questions & answers: itinerary check

14 or 21 day pass?

14 or 21 day pass?

I will be travelling to Japan 11 -28 June and my husband will join me from 15 -28. I will be staying in the Tokyo area first then meeting husband in Fukuoka/Hakata on the 15th, travelling from Tokyo to Fukuoka by plane. I have a few specific questions that I hope will help determine the best purchase for the rail passes.

  1. Can the JR pass be used in Tokyo itself on buses and subways? (I assume it is valid for train and monorail, inc Narita Xpress) Basically, can I use it to get around Tokyo and immediate area on different transport modes, as well as for day trips from Tokyo?
  2. Can the JR pass be used for Kyushu area buses? I realise that there are restrictions on JR pass use for some trains in Kyushu so wonder if the 3-day Northern Kyushu pass would be better.
  3. Would the JR pass be valid for same deals as the Hakone Free Pass 2-day or for the Mt Koya-san Free Service Pass on those local public transports (inc buses, cable cars etc) or would they be additional to the JR pass?

Below is our schedule so that you may be better able to assess most suitable purchase:
11 - 15 June - I arrive into Narita, Tokyo (Narita Xpress to Tokyo or Yokohama), staying Tokyo area visiting a friend, travel to Yokohama one or 2 days, possibly another day trip, monorail to Haneda for flight to Fukuoka
15 June - meet husband at Fukuoka airport, to Hakata station and sites in Fukuoka
16 June - Kumamoto /Aso
17 June - Yufain
18 June - Hita/Hakata
19 June -Miyajima
20 June- Hiroshima
21 June - Kyoto
22 June - Kyoto/ Kanazawa
23 June - Shirakawa-go/Takayama
24 June - Tokyo / Hakone-Mt Fuji
25 June - Hakone/Tokyo
26 June - Tokyo/Kamakura
27 June - Tokyo sites
28 June - Departing flight from Narita, Narita Xpress

Our first thought is to get 21 day pass for me (is there/what is refund policy for days unused? I will only use 18 days) and get my husband a 14 day pass. Or I use a 3 or 4 day pass in Tokyo area at the start or end of trip and use a 14 day pass with my husband instead of a 21 day pass for whole trip. If JR pass not useful in Tokyo or in Kyushu then would a 7 day JR pass plus 3 day Northern Kyushu and local Tokyo day tickets be better for my husband? I would the do same but with extra Tokyo tickets at the start.

Hope this is not too confusing - the itinerary is our basic plan but welcome suggestions/tips/hints/warnings. The timings are tight so may not all fit but we can adjust. Look forward to your information on ticket details. Thank you.

clk
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Hi there!

That's quite a nice journey you are planning there!

Going to your questions:

1.) You rightly assume that the JR Pass is valid on both the JR Lines, Narita Express and Tokyo Monorail. Other ways of travel such as the Tokyo metro as run by different companies that don't accept the JR Pass. Here's a map that shows all station around Tokyo reachable by JR.

2.) There are some buses that you can use in Kyushu but only those run by JR, which are very limited. All places in your itinerary are reachable by train though. I do think that a northern JR Pass would be very useful here. Let me know if you had any specific bus in mind and I can check it for you.

3.) Both Hakone and Koya are some of the rare exceptions where they JR Pass won't cover you all the way. For Koya san I would recommend taking the JR to Osaka and travel on from there with the Nankai Express. A World Heritage Ticket is makes for a good supplement to the JR Pass. You can travel with the bullet trains all the way to Odawara, the front door of Hakone. From there only private railways run trough the area, so a Hakone Free Pass comes in very handy.

I think that a 7-day JR Pass + Northern Kyushu pass would be the most economic option for you and your husband. Usually it is better to just add a week (or two) to your JR Pass but it works out very well for both of you. I can also understand that it would be more convenient to travel on the same kind of tickets. Lastly your travel in Tokyo (To Yokahama and Haneda) is not enough to warrant an upgrade either.

For the rest, I love Kyushu and you are visit many of the best places there. If you have time I would say make a visit to Nagasaki or Kagoshima perhaps but I am sure that you will already have a fantastic trip with the your current plans.

Let me know if I can help with anything else!
-Daniel

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Daniel-san
Expert_button_2

Thank you very much -your suggestions gave me the clarity and reassurance much needed! Purchased two of 7-day passes.

As to the buses in Kyushu, I was thinking of travelling to Kurokawa Onsen eventually as a possible and there does not seem to be a train there. Evidently, I can get a bus from Hita to Kurokawa Onsen (no idea what time or how much and read something that said it could be tricky) but was thinking of doing it the other way in any case:

travelling from Aso to Kurokawa Onsen then onto Yuifin or Beppu (asume again no train so by bus) then back on train onto Hita for return to Hakata. Also, bus to Aso seems to do a good service for sites etc.

However, negotiating the bus information is really testing me. If I want to do Kurokawa Onsen it seems it must be a journey by bus which is fine if I can figure it out! Any ideas on routes, timings, fares ?

Thanks again for a great service!

clk
clk

Hi Again,

I have looked further into getting to Kurokawa Onsen for you. I know that it is a very beautiful place from previous forum visitors. However it is an adventure in itself to get there and you almost have to stay for the night without a rental car. That is of course the first option if either you or your husband feel confident enough to drive on the left side. An other option is to take the train to Aso station and take the bus from there. This way you could combine it with your planned visit to Aso san. These buses are run by different companies than JR so be sure to have some change ready.

I was able to track down the time table for the bus, it however is only available in Japanese. I hope that you will be able to understand it (a little) with this explanation.

阿蘇駅前=Mount Aso station (nr 19 in the list)
黒川=Kurokawa. (nr 21 in the list)

Here is the time table for week days. and here is the time table for in the weekend and national holidays. The first bus arrives at Aso at 10:28 and arrives at Kurokawa around 11:26. I could not track down the exact fare but I don't think that it would be more than 2,000Yen/person.

From Kurokawa you can take the same bus on to Beppu or return to Aso and use the JR Pass to travel from there (the cheaper option).

Lastly the official access page from Kurokawa may also be helpful, which has some alternative ways to travel.

I hope this helps you to negotiate the difficulties somewhat!
-Daniel

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Daniel-san
Expert_button_2

Fantastic yet again - many thanks! Might be able to find a way to make it work after all- the timetables highlighted are helpful as is the Kurokawa access page.
Cheers
Carol

clk
clk

Fantastic yet again - many thanks! Might be able to find a way to make it work after all- the timetables highlighted are helpful as is the Kurokawa access page.
Cheers
Carol

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