Posted by: jrhorse | February 5, 2011

Japan Rail Pass: Mizuho, Hayabusa restrictions

Looks like we can bring the Japan Rail Pass discussion to a close now… several blogs on the internet, and a reply I received by e-mail from Kintetsu International travel, all appear to be in accord, and so I’ll share the information with you.

As I had earlier speculated, the Mizuho will NOT be valid with the Japan Rail Pass, but the Sakura will be valid. This will make it a slightly longer journey for those pass holders who want to travel between Osaka, Hiroshima and Kyushu Island during the morning and evening hours. During the rest of the day, however, Sakura trains will run over this entire route at intervals of approximately one per hour. Since the Mizuho’s fare structure is similar to that of the Nozomi, you will need to pay the entire fare to use Mizuho trains.

Regarding Hayabusa services, which will run to northern Japan (between Tokyo and Aomori and between Tokyo and Sendai) to initially complement Hayate services: The Japan Rail Pass AND the more regional JR East Rail Pass will cover it, with the exception of its new premium class service called GranClass. GranClass can be equated to a luxurious first class cabin on an airline, with 18 very large seats, a special car attendant, and first-rate meals. If you want to use GranClass and you have a rail pass, you will need to pay the GranClass seating charge AND the limited express charge (the charge normally required to use the Shinkansen).

If you have a version of the pass which is valid in Ordinary (Standard) Class, the Rail Pass will cover the Hayabusa’s ordinary class seats. If you have a Green Car version, the Pass will cover the Hayabusa’s Ordinary AND Green Cars; the Hayabusa will have one Green Car with 55 seats. But to use GranClass, regardless of the type of pass that you have, you’ll have to pay the charges I just noted. So for traveling between Tokyo and Aomori, this amounts to 16,500 yen. My opinion: If you really want to step up in travel class, the best thing to do is just purchase a Green Car version of the Rail Pass. Right now I don’t think it’s worth the expense to travel GranClass, unless you’re very curious to try it out. And remember, the new Hayabusa services will compliment the existing Hayate services that run on that particular bullet train line.

As promised I’ll be writing more about the Kyushu Shinkansen in my next post.

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Responses

  1. […] Rail Pass and Mizuho? I Don’t Know! February 5th Update: Please read my most recent Japan Rail Pass-related post for the official decisions regarding the Rail […]

  2. Hey Jose, hope you don’t mind the comment.
    i’m currently planning a trip to Japan and about to book my Japan Rail Pass – only the info they have on the difference between the Green Class and Ordinary Class is abit spotty. Do you have any advice regarding what is the difference in service?

    thanks very much for any insight!

    bex

    • Hi Bex, thanks for sending in your question.
      The Japan Railway’s Shinkansen and Limited Express trains (such as Narita Express) have Ordinary and Green Car reserved seating. Both types of seats are pretty comfortable. The difference between the two is basically the fact that the Green Car offers more amenities than Standard Class seating. Usually you’ll find seats that are a little wider and with more legroom, along with a reading light. The other amenities depend on where you travel in Japan. When I took a bullet train up to Sendai, I was offered a free beverage at my seat. The Green Cars on the Tokaido and Sanyo Shinkansen have softer lighting than the standard class cars, and have six channels of in-cabin audio (mostly Japanese with the occasional English language lesson) that you can listen to using your own headset or buying one from the attendant. The Green Cars also offer an oshibori service (Hot towel) soon after you board.
      If you’re looking for some extra perks and some more comfort, go for the Green Cars. If not then the Standard Class will do you just as good. Keep in mind that the more you travel around in Japan in a particular manner, the more value you’ll get using the Rail Pass. On my last trip I estimated racking up about 150,000 yen worth of train travel and I paid no more than 61,200 yen for a 14-day Green Pass.
      Thanks again for writing.
      Jose

  3. Hey Jose,

    thanks so much for your insight – this makes the decision easier, i really appreciate it.
    super helpful.

    just so you know i will be thanking you and linking to your blog in my next daily post.
    thanks again!

    bex

    • Thanks! I don’t update this blog as often as I’d like but I’ll try to put up my next post soon.
      Jose

  4. […] announced in an earlier post, foreigners who travel to Japan and use a Japan Rail Pass will be eligible to use Tsubame and […]


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