuriku.

pp30-7 Regional rail passes The prices of many of these passes increased from October 2023. See the details above.

p33 JR East & JR West rail pass  The Hokuriku Arch Pass will be valid on the extension of the Hokuriku shinkansen to Tsuruga which starts on 16 March 2024.

pp34-35  JR West rail passes The Kansai-Hokuriku Area Pass and the Hokuriku Area Pass will be valid on the extension of the Hokuriku shinkansen to Tsuruga which starts on 16 March 2024.

p36 JR Central (Tokai) & JR West rail passes  The Takayama Hokuriku Area Pass will be valid on the extension of the Hokuriku shinkansen to Tsuruga which starts on 16 March 2024.

p37 JR Shikoku rail pass The prices of these passes increased in May 2023. The 3-/4-/5-/7-day passes now cost ¥12,000/15,000/17,00020,000.


p37, p38 & p39  Japan Experience  Japan Experience is now authorised to sell JR train tickets for journeys between major cities in Japan.  

Itinerary planning


pp41-4   Until October 2023 it was easy to get value from a Japan Rail Pass even with a 7-day pass but now that the prices have gone up so much it is important to plan where you want to go first and then work out whether a Japan Rail Pass would still be worth getting or whether the many regional rail passes would provide better value. Often they will but the below will give you more of an idea.

p42  The suggested itinerary for the 7-day pass is no longer cost effective as the Japan Rail Pass now costs ¥50,000.  It would only be worth purchasing if you travelled on one long shinkansen journey, such as going to Nagasaki (¥27,000 one-way) or Kagoshima (Kagoshima-Chuo; ¥29,360 one-way) in Kyushu from Tokyo, or north to Hakodate (¥23,760 one-way) in Hokkaido.

Fourteen-day pass: the classic route for a first visit

The suggested itinerary for the 14-day pass could just about be cost effective if you added in some other shinkansen journeys.

The approximate cost – this varies seasonally and depends on the service chosen – with reserved seats (which would be free if you had a Japan Rail Pass) are:

Tokyo to Nagano ¥8540

Nagano to Kanazawa ¥9320 

Kanazawa to Kyoto ¥14,820

Kyoto to Hiroshima ¥11,100

Hiroshima to Tokyo ¥16,050 (Hakone is not included as travel in that area is on private rather than JR services.

Total ¥59,830 

So, the total cost is ¥20,170 less than the cost of a 14-day Japan Rail Pass (¥80,000) now, though the journeys listed do not include travel to and from the airport, or within Tokyo, or to/from Osaka if visited from Kyoto etc.

If you added in some day trips eg from Tokyo to Nikko (approx ¥11,360 return) and from Kyoto to Himeji (approx ¥10,240 return) you would make the pass cost effective but this would mean quite a bit more travel which you may not want. 

p43 Fourteen-day pass: off-the-beaten track This itinerary would no longer be cost effective with a 14-day Japan Rail Pass. Options would be the 5-day JR East Pass (Nagano, Niigata) for ¥27,000 but apart from that it would be easiest to buy individual tickets!

Twenty-one day pass  This could be cost effective especially if you went to Kyushu or the Tohoku region and Hokkaido as there are more shinkansen services there; there are none on Shikoku.

p44  Boxed text 21-day itinerary This could still be cost effective but since it includes two areas (Koya-san and Hakone) where travel is on private rather than JR services it would be better if one of them (at least) was not included and was replaced with a town or city on a JR service eg both Nagano and Takayama offer nights in temples. 

In summary: It is now essential to get a general idea of where you plan to go and then work out the likely travel costs and compare those to the price of the Japan Rail Pass. If it is clear a Japan Rail Pass won’t be good for your plans consider a regional JR pass. This would mean you could focus on specific areas and see them in much more detail rather than rushing around to places all over the country. However, many of them have increased in price as well though not by such a big amount. And the real bonus of the Japan Rail Pass has always been its flexibility as you can travel wherever you want unlike the regional passes where you are restricted to a particular area.

p45  Itineraries  JR West Sanyo Sanin Area Pass  Adachi Museum of Art is in Yasugi not Yonago.

pp46-8  Activities and experiences  There are now many places where you can experience ‘forest bathing’ in Japan. Options include the Kumano Kodo pilgrimage trails, the woods around Nara and also at Arashiyama, Kyoto. It seems it is even possible to forest bathe at the new Ghibli Park (see p201). For more information visit https://www.japan.travel/en/guide/forest-bathing/.

Before you go


Facts about the country


p59   Former prime minister Shinzo Abe was fatally shot in Nara on 8th July 2022 when campaigning on behalf of Kei Sato who was hoping to be re-elected to the Upper House.


pp60-1  The population shrank to 124.9 million in 2022 and is predicted to be 87 million by 2070.

p62 Geisha in the 21st century    In Tokyo, Ishikawa and Niigata Geisha are called Geigi (Kyoto Geiko); maiko trainees are everywhere but in Tokyo they are called Hangyoku. Furumachi is the Geigi area in Niigata


p61  Traditional sports  For more information about Yabusame and for a schedule of events see yabusame.or.jp/yabusame-schedule/.

Practical information for visitors


pp64-5  For details of the fast-track entry process (only available for people with a smartphone) look at the Visit Japan Web website ( vjw-lp.digital.go.jp/en/). Be aware that, depending on your time zone and when you apply, you may not get confirmation of your Immigration or Customs status until the next day. 

p66 IC (Smart) cards box  Sale of the Suica and Pasmo – and possibly soon other IC cards – was suspended on 2 Aug 23 due to a worldwide shortage of semiconductors. Mobile (app) versions of both cards are still available but as stated in the book/e-book  these are not compatible with all worldwide phones.

Suica/Pasmo cards can be used at Uniqlo and also at some restaurants.

IC cards can’t be used at all stations in Hokkaido though from mid March 2024 they will be welcome at lots more places. Ensure you have some cash in case you need to buy a ticket – and buy before boarding.

JR West introduced digital ICOCA for Apple users in 2023. 


p70 HOTEL CHAINS  The website for Dormy Inn is now dormy-hotels.com/en/dormyinn/.

p74 SMOKING JR Central has removed smoking rooms from their trains so they are all smoke free.


p76     For details of traditional Japanese entertainment should say pp62-4 not pp162-4.


p79   New banknotes are being issued from July 2024.


pp80-1 Wi-fi and internet access The ‘Japan Connected-free wi-fi’ app for iOS still exists but a more recent app by the same developer, NTT Broadband Platform Inc, called ‘Japan Wi-Fi auto-connect’ (https://apps.apple.com/us/app/japan-wi-fi-auto-connect/id1461015351) has been developed and provides automatic connection. For further information about the differences see https://www.ntt-bp.net/jw-auto/en/faq/detail/p08.html. 

Free wi-fi is available on shinkansen services and some limited express services but not usually now on local lines.

Control panel for a toilet (© Japan by Rail)

p82  Hi-tech attention to the call of nature box Many toilets now have automatic flushes. However, there is always a separate flush button should you wish to do another flush.


p85-7   A useful website for information about onsen in Japan (though focusing on tourist areas) is https://onsen.nifty.com/la-en/.

The Rail Network

Railway history


p91  Future expansion and technology  The shinkansen line extension to Sapporo has been put on hold because of delays in the construction and also because Sappoto is no longer going to bid for the 2030 Winter Olympics.

The Tokyo to Nagoya maglev has been delayed and is unlikely to be operational till after 2027.

p92 STEAM LOCOMOTIVE (SL) OPERATIONS    Kyushu  The SL Hitoyoshi stopped operating in March 2024.

The railway today


p94 Japan by rail on the web A useful website about the various railway lines in Japan  is railwaysofjapan.net.


p96 Luggage box  JR Tokai, JR West and JR Kyushu have introduced better storage space for large luggage. This will be free for people who buy particular reserved seats, usually the seats closest to the storage area. The luggage will be locked into place.


p98  Hyperdia is no longer the best place for online information; it is now best to look at Japan Travel by Navitime; see box p94 in Japan by Rail.



p99 Sample singles fares from Tokyo Since both fares and seat reservation fees have increased and most of the JR companies are introducing peak season fares (for holiday periods such as Golden Week, Obon and New Year) the costs quoted here are likely to be out of date and should be seen as a minimum fare.


p99 ‘See p102 for in person seat reservations’ at the end of the first paragraph should say See p100.

