Archive of ‘Japan Travel’ category

5 Tips for Visiting the Sapporo Snow Festival

The Sapporo Snow Festival

The Sapporo Snow Festival is an annual event held in the city of Sapporo, the largest city on Japan’s Hokkaido island. The Japanese name for this festival is Yuki Matsuri, with yuki meaning snow and matsuri meaning festival in the Japanese language.

The Sapporo Snow Festival brings around 2 million visitors to the city each February. Visitors come from all over Japan — and from all over the world — to experience this winter wonderland. The festival is spread throughout three locations in Sapporo:

The Odori Site

The Odori site, located in Odori Park, is the main festival site. This is where you can see the huge snow and ice sculptures that the Sapporo Snow Festival is famous for. Don’t miss Odori Park at night, when the sculptures are lit up. This park is huge and is filled with different areas to explore. It is where you will (most likely) spend the majority of your time during the Sapporo Snow Festival.

The Susukino Site (SUSUKINO ICE WORLD)

The Susukino site is where you will find the festival’s ice sculptures. Susukino is in downtown Sapporo and is easily accessible by subway. When you’re done admiring the intricate sculptures, be sure to duck into Ramen Alley for some famous Hokkaido ramen!

The Tsudome Site

The Tsudome Site is the second largest site of the Sapporo Snow Festival and is where you will find numerous outdoor activities: snow and ice slides, snowrafting, snowball target practice, and more. This site is a 10 minute walk from Sakaemachi station, which is a 30 minutes ride from Sapporo Station. There is a shuttle bus that will take you from Sakaemachi station to the Tsudome site. The cost of the shuttle was 100 yen/person each way — cash only.

It was difficult to find useful information in English when we were planning our visit to the 2017 Sapporo Snow Festival, so thought I’d share a few tips here. I hope they will be helpful for your future Yuki Matsuri visit!

5 tips visit Sapporo snow festival

Tips for Visiting the Sapporo Snow Festival

If you are planning to visit the Sapporo Snow Festival, here are a few things to keep in mind:


We travel a lot, and it’s not unheard of for us to book a big trip a trip the month before we leave. For example, I started planning my solo Bali trip about six weeks before I went. This strategy (or lack thereof) will not work for the Sapporo Snow Festival.

In fact, we tried to visit the Sapporo Snow Festival in 2016. I started looking into flights in October 2015, and they were completely full. This was quite a shock when we’ve gotten used to showing up at the train station, buying a ticket, and arriving in a new city in Japan within the span of a few hours.

Needless to say, this year I had it marked on my calendar to book this trip in early August. I wasn’t going to miss out two years in a row!

Moral of the story: book your flights and accommodation at least 6 months in advance. This advice isn’t only for the budget travelers out there. Even if you aren’t necessarily concerned with the cost, you will need to book early because flights and accommodation will fill up.

Tip #2: Plan Around the Crowds

To experience the festival with fewer crowds, plan to visit on a weekday if possible.

We visited the main site of the Sapporo Snow Festival, Odori, just after arriving in Sapporo on Friday afternoon and found the crowds to be quite manageable. Keep in mind that we have lived in Japan for nearly two years so our tolerance for crowds may be a little skewed.

Even though we have gotten used to crowds, we know our tolerance level is still set at “American”. We purposely avoided the main Odori site on Saturday and Sunday for this exact reason. Thankfully we decided that an afternoon and evening was plenty of time to enjoy the Odori site.

If you think the crowds will affect your enjoyment of the festival, I recommend visiting on weekdays only.

Tip #3: Stay Near the Festival Sites

As you can imagine, accommodation near the festival can be quite expensive, even if you book early. If staying near Odori Park isn’t within your budget — or simply isn’t available — then I suggest that you stay as close to a subway station as possible. This would be my advice for traveling to any major city, obviously, but it’s especially important when visiting the Sapporo Snow Festival. February is cold and windy in Sapporo, so you will appreciate being able to get back to your accommodation to thaw out as soon as possible after you’re done with the day’s activities.

I’d also suggest booking your accommodation through Airbnb. <– use this link to save $37 off of your first Airbnb stay! We paid considerably less for an apartment than it would have cost us for a hotel room, and we had an entire apartment to ourselves including a full kitchen and laundry.

