Lying 100km to the north-west of central Tokyo, Takasaki Station is an important stop on both the Hokuriku Shinansen Line – bound for Kanazawa via Nagano – and Joetsu Shinkansen Line – bound for Niigata via Echigo-Yuzawa. As such, Takasaki connects two of the Central Japan’s three shinkansen lines – a convenient transit point when moving to and from the capital to Nagano and Niigata.
Takasaki handles a large amount of daily traffic and as such, the station has a variety of restaurants and shops. The city is most famous for having given rise to the tradition of ‘Daruma’ dolls – a now ubiquitous presence in Japanese life.
The main station building has three levels. Conventional train lines are located on the first floor while the shinkansen ticket and transfer gates are located on the second floor, with the shinkansen platforms found on the third floor.
The following page provides information to assist with moving to and from Takasaki Station as you travel through Central Japan. It is not intended to provide complete information about the station or its facilities, but instead, provide some helpful information for travelers enroute to other destinations.
Train lines running to and from Takasaki Station
Multiple train lines operate to and from Takasaki – including both rapid and local services. For international visitors, the lines of most use and interest will be:
Hokuriku Shinkansen – running from Tokyo to Kanazawa via Nagano
Joetsu Shinkansen – running from Tokyo to Niigata via Echigo-Yuzawa
It is easy and fast to transfer between the Hokuriku Shinkansen and Joetsu Shinkansen at Takasaki Station – see below for details.
Hokuriku Shinkansen / Tokyo to Kanzawa via Nagano
Running from Tokyo Station to Kanazawa Station, the Hokuriku Shinkansen stops at the following stations:
There are four different services on the Hokuriku Shinkansen Line – the Kagayaki, Hakutaka, Asama and Tsurugi. All services other than the Tsurugi service Takasaki Station.
To see the daily train schedule, please refer to our ‘Hokuriku Shinkansen Line Timetable’ page.
Joetsu Shinkansen / Tokyo to Niigata via Echigo-Yuzawa
Running from Tokyo Station to Niigata Station, the Joetsu Shinkansen stops at the following stations:
*In winter, some shinkansen services continue onto a winter-only stop at Gala-Yuzawa, directly underneath the ski resort of the same name.
Two services – the Toki and Tanigawa – operate from Echigo-Yuzawa to Tokyo while the only the Toki runs from Echigo-Yuzawa to Niigata.
For the train schedule, please refer to our ‘Joetsu Shinkansen Timetable’ page.
Transferring Between Shinkansen Lines at Takasaki
Takasaki Station is a large but easy to navigate. Split over three levels, the shinkansen ticketing offices and gates are located on the second floor, with the platforms located on the third floor and accessible by stairs, escalators and elevators.
For travelers wanting to transfer between shinkansen lines at Takasaki, there is no need to come out of the shinkansen area. When you arrive, simply head down to the floor below from the platform and look for the overhead sign directing you to the platform you need. You can then head straight back up to the platform – it should only take a minute or two to transfer platforms.
Japan Rail (JR) Passes covering travel to Karuizawa Station
There is no escaping the fact that travel using the shinkansen and other rapid services is expensive. Given the speed and distances covered by these trains, travelers should think of them much like taking a flight, with tickets accordingly priced. International visitors to Japan have the option of purchasing one of several passes which allow for unlimited use of the Hokuriku along with other services:
Japan Rail (JR) Pass
Covering all 9 shinkansen lines in Japan and many other train services, the JR Pass is a great option for visitors planning to use the shinkansen more than a handful of times and/or travel large distances. Travelers have the option of 7, 14 and 21-day passes covering either Ordinary or Ordinary and Green Cars.
The JR Pass allows for use of any service on the Hokuriku Shinkansen line at no additional cost but noting that should holders wish to have a reserved seat, they are still required to book a seat at the ticket office (at no additional cost).
Japan Rail (JR) East Pass/ Nagano & Niigata
This pass covers the Hokuriku and Joetsu Shinkansen lines serving Nagano and Niigata, along with other regional services. There is only one option of pass, covering 5 days of use within a 14-day period from its date of activation.
Notably cheaper than the JR Pass, this is a great option for visitors staying within Nagano and Niigata. Much like the JR Pass, it allows for use of any service on the Hokuriku Shinkansen or Joetsu Shinkansen at no additional cost but noting that should holders wish to have a reserved seat, they are still required to book a seat at the ticket office (at no additional cost).
Hokuriku Arch Pass
Valid for 7 consecutive days from date of activation, the Hokuriku Arch Pass covers train services from Tokyo – including trains from both Narita and Haneda Airports – to Nagano and Kanazawa and then onto Kyoto, Osaka and Kansai Airport.
For many international visitors, this pass covers the majority of their intended destinations as the they follow the most popular tourist route from Tokyo to Kanazawa and onto Kyoto and Osaka. Notably cheaper than the full JR Pass, the Hokuriku Arch Pass offers fantastic convenience and savings but it should be noted, that while the pass covers the Hokuriku Shinkansen it does not cover the Joetsu Shinkansen.
Purchasing a JR Pass
Passes can be purchased via the official website or via a JR-affiliated overseas sales office. Once you have completed payment, you will receive an exchange order. This is a proof of payment and looks almost like a flight ticket with your personal details, type of pass, and validity (three months from the date of issue).
It is important to note that the exchange order is not your actual pass and will need to be exchanged for your pass once in Japan. Whatever you do, do not lose the exchange order and prioritise exchanging it for your pass when you arrive.
Activating a JR Pass
The Japan Rail passes listed above are valid for travel to and from Iiyama Station. Before using a pass, it must first be exchanged/activated. It is important to note that JR passes cannot be exchanged/activated at Takasaki.
Exchanging/activating the pass can however be done at numerous offices located at airports – including Narita Airport, Haneda Airport, Chubu Centrair International Airport and Kansai International Airport – and major train stations throughout Japan.
If you have the time, we recommend activating your pass while at the airport. Otherwise, passes can also be activated at these stations on the Hokuriku Shinkansen Line: Tokyo Station / Ueno Station / Nagano Station / Kanazawa Station.
To exchange/activate your pass you will need your exchange order and passport. Make sure you allow adequate time to exchange and activate your pass if you are intending to use it on the same day or do so a day or two before you plan to start using it (you can always nominate a later activation date).
Once you have your activated pass you are free to ride however you can’t insert your pass into the ticket gates. Simply walk through the side booth (permanently attended by station staff) and show your pass. You will be waved through and you can make your way to the platform.
Takasaki Tourist Information Center
The station’s small Tourist Information Center is located on the station’s second floor and open daily from 09:00 to 20:00. Full-time English-speaking are on hand to assist with enquiries related to sightseeing, accommodation and transportation.
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