Even if you aren’t travelling in peak periods it is particularly worth making a seat reservation for journeys on the JR West and JR Kyushu shinkansen (Sakura) as reserved seat cars have 2 x 2 seating whereas in non-reserved cars the seating is 2 x 3.

If you have luggage that is too bulky or heavy to put in the overhead storage (though not large enough for a specific seat reservation, see Luggage box p96) it is worth mentioning this when you reserve seats and asking to be in the seats next to the luggage area in each car. Officially only people with seat reservations directly in front of this area can use it for their luggage.

From spring 2024 the Hokuto LEX (Hakodate to Sapporo), Suzuran (Muroran/Noboribetsu to Sapporo), Ozora (Sapporo to Kushiro) and Tokachi (Sapporo to Obihiro) will all be reserved seats. The Kamui and Lilac (Sapporo to Asahikawa) will have additional reserved seating. The Soya, Sarobetsu to northern Hokkaido, and the Okhotsk and Taisetsu to Eastern Hokkkaido will stay the same.


p101  Luggage storage  Expect to find costs have risen. At Nagoya station it now costs ¥1100 per bag for storage up to 5pm.



p104 The Tokyo Pass app (www.mytokyopass.com; 2/3/5 days ¥6800/8000/10,300), available on App store and Google Play, allows entry to more than 35 museums, gardens etc and includes Tokyo Subway ticket for unlimited rides on all Tokyo’s subways in a 48/72/48+72-hour (worth ¥1200/¥1500/¥2700) time period. It includes some of the places that are on the Grutto Pass but also some different places such as Meiji Jingu Museum.

p104 On the Yamanote Line  JR East have been testing automated trains on the Yamanote Line since October 2022 so do look out for trains without a driver.

p108  Aomi  teamLab Planets was scheduled to close at the end of 2023 but it has been so popular it is now going to be open till 2027. It is best accessed from Shin-Toyosu station (see below).

Shin-Toyosu   teamLab Planets (for opening days/hours see planets.teamlab.art/tokyo/)is now scheduled to close in 2027.  The entry price is now ¥3500.

 Note that you will have to walk round barefoot (there are free lockers to store your shoes/socks and other belongings) and at times will be in (warm) water that is knee deep. The mirror floors in places mean that women are recommended to wear trousers – though shorts can be rented for free.  There are four art-work spaces and two ‘gardens’. Not only is this a fully immersive experience but it also reminds visitors how what each of us does can influence the lives of others around us. And in some areas visitors have a direct impact on the art works as when in the ‘Drawing on the Water Surface Created by the Dance of Koi and People’. Another highlight is the Floating Flower Garden in this case filled with orchids. Whatever your age do not leave Japan without going to a teamLab digital art installation. 

                  teamLab Planets is right by Shin-Toyosu station – it is hard to miss – though is a 10-minute walk from Toyosu station (Yurakucho Line) and about five minutes from Shijo-mae station.

Note: The Toranomon-Azabudai Project in the Roppongi area (see update for box p118 below) has opened and it provides a permanent location for teamLab Borderless ( www.teamlab.art/e/borderless_azabudai/).

p109  Kokusai-tenjijo-seimon  Tokyo Motor Show is now called Japan Mobility Show ( www.japan-mobility-show.com/en/).

p109  Shijo-mae  Senkyaku Banrai ( www.toyosu-senkyakubanrai.jp/languages/en/) opened in February 2024. It offers shopping, eating and a spa. There are two rooftop footbaths, one free (on the 8th floor; daily 10am-8pm) and another for anyone who buys a ticket for the Manyo Club Hot Spring (¥3850). You can stay the night in the relaxation room here – sleeping on a reclining chair – but you will need to pay an extra ¥3000 after 3am; check out time is 9am. The bathhouse section is over nine floors. The water comes from Hakone-Yugawara hot springs and is brought in every day.

The Edo-era streets  are spread over four floors and lined with shops and restaurants (shops 10am-6pm, restaurants to 10pm but not all are open every day); many places offer fresh fish but virtually all types of Japanese food are available. 

Senkyaku Banrai is connected to the 2nd floor pedestrian deck at Shijo-mae station and is then a 4-minute walk.

pp110-11 Shibuya  The open-air Shibuya Scramble viewing place at Magnet by Shibuya 109 is now an event space so it isn’t possible to view the Scramble from there now.

At weekends or on holiday periods it is worth booking in advance for Shibuya Sky as it is very popular especially if the weather is good but also due to Covid/Corona only a limited number of people are allowed up at a time. There is a dedicated lift from street level to the 14th floor. Entry now (2024) costs ¥2200 online and ¥2500 at the ticket counter.

p111 Harajuku  The Meiji Jingu text should say ‘when the shrine’ – not ‘the temple’ – was being constructed.

From Harajuku station walk down to Jingu-mae crossing – on the right-hand side, since April 2024, is the stylish Harakado (Fri-Wed 11am-6pm); it is called a creative meeting place and has shop and eateries (on the 5th and 6th floors) as well as lots of greenery so it is a relaxing place to chill out. In the basement (B1) there is a sento (public bath) called Kosugiyu Harajuku ( kosugiyu-harajuku.jp; Fri-Wed 7am-11pm; ¥520).

p113  Shinjuku  The 225m-high Tokyu Kabukicho Tower ( tokyu-kabukicho-tower.jp/en/) opened in April 2023. It houses hotels (Groove Hotel Shinjuku 18th-38th floors and Bellustar on the 39th-45th floors) as well as entertainment options such as cinemas, a theatre and a music venue, an art gallery, restaurants and much more. The five basement floors are dedicated to live music and clubs. The building is also designed to look like a fountain. It is a minute on foot from Seibu-Shinjuku station and about seven minutes from JR’s, Odakyu’s and Keio’s Shinjuku station.

p114 Ikebukuro  The branch of animate アニメイト池袋本店 (ex.animate.co.jp/shop/ikebukuro/; Mon-Fri 11am-9pm, Sat & Sun 10am-8pm), the flagship anime/manga etc store, has extended into a neighbouring building and now spreads over nine floors. The store includes a theatre for various events including of course plays and anime screenings. It is a short walk from the Seibu side of JR Ikebukuro and is about five minutes from either the JR or Seibu station. 

Sunshine 60 Building reopened on 16th April 2023 and is now called Sunshine 60 Observatory Tenbou Park (https://sunshinecity.jp; daily 11am-9pm). It is an indoor park but possibly the highlight is the observatory on the top floor (Mon-Fri ¥700, Sat & Sun ¥900) with a 360˚ degree open-air view of Tokyo and, if the weather co-operates, Mt Fuji. To get there take East Exit No 35 from Ikebukuro station and walk along Sunshine 60 dori (Street). On the right-hand side beside Sunshine Vision is the underground passage (escalator) to cross the road for Sunshine 60 itself. It is about an 8-minute walk. From Higashi Ikebukuro station (Tokyo Metro Yurakucho Line), Exit 6 or 7, there is an underground walkway and it is only about a 3-minute walk.

p116   Ueno  (Ueno Zoological Gardens)   Xiang Xiang was returned to China in January 2023.

The monorail – Japan’s oldest – will formally close in summer 2024 though hasn’t been operating since 2019.

p118  Roppongi  The Toranomon-Azabudai Project ( www.mori.co.jp/en/projects/toranomon_azabudai/) opened in this area (between Roppongi and Tokyo Tower) in 2023. Generally calledAzabudai Hills, the centre is a 6000sq metre plaza with three interconnected skyscrapers around it. it is home to 330m-high Azabudai Hills Mori JP Tower which, at the time of writing is Japan’s tallest building. There are views from the 33rd and 34th floors but it is not possible to go to the top. In addition to a hotel, shops, restaurants and cafés, teamLab Borderless ( www.teamlab.art/e/borderless_azabudai/) has a permanent base here and it opened in February 2024. Installations are Bubble Universe and Megalith Crystal Formation. The complex can be reached from Tokyo Metro Roppongi-itchome (Namboku Line) station at one end and Kamiyacho (Hibiya Line) at the other

pp119-21  Asakusa  Asakusa Yokocho ( asakusayokocho.com) opened in July 2022 – This new ‘Hall of Fame for Food and festivals’ is on the 4th floor of the Uniqlo store in Asakusa and hosts Awa and Bon odori dance troupes at the weekend. The store is near the Tsukuba Express Asakusa station and west of Senso-ji.

p125  Mt Takao boxed text  Even though the cable car (funicular railway) here is Japan’s steepest (the slope reaches 31˚) if the weather is good we recommend taking the chair lift at least one-way.

