Updates and news

The 5th edition of Japan by Rail is available for sale in many parts of the world – see the Buy the book page for details.

The updates below are all arranged in the same way the book is ordered so look for the relevant page number. Please note that they now refer to the 5th edition of Japan by Rail. We have deleted entries where updated information was provided for the 4th edition.

On this page we will also share any feedback we have received about travelling in Japan. One of the advantages of receiving feedback is that it gives us ideas of places to include in future editions of Japan by Rail, but will also help anyone planning a trip.

We will also include any new museums or other attractions we hear about that we think will be of interest but which are not in the current edition of the book.

We will try to keep this website as up to date as possible, but if you find anything in the 5th edition that has changed we would very much appreciate hearing from you so we can put the update here for the benefit of everyone! Go to the Contact us page to contact Japan by Rail.

Introduction – colour pages

p6 COVID-19

It is generally not necessary to have any (PCR) tests before going to Japan or on arrival. However, for full details see https://www.japan.travel/en/practical-coronavirus-information/government-measures/.

It is no longer necessary to show a valid vaccination certificate or a Covid-19 Negative test certificate when you enter Japan.

Since March 13th 2023 the Japanese government has let mask-wearing be a matter of personal choice rather than a recommendation. However, they still recommend that masks are worn in crowded places including public transport. Places such as hotels, restaurants, museums and shops are still likely to encourage people to use hand sanitiser and may take your body temperature. 

Planning your trip

Rail passes

pp29-40 Rail passes

p30  Japan Rail Pass prices  The dollar equivalent for the 7-day Green class pass should say $387 not $37. However, note that these were equivalents at the time of research; the exchange rates have changed now.

Since 1st October 2023 there has only been one price for all Japan Rail Pass options so the cost is the same whether you buy a pass in Japan or before going. The downside is that prices have increased by 65-74%.

The Ordinary Class 7-/14-/21-day passes now cost ¥50,000/80,000/100,000.

The Green Class 7-/14-/21-day passes now cost ¥70,000/110,000/140,000.

This is a considerable increase and the only possible benefit is that there will be discounts on some tourist attractions but these have not been specified yet. It will also be possible to travel on Nozomi/Mizuho services subject to an additional charge depending on the distance travelled. 

As long as you include one extra long shinkansen journey, such as going to Nagasaki or Kagoshima in Kyushu from, for example, Hiroshima. or north to Hakodate in Hokkaido you could still get value from the pass (though of course will have had to pay a lot more for it in the first place), but it will be worth planning your itinerary and then work out the likely travel costs and compare those to the price of the Japan Rail Pass. The regional JR passes now may be worth considering if you don’t want to travel too much. However, some of them have increased, or will increase, in price as well. And the real bonus of the Japan Rail Pass has always been its flexibility as you can travel wherever you want unlike the regional passes where you are restricted to a particular area.

p30  The text should say that in addition to the purchaser passes can be bought for up to six other people at a time so in effect for seven.

pp29-30 (Buying the Japan Rail Pass) and pp39-40 (How to use the Japan Rail Pass)

However, you bought your Japan Rail Pass the actual pass is now, in effect, a machine-readable ticket. At ticket gates it can only be used at machines with a slot to insert tickets – some machines are dedicated IC card machines – though there will always be at least one such machine, usually more.

p31  JR Regional pass prices The passes listed below will also increase in price, though the JR Shikoku prices increased in May this year (2023).

JR East

Tohoku (5 days) ¥30,000 instead of ¥20,000

Tokyo wide Pass ¥15,000 instead of ¥10,180

JR West 

All Area Pass ¥26,000 instead of ¥23,000

Sanyo Sanin Area  ¥23,000 instead of ¥20,000

Kansai Wide Area ¥12,000 instead of ¥10,000

Kansai Hiroshima ¥17,000 instead of ¥15,000

Hiroshima Yamaguchi ¥15,000 instead of ¥13,000

Okayama Hiroshima Yamaguchi ¥17,000 instead of ¥15,000 

Kansai Area 1/2/3/4 days ¥2800/4800/5800/7000 instead of ¥2400/4600/5600/6800

JR West & JR Central

Takayama Hokuriku Area ¥19,800 instead of ¥14,260

Ise Kumano Wakayama Area ¥16,500 instead of ¥11,210

JR West & JR Shikoku 

Setouchi Area ¥22,000 instead of ¥19,000

JR Hokkaido

5-day ¥20,000 instead of ¥19,000

7-day ¥26,000 instead of ¥25,000

10-day ¥32,000 (new in October 2023)

