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Classic train ride in Kyushu 2019/7/29 17:18
I would really like to take the Kyushu classic trains from Kumamoto right down to Kagoshima. Have checked the timetable and noticed that the transfer time from one train to another is quite short,about 3 mins and the other 13 mins. Have emailed Kyushu rail and they informed that if the train gets delayed there won't be time for transfer. Can anybody who have experience traveling in these trains
advise if these trains do normally arrive on schedule? Is there any other train from Yoshimatsu to Kagoshima besides Hayato no Kaze?
by Evelyn (guest)  

Re: Classic train ride in Kyushu 2019/7/29 19:21
There are other trains. Not just Hayato no Kaze.
by hakata14 (guest) rate this post as useful

Re: Classic train ride in Kyushu 2019/7/29 19:29
They are fairly infrequent, though, especially between Yoshimatsu and Hayato, so plan ahead (Hyperdia is your friend).
by ... (guest) rate this post as useful

Re: Classic train ride in Kyushu 2019/7/29 20:07
I have done this trip twice (once in each direction) and both times it was one of the highlights of my trip to Japan that year. Fabulous train rides that I will remember for the rest of my life. That said, it was fairly time-consuming to plan all of it, and I stressed considerably over whether I could even get reservations. And, I might say, for this particular series of JR trains, Hyperdia is not a particularly good friend. It will give you most of the information you need, most of the time. You should not rely on it entirely, though. Presumably you have accessed the JR site and read all the details including timetables (I ended up using the JR timetables more than Hyperdia):
https://www.jrkyushu.co.jp/english/train/train_index.html

One thing that was a big issue for me in 2018 was that at the time of year I was visiting, Hayato no Kaze was only running on weekends (there are some other options for Yoshimatsu-Kagoshima, but they are not very desirable). So I was limited to days when the other two trains were likely to be heavily booked. Furthermore, I was using a nationwide JR pass, so I could not book online 30 days in advance as I believe you can (?) with the JR Kyushu passes. At any rate, on my trip that year I booked the trains as soon as I got to Japan (for a June date about 2 weeks later), and I managed to get reservations on all three trains (Kawasemi Yamasemi, Isaburo-Shinpei, Hayato no Kaze), but I was prepared with several possible itineraries to allow for one or more of the trains to be full at some times (and they were, some of them). I did not get my first choice of itineraries, but I got one that worked. Note that if you are going during a period when Hayato no Kaze runs daily and you can go on a weekday, things will likely be easier. And there are plenty of times when you won't have any trouble getting tickets.

Of course, that doesn't answer your original question! I would say not to worry about the connection times. Yes, these trains do usually run on time. And JR knows that if they allow one link in the chain to depart before the other link arrives, they will have a lot of very unhappy tourists on their hands. I expect they would probably hold the departure up, within reason. But if you did miss a connection, you could be in for a very long wait somewhere. You would find your way home eventually. Again, I wouldn't worry about that, though.

If you are planning to do all this with a JR Kyushu pass and can book online in advance, I would recommend that. But in any case, I'd say that in the end the trip is well worth the trouble it takes to get the tickets. The trains are touristy for sure (I suppose some ultra-purist rail fans might turn up their noses at them), but I found them to be absolutely delightful, and the scenery is fabulous. Good bentos for sale along the way, too. (I loved the one at Kareigawa.)
by Kim (guest) rate this post as useful

Re: Classic train ride in Kyushu 2019/7/29 20:16
Note that if you can handle Japanese, you can check seat availability on JR Cyber Station:
http://www.jr.cyberstation.ne.jp/vacancy/Vacancy.html

This is what I did, so when I went to the JR station to make my reservations I already had an itinerary that didn't have any sold-out legs.
by Kim (guest) rate this post as useful

Re: Classic train ride in Kyushu 2019/7/29 22:33
Kim, thanks very much for your very detailed explanation and advice on the Kyushu classic train rides! I suppose the best option for me is to make online reservations for Kawasemi and Hayato no Kaze and hope that the Isaburo still have available seats ( there's no online reservations for Isaburo) .Worst case scenario , hop on its non- reserved seats car and hope that there are vacant seats.
Many thanks again !
by Evelyn (guest) rate this post as useful

Re: Classic train ride in Kyushu 2019/7/29 22:54
That sounds like a good plan. When I took this trip last summer, I had seat reservations for the Isaburo train, but I noticed that there were in fact some seats available in the non-reserved car. Chances are you could make a reservation after you get to Japan, though.
by Kim (guest) rate this post as useful

Re: Classic train ride in Kyushu 2019/7/30 05:00
All of those trains have non reserved cars. Do not panick about seat reservations.

Kawasemi 1 and 2 have one car unreserved first trains in the mornings, then full reservation trains after that.

So if you are starting from Kumamoto, non reserved shouldn't be an issue.

I've done the same trip also but with rhe SL Hitoyoshi from Kumamoto. The SL requires reservations as it has limit runs and seats.
by hakata14 (guest) rate this post as useful

Re: Classic train ride in Kyushu 2019/7/30 12:45
Hakata14, many thanks for the info! Isaburo also has non-reserved seats so if all reserved seats are taken up, hopefully I can get the unreserved ones.
by Evelyn (guest) rate this post as useful

Re: Classic train ride in Kyushu 2019/7/30 16:55
All of those trains have non reserved cars.

Kawasemi Yamasemi no. 3-6 are all-reserved. Also, in these sorts of trains it is common for non-reserved seats to be significantly inferior to reserved seats (less comfortable, bad view, etc.).
by ... (guest) rate this post as useful

Re: Classic train ride in Kyushu 2019/7/31 08:32
http://www.jrkyushu.co.jp/trains/isaburou_shinpei/

The seating in "these types of trains", aka modified and remodeled KiHa 40 / 47 / 48s are pretty much the same for reserved and non reserved. It is not all doom and gloom being in the non reserved seat. You can click the above link and then look at the google street view of the interior to see for yourself. And don't worry about the view out the window, these old trains have huge windows. Your view wont be obstructed.

A note for the original poster. When they stop the train. Get out and have a walk around. The train attendants will let you know when you can do so. Get out and ring the bell at Okoba Station. Go and walk around the shed housing and old D51 Steam loco at Yatake Station. And the old wooden building of Yokogawa Station is worth a look inside and out. pretty old school history there.
by hakata14 (guest) rate this post as useful

Re: Classic train ride in Kyushu 2019/7/31 14:36
Thanks again for all the valuable advice! Am definitely looking forward to the train rides and see all the wonderful sceneries!
by Evelyn (guest) rate this post as useful

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