Head to Hokkaido with the discount Hokkaido Shinkansen Opening Pass!

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Written by Editorial department

On March 26, 2016, the Hokkaido Shinkansen opened between Shin-Aomori and Shin-Hakodate-Hokuto Stations. With the opening of this new section of approximately 150 km, the popular Hokkaido area is accessible all the way from Tokyo on one train ride. Because it’s a Shinkansen trip, you can also simply hop on and off at stations in between.

En route from Tokyo to Hokkaido, the abundant nature of the Tohoku region offers a range of attractive places to explore. From late April to mid-May is the best time to see the cherry blossoms blooming in this area. We would like to introduce a special tourist route that highlights the best of the cherry blossoms in the Tohoku region.

To get there, the perfect way to travel between Tokyo and Hokkaido on the Shinkansen or other trains is by using the JR East-South Hokkaido Rail Pass, available only to visitors from overseas! Please find the details of this pass at the end of the article.

[First Spot] Shiroishi Riverside Hitome-Senbonzakura

The first recommended spot is the Shiroishi Riverside Hitome-Senbonzakura in Miyagi Prefecture. Its name means "the thousand cherry blossom trees at a glance", and this row of trees gracefully extends about 8 km along the Shiroishi River. The contrast between the cherry blossoms on both sides of the river and the Zao Mountains behind creates a superb view. Enjoy with more cherry blossoms at Funaokajoshi Park nearby. It is located near Ogawara Station, about a 35-min ride south on the JR Tohoku Main Line from Sendai Station (about 1h30min from Tokyo on the Shinkansen).

Address:Oya, Ogawara-machi, Shibata-gun, Miyagi Prefecture
Usual peak period:Mid-April to late April

[Second Spot] Kitakami Tenshochi

The second recommended spot is the Kitakami Tenshochi in Iwate Prefecture. It is one of the Tohoku Top Three Cherry Blossom Viewing Spots. The approximately 500 Yoshino cherry trees making a 2 km-long tunnel along the Kitakami River are just some of the approx. 10,000 cherry blossoms on site, which form an overwhelming experience. During the Cherry Blossom Festival, horse-drawn carriages bring a nostalgic atmosphere to the cherry blossom-lined road, further enlivening the picnic feeling. It is about 10 mins from Kitakami Station (about an hour on the Shinkansen from Sendai Station) by taxi.

Address:10-155 Tachibana, Kitakami City, Iwate Prefecture
Usual peak period:Mid-April to late April

[Third Spot] Hirosaki Park

The last recommended spot is Hirosaki Park in Aomori Prefecture. It is famous for its evening scene of cherry blossom viewing, and is one of Japan’s Top Three Cherry Blossoms Night Viewing Spots. With Hirosaki Castle located in the park grounds, the contrast of the castle tower and the cherry blossoms all lit up at night creates an amazing view. The scattered cherry blossom petals form a pale pink carpet on the river that flows around Hirosaki Castle from around late April to the beginning of May. Take the Ou Main Line southwest from Shin-Aomori Station (about 2 hours from Kitakami Station on the Shinkansen) and get off at Hirosaki Station, from where the park is about a 10-min taxi ride.

Address:1-1 Shimoshirogane-cho, Hirosaki City, Aomori Prefecture
Usual peak period:late April to early May

The great-value “JR East-South Hokkaido Rail Pass”!

Once you have enjoyed the cherry blossoms at Hirosaki Park, go back to Shin-Aomori Station and hop onto the Shinkansen to Hokkaido. If you take the route we’ve introduced to Hakodate (Shin-Hakodate-Hokuto Station), it will cost about ¥34,000 at regular Shinkansen and other train fares.

We’d like to introduce overseas visitors to the “JR East-South Hokkaido Rail Pass”. This pass allows unlimited use of Shinkansen and limited express trains anywhere in Southern Hokkaido area (Sapporo, Hakodate, etc.) and East Japan area (including the Tohoku region) for any 6 days within 14 days from issue (does not need to be 6 consecutive days). Prices are ¥27,000 for adults (12 years of age or older) and children (6-11 years old) are half price, ¥13,500. When purchased outside of Japan, the pass is discounted another ¥1,000 for adults and ¥500 for children!

As you may have noticed, this is about ¥7,000 cheaper than the initial fare of around ¥34,000 for the route introduced here. Additionally, the pass has saved you ¥7,000 before even paying for the return fare! It’s a must-get deal for anyone planning to travel towards Tohoku or Hokkaido!

【JR East-South Hokkaido Rail Pass Details】
Sales Period:Can be used throughout the year, beginning on April 1, 2016 (Friday)
Validity Period:Any 6 days out of the 14-day period from the date of issue *The date of issue refers to the date of pick-up for passes purchased overseas and the date of purchase for passes purchased in Japan
Prices:Adults (12 years of age and or older) ¥27,000, children (6-11 years of age) ¥13,500 (Adults ¥1000/children ¥500 discount applies if purchased outside of Japan)
Purchase Requirements:Customers are foreign nationals and holders of non-Japanese passports (temporary visitors with lengths of stay in Japan of no longer than 90 days). Passports will be checked at the time of purchase or pick-up of pass.
Purchase Method:Purchase an exchange voucher at a tour company or travel agent in your own country, and exchange for a ticket at an exchange location in Japan. Or purchase at domestic sales locations within Japan (for further details please refer to the link below)