Another thing to consider:

The sidewalks in Sapporo can be extremely slippery and snow-packed. This was the case everywhere we went with very, very few exceptions. Don’t assume that the sidewalks near your accommodation will be completely clear. We’ve gotten quite used to walking everywhere since moving to Japan, but what may be considered to be a normal, easy walk in Japan (and beyond) may not be safe in Sapporo. Because of the condition of the sidewalks, it also was quite difficult to use our rolling suitcases on the sidewalks in Sapporo, so keep that in mind as well. We ended up carrying our suitcases most of the way from the subway station to our accommodation, which is another reason to stay as close to the station as possible!

On this note, I saw very few strollers at the festival and around Sapporo, which I assume was due to the snow-packed ground and the crowds. Most people were wearing their little ones in a carrier, which seems to be the most common method of child transportation in Japan anyway. With this in mind, if you are traveling with small children you will probably want to leave the stroller at home.

Tip #4: Don’t just visit the Snow Festival

Sapporo is such a cool city and the surrounding area is stunningly beautiful. It would be a shame for you to travel all that way and only see the 3 festival sites. Plan to take a day trip out to the mountains to ski, visit one of the charming towns nearby, or simply rent a car and hit the road to admire the scenery.

Don’t believe me? Check out this video we took of the Hokkaido coastline with our drone:

Tip #5: What to Wear

One of the biggest concerns I had about visiting the Sapporo Snow Festival was about what to wear. That may sound a little silly, but hear me out:

I knew that we would be spending a substantial amount of time outdoors, but I didn’t want to be uncomfortable when going inside. If you are a Westerner who has spent time traveling in Japan, especially in winter, then you will know exactly what I am talking about. When it’s freezing outside it will be sweltering inside. You can not escape blasting heaters! This includes being inside buildings and while riding the train. I assumed that I would be peeling every layer possible each time we ducked inside to warm up. I was right.

My suggestion is to dress in thin, warm layers. On the bottom, I layered leggings under my jeans. I wore wool socks and warm boots on my feet. On top, I wore a moisture-wicking tank top, a thin cashmere sweater, my down jacket, a hat, and wool gloves.

This wardrobe formula kept me perfectly comfortable while walking around outside for hours, but at the same time I wasn’t too hot when ducking inside a steamy ramen shop.

A little more on footwear: any pair of warm, well-soled boots will be perfect. I wore my Ugg boots and they were great. However, if I wasn’t a hardy Midwesterner who grew up walking around in the tundra all winter, I may have opted for something with a bit more grip. There’s an art to walking over snow and ice without slipping, and if you’re not accustomed to it it can be quite treacherous.

Enjoy your trip to the Sapporo Snow Festival!

If you stick to these 5 tips for visiting the Sapporo Snow Festival, you’re sure to enjoy your trip!

I want to hear from you: if you’ve visited the Sapporo Snow Festival, do you agree with these suggestions? Please leave your tips in the comments below!



The Sapporo Snow Festival

Like most expats, we have a long list of places we want to visit before we repatriate. Many of the destinations that are on our list are outside of Japan, but there are still many places in Japan that we want to check out, too. In fact, we’ve spent so much time (and money) focusing on our trips abroad that it’s been awhile since we took a trip within Japan. I’m happy to report that this (unintentional) travel break was remedied last weekend with a trip north to Hokkaido to visit the Sapporo Snow Festival.

Hokkaido, the northernmost of Japan’s main islands, has been on our list of destinations since before we moved to Japan in 2015. Jason has wanted to visit Hokkaido ever since he started traveling to Japan for work back in 2013, and he put The Sapporo Snow Festival on his bucket list as soon as we found out that we were moving to Japan.

I am happy to report that we officially crossed this trip off of the list last weekend!

The Sapporo Snow Festival SeeLayne

Day 1: Friday, February 10

On Friday afternoon, we all flew to Sapporo from Nagoya via SkyMark Airlines. I’ve heard horror stories from people traveling on budget airlines, so I want to take a moment to gush about SkyMark. Our flights cost $130 round trip per person and included 20kg of checked luggage each (you can check skis, snowboards, and surfboards as part of your 20kg as long as they are shorter than 280cm) for no extra charge.

The direct flight from Nagoya to New Chitose Airport in Hokkaido was 90 minutes, and was the smoothest flight we’ve been on in a long time. My expectations for comfort were quite low, but decided that it was worth it for the low price and short flight. Boy, was I wrong! This is the first economy flight I’ve ever been on with extra legroom. One thing to note: they charged for refreshments on the flight, even for water. They did give out complementary Kit-Kats, which definitely made up for it. Chocolate > water. Duh.

skymark airlines japan kitkat

After our uneventful flight (the best kind!), we made our way into the city. It took us about an hour by train to get from New Chitose Airport to our accommodation.

