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4 nights stopover in Japan

4 nights stopover in Japan

Old Oct 7, 12, 1:04 pm
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4 nights stopover in Japan

I have flights with United in April/May 2013 including a 4-nights stopover in Tokyo. I have been in Kyoto, Tokyo, Osaka, Nagoya and many other cities, so I am thinking of visiting Fukuoka this time. I would like to hear your suggestions on my this trip:
(1) our flight arrives at NRT at 2:15pm, is it possible to take the Shingansan from NRT to Fukuoka and go to the hotel for late check-in in Fukuoka on the same day? I don't feel like staying Tokyo and we can begin our self-guided tours in Fukuoda on next day.
(2) our flight departs at NRT at 5:25pm, is it possible to take the Shingansan from Fukuoka to NRT on the day of the departure?
(3) Should we book and stay in the same hotel in Fukuoka for all 4 nights and try the JR rails and buses for same day tour to surrounding cities or attractions? Is it not possible or too hard to travel different places each day from the hotel in Fukuoka?
(4) Do you have advices to what I must do or visit in Fukuoka and other area?
Thanks in advance for your suggestion...
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Old Oct 7, 12, 2:57 pm
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Your times could work but you will be spending many hours on the train after hours on a plane. Assuming you get in on time and get through C&I in under an hour, you can take the Narita Express to Shinagawa, then connect to the shinKansen to Hakata (the station name for Fukuoka), arriving between 9-10 pm. You won't be able to use a Japan Rail Pass as this connection requires use of the Nozomi shinkansen. The return would leave at 8:30 am, connect at Tokyo Station and arrive at NRT by 3:30 pm. If that isn't enough time for your comfort, there are earlier trains from Hakata.

From a central location in Fukuoka/Hakata, there are several day trips available. Since you will be doing the round trip to/from NRT on 2 of your days, that leaves 2 days in the city. I think you can find plenty to keep you occupied in town but if not, try a trip down to Kumamoto. There are lots of hotels in the area of Hakata Station.

You can look at the train options at www.hyperdia.com . The system gets lost if you try to enter the full trip so break it up into segments - NRT-Shinagawa, Shinagawa-Hakata, Hakata-Tokyo and Tokyo-NRT, using the Narita Express and Nozomi.

This is likely to be a rather expensive 4 days. It might be cheaper to fly to/from FUK rather than train.
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Old Oct 7, 12, 3:30 pm
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Even on Narita Express + Shinkansen you would be stuck on the train for 7 hours vs 2 hours on a plane.

The flight options from NRT to FUK after your arrival time are (T2 indicates departure from Narita Terminal 2):
15:25 JL3053 (T2)
15:30 BC805 (T2)
17:00 NH2143
17:55 NH2145
18:00 GK127 (T2)
19:50 JL3057 (T2)

But if you insist on taking the train, and assuming you will use Japan Rail Pass, the latest train connection that will get you to Hakata is:

Narita Terminal 1
| 15:45 Narita Express 34 Arr 16:52
Shinagawa
| 17:10 Hikari 481 Arr 20:18
Shin-Kobe
| 20:53 Hikari 443 Arr 23:52
Hakata

A bit more forgiving in reverse but you still need to catch the train by 8:00 to get to Narita by 15:30.
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Old Oct 7, 12, 4:07 pm
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Originally Posted by abmj-jr View Post
...
You won't be able to use a Japan Rail Pass as this connection requires use of the Nozomi shinkansen. ...
...
I do plan to purchase Japan Rail Pass, but why can I use the Japan Rail Pass for this part of Japan? What is Nozomi Shinkansen? I will be getting 7-day Japan Rail Pass, which should allow me to use Shinkansen and all JR lines, no?
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Old Oct 7, 12, 4:09 pm
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Originally Posted by msb0b View Post
Even on Narita Express + Shinkansen you would be stuck on the train for 7 hours vs 2 hours on a plane.

The flight options from NRT to FUK after your arrival time are (T2 indicates departure from Narita Terminal 2):
15:25 JL3053 (T2)
15:30 BC805 (T2)
17:00 NH2143
17:55 NH2145
18:00 GK127 (T2)
19:50 JL3057 (T2)

But if you insist on taking the train, and assuming you will use Japan Rail Pass, the latest train connection that will get you to Hakata is:

Narita Terminal 1
| 15:45 Narita Express 34 Arr 16:52
Shinagawa
| 17:10 Hikari 481 Arr 20:18
Shin-Kobe
| 20:53 Hikari 443 Arr 23:52
Hakata

A bit more forgiving in reverse but you still need to catch the train by 8:00 to get to Narita by 15:30.
Thanks for schedule, I expect to get to Fukuoka hotel by 9:30 or 10pm and hope to get back to Narita by 3:00pm. We hope the trip on Shingansen itself is an experience....
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Old Oct 7, 12, 8:32 pm
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I propose you fly to/from Fukuoka. If you plan to do day trips when there, there is a less expensive JR Kyushu pass you can buy:

http://www.jrkyushu.co.jp/english/railpass.html

You can probably spend three days in Northern Kyushu alone, that pass only costs Y7,000 per person.
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Old Oct 7, 12, 11:18 pm
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Originally Posted by Row3Acer View Post
... What is Nozomi Shinkansen? I will be getting 7-day Japan Rail Pass, which should allow me to use Shinkansen and all JR lines, no?
Not quite. The Nozomi is the fastest shinkansen and you cannot use the JR Pass for it. If using the JR Pass, you are limited to the (only slightly) slower Hikari and the much slower Kodama.

