Night Buses from Kanazawa

This is a guest post by Alessandro, a third-year JET in Kanazawa.

Traveling in Japan can be very expensive. Night buses a valid alternative if you want to save money and time but in some cases you may need to be able to read Japanese, and you’ll need to be ready to make some sacrifices.

Your best shot for saving money is to travel by night buses. They are cheap, you save time by not traveling by day, and the money from a hotel. In exchange, be ready to be squeezed a little and/or spend a night without sleeping (there are slightly more expensive seats for more space).

Basic Info about Different Companies

1. All night buses have 4 or 5 scheduled stops in station areas on the way to the final destination – this is the worst thing about night buses. It will depend on the driver,but they tend to wake everyone up (lights switched back on + loud announcements) to inform every passenger about the stop.

JR drivers tend to be the less noisy and let passengers sleep, while the worst may be those of 123bus. Although it really depends on the driver –I have traveled many times with the same company and received a different result each time 

2. Arrivals/departures in Tokyo can be from Shinjuku, Tokyo station or Tokyo Disneyland.

Departures/arrivals are from Kanazawa station, Korimbo, Katamachi, Toyama.

 

Going to Osaka/Kyoto

Well, not much choice for this route. Only the JR buses will take you there.

There are many trips a day and one during the night. JR provides the best quality service, but it is also the most expensive.

One-way trips will cost you 4,300 to Osaka 4,060 to Kyoto. If you buy a round-trip ticket you save a lot and the cost is 7,000 to Osaka and 6,600 to Kyoto. The return trip must be within 10 days from departure.

Where to buy the tickets? At Kanazawa station main entrance (the one with the giant traditional Japanese gate) you will find the ticket office.  You can also buy tickets online, and in that case you save another 2% on the ticket. You will then have to pay in a convenience store, which will give you the tickets.

When do you book the tickets? It’s is a mystery why, but you can only book tickets one month in advance. (For example, if it is May 1st, you can only book tickets until June 1st – and if you are buying a round trip you can book the return trip for up to June 10th.)

How long does it take? On a day bus – 5 hours to Osaka 4.5 hours to Kyoto. On a night bus — 7 hours to Osaka and 6 hours to Kyoto. (The bus will stop for a couple of hours.)

http://www.kakuyasubus.jp/kansai_hokuriku/hokuriku_dream/index.html 

(this is the web page for Osaka/Kyoto.  Use the main menu for routes around Japan.) 

 

 Going to Tokyo

There are many bus companies that will take you to Tokyo for cheap.

The prices will vary depending on the day and peak seasons. The cheapest you may find is 4,000 yen, but this will be in bus with 4 seats across and no commodities at all

My best picks are:

JR Buses

This company has the best service, but is also the most expensive. A round trip will cost you 14,000 yen. (One-way 7,800)

Other discounts? Yes, if you leave during weekdays and can book 21 days ahead you can get a round-trip ticket for only 100,00 yen.

You can also get the usual 2% discount by booking through the internet.

This night bus is has only 3 seats across, so it is indeed the most relaxing way to get to your destination. It will take 8 hours.

http://www.kakuyasubus.jp/kanto_hokuriku/index.html

123bus (Willer travel)

This is generally the cheapest company (although check with other companies during peak seasons).

It also has the worst “Let me sleep!” service

They have a premium membership campaign, so if you join them and pay a mere 1,000 yen yearly membership fee, you will have access to better discounts up to 50%. Note that it will be on a limited number of places for each bus.

Prices start from 4,000 yen, one-way.

The best deal is the 5,000 yen “relaxing seat” bus, which is more comfortable than the normal one.

Also there is the “relaxing wide seat” for 6,000 yen (but this bus tends to be full very easily, so I’ve never had the chance to try it) 

Booking can done up to 3 months before leaving. You pay at the convenience store and just print out the confirmation email as a ticket.  (editor’s note: I believe you can also pay online via credit card, if you want to avoid the conbini.)

http://www.123bus.jp/

Hotdog kirakira buses

Easy to recognize because the buses are red with a smiling dog.

