HyperDia and Alternatives: Japan Rail Planners

HyperDia has been an invaluable route planner tool for those traveling on trains and Shinkansen within Japan with a JR Pass since the early 2000’s. However, recent changes in HyperDia’s timetable services mean that you may like to consider an alternative option.

What is HyperDia?

HyperDia is a web and mobile app, which can be used as a guide to location in Japan. It is available in English, Japanese, and Chinese and will give you direct access to train information, prices, and average journey times. You can plan future trips by selecting the destination, journey date, and arrival or departure time.

Furthermore, the app will give you access to useful links, such as hotels, car rental services, and restaurants for the selected locations. You can filter your searches, by deselecting or selecting more options from the “More options” menu (see example below).

How HyperDia has changed

The service that HyperDia offers changed significantly on April 1, 2022. Previously, users were able to see full timetable details by using the route search service. However, this is no longer the case.

Users of HyperDia can still search for itineraries for the trains they wish to use. However, HyperDia no longer provides specific times that passengers need to depart and board these trains.

Additionally, HyperDia no longer provides the option to exclude Nozomi trains from search results. This was previously useful for Japan Rail Pass users, as the JR Pass could not be used on Nozomi services. However, JR Pass holders can ride these trains from October 2023, if they pay a supplement.

Current features of HyperDia

Users of HyperDia can still use the search function to look up train routes in Japan. They are still able to see:

  • The average time the journey will take
  • Journey and seat reservation fares
  • The name of the services they need to use

However, the search will no longer display specific timetable data such as the stations the train will stop at along the way, and the list of departure times for that service on a particular day.

How to Use HyperDia

After selecting the preferred language, type the place where you are departing from in the From field and the place you want to go to in the To field. HyperDia will generate a list of possible options to select after you have entered the first few letters.

hyperdia route search

After having made all the main selections, you can also click more options to view all the filters available. As you can see from the image, you can select the particular type of transport you wish to use.

HyperDia then offers the possible transport options to get you from point A to point B, for the selected date and time. The example gives you a clear view of the route suggestions. HyperDia will generate the following information:

  • Duration of the trip
  • Name of the service (s)
  • Number of transfers
  • Distance from point A to point B
  • Seat fare for reservations
  • The cost (fare) of the trip
  • Useful links

hyperdia route details

Scroll down on the web to see all the possible results and make your preferred selection. Once you have chosen the option that matches your personal preferences, you are ready to go.

Seat Reservation Information

When you select your preferred route, you will see different prices for seat reservations from the suggestions made by HyperDia. Japan Rail Pass holders do not have to pay for seat reservations and can ignore these suggested prices. Similarly, the Green Seat offer will also be free for everyone who has purchased a Green Pass.

hyperdia seat reservation detail

This is especially useful for people traveling with large luggage who need to take more than one train to get to their destination. Making a seat reservation in advance will make your trip smoother and easier.

Tip: Always make a seat reservation in advance. You can do so just before boarding the train or a couple of hours before. Online seat reservations are not possible, but it is straightforward to make a reservation at the ticket desk at any train station.

Note: Regardless of whether you are traveling with a Standard Japan Rail Pass or with the Green Pass, you will not be charged for making seat reservations. However, if you have purchased a Standard Japan Rail Pass you would be charged for reserving a Green seat.

Alternatives to HyperDia

Although HyperDia is still a useful tool, the fact that it no longer offers detailed train timetables and arrival and departure times means that you may wish to use an alternative route planner within Japan.

Jorudan (Japan Transit Planner)

japan transit planner jorudan

One useful alternative is Jorudan, also known as Japan Transit Planner, which is available as an app or web service. Unlike Hyperdia, the free Jorudan app displays full timetables, and platform and station details.

The app also includes a JR Pass search option that only displays trains that can be used with the pass. Jorduan also allows users to exclude specific train categories such as Shinkansen or limited express, but only if they pay a subscription fee.

Useful links:

Navitime (Japan Travel by Navitime)

japan travel navitime

Navitime is another alternative trip planner which offers many of the same features as Jorudan. It also offers an exclusive JR Pass search option, which is free on both web and app.

Additionally, Navitime allows users to not only search for trains and Shinkansen timetables, but also shows taxi fares for the selected routes as well as any flights available.

Useful links:

Google Maps

Finally, Google Maps can also be very useful when it comes to locating your station and moving around different cities in Japan. You can also use our interactive, printable maps for subway and railway lines.

google maps trains

Most streets in Japan have no names. The ones that do will be confusing to tourists as even locals often need a map to locate a particular building.

For example, a building numbered 5 could be located next to number 75. This means that having reliable internet access is essential if you do not want to get lost. Using Google Maps allows you to see your exact location and find nearby buildings, without having to translate any Japanese.

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