Cheapest way from Tokyo to Kumamoto?
August 11, 2009 3:09 AM   Subscribe

Last minute Japan travel: after making an error with timing I need to arrange one-way travel from Tokyo to Kumamoto quite quickly. What are the cheapest options? I have looked into flights and trains (for the 17th of August) and both seem expensive (about £200-£250 a ticket). I am in the UK at the moment. Would it be worth waiting until we arrive in Japan? Perhaps trying to get last minute flights at the airport?

Information on this site suggests cheap train travel, but has no links to buy:

Air travel is looking pricey: or

Is it possible to book overnight traisn from the UK? what re the other cheap-cheap train options?

Any help or advice you have would be much appreciated
posted by 0bvious to Travel & Transportation (17 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Response by poster: I obviously mean to book online from the UK an overnight train within Japan... few
posted by 0bvious at 3:10 AM on August 11, 2009

I found Haneda-Kumamoto tickets from around 21,000 yen one-way, and Haneda-Fukuoka for a little bit more on that Monday. The Japanese domestic air industry is not as deregulated as the US or Europe's is, and on Monday you're looking at fares targeted to businessmen, plus it's the tail end of Obon, so you probably won't find anything much cheaper, I'm afraid. Don't forget to check Skymark Airlines as well as JAL and ANA. They fly to Fukuoka as well.

Oh, and don't even think about taking the train all the way from Tokyo unless you really want to spend close to 8 hours and about 40,000 yen.
posted by armage at 3:33 AM on August 11, 2009

Oh, and there are no more overnight trains to Kyushu from Tokyo. They ended in March.
posted by armage at 3:34 AM on August 11, 2009

Last thing: if you can somehow delay your flight by a day to Tuesday, I found a few seats for 16,000 yen one-way on Skymark.
posted by armage at 3:36 AM on August 11, 2009

japan is a society that prefers to pay for service, and get good service.
the transporation system is always top notch, but they dont do discount or last min flights the way a lot of other countries do.
i have done the train, it isnt so bad and u can get a lot done.
posted by edtut at 3:55 AM on August 11, 2009

Response by poster: Thanks.... Skymark is looking like the best option so far. is there a ferry from Tokyo to Kyushu? It doesn't look like it, but who knows.
posted by 0bvious at 4:04 AM on August 11, 2009

It's expensive to fly in Japan. Last minute doesn't get any cheaper here, as a general rule. Around 22000 yen is probably about as good as you're going to get.
posted by that girl at 4:07 AM on August 11, 2009

That would be one long ferry ride! Taking the fastest trains available would take around 7 hours, so . . .
posted by that girl at 4:08 AM on August 11, 2009 [1 favorite]

If you're willing to go late on the 16th, you can get a flight for about 20000 yen to Kitakyushu arriving at around 00:30 on the 17th, and then putz around until you can find a train to take you to Kumamoto when they start running in the morning. This may not be an awesome plan, however.
posted by that girl at 4:15 AM on August 11, 2009

There is, but it takes 34 hours and costs about 12,500 yen for the cheapest class.

I almost forgot -- Nishitetsu runs a night bus from Tokyo to Fukuoka for 15,000 yen one-way. It takes about 14 hours, leaving Shinjuku at 9 PM and arriving in Fukuoka the next day at 11:30 AM.
posted by armage at 4:15 AM on August 11, 2009

Sorry, I forgot the link: here you go. You'd have to purchase the ticket in person at the ticket window, and since it sounds like you'll be arriving in Japan and leaving for Kumamoto on the same day there's no guarantee you'll get two seats.
posted by armage at 4:20 AM on August 11, 2009

There's an Nishitetsu overnight bus, from Tokyo to Fukuoka, for 15000 yen, which is about 2 hours away by highway bus to Kumamoto, which is 2000 yen.
posted by Sar at 4:21 AM on August 11, 2009

Response by poster: Thanks once again. I have another way around this. If you have any advice again I would appreciate:

I arrive in Tokyo on the 13th. I want to leave on the 17th. I also will be hiring a car at some point. So I thought perhaps getting a train to Osaka and hiring a car in Osaka to drive to Kumamoto and return the car on the 30th of August back in Osaka.

I have looked online for car rental. The cheapest I have found is for £468.
posted by 0bvious at 5:16 AM on August 11, 2009

Car is also expensive. From my cursory search, taking the toll highways from Osaka to Kumamoto (there are essentially no non-toll highways) will cost you about 15000 yen. One way. Though apparently the 17th would be 50% off. Also it'll take you 9 hours.
posted by that girl at 6:34 AM on August 11, 2009

The problem, 0bvious, is that you'd be traveling during Obon, one of the biggest travel holidays of the year. that girl's estimate of 9 hours is probably valid for a normal weekend, but I would say closer to 12 hours if you drive on the 13th, 14th, 15th or 16th. Plus, on those four days the government will expand its normal weekend motorway discount (maximum 1000 yen regardless of distance) so expect a veritable parking lot the whole way, even if you drive overnight. (The 50% discount that girl mentioned is for other weekdays.)

I don't mean to scare you, but Japan's not known for cheap, efficient travel. Expensive, efficient travel, yes, but not cheap.
posted by armage at 7:13 PM on August 11, 2009

Oh oh! I have another cheap and painful method of travel! There's currently a special going on called the Seishun 18 Kippu. This costs 11500 yen and allows you five (not necessarily contiguous) days of travel. On only local and rapid trains (no express, no shinkansen).

If you wanted to spend all of the 17th in transit (and some of the 18th as well), you could change trains 14 times, get stuck in Moji in the wee hours of the morning, and get to Kumamoto by 10am on the 18th after leaving at 4am the previous day. 21 hours on trains! And you'd probably end up with 3 more days worth of travel on the pokey trains. This should be a link to the route.

Japan is a lot bigger than people realize.

I bet you've already started your travels by now, but one of the other options for you once you get there is to look for package deals at a travel agent in Japan. When I was looking up ways to get to Tokyo from Kyushu, it was generally cheaper to fly round trip and get a hotel room for one night than it was to just get the round trip ticket. It's bad timing, as we've already mentioned, but going to Kumamoto may not be quite as popular, so you might be able to find something if you're willing to do round-trips.
posted by that girl at 9:19 PM on August 11, 2009

You know what? I take back what I said about the train -- looks like you can get to Kumamoto from Tokyo station in six and a half hours for 25,000 yen a person. That's a lot cheaper than I expected, and you'd almost certainly be able to find two seats in a non-smoking car. Plus there are 2-3 trains per hour that run from Tokyo all the way to Hakata, so you'd only need to change once at Hakata.
posted by armage at 10:14 PM on August 11, 2009

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