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I'm new here and considering a trip to Japan (from U.S.) with emphasis on train spotting and the shinkansen in particular and have a few simple things I want to figure out then I'm sure I'll have some much more specific questions.

The first question is regarding time, it's a little difficult to sort out what's still in service (I'm guessing my searches don't work because the information is in Japanese which my search terms are not in) and when planned retirements are for some trainsets. I would like to see the 500, rail star 700, inspection train sets if they are still in service. For when I can go, assuming Japan reopens to tourism, probably November 2023 or March 2024 at the earliest which aren't really great times of the year, November is probably better but I'm not certain. E8's enter service spring 2024 from what I understand so if I want to go I probably want to go no later than March 2024 since E8s will likely be around for 20 years.

 

Considering that and I will likely have around 7 complete days in Japan I would probably want to spend it on a slightly concentrated area. San'yo shinkansen for 500/700 and Tokyo area for everything else mostly and maybe a close stop over from San'yo to see Kyushu shinkansen. Any favorite spots on the San'yo? And any spots away from station accessible without car since the service 700/500 series is on seems to stop most if not all places and I would probably want to see it on the main at speed.

 

Ideal plan might be flying into Fukuoka seeing a bit of Kyushu then on to San'yo and Tokyo area and return flight from Tokyo. I suspect it would be flying in and out of Tokyo due to flight prices though.

 

Still quite a long ways out from those dates but would be good to sort out if it's even worthwhile for those dates now.

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Phantom,

 

welcome to the forum. Take a look through some of the topics in this forum and I think you’ll find some good inspiration and information in them as well.

 

7 days seems like a very short trip with all that it will take getting to japan (unless you live close by). Any chance of extending it? Price wise as well the airfare will be the big priced item. There are a lot of more inexpensive places to stay and eat. With 7 days I wouldn’t waste times trying to jump down to kyushu, it’s going to take a chunk of time out of your trip just commuting. If you are into mainly rid8ng trains then maybe look at doing and intensive train loop down into kyushu.
 

how much of the trip do you want to spend on seeing things vs rail fanning and riding trains. In japan anyone of these things can be huge!

 

cheers

 

jeff

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50 minutes ago, cteno4 said:

Phantom,

 

welcome to the forum. Take a look through some of the topics in this forum and I think you’ll find some good inspiration and information in them as well.

 

7 days seems like a very short trip with all that it will take getting to japan (unless you live close by). Any chance of extending it? Price wise as well the airfare will be the big priced item. There are a lot of more inexpensive places to stay and eat. With 7 days I wouldn’t waste times trying to jump down to kyushu, it’s going to take a chunk of time out of your trip just commuting. If you are into mainly rid8ng trains then maybe look at doing and intensive train loop down into kyushu.
 

how much of the trip do you want to spend on seeing things vs rail fanning and riding trains. In japan anyone of these things can be huge!

 

cheers

 

jeff

Unfortunately 7 complete days in Japan or maybe 8 if I'm lucky is likely the best I can do for the next 3 years due to occupation assuming nothing changes, 10 days including travel to and from is my maximum. At this point I'm just trying to figure out what stuff I want to see and then how much can I see in a week. If trip is a success there will likely be a followup to cover more territory. Currently thinking it would be realistic to focus on San'yo and maybe make brief trip to east end of kyushu since it connects to San'yo at Hakata and then a chunk of time in Tokyo area so I can see all the shinkansen types. This is all assuming Japan opens up, very hypothetical plan at this point about a date over a year away assuming I even pick that date.

 

As for non train things that is TBD, those are much easier to sort out since they're more popular with average tourist and a lot of info is out there. Mostly trying to sort out train options here and what to prioritize and see what I can do with 7 days. Starting with little details before trying to put together the big picture. Those little details being things like November vs March and whether or not 500, 923 and 700 railstar will even be around then. The 700-7000 JR West Railstar is one of my favorites so that's a clear priority if it's still around.

 

I saw a post talking about November foliage so maybe November over March? Not really sure if there's anything notable in March besides more daylight than November which isn't a huge issue since I quite like night photographs.

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Cherry trees start blooming in march.

 

I'd stick with 2 major cities if you only limited to 7 days.

 

If you catch a kodama to a stop and the wait for a flying super express to pass. You loose 3/4 a day.

Edited by katoftw
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Posted (edited)
11 hours ago, katoftw said:

Cherry trees start blooming in march.

 

I'd stick with 2 major cities if you only limited to 7 days.

 

If you catch a kodama to a stop and the wait for a flying super express to pass. You loose 3/4 a day.

Unfortunately free time is mid march not end of march. Edit: seeing more foliage photos, I think I prefer November

 

That seems like a good idea so probably Tokyo and something on San'yo.

