questions & answers: itinerary check

28 days in japan, which jr pass(es)?

28 days in Japan, which JR pass(es)?

Hi there,

I'm planning a trip to Japan from March 25th until April 22nd. Since I'm going to travel a lot I'm thinking it would be best to buy a 21 day and a 7 day JR pass. However, since my first four days are in Tokyo perhaps this is not so economical.

I'm thinking of trading in April 10th in Osaka to visit mount Fuji on March the 30th and continue to Ise one the 31st. Could you give me some advise? Thanks in advance and greetings from the Netherlands!

This is my tentative itinerary:
25-3-2014 Arrival at Tokyo Narita at 17:20
26-3-2014 Tokyo
27-3-2014 Tokyo
28-3-2014 Tokyo
29-3-2014 Tokyo
30-3-2014 Tokyo to Ise to Nagoya
31-3-2014 Nagoya to Takayama
1-4-2014 Takayama to Kanazawa
2-4-2014 Kanazawa
3-4-2014 Kanazawa to Kyoto
4-4-2014 Kyoto
5-4-2014 Kyoto
6-4-2014 Kyoto
7-4-2014 Kyoto
8-4-2014 Kyoto to Koyasan (mount Koyo)
9-4-2014 Koyasan to Osaka
10-4-2014 Osaka
11-4-2014 Osaka to Heroshima
12-4-2014 Heroshima
13-4-2014 Heroshima to Miyajima
14-4-2014 Miyajima to Fukuoka
15-4-2014 Fukuoka
16-4-2014 Fukuoka to Kurokawa Onsen (by bus)
17-4-2014 Kurokawa Onsen
18-4-2014 Kurokawa Onsen to Nagasaki
19-4-2014 Nagasaki
20-4-2014 Nagasaki to Osaka
21-4-2014 Osaka
22-4-2014 Departure from Osaka international at 23:40

Pim
Pim

Hi Pim,

That's quite the itinerary! The JR Pass will be of great use, that's for sure. I think a 21 Day JR Pass would be the best option here. Your main travel days are from March the 30th until the 20th of April, which is exactly 21 days!

Here are some tips for your travel:
1.) For your arrival at Narita Airport, consider buying a Suica + Narita Express package. as it gives you a greatly discounted ticket on the Narita Express into Tokyo and the Suica card it great for traveling around the Metropolis and can be used later on in Osaka as well.

2.)Did you know that the bus to Kurokawa Onsen also departs from Kumamoto and Aso-san? These are closer to Kurakawa and you can use the JR Pass to travel to either of these places, savings you money on the bus fare and travel time as well if planned correctly. You could even add a visit to either of these places, the castle in Kumamoto is very beautiful and Aso is an active volcano in the middle of Kyushu.

3.) Lastly, use the JR Kansai Airport Rapid Service from Osaka station to Kansai Airport on your last day, it's a direct train and only 1,160 yen, in addition it also runs to late in the evening so you don't have to worry about catching the last train. Here is an example route.

Hope this helps!
Daniel

PS: I am sure that you'll find a lot of Heroes in Hiroshima :)

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Daniel-san
Expert_button_2

Hi Daniel,

Thanks for your more than helpfull reply! I (obviously) have additional questions:

1) General question: there are many railway companies in Japan and the JR pass doesn't cover everything. When planning with Hyperdia how do I know which parts are covered and when to buy an individual ticket?

2) The Suica & N'EX package seems to be the way to go, buying individual tickets is inconvenient. However I was wondering whether the Suica card also covers daytrips to Nikko and Kamakura? I found this map, but is doesn't make things more clear... :)

3) About refunds: the site states that "When the card is returned, the deposit of 500 yen is returned along with any remaining amount. (...) Suica cards issued by JR East Japan can be returned only at JR East stations". Is Kansai station a JR East station?

4) Correct me if I'm wrong, but if I activate the 21 day pass on March 30th it will be valid until (and including) April 19th. This means that I have buy an individual ticket from Nagasaki to Osaka?

5) If I want to see Mount Fuji (not climbing it, just see the mountain, the surroundings and hopefully the sakura), would you recommend a daytrip from Tokyo or stay overnight and travel on? I was planning to travel on to Ise afterwards, but according to Hyperdia I would have to reserve an entire day for the trip!

Kind regards,

Pim

P.S. I don't know whether there are heroes in Hiroshima, but I corrected the spelling error... ;)

Pim
Pim
Pim
Pim

Hi Pim,

Let's get right in, there's a lot to be said and also have to correct the dates in my previous post, sorry for that (see question 4)!

