questions & answers: itinerary check

how best to travel in kansai & miyajima?

How best to travel in Kansai & Miyajima?

Arrival 27th Nov evening: KIX -> Osaka
28 Nov: Miyajima
29 Nov: : Kyoto
30 Nov: Kyoto
01 Dec: Nara
02 Dec: ?? Osaka Castle / Minami /
03 Dec Mino Park? Evening Departure: KIX

My itinerary:
- 2 day trips to Kyoto (it seems there's so much to do at Kyoto! and admiring the beautiful red leaves there are so many! which are most recommended? )

Q1: Is it advisable to spend have 2 day trips to Kyoto, and allocating 1 day each for Nara and Miyajima? Or should I shorten the duration?

Q2: What else can I add to my itinerary? Himeji Castle? I had considered Koga but the writeup on it seems bland compared with Iga Ueno. Is the Edo Wonderland Ise in the Shima Peninsula worth visiting on my own?

I would be staying in Osaka the duration of my visit, at Raizan South (except for the last day where I'd be staying within walking distance to Osaka station, and from reviews it is near JR Namba) so I'd have to take the local trains (i'm not sure which company, but i dont think they are JR) to get to the main Osaka station on most days.

Q3: Lastly, should I be getting a JR 7 day pass? Or would I be better off buying a Surutto Kansai 3 day pass and use them when I am visiting Kyoto/Kyoto/Nara? I read that there's a bus to KIX near Osaka station, so I need not rely on JR train if that would help to cut down on expenses.

Thank you v much in advance!


Hi there!

Here are some thoughts about your itinerary:

I like your itinerary. Kyoto does need more than 1 day, but I think 1 day for Nara and Miyajima is a good idea (arguably, Miyajima is also best experienced overnight). I also think it's a great idea to be based out of Osaka while you are there.

As additions, I recommend you take a look at Kurashiki (On the way back from Miyajima) and Kinosaki Onsen (on Japan Sea coast accessible via JR). You could also look into staying overnight at Koyasan, which is accessible from Osaka Namba station.

I'm not 100% sure about Edo Wonderland Ise, but it is a themepark and I get the feeling from your itinerary that you'll be looking at the real deal - certainly if it's a choice, you should visit Himeji rather than the themepark :).

I think you should probably look into the JR-West Haruka + ICOCA card deals to take you to and from Kansai Airport with discounted prepaid travel card. I personally think that the Surutto pass is good, but can be hard to extract full value from it. That said, if you can plan your route out it is a good choice! I don't think a 7 day pass will net you any savings over purchasing individual tickets. As you'll be travelling mainly in the JR-West area, you should look in to the JR-West only passes as these may be good options for you.

Hope this helps!


Dear Mari,

Thank you very much for your suggestion!

I have looked up the Haruka + ICOCA and I am happy there is a discounted set!

Out of curiosity, I looked up Hyperdia and got the following information about a 1 way ticket from Shin-Osaka to Kansai International Airport via Haruka Ltd Express 27. It is so expensive!

SHIN-OSAKA - KANSAI AIRPORT 02:25 pm Dec/2012/03 Departure
Route1 Take time: 49 Minutes Transfer: 0 Times Distance: 60.8 km
Total:¥ 2,470(Fare:¥ 1,320 Seat Fee:¥ 1,150)

It seems certain that I will save a lot by buying a Haruka + Icoca Return Trip set for 4000 Yen!

Then I did some more research and I found so many options!
E.g the Kansai Area Pass (aka JR West Rail