Intra Express GmbH
0049/30/785 33 91
0049/30/785 92 08
Thomas E. Fischer
Tax Number: 29/10/5481
Finanzamt für Körperschaften III, Berlin
Few countries in
the World have so many, and so varied tramways as Japan. Now is just
the right time for a visit as many vintage bogie cars from the 1950s
are still in service while all Japanese tramways - except those with
high platforms in Tokyo, Enoshima, and Kyoto - have also received their
first low-floor cars. To make it even more interesting, most of the
cities have ordered their individual types of low floor trams - many of
them of rather unusual construction. On this tour we visit nearly all
of the country's major cities, and all of its 18 tramway systems plus
heritage trams, trolleybuses, and underground railways. Additionally we
show you a representative selection of the various monorail, and people
Criss-crossing Japan by train on a great three-week railtour of all of the four main islands - Hokkaido, Honshu, Shikoku, and Kyushu - also gives you a good idea of its most effective network of Shinkansen high-speed trains as well as its varied private raillways, of the country's landscape, and of its people.
Wednesday, Sep. 20th, 2017.
Approx. 20:00 departure from Frankfurt airport by Korean Air to Seoul.
Thursday, Sep. 21st, 2017.
Transit stop at Seoul international airport and onward Korean Air flight to Sapporo in Northern Japan. Evening arrival and hotel accommodation in Sapporo.
Friday, Sep. 22nd, 2017.
Today is dedicated to Japan's northernmost tramway in Sapporo. The city's only tramway line has been extended to a ring in 2015. Since 2013 the first low-floor trams complement the fleet of bogie cars built between 1958 and 1961, some of which having been fitted with new bodies. A number of snow ploughs can be found in the depot - a rather uncommon sight in Japan, but necessary here in the north. We also take a ride on the country's only rubber-tyred underground railway. Hotel accommodation in Sapporo.
Saturday, Sep. 23rd, 2017.
On today's schedule are two museums in and around Sapporo: the city transport museum with a great collection of historic vehicles including some trams, and an open air museum showing a typical Northern Japanese village, served by a horse-drawn tramway. Afternoon train ride south to Hakodate, and hotel accommodation there.
Sunday, Sep. 24th, 2017.
In Hakodate we visit a small tramway with two routes operated by a varied fleet of high-floor bogie trams and new low-floor cars. In the afternoon we leave Hakodate by train and reach Honshu, Japan's main island, through the Seikan tunnel - until recently the world's longest railway tunnel, now beaten by the new Gotthard tunnel. Our first ride on the famous Shinkansen high-speed trains takes us 1,200 km south to Toyama. Hotel accommodation in Toyama.
Monday, Sep. 25th, 2017.
Today's programme features the two small tramway systems of the neighbouring towns of Takaoka with one line, and Toyama, where the "Portram" has been opened in 2006 as the country's first modern light rail, and the city network has been extended in 2010 by a ring line. Hotel accommodation in Toyama.
Tuesday, Sep. 26th, 2017.
A full day trip on the so called Alpine Route through the breathtaking mountain scenery of the Japanese Alps is not just a tourist highlight. It also shows us the country's only two trolleybus systems that are not running in towns, but (mostly underground) in the mountains. On our way from Toyama to Shinano-Omachi we change means of transportation seven times. We ride a private electric railway, two funiculars, one ropeway, two bus, and the two trolleybus sections Murodo - Daikanbo and Kurobe Dam - Ogisawa. From Shinano-Omachi we take a train to Tokyo. Hotel accommodation in Tokyo.
Wednesday, Sep. 27th, 2017.
Tramways do not play an important role in the varied public transport scene of the Japanese capital any more. Today we visit Tokyo's two remaining tramway lines, separated from each other: Arakawa line, served by modern bogie trams, is owned by the municipality. Setagaya line with recently modernized articulated cars stopping at high platforms belongs to a private railway company. We also give you an impression of the city's most efficient system of underground, and suburban railways. Hotel accommodation in Tokyo.
Thursday, Sep. 28th, 2017.
Full-day excursion by train to the Enoshima tramway, an interurban line with high platforms running along the coast, served by heavy two-car sets. On the way there, and back we pay quick visits to the Tokyo monorail, the Yokohama underground, and the Shonan monorail. The latter is a Wuppertal-type suspended monorail. Hotel accommodation in Tokyo.
Friday, Sep. 29th, 2017.
There are so many underground, suburban, and private railways, monorails, and transport museums in the capital that we thought you would enjoy an additional day in Tokyo free to stroll around on your own. In the late afternoon we take a Shinkansen train to Kyoto, and spend the night in a hotel there.
