The Hitachi is a limited express service that runs between Shinagawa in Tokyo and Iwaki in Fukushima Prefecture. Between Shinagawa and Ueno, the Hitachi runs along JR East’s Ueno-Tokyo Line and between Ueno and Iwaki it runs along the Joban Line. Another limited express service, the Tokiwa, also follows this route, but stops at different stations.
At JR Ueno Station this service usually departs from platforms 8, 9, 16, or 17. Because this is a JR service it is fully covered by the Japan Rail Pass.
The Hitachi provides a fast link between central Tokyo and destinations in Ibaraki and Fukushima prefectures. Most Hitachi services serve the following stations. However, stations in parenthesis () are not served by all Hitachi services.
Shinagawa > Tokyo > Ueno > (Kashiwa) > (Tsuchiura) > Mito > Katsuta > (Tokai) > (Omika) > (Hitachi-Taga) > Hitachi > (Takahagi) > (Isohara) > (Nakoso) > Izumi > Yumoto > Iwaki
Most northbound services start at Shinagawa and most southbound services finish at Shinagawa. However, a small number of northbound services start at JR Ueno Station, and a small number of southbound services finish at JR Ueno Station.
The key destinations with their locations of interest and transfer points are listed below. Example travel times and fares (including limited express surcharges) are given from JR Ueno Station.
Shinagawa is a major transportation hub in Tokyo, a busy center of commerce, the home to several foreign embassies, and many businesses have their corporate headquarters here. As a result there are plenty of shops, restaurants and hotels in this area and it is an excellent base from which to explore the rest of the city. Shinagawa also has a number of tourist attractions.
- Sengakuji Temple is best known for holding the tombs of the legendary “47 Ronin”. A festival is held here every December 14th to celebrate their heroism.
- The Nikon Museum has interactive displays on the history, technology and design principles of the Nikon company.
- The Hara Museum is dedicated to contemporary art, architecture, design, music and dance.
- The Jade Ore Museum (Hisuigensekikan) exhibits a large private collection of jade pieces many of which are on sale.
- The Hatakeyama Memorial Museum of Fine Art exhibits art works related to the tea ceremony from Japan, China and Korea.
Transfer at Shinagawa Station to the JR Yamanote Line, the JR Yokosuka Line, the JR Tokaido Line, the Tokaido Shinkansen, and the Keikyu Main Line.
Train fare: 950 yen
Train time: 15 minutes
Tokyo Station is the main intercity railway station in Tokyo. Around the station are several upscale business and commercial areas like Marunouchi and Nihombashi. Ginza, Tokyo’s most famous shopping district, is also only a short distance away.
Tokyo Station has two main exits: the Marunouchi Exit on its west side and the Yaesu Exit on its east side. The original red brick façade of Tokyo Station can be seen on the Marunouchi side. This dates from 1914 and was designed by the architect, Tatsuno Kingo. On the Yaesu side is a contemporary shopping and dining complex called Tokyo Station City. The Tokyo Station Hotel offers 150 guestrooms and suites located right in the Tokyo Station Building.
The main attractions near the station are the Imperial Palace, some gardens of which are accessible to the public; and the Mitsubishi Ichigokan Museum which exhibits 19th century art.
Transfer here to JR East’s Yamanote Line, Chuo Main Line, Sobu Main Line, Yokosuka Line, Keiyo Line, Keihin-Tohoku Line, and the Tokyo Metro Marunouchi Line. Transfers can also be made to the following bullet train services: the Tokaido Shinkansen, the Tohoku Shinkansen, the Joetsu Shinkansen, the Yamagata Shinkansen, the Akita Shinkansen, the Hokuriku Shinkansen, and the Hokkaido Shinkansen. Highway bus terminals are on the Yaesu side of the station.
Train fare: 910 yen
Train time: 5 minutes
This station has direct access to Ueno Park. In addition to a large pond and hundreds of cherry trees, the park is home to several cultural facilities such as Tokyo National Museum, The National Museum of Western Art, Ueno Zoo, and the Shitamachi Museum.
Transfer here to the Joban Line, the Utsunomiya Line, the Takasaki Line, the Ueno–Tokyo Line, and the Keihin-Tohoku Line. Transfer can also be made to the Tohoku Shinkansen, Yamagata Shinkansen, Akita Shinkansen, Hokkaido Shinkansen, Joetsu Shinkansen and Hokuriku Shinkansen. At nearby Keisei Ueno Station transfer to the Keisei Main Line and services for Narita Airport. At Ueno Subway Station transfer to Tokyo Metro Ginza Line and Tokyo Metro Hibiya Line.