They only have buses with 4 seats across. The only advantage is that they may be cheaper than 123bus during peak seasons. They have fixed prices 5,000 or 5,500 if you take a round trip and depending on the day you travel.

You can buy a 5 tickets package and each ticket will cost you 4,500, which can be used in any day of the year, including peak seasons. This is a good choice for traveling during Golden Week or at the end of the year!

http://www.hotdog.co.jp/bus/knztoy_kira.htm  (page for Kanazawa-Tokyo route)

For another post about night travel (more indepth about 123 bus), check out the Cheap Travel to Tokyo post.

And since we’re talking about cheap travel, this Cheap Holiday Train Travel post (about the Youth 18 ticket) may interest you as well. 

Guest House Pongyi

Need a place to stay in Kanazawa? Tatami time-share is great, of course, but what if you have friends or family coming with you? I recommend Guest House Pongyi, a charming hostel located in the heart of Kanazawa.

Guest House Pongyi

Guest House Pongyi

Guest House Pongyi (ゲストハウスポンギー) is nestled into the buildings by the Kuratawa Canal. The atmosphere of Pongyi is lovely. The building was once the house of a merchant, which lends a nostalgic feel to the place.

For only 2600 per night, you can stay in the male or female dormitory (4 bunks each; if you’re booking a group, you can ask to be placed together, depending on availibility), or, for 6000 yen per night, you can stay in a tatami room (sleeps 4). (The price drops to 10,000 yen per for this room if you book four people at once). One hundred yen of your fees will be donated to help poor children in Asia.

My friends and I rented out the whole men's dorm together since it was open.

My friends and I rented out the whole men's dorm together since it was open.

Each bed in the dorm-style rooms has its own curtain and its own light. The bathrooms have racks for drying your clothes and towels. There’s a communal bath, or you can go to a nearby onsen for showering and bathing. (My group came back rather late from our day’s excursion, so we decided on the onsen). The website has a break-down on what amenities the facility has, but, in brief, you can rent towels and yukata for cheap, and you can use the kitchen equipment, a padlocked locker for your valuables, and the internet for free. Of course, like any other bed and breakfast or hostel, how well you sleep will really depend on your bunkmates and fellow guests, so bring your friends—the more, the merrier!

Not only is the inside of the hostel nice, but the location is amazing. You can leisurely sit outside over the canal in the morning sunlight when the weather is nice. It’s only a short walk (5-10 min) from Kanazawa Station and downtown Kanazawa, and 20 minutes from Higashiyama Tea District and Kenrokuen Garden. The area also has a convenience store and several restaurants nearby.

A place to sit by the canal

A place to sit by the canal

Yokokawa Masaki, the proprietor, is wonderfully friendly. He has traveled to Brazil and Myanmar, where he lived as a Buddhist monk. The hostel reflects his personality and experiences—it is simultaneously cosmopolitan and homey, and it exudes an air of serenity. Masaki-san encourages foreigners as well as Japanese to stay in his hostel, and he loves to hear about his guests’ home countries and experiences. Travelers, be sure to bring Masaki-san a nice omiyage from your town!

Leah Zoller is a first-year CIR in Anamizu and likes the top bunk.

Access
〒920-0868 石川県金沢市六枚町2-22,076-225-7369
2-22 Rokumai-machi, Kanazawa, Ishikawa, Japan
Tel: 076-225-7369 (in Japan)
+81-76-225-7369 (from other country)
E-mail: mail@pongyi.com
English website: http://english.pongyi.com/
Japanese website: http://pongyi.com/

Parking is available across the lane for 900 yen for 24 hours..
By bus or train, get off at Kanazawa Eki, and walk for about five minutes from the East Exit. Masaki-san has posted detailed bilingual access instructions with pictures here.

