THIS POST AND ATTACHED CHART ARE OUT OF DATE
Today I am offering a chart for users of the Japan Rail Pass who wish to travel long-distance over the Tokaido and Sanyo Shinkansen in a single trip.
As has been stated before, the national Japan Rail Pass does not permit the use of “Nozomi” trains over this heavily-travelled corridor, so JR Pass users will be forced to use slower Hikari and Kodama trains. This increases travel times, and consequently, lessens the time that a pass user has for sightseeing and exploration. I’ve always felt that JR Pass users should be permitted to use Nozomi trains because they are faster and more frequent than the others… but since it looks like that situation will not change for a while, I have decided to come up with a simple chart so that Rail Pass users can travel as quickly as possible.
Over the Tokyo-Nagoya-Kyoto-Osaka-Hiroshima-Fukuoka corridor the “Hikari” service, with some exceptions, generally operates in two segments – a segment over the Tokaido Shinkansen (Tokyo-Osaka) and a segment over the Sanyo Shinkansen (Osaka-Fukuoka). What this chart does is lists the appropriate connections that one should take when making long-distance journeys. For example, Tokyo to Hiroshima, Nagoya to Hiroshima, or even Tokyo all the way to Fukuoka.
The connection chart lists major stations that foreigners will likely use on the line: Tokyo, Shinagawa, Shin-Yokohama, Nagoya, Kyoto, Shin-Osaka, Shin-Kobe, Himeji, Okayama, Hiroshima, Kokura and Hakata (in Fukuoka). For long distance journeys that require a change of trains, the chart will show you what train to take and where you should transfer so that your connection time is as short as possible, and more importantly, that your overall travel time is as short as possible. Trains are listed in pairs, and any stop highlighted on the chart in RED or GREEN indicates the location where you should transfer to continue with your journey.
The chart is valid for daily travel by bullet train as of Saturday, March 13, 2010, the date that the new timetables will be put into effect. On this day several Hikari runs between Osaka and Fukuoka will be removed from daily service… this is another reason why I decided to put this chart together. Previously Hikari trains were matched up very closely to continuing departures… this continues during the middle of the day, but now at other hours you will likely have to change at Shin-Osaka… a few trips even require changes at Hiroshima, as indicated on the chart.
I hope this chart will be useful as travelers to Japan – or those who are thinking about making a trip – do their research and make their preparations for travel over this very important route.