Saturday, Sep. 30th, 2017.
Morning visit to the small tramway museum at Umekoji Park in Kyoto with a two-axle car running on a short line, and to the country's largest railway museum next door. In an original roundhouse it shows 53 locomotives and coaches, among them about 20 steam locomotives. One of them is in steam daily, running on a short demonstration line. Afternoon sightseeing in the old Emperor's city of Kyoto including its most famous temples, shrines, and palaces. Hotel accommodation in Kyoto.
Sunday, Oct. 1st, 2017.
Full day excursion to the Fukui tramway, in fact an interurban served by different generations of two-car units, and with just a short section of street running within the town. There is a new track connection between the tramway and the Echizen private railway on which new low-floor cars of both companies run through. We also have the opportunity to ride an ex-Stuttgart GT4 bought from Kochi recently, and running on weekends. Hotel accommodation in Kyoto.
Monday, Oct. 2nd, 2017.
Morning train to Toyohashi for a visit to another small tramway. The first and so far only low-floor tram arrived here in 2008. The rest of the fleet consists of high-floor bogie trams of different types, and ages, all of them acquired second hand from other Japanese cities. In the afternoon we take the Meitetsu private railway, and a bus to Meiji-Mura. Numerous historical buildings in this huge open-air museum tell the story of the Meiji era (1868-1912). A steam train, and a tramway - operated by historic ex-Kyoto two-axle cars - are running on its territory. Hotel accommodation in Kyoto.
Tuesday, Oct. 3rd, 2017.
Today we visit the two remaining tramway lines of Kyoto, separated from each other, and operated by two different companies: Kyoto - Arashiyama, and Kyoto - Otsu, the latter an interurban with high platforms. We also pay a quick visit to the Kyoto underground railway. Hotel accommodation in Kyoto.
Wednesday, Oct. 4th, 2017.
Full day excursion by train to neighbouring Osaka, a metropolis of several millions of inhabitants with a very interesting, and varied public transport system. The last remaining tramway line still uses some very old bogie cars. We also show you the underground railway, the world's longest monorail line, and some electrified private railways. Hotel accommodation in Kyoto.
Thursday, Oct. 5th, 2017.
On our onward journey by train from Kyoto we take a first break at Kobe for a ride on the underground railway, and on the new "Portliner" people mover. In the afternoon we visit Okayama tramway with its two routes, and two new bi-sectional low floor cars. After that we cross the giant railway bridge to Shikoku island, and spend the night in a hotel in Matsuyama.
Friday, Oct. 6th, 2017.
The city of Matsuyama operates - by Japanese standards - a rather extensive tramway system of five routes. Special features are meanwhile nine low floor trams - with only one section, and a length of 12 metres the shortest in the world -, and two replica "steam trains" with diesel engines on tourist duty. They are so popular that they run every day on the city's tramway lines. In the afternoon we take a train on to Kochi. Hotel accommodation there.
Saturday, Oct. 7th, 2017.
The tramway of Kochi became known for its large collection of vintage trams acquired from several European systems. A Stuttgart GT4 (now in Fukui), a Graz two-axle car, an Oslo "goldfish", and two former Lisbon trams (one two-axle, and one bogie car) have been rebuilt, regauged, and put into service. Some more, such as a Tatra from Prague and trams from Milan, and Vienna have been received, but never restored. There are also a two-axle heritage tram, a party tram, and an unusual three-sectional low floor car. After the former director has left some years ago, nothing happens with this heritage fleet any more. It is presently not sure whether any of the European trams are still operational, and available for charters. In the afternoon we take a train back across the big bridge to Honshu island. Hotel accommodation in Hiroshima.
Sunday, Oct. 8th, 2017.
The city of Hiroshima is known as the target of the world's first nuclear bombing. We pay a short visit to the Peace Park and Memorial, set up in memory of this sad event, before we start our tramway programme. The urban network is operated by a variety of bogie cars, many of them bought second hand from several Japanese cities. Articulated trams - the country's only German Combinos as well as more recent types of low-floor cars - are serving an interurban line to Miyajima. We have a short charter tour on an ex-Hanover two-axle tram, while a second heritage two-axle tram of 1925 is in regular service on Sundays. One of the two ex-Dortmund GT8s has survived as a monument. From Miyajima terminus we take a ferry to Miyajima island, another one of Japan's most famous cultural, and religious sights. After a fast Shinkansen ride through a tunnel we reach Kyushu in the evening - the fourth of Japan's major islands, and the last to be visited on this tour. Hotel accommodation in Fukuoka.
Monday, Oct. 9th, 2017.
