questions & answers: itinerary check

3 week trip: tokyo - kyoto - koyasan - hiroshima - fuji 5 lakes - tokyo

3 week trip: Tokyo - Kyoto - Koyasan - Hiroshima - Fuji 5 Lakes - Tokyo

Hello,

We've planned a 3 week trip to Japan in the Spring 2013 and I'm writing to question whether a JR Rail Pass would be beneficial for our itinerary.

I have two main concerns:
1) After going from Tokyo to Kyoto, we are staying in Kyoto for 7 full days (but are doing small side trips)
2) Non JR trains (or highway buses) are actually faster for some of our destinations

Regarding the JR Pass; I like the ability to take any JR train, however I don't mind spending more to take faster trains, or more direct routes (e.g., highway bus).

Does the JR Rail Pass make sense for our trip, given my above concerns and below itinerary?

Here is our itinerary:
28 March - arrive Tokyo
1 April - train from Tokyo to Kyoto (would take Nozomi for ¥ 13,720 each)
... during the 7 days in Kyoto we plan to do small side trips (Yoshino, Nara, Iga Ueno) 9 April - train from Kyoto to Koyasan
11 April - train from Koyasan to Hiroshima
... during 2 days in Hiroshima we plan to do small side trips (Miyajima, Onomichi, Iwakuni) 14 April - train from Hiroshima to Fuji 5 Lakes
16 April - highway bus from Fuji 5 Lakes to Tokyo (most direct route)

Thanks,
Chris

okgood
okgood

Hi Chris,

I noticed you are traveling during the Cherry Blossom season, do you have any plans for a special viewing somewhere?

About your questions / concerns:
Those are some valid concerns you have. I made a little overview of the costs you would have without the JR Pass to see if it would be viable for you to use a JR Pass.

Tokyo - Kyoto ¥ 13,420
Kyoto - Iga Ueno ¥2.220 (return)
Kyoto - Nara ¥1,380 (return)
Mount Koya by private railway to Osaka and from there to Hiroshima ¥ 10,150 by Shinkansen.
Hiroshima - Iwakuni ¥ 1,480 (return)
Hiroshima - Onomichi ¥ 5,530 by Shinkansen (or ¥ 1,450 by local train)
Onomichi - Hiroshima ¥ 5,530 (same as above)
Hiroshima - Miyajima, Train to Miyajimaguchi ¥400 and ferry ¥170 to Miyajima, both free with JR Pass.
Miyajima - Hiroshima ¥570, way back.
Hiroshima - Mishima ¥17,070 and from there the bus to Fuji 5 lakes, assuming you go to Kawaguchiko it costs 2130 yen by bus from Mishima.

For a total of ¥57,920 a 14 day JR-Pass is ¥45,100 saving you ¥12820.
Looking at the savings you would make, I think it is certainly a good option to use a 14 day JR Pass for your journey from the 1st until the 14th of april.

Also looking at travel time, it is not much different than buying tickets on the go. With the JR Pass you can use the Shinkansen from Hiroshima to Onomichi without extra charge and your travel from Hiroshima to the Fuji 5 lakes via Mishima is also the fastest. Your journey between Tokyo and Kyoto is the only time that you would travel a bit longer, it is about 20min more by Hikari instead of the Nozomi.

Hope this helps!
-Daniel

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Daniel-san
Expert_button_2

Hi Daniel,

Thanks for the detailed write up and speed of your response. I really appreciate it.

I have some follow up questions, of course ...
1) Did you use Hyperdia to find these prices and schedules?
2) Because we are going during Cherry Blossom season, what would be your advise regarding seat reservations? (there are 2 only of us)
3) You asked about our plans for a special viewing somewhere for the Cherry Blossoms ... we do not have anything planned yet. Can you recommend some things, either in Kyoto, Yoshino, or elsewhere?

Thanks again for your great help.
Chris

okgood
okgood

Hi Chris,

More questions are always good!
Here we go:
1.) Yes, all prices are directly from Hyperdia, except for the bus to Kawaguchiko and the Miyajima ferry.

2.) During the Sakura (cherry blossom in Japanese) season you may see some more travel than usual but I it is not like golden week, this is also because it is harder to plan for the Sakura viewings. I don't expect that you will have any difficulties making seat reservations. Still if you want to be sure, it is always a good thing to make reservations a day or so in advance.

3.) It is hard to predict when the Sakura will be most beautiful, it mainly depends on the weather. So I would ask locally for the most beautiful place in the Area, almost every region in Japan now has a place to be during the Cherry Blossom.
My personal recommendation for your itinerary would be Iwakuni. While not very large the area around Kintaikyo is very magical during the Sakura Season.

One other tip: if you are in Tokyo and the Trees are already blooming visit Ueno park, not just for the Cherry Blossom but also to see how Japanese Celebrate it, there are performances and many street vendors. It is a very nice and interesting experience. Many people from Tokyo will come there and pick-nick under the trees, don't be surprised it they invite you to join them!

Let me know if you have more questions!
Daniel

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

Excellent! Thank you so much.

okgood
okgood

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