JR Kyushu

All Area   3-/5-/7-day ¥20,000/22,500/25,000 instead of ¥17,000/18,500/20,000

Northern Kyushu  3-/5-day ¥12,00015,000 instead of ¥10,000/14,000

Southern Kyushu   3-day ¥10,000 instead of ¥8000

JR Shikoku

3-/4-/5-/7-day ¥12,000/15,000/17,000/20,000 instead of ¥9000/10,000/11,000/13,000

p31 & p34 JR Regional rail passes    For details of the Hokuriku Area Pass see https://www.westjr.co.jp/global/en/ticket/pass/hokuriku.

pp30-7 Regional rail passes The prices of many of these passes increased from October 2023. See the details above.

p37 JR Shikoku rail pass The prices of these passes increased in May 2023. The 3-/4-/5-/7-day passes now cost ¥12,000/15,000/17,00020,000.

Itinerary planning


p45  Itineraries  JR West Sanyo Sanin Area Pass   Adachi Museum of Art is in Yasugi not Yonago.

pp46-8  Activities and experiences  There are now many places where you can experience ‘forest bathing’ in Japan. Options include the Kumano Kodo pilgrimage trails, the woods around Nara and also at Arashiyama, Kyoto. It seems it is even possible to forest bathe at the new Ghibli Park (see p201). For more information visit https://www.japan.travel/en/guide/forest-bathing/.

Before you go


Facts about the country

p59  Politics  Former prime minister Shinzo Abe was fatally shot in Nara on 8th July 2022 when campaigning on behalf of Kei Sato who was hoping to be re-elected to the Upper House.

Practical information for visitors

pp64-5  Arriving in Japan For details of the fast-track entry process (only available for people with a smartphone) look at the Visit Japan Web website (https://vjw-lp.digital.go.jp/en/). Be aware that, depending on your time zone and when you apply, you may not get confirmation of your Immigration or Customs status until the next day. 

p66 IC (Smart) cards  Sale of the Suica and Pasmo – and possibly soon other IC cards – was suspended on 2 Aug 23 due to a worldwide shortage of semiconductors. Mobile (app) versions of both cards are still available but as stated in the book/e-book  these are not compatible with all worldwide phones.

p76 Vending machines   JR Kyushu are removing vending machines from their shinkansen and LEX services as there is such little demand now.

p76  Nightlife and entertainment   For details of traditional Japanese entertainment should say pp62-4 not pp162-4

pp80-1 Wi-fi and internet access The ‘Japan Connected-free wi-fi’ app for iOS still exists but a more recent app by the same developer, NTT Broadband Platform Inc, called ‘Japan Wi-Fi auto-connect’ (https://apps.apple.com/us/app/japan-wi-fi-auto-connect/id1461015351) has been developed and provides automatic connection. For further information about the differences see https://www.ntt-bp.net/jw-auto/en/faq/detail/p08.html. 

Free wi-fi is available on shinkansen services and some limited express services but not usually now on local lines.

Control panel for a toilet (© Japan by Rail)

p82  Hi-tech attention to the call of nature Many toilets now have automatic flushes. However, there is always a separate flush button should you wish to do another flush.

p85-7  Onsen (hot springs) and sento (public baths) A useful website for information about onsen in Japan (though focusing on tourist areas) is https://onsen.nifty.com/la-en/.

The Rail Network

The railway today

p91  Future expansion and technology  The shinkansen line extension to Sapporo has been put on hold because of delays in the construction and also because Sappoto is no longer going to bid for the 2030 Winter Olympics.

p94 Japan by rail on the web A useful website about the various railway lines in Japan  is https://railwaysofjapan.net.


p99 Sample singles fares from Tokyo Since both fares and seat reservation fees have increased and most of the JR companies are introducing peak season fares (for holiday periods such as Golden Week, Obon and New Year) the costs quoted here are likely to be out of date and should be seen as a minimum fare.

pp99-100 Making seat reservations

‘See p102 for in person seat reservations’ at the end of the first paragraph should say See p100.

Even if you aren’t travelling in peak periods it is particularly worth making a seat reservation for journeys on the JR West and JR Kyushu shinkansen (Sakura) as reserved seat cars have 2 x 2 seating whereas in non-reserved cars the seating is 2 x 3.