There are various trails offering different degrees of difficulty – Trail 1 (Omotesando trail) includes a 108-step stairway to Yakuo-in Temple. However, unless you are feeling very energetic we recommend joining Trail 3 (the Katsura Forest trail) at the base of the steps to the temple. You will definitely get away from the crowds doing this and have a beautiful forest walk. To create a circuit walk back through Yakuo-in and down the steps.


pp129-30 Getting around  Tokyo Metro raised fares from March 2023 by ¥10.

p133 Where to stay Shinagawa Goos, the building which housed Keikyu EX-INN Shinagawa-ekimae hotel, is being torn down as part of the development work for the Chuo maglev shinkansen. However, as part of the development the site will eventually accommodate another hotel.

p135  Haneda Airport  Haneda Airport Garden ( www.hvf.jp/haneda-lp/eng/index2.html) opened in January 2023. It has a hotel (Hotel Villa Fontaine) with two branches Villa Fontaine Grand (  www.hvf.jp/eng/hanedaairport-grand) and the more luxurious Villa Fontaine Premier ( www.hvf.jp/eng/hanedaairport-premier/) as well as shops and restaurants. 

At Villa Fontaine Grand expect to pay around ¥30,000/D (inc breakfast and access to the spa, see below) for a superior room. The hotel also has restaurants which are open to anyone.

Izumi Tenku no Yu ( www.hvf.jp/eng/hanedaairport-grand/spa; onsen daily 12.30pm-10am, though the spa area is open 24 hours a day; ¥4800 or ¥2000 for hotel guests unless included in the room rate), a hot spring/spa, is on the 12th floor. There are various types of bath with different temperatures both inside and out and areas where you can sit and relax. If the weather is co-operative there can be lovely views from the spa.

Haneda Airport Garden is connected to Terminal 3 via a passageway on the 2nd floor, which is where the stations and arrivals hall are. 

View of Mt Fuji from beach near Shichigahama station on the Enoden Line (© Japan by Rail)

Around Tokyo


p136  Kamakura An alternative rail experience  For views (in good weather) of both Mt Fuji and Enoshima Island get off the Enoden Line at Shichirigahama 七里ヶ浜 station and walk towards the beach.

Not in the current edition of Japan by Rail: Enoshima is a stop (called Katase-Enoshima) on Odakyu’s Line from Shinjuku and also on the Enoden Line (called Enoshima) to Kamakura. From either station it is an easy (10- to 15-minute) walk across a bridge to Enoshima Island. The island has an outdoor escalator (the first to be constructed in Japan; daily 8.30am-7.05pm; ¥360) to the top (46 metres). However, this can be very crowded at weekends and also is one-way only. If the weather is good there can be fabulous views of Mt Fuji.

p143  Hakone  It is worth travelling as light as possible to Hakone and if doing a round trip, whether for a day or up to three nights, you can store your surplus luggage at one of the Odakyu Sightseeing Service Centers at Shinjuku station: these are either at Shinjuku West Exit (daily 8am-7pm), near the Odakyu Line West underground gate, or Shinjuku South (daily 8am-8pm), opposite the Odakyu Shinjuku South Exit and between My Lord 2 and Lumine. The cost depends on how long you store your baggage and also its size and how many bags you have. 



pp147-8  Shin-Sekai    For an additional ¥1000 it is now possible to take a 60-metre slide down from Tsutentaku Tower’s lower deck.

p148  Tennoji    From Tennoji take the JR Hanwa Line or Osaka Metro Midosuji Line to Nagai for teamLab Botanical Garden Osaka (www.teamlab.art/e/botanicalgarden/), a new permanent installation which is open in the evenings only. Note this is not in the current edition of Japan by Rail but is added here for interest.



p151 Getting to and from Kansai Airport (and Table 2 p503) Haruka airport train services now stop at new underground platform, unofficially called UmeKita うめきた, at JR Osaka station. Previously services only stopped at Tennoji and Shin-Osaka. The journey time between Kansai Airport and UmeKita, Osaka station, will be 20 minutes less if on a direct train; the journey on a Haruka LEX will then be 47 minutes.

The ICOCA & HARUKA ticket is no longer available but you can get ICOCA cards.

p155  Getting around  The Namboku Line extension to Minoh will open in 2024. The new subway will serve Yumeshima Island – site of the Osaka Expo 2025 – and the station will be called Yumeshima.

p155  Festivals  Some of the events forTenjin Matsuri are held at Osaka Tenmangu Shrine, known as Tenma no Tenjin-san, and the processions start from there. The temple is about a 10-minute walk south of Tenma station along Tenjinbashisuji street, a covered shopping street.


p162 Side trip to Kinosaki-onsen Kinosaki-onsen has introduced a 3-day pass (¥2500) permitting free entry to the main sights in the area. For more details visit: visitkinosaki.com/tour-packages/kinosaki-must-visits-pass/. It is also possible to buy this pass in conjunction with a JR West Wide Area Pass through klook.


Central Honshu – route guides


p165  Shin-Yokohama  Some Nozomi to Nagoya and Shin-Osaka now stop here because a new (approx 10km) line connecting Sagami Railway’s Hazawa Yokohama-Kokudai station and Tokyu’s Hiyoshi station has opened. This connects 14 lines operated by 7 companies and over three prefectures so is now the longest railway in Japan.

p168  Odawara  It is worth travelling as light as possible to Hakone and if doing a round trip, whether for a day or up to three nights, you can store your surplus luggage at Odawara station. The cost depends on how long you store your baggage and also its size and how many bags you have. 

p169  Hakone-Yumoto  There is also an Odakyu Sightseeing Service Center here and the baggage storage office is open daily 8am-5.30pm. The main office is open Mon-Fri 9am-8pm, Sat and Sun 8am-8pm.

p173  Mishima  If doing the Hakone route in the reverse direction to that described in Japan by Rail, which is perfectly possible and may be an advantage, you can buy the Hakone Freepass at Mishima Station Tourist Information Center.

p175  Climbing Mt Fuji box  From July 2024 there will be a ¥2000 charge and this will be collected at the entrance to the Yoshida trail. The maximum number of climbers per day is planned to be fixed at 4000 for the Yoshida Trail, which is the most popular. Walkers will also not be able to start their ascent after 4pm unless they have booked space in a lodge; this is a trial and the hope is it will stop overcrowding but also people trying to climb Mt Fuji for the sunrise without having a break. There are also plans to develop an online system for booking a lodge.


p180  Side trips by train from Takasaki

To Minakami Expect to pay about ¥15,800pp per night at Takaragawa-onsen Osenkaku. Women are now required to wear a tunic and men a loin cloth in the mixed sex baths; these are provided by the hotel. The only outdoor single-sex bath is for women and women can be naked there. There are also indoor single-sex baths.       

            If you have time on your visit do walk around the area and if you walk back along the road stop on the bridge over the river and look for wild monkeys roaming around.

p182  Joetsu-Myoko APA Hotel JoetsuMyoko Ekimae is on the East Exit side of the station and Toyoko Inn Joetsu Myoko Nishiguchi on the West Exit side.

pp185-7  Tateyama Kurobe Alpine Route There is now also a Route Inn hotel ( www.route-inn.co.jp.e.ut.hp.transer.com/language/hotel_detail.php?hotel_id=691) in Shinano-Omachi.

p189  Kanazawa  The p197 reference for the Hokuriku shinkansen should say p199.

p189 and pp196-9  When the Hokuriku shinkansen extension opens on 16th March 2024 the original JR Hokuriku Main Line will be operated by the private IR Ishikawa Railway in Ishikawa prefecture – to Daishoji station – and by Hapi Line Fukui in Fukui prefecture so from Daishoji to Tsuruga. 