 

Lose 3/4 of a day for one stop? I feel like I'm missing something as that doesn't really make sense.

 

Also, if no one here knows when 700-7000 and 500 are expected to go out of service (or if they already are) where could I find that information? If they're going to be gone before November 2023 I'll probably just wait 3 or 4 years and should be able to go more than 7/8 days.

Edited by Phantom
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Shinkansens running at high speed are an hour plus out of major cities. The slow all stop shinkansen will take 60-90 minutes to get the one of these stops. On the Sanyo line, these are about every 3 hours. So yes stopping at a random station to watch expresses fly past can easily chew up 5-6 hours.

 

---

 

The rail companies normally announce retirementsNothing websites or railway pages will have the info.  No info now means no announcements.

Edited by katoftw
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Giugiaro

Well, I guess I should plan next year's holidays someplace else.

 

I should make the Bernina-Gothard circuit. And maybe target a journey just to experience the new NightJet.

I already know I'll be spending four days in Paris just for JapanExpo. Just waiting for the tickets to become available for purchase...

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Posted (edited)
1 hour ago, katoftw said:

Shinkansens running at high speed are an hour plus out of major cities. The slow all stop shinkansen will take 60-90 minutes to get the one of these stops. On the Sanyo line, these are about every 3 hours. So yes stopping at a random station to watch expresses fly past can easily chew up 5-6 hours.

 

---

 

The rail companies normally announce retirementsNothing websites or railway pages will have the info.  No info now means no announcements.

If I was smart then I would do the stops in route to somewhere else and make a day out of it. Could do 2 days on San'yo, starting one day in Osaka and go out to Hakata or somewhere a little closer and spend the night then do the trip back making stops along the way at different stations. Sunrise to sunset in November is about 10 hours and I would likely go past sunset a few hours on a route that takes a little under 5 hours hakata to osaka on kodama but I wouldn't stop at every station so Kodama plus Hikari which is also on JR rail pass IIRC, only the stations I'm interested in. I think I could probably get to the majority of stations I want to see and see the 500 and 700 series a few times with that strategy. Would have to look at timetables closer to date to come up with exact plan though.

 

Hopefully that means they will be around for a while, if there is no news of future trainset procurement that would replace them then I think the 500 and 700 on JR West are probably safe for a while. I guess that's dependent on how many trainsets are in service, if it's only a couple and they are replaced by an existing trainset in production already then it could happen quickly.

Edit: I guess I should also make it clear that the 700-7000 rail star is probably my favorite trainset so that might make my plans a bit more understandable haha

Also, what service does it operate on and how many sets are in service? Does it even travel all the way to Hakata?

Edited by Phantom
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17 hours ago, katoftw said:

Shinkansens running at high speed are an hour plus out of major cities. The slow all stop shinkansen will take 60-90 minutes to get the one of these stops. On the Sanyo line, these are about every 3 hours. So yes stopping at a random station to watch expresses fly past can easily chew up 5-6 hours.

 

 

I'm confused.   Nozomi service can be up to every 5-10 minutes at the high points of the day.  At least several every hour during the work day.   You should be able to take a train to a non-Nozomi-served city and see the Nozomi pass through pretty easily without 3/4 day need.

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With 19 stations (2 just being endpoint stations where I will likely get on/off anyways) on the San'yo Shinkansen and I think I can probably cut down how many I want to visit to no more than 10 so if I do out and back over 2 days it's roughly 5 stops in a day with 10 hours of sunlight.

Regarding endpoint stations, as I would likely be coming from Tokyo I would definitely stay a night at Osaka then take an entire day out to Hakata then stay the night and spend a day returning to Osaka. Part of one day would be required to get to Osaka and one day to get back to Tokyo which leaves 3 complete days of the 7 remaining to do whatever.

 

If I decide I want to see the Shinkansen away from the station at more than a spot or two than a 3rd day may be required for San'yo as a lot of time would likely be used getting to those spots. As of now I'm not really sure how many good ones exist since they are quite a bit harder to find then just searching for images or video at a station.

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5 hours ago, chadbag said:

 

I'm confused.   Nozomi service can be up to every 5-10 minutes at the high points of the day.  At least several every hour during the work day.   You should be able to take a train to a non-Nozomi-served city and see the Nozomi pass through pretty easily without 3/4 day need.

Frequency of Nozomi is one metric in equation. I was quite clear in my statement when wishing to see Nozomi services at higher speeds. What needs to be done.