Mito, in Ibaraki Prefecture, is home to the Kairakuen Garden which is considered to be one of the most beautiful landscape gardens in Japan. The garden includes around 3,000 plum trees of many different varieties and so this is a popular destination in February and March during the plum blossom festival. Mito’s other locations of interest are the Edo era buildings of the Kodokan school, Art Tower Mito, Ibaraki Prefectural Museum of History, the Tokugawa Art Museum, and Mito Municipal Botanical Park.
Transfer at Mito Station to the JR Suigun Line, and the Kashima Rinkai Railway Oarai-Kashima Line.
Train fare: 3,820 yen
Train time: 1 hour and 10 minutes
Transfer here to the Hitachinaka Seaside Railway Minato Line in order to access the beaches at Hiraiso and Ajigaura. Ajigaura Station is also the closest station to Hitachi Seaside Park.
Train fare: 3,820 yen
Train time: 1 hour and 16 minutes
Izumi Station is one of three stops the Limited Express Hitachi makes in Iwaki City. Passengers should exit here if they wish to visit the seafood “theme park” Iwaki Lalamew. Lalamew has a large seafood market, lots of sea view restaurants, shops, a kids play zone, and a seafood barbecue center. It is also the access point for cruises around Onohama Bay. From Izumi Station a taxi will take 15 minutes to reach Iwaki Lalamew.
Passengers should also exit here if they wish to visit Misaki Park and the Iwaki Marine Tower. A taxi to the tower will take around 18 minutes and there are also bus services that take around 25 minutes.
Train fare: 5,870 yen
Train time: 2 hours and 6 minutes
Exit here for the historic hot spring spa resort town of Iwaki Yumoto Onsen. The natural mineral waters of the hot spring baths are said to be good for several health problems including stiff shoulders, high blood pressure, poor circulation and general fatigue. Also close to the station is the Iwaki Coal and Fossil Museum, which has a reconstructed mine and several complete dinosaur skeletons on display.
Yumoto Station is also the closest station in Iwaki to the resort and theme park, Spa Resort Hawaiians. Among other facilities, Spa Resort Hawaiians has the world’s biggest outdoor bath and a famous Hawaiian dance troupe giving regular performances. Iwaki Yumoto Onsen and Iwaki Coal and Fossil Museum are within walking distance of the station. Spa Resort Hawaiians can be accessed from the station in 15 minutes by bus, or 10 minutes by taxi. Recommended resort hotels at Iwaki Yumoto Onsen are Ryokan Koito and Yuyutei.
Passengers who wish to visit the Shiramizu Amidado Temple and its famous Pure Land garden should transfer at Yumoto Station to a local Joban Line service for Uchigo Station which is one stop to the north. From Uchigo Station the temple is a 30 minute walk.
Train fare: 6,170 yen
Train time: 2 hours and 12 minutes
Iwaki is the largest city in Fukushima Prefecture. Located on the Pacific coastline it is famous for its warm climate and its seafood. However, many of its best tourist locations are located closer to Izumi Station and Yumoto Station. Closer to Iwaki Station is Iwaki City Art Museum which exhibits works by Picasso, Matisse and Warhol. Passengers who wish to visit the Shioyazaki Lighhouse should also exit here. This working lighthouse and museum overlooks the Pacific Ocean and offers spectacular views of the coastline. The lighthouse can be reached by bus from Iwaki Station in 15 minutes.
Transfer here to the JR Banetsu East Line. Passengers who wish to travel further north along the Joban Line should also transfer here.
Train fare: 6,170 yen
Train time: 2 hours and 19 minutes
JR East Pass for the Tohoku Area
As an alternative to the Japan Rail Pass, JR East also have a discount pass for the Tohoku area of northern Honshu. This special 5 day pass for overseas visitors offers unlimited use of JR East’s local trains, shinkansen, and limited express services within the designated area and also some non-JR trains in the Izu and Nikko areas. The pass is great if you want to visit areas like Aomori, Akita, Sendai and Nikko. For prices and more details check the official JR East Pass webpage.
To plan your journey on the JR East network we recommend English language route finders like the Japan Transit Planner or Hyperdia. JR East also has complete timetables for all the Hitachi and Tokiwa services running north from Shinagawa and Ueno, and south towards Ueno and Shinagawa.
Article and original photos by Michael Lambe. All rights reserved.