Okay, this is going to get a little long, but if you’d like us to help you with your train travel during the tour, please read!
Most important thing up front:
LET US KNOW AS SOON AS POSSIBLE IF YOU NEED US TO SECURE TRAIN TICKETS FOR YOU. THE EARLIEST DEADLINE IS MARCH 21st!
Okay, now for the details…
Section 1) Train Ticket Basics:
There are basically 2 types of train tickets in Japan. There is the “basic fare” ticket (乗車券, “joushaken”), which is the cost of travel between 2 stations. This is the same price no matter when you buy, and it will never sell out.
Then there is the “limited express” or “super express” ticket (特急券, tokkyuuken). This is an additional fee on top of the basic fare that is required for travel on certain express trains, such as the shinkansen bullet train. These can be purchased for specific lengths of travel along a given route. Express tickets come in two types, reserved seat or non-reserved seat. Reserved seat tickets cost a little more (around ¥500 or so per length) and can sell out. Non-reserved seat tickets cost a little less and can never sell out, however you are not guaranteed a seat. You will be allowed to ride on the train as long as there is physical space left, but you may end up standing in a very uncomfortable position.
Express trains are split up into reserved and non-reserved cars. If you have a reserved seat ticket, you will be seated in one of the reserved cars. If you have a non-reserved seat ticket, you will have to hunt for a seat in one of the non-reserved cars, but if you end up standing, you can stand anywhere.
Some trains also have first class cars, called “Green” cars. All seats in Green cars are reserved, and the tickets cost more than normal express tickets.
Lastly, basic fares and express tickets can be purchased together or separately, which will be important to remember for later in this post.
Section 2) The Japan Rail Pass:
The Japan Rail Pass is a special option available to tourists in Japan offered by JR, Japan’s national rail service. For the chosen period of validity, it grants you unlimited travel on all JR trains in Japan, including express trains. (The only exceptions are the Nozomi and Mizuho shinkansen.) The pass covers both the basic fare AND the express ticket. You may also use it to reserve seats, but you must do so in person at a JR ticket counter.
The Japan Rail pass is an amazing value, especially if you’re planning on doing some extra sightseeing. It really will pay for itself in no time. The only catch is it must be arranged BEFORE you arrive in Japan. If you would like to get the pass, I suggest arranging that as soon as possible.
Please see the full details at the official site here: http://www.japanrailpass.net/index.html
Potential downsides: 1) Because you won’t be in Japan to reserve seats in advance, you will not be guaranteed a seat on your train travel during the Bachido tour.
2) While there are also many private rail services in Japan that the pass does not cover, JR’s network is incredibly extensive and the savings will more than make up for it.
Section 3) Having Us Help You With Your Bachido Tour Tickets:
If you opt not to go for the Japan Rail Pass and instead would like us Bachido members living in Japan to help you with your tickets, we would be happy to do so. Your friendly Tokyo members Kayo Goto and Jamie Low (that’s me!) will be helping you out.
If you will be traveling by train all the way from Tokyo to Sapporo, it turns out that it is significantly cheaper to buy your basic fare for the full length instead of buying separately (ie, Tokyo→Shin-Aomori, Aomori→Sapporo). That may seem odd, but you are allowed to disembark along the way and continue your trip at a later date as long as you hold on to your original ticket. (Don’t lose that thing!)
Now, if you don’t need reserved seats, then you don’t need our help! You can buy both the basic fare and the limited/super express ticket on the same day, so no worries!
If, however, you would like reserved seats, then we highly recommend you let us book for you in advance. Because we will be traveling during the busiest holiday season in Japan, reserved seats are likely to sell out, leaving you sore out of luck if you try to reserve seats the day of travel. Also, letting us reserve seats for you will let more of us sit together!
Important note: Both Kayo and I will only be buying the reserved seat express ticket for you. This is to ensure that you have a seat and are sitting with other Bachido team members. We ask that you purchase the basic fare yourself, which can be done at any point during the tour.
Section 3A) Travel Between Tokyo and Aomori:
Kayo will be handling reservations for travel between Tokyo and Aomori. KEEPING TO THE DEADLINES BELOW, please let her know the following:
1. Your name
2. How many tickets you need
2. Your intended date of travel from Tokyo up north
3. Whether you will be stopping in Misawa or going straight to Aomori
4. Whether you will pick up your ticket(s) in person once you arrive in
Japan or would like it mailed to you beforehand.
Kayo will then buy the appropriate reserved seat express ticket(s) for you, guaranteeing you a seat on your train travel from Tokyo to Aomori. Please consult with her about how to pay her back.
Deadlines for Kayo:
March 21nd (for travel on April 29th)
March 22rd (for travel on April 30th)
March 24th (for travel on May 1st)
March 25th (for travel on May 2nd)
Section 3B) Travel between Aomori and Sapporo:
I, Jamie, will be handling reservations for travel between Aomori and Sapporo. KEEPING TO THE DEADLINE BELOW, please let me know the following:
1. Your name
2. How many tickets you need
I will then buy the appropriate reserved seat express ticket(s) for you, guaranteeing you a seat on your train travel from Aomori to Sapporo. You can pay me back once we’re all together in Hirosaki.
Deadline for Jamie:
March 28th (for travel on May 5th)
I think that’s it! Let us know if you have any questions.
See you all soon!
P.S. MARCH 21ST!