questions & answers: general japan travel

itinerary and jr pass

Itinerary and JR pass

I am flying into Osaka and going to Kyoto to visit friends then back to Osaka for a wedding. I figure we will buy local transit tickets for that. After that my husband I are traveling in Japan. We are thinking of getting a 7 day pass for the latter part. We fly out of Tokyo. Right now we plan to go from Osaka ( on Wednesday July 17 to Hiroshima for two nights ( with a day trip to Miyajima ) to Hakone for two nights and then to Tokyo for two nights. What do you think of that? We are completely open to changing the itinerary if you feel there is a must see that we can get to in a reasonble amount of time and spend at least 2 nights in each place. However my husband walks with a cane so no serious hiking ....The only thing that is fixed is departing from Tokyo the following Tuesday July 23. Can we use the 7 day JR pass for all the travel upon leaving Osaka? Can we use it on the last day to get to the airport from the Tokyo Bay area to the airport in Narita? And if not how do we get to the airport and how much does is cost?
I look forward to your reply.
Barbara

bondbarb
bondbarb

Hi Barbara,

I think your itinerary already looks rather nice! It is a good balance between travel and taking things at an easy pace.
There are a couple of things that I thought may be of use.

1.) It feels like I am writing this a lot lately but if you can I would recommend a visit to Nikko with the JR-Pass. It is easily reachable from Tokyo and can be visited as a day trip but spending the night there is also a good option.

2.) The best way to access Hakone is from the Shinkansen station called Odawara, from here you can take a private railway into the area. Please note that the JR-Pass can not be used to travel in the Area itself. A good supplement is the [Hakone Free Pass](http://www.odakyu.jp/english/deels/freepass/hakone/%EF%BC%89 that can be bought locally and covers most types of transport in the Area. If you don't wan't to spend too much money on extra travel a good substitute could be to spend a couple of days in Kanazawa.

3.) You can indeed use the JR-Pass to travel once you leave Osaka. Also it will cover most of the journey back to Narita. You can have to buy a tickets around 200 Yen to get to a JR-line but the rest is covered! Without the pass Narita Airport can be reached by local train starting at around 1200 Yen and the Narita Express around 2800 Yen (but free with the JRPass).

Hope this helps,
Daniel

72a8815842aa5db137c135807bd6bb11?s=50&d=mm
Daniel-san
Expert_button_2

Hi Daniel
Thanks so much for your prompt and insightful reply.
Kanawawa seems very rainy and steamy hot in july , yes? Do you think it is worth 2 nights in Hakone? or should we stay 4 nights in Tokyo and just do day trips? or is it better to split it up and do 2 and 2. My husband fatigues easily and I am a bit worried about moving him around so much. But since we are all the way over there we want to make the most of it...

regards.\,
Barbara

bondbarb
bondbarb

Hi Daniel,
Me again!
Another question about Hakone.
Since we have no car, do you think it is too difficult to stay by the lake? for example at the Hakone hotel? or should we stay close to the station? for exapmle the Hotel Green Plaza Gora or the Shirayu no Yado Yamadaya?

Do all these hotels have toilets ensuite unless indicated 'shared toilet" and if it says no smoking is that only in the room or anywhere on the hotel property?
Regards,
barbara

bondbarb
bondbarb

Hi Barbara,

About the weather in Kanazawa, I looked it up and it does appear to be one of the more rainy spots in Japan but this seems to be more the case in Winter and Autumn, here is the data I referred to.

About Hakone
I must say that Hakone is a very beautiful place to visit, I would certainly recommend it if you have the possibility of visiting it. While you can't reach everywhere by train in the area buses leave frequent too. For convience you may want to consider staying near a Train Station so you can limit the amount of time that you carry luggage. The Hotel Shirayu no Yado Yamadaya you mentions especially looks nice and its location is very good too.

In the range of Hotels, I think you can expect that you will have your own bathroom, I have not stayed with them myself so I can't say for sure though. If you find one you like, you can always contact them first. Smoking usually is not allowed in most common areas and the rooms. A hotel may offer a smoking area inside, again this does depend on the hotel so it can be smart to contact them about it before making a booking.

Best regards,
Daniel

72a8815842aa5db137c135807bd6bb11?s=50&d=mm
Daniel-san
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Thanks so much - we will keep Hakone in the itinerary.

