When you travel, are you most worried about losing time or losing money? Some people feel that “time is gold” and are willing to purchase expensive train tickets just to get to their destination quickly. However, if you’re happy to spend some extra time but get the best deal, there are some alternative options to help you travel around Japan on a budget. If your trip is taking you from Tokyo (東京) down to Kyushu (九州), check out the Seishun 18 ticket (青春18きっぷ) which guarantees you a much cheaper trip than the bullet train!
One way to travel on the cheap is with the Seishun 18 ticket package. This is a bundle of five tickets with each one granting you an unlimited use of unreserved seats on JR local and rapid trains. This is available to any person of any age and nationality in Japan.
The ticket is a small card with five fields that can be stamped on the days it is used. The five journeys do not need to be on consecutive days but can be spread out over a period of time. These tickets can be bought at most JR stations across the country and are sometimes on sale depending on the season.
The Seishun 18 ticket is valid for five days if being used by one person. However, it can also be shared between people as it is not designated to just one person. If you’re planning on sharing the ticket, the five journeys can be made together. For example, two people can use the ticket over two days and the remaining journey can be used by just one person. Alternatively, five people could use up all five journeys on the one ticket to all travel the same journey together. Many different combinations are available for sharing the tickets.
The Seishun 18 ticket will give you enough tickets to cover your trip all the way from Tokyo down to Fukuoka prefecture (福岡県). You will have to make 13 transfers in your journey so be prepared for hopping on and off of trains.
Tips for surviving the journey would be to stack up on snacks before you get started and use the bathroom before you board the train as there are not always toilets on the local trains.
Overall, the trip from Tokyo to Kokura takes 19 hours and nine minutes. So, here are the 13 steps:
- The journey starts from Shinagawa Station (品川駅), which is located on the south-east edge of Tokyo. Hop on the Tokaido (東海道) line bound for Odawara (小田原) in Kanagawa Prefecture (神奈川県). This takes about 11 minutes.
- At Odawara, transfer to the Tokaido line train for Atami (熱海). This ride takes around 20 minutes.
- Next, transfer to the Tokaido line train for Hamamatsu (浜松). This is the longest stretch of your journey so you can get comfortable for this one!
- After that, you’ll be transferring to the Tokaido line train for Toyohashi (豊橋) where you’ll get a bit of time to spare.
- You’ll then ride on Tokaido line train to Ogaki (大垣) for 11 minutes.
- At Ogaki, hop on the Tokaido line train bound for Maibara (米原). Trains here are smaller as you’ll be traveling to less-populated areas of Japan and you’ll start to see that you’re entering the beautiful Japanese countryside.
- After that, you will be given a three-minute transfer to the Biwako (琵琶湖) line train for Himeji Station (姫路駅). This next trip will take you at least two and a half hours.
- You’ll then be bound for Banshuako (播州赤穂) on the Sanyo (山陽) line train.
- Next transfer is at Aioi Station (相生駅) where you need to ride the Sanyo line train for Itozaki (糸崎). You’ll be given a 25-minute break to kill time so you can venture out to try some local food!
- After this, you hop on the Sanyo line train for Hiroshima Station (広島駅).
- When you reach Hiroshima, transfer to the Sanyo line train for Tokuyama (徳山).
- The next train is the Sanyo line train to Shimonoseki (下関) which is usually less crowded. Not far now!
- Once you reach Shimonoseki, you’ll only be given one minute to transfer to the Sanyo line train for Kokura Station (小倉駅), which is found in Kyushu. This is your final destination!
Although this is most certainly not the quickest way to travel such a long distance, it is an option for those who have the luxury of time to go somewhere without spending too much on fares. Just follow the route if you want to travel from Tokyo to Kyushu by using the Seishun 18 ticket. Good luck!
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