Our Accommodation

We almost exclusively use Airbnb when we travel, and this trip was no exception. Our Airbnb apartment was in the perfect location: only steps away from Nakajima Park and Nakajima Koen subway station. The apartment was huge, especially for Japan: two bedrooms, living area, full kitchen, laundry, balcony. Much more comfortable for the three of us than a hotel room.

Note: you can use one of the Airbnb links above to save $37 on your very first Airbnb stay!

After getting checked in to our apartment, we turned right around to venture out. Right outside our building was a man selling Amazake, a hot drink made from rice — kind of like warm, sweet, sake. Jason enjoyed it, but decided that he wouldn’t have been able to drink more than one small cup.

amazake seller sapporo snow festival hokkaido japan

Sapporo made us feel right at home with the snow and the cold. We didn’t realize how much we missed it until we got here!

bike buried snow sapporo

Odori Park

Our first stop was the main festival location: Odori Park. Like (pretty much) everywhere else in Japan, the subway is the most efficient way to get around Sapporo. We walked about a minute to get to Nakajima Koen station, got on a train, and were at Odori park in less than 10 minutes. We came out of the station and were at the festival. It was busy, but the crowds were still manageable at this point. I was happy that we were able to visit the festival Friday night rather than waiting until Saturday because of the expected weekend crowds.

I didn’t get too many photos of the festival as I was Snapchatting most of the time (follow me on Snapchat: seelayne).

Odori Park is home to the festival’s huge snow and ice sculptures. This is the main location for the Snow Festival, and the enormous sculptures draw the most visitors of any of the three locations. Here are some of the photos I took from Odori Park:

sapporo snow festival hokkaido japan

sapporo snow festival japan

I wish someone had been standing in front of this one so you could see how big it was! It was nearly 20 feet tall:

cup noodle sapporo snow festival hokkaido japan

donald trum sapporo snow festival hokkaido japan

We spent a few hours admiring the sculptures, people watching, trying not to slip on the ice, and sampling the festival food. We were ready to warm up at this point, so we decided to search for some dinner.

Next Stop: Dinner

The three of us had a difficult time agreeing on where (and what) to eat, so we finally wandered into Bacchus Meat Cafe near Susukino station.

By this point we were cold, hungry, and cranky — a terrible combination for our first evening in Sapporo. All was forgotten as soon as we looked at the menu! We ended up sharing a huge platter of assorted grilled meats, a Caesar salad, and Racklett, a slab of melted cheese you pour over potatoes, vegetables, and bread. The food was DELICIOUS. We are usually happy to try local Japanese restaurants whenever we travel, but sometimes you just need to go for the meat and cheese!

Day 2: Saturday, February 11

We all wanted to do slightly different things on this trip, so we split up for the morning hours on Saturday. Jason loves Japanese whiskey, so he made plans to visit Yoichi distillery. The distillery is located about an hour by train from Sapporo.

yoichi distillery hokkaido japan

yoichi cafe tasting hokkaido japan

yoichi distillery tasting set

Em and I went to Shiroi Koibito Park for a tour of how they make the famous Shiroi Koibito cookies.

shiroi koibito factory tour

shiroi koibito park hokkaido


We met up again in the afternoon to do some shopping and to visit the other downtown location of the festival: Susukino. The Susukino site is where you can view the festival’s ice sculptures. Some of the sculptures were so detailed!

sapporo hokkaido snow festival ice sculpture susukino

This site was a fraction of the size of the Odori location, so it didn’t take as long to see everything. There were tons of ice sculptures here, as well as an Ice Bar where you could get a hot drink (both alcoholic and non-alcoholic). We also saw an ice slide that looked like it was a lot of fun for the kids in the crowd!

Ramen Alley

After walking around for about an hour, our hunger led us towards Ramen Alley, a famous Sapporo alleyway filled with, you guessed it: ramen restaurants. We walked up and down the alley for about 15 minutes before deciding on the winning ramen shop. It was so hard to decide! There were so many great options, and in the end we chose the shop with the longest line.

We waited for about 20 minutes before we were invited in. We took up 3 of the 8 seats in the shop. The shop was cozy and warm, and the ramen was tasty. It was the perfect remedy for spending too much time out in the cold!

ramen alley susukino sapporo hokkaido japan

With full bellies, we decided to head back for a relaxing evening.