Cheap Travel to Tokyo: Overnight Buses

I love shopping in Tokyo.  I love the people-watching. I love the stereotyped feeling of “Japan” that I get while just being there.  Tokyo is worth visiting more than once, and it doesn’t have to be too spendy.

I’ve used overnight buses to get to Tokyo (and Tokyo Disneyland — same price!) multiple times, and I haven’t been let down yet.

Photo: oimax

Here’s how overnight buses work:

- Go online (I like Willer Travel because they have English support, and it’s the cheapest company I’ve found). 

- Choose your boarding point and destination (You can leave from the Kanazawa Station, and get off in Shinjuku, Tokyo Disneyland, and a few other places)

- Choose your seat type ( Seats range from ¥4,400 – ¥8,500, depending on the type of seat you want and the day you’ll be traveling.  It’s all clearly explained in English on the site.)

- Check to see if your travel date is available on the website.

- Make your reservation online (you pay via credit card).

- On the day of travel, you meet at the loading place at the Kanazawa Station –the bus usually leaves at 10:00 pm.  Sleep the night on the bus. (It stops every few hours for bathroom breaks, which is good or bad, depending on how easily you can get back to sleep.) If you’re getting off in Shinjuku, you’ll be dropped off at 6:40 am at the train station.  You arrive at Tokyo Disneyland at 7:40am.

Photo: Willer Express

If you’re returning via overnight bus, make sure you’ve reserved your return ticket in advanced, and be sure where the boarding location is!  You’ll also want to be sure you have their Emergency Phone Number listed in your phone in case you’re having trouble finding where to get on the bus!

If you’re using the “standard” (cheapest) seating option, be aware that you are quite close to the person next to you. If you’re traveling with a friend, it’s fine, but if you don’t know the other person, you may want to get a seat upgrade for a larger personal bubble.

How about you? What’s your preferred method of getting to Tokyo?

Cheap Holiday Train Travel – Seishun Juhachi Kippu (Youth 18)

Hey, Fergal here,

Today I am going to talk about the Seishun Juhachi Kippu, also known as the “Youth 18″ ticket.

This ticket is seasonal, and only available during the main holiday periods for students, which are also the main holiday times for teachers so its a good opportunity for cheap travel.

The seasons are

Spring

On sale: February 20th to March 31st

Valid: March 1st to April 10th

Summer

On sale: July 1st to August 31st

Valid: July 20th to September 10th

Winter

On sale: December 1st to January 1oth

Valid: December 10th to January 20th

The ticket costs ¥11,500. This works out at ¥2,300 per day of use. Considering it costs about ¥3,500 to go from Kanazawa to Kyoto you can save money easily.

The ticket can be used all over Japan. It allows 5 days unlimited travel on local or rapid trains. You can travel as far as you want and get on or off as many times as you want within the “Day of Use”. The ticket will be date stamped the first time you use it on that particular day. This ticket does not have to be used on consecutive days.

It is important to note that the “Day of Use” is a calender day, not a 24 hour period. If you use the ticket at any time on one day, that “Day of Use” ends at midnight that day, and if you want to keep travelling you will begin a new day of use.

Most interestingly, this ticket can be used by multiple people on the same day. For example if five people were going on a day trip. They could get five stamps on the ticket for the same day (to cover all five people), train to the location in the morning and train back in the evening.

Or two people could travel by getting two stamps on the ticket.

If the entire ticket is unused it can be refunded for a handling charge of ¥210 but only while it is valid.

The ticket can be bought at JR ticket offices, view plazas (JR Travel Centres) and most travel agencies.

The ticket does not entitle you to travel on express train, limited express, sleeping coach, green car or JR buses.

I really like this ticket. Its a good way to travel and very useful. I also really like trains in general.

Anyway I hope you consider using the Juhachi Kippu for your travelling needs this spring break,

However if you are flush with cash you can off course get to places faster by using the more expensive trains, but if you have the time and less money then this is the way to travel.

Finally for all your time tabling needs, there is this great link to a website that gives japanese train timetables in English

Enjoy