HOME Tohoku Miyagi Sendai And Matsushima 50% Off Shinkansen Tickets?! 'Osakini Tokudane Special' Has Been Extended – Now for Gran Class Too!
50% Off Shinkansen Tickets?! 'Osakini Tokudane Special' Has Been Extended – Now for Gran Class Too!

50% Off Shinkansen Tickets?! 'Osakini Tokudane Special' Has Been Extended – Now for Gran Class Too!

Date published: 1 April 2021
Last updated: 25 April 2021

Japan's got an amazing offer just in time for summer. The “Osakini Tokudane Special (50% Off)” Shinkansen ticket, which JR East has been selling since August 2020, was originally scheduled to end on March 31, 2021 - but will be extended to September 30, 2021.

Up until now, only reserved seats for regular cars were eligible for the half-off discount, but as of April 1st, it applies to Gran Class and Green Cars too. Traveling to the Tohoku region is even easier!

Table of Contents
  1. What is the “Osakini Tokudane Special (50% Off)”?
  2. Half price for Gran Class & Green Cars!
  3. What is the difference between Gran Class, Green Cars, and regular car?
  4. When and how to apply
  5. 6 Recommended Sightseeing Spots in Tohoku this Spring/Summer
  6. 1. Hanamiyama (Fukushima City, Fukushima Prefecture)
    Train: Tohoku Shinkansen Yamabiko (Fukushima Station)
  7. 2. Bukeyashiki Street (Semboku City, Akita Prefecture)
    Train: Akita Shinkansen Komachi (Akita Station)
  8. 3. Matsugasaki Park (Yonezawa City, Yamagata Prefecture)
    Train: Yamagata Shinkansen Tsubasa (Yonezawa Station)
  9. 4. Oirase Gorge (Towada City, Aomori Prefecture)
    Train: Tohoku Shinkansen Hayabusa (Shichinohe-Towada Station)
  10. 5. Geibikei (Ichinoseki City, Iwate Prefecture)
    Train: Tohoku Shinkansen Yamabiko (Ichinoseki Station)
  11. 6. Akiu Onsen (Sendai City, Miyagi Prefecture) Trains used: Tohoku Shinkansen Hayabusa, Yamabiko (Sendai Station)

What is the “Osakini Tokudane Special (50% Off)”?

What is the “Osakini Tokudane Special (50% Off)”?
Half price for Gran Class & Green Cars! Piti Sirisriro / Shutterstock.com

The “Osakini Tokudane Special (50% Off)” is a great ticket that reduces Shinkansen fare and usage fees in northeastern Japan by half.

It was originally to be sold for a limited time from August 20, 2020, to March 31, 2021, but on the occasion of the 10th anniversary of the Great East Japan Earthquake, JR East announced that the valid period would be extended, and the service would be expanded as part of the “Tohoku Destination Campaign (Tohoku DC),” a tourism campaign led by the Tohoku Tourism Promotion Organization.

Carried out by local governments in the six prefectures of Tohoku, tourism officials, and JR Group companies, the campaign aims to support the reconstruction of tourism in the Tohoku region.

The extended ticket period is from April 1st to September 30th, 2021. Until March 31, 2021, only reserved seats for regular cars on the Tohoku, Hokkaido, Yamagata, and Akita Shinkansen were included in the discount. But from April 1, Gran Class (without beverages and light meals) and Green Cars are also included.

The participating Shinkansen lines and classes are as follows. The stations at which each class of trains differ, so please check the official website for details.
・Tohoku/Hokkaido Shinkansen (Hayabusa and Hayate Classes)
・Tohoku Shinkansen (Yamabiko and Nasuno Classes)
・Yamagata Shinkansen (Tsubasa Class)
・Akita Shinkansen (Komachi Class)

Only members of the “Ekinet” registration service can take advantage of the campaign. Ekinet is a free service that allows you to reserve tickets for Shinkansen and JR limited express trains nationwide, check for vacant seats, and collect valuable points. Users can register via PC, smartphone, or other mobile phones.

Half price for Gran Class & Green Cars!

Half price for Gran Class & Green Cars!
Piti Sirisriro / Shutterstock.com

The highlight of the extended offering is that the Gran Class and Green Car tickets will now be half price.

When traveling from Tokyo to Sendai on the Tohoku-Hokkaido Hayabusa, a regular reserved seat is usually 11,610 yen, a Green Car seat is 15,070 yen, and a Gran Class seat is 20,310 yen.