If you have luggage that is too bulky or heavy to put in the overhead storage (though not large enough for a specific seat reservation, see Luggage box p96) it is worth mentioning this when you reserve seats and asking to be in the seats next to the luggage area in each car. Officially only people with seat reservations directly in front of this area can use it for their luggage.


pp104-25 What to see and do

p104 The Tokyo Pass app (www.mytokyopass.com; 2/3/5 days ¥6800/8000/10,300), available on App store and Google Play, allows entry to more than 35 museums, gardens etc and includes Tokyo Subway ticket for unlimited rides on all Tokyo’s subways in a 48/72/48+72-hour (worth ¥1200/¥1500/¥2700) time period. It includes some of the places that are on the Grutto Pass but also some different places such as Meiji Jingu Museum.

p104 On the Yamanote Line  JR East have been testing automated trains on the Yamanote Line since October 2022 so do look out for trains without a driver.

p108  Aomi  teamLab Planets was scheduled to close at the end of 2023 but it has been so popular it is now going to be open till 2027. It is best accessed from Shin-Toyosu station (see below).

Shin-Toyosu   teamLab Planets (for opening days/hours see https://planets.teamlab.art/tokyo/)is now scheduled to close in 2027. 

                  The entry price is now ¥3500.

                  Note that you will have to walk round barefoot (there are free lockers to store your shoes/socks and other belongings) and at times will be in (warm) water that is knee deep. The mirror floors in places mean that women are recommended to wear trousers – though shorts can be rented for free.

                  There are four art-work spaces and two ‘gardens’. Not only is this a fully immersive experience but it also reminds visitors how what each of us does can influence the lives of others around us. And in some areas visitors have a direct impact on the art works as when in the ‘Drawing on the Water Surface Created by the Dance of Koi and People’. Another highlight is the Floating Flower Garden in this case filled with orchids. Whatever your age do not leave Japan without going to a teamLab digital art installation. 

                  teamLab Planets is right by Shin-Toyosu station – it is hard to miss – though is a 10-minute walk from Toyosu station (Yurakucho Line) and about five minutes from Shijo-mae station.

Note: The Toranomon-Azabudai Project (www.mori.co.jp/en/projects/toranomon_azabudai/) in the Roppongi area is opening on a phased basis from November 2023; amongst other things it will include Japan’s tallest building and, at the Kamiyacho end, a permanent location for teamLab Borderless (https://www.teamlab.art/e/borderless_azabudai/). There will also be a new temple there and lots of green spaces. 

It can reached from Tokyo Metro Roppongi-itchome (Namboku Line) station at one end and Kamiyacho (Hibiya Line) at the other.

pp110-11 Shibuya  The open-air Shibuya Scramble viewing place at Magnet by Shibuya 109 is now an event space so it isn’t possible to view the Scramble from there now.

At weekends or on holiday periods it is worth booking in advance for Shibuya Sky as it is very popular especially if the weather is good but also due to Covid/Corona only a limited number of people are allowed up at a time. There is a dedicated lift from street level to the 14th floor.

p111 Harajuku  The Meiji Jingu text should say ‘when the shrine’ – not ‘the temple’ – was being constructed.

p113  Shinjuku  Tokyu Kabukicho Tower (https://tokyu-kabukicho-tower.jp/en/) opened in April 2023. It houses hotels as well as entertainment options such as cinemas, a theatre and a music venue, restaurants and much more. It is a minute on foot from Seibu-Shinjuku station and about seven minutes from JR’s, Odakyu’s and Keio’s Shinjuku station.

p114 Ikebukuro  The branch of animate アニメイト池袋本店 (ex.animate.co.jp/shop/ikebukuro/; Mon-Fri 11am-9pm, Sat & Sun 10am-8pm), the flagship anime/manga etc store, has extended into a neighbouring building and now spreads over nine floors. The store includes a theatre for various events including of course plays and anime screenings. It is a short walk from the Seibu side of JR Ikebukuro and is about five minutes from either the JR or Seibu station. 