The JR Kuzuryu Line (Fukui to Ichijodani and Kuzuryuyko) will be an isolated JR line but JR pass holders will be able to go from Fukui south to Echizen-Hanando to access the line as long as they don’t get off. This also applies for anyone with a Seishun 18 Kippu who can go on Hapi Line Fukui between Tsuruga and Echizen-Hanando.


pp196-7  Services on the 125km Hokuriku shinkansen extension from Kanazawa to Tsuruga started in March 2024. The Tokyo–Tsuruga service is operated by JR East and JR West and there are 14 round trips per day; the journey to Tsuruga now takes 50 minutes less than it used to. There are also regular services on limited sections such as Toyama to Tsuruga. 

(The original JR Hokuriku mainline is now operated by the private IR Ishikawa Railway in Ishikawa prefecture – to Daishoji station – so Matto station is now a stop on that. Hapi Line Fukui in Fukui prefecture operates the line from Daishoji to Tsuruga via Fukui. Even though different companies operate the Kanazawa to Fukui stretch you can stay on the same train – as long as you have a valid ticket!) 

p197 Komatsu, Kaga-onsen, Awara-onsen and Fukui are now stops on the Hokuriku shinkansen.

Komatsu   小松 (27km)  On the platform (if arriving from Kanazawa) it is hard not see a Komatsu dump truck and excavator down below – these are part of Komatsu no Mori ( komatsunomori.jp; daily 9am-5pm, Kids Pavilion and Future Hall Tue-Sat 9am-4.30pm but also closed on the fifth Saturday of a month), a science museum where children can ‘play’ with Komatsu equipment; Komatsu started here in 1921. The dump truck and hydraulic excavator that can be seen on the station platform can be climbed onto (Apr-Nov 10-11am & 3-4pm, Dec-Mar 10-10.30am & 3-3.30pm subject to the weather). Take the East Exit from the station. The town is unusual in that it has a kabuki theatre for children which can be seen at Hikiyama Gallery Miyossa (Apr-Nov daily 10am-5pm, rest of year Thur-Tue; free), a 5-minute walk from the station’s west gate. For over 240 years children’s kabuki has been performed at Otabi Festival in May. Since the war it has been mostly girls aged 9-12 who perform the kabuki and they are on floats that are paraded between Ubashi and Motoori Hiyoshi shrines.  The gallery also houses two of the floats. To the right of the station is Ishikawa Komatsu Urara Theater where kabuki is also performed. There is a tourist information office (daily 10am-6pm) in the station as well as a branch of 7Eleven and a soba bar. Accommodation options, on the West Exit side of the station, are Hotel Grabinaro Komatsu ( hotelgranbinario.com/en/concept/), Hotel Airport Komatsu (  www.airportkomatsu.com), which despite the name is near the station not at the airport, and Hyper Hotel Komatsu ( hyper-komatsu.co.jp).

Kaga-onsen  加賀温泉  (42km)  This is the access station for three onsen town – Yamashiro-onsen 山代温泉( en.yamashiro-spa.or.jp), Yamanako-onsen and Katayamazu-onsen – and also an access station for the Kutaniyaki Kiln and Art museums. Kutaniyaki is colourful (red, yellow, green, purple and Prussian blue) Japanese porcelain and it has been made for over 360 years. There is a tourist information centre (daily 8.45am-5.30pm) in the station by the South Exit and a Tourist and Traditional Crafts information centre (daily 8.30am-8pm) in Century Plaza to the left of the station but connected to it. The bus stops are in front of the station exit and to the left there is Abio City Kaga shopping centre. The main reason to visit Yamashiro-onsen is to see and have a bath in the reconstructed Meiji-era sento (communal bath) called Kosoyu  古総湯 (daily Mar-Nov 6am-10pm, Dec-Feb 7am-9pm except morning of fourth Wednesday of each month; ¥700, small towel ¥220); get a ticket from the vending machine. It is lined with Kutani kiln tiles (and was the first communal bath in Japan to be lined with tiles) and there is stained glass and wonderful mahogany wood. There are no shower facilities – you just get undressed and leave your clothes in a basket in the single-sex ‘bath’ room. After your bath go upstairs to the refreshment area where you can sit and relax with some cold water and look down on the street below. If you would like to visit the nearby Soyu, a modern communal bath, as well you will need to pay ¥900. It is also interesting to walk around as there are still many old buildings here. It is thought that Yamashiro-onsen is where the Japanese syllabary table was first created in the late Heian era by the first head priest of Osenji (Osen Temple). Yakuoin Onsenji 薬王院温泉寺 is a short walk from Kosoyu and on the moss-covered path you can see the various hiragana in the Japanese alphabet. To get to Yamashiro-onsen take a bus (daily 1-2/hr; 12 mins; ¥260) from stand No 2 outside Kaga-onsen station. Another option for getting around is Kaga Canbus (  kaga-canbus.jp/english.php; ¥1100/1300 1-/2-day pass) which offers three routes: the mountain route (6/day) goes to Yamashiro and Yamanaka onsens, Kutani-yaki Kiln Museum ( visitkaga.jp/kutani-kamaato; Wed-Sun 9am-5pm; ¥350) as well as the Motorcar Museum of Japan ( www.motorcar-museum.jp; Thur-Tue 9am-5pm; ¥1200) which has over 500 cars;  the sea route (6/day) includes Kutaniyaki Art Museum ( www.kutani-mus.jp/en/; Tue-Sun 9am-5pm; ¥560) and the Komatsu Airport Line (3/day) includes Katayamazu-onsen. Buses depart from the Canbus stop in front of Abio City. Kaga-onsen is also a stop on the IR Ishikawa private railway.

Awara-onsen  芦原温泉  (58km)    The main reason to visit Awara-onsen is to stay at a ryokan/visit an onsen and eat Echizen crab. However, you can also reach Tojinbo 東尋坊 (Tojin Cliffs), cliffs which are about 30m-high and stretch along the coast for about a kilometre. For a bus to the cliffs (1-2/hr; 27 mins) and/or to the onsen area take the West Exit. In the station Fukui Museum and a play area are on the 2nd floor (both free) and they are a great place for children. There is a tourist information centre, as well as a coffee shop and Aflare Hall on the 1st floor. Awara-onsen is also a stop on the Hapi-Line Fukui Line.

p197  Fukui  福井  (76km)  (see also the text in the current edition of Japan by Rail.) You can’t escape the fact that Fukui prefecture is the place in Japan known for dinosaurs; all around the station (both inside and out) there are dinosaur models and also animatronic dinosaurs so if you don’t have time to go to the actual museum (see below) you can still learn a lot about dinosaurs. Take the East Exit for the Echizen Railway and tourist information office (daily 9.30am-7pm) and the West Exit for Fukui Railway, a light railway/tram line. Hapi Line Fukui also stops here. Sanji no Oyatsu is a coffee shop in the station. There is also a Fukui City Tourist information office (daily 8.30am-5pm) in a building outside the West Exit. Exhibitions at Fukui Prefectural Dinosaur Museum 福井県立恐竜博物館   ( www.dinosaur.pref.fukui.jp/en; daily 9am-5pm except second and fourth Wednesday; summer school holidays daily 8.30am-6pm; ¥1000), in Katsuyama, include Earth Sciences, Dinosaur World and History of the Earth. The entrance area has a 7m-high animatronic T-Rex and Dinosaur Hall has around 50 skeletons. There is also a Field station – where many fossils have been found  – 30 minutes by bus from the museum. 

To reach the museum take an Echizen Railway ( www.echizen-tetudo.co.jp) Eiheiji Katsuyama line train (1-3/hr; 53 mins; ¥820) from Fukui to Katsuyama 勝山 and then get Katsuyma Gururin community bus (6-7/day; ¥350) or take a taxi to the museum. Echizen Railway has introduced a 2-car dinosaur train from which operates at weekends and on holidays but not in the winter months. Seat reservations are essential and tickets include the museum’s admission fee and the bus to/from the station. For accommodation there are branches of Dormy Inn ( dormy-hotels.com/en/dormyinn/hotels/fukui/), Manten Hotel (www.manten-hotel.com/fukui/), Route Inn ( www.route-inn.co.jp.) and Toyoko Inn ( www.toyoko-inn.com) around the West Exit of the station.