Nakajima Koen

We thought we were done exploring for the day, but we were wrong! When we emerged from the subway station, we saw a glow coming from Nakajima Koen (koen means park in Japanese) across the street that stopped us in our tracks. We were so excited to see that the park was lit up with hundreds of lanterns and snow sculptures! It started to snow while we were exploring the park, which only added to the atmosphere. It was magical.

Nakajima Koen Sapporo snow festival

nakajima koen sapporo

nakajima koen sapporo snow festival

ice lanterns nakajima koen sapporo snow festival

After spending about an hour in the park we were finally ready to head back. But not before stopping at the conbini (convenience store) for a bottle of wine and some snacks first!

Day 3: Sunday, February 12

Sunday was our last full day in Sapporo. In the morning, we decided to make our way out to the third location of the Sapporo Snow Festival: Tsudome.


This location was not in downtown Sapporo, but about 30 minutes away. The site is a 10 minute walk from Sakamachi station on the Toho line, but there are shuttle buses ready to take you there. The shuttle bus isn’t free (100 yen per person each way – cash only!), but taking the bus was totally worth it to stay out of the cold and off of the icy sidewalks.

This location was more for families with younger children. There were ice slides, sledding hills, a chance to ride in a raft behind a snowmobile, snowball throwing challenges, a snow blower station (where you can operate huge snowblowers) and much more.

Growing up in the tundra of northern Minnesota, these activities weren’t all that appealing to us. Plus, there were lines of at least 30 minutes for the hill, slide, and the snow rafting. I could see that others were REALLY excited about all of this, though! We only spent about 30 minutes here before making our way to our next activity.

We wanted to get out of Sapporo for the afternoon, so we made plans to visit Otaru, located about an hour away by train.

But first, Asari

On the way to Otaru, we had to make a pit stop at Asari station so that we could fly our new drone!

We were excited to find a secluded location on this trip so that we could take it out for a flight! You have to be super careful about following the local laws when flying, especially in such a densely populated country like Japan. For example, there is only one place we found that is easily accessible by public transport near Nagoya where we can legally fly.

This drone is so compact that it fits into a case the size of a lunchbox, which means that it will be coming with us wherever we travel from now on. I can’t wait to share future videos with you all!

Here is the footage we were able to capture in Sapporo:

We were in awe of the scenery here, especially since this was the first time I’d ever seen the sea and snow at the same time. It was seriously incredible.


After our pit stop, we got back on the train and soon arrived in Otaru.  We were there to see the Otaru Snow Light Path Festival, when the town glows with thousands of flickering candles and illuminations. In addition, they float candles on the canal each night at 5:00 PM.

otaru canal hokkaido lantern festival

It started snowing pretty heavily as soon as we arrived in Otaru, and it didn’t stop until we left. The snow made us northerners pretty happy, especially since we hadn’t gotten to enjoy the snow much so far this winter. Otaru was lovely, but it was PACKED with tourists. We saw the canal, did a little shopping, and ate some (more) ramen to warm up. At this point we were all getting pretty tired. We decided that were were done being outside and got on the train back to Sapporo.

Day 4: Monday, February 13

Time to go home! We checked out of our Airbnb at 10:00 AM and went straight to the airport.

We knew that the New Chitose Airport has its own ramen alley, and we couldn’t resist checking it out. The restaurants are before security, so we got checked in for our flight, dropped off our bags, and went in search of the perfect bowl.

ramen alley new chitose airport sapporo

At this point I decided that it would be a shame to leave without having some seafood ramen! I tried a seafood ramen piled high with crab (which sank to the bottom of my bowl by the time I got my camera out!). Delicious.

After lunch we flew back to Nagoya. After a busy weekend, we were happy to be home again! We really enjoyed Hokkaido and the Sapporo Snow Festival! We would definitely go back to visit — perhaps during the sweltering late-summer months to escape the heat?

Do you like seeing trip reports like this? Want to see something different? Have a question about Sapporo or the Sapporo Snow Festival? Leave me a comment to let me know! I’d love to hear from you!

Platt Kodama – Discount Shinkansen Tickets in Japan

Platt Kodama Discount Shinkansen Travel Japan

It’s no secret that traveling by Shinkansen — aka the bullet train — can be an expensive way to travel in Japan. But it doesn’t have to be so expensive! You can get discounts on Shinkansen tickets by using Platt Kodama.