Sunshine 60 Building reopened on 16th April 2023 and is now called Sunshine 60 Observatory Tenbou Park (https://sunshinecity.jp; daily 11am-9pm). It is an indoor park but possibly the highlight is the observatory on the top floor (Mon-Fri ¥700, Sat & Sun ¥900) with a 360˚ degree open-air view of Tokyo and, if the weather co-operates, Mt Fuji. To get there take East Exit No 35 from Ikebukuro station and walk along Sunshine 60 dori (Street). On the right-hand side beside Sunshine Vision is the underground passage (escalator) to cross the road for Sunshine 60 itself. It is about an 8-minute walk. From Higashi Ikebukuro station (Tokyo Metro Yurakucho Line), Exit 6 or 7, there is an underground walkway and it is only about a 3-minute walk.

p116   Ueno  (Ueno Zoological Gardens)   Xiang Xiang was returned to China in January 2023.

pp119-21  Asakusa  Asakusa Yokocho (https://asakusayokocho.com) opened in July 2022 – This new ‘Hall of Fame for Food and festivals’ is on the 4th floor of the Uniqlo store in Asakusa and hosts Awa and Bon odori dance troupes at the weekend. The store is near the Tsukuba Express Asakusa station and west of Senso-ji.

pp129-30 Getting around  Tokyo Metro raised fares from March 2023 by ¥10.

View of Mt Fuji from beach near Shichigahama station on the Enoden Line (© Japan by Rail)

p133 Where to stay Shinagawa Goos, the building which housed Keikyu EX-INN Shinagawa-ekimae hotel, is being torn down as part of the development work for the Chuo maglev shinkansen. However, as part of the development the site will eventually accommodate another hotel.

Around Tokyo

p136  Kamakura An alternative rail experience  For views (in good weather) of both Mt Fuji and Enoshima Island get off the Enoden Line at Shichirigahama 七里ヶ浜 station and walk towards the beach.

p143  Hakone  It is worth travelling as light as possible to Hakone and if doing a round trip, whether for a day or up to three nights, you can store your surplus luggage at one of the Odakyu Sightseeing Service Centers at Shinjuku station: these are either at Shinjuku West Exit (daily 8am-7pm), near the Odakyu Line West underground gate, or Shinjuku South (daily 8am-8pm), opposite the Odakyu Shinjuku South Exit and between My Lord 2 and Lumine. The cost depends on how long you store your baggage and also its size and how many bags you have. 


pp147-51 What to see and do

pp147-8  Shin-Sekai    For an additional ¥1000 it is now possible to take a 60-metre slide down from Tsutentaku Tower’s lower deck.

p148  Tennoji    From Tennoji take the JR Hanwa Line or Osaka Metro Midosuji Line to Nagai for teamLab Botanical Garden Osaka (www.teamlab.art/e/botanicalgarden/), a new permanent installation which is open in the evenings only. Note this is not in the current edition of Japan by Rail but is added here for interest.

Practical information 

p151 Getting to and from Kansai Airport (and Table 2 p503) Haruka airport train services now stop at new underground platform, unofficially called UmeKita うめきた, at JR Osaka station. Previously services only stopped at Tennoji and Shin-Osaka. The journey time between Kansai Airport and UmeKita, Osaka station, will be 20 minutes less if on a direct train; the journey on a Haruka LEX will then be 47 minutes.

p162 Side trip to Kinosaki-onsen Kinosaki-onsen has introduced a 3-day pass (¥2500) permitting free entry to the main sights in the area. For more details visit: https://visitkinosaki.com/tour-packages/kinosaki-must-visits-pass/.

It is also possible to buy this pass in conjunction with a JR West Wide Area Pass through klook. For more details visit 



Central Honshu – route guides

p168  Odawara  It is worth travelling as light as possible to Hakone and if doing a round trip, whether for a day or up to three nights, you can store your surplus luggage at Odawara station. The cost depends on how long you store your baggage and also its size and how many bags you have. 

p169  Hakone-Yumoto  There is also an Odakyu Sightseeing Service Center here and the baggage storage office is open daily 8am-5.30pm. The main office is open Mon-Fri 9am-8pm, Sat and Sun 8am-8pm.

p180  Side trips by train from Takasaki

To Minakami Expect to pay about ¥15,800pp per night at Takaragawa-onsen Osenkaku. Women are now required to wear a tunic and men a loin cloth in the mixed sex baths; these are provided by the hotel. The only outdoor single-sex bath is for women and women can be naked there. There are also indoor single-sex baths.       

            If you have time on your visit do walk around the area and if you walk back along the road stop on the bridge over the river and look for wild monkeys roaming around.

p182  Joetsu-Myoko APA Hotel JoetsuMyoko Ekimae is on the East Exit side of the station and Toyoko Inn Joetsu Myoko Nishiguchi on the West Exit side.

pp185-7  Tateyama Kurobe Alpine Route There is now also a Route Inn hotel (https://www.route-inn.co.jp.e.ut.hp.transer.com/language/hotel_detail.php?hotel_id=691) in Shinano-Omachi.