1.) The JR Group is made consists out of 6 national groups nation wide and all of these accept the JR Pass, there are some rail lines in Japan that are held privately and don't accept the JR Pass. Think about metro networks but also local train companies in some places. In your itinerary you will only use of for the last part of travel to Mount Koya. and possibly to Mount Fuji. We have a very useful map which you can use to look up lines covered by the JR Pass. When using Hyperdia, unclick the box with Private Railway and NOZOMI / MIZUHO, this way you will find trains that are all covered by the pass, here's a somewhat more in depth guide.

2.) You can also use the SUICA card for travel to Kamakura as well as for travel to Nikko on both the JR and Tobu line.

3.) This is something I am actually not sure about. IC (such as Suica) cards used to be only valid in a certain region, such as SUICA in the JR East region (Mainly greater Tokyo). In 2013 it was made possible to use IC cards nationwide. However I am not sure if you can return one to say JR West if you bought one in JR East. Do note that the Suica card from the Suica + NE'X package is special version and only available for foreign visitors who land on Narita Airport - it's a great souvenir (or you could probably sell it on Ebay for a profit if you really want to get the deposit back).

4.) Sorry! you are absolutely right here! I checked your travel dates yesterday and counted 22 and had even write about how to best plan around it using the JR Pass. Then I double checked using the windows calculator function - like this - and it said 21. It does change things a lot! As the best situation would still be to use a 21 day JR Pass, however some re-scheduling would be needed. For instance, would it be possible to take a late noon train back to Osaka on the April 19th? This would allow you to cover all expansive travel parts and save you an otherwise ¥ 17,870 fare. An other option would be to make a day trip to Fuji from Tokyo move travel to Nagoya and subsequent days up by one day until the 10th where you otherwise may have visited Fuji.

5.) One of the most popular visits to Fuji is the Fuji Five Lakes area, of which the first lake is Kawaguchiko. Which is perfect for a day trip from Tokyo. A lot of travel to and from Fuji is via Tokyo in any event, so you may as well visit it from there - It would indeed be hard to reach Ise the same day.

HTML markdown does not work for safety reasons, however you can use the Daring Fireball markdown if you wish.

Hope this helps!
Daniel

PS: From time to time I find very funny alternative spellings to Japanese names on the forum. The best must have been when someone called Mount Fuji...Mount Fungi!

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Daniel-san
Expert_button_2

Hi Daniel,

Thanks again for your advice, you are the greatest!

4) I'll sacrifice the overnight at mount Fuji and stay an extra day in Tokyo (and perhaps I'll go to mount Fuji on a daytrip). This way I can activate the JR pass on March 31st, problem solved!

I think I'll skip Fukuoka, as Kumamoto or Aso seem more interesting (although the bus trip from Kumamoto to Kurokawa seems to take even longer than from Fukuoka!). Perhaps I'll change my mind and go to Aso instead, which is only 50mins away from Kurokawa.

My itenerary would then be:
25-3-2014 Arrival at Tokyo Narita 17:20
26-3-2014 Tokyo
27-3-2014 Tokyo (day trip Nikko)
28-3-2014 Tokyo (day trip Kamakura)
29-3-2014 Tokyo
30-3-2014 Tokyo (day trip mount Fuji)
31-3-2014 Tokyo to Ise to Nagoya
01-4-2014 Nagoya to Takayama (2,5u)
02-4-2014 Takayama to Kanazawa (2,5u)
03-4-2014 Kanazawa
04-4-2014 Kanazawa to Kyoto (2,5u)
05-4-2014 Kyoto
06-4-2014 Kyoto
07-4-2014 Kyoto (day trip Nara)
08-4-2014 Kyoto
09-4-2014 Kyoto to Koyasan (mount Koyo)
10-4-2014 Koyasan to Osaka
11-4-2014 Osaka to Hiroshima
12-4-2014 Hiroshima
13-4-2014 Hiroshima to Miyajima
14-4-2014 Miyajima to Kumamoto
15-4-2014 Kumamoto
16-4-2014 Kumamoto to Kurokawa Onsen (bus)
17-4-2014 Kurokawa Onsen
18-4-2014 Kurokawa Onsen to Nagasaki
19-4-2014 Nagasaki
20-4-2014 Nagasaki to Osaka
21-4-2014 Osaka
22-4-2014 Departure Osaka Kansai 23:40

Pim
Pim

Hi Pim,

Looks like it is sorted now! Visiting Kumamoto around the Sakura Season is a great idea. Kumamoto Castle has hundreds of Cherry Blossom trees around it - making for a beautiful sight.

I don't have much to add at this point (as it looks like a fantastic trip) but let me know if you have anymore question!
-Daniel

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Daniel-san
Expert_button_2

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