Let’s go for a ride in East Japan…I’ll actually ride it several times.
The Japan Rail Pass, which is available nationwide, is the one that attracts the most attention from foreign travelers visiting Japan, but there are many other region-specific passes as well.For example, we recently learned about the Holiday outing pass Provided by (Kyujitsu Odekake Pass) JR EastThen, I noticed that you can ride as many lines as you like on some JR lines on Saturdays, Sundays, and holidays. I visited Tokyo and 5 prefectures, Chiba, Ibaraki, Saitama, Tochigi, Kanagawa… all in one day..
The Holiday Outing Pass cannot be used on paid limited express trains such as the Shinkansen, but it can be used on local trains as well as limited express trains with regular fares.just 2,720 yen (US$18) If you’re like us and planning to go anywhere even remotely, let alone 6 prefectures in total (Tokyo is a prefecture in itself), this is a real bargain.
▼A signboard advertising the “Holiday Outing Pass” for children of 1,360 yen.
Advance reservations are not required and can be purchased from automatic ticket vending machines at JR stations.
▼Holiday Outing Pass = Holiday Outing Pass
The whirlwind journey began at Funabashi Station in Chiba Prefecture.. Well, the wise thing to do was to go online and look up the train timetables and plan the course for the day. But as you may have noticed, we aren’t always the smartest people. We decided to follow the route that covered six prefectures, relying only on the simple map of the routes listed on the ticket and getting off only at the stations listed on the ticket..
Additionally, the time limit for moving and returning to the bridge was set at 11 hours.. In keeping with train travel tradition, we were also required to take pictures of the signs at each station we alighted at, and also take a quick look around through the turnstiles before boarding the next train.
Our first train was the Sobu Line Express at 11:04 heading east to Chiba Station, arriving at 11:20..
As for geographical nomenclature, this is: maximum Just like Chiba Station, it is located in Chiba City, the prefectural capital of Chiba Prefecture. Chiba, the capital, is a fairly developed city with well-organized streets and high-rise buildings surrounding the station.
Next, we headed further east to Narita Airport Station. This needed to be done before heading north to Ibaraki.
● Chiba (Chiba) to Narita Airport (Narita Airport)
Departs at 11:31, arrives at 12:20
As you might imagine, Narita Airport Station is crowded with domestic and international travelers.
But besides Narita Airport Station, there is also the nondescript Narita Station, which is the next stop on our trip.
● From Narita Airport (Narita Airport) to Narita (Narita)
Departs at 12:34, arrives at 12:48
Although many people simply pass through Narita Station on their way to and from the airport, the town is actually home to several interesting tourist spots, including the beautiful Mt. Narita and the lush gardens surrounding it. The area around the station is also well-developed, so you won’t have any trouble finding restaurants, and there are multilingual maps, so it’s friendly to foreigners.
● From Narita (Narita) to Abiko (Abiko)
Departs at 13:14, arrives at 13:55
Abiko City is located in the northern part of Chiba Prefecture, near the prefectural border with Ibaraki Prefecture. Although it is a small and quiet town, several historical buildings have been preserved and there is a multilingual tourist map to help you find them.
▼By the way, Abiko Station itself is famous for gourmet food, and the soba restaurant on the platform is famous for its Karaage Soba.
● Abiko (Abiko) → Tsuchiura (Tsuichiura)
Departs at 13:14, arrives at 13:55
During this leg of our trip, we were finally able to cross the prefectural border from Chiba to Ibaraki. Along the way, we passed through scenic countryside, felt the autumn afternoon sun, and felt the gentle sway of the train relaxing both body and mind. However, once we entered Tsuchiura, the scenery became more urban. Tsuchiura has a city hall and a shopping and restaurant complex just outside the station.
●Tsuchiura (Tsuichiura) – Oyama (Oyama)
…wait a minute…
Intending to maintain the momentum of touring the prefecture, my next objective was to take the train to Oyama. However, a closer look at the ticket reveals that things are not so simple.
The route between Tsuchiura and Oyama is eligible for the Holiday Odekake Pass, but there are sections in between that are not operated by JR.