Central Honshu – city guides


p201  Nagoya What to see and do  Three out of the five areas at Ghibli Park are now open. It is essential to book in advance and at the moment there is limited entry so it may be hard to get tickets.

Note that both the Linimo maglev line and Aichi Loop Line may also be very busy.

Kansai – route guides

p238 Side trip to Ise Grand Shrine (Ise Jingu) A theme part for Ninja fans is Ninja Kingdom Ise (https://www.ise-jokamachi.jp/en/; generally open daily 9am-5pm; ¥4900/adult day passport, other rates available); it is about a 15-minute walk from JR Futaminoura station which is between Iseshi and Toba stations. Alternatively take a CAN bus. There is also a hot spring there. This is not currently in the Japan by Rail text.

Kansai – city guides


pp250-6  What to see and do

p252 Kyoto What to see and do Western Kyoto  The entry charge for Kinkaku-ji is now ¥500.

Samurai and Ninja Museum (https://mai-ko.com/samurai/; daily 10.30am-8pm; ¥3000, ¥2700 if booked online), a branch of the one in Tokyo (see p112 in Japan by Rail) has opened here. It is a 3-minute walk from Kawaramachi station on the Hankyu Line and about seven minutes from Gion-Shijo on the Keihan Line. This is not included in the 5th edition of Japan by Rail.

p262 Kyoto Evening entertainment Yasaka Hall Gion Corner reopened in March 2023; it has now been made earthquake proof. Tickets cost from ¥5500.


Western Honshu – route guides

pp274-5  Himeji  Guided tours in English have resumed at Himeji Castle; see https://www.himejicastle.jp/tours/ for more details. 

pp278-9  Side trip by rail and ferry to Okunoshima  Before Covid-19 spread, the rabbit population seemed to have increased to 1000, but then people stopped visiting and did not feed them, so now the population has dropped to 400.

Western Honshu – city guides


p297 What to see and do The renovation work at Okayama Castle is now complete; the opening days and hours are the same but the admission charge is now ¥400 (¥640 inc Korakuen). The main exhibition has been renewed with more multi-media exhibits. The 1st floor has also been enlarged so it can be used for events so it is possible the castle will be closed at those times.

pp301-2 Side trip by rail to Kurashiki  The cherry blossom trees that line the river from the southern end of the Bikan Historical Area are Kawazu so bloom earlier than most – from early March is possible.

p302 Side trip by train and ferry to Naoshima It is now necessary to change train in Chayamachi for most services.

Tamano Tourist Information Centre in Uno station is open daily 9am-5pm.


p306 Getting around Prepaid IC cards (see p66 in Japan by Rail) can be used on the trams and are by far the easiest way to pay unless you have bought a One-day pass.

Otorii gate for Itsukushima Shrine on Miyajima (© Japan by Rail)

pp309-11 Side trip to Miyajima

p309  The o-torii gate is now fully visible as the restoration work has been completed. However, restoration work is still continuing in the main shrine area.

p310  The ropeway is in two stages and consists of two types of gondola: a funicular type with just two gondolas and a circulating type with many gondolas and the ropeway keeps operating.

p311  Miyajima Visitor Tax was introduced on 1st October 2023. The cost is ¥100 per visitor who is over preschool age and per visit. Children in Japan start school at the age of 6. The exceptions are residents and people who work on the island. The money will be used to maintain the sights and facilities for tourists on the island. The tax will be paid before boarding the ferry.

p317  Side trips from Matsue Tottori  A stylish wooden structure, Takahama Café (https://takahama-cafe.com; daily 10.30am-4pm), now overlooks Tottori Sand Dunes. The café also has a rooftop observation floor. It is opposite the Geo Park Center.

pp329-30  Side trip via the Yamagata shinkansen to the west coast The Tsubasa services also stop at Akayu 赤湯 and Kaminoyama-onsen かみのやま温泉. Ordinary trains also operate on this line.

Tohoku – route guides

p319 Tohoku area map Minakami is on the Joetsu mainline (Takasaki to Nagaoka) not the shinkansen line.

p323 Oyama/JR Mito Line and Mooka Railway Louise Archer suggested we include Mashiko : ‘that’s a great place with a couple of pottery festivals a year’. The pottery festivals in Mashiko (www.mashiko-kankou.org/english) are held in Golden Week and early November. The easiest rail option is to take the JR Mito line from Oyama to Shimodate. Then take the Mooka/Moka railway to Mashiko.

p323  Utsunomiya  The Haga Utsunomiya Light Rail (tram) line – called the Light Line – opened in August 2023. The terminus on the east exit side of Utsunomiya station is called Utsonomiya Station East.