When I did a quick search, all I found that late were Nozomis direct to Hakata. I did not see the Hikari with connections, so my comment that you are limited to Nozomi is not correct. It would be much faster, with no connections, but as I said, you couldn't use the Pass. In my defense, I was searching for a way to get you to Hakata by 10 pm. Only Nozomi can do that.

I don't think it will be possible to get to your hotel "around 9 or 10 pm." Even if you manage to jet through arrival, get to the JR station to exchange your Rail Pass order and make reservations for the Narita Express and the shinkansen - even with all that, if you can get on the 3:15 pm N'Ex, the earliest connection for a Hikari you can make at Shinagawa is 5:10 pm, arriving at Hakata at 11:32 pm. I don't think you can make that 3:15 N'Ex but the 3:45 would still get you there in time. If you can't make that one, the 4:15 pm N'Ex will get you there in time to take the later 5:40 pm to Hakata with a connection at shin-Osaka but those connections are a little tight. None will get you to Hakata before 11:32 pm.

Last edited by abmj-jr; Oct 7, 12 at 11:48 pm
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Old Oct 8, 12, 12:33 am
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Originally Posted by Row3Acer View Post
Thanks for schedule, I expect to get to Fukuoka hotel by 9:30 or 10pm and hope to get back to Narita by 3:00pm. We hope the trip on Shingansen itself is an experience....
It would be physically impossible to get to Fukuoka by those time on Shinkansen. The Shinkansen is so smooth and uneventful that you don't feel you're travelling at 280 km/h, and that is me speaking as a railfan.

I concur with RichardInSF's suggestion of JR Kyushu Pass. You can use that pass to take the Kyushu Shinkansen to Nagasaki or Kumamoto within Kyushu.
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Old Oct 8, 12, 8:03 am
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Originally Posted by msb0b View Post
It would be physically impossible to get to Fukuoka by those time on Shinkansen.
Not only is it merely possible, it's really, most sincerely possible.
(But not using a JR pass).
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Old Oct 8, 12, 10:07 am
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Originally Posted by Row3Acer View Post
Do you have advices to what I must do or visit in Fukuoka and other area?
I loved eating at the streetside stalls, yatai, when I was in Fukuoka in May as part of a larger Japan trip. Mainly Japanese food, of course, but apparently some yatai that serve Western cuisine exist. This was the part of my trip where I interacted with the (very friendly) locals the most.

I had also meant to venture to some of the beaches in the Fukuoka area but a combination of poor weather and too much shochu the night before meant that those plans had to be nixed.
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Old Oct 8, 12, 11:15 am
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Originally Posted by RichardInSF View Post
I propose you fly to/from Fukuoka. If you plan to do day trips when there, there is a less expensive JR Kyushu pass you can buy:

http://www.jrkyushu.co.jp/english/railpass.html

You can probably spend three days in Northern Kyushu alone, that pass only costs Y7,000 per person.
I love our fellow flyertalk 'friends'. You all convinced me that it's not feasible to get to Fukuoka for late checkin by Shingansen from NRT on the same day of arrival. I have now listened to your sound advices and had booked the award flights for 2 with only 12000 miles RT each (from NRT to FUK). Well worth it.
Any suggestions on what (or how) to see or visit in Fukoaka?
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Old Oct 8, 12, 11:58 am
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Originally Posted by jib71 View Post
Not only is it merely possible, it's really, most sincerely possible.
(But not using a JR pass).
Oops my mistake. Forgot to include Nozomi and Mizuho in the search.
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Old Oct 8, 12, 8:45 pm
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Originally Posted by abmj-jr View Post
You can look at the train options at www.hyperdia.com . The system gets lost if you try to enter the full trip so break it up into segments - NRT-Shinagawa, Shinagawa-Hakata, Hakata-Tokyo and Tokyo-NRT, using the Narita Express and Nozomi.
One slight update to the excellent advice already provided here. Hyperdia can indeed handle a query NARITA AIRPORT to HAKATA query without getting confused. From the www.hyperdia.com home page, simply enter your query as usual and click on the "SearchDetails" link. A list of options appears, and you can uncheck the Airplane, Nozomi and Private Railway options (which are always checked by defaut) in order to force selection of a route where a JR Rail Pass is valid.
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Old Oct 8, 12, 10:29 pm
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Originally Posted by RichardInSF View Post
I propose you fly to/from Fukuoka. If you plan to do day trips when there, there is a less expensive JR Kyushu pass you can buy:

http://www.jrkyushu.co.jp/english/railpass.html

You can probably spend three days in Northern Kyushu alone, that pass only costs Y7,000 per person.
That's a killer deal. For the OP Mt Aso is a great place to visit. Nagasaki is also fantastic apparently. Fukuoka itself is a great city too, great place to get the feel of urban Japan without the overwhelming scale of Tokyo or Osaka. And it has Hakata ramen.
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Old Oct 9, 12, 11:17 pm
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Definitely fly. Also the airport has the most convenient access to city center of any large airport in the world (that I know of).

If you haven't been to Nagasaki, you might want to do that (instead of Fukuoka?)

There are a lot of famous pottery locations around there. Kunisaki Pennisula is kind of interesting. Mt. Aso and yamanami highway are nice. I spent 3 weeks hitchhiking in Kyushu. Met of ton of people, got invited to dinner, to stay at people's homes, etc. Doubt you could still do that, but Kyushu is pretty laid back and the people are pretty friendly compared to the big Japanese cities most people go to.
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