Echizen-Takefu  越前たけふ  (95km)  This is a completely new station and it is nearly 2km from the original town called Nanetsu. The Echizen-Takefu area is known for both soba and knife-making/kitchen-ware. You can go to Echizen Soba no Sato 越前そばの里 (Sato Village; www.echizensoba.co.jp; 9.30am-4pm, restaurant 10.30am-3pm; free) just for a meal but if you book in advance through the website you can also make soba (90 mins at 10am or 12.30pm; ¥2200). The soba-production process at the factory can be observed at any time but it is through glass and a rather limited experience. Takefu Knife Village タケフナイフビレッジ ( en.takefu-knifevillage.jp; daily 9am-5pm; free), a co-operative of knife makers, is the place to go if you are interested in knife-making. Bus from Takefu station to Ajimano Jinja-mae (3-4/day; 25 mins; ¥460).  There are no bus services to the soba and/or knife villages but as long as you have a mobile/cell phone and call plan you can buy a taxi ticket at the tourist information centre at the station and they will book a taxi for you. This is a very good deal as the taxi ticket costs ¥500 one-way but, for example, the journey from the station to the soba village would normally cost ¥1020 one-way. They will give you the phone number so you can book a taxi for your return journey when you are ready.

p199  Tsuruga  敦賀 (125km)  Tsuruga ( tsuruga-kanko.jp or sustainable-tsuruga.jp/en/spot/ ) is a port town and developed in part because it provided a good connection from the Sea of Japan to Kyoto. In the Meiji to Showa eras it had an important role as the place where Polish orphans (1920s) and later Jewish refugees (1940s) arrived from Russia (Vladivostok). Before air travel it was also the quickest way from Japan to Europe as you could take a boat from Tsuruga to Vladivostok and then pick up a Trans-Siberian Railway train. It is also notable in terms of rail history as it was the first town on the Sea of Japan coast to build a railway, and the first railway to be fully electrified and at one time the Hokuriku Tunnel was the longest in Japan and fifth longest in the world. Pick up a map from the tourist information centre in the station. 

If walking from the station the first sight you should head for is Kehi Jingu shrine 氣比神宮 – it is notable as having one of the biggest wooden torii gates in Japan. From there rail fans should head to Tsuruga Railroad Museum 敦賀鉄道資料館 (generally Tue-Sun 9am-5pm; free); it is housed in the former port station building. There are some interesting exhibits but most labels are in Japanese. The Port of Humanity Tsuruga Museum 人道の港 敦賀ムゼウム ( tsuruga-museum.jp/en/; Thur-Tue 9am-5pm; ¥500) is where you can learn about this and for the most part there are lots of labels in English so it is well worth visiting. The museum looks like several houses. Even though it is not an exciting walk it takes about half an hour from the station to the port area and the main sights but if you prefer Gurutto Tsuruga Shuyu bus (8-10/day; ¥200, 1-day pass ¥500) departs from bus stop 3 on the west exit side of the station and operates on a loop route to the main sights. Tsuruga Manten Hotel Ekimae  敦賀マンテンホテル駅前 ( www.manten-hotel.com/tsuruga/; ¥16,200/D inc breakfast) is to the right of the main station exit. The rooms are rather dated but are perfectly comfortable and the hotel has a common bath. Breakfast is either Japanese or Western. There aren’t many places to eat at near the station – the best option is Polt Square Otta to the left of the station exit. This also has shops including a stylish bookshop called Chienamiki.

Moving on from Tsuruga: to Kyoto, Shin-Osaka/Osaka or Nagoya

p199  If transferring direct from a shinkansen to a limited express service to Kyoto/Osaka/Nagoya expect a long walk, especially if you were sitting at the back of the shinkansen. There are 25 connecting services a day from Tsuruga to Kyoto/Shin-Osaka/Osaka and 8/day to Nagoya. There are also 10 rapid services a day to Himeji via Kyoto, Shin-Osaka, Osaka and Kobe/Sannomiya.


The JR Obama Line heads west from Tsuruga to Higashi-Maizuru; transfer there to the JR Maizuru Line to NishiMaizuru and then take the private KyotoTango Railway’s Miyamai Line to Amanohashidate (see below). (KyotoTango Railway is now operated by Willer Trains; Willer is better known for its long-distance coach/bus services in Japan.)

Amanohashidate  天橋立  The view here of the pine/tree covered sandbank linking (with the benefit of a small bridge) two sides of a bay is deemed one of the three most scenic views in Japan. That is debatable but undoubtedly if the weather is good the view is lovely, especially if you walk over the sandbank and take the chair lift or funicular up to Kasamatsu Park – or the chairlift up to Amanohashidate View Land on the same side as the station. Two options for accommodation are: Hotel Amanohashidate ( www.amanohashidate-htl.co.jp/lg_en/ ; ) is across the road from the station and offers views of the sandbank or, if your budget doesn’t stretch to staying there, consider Auberge Amanohashidate ( www.amanohashidate-htl.co.jp/auberge/lg_en/; from ¥7000/S, ¥10,215/D or Tw inc breakfast). Some of the rooms here can see the sea but most can’t. The rooms are very compact but the bonus is that you can use the onsen at Hotel Amanohashidate and eat breakfast there and it is a very good buffet breakfast. Auberge Amanohashidate has a restaurant which serves a limited selection of Western-style dishes (options include seafood gratin ¥2300, steak ¥3300); their dining room looks over the Asokai Sea so it is a lovely place for a meal. We recommend eating early if you want a window table.

Central Honshu – city guides

pp199-208 NAGOYA

p201  What to see and do  

p201 Ghibli Park  The whole site will be open from 16th March 2024. Ghibli Park Stroll (Sampo-ken) tickets cost ¥1500/2000 weekdays/weekends and are valid for the outside of everywhere other than the Grand Warehouse. Ghibli Park Big Stroll tickets cost ¥3500/4000 weekdays/weekends and permit entry to the Grand Warehouse, the Valley of Witches rides and Mononoka mochi-roasting but not anything else. A Ghibli Park Premium Big Stroll ticket costs ¥7300/7800 weekdays/weekends; this is an all access ticket. Tickets must be booked in advance – as for Studio Ghibli. They are available two months in advance and from 2pm (Japan time) on the 10th of every month.

Note that both the Linimo maglev line and Aichi Loop Line may also be very busy.


p205   Getting around  All Municipal subway line timetables have been removed from the platforms and replaced by QR codes.

Kansai – route guides


p238 Side trip to Ise Grand Shrine (Ise Jingu) A theme part for Ninja fans is Ninja Kingdom Ise (https://www.ise-jokamachi.jp/en/; generally open daily 9am-5pm; ¥4900/adult day passport, other rates available); it is about a 15-minute walk from JR Futaminoura station which is between Iseshi and Toba stations. Alternatively take a CAN bus. There is also a hot spring there. This is not currently in the Japan by Rail text.

pp244-5  Shirahama  Coral Princess Underwater Observation Tower (daily 9am-4.30pm; ¥800, ¥700 for hotel guests) can be reached through Key Terrace Hotel Seamore ( www.keyterrace.co.jp/en/; from ¥16,650pp inc half board for a room with a sea view). Hotel Seamore has a wonderful location on the cliff-tops and it is worth paying extra for a room with a sea view. Breakfast is always a buffet meal but in the evening you can choose between a buffet, a sushi meal or a standard Japanese kaiseki-style meal. 

Kansai – city guides

pp249-65 KYOTO

pp250-6  What to see and do

p252 Western Kyoto  The entry charge for Kinkaku-ji is now ¥500.

Samurai and Ninja Museum (https://mai-ko.com/samurai/; daily 10.30am-8pm; ¥3000, ¥2700 if booked online), a branch of the one in Tokyo (see p112 in Japan by Rail) has opened here. It is a 3-minute walk from Kawaramachi station on the Hankyu Line and about seven minutes from Gion-Shijo on the Keihan Line. This is not included in the 5th edition of Japan by Rail.

p255 Getting to know geisha boxed text  The small roads in Gion, near Hanamikoji Street, are now closed to visitors in an attempt to let the geisha and maiko get on with their lives without being surrounded by photo-snapping tourists.

p257 Getting around  Sale of the one-day bus passes stopped in 2023 but the passes are valid till March 2024. Instead there is a Subway & 1 Day Bus Pass ( oneday-pass.kyoto; ¥1100); this means you can take a subway to the nearest place to the sight you are visiting and then get a bus. Discounts are also available with the pass. It can be bought at Kyo-Navi, information centres and city bus offices.

p262 Evening entertainment Yasaka Hall Gion Corner reopened in March 2023; it has now been made earthquake proof. Tickets cost from ¥5500.

pp257-62 Practical information

p257 Getting around  Sale of the one-day bus passes stopped in 2023. Instead there is a Subway & 1 Day Bus Pass ( oneday-pass.kyoto; ¥1100); this means you can take a subway to the nearest place to the sight you are visiting and then get a bus. Discounts are also available with the pass. It can be bought at Kyo-Navi, information centres and city bus offices.

