Railways, expressways and byways

5 sushi pink Can Hyperdia

 and Navitime help me to

              calculate the costs?

So I have an itinerary, the hotels are booked and we know what they will cost. I know the basic cost of a Japan Rail Pass and I discovered that you can actually buy them online from JRPass.com. The passes are great as they show huge savings over the rates for all our journeys as a few enquiries on the web soon reveal. They come in 7 day, 14 day and 21 day versions. Japan Rail Passes are only available to non-Japanese citizens and you have to buy a voucher before you travel and exchange it for a pass once you arrive in Japan or when you need to start using it. In our case we’ll start to use it in Kyoto for the remaining 21 days of our trip since the first few days are in Tokyo or in a rented car. So, that cost can be added to the spreadsheet.

Next, car rental. When I first looked at this back in February I couldn’t get anywhere since most of the car hire companies hadn’t published their spring and summer rates – ominous. Nissan Rent a Car did have rates on their site and so I entered dates and places to get an estimate of costs for the Hokkaido leg of the trip. In my inbox next morning was a confirmation and a request for payment so I had to reply that I wanted to cancel the booking as I had not yet decided on whether and when we were coming to Japan. Hope it doesn’t leave a black mark against my name on file should we need to use Nissan for real. However it did give me a good idea of a daily rate including English SatNav, unlimited mileage and insurance which I could then use to calculate the rest of our trips for car.

But once we are in the car how to calculate time and cost of journeys? I fiddled around with Google Maps and various other sites and eventually came across Navitime‘s Journey Pro where you can enter your start and end points – in this case our first day of car hire to go from Shinjuku in Tokyo to Mount Fuji. Based on picking up a car at the station the site was able to locate our hotel in Fujiyoshida. It provides a complete stage by stage route – and marvellous device  – it tells you distance, time it’ll take and toll costs. Interestingly it also tells you how much it would cost to do it by taxi! Maybe long distance taxis are common in Japan – we’ll find out perhaps. I had an idea of average fuel consumption for the class of car we’ll be renting and fuel cost so I could now work out all our road travel costs. What is brilliant as you’ll see in these two screen shots is that it shows the route on toll roads or on national roads. In our case it’s a significant difference 1 hour 40 minutes and ¥3600 (£25) or 4 hours and 9 minutes. I think we’ll take the expressways especially as they are marginally greener too – oh yes the CO2 emissions are on there too. The byways might be more fun but we will get to drive on several non-expressway segments of our route later on.

 Navitime expressway route 

Navitime 1

Navitime national general road routeNavitime 2

So with lots of fuel consumption, mileage and currency conversion formulae in Excel I was able to ascertain a pretty good idea of costs for the least predictable part of the trip. Just hope the decimal points are all in the right place because the spreadsheet shows we can do it for nearer what we wanted to spend than what we were told we could expect to spend. Only time will tell but we go into the next phase with some degree of confidence. Up until now everything I’ve booked has been able to be cancelled without charge. However the time has come to say:

“We are going in search of Murakami’s Japan.”

 Maps reproduced courtesy of Navitime

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