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Went and looked at JR west "timetable" (IDK why I can't see an actual timetable like JR Central) and it appears there are at least 2 series 500 sets operating, the pink one and a normal one. There are at least three series 700, 3 departures separated by an hour each at end of day. Wish it was a whole picture timetable and not a program searching for a train so I could get a better idea of what's going on. If no news about retirement yet what are the chances they make it to the end of 2023? Does JR generally announce retirements a sizable time in advance?

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On 8/25/2022 at 3:49 AM, Phantom said:

Ideal plan might be flying into Fukuoka seeing a bit of Kyushu then on to San'yo and Tokyo area and return flight from Tokyo. I suspect it would be flying in and out of Tokyo due to flight prices though.

 

If you want to see the cherry blossoms, and be "sure" to be there at the right moment, I recommend to travel from the north to the south as the cherry blossoms front is moving from south to north. Doing that, you've better chances to meet the cherry blossoms front. It's what I did in 2017, Starting at Matsumoto and finishing at Kumamoto. 

 

I was really lucky as I was in Himeji at the best moment, where blooming flowers were at the optimum. 

 

IMG_0690.jpg.6065c70457d0742589f07ad30538715d.jpg

 

Anyway, the cherry blossoms in Japan is really gorgeous 

Edited by JR East
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Giugiaro

Bear in mind that the Cherry Blossom season is also the most demanded season by tourists.

Historically, it was the most expensive time of the year to travel to Japan.

 

With COVID-19 and the Russian invasion of Ukraine, travel has basically been flipped over itself, but I don't see the pattern going away because of it.

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Posted (edited)
6 hours ago, Giugiaro said:

Bear in mind that the Cherry Blossom season is also the most demanded season by tourists.

Historically, it was the most expensive time of the year to travel to Japan.

 

With COVID-19 and the Russian invasion of Ukraine, travel has basically been flipped over itself, but I don't see the pattern going away because of it.

 

6 hours ago, JR East said:

 

If you want to see the cherry blossoms, and be "sure" to be there at the right moment, I recommend to travel from the north to the south as the cherry blossoms front is moving from south to north. Doing that, you've better chances to meet the cherry blossoms front. It's what I did in 2017, Starting at Matsumoto and finishing at Kumamoto. 

 

I was really lucky as I was in Himeji at the best moment, where blooming flowers were at the optimum. 

 

IMG_0690.jpg.6065c70457d0742589f07ad30538715d.jpg

 

Anyway, the cherry blossoms in Japan is really gorgeous 

IDK if you guys read the previous messages but my window in March likely wouldn't work out for blossoms so looking at november at this point.

Next November is a push but I think I can make it happen and next November is soonest so maximizing chances of seeing 700 and 500.

Edited by Phantom
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It kind of feels like we are rehashing some things I've already made up my mind on so I'm going to put what I'm thinking as of now here as an update.

 

Current plan: 1 week in November 2023, 9 day total trip including flight days but 7 complete days in Japan likely flying into Tokyo. As 7 days is a little short and trains are the primary interest I'm likely going to skip anything touristy for the most part and if the trip is great there will likely be another hopefully longer trip at some point in the future which will be mostly non-train things.

 

Plan by day currently:

Day 1: Tokyo

Day 2: Tokyo to Osaka

Day 3: San'yo line out to Hakata

Day 4: San'yo line back to Osaka

Day 5: Osaka to Tokyo

Day 6: Tokyo

Day 7: Tokyo

 

Days 3 and 4 are a complete day riding shinkansen one way and stopping along the way to see some of the stations and such and especially the 700 series. If there are any worthwhile locations to see the shinkansen not from a station platform that information would be greatly appreciated, struggling to find many right now. Haven't found a comprehensive time table since the JR west "timetable" is just really a train finder. Actual timetable would be great, the frequency of trains would play into how many stops I can make in a day.

 

Days 2 and 5 are very flexible, the Hikari service takes about 3 hours Tokyo to Osaka on a day with approximately 10 hours of sunlight so both of these days could be partial Tokyo days or I could do what I'm doing with the San'yo plan and make a few stops or combination of both. Looking for ideas for these days, making a stop somewhere for a few hours and watching the peak service hours on the Tokaido would probably be a good idea.

 

For the 3 days in Tokyo I would probably mostly focus on seeing the shinkansen lines around Tokyo station but would likely see a few of the metro lines as well, especially where they are in close proximity. I definitely would want to use a day or part of a day to ride a few stations out of Tokyo on JR East to see some of the other Shinkansen types at speed.

 

There could be a partial day 8 or day 0 depending on flights or they could cut into 1 and 7 making those partial days.

 

Let me know what you guys think, it's a lot more of a plan than I had a few days ago but still has a lot of details to fill in.