Two express sightseeing buses (Sat, Sun & public holidays; ¥500 per journey, Subway & Bus Pass valid) started operating on June 1st 2024. Both start from Kyoto station: the EX100 goes to Ginkaku-ji (Silver Temple) and stops at some places en route which are close to major sights. The EX101 goes direct to Gojo-zaka (for Kiyomizu-dera temple). The Kyoto ( kyoto.travel) website gives information about how to get to the main tourist sights on an everyday basis.

pp263-265 Side trip by rail to Arashiyama

p264 Riding the romantic train – and returning by boat boxed text  Sagano Scenic Railway introduced an online booking system in February 2024; see www.sagano-kanko.co.jp/en/josyaken.php for details. Tickets can be bought from one month before the planned trip to up to five minutes before departure but leaving it that late risks it being sold out.


Western Honshu – route guides


pp274-5  Himeji  Guided tours in English have resumed at Himeji Castle; see https://www.himejicastle.jp/tours/ for more details. 

p277 Side trip by bicycle to Shikoku  Onomichi station now has a hotel and restaurant. Hotel Beacon Onomichi ( www.beacon-onomichi.com/en/ ) has 16 rooms and some of the rooms have kitchenettes. There is also a common bath and Café Restaurant Bar Gen. JR West operates a bike rental store on the 1st floor. The station also has a convenience store. Toll-free cycling will continue till the end of March 2026.

pp278-9  Side trip by rail and ferry to Okunoshima  Before Covid-19 spread, the rabbit population seemed to have increased to 1000, but then people stopped visiting and did not feed them, so now the population has dropped to 400.

Western Honshu – city guides

pp296-302 OKAYAMA

p297 What to see and do The renovation work at Okayama Castle is now complete; the opening days and hours are the same but the admission charge is now ¥400 (¥640 inc Korakuen). The main exhibition has been renewed with more multi-media exhibits. The 1st floor has also been enlarged so it can be used for events so it is possible the castle will be closed at those times.

pp301-2 Side trip by rail to Kurashiki  The cherry blossom trees that line the river from the southern end of the Bikan Historical Area are Kawazu so bloom earlier than most – from early March is possible.

p302 Side trip by train and ferry to Naoshima It is now necessary to change train in Chayamachi for most services.

Tamano Tourist Information Centre in Uno station is open daily 9am-5pm.

pp302-11 HIROSHIMA

pp303-4 What to see and do Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum is now open daily 7.30am-7pm, to 8pm in August and to 6pm Dec-Feb. Tickets can also now be bought online – overseas on Klook and in Japan by Asoview. They are not mandatory except for entry 7.30-8.30am and 5.30-6.30pm (Aug 6.30-7.30am, Dec-Feb 5.30-6.30pm).

p306 Getting around Prepaid IC cards (see p66 in Japan by Rail) can be used on the trams and are by far the easiest way to pay unless you have bought a One-day pass.

Otorii gate for Itsukushima Shrine on Miyajima (© Japan by Rail)

pp309-11 Side trip to Miyajima

p309  The o-torii gate is now fully visible as the restoration work has been completed. However, restoration work is still continuing in the main shrine area.

p310  The ropeway is in two stages and consists of two types of gondola: a funicular type with just two gondolas and a circulating type with many gondolas and the ropeway keeps operating.

p311  Miyajima Visitor Tax was introduced on 1st October 2023. The cost is ¥100 per visitor who is over preschool age and per visit. Children in Japan start school at the age of 6. The exceptions are residents and people who work on the island. The money will be used to maintain the sights and facilities for tourists on the island. The tax will be paid before boarding the ferry.

p317  Side trips from Matsue Tottori  A stylish wooden structure, Takahama Café (https://takahama-cafe.com; daily 10.30am-4pm), now overlooks Tottori Sand Dunes. The café also has a rooftop observation floor. It is opposite the Geo Park Center.

Tohoku (North-eastern Honshu) route guides

p319 Tohoku area map Minakami is on the Joetsu mainline (Takasaki to Nagaoka) not the shinkansen line.


pp320-2 Omiya  Omiya Bonsai Art Museum accepts IC card/credit card payment. After seeing what you want in the museum pick up a map of the Bonsai Village area and visit some of the bonsai gardens (free). If you have visited the village area and don’t have a JR Pass, or don’t mind spending some money, it is best to walk to Omiya-koen station on the Tobu Noda (Urban Park) Line and take a train back to Omiya (8-13/hr; 4 mins; ¥160).  

There are various hotels around Omiya station. A good-value option is Toyoko Inn Omiya-eki Higashi-guchi ( www.toyoko-inn.com/index.php/eng/search/detail/00334/; ¥12,065/D inc breakfast). This branch has been modernised so is different and better than most others in this chain. Turn left out of the East Exit and then right along Ichibangai shopping street and then left. This hotel is on the right – it is about a 5-min walk from the station.

p323 Oyama/JR Mito Line and Mooka Railway Louise Archer suggested we include Mashiko : ‘that’s a great place with a couple of pottery festivals a year’. The pottery festivals in Mashiko (www.mashiko-kankou.org/english) are held in Golden Week and early November. The easiest rail option is to take the JR Mito line from Oyama to Shimodate. Then take the Mooka/Moka railway to Mashiko.

p323  Utsunomiya  The Haga Utsunomiya Light Rail (tram) line – called the Light Line – opened in August 2023. The terminus on the east exit side of Utsunomiya station is called Utsonomiya Station East.

Utsunomiya is also known for gyoza. The map of Utsunomiya that you can pick up at the station shows the many gyoza restaurants in town. The most convenient option on the corner of the road by the station’s west exit – turn left out of the exit – is Utsunomiyagyozakan Ekimae Nishiguchi Chuoten  宇都宮餃子館 健太餃子 西口駅前中央店 (daily 11am-9.30pm). There is a myriad of types available but for ¥900 (¥1150 inc rice and miso) you can get a selection of 12 different types of gyoza including prawn, shiso (delicious!), cheese, scallop, nira (garlic chives) as well as the more standard fillings.

In addition to the hotel mentioned in the book another option is Richmond Hotel Ekimae ( richmondhotel.jp/utsunomiya/; from ¥10,400/S, ¥15,000/D or Tw inc breakfast). It is a 2-minute walk from the west exit of the south exit from the station. It is easier to get there if you walk on street level rather than using the pedestrian overpasses. If the main branch is full, or if you prefer to be in the branch which offers a Japanese/Western buffet breakfast (as opposed to a purely Japanese buffet breakfast) book the Annex which is directly opposite the main branch.

pp329-30  Side trip via the Yamagata shinkansen to the west coast The Tsubasa services also stop at Akayu 赤湯 and Kaminoyama-onsen かみのやま温泉. Ordinary trains also operate on this line.

pp333-4 Side trip by rail to Hiraizumi  The page reference to Pure Land garden in the Motsu-ji  text should be ‘box on p87’ though it doesn’t actually explain a Pure Land garden. Pure Land gardens were built to represent the Buddhist paradise.

p336 Side trip to Jodogohama (Pure Land) Beach  Jodogohama should be Jodogahama


pp348-9  Tsuruoka and Side trip to Dewa Sanzan  The tourist information centre is open daily 9am-5.30pm and has information in English about both Tsuruoka and also the Dewa Sanzan area. 

The main reason why Tsuruoka has become a UNESCO Creative City of Gastronomy is because the Yamabushi (traditionally ascetic mountain dwellers/worshippers who practise Shugendo – a mixture of Shinto and Buddhism) lived in the Dewa Sanzan area and had a vegetarian diet (shojin ryori) sourced from vegetables and other foods grown in the mountains. As a result, lots of heirloom vegetables are grown here and they are still grown in the traditional way. The food is seasonal but as everywhere in Japan ways were also created to preserve food. Nowadays some yamabushi have shokubo (temple lodgings) where they offer shojin ryori. And this is the best place to experience this food (see p349 in Japan by Rail). However, if you only have limited time you can eat in the Food Market, at Tsuruoka Gastronomy Foodever, where there are various stalls. For delicious sansai tendon (vegetable tempura on a bowl of rice; ¥1200) you will need to order through the vending machine on the right-hand side in the Food Market area – the pictures should make it clear what is on offer. Separately, Yaku offers Tohoku salad (¥680), steak and curry rice (¥990) or a pasta dish (¥1100) and Yuishin offers soba set meals (from ¥795).