Platt Kodama Discount Shinkansen Travel Japan

As I shared in my 2016 Travel Highlights, I did a lot of Shinkansen travel last year. I personally took 17 one-way Shinkansen trips, but the total number of Shinkansen tickets we purchased in 2016 was 43! This number reflects the number of tickets we bought for our family of 3, but also includes any tickets we purchased for our visitors.

At around $100 each, that’s a lot of money spent on train tickets!

We rarely pay full price for our Shinkansen tickets, however. No, I don’t have an in with someone in the JR office. I wish! We were able to save hundreds of dollars on Shinkansen tickets last year simply by using the Platt Kodama (aka Puratto Kodama) program offered by JR Tours.

What is the Platt Kodama?

First of all, let me say that this post is not sponsored. JR has no idea who I am, unless my name is on a list because of how much money I gave them last year. Ha. I am simply sharing this information so that you can save money, too.

The Platt Kodama program offers savings on Tokaido Shinkansen tickets between Tokyo and Osaka. This allows travelers to save big on travel between Osaka, Kyoto, Nagoya, and Tokyo — cities that happen to be the most popular destinations for Japan travelers.

Platt Kodama Benefits

The Platt Kodama program is an easy solution to saving big on one-way Shinkansen tickets.

Discounted Shinkansen Tickets

As I said before, traveling by Shinkansen can be expensive! The Platt Kodama program is a great option for saving money on train travel in Japan.

For a trip from Osaka to Tokyo, the savings is ¥3,840 (about $33 at the time of this writing) over the cost of a regular ticket. For the green car, the savings is ¥7,120 (over $60). This is depending on the route and the exchange rate, of course. Those savings add up quickly!

For example: We bought 4 tickets for a trip from Nagoya to Tokyo last spring. With the Platt Kodama discount, we were able to save ¥11,120 (almost $100) over the regular cost of ¥43,520 (nearly $400). All because I bought the tickets ahead of time and purchased them from the JR Tours office instead of the usual ticket counter.

Free Drink Included

When you buy your Platt Kodama ticket, you will get a voucher for a free drink. This voucher can be redeemed for a soft drink or a 350 ml can of beer/Chu-hi at one of the convenience stores in the train station. This voucher CAN NOT be redeemed on board the train.

Platt Kodama Drawbacks

The Platt Kodama isn’t necessarily the best option for every trip. You need to weigh the options to make sure that it is the best choice for you.

You Must Plan Ahead

One of the benefits of train travel in Japan is being able to turn up at the train station 30 minutes before leaving, buying your ticket for the next train, and hopping on the train — after grabbing your bento box + chu-hi, of course.

With the Platt Kodama, you can not buy your tickets on the same day of travel. You must buy your tickets in advance. You can buy your tickets the day before you plan to travel, however, I recommend getting your tickets at least a few days before. Especially if you are traveling with multiple people or need to get on a specific train.

The Kodama Train is Slow

The Kodama train is the slowest option for Shinkansen travel between Tokyo and Osaka. For example, I can get from Nagoya Station to Tokyo Station in about 90 minutes on the Nozomi train. However, on the Kodama train, this same journey will take me over 3 hours. This is because the Kodama train stops at every stop between Nagoya and Tokyo. This generally isn’t a problem, but I usually choose to buy the more expensive ticket if I need to be somewhere early or if I want more time at my destination.

For example, if we are planning to weekend in Tokyo and can’t leave until my husband gets home from work at 5:00 PM, we will probably choose the faster train out of Nagoya in order to get to Tokyo in time for dinner. In this case the time savings is more important to us than the lower cost.

You Can Not Change Your Kodama Ticket

Another thing to note is that, unlike a regular Shinkansen ticket, you can not make changes to your Platt Kodama reservation. If you miss your train or can not travel, you can not get a refund. Like most rules in Japan, there are NO EXCEPTIONS.

For this reason, I very rarely choose the Platt Kodama when returning to Nagoya after flying into Tokyo (Narita or Haneda) or Osaka (Kansai). The ticket savings is not worth the potential of losing the entire purchase price due to a delayed flight. In these cases I opt to buy a ticket at the airport after I land instead. I’d much rather pay a little more than miss the Kodama and still need to buy a Shinkansen ticket.

I also make sure to plan for more than enough time to catch the train, especially if I am not traveling by myself.

