To visit all the compass points of the Japanese railway network has been a long term dream of mine. I have passed through forty-five of the forty-seven prefectures in my fourteen years of visiting the country, but I had never made it to the farthest extents of their railway network. With JR Hokkaido threatening to close some of the lines to those points and the demographic challenges the whole country faces I felt an urgency to do so.
The journey between the points took seven days, with another seven spent in the company of my wife and eight year old son. I rode the entire north-south length of the Shinkansen network, but also caught many local trains along the way. I travelled all the way up to Wakkanai in the north and Nemuro (Higashi-Nemuro) in the east of Hokkaido, to Tabira-Hiradoguchi and Sasebo in the west and Makurazaki (Nishi-Oyama) in the south of Kyushu. There were also trips to Takayama and Unazuki Onsen and visits to the railway museums in Nagoya and Kyoto and Legoland and Universal Studios along the way.
(And no, I don't consider the Naha Monorail part of this railway network)
To reach Japan I flew Jetstar Australia alone from Sydney to Cairns on an Airbus A320 and then onwards to Kansai International with their Boeing 787-8. I returned the same way in the company of my family.
Apologies for not writing a proper report here, but it has taken me months to compile a massive (almost 30,000 word) detailed report in five parts with many photos and videos on both my flights and my travels at https://stories.allrite.at/category/jrnewstour/
There is also a brief version (without the aviation stuff) at http://travelling.allrite.at/2017/11/the-compass-points-of-japanese-railway.html
A small selection of photos:
Early morning over NSW
Descending over the coast north of Cairns
Our 787-8 at Cairns International Airport
Evening seas south-east of Japan
The Shinkansen from Shin-Osaka
The Nemuro Line
Riding the Kurobe Gorge Railway tourist train
On board the Matsuura railway
The end of the line at Makurazaki station.
Nankai Rapi:t Beta train from Osaka to Kansai International Airport
Flight back to Cairns
Departing Cairns for Sydney
Looping over Sydney Airport
Out to sea again over the Royal National Park before turning back for a landing from the south
I hope you will take the time to read the full report and enjoy the photos and videos there, or check out my many previous detailed trip reports on airliners.net. Thanks!