Utsunomiya is also known for gyoza. The map of Utsunomiya that you can pick up at the station shows the many gyoza restaurants in town. The most convenient option on the corner of the road by the station’s west exit – turn left out of the exit – is Utsunomiyagyozakan Ekimae Nishiguchi Chuoten  宇都宮餃子館 健太餃子 西口駅前中央店 (daily 11am-9.30pm). There is a myriad of types available but for ¥900 (¥1150 inc rice and miso) you can get a selection of 12 different types of gyoza including prawn, shiso (delicious!), cheese, scallop, nira (garlic chives) as well as the more standard fillings.

pp333-4 Side trip by rail to Hiraizumi  The page reference to Pure Land garden in the Motsu-ji  text should be ‘box on p87’ though it doesn’t actually explain a Pure Land garden. Pure Land gardens were built to represent the Buddhist paradise.

pp348-9  Tsuruoka and Side trip to Dewa Sanzan  The tourist information centre is open daily 9am-5.30pm and has information in English about both Tsuruoka and also the Dewa Sanzan area. 

The main reason why Tsuruoka has become a UNESCO Creative City of Gastronomy is because the Yamabushi (traditionally ascetic mountain dwellers/worshippers who practise Shugendo – a mixture of Shinto and Buddhism) lived in the Dewa Sanzan area and had a vegetarian diet (shojin ryori) sourced from vegetables and other foods grown in the mountains. As a result, lots of heirloom vegetables are grown here and they are still grown in the traditional way. The food is seasonal but as everywhere in Japan ways were also created to preserve food. Nowadays some yamabushi have shokubo (temple lodgings) where they offer shojin ryori. And this is the best place to experience this food (see p349 in Japan by Rail). However, if you only have limited time you can eat in the Food Market, at Tsuruoka Gastronomy Foodever, where there are various stalls. For delicious sansai tendon (vegetable tempura on a bowl of rice; ¥1200) you will need to order through the vending machine on the right-hand side in the Food Market area – the pictures should make it clear what is on offer. Separately, Yaku offers Tohoku salad (¥680), steak and curry rice (¥990) or a pasta dish (¥1100) and Yuishin offers soba set meals (from ¥795).

                  The sake bar (daily 6-10pm) offers a sake tasting for ¥1500. With the sommelier’s advice you can choose three sakes and then have them with some small dishes that would pair well with the sake.

Sadly the labels for the exhibits about the heritage produce in FOODEVER and the Gastronomy Market (daily 9.30am-10pm) are virtually all in Japanese.

For more information about the Yamabushi see https://www.yamabushido.jp.

Tohoku – city guides


Hokkaido – route guides

Shin-Aomori to Shin-Hakodate-Hokuto

p364  Shin-Hakodate-Hokuto  The shinkansen line extension to Sapporo has been put on hold because of delays in the construction and also because Sappoto is no longer going to bid for the 2030 Winter Olympics.

pp367-8  Alternative route to Sapporo via Otaru  Niseko station now has a small rail heritage centre.

pp375-7  Abashiri  Okhotsk Ryu Hyo Museum has been renovated. The drift-ice room has been expanded and visitors can now experience temperatures as low as -15˚C. The HD cinema screen is now 360˚ and multilingual information is also available.

pp382-3 Side trip to Nemuro The Nemuro Hanasaki Line from Nemuro to Kushiro travels on marshyland and it has been said that the scenery resembles the scenery on the train journey in Studio Ghibli’s Spirited Away

Hokkaido – city guides


pp395-6  Sapporo What to see and do  The 28-floor moyuk SAPPORO (https://aoao-sapporo.blue) building on Tanuki Koji shopping street opened in July 2023. The main attraction there is an ‘urban-style aquarium’ called AOAO Sapporo on floors 4-6. There are also stores such as Loft and Sony and on the 7th floor is a rooftop garden. It is near the Tanuki Koji tram stop on the way to Susukino.

p396  Sapporo Station guide  Esta Mall closed in August 2023 and the building is being demolished as part of the construction work for the extension of the Hokkaido shinkansen to Sapporo.


