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Need advice on JR Pass from Narita - Shibuya - Niigata/Shibuya to Sapporo

We are a family of 4. Kids ages 10, 11 by December. We are planning to get the JR East pass for 7 days. Will that be OK for Narita - Shibuya - Niigata/Shibuya to Sapporo?

We plan on either going from Shibuya to Niigata or Sbihuya to Sapporo.
I need help with directions, which JR train to take using JR East pass.

Also, we would like to know the duration of the travel from Shibuya to Niigata and Shibuya to Sapporo.

Also, is it possible to use JR East pass to travel to Mt Fuji? Let's say via Kawaguchiko?

Appreciate your advise.


  • Hello, N22Rocks.

    Actually, JR East currently offers several distinct passes, none of which have a 7-day usage policy.

    However, two of these passes may prove useful depending on where you decide to go. I'm assuming you'd like to make a round trip from Tokyo to either Niigata or Sapporo.

    For Niigata, there's the JR East Nagano Niigata Area Pass. You can use the pass on five different days (at most) on any 14 day period. You can do Narita-Shibuya on this pass, but if you only use the pass for a round trip to Niigata, you will only break even.

    For Sapporo, there's the JR East South Hokkaido Rail Pass. You can use the pass on six different days (at most) on any 14 day period. You can do Narita-Shibuya on this pass. Even though a round trip to Sapporo gives you very significant savings on the pass, I cannot really recommend it for anyone simply going to Sapporo and not stopping anywhere else on the route, because it takes so long and flying to Sapporo is so much cheaper and more "common-sense".

    You can get to Shibuya directly from Narita Airport by rail (as long as you're not a late-night arrival). Your direct options are limited to the JR Narita Express (N'EX), but this service is covered by JR East passes.

    You cannot get to Niigata directly from Shibuya. You will have to board your bullet train at Omiya Station (preferably). You will take the Joetsu Shinkansen. Services include the Max Toki train. It should take two and a half hours to get to Niigata.

    You cannot get to Sapporo directly from Shibuya. At least two transfers are required and it will take more than eight hours one-way (via the Hokkaido Shinkansen and Super Hokuto services). For comparison, flying to Sapporo takes around 2 hours (after factoring transport time from Chitose airport).

    Finally, JR does not have any service that gets you as far as the Five Lakes area. However, you can use the aforementioned Nagano Niigata Area pass to get to Otsuki Station (JR), from which Kawaguchiko is only an extra train fare away (via a third sector service). However, any necessary transport beyond Kawaguchiko is also at an additional cost.
  • The JR East passes are flex passes and some of the most versatile of all the passes in Japan. Days are not consecutive within a 14 day period, so you can take your time and travel slowly, or for short distances pay out of pocket to thoroughly see an area before moving on.
    You can see the coverage area and relevant info for the JR East Tohoku Area Pass on:
    and for the JR East Nagano Niigata Area Pass on:

    I would also say that taking the train from Tokyo to Sapporo without doing some sightseeing along the way would be such a waste. It would take you about 8 hours or more, completely murdering the whole day. Would you really want your 10 & 11 year old kids sitting on trains for 8 hours?
    I suggest taking a low cost carrier like Jet Star, Vanilla Air or Peach.
    And if you're planning to get out of Sapporo and see the countryside, in this case renting a car would be one of the better ways to see the area.
  • Many thanks Tenjin! I am removing Sapporo from our itinerary this year. We were in Sapporo last year via Jetstar. I just thought it would be good to see some snow again this December.

    Allow me to summarize what I thought you said. I think it would be a big cost savings if we buy the JR East Nagano Niigata Area Pass for our trip.

    1. Narita to Shibuya
    JR East Nagano Niigata Area Pass - can be used for 5 days of our choice within 14 day period (Excellent!)
    JR East Nagano Niigata Area Pass covers our train from Narita to Tokyo via JR Narita Express (N'EX), then JR train to Shibuya

    2. Shibuya to Disneyland - May I know which JR train to take to get to Disney land?

    3. Shibuya/Tokyo to Niigata
    (You cannot get to Niigata directly from Shibuya. You will have to board your bullet train at Omiya Station (preferably). You will take the Joetsu Shinkansen. Services include the Max Toki train. It should take two and a half hours to get to Niigata)
    - is Joetsu Shinkansen at Omiya Sta and Max Toki train covered by JR East Nagano Niigata Area Pass?

    > What area in Niigata can you recommend that we see? Is Minakami OK?

    4. Shibuya to Kawaguchiko - via Otsuki Station. (take non-JR train to Kawaguchiko at extra cost)

    5. Shibuya to Narita - via Tokyo via JR Narita Express (N'EX)

    many thanks

  • Hi,
    Well first off, you can see regular fares, routes and schedules on Hyperdia.

    Most of your questions are already answered on the coverage map I gave above - yes you can use the pass from Narita, and to Niigata.

    For getting to Disneyland, it's very easy, as you can see on their website:

    Your next question though is rather surprising. You're asking what to see in Niigata? Minakami is in Gunma, not Niigata, and if you're only going there, you could use a Tokyo Wide Pass which costs less. Sado Island is one of the most interesting places in Niigata, but I don't think December is the best time to go there. Niigata itself doesn't have much, although by car there is a lot of natural beauty. For Minakami you'd also need to take a 30 minute bus ride (not covered by any pass).

    It seems to me Matsumoto and Nagano would be more interesting, or if you haven't seen it, Kanazawa is excellent (though not covered by that pass, and 2+ days are better).
    It seems to be that you need to flesh out your itinerary more. As I said, you could you the passes mentioned above to go to/from Narita, but you could also do it on the 1000 yen bus
    and put those days on the pass to better use going across the country.
    Hope that helps.
  • Hey.

    Your latest post indicates that you intend to base in Shibuya and make day-trips from there. I don't actually think it's a great way to visit the Niigata region (or even the Five Lakes) especially when you're thinking to stop at places out of the way like Minakami.

    If you would refer to Japan Guide articles for the places you're interested in visiting, you'd have an idea of not only how to get there, but also quickly realize how much of your day it takes to get there.
  • Hello Tenjin, I am getting the JR EAST PASS (Nagano, Niigata area) and I found a promotion for JR east pass holders to avail "GALA Yuzawa Snow Fun Set with Gondola Ticket" (includes round-trip) gondola ticket, a rental sled, boots and gloves (Adult Y2,000, children Y1,400). However, the shinkansen timetable shows very few trains operating on 26th Dec. According to http://www.jreast.co.jp/e/pdf/gala_timetable.pdf
    Would you please advise which JR train to use from Tokyo to GALA Yuzawa for 26th Dec?
  • I don't see a lack of trains, really. I suggest you look at Hyperdia.

    This site has more info on where you are going:
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