                  The sake bar (daily 6-10pm) offers a sake tasting for ¥1500. With the sommelier’s advice you can choose three sakes and then have them with some small dishes that would pair well with the sake.

Sadly the labels for the exhibits about the heritage produce in FOODEVER and the Gastronomy Market (daily 9.30am-10pm) are virtually all in Japanese.

For more information about the Yamabushi see https://www.yamabushido.jp.

Tohoku (North-eastern Honshu) – city guides


Hokkaido – route guides


p364  Shin-Hakodate-Hokuto  The shinkansen line extension to Sapporo has been put on hold because of delays in the construction and also because Sappoto is no longer going to bid for the 2030 Winter Olympics.


pp367-8  Alternative route to Sapporo via Otaru  Niseko station now has a small rail heritage centre. An accommodation tax is being introduced for Niseko from November 2024. The tax will vary from ¥100 to ¥2000 per night depending on the cost of the actual accommodation. 

p368 Yoichi  Nikka Whisky Yoichi distillery  It is essential to book a guided tour in advance but these are only in Japanese so may be of less interest if you don’t speak Japanese. However, you do get to try three whiskies and the advantage of joining a tour is that you can go in the main entrance which is close to the station. If you don’t book a tour you will have to walk round to the back of the site (pick up a map at the station or from someone at the main entrance) for the shop, museum and restaurant; this takes 10-15 minutes. The museum is interesting, everything is in English and you can pay to taste different whiskies.

p370 Otaru to Sapporo  If you have a Japan Rail Pass – or JR Hokkaido pass – you can reserve seats on the rapid train between Otaru to Minami-Chitose Airport via Sapporo (or vice-versa); this is worth doing especially if you have luggage.

pp372-3  Shiraoi  Shiraoi Station North TIC Poroto Mintar ( shiraoi.net/en/porotomintar/; Apr-Oct 9am-6pm, Nov-Mar to 5pm)has information about everything in the area. 

Before you go to Upopoy it is worth looking at the event schedule ( ainu-upopoy.jp/en/timetable/ ) on their website so that you can plan your day as not all workshops or performances happen throughout the day. It is also worth booking the performing arts event as soon as you get to the museum as that can get full. And do allow time to see the actual museum as there is a lot to see there and everything is well labelled in English.


pp375-7  Abashiri  Abashiri Prison Museum now costs ¥1500 but it is definitely worth going. Okhotsk Ryu Hyo Museum has been renovated. The drift-ice room has been expanded and visitors can now experience temperatures as low as -15˚C. The HD cinema screen is now 360˚ and multilingual information is also available.

At Route Inn Abashiri Ekimae expect now to pay for a double room including breakfast but the hotel does have a common bath. There are few good eating options near the station. A family restaurant option is Victoria Station  ヴィクトリアステーション (daily 9am-9pm), though the sign outside says Steak Victoria.  The burgers and chicken are recommended more than the steaks. In addition to the main meal you can choose an unlimited soup, curry and salad bar option for ¥590 (¥390 for soup and salad). Turn left out of the station and walk along the main road; it is soon on the right-hand side. 


pp382-3  Kushiro  On the Dormy Hotels website La Vista Kushirogawa is now called Shimai no Yu Dormy Inn Premium Kushiro  幣舞の湯ドーミーインPREMIUM釧路. Expect to pay ¥19,200 now for a double room including breakfast. If you want to see the sunset from a warm place go to the 13th floor. Akan Bus’s Pirika bus tour now costs ¥5600; the tour goes to Lake Mashu, Lake Kussharo (see p381 for both), and Lake Akan. The marquée outside MOO is called Ganpeki Robata and it is open 5-9pm. You need to purchase a minimum ¥1000 voucher (after that it is possible to buy ¥500, ¥200 or ¥100 vouchers) but note that they are non refundable. The options available are so enticing it is easy to spend ¥3000 per person including a drink.

p383 Side trip to Nemuro The Nemuro Hanasaki Line from Nemuro to Kushiro travels on marshyland and it has been said that the scenery resembles the scenery on the train journey in Studio Ghibli’s Spirited Away


pp383-4  Ikeda  To reach the Ikeda Wine Castle turn left out of the station and walk towards the pedestrian bridge across the tracks. Cross over the tracks and walk up to the Wine Castle.  

p384  Obihiro  For those who like (hot spring) onsen baths another hotel option is (Shirakaba no Yu) Dormy Inn Obihiro( dormy-hotels.com/en/dormyinn/hotels/obihiro/; from ¥16,200/D). It is a 3- to 5-minute walk from the station along Nishi3jodori – the easiest way to find it is to turn right when you reach the covered shopping street.

p384  Ban’ei racing – with draft horses boxed text. The track and stadium are actually more than a 15-minute walk from the station so it is best to take a bus – take either the 17, 2, 31 or 72 from bus stand No 12 to Obihiro Kousei-mae. There are 2-5 buses an hour. It is worth going even if not a Saturday to Monday as you may see horses practising and there is a museum (daily 10am-4pm; free) where, even though most labels are in Japanese, there is a video of actual horse races so you can really understand the event.

Hokkaido – city guides

pp388-94 HAKODATE 

p392 Getting around  The Mt Hakodate bus now costs ¥500; services start at 5.30pm and the last service back from the mountain departs at 8.40pm. Note that the buses can get very crowded so it is worth starting to queue early.

pp392-3 Where to stay  The rooms at La’Gent Stay Hakodate Ekimae are a good size and some have wonderful views over the port and distant hills.

pp393-4 Where to eat and drink  Hakodate Ekimae Yokocho should say Hakodate Daimon Yokocho  大門横丁( www.hakodate-yatai.com). It has about 26 stalls serving a wide range of foods and is open every evening but not all stalls open every day. Jazz Spot Leaf has moved and is now on a small road between the two roads shown on the map.

pp388-401 SAPPORO


pp395-6  What to see and do  The 28-floor moyuk SAPPORO (https://aoao-sapporo.blue) building on Tanuki Koji shopping street opened in July 2023. The main attraction there is an ‘urban-style aquarium’ called AOAO Sapporo on floors 4-6. There are also stores such as Loft and Sony and on the 7th floor is a rooftop garden. It is near the Tanuki Koji tram stop on the way to Susukino.

pp396-400 Practical information  Station guide  Sadly many of the lovely Sapporo ramen places at/near Sapporo station have closed due to the shinkansen line station extension work. For ramen it is now recommended you go to the Susukino area. However, there are still plenty of options for meals at Sapporo station.

pp398-9  Where to stay The rooms at Mitsui Garden Hotel Sapporo are actually less compact than rooms at many other hotels. Expect now to pay ¥17,560 for a double with breakfast.

pp101-4  ASAHIKAWA

p401 What to see and do At the station there is an Ainu Culture Information Center (Tue-Sun 10.30am-6.30pm; free) but the best place to go to learn about the Ainu in this area is Asahikawa City Museum  旭川市博物館 (daily 9am-5pm but closed 2nd and 4th Mon Oct-May; ¥350); it focuses on Ainu culture and also the history of northern peoples in the area. Its exhibits are well labelled and it is worth visiting. It is a short walk from the west side of the station’s South Exit – walk over Crystal Bridge and then go into Asahikawa Taisetsu Crystal Hall and walk through to the museum. 


Kyushu – route guides


pp409-10  Side trip by rail to Mojiko – and a walk back to Honshu

Kyushu Railway History Museum – most of the labels are in Japanese so unless you are a keen rail fan this museum is of more interest to those who can read Japanese.

