TWO OF US ARE VISITING NAOETSU IN JAPAN NEXT SEPTEMBER. WE FAVOUR THE SHIBA PARK HOTEL IN TOKYO, WHAT'S THE BEST WAY TO GET THERE FROM NARITA AIRPORT? ALSO, HOW TO GET TO NAOETSU? WOULD YOU RECOMMEND A JAPAN RAIL PASS?
K. NICOL, LENNOX HEAD
Take the Sky Liner Train from Narita Airport Station to Nippori Station, change to the JR Yamanote Line and get off at Hamamatsucho Station. You can walk from here to the Shiba Park Hotel, it shouldn't take more than 10 minutes.
Naoetsu, notorious as the site of one of the worst of the Japanese World War II prison camps, is within Joetsu, a city on the Sea of Japan. To get there from the Shiba Park Hotel, return to Hamamatsucho Station and take a train along the Yamanote Line to Tokyo Station. From here, take the Shinkansen bullet train to Echigo-Yuzawa and change to the Japan Rail Joetsu Line for the final part of the journey. Total travel time aboard the fastest trains is about one hour 40 minutes.
Japan Rail Passes are only good value if you plan to do a lot of travelling within the period for which your pass is valid. If all you're doing is travelling from Tokyo to Joetsu and back, then the JR Pass would not be a money-saver. Including seat reservation, the fare for this trip is $76 each way, which is far less than the cheapest seven-day JR Pass.