After some closures in previous years only the short section Kurosaki - Nogata of the Kitakyushu tramway system has survived. As two low-floor cars have arrived since 2014, its future seems to be safe now. We tour the line in the morning, have a ride on the Kitakyushu Monorail, and go on by train to Kumamoto. Afternoon visit to the Kumamoto tramway system, featuring - besides typical bogie cars - the country's five "oldest" low-floor trams, in service since 1997. They are a short, bi-sectional version of the Berlin Adtranz type, manufactured in Japan under licence. Meanwhile three more cars of a new generation have arrived, too. Hotel accommodation in Fukuoka.
Tuesday, Oct. 10th, 2017.
Day trip by Shinkansen train to Kagoshima where a widely branched tramway network of three routes is waiting for us. The low-floor age has begun with so far eight cars with both three and five sections. The three-section trams are not much longer than conventional bogie cars. Hotel accommodation in Fukuoka.
Wednesday, Oct. 11th, 2017.
After a quick morning ride on some section of the Fukuoka underground railway we take a train to Nagasaki. The last tramway to be visited on our tour is quite scenic, and also widely branched. It operates a variety of bogie cars, some quite old, and many of them acquired second hand from closed systems. Besides these, there are five low-floor cars of two different types in service meanwhile. Return to Fukuoka by train, and hotel accommodation there.
Thursday, Oct. 12th, 2017.
Short metro ride to Fukuoka airport in the morning, and Korean Air flights via Seoul to Frankfurt. Due to the time difference we arrive at about 18:00 the same afternoon.
The Tour Price Includes:
* Korean Air flights Frankfurt - Seoul - Sapporo, and Fukuoka - Seoul - Frankfurt.
* 21 nights accommodation at good hotels located close to the train stations, twin rooms with private facilities.
* 2nd class Japan Rail Pass for unlimited travel on all JR trains during our programme, also allowing individual excursions throughout the country.
* Tickets for all rides on private railways during our programme.
* Day Passes for unlimited rides on public transport in most of the cities visited (except those few cities where no such Passes are available).
* Programme as per itinerary with tramway charters, depot and museum visits, sightseeing and entrance fees.
* English speaking tour guide.
Japan is known as an expensive country. To enable us to offer this tour at a reasonable price, we have not included the following expenses:
* All meals. Within walking distance from each of our hotels you find a lot of small Japanese, and Western style fast food restaurants offering cheaper food than the hotel restaurants do. It should be sufficient to calculate approx. € 30 per day for a breakfast, a quick lunch, and a full dinner (including non-alcoholic drinks). However: Much meat, beer or wine increase your cost of living.
* Charter coaches. We go by train all the way, and as all our hotels are located within walking distance from the railway stations, all transfers are on foot.
* Rides on city trams, buses, etc. in those few cities where no Day Passes are available.
€ 4,750.00 per person. Single room supplement € 450.00. As on all our tours, individual participants wishing to save their money are welcome to book a shared twin. We are sure to find an English-speaking roommate for you.
We offer connecting 2nd class train tickets from any DB station (including all border stations) to the airport of your departure at a flat return fare of € 120.00 per person. If required, please state the required station of your departure on your booking form.
Frequent services, and high speed of Japanese trains make rail travel within the country very easy, and there are so many more interesting railways as well as cultural sights to be seen. Our experience with previous Japanese tours is that participants are able to go their own ways very soon. It does not matter very much that Japanese characters are "unreadable" for us as figures (train numbers, track numbers, departure times...) are the same as ours. Your Japan Rail Pass, and the Day Passes you get in most cities enable you to waive any part of the group's programme, and go on your own individual excursions instead at no additional cost.
Regulations of Immigration.
Citizens of the European Community just need a Passport valid at least six months longer than the tour lasts. A Visa is not required, nor are vaccinations as Japan is a very clean country.
In September and October it is late summer in Japan with average daytime temperatures of 20 degrees Celsius in the North, 25 to 30 degrees Celsius in the South, but possibly just about 10 degrees Celsius along the Alpine route. Unfortunately, there can be much rain in Japan at any season.
Tour guide: Thomas E. Fischer. Oliver Mayer, a German tramway enthusiast and correspondent of the Blickpunkt Strassenbahn magazine, helps organizing this tour. Due to professional and familiar obligations he is not able to accompany us throughout the tour.
Booking Deadline Date: May 31st, 2017 unless the tour is sold out before this date.
Minimum number of participants required to let this tour go: 15.
Tour Operator: Intra Express Hobby- und Studienreisen GmbH, Burgherrenstr. 2, D-12101 Berlin