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Old Jun 15, 12, 12:38 pm   #1
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Obon festival travel

Is travel difficult in Japan around the Obon Festival in mid August? Mainly concerned with taking a train from NRT into Tokyo. Also may be taking a train from Tokyo to Hiroshima. Should I go ahead and book the train tickets? Any other ideas? Thanks!
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Old Jun 15, 12, 1:31 pm   #2
 
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It is one of the three busiest travel seasons in Japan, so yes.
Taking the train NRT-TYO should be alright.
Catching a train out Tokyo on the 11th or 12th of august may be a bit more difficult. If you can stay clear of 11,12,15 and 16 of august, it should be easier.

Will you be using the JR pass? As long as you are sticking to JR east (which is Tokyo and further north) you can reserve seats here
http://jreast-shinkansen-reservation...ion/Guide.aspx
But getting to Hiroshima involves JR central and JR west too, and I don't think they have online reservation from abroad.
Once you are in japan and have your JR pass, you can go to any JR office and make the reservations.
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Old Jun 15, 12, 5:50 pm   #3
 
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You do not have to worry whatsoever about NRT-Tokyo.

Fly to Hiroshima; it's a lot faster and you can book your tickets starting now for mid-August. This is flyertalk, not traintalk.

p.s. I am not sure how busy this period really is because there are no public holidays in August. Avoid the weekends, I suppose.
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Old Jun 15, 12, 8:12 pm   #4
 
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Well now I'm confused. GH Tokyo concierge told me that the Obon festival at Roppongi Hills is the weekend of Aug 24th - which seems wholly inconsistent with what I read about Obon being in mid August.

Anyone have any idea if perhaps the RH festival is just later in the month for some reason?
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Old Jun 15, 12, 8:14 pm   #5
 
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Originally Posted by gnaget View Post
Fly to Hiroshima; it's a lot faster
For a city center to city center journey, there's not much in it. Depending on the start and finish points, the train can be faster. Nozomi Shinkansen gets you from Tokyo station to Hiroshima station in just under 4 hours.
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Old Jun 15, 12, 9:58 pm   #6
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Originally Posted by ainternational View Post
Well now I'm confused. GH Tokyo concierge told me that the Obon festival at Roppongi Hills is the weekend of Aug 24th - which seems wholly inconsistent with what I read about Obon being in mid August.

Anyone have any idea if perhaps the RH festival is just later in the month for some reason?
Yes. It is done that way to coincide/not conflict with other summer festivals. Obon is mid-August as stated above.
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Old Jun 15, 12, 9:59 pm   #7
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Originally Posted by ainternational View Post
Well now I'm confused. GH Tokyo concierge told me that the Obon festival at Roppongi Hills is the weekend of Aug 24th - which seems wholly inconsistent with what I read about Obon being in mid August.

Anyone have any idea if perhaps the RH festival is just later in the month for some reason?
Obon actually sort of spreads across several weeks, often some companies take the Obon break earlier or later so their employees don't have to deal with crowded travel.
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Old Jun 15, 12, 10:57 pm   #8
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The peak of obon season should be Aug 9-11 leaving Tokyo and returning 13-15

It really depends this year (because of electric shortages) companies are moving around the dates
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Old Jun 16, 12, 12:15 am   #9
 
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Obon festival at Roppongi Hills
Maybe it's great. But sure doesn't sound like the kind of obon matsuri that I'd want to go to.
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Old Jun 16, 12, 2:40 am   #10
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Originally Posted by gnaget View Post
p.s. I am not sure how busy this period really is because there are no public holidays in August. Avoid the weekends, I suppose.
Obon is a defacto public holiday period. The centre of Tokyo will be practically deserted. Since many people leave big cities especially Tokyo to travel to their ancestral home or go on vacation at the beginning of Obon and return at the end, trains and roads leaving Tokyo will be busy on 10-12 August (earlier than usual because of the weekend) and again on 13-15 in the opposite direction.

As others have said there shouldn't be any problem travelling from NRT to Tokyo. You should be fine as long as you reserve a seat in advance for Tokyo-Hiroshima.
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Old Jun 16, 12, 3:49 am   #11
 
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Jorudan conveniently shows flying as an option. Shibuya to Hiroshima eki shows that you save an hour by flying using a random 11:16 am departure time tomorrow. And it's not fun sitting on a train for 4 hours.