If staying in Mojiko when returning from Shimonoseki (after walking in the Kanmon Tunnel) you can get off the train at Moji (instead of going all the way to Kokura and then transferring). You can also return to Mojiko via the passenger ferry ( kanmon.gr.jp/kanmon2020/en/detail/74.html; ¥400 one-way) that operates between Shimonoseki and Mojiko.


p411  If on a Huis Ten Bosch LEX some services will stop at Yoshinogarikoen  吉野ヶ里公園 before Saga.

pp411-2   If on a Relay Kamome, Huis Ten Bosch LEX or Midori LEX some services stop at Kohoku 江北 after Saga station.

pp411-2   Saga  In November, when the Saga International Balloon Fiesta is being held, a station called Balloon Saga is open and most trains stop there. From 2024 the station should be added to the IC card network.

p412 Takeo-onsen There is a tourist information centre (daily 8.30am-5.45pm) in the station and you can pick up a map in English. There is also a café here, a gift shop and a waiting area with a lot of Japanese books. Separately there is a branch of Kiosk where you can get snacks. A separate area has coin lockers.

                  Take the Romon Gate (North Gate) exit for the onsen area. It is about a 10- to 15- minute walk. The main sight is the impressive Romon Gate entrance to the original public onsen (and now New Annex building). The gate was constructed in 1915 and built without the use of nails. It was designed by Tatsumo Kingo who designed Tokyo station – rather a different building. The Shinkan (public onsen) is now a museum (daily 9am-6pm; free) and also a National Important Cultural Property. The more recently built annex now houses a public onsen (daily 6am-midnight; ¥680).

For Takeo Shrine and the City Library take the Mifuneyama Gate (South Gate). Takeo shrine, 武雄神社 , which dates from 735, is about a 15-minute walk from the station and behind it is a 3000-year-old camphor tree in which a God is said to reside. The city library 武雄市図書館 (https://takeo.city-library.jp; daily 9am-9pm) is a far more recent construction (2013) and should be visited by anyone interested in architecture and it is a really striking building. Also, unusually, it sells books and local crafts and also has a coffee shop. Note that there is a separate children’s library next to it. 

Two Stars (Futatsuboshi) 4047 train at Chiwata station (© Japan by Rail)
Lounge 40 in Two Stars 4047 train (© Japan by Rail)

It is possible to see all the above in a round trip from the station in about three hours.

The text mentions the Futatsuboshi 4047 but JR Kyushu now seems to refer to the train as Two Stars 4047; ‘futatsuboshi’ actually means ‘two stars’. The morning journey from Takeo-onsen (dep 10.22) goes south via Hizenhama and Isahaya to Nagasaki (arr 13.15); the afternoon train starts from Nagasaki (dep 14.53) and also goes via Isahaya then goes north to Shin-Omura and Huis Ten Bosch and east back to Takeo-onsen (arr 17.45). The train generally operates Friday to Monday inclusive with one return trip a day; in holiday periods it also operates on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Seat reservations are essential and are free for Japan Rail Pass or relevant JR Kyushu pass-holders. If you don’t have a JR Pass you will need to buy a ticket and seat reservation. For more information see: https://www.jrkyushu.co.jp/english/train/two_stars4047.html.

p414 Ureshino onsen The station is about a 25-minute walk from the onsen area. There is nothing at the station at the moment though a Fairfield by Marriott Saga Ureshino onsen hotel ( www.marriott.com/en-us/hotels/ngssu-fairfield-saga-ureshino-onsen/overview/) opened here in 2023.

p414 Shin-Omura  There is a tourist information centre (daily 9am-6pm) at the station and they have a map in English of Omura town, a former castle town. However, you need to take a local line train to get there and there is little of interest around Shin-Omura station.

p414 Isahaya  The tourist information centre (daily 10am-5pm) in the station has a map in English. There is also a Family Mart convenience store and a branch of Starbucks.

                  Shin Hotel (https://shinhotel.co.jp/english.html) is on the 4th-7th floor of the IISA building at the station; take the East Exit from the station.

                  Isahaya’s main attraction is the Megane-bashi (Spectacles Bridge) in Isahaya Park. There is a scale-model of the bridge outside the station but to see the real thing it is about a 15-minute walk from the station. The bridge was constructed in 1839 and at 50 metres it is the longest double-arched stone bridge from the Edo period in Japan. It used to be on the Honmyou river itself but due to erosion was moved to the park. There is also a scale model bridge in the park and together they are referred to as the ‘Parent-child spectacles bridge’. However, there is so much algae on the water on the child bridge you can’t really see the spectacle effect.

You can transfer here to the Shimabara Railway and to the Nagasaki and Omura Lines here. Note that IC cards are not accepted on the Shimabara Railway.


p424 Usuki  Usuki (like Tsuruoka, see pp348-9) is now a UNESCO Creative City of Gastronomy – for Usuki this is because of its production of miso paste and soy sauce: https://en.unesco.org/creative-cities/usuki.

Kyushu – city guides


p433 Fukuoka – A shopping paradise for some (boxed text)

To reach Lalaport from Takeshita station take the East Gate exit and then follow the main road in the direction you were coming from Hakata. Lalaport is on the left-hand side of the road and is about a 10-minute walk from the station. Once at Lalaport, for the Gundam statue you need to walk through the shopping centre on the ground level to reach ‘Forest Park’.

pp434-5 Getting around    Nanakuma subway line has been extended from Minami-Tenjin to Hakata station; a new station called Kushida Shrine has opened which means there is better access to the Canal City Hakata/Nakasu area. 

pp438-45 NAGASAKI

p443 Station guide  Take the Kamome (East) Gate for the main part of the city and for the tourist information centre (daily 8am-7pm), trams (streetcars) and the Inasa (West) Gate for Dejima Messe Nagasaki. Coin lockers are available all over the station. The ticket office is open daily 7am-9pm. There are ATMs and there is also a waiting room.

There is a covered walkway for most of the route from the site of the new station to the trams and other services. The work on the area around the station is still ongoing and is not scheduled to be completed till 2025.               

AMU Plaza is to the right as you exit the station. There are restaurants (daily 11am-10pm; Italian, Japanese, Korean and Indian) on the 5th floor and there is a Seiyu supermarket (daily 7am-midnight) on the 1st/ground floor.

Reception (front desk) for the JR Kyushu Hotel is on the 2nd floor; there is an escalator up there by the side of AMU Plaza. 

p444 Where to stay    The Dormy Inn hotel in Nagasaki doesn’t have an open-air bath though it does have a common bath.To reach it from the tram stop (if coming from Nagasaki station) walk back to the road crossing and turn left so the canal is to your right. The hotel is soon on the left though is set back from the road and the entrance is behind a branch of Family Mart. It is easiest to spot by looking up for the Dormy Inn sign.

p440-1 What to see and do  Steven Wedema contacted us regarding the 3rd edition of Japan by Rail and mentioned two particular things: the directions for the Oka Masaharu Memorial Peace Museum were not clear and we did not include Nagasaki Museum of History and Culture. We added the latter to the 4th and now 5th editions of Japan by Rail and hopefully have made the directions to Oka Masaharu Memorial Peace Museum clear, but just in case we are adding the photo he kindly sent us and his comments on the museum.

Oka Masaharu Memorial Peace Museum
Oka Masaharu Memorial Peace Museum (© Steven Wedema)

‘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.

pp445-50 KUMAMOTO

p445 What to see and do  Renovation work on the castle is likely to take till the 2030s but the interior was reopened in 2021. Then, though explanations and exhibits were in Japanese only.


pp451-2  Other sides trips by rail (or bus and boat) from Kumamoto  Kawasemi Yamasemi and SL Hitoyoshi  The SL Hitoyoshi stopped operating in March 2024. At 101 it was the oldest operating steam locomotive.

Yellow Pumpkin by Yayoi Kusama on Naoshima Island (© Japan by Rail)


pp478-85 TAKAMATSU

p483 Side trip by boat or train from Takamatsu – By boat to Naoshima Yayoi Kusama’s Yellow Pumpkin is back on display.

The Town Bus only accepts coins (not IC cards).

Note that the car ferry and the much smaller passenger boat depart from different piers so check which your service is so you have time to walk to the furthest pier.


JR Service summaries p503 Table 2: Kansai Airport to/from Shin-Osaka via Haruka LEX  Since spring 2023 the journey time between Kansai Airport and Osaka station is 20 minutes less if on a direct Haruka LEX train. This is partly because the train stops at a new underground platform unofficially called UmeKita うめきた, at JR Osaka station.

p505 Table 9: Shingu to Wakayama and Shin-Osaka on Kuroshio LEX  The journey time on a Kuroshio LEX between Osaka (UmeKita) and Wakayama is now 57 minutes because of the new underground platform at Osaka station opening.