Since they’re all half price, you can ride in Gran Class for the same price as a regular reserved seat!

What is the difference between Gran Class, Green Cars, and regular car?

If you’ve never ridden a Japanese bullet train, you may be wondering about the difference between Gran Class and Green Cars, and why there’s such a difference in price. Here’s a brief overview of both:

Gran Class

Piti Sirisriro / Shutterstock.com

Gran Class is a special class called “Shinkansen First Class.” It’s located in the first car of some JR East Shinkansen has only 18 seats. All seats are separate, with ergonomic backrests. When reclining, the leg and footrest extend simultaneously for added comfort. The cabin also features a large-capacity luggage rack above the seats.

Gran Class fares are additional to standard fares with two options: “with beverages and light meals” or “without beverages and light meals.” The difference in price between the two is about 2,000 yen. The “Osakini Tokudane Special (50% Off)” applies only to tickets that don’t include drinks or meals.

Green Car

Piti Sirisriro / Shutterstock.com

Green Cars are found on most Shinkansen, with fewer cars than that of ordinary cars. Most regular cars have 5 seats per row (2 on one side and 3 across the aisle), while Green Cars have 4 seats per row (2 on each side of the aisle). Green Car seats feature extra legroom, wider seats, and larger armrests. The food and drink service is not much different from that offered in regular cars.

When and how to apply

When and how to apply

You can apply for the “Osakini Tokudane Special (50% Off)” from 10:00 a.m. one month before the departure date to 1:40 a.m. 20 days before the departure date (if the last day of the sale period is on a system maintenance day, the deadline is 11:40 p.m. on the 21st day before departure).

You can also apply in advance between 9:54 a.m. one month before departure and 5:30 a.m. one week before departure and register your 1st to 3rd choice of seating. When tickets are released, you’ll find out if your request is granted. Please note that reservations of this type will be unavailable if all tickets have previously been sold.

Follow the steps below to apply.

1. Ekinet membership registration (in Japanese only)
・First, register as a member of Ekinet from your computer or smartphone (free of charge).
・After registration, select “Ticket Reservation” on the “Ticket Reservation/Change” page.

・2. Specifying of application information
Click “Reserved seats (Click here to apply for a special price)” on the new reservation application/advance reception page.
・Select the desired route, then enter the boarding date, departure time, and section of use.
・After confirming all information is correct, you can proceed to check seat availability.
・Select the train and ticket type from the list showing the train name, departure/arrival time, and seat availability by type.
・Don’t forget to make sure there is a “50% discount” in the “value” section.
・After completing input, click “apply with the above contents,” and your application is complete.

Again, the period of use is from April 1, 2021, to September 30, 2021. Check the official website for further details, including train lines, etc.

6 Recommended Sightseeing Spots in Tohoku this Spring/Summer

6 Recommended Sightseeing Spots in Tohoku this Spring/Summer

And now, here are six destinations perfect for spring and summer trips using the “Osakini Tokudane Special (50% Off)” ticket:

1. Hanamiyama (Fukushima City, Fukushima Prefecture)
Train: Tohoku Shinkansen Yamabiko (Fukushima Station)

1. Hanamiyama (Fukushima City, Fukushima Prefecture) 
Train: Tohoku Shinkansen Yamabiko (Fukushima Station)

Hanamiyama, where dozens of flowers including cherry blossoms, plums, and forsythia bloom on the mountain’s vast slopes, is a famous flower-viewing spot symbolic of Tohoku.

From the mountaintop observatory, you can enjoy a panoramic view of the colorful flowers. The best viewing is from the end of March to the end of April.

2. Bukeyashiki Street (Semboku City, Akita Prefecture)
Train: Akita Shinkansen Komachi (Akita Station)

2. Bukeyashiki Street (Semboku City, Akita Prefecture) 
Train: Akita Shinkansen Komachi (Akita Station)

Bukeyashiki Street in Kakunodate, Semboku City, Akita Prefecture, is lined with homes once owned by the samurai. In spring, cherry blossoms bloom along the impressive street. The best time to see them is from the end of April to the beginning of May.

Here you can surround yourself with uniquely Japanese beauty as you look at the blossoms while strolling along the street or riding in a rickshaw. You’ll need to change trains at JR Akita Station to a regular train to reach the nearest station, JR Kakunodate.