Even with these potential hassles, we tend to choose the Platt Kodama about half of the time.

How to Buy Platt Kodama Tickets

Platt Kodama tickets need to be purchased from a JR Tours office. Since we live in Nagoya, we generally buy our tickets from the JR Tours office located in Nagoya Station. The purchase procedure may differ between each JR Tour office, but this the procedure for the JR Tour office at Nagoya Station.

JR Tour Office Nagoya Station

You do not need an appointment to buy your Platt Kodama tickets. Simply walk in to the office and take a number from the machine located right inside the door.

Buy Platt Kodama Tickets JR Tours

Selecting English will tell the JR Tours employees that you would like to work with an employee who speaks English. If you feel comfortable with Japanese, you can skip this step. I recommend asking for English the first time you visit the JR Tours office, or if you are trying to plan a multi-person or multi-destination trip.

As you can see in the photo above, you can also book other tour packages through the JR Tours office. We haven’t ever used this service to book travel in Japan, but I would love to hear from anyone who has!

Fill Out the Platt Kodama Form

To make buying your Platt Kodama tickets easier, fill out the Platt Kodama form. I’m sure you can buy tickets without filling this form out at all, but I haven’t ever done so.

You do not need to fill this form out ahead of time. They will have a stack of these forms in the JR Tours office, along with clipboards and pens for you to use. Filling the form out at home is especially helpful if you are buying tickets for multiple people (or multiple trips) at the same time.

You can find the Kodama timetables on the Platt Kodama website. I write my first choice (train number/route/time) on the form, but it’s also a good idea to have at least a couple of backup trains that you would be willing to take as well in case the train you want is full.

Buying Your Platt Kodama Tickets

Once you have taken your number from the machine, have a seat in the waiting area and wait for your number to be called. They will announce the next number over the loud speaker, and your number will flash on the screens located around the waiting room. The attendant who will assist you will also raise their hand. You will not have any trouble knowing when it’s your turn to buy your ticket(s)!

When your number is called, you will go to the counter and hand your form to the employee. They will then look over your information and confirm the date and train times with you. They will check to see if there are tickets available for your requested train. After the employee has confirmed your tickets, they may either ask you to wait while they print your tickets or they may print them when while you wait at the counter.

You can pay with cash or credit card. I always use my Chase Sapphire Preferred* card so that I get double points on travel purchases.

It’s that easy!

Traveling with your Platt Kodama Ticket

Traveling with your Kodama ticket is easy! On the day of travel, you will turn up at the station, go get your free drink using your drink voucher, and then go to the Shinkansen wicket. Instead of putting your ticket through the machine, simply hand your Kodama ticket to the attendant. He or she will stamp your ticket and then you’ll be on your way.

When you get to your destination, simply hand your Kodama ticket to the attendant when you exit.

Other Ways to Save on Shinkansen Tickets

The Platt Kodama program isn’t the only way to save money on Shinkansen tickets in Japan. Here are a few other ideas:

Book an Unreserved Seat

If you are traveling alone — or don’t mind not sitting with your travel partner — you can save some cash on your Shinkansen tickets by purchasing an unreserved ticket. You can save about 700 yen per ticket by booking an unreserved Shinkansen ticket, depending on your route. It’s not a huge savings per ticket, but for three people round trip it can add up quickly. We have done this a few times and have always been able to find seats together.

However, there is always a chance that you won’t find seats together — or you might not get a seat at all. This isn’t a huge deal if you’re going from Nagoya to Kyoto (about 35 minutes on the Nozomi), but standing for even part of the trip from Osaka to Tokyo could be a pain. Buy an unreserved Shinkansen ticket at your own risk.

Buy the Japan Rail Pass

The Japan Rail Pass is a popular option for foreign visitors to Japan. Passes are sold for different lengths of time and, depending on travel plans, may or may not be worth the cost.

Expats in Japan can not take advantage of the JR Rail pass, unfortunately. However, if you have visitors coming, it could be a great option for them. You can find more information about the Japan Rail pass here.

Please note that the pass must be purchased outside of Japan and the voucher needs to be exchanged at a Japan Rail Pass exchange office upon arrival. However, they are experimenting with a pass that can be purchased after arriving in Japan! This program will begin on March 8, 2017 and will run for one year. You can find more information here.

I’d love to hear from you! Have you ever used the Platt Kodama program? Do you have any other suggestions for saving money on Shinkansen tickets?

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