Beyond the Rails in Japan

Pokemon Train

The best way to travel Japan is by train. Japan’s renowned high-speed rail has always been a popular experience for tourists, because it is so fast and convenient. Now, new changes to the “must-have” Japan Rail Pass are adding even more value to it.

As of October 1st, 2023, the service provided by the Japan Rail Pass is expanding. You can still purchase the pass online at Japan Rail’s Official Website or from any number of authorized retailers. With the purchase of an upgrade ticket, it will now also be possible to enjoy the Nozomi and Mizuho tiers of service. As well, holders of this new Japan Rail Pass will be entitled to special offers at certain attractions. Check the Japan Rail Pass website for details. While prices are adjusting to accommodate expanded options, Child Passes (6-11 yrs) are 50% the cost of regular passes.

Aso Boy Train, Kumamoto
Aso Boy Train, Kumamoto, JNTO
In addition to the JR Pass, there are so many uniquely special trains and routes to discover Japan’s nature and cuisine. The Scenic Railways include a range of experiences from a focus on nature, cuisine, sake, and anime.

The Kurobe Gorge Train is an open-car train that leads you through the deepest V-shaped gorge in Japan at a leisurely speed of 16 km/h, so you can feel the breeze and hear the calm flowing water as you are immersed in natural beauty for 1 hour and 20 minutes. Dine on local farm-fresh delicacies and fresh-caught seafood at 13,000 feet as the Ainokaze Toyama Railway winds through the mountains for spectacular views. For urban experiences, the Chiba Monorail is the longest suspension monorail in the world, and the Shonan Monorail boasts speeds up to 75km/hr through mountains and tunnels and is supposed to make you feel like you’re on a roller coaster!

Kurobe Gorge Train
Kurobe Gorge Train, JNTO

The Tohoku Emotion emulates a fine-dining restaurant. Local delicacies and all-you-can-drink beverages are served while speeding along the Sanriku Coast with some seats facing the window, and some facing an open kitchen at work. Toreiyu Tsubasa is like a high-speed spa. This train includes tatami mat seating, and local Yamagata sake and wine to enjoy while soaking in a footbaths. A popular Joyful Train is the Resort Shirakami, which travels through the gorgeous Shirakami Sanchi World Heritage Site and the Sea of Japan. En route, there are fun activities and in-train performances to accompany delicious local cuisine.

Seven Stars Train, Kyushu
Seven Stars Train, Kyushu, JNTO
Among the most popular themed-trains is the Hello Kitty Shinkansen, designed in a ribbon motif while an interior decorated to convey a playful spirit and inspire imagination. The aim of this train is to “Travel in carefree togetherness, join hands and connect with different regions.” Equipped with a Playroom, the POKÉMON with YOU Train was created to uplift the children of Tohoku after the 2011 tsunami. There are hidden Pokémon motifs at each of the stations along the route. Watch the video of this totally fun ride that is a must for family travel.

Across Japan there is a special train for every region and every season that makes the journey as rewarding as the destination.

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