  • Bukeyashiki-dori (Samurai House Street)
    武家屋敷通り
    • Address Omote-machi to Higashikatsuraku-cho, Kakunodate-machi, Semboku-shi, Akita-ken 014-0331, Japan

3. Matsugasaki Park (Yonezawa City, Yamagata Prefecture)
Train: Yamagata Shinkansen Tsubasa (Yonezawa Station)

3. Matsugasaki Park (Yonezawa City, Yamagata Prefecture) 
Train: Yamagata Shinkansen Tsubasa (Yonezawa Station)

Matsugasaki Park is the site of the Yonezawa Castle ruins. Approximately 200 spectacular cherry blossom trees grow around the water-filled moat. The best time to see them is from mid to late April.

The park is dotted with historic sites, including Uesugi Shrine, which enshrines Kenshin Uesugi, and the Uesugi Shrine Keishoden, which displays important cultural properties. It’s a wonderful place to take a stroll and enjoy the cherry blossoms.

  • Matsugasaki Park
    松が岬公園
    • Address 1-4-13 Marunochi, Yonezawa-shi, Yamagata-ken 992-0052, Japan
    • Phone: 0238-22-5111 (Yonezawa City Tourism Division)
      Hours: Open schedule (Uesugi Shrine Keishoden have limited hours)

4. Oirase Gorge (Towada City, Aomori Prefecture)
Train: Tohoku Shinkansen Hayabusa (Shichinohe-Towada Station)

4. Oirase Gorge (Towada City, Aomori Prefecture) 
Train: Tohoku Shinkansen Hayabusa (Shichinohe-Towada Station)

Oirase Keiryu, one of the most scenic spots in Aomori, is great for sightseeing during the fresh green season. As you walk along the along the 14 kilometer mountain stream, you’ll encounter scenic points like powerful Choshio Falls and Ashura no Nagare Rapids.

  • Oirase Stream
    • Address Okuse, Towada-shi, Aomori, 034-0301
      View Map
    • Nearest Station Hachinohe Station (Hachinohe Line / Tohoku Shinkansen / Hokkaido Shinkansen / Aoimori Tetsudo)
      90 minutes by bus
    • Phone Number 0176-75-2425

5. Geibikei (Ichinoseki City, Iwate Prefecture)
Train: Tohoku Shinkansen Yamabiko (Ichinoseki Station)

5. Geibikei (Ichinoseki City, Iwate Prefecture) 
Train: Tohoku Shinkansen Yamabiko (Ichinoseki Station)

Geibikei, located in Ichinoseki City, Iwate Prefecture, is recommended for those who want to experience nature’s dynamism.

Rowboat tours between the 100 meter high cliffs are popular, and slowly cover a stretch of the river about 2 kilometers long. The sight of the enormous cliff wall looking up from the boat is sure to impress, and wisteria blooms in late May, adding another tasteful element to the scene.

  • Geibi Gorge
    • Address 467 Nagasaka-cho, Higashiyama-cho, Ichinoseki-shi, Iwate, 029-0302
      View Map
    • Nearest Station Geibikei Station (Ofunato Line)
      5 minutes on foot
    • Phone Number 0191-47-2341

6. Akiu Onsen (Sendai City, Miyagi Prefecture) Trains used: Tohoku Shinkansen Hayabusa, Yamabiko (Sendai Station)

6. Akiu Onsen (Sendai City, Miyagi Prefecture) Trains used: Tohoku Shinkansen Hayabusa, Yamabiko (Sendai Station)
Photo courtesy of Hotel Zuiho

Akiu Onsen hot spring resort has a history dating back about 1,500 years. This famous hot spring was used by lords of the Date clan, including the first lord of Sendai, Date Masamune.

In an area dotted with hot spring inns, there are plenty of sightseeing opportunities like the scenic Rairaikyo Gorge and Akiu Traditional Craft Village, where you can experience the making of traditional crafts. As an added bonus, all the touristic highlights are conveniently within walking distance.

  • Akiu Onsen
    • Address Akiumachiyumoto, Taihaku-ku, Sendai-shi, Miyagi, 980-0803
      View Map
    • Nearest Station Rikuzen-shirasawa Station (Senzan Line)
      3 minutes by bus
    • Phone Number 022-398-2323

Take advantage of the “Osakini Tokudane Special (50% Off)” this year and enjoy sightseeing in Tohoku at a great price!

Text by: Shoe Press Co., Ltd.
*Information accurate as of March 2021. Please check official websites for latest information before traveling.

English translation by Gabriel Wilkinson

*This information is from the time of this article's publication.
*Prices and options mentioned are subject to change.
*Unless stated otherwise, all prices include tax.

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