And Jorudan allows for only 11 min connecting time at Shinagawa but 45 min at HND. I also didn't realize that Hiroshima airport has no train connection, which adds to the total travel time. But you still save an hour.

But importantly for rtb it's easy to book a flight.

Are there any commercial flights to the old "downtown" airport, HIX? Ok, a quick search tells me that JAL stopped in 2010.

Quote:
Originally Posted by jib71 View Post
For a city center to city center journey, there's not much in it. Depending on the start and finish points, the train can be faster. Nozomi Shinkansen gets you from Tokyo station to Hiroshima station in just under 4 hours.
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Old Jun 16, 12, 4:07 am   #12
 
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One more thing. The reason that I said there is no holiday in August -- it's true in Tokyo. July 16th is a holiday in Tokyo; I didn't know the reason for it. Obon is apparently celebrated in July in Tokyo but August in rest of country. Are all you people "country folk"?

http://sgholiday.com/calendar/japan-...holidays-2012/
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Old Jun 16, 12, 5:51 am   #13
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Originally Posted by gnaget View Post
One more thing. The reason that I said there is no holiday in August -- it's true in Tokyo. July 16th is a holiday in Tokyo; I didn't know the reason for it. Obon is apparently celebrated in July in Tokyo but August in rest of country. Are all you people "country folk"?

http://sgholiday.com/calendar/japan-...holidays-2012/
July 16th is a holiday in Tokyo? Actually it's a holiday throughout Japan (Umi-no-hi or Marine Day) and happens to be on July 16th this year. It has nothing to do with a Buddhist festival.

I think this description from Japan-guide.com is pretty accurate.
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Old Jun 16, 12, 8:50 am   #14
 
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Originally Posted by gnaget View Post
Jorudan conveniently shows flying as an option.
Do you mean that Jorudan shows flying to be convenient? That's not the case. Jorudan doesn't actually estimate "convenience". It does estimate "ease". It rates the plane as "F" (fast) and the train as the "E" (easy) option for this journey.

Or do you mean that it's convenient that Jorudan shows flying as an option? That's true. However, I would also point out that Jorudan doesn't calculate connection time at Hiroshima airport, which isn't convenient.

Quote:
Originally Posted by gnaget View Post
And it's not fun sitting on a train for 4 hours.
YMMV. For me it beats the trains, planes and buses route. Once I'm on the Nozomi, I can get online and be productive or mess around on Flyertalk and not have to think about another connection until I arrive feeling fresh and happy that I had plenty of legroom and didn't have to go through airport security...

Quote:
Originally Posted by gnaget View Post
Shibuya to Hiroshima eki shows that you save an hour by flying using a random 11:16 am departure time tomorrow. And it's not fun sitting on a train for 4 hours.
It does not show that. Factor in the connection at Hiroshima airport and the difference is more like 30 minutes. If you leave Shibuya one minute earlier (at 11:15am), the Nozomi route will get you to downtown Hiroshima at pretty much the same time as the plane route.
Quote:
Originally Posted by gnaget View Post
And Jorudan allows for only 11 min connecting time at Shinagawa but 45 min at HND.
That strikes me as about right - The Shinagawa connection is a short walk across platforms and through the shinkansen Gate. The HND connection involves a security check, significantly more walking, and time for boarding. (Potentially also time to check a bag).

Quote:
Originally Posted by gnaget View Post
But importantly for rtb it's easy to book a flight.
It's true that the OP can book a flight but not a train at this time. Is that important? I'm not so sure. To the OP's original point, I don't think he'll have problems buying a train ticket in Aug.
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Originally Posted by gnaget View Post
Are there any commercial flights to the old "downtown" airport, HIX? a quick search tells me that JAL stopped in 2010.
That's HIW (Hiroshima West). Flights from Tokyo to HIW ceased many years before that. In 2010 (IIRC) JAL only flew from HIW to small airports in West Japan. I'm struggling to remember where. I just remember that I wanted to fly into that airport but couldn't find a good excuse to.
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Last edited by jib71; Jun 16, 12 at 9:04 am.
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Old Jun 16, 12, 10:09 am   #15
 
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It's a relatively long hike at Shinagawa from Yamanote line to Shinkansen. 11 minutes is probably minimum equivalent to arriving at HND 20-25 min before departure. I.e. cutting it tight.

So 50 minutes is not enough time to go from the airport to downtown upon arrival? That's a bit of a hassle. For NRT they figure worst case scenario for bus schedule. Something like 110 minutes when it really takes 70 min.
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