By thomas | October 28, 2007
Planning a trip within Japan soon? Will you be travelling by train? If you are using JR, JR-odekake.net can save you a lot of time. Just type in where you are going, where you are coming from and the time and JR-odekake.net will do the rest of the work for you. This was a life-saver for my trip to Nagano last year. It’s easy to use too. Here’s how it works.
Step 1 – Where are you going?
Let’s imagine we are planning a trip. For this little exercise we will assume that:
- We live in Nara.
- We want to go to Himeji to visit Himeji Castle on November 10th.
To help us plan, we go to http://jr-odekake.net. I recommend you follow along in a separate browser window/tab. On the front page we will find this little form.
Step 2 – Could you be more specific please?
The next page will ask us for more information. We need to pick a time, confirm our departure and arrival points, select what kinds of trains and seating are acceptable and how many results we want. Click the image below to enlarge.
- First we fill in the date: 2007年 11月 10日. What about time? By looking at the homepage for Himeji Castle (our destination), we find out that they close at 4pm. We want to make sure we have time to get there and enjoy the castle, so let’s make sure we get to our station by 3:00pm (15:00). Fill in the form with the time and select 到着時刻指定 (とうちゃくじこくしてい – touchaku jikoku shitei), which means “arrival time”.
- Confirm our departure and arrival points. We will choose 奈良 (なら – nara) and 姫路 (ひめじ – himeji).
- Select special train types, if desired. 新幹線 (しんかんせん – shinkansen) as you probably know, is the bullet train. 特急 (とっきゅう – tokkyuu) is “limited express”. By default, JR-dekake.net will search all local lines, and normal (not limited) express lines. If you want it to search for shinkansen or limited express lines too, you should check these boxes.
- Choose seating type. This is if you checked one of the boxes in step 3 above. These are the choices:
- 普通車指定席 (ふつうしゃしていせき – futsuusha shitei seki) – “normal car, assigned seats”
- グリーン車 – “green car”
- 普通車自由席 (ふつうしゃじゆうせき – futsuusha jiyuu seki) – “normal car, unassigned seats”
- Choose how many results you want. 回答数 (かいとうすう - kaitousuu) means “number of results”. Let’s choose 3.
- Click the kensaku (検索 [けんさく]) button.
Now we are brought to the results page. We have a nice table with our 3 results. Click the image below to enlarge it.
- The first column is a list of links to detailed route results.
- The second column tells you what time the departing train leaves and from which track.
- The third column tells you what time you will arrive at your destination, and at which track.
- The fourth column is the estimated time-length of the trip.
- The fifth column is how much it will cost you.
- The sixth column is total distance.
- The seventh column tells you how many times you have to switch trains.
By the looks of it, option 3 is the best. It’s the cheapest and we only have to switch trains once. Let’s take a closer look. Click the image below to enlarge it.
- Our train leaves Nara station at 12:20.
- We ride for 46 minutes and get off at Osaka station at 1:06.
- We wait at Osaka station for 9 minutes. When you plan your own trips, pay special attention to these waiting times. If you only have one minute to catch your next train, you might not make it. If you have to wait 40 minutes for your next train, you’ll wish you had planned better.
- At 1:15 we board the Himeji-bound train.
- We ride for 61 minutes and arrive at Himeji station at 2:16, with plenty of time to enjoy the castle. The one-way train fare is 2210 yen.
If we were to look at the other results, we’d find that the reason they are more expensive is that they involve riding the shinkansen. If our destination is far away, shinkansen may be the best way to go. But for our Nara->Himeji excursion, taking the shinkansen only saves us 15 minutes, for double the price. I could eat steak everyday for a week with that money. No thank you.
That’s All Folks
That took a lot of words to explain, but really it takes about a minute to fill everything in and get your results. Try a few searches and you will see how easy it is. JR-odekake.net is run by JR West, but I did a test search for an Aomori to Tokyo trip and got some results, so it appears that you can use the site to find train schedules for stations out of the jurisdiction of JR West. You can access the site from your mobile phone at http://mobile.jr-odekake.net.
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