 

Also, regarding price, this seems like it could be fairly cheap since I'm skipping expensive touristy things. Excluding flights ~$1000usd might be doable, JR pass ~250usd, <$50usd for food per day should be easy (Given my itinerary plans a lot of meals will be on the go out of vending machines or something)? That leaves ~$400usd for accommodations at minimum which seems low but haven't looked too much into pricing for that(business hotels are <$80usd??). <$1200usd seems absolutely doable. I would put my total budget around $2500 but if I get decent flight prices it seems entirely possible I could do the entire trip under $2000usd which I think is a good goal to set.

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I use an insulation pack for my lunches. Put a bottle of water in the hotel freezer overnight. The just buy lunch from a combini in the morning.

 

Sandwiches, sushi rolls etc etc. Frozen water bottle keeps it all fresh and you have some water to drink once defrosted.

 

You can eat lunch anywhere then. Good for a loosely planned trip if you are exploring.

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Food is super easy to find in japan. Like Kato said you will be amazed at the quick takeaway food in 7 eleven and grocery stores. Many quick places around stations too and even ekiben on platforms and in stations. I usually wasn’t as planned ahead as Kato on lunch, I usually just started lookin around during travels and sightseeing when I first notice it’s getting time to eat and always something around (unless stuck on a train w.o food). Worst case just build a varied meal at a Lawson or 7 eleven if I got desperate. Finding interesting little places to eat was always a big part of my travels in japan. Didn’t have to be fancy, but good and varied food in places that just looked interesting. almost always I would be the only non Japanese in these places (I kind of avoided any place with any tourists) and folks were always very sweet (a few dive bars/restaurants I ended up in I was under suspicion for the first 5 minutes then everyone was pleasant and sometimes very fun) and at times struck up a conversation very politely.
 

Also always take a look at prices as many times on little restaurants you can see three right near each other that look the same and same food selection pretty much but can have a wide range in price. Sometimes late morning while visiting an area I would keep an eye for for an interesting place and good price and circle back at lunch. I don’t think I ever had a bad meal in japan and I ate in very top end in Tokyo to real dives in dingy neighborhoods.
 

cheers

 

jeff

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Posted (edited)
2 hours ago, katoftw said:

No train museums? Mojiko, Tsuyama, Kyoto, Nagoya or Omiya?

That would be for another trip. If there is one conveniently located in Tokyo or Osaka I may consider it for this trip.

Insulation pack sounds like a great idea, problem might be space/weight but if I can carry it will definitely consider that.

 

Edited by Phantom
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1 hour ago, Phantom said:

That would be for another trip. If there is one conveniently located in Tokyo or Osaka I may consider it for this trip.

Insulation pack sounds like a great idea, problem might be space/weight but if I can carry it will definitely consider that.

 

 

Omiya is just north of Tokyo(and on the Shinkansen line) and Kyoto is an easy trip from Osaka and on the Tokaido Shinkansen line, though there are also nice express trains from Osaka to Kyoto.  We did Kyoto museum the last time we were in Japan and Omiya a few times before that.  Both are recommended for at least a few hours.

 

Edited by chadbag
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1 hour ago, chadbag said:

 

Omiya is just north of Tokyo(and on the Shinkansen line) and Kyoto is an easy trip from Osaka and on the Tokaido Shinkansen line, though there are also nice express trains from Osaka to Kyoto.  We did Kyoto museum the last time we were in Japan and Omiya a few times before that.  Both are recommended for at least a few hours.

 

Hmm, will definitely have to consider Omiya if there is spare time available.

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30 minutes north of Fukuoka

http://www.k-rhm.jp/

 

2 hour north of Okayama

http://www.tsuyamakan.jp/manabi/

 

20 minute walk from Kyoto, might have a complete station now

https://www.kyotorailwaymuseum.jp/sp/

 

40 minute train from Nagoya

https://museum.jr-central.co.jp/

 

1 hour north of Tokyo, quicker on shinkansen

https://www.railway-museum.jp/

 

Other than Tsuyama. The others aren't too far off your path.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Giugiaro
2 hours ago, katoftw said:

Fukuoka, Okayama, Kyoto, Nagoya, Tokyo, Tsuyama.

 

Behold, my plan to visit Japan. Besides one or two universities and, maybe, J-TREC.

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I still can't find a comprehensive timetable for JR west but looking at their train finder I stumbled across Hikari 592 Hakata to Shin-Osaka with 700 series listed as the train-set. I'm guessing it only skips a few stations versus kodama but if this service lasts 14 more months that could be something to see for sure.

 

It seems most final runs are in March and based off some digging the timetable for the year is introduced in march/april due to fiscal year so would it be a safe assumption that if the 500 and 700 series are still on the timetable come March 2023 they will still be around in November 2023?

Edited by Phantom
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