●Tsuchiura (Tsuichiura) – Ueno (Ueno)
Departs at 14:57, arrives at 4:12
So we took a train to Ueno, which is in downtown Tokyo. But we wanted to go to Tokyo anyway on this trip, so it wasn’t too embarrassing. However, what was embarrassing was that I accidentally got off at Kitasenju Station too early and was late arriving at Ueno.
Home to Tokyo’s most famous park, Ueno doesn’t need much introduction, but it’s great to see so many people once again heading out to enjoy the views of one of the city’s biggest tourist attractions. I was happy.
● Ueno (Ueno) – Oyama (Oyama)
Ueno Tokyo Line/Utsunomiya Line
Departs at 4:27, arrives at 5:50
Next, I headed north on the Ueno-Tokyo Line and at Omiya Station in Saitama Prefecture, transferred to the Utsunomiya Line and headed for Oyama. Actually, this was also a navigational mistake on our part, and it would be easier and faster to take the Utsunomiya Line, which goes directly from Ueno to Oyama. The station is near the Hakuoh University campus and a number of affordable business hotels, and a sign outside the station highlights the considerable number of festivals held in the city each year.
● From Oyama (Oyama) to Kumagaya (Kumagaya)
…Actually, we will make that Oyama (small mountain) Omiya (Omiya).
Departs at 5:58, arrives at 6:48
Originally, I wanted to go to Kumagaya in Saitama Prefecture. This is possible with a Holiday Outing Pass, but due to an unintentional detour, I ended up not having enough time to go to Kumagaya, enter Kanagawa Prefecture, and return to Funabashi, the starting point. Instead, you can take Saitama Station to Omiya, then take the Shonan-Shinjuku Line south of Tokyo and into Kanagawa Prefecture.
Omiya is one of the largest cities in Saitama Prefecture, but it is not far from northern Tokyo. Like many mid-sized spots near the metropolis of Tokyo, this city has a relaxed atmosphere, yet is conveniently stocked with almost all the shops and restaurants you need for everyday life.
● Omiya (Omiya) – Hiratsuka (Hiratsuka)
Shonan Shinjuku Line
Departs at 6:59, arrives at 8:40
At just over an hour and 40 minutes, it was the longest single ride of the day. Another detour shortened the time it took us to reach our first destination in Kanagawa, the town of Odawara, famous for its castle.
Instead, I got off at Hiratsuka, another commuter town. Hiratsuka is a city where many residents commute to Odawara or Yokohama. However, Hiratsuka boasts its own unique reputation as it hosts the largest Tanabata festival, Tanabata Festival, every summer.
● Hiratsuka (Hiratsuka) to Nishi-Funabashi (Nishi-Funabashi)
Shonan-Shinjuku Line/Yokosuka Line/Sobu Line
Departs at 6:59, arrives at 8:40
Well, it was time to go home and also time for an unexpected last minute change of plans. Remember the voluntary rule to only use the stations listed on the map on your ticket? Funabashi Station, the departure station for this day, is actually not listed as a station.
Once again, the Holiday Outing Pass can be used at stations other than those listed on the ticket. Due to the small size of the map, there is not enough space to show all the stops along the route. But we said we were only going to get off at the stations shown on the map, and we’re not the kind of people to back out of what we set out to do.
Fortunately, Nishi-Funabashi Station was listed on the ticket gate map and it was within walking distance from Funabashi Station, so I got off there.
▼Go to the ticket gate one last time
It is approximately 1.7 miles (2.8 km) walk from Nishi-Funabashi to Funabashi Station. Normally, that might sound far away, but since we’ve already covered everything in just this one day, it felt pretty close.
It was 6 prefectures (Chiba, Ibaraki, Tokyo, Tochigi, Saitama, Kanagawa), 10 hours, 2,720 yen, 1 ticket.. I wouldn’t recommend following our exact itinerary unless you’re a trail fan first and a travel enthusiast second, but this experience made me realize just how far you can go with a Holiday Outing Pass…After returning home, we realized that this pass also covers part of Yamanashi Prefecture, which is one more prefecture than we had expected.. Don’t forget to include Yamanashi in your itinerary for your next holiday pass and actually plan your route before you hop on the train.