Kyushu – route guides

pp409-10  Side trip by rail to Mojiko – and a walk back to Honshu

Kyushu Railway History Museum – most of the labels are in Japanese so unless you are a keen rail fan this museum is of more interest to those who can read Japanese.

If staying in Mojiko when returning from Shimonoseki (after walking in the Kanmon Tunnel) you can get off the train at Moji (instead of going all the way to Kokura and then transferring). You can also return to Mojiko via the passenger ferry ( https://kanmon.gr.jp/kanmon2020/en/detail/74.html; ¥400 one-way) that operates between Shimonoseki and Mojiko.

p411  If on a Huis Ten Bosch LEX some services will stop at Yoshinogarikoen  吉野ヶ里公園 before Saga.

pp411-2   If on a Relay Kamome, Huis Ten Bosch LEX or Midori LEX some services stop at Kohoku 江北 after Saga station.

pp411-2   Saga  In November, when the Saga International Balloon Fiesta is being held, a station called Balloon Saga is open and most trains stop there. From 2024 the station should be added to the IC card network.

p412 Takeo-onsen There is a tourist information centre (daily 8.30am-5.45pm) in the station and you can pick up a map in English. There is also a café here, a gift shop and a waiting area with a lot of Japanese books. Separately there is a branch of Kiosk where you can get snacks. A separate area has coin lockers.

                  Take the Romon Gate (North Gate) exit for the onsen area. It is about a 10- to 15- minute walk. The main sight is the impressive Romon Gate entrance to the original public onsen (and now New Annex building). The gate was constructed in 1915 and built without the use of nails. It was designed by Tatsumo Kingo who designed Tokyo station – rather a different building. The Shinkan (public onsen) is now a museum (daily 9am-6pm; free) and also a National Important Cultural Property. The more recently built annex now houses a public onsen (daily 6am-midnight; ¥680).

For Takeo Shrine and the City Library take the Mifuneyama Gate (South Gate). Takeo shrine, 武雄神社 , which dates from 735, is about a 15-minute walk from the station and behind it is a 3000-year-old camphor tree in which a God is said to reside. The city library 武雄市図書館 (https://takeo.city-library.jp; daily 9am-9pm) is a far more recent construction (2013) and should be visited by anyone interested in architecture and it is a really striking building. Also, unusually, it sells books and local crafts and also has a coffee shop. Note that there is a separate children’s library next to it. 

Two Stars (Futatsuboshi) 4047 train at Chiwata station (© Japan by Rail)
Lounge 40 in Two Stars 4047 train (© Japan by Rail)

It is possible to see all the above in a round trip from the station in about three hours.

The text mentions the Futatsuboshi 4047 but JR Kyushu now seems to refer to the train as Two Stars 4047; ‘futatsuboshi’ actually means ‘two stars’. The morning journey from Takeo-onsen (dep 10.22) goes south via Hizenhama and Isahaya to Nagasaki (arr 13.15); the afternoon train starts from Nagasaki (dep 14.53) and also goes via Isahaya then goes north to Shin-Omura and Huis Ten Bosch and east back to Takeo-onsen (arr 17.45). The train generally operates Friday to Monday inclusive with one return trip a day; in holiday periods it also operates on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Seat reservations are essential and are free for Japan Rail Pass or relevant JR Kyushu pass-holders. If you don’t have a JR Pass you will need to buy a ticket and seat reservation. For more information see: https://www.jrkyushu.co.jp/english/train/two_stars4047.html.

p414 Ureshino onsen The station is about a 25-minute walk from the onsen area. There is nothing at the station at the moment though a Fairfield by Marriott Saga Ureshino onsen hotel (https://www.marriott.com/en-us/hotels/ngssu-fairfield-saga-ureshino-onsen/overview/) opened here in July 2023.

p414 Shin-Omura  There is a tourist information centre (daily 9am-6pm) at the station and they have a map in English of Omura town, a former castle town. However, you need to take a local line train to get there and there is little of interest around Shin-Omura station.

p414 Isahaya  The tourist information centre (daily 10am-5pm) in the station has a map in English. There is also a Family Mart convenience store and a branch of Starbucks.

                  Shin Hotel (https://shinhotel.co.jp/english.html) is on the 4th-7th floor of the IISA building at the station; take the East Exit from the station.

