Last year in 2014 and the year before 2013, me and my family were Japan-crazed and head over heels in love with Japan. Over 2 years, we went to Japan thrice, from Tokyo, Osaka, Kyoto, Nara, Wakayama to Sapporo, Rusutsu, Noboribetsu, Soukyo in the North (Hokkaido).
In general, most of Japan is easy to move from Point A to B with their complex Metro-railway system, there is nowhere you cannot reach by train. Of course, there is always the exception. Hokkaido in the north doesn’t have the same excellent coverage by rails other than the main cities like Sapporo, Otaru, Furano and such. There are just too many good places in Hokkaido that just ain’t able to be reached by train. The alternative would be car rental from selected rail station points to explore where the train can’t take you.
[Photo taken at the foot of Tokyo Tower after a slight drizzle at night, giving the mist-like illumination]
If you are travelling via rail, JR Pass might be the way to go. But it might be wise to know that JR offers many types of pass with different terms and conditions like area of coverage, days of coverage (some can be non-consecutive periods), Shinkasen usage (Japanese Bullet Train that’s really cool & fast), etc. Choose what’s best and most economical for your own travelling plan.
And do taken note that if you should get the travelling rail IC card like: Pasmo, Suica, Icoca, Pitapa … they are stored value cards offered by different railway operators. While compatibility is likely for major cities, if you are planning to travel outside these areas, it would be wise to check if they are accepted in those routes. Otherwise one would risk not being able to enter after having exit from one train station while transiting onto another to catch the connecting train. While embarrassment could be one small part, there is a good chance of missing one’s train that work with prompt schedule while settling this reentry-issue.