How long is the train ride from Hiroshima to Hakone? Are there lots of departures times of just a few?
Regards
Barbara

bondbarb
bondbarb

Hi again,
I clicked on this link
http://www.odakyu.jp/english/deels/freepass/hakone/%EF%BC%89 but it is all in japanese - is there an english version?
regards
barbara

bondbarb
bondbarb

Hi Again,

Sorry about the link, there was a little mix up with the link. Here is the right one for the Hakone Free Pass.

For the trip from Hiroshima to Hakone.
You can take the Shinkansen from Hiroshima to Odawara, which is the Shinkansen station for Hakone. The journey takes about 260-290 minutes including a transfer at Shin-Osaka, Trains leave at least twice an hour.

Have a good trip!
Daniel

72a8815842aa5db137c135807bd6bb11?s=50&d=mm
Daniel-san
Expert_button_2

Hi Daniel
one last set of questions....

  1. When we arrive at KIX in Osaka at 7:30 in the morning we need to get to the hotel in Kyoto. We don't want to activate the JR pass on that day. So how should we get to Kyoto

  2. How far in advance should / can we buy the JR pass? and do we need to give the specific dates upon purchase?

  3. We want to activate the JR pass on Tuesday July 16 and then take the train from Osaka to Hiroshima. On the way we want to stop in Himeji. Is there a secure place to leave our luggage at the station for a few hours in the afternoon while we visit the castle in the gardens?

You have been most helpful and taken much of the stress out of planning our trip to Japan. I am very grateful for the serviceyou provide.
Cordially,
Barbara Bond

bondbarb
bondbarb

Hi Barbara Bond,

Welcome back to the forum!

1.) To go to Kyoto you can choose between comfort and price.
If you want to go with comfort you can take the Haruka express train from Kansai Airport that will bring you to Kyoto station in 80 minutes without transfer and costs about 3000 Yen you can also buy a Kansai 1 Day railpass at Kansai Airport JR station for 2000 Yen and is also valid on the Haruka.

Or if you go for the economic approach you can take the Nankai railway and buy a Kyoto access ticket that costs 1200 Yen. The journey includes at least 1 transfer and takes slightly over 2 hours.

2.) You can buy the JR-Pass at any time, given that you intend to exchange it within 90 days after purchase. We ask for an intended day of use during the order process but this only serves as indication.

3.)Yes Himeji station, like every other station in Japan comes equipped with coin lockers and costs 300Yen / 24 Hours for normal size lockers and around 600 for suitcase sized. If you ask kindly, station staff at the tourist information will sometimes hold it for free. I have used them many times myself without any trouble and they are very safe.

Enjoy Japan and Best Wishes,
Daniel

72a8815842aa5db137c135807bd6bb11?s=50&d=mm
Daniel-san
Expert_button_2

Hi Daniel.
Me again! So I have two more questions.

First, I arrive in Osaka on July 10 and depart from Tokyo on July 23. Upon arrival I am going to Kyoto for 4 days then Osaka for 2 days. If I understand correctly the JR pass is not useful in Kyoto / Osaka area so I will only get a 7 day pass and use it after I leave Osaka. When I leave Osaka on Tuesday, Juy 16 I am going to Hiroshima for 3 nights ( and a day trip to Miyajima) and then to Hakone for two nights then to Tokyo for 2 nights and to Narita on Tuesday July 23. So Ideally I would need an 8 day pass. But that is impossible correct? so therefore I am wondering which is more cost effective? To pay for a one way ticket from Osaka to Hiroshima, and start the pass on the 17th in Hiroshima, or to start the pass on the 16th in Osaka and then pay for a ticket from Tokyo Bay to Narita. I will be traveling with my husband who has anxiety and is apprehensive about being in overcrowded trains.

Secondly - how far in advance should I / can I make reservations for each leg of the trip and how do I do that?
Regards,
Barbara

bondbarb
bondbarb

Hi Again!

The JRPass is indeed only available in 7,14 and 21 day versions.
The price of a one way Shinkansen ticket between Osaka and Hiroshima is about 10,000Yen and a one way ticket from Tokyo to Narita Airport is around 3000Yen by Narita Express, so the last option is certainly the most economic.