                  Isahaya’s main attraction is the Megane-bashi (Spectacles Bridge) in Isahaya Park. There is a scale-model of the bridge outside the station but to see the real thing it is about a 15-minute walk from the station. The bridge was constructed in 1839 and at 50 metres it is the longest double-arched stone bridge from the Edo period in Japan. It used to be on the Honmyou river itself but due to erosion was moved to the park. There is also a scale model bridge in the park and together they are referred to as the ‘Parent-child spectacles bridge’. However, there is so much algae on the water on the child bridge you can’t really see the spectacle effect.

You can transfer here to the Shimabara Railway and to the Nagasaki and Omura Lines here. Note that IC cards are not accepted on the Shimabara Railway.

p424 Usuki  Usuki (like Tsuruoka, see pp348-9) is now a UNESCO Creative City of Gastronomy – for Usuki this is because of its production of miso paste and soy sauce: https://en.unesco.org/creative-cities/usuki.


Kyushu – city guides


p433 Fukuoka – A shopping paradise for some (boxed text)

To reach Lalaport from Takeshita station take the East Gate exit and then follow the main road in the direction you were coming from Hakata. Lalaport is on the left-hand side of the road and is about a 10-minute walk from the station. Once at Lalaport, for the Gundam statue you need to walk through the shopping centre on the ground level to reach ‘Forest Park’.


p443 Station guide  Take the Kamome (East) Gate for the main part of the city and for the tourist information centre (daily 8am-7pm), trams (streetcars) and the Inasa (West) Gate for Dejima Messe Nagasaki.

Coin lockers are available all over the station. The ticket office is open daily 7am-9pm. There are ATMs and there is also a waiting room.

There is a covered walkway for most of the route from the site of the new station to the trams and other services. The work on the area around the station is still ongoing and is not scheduled to be completed till 2025.


AMU Plaza is to the right as you exit the station. There are restaurants (daily 11am-10pm; Italian, Japanese, Korean and Indian) on the 5th floor and there is a Seiyu supermarket (daily 7am-midnight) on the 1st/ground floor.

Reception (front desk) for the JR Kyushu Hotel is on the 2nd floor; there is an escalator up there by the side of AMU Plaza. 

p444 Where to stay    The Dormy Inn hotel in Nagasaki doesn’t have an open-air bath though it does have a common bath.To reach it from the tram stop (if coming from Nagasaki station) walk back to the road crossing and turn left so the canal is to your right. The hotel is soon on the left though is set back from the road and the entrance is behind a branch of Family Mart. It is easiest to spot by looking up for the Dormy Inn sign.

p440-1 What to see and do  Steven Wedema contacted us regarding the 3rd edition of Japan by Rail and mentioned two particular things: the directions for the Oka Masaharu Memorial Peace Museum were not clear and we did not include Nagasaki Museum of History and Culture. We added the latter to the 4th and now 5th editions of Japan by Rail and hopefully have made the directions to Oka Masaharu Memorial Peace Museum clear, but just in case we are adding the photo he kindly sent us and his comments on the museum.

Oka Masaharu Memorial Peace Museum
Oka Masaharu Memorial Peace Museum (© Steven Wedema)

‘My second comment concerns the Oka Masaharu Memorial Peace Museum, which you very commendably do mention. I can only encourage readers to visit this small museum. Its underlying message is that Japan will never normalise its relationships with its neighbours if it does not face up to its wartime crimes. This message is delivered forcefully, if by simple means. Its collection looks a bit jaded in places and the museum obviously does not have the funding or the status it deserves; the lady at the reception said that the city council “does not like this museum” and thus has omitted it from the official Tourist Office map. All the more reason for anybody with a historical interest to visit it along with the (very well funded) Nagasaki Atomic Bomb Museum.


Yellow Pumpkin by Yayoi Kusama on Naoshima Island (© Japan by Rail)


p483 Side trip by boat or train from Takamatsu – By boat to Naoshima Yayoi Kusama’s Yellow Pumpkin is back on display.

The Town Bus only accepts coins (not IC cards).

Note that the car ferry and the much smaller passenger boat depart from different piers so check which your service is so you have time to walk to the furthest pier.


JR Service summaries p503 Table 2: Kansai Airport to/from Shin-Osaka via Haruka LEX  Since spring 2023 the journey time between Kansai Airport and Osaka station is 20 minutes less if on a direct Haruka LEX train. This is partly because the train stops at a new underground platform unofficially called UmeKita うめきた, at JR Osaka station.

p505 Table 9: Shingu to Wakayama and Shin-Osaka on Kuroshio LEX  The journey time on a Kuroshio LEX between Osaka (UmeKita) and Wakayama is now 57 minutes because of the new underground platform at Osaka station opening.