You can start making seat reservations the moment that you are in Japan and have activated your JR-Pass. You could reserve all the tickets you want the moment that you do this. To make a reservation simply go to any ticket office, show your JR-Pass and tell the station staff where you would like to go, they will then make all the reservations for you and print the tickets. Every JR station has a ticket office and can recognized by their green signs that usually display the word tickets.

Hope this helps,
Daniel

72a8815842aa5db137c135807bd6bb11?s=50&d=mm
Daniel-san
Expert_button_2

Hi again Daniel,
So we are about to buy the two 7 day tickets and are wondering the benefits of first class vs standard but I can't seem to find a side by side comparison. What do you think? We are in our 50's and my husband walks with a cane. Is he standard ticket just fine? What might the drawbacks be of a standard ticket and what benefits of a 1st class ticket. Obviously it is more expensive and I feel I ahve already spent a lot on this trip - but at this point I almost feel .. in for a penny; in for a pound! please let me know you thoughts.
barbara

bondbarb
bondbarb

Me again
I have been looking at the forum and am wondering is the 'Green" ticket the same as the first class tiket? and if not what is that difference too.

this is our train itinerary again:
after a week in kyoto/osaka without activating the pass - we leave osaka July 16 we take train from:
osaka - hiroshima -
ferry to miyajama Island
hiroshima - hakone
hakone- tokyo

bondbarb
bondbarb

Hi Barbara,

Green class is indeed 1st class, where in Europe we tend to say 1st and 2nd class, in Japan it is ordinary and green class.
You can read a little more about green class from our blog posthere.

In short, I would say buy the Green class upgrade if you wish to travel in quiet and a more relaxing manner, I did a 3 week tour with a Green Class Pass back in April and very much enjoyed it. The main advantage I see is that a lot less people travel Green so the travel experience is much more relaxed. I would say that you won't really need to upgrade, as your train travel is relatively limited and normal trains are fine but if you can spare the money it is well spend.

Have a pleasant weekend and let me know if I can help in any other way!
-Daniel

72a8815842aa5db137c135807bd6bb11?s=50&d=mm
Daniel-san
Expert_button_2

Thank you Daniel for providing me the link to the green car advantages - this is very useful! Whil reading it I found myself asking two more questions...

  1. a.Why does it say "unused luggage compartment"? Why is it unused? Where does our luggage go? does anyone assist you with luggage? and b. is that different from the ordinary class train car?

  2. a. Smoking area provided ( my husband will like that)... does that mean a seperate t=car for smokers? or an area where you get out of your seat and walk to in order to go to a designated smoking room ( so if he wants to smoke , I won't have to be surrouneded by a trianful of smokers???) and b. does it indicate that smoking is NOT allowed anywhere in the ordinary class train cars?

Thanks ever so much for your never ending assistance in planning our trip Daniel! You are a GEM!

bondbarb
bondbarb

Hi Barbara,

Sorry for my late replay. My Laptop decided to crash, which took up a lot of time.
Anyway, without further ado, here is the replay.

1.) Big luggage like suitcases in most trains is placed near the entrance of each train car, you can also have your smaller luggage places above your or under your chair. Why this is unused in green cars is simply because a lot less people travel in it. You can always ask the JR Staff to assist you with any luggage and they will be most happy to assist.

2.) All train cars are non-smoking, however trains comes equipped with a special smoking room aboard. Normal train cars share 1 or 2 and green class has one for itself. The advantage here is that you don't have to walk all the way trough a couple of train cars, for instance if your train car is number 4 and the smoking room is in car number 7.

I hope this helps and once again sorry for the late response.
-Daniel

72a8815842aa5db137c135807bd6bb11?s=50&d=mm
Daniel-san
Expert_button_2

Hi Daniel,
We received our JR Passes today! yea!!!

So ONE last question....
can we book train reservations upon arrival in japan ... before we activate the tickets? or do we have to wait to the first day we activate to book reservations?
cordially
Barbara

bondbarb
bondbarb

Hi Barbara!

That's good news for sure and one step closer to Japan!

You can reserve train tickets the moment that you are in Japan and have activated your JRPass. Don't worry about seats selling out as this rarely happens and trains are very frequent.

Also thank you for the shout out on Facebook! Feedback like that really makes my day!

Have a wonderful time and Japan! (of course we are here if you may need us for anything).
-Daniel

72a8815842aa5db137c135807bd6bb11?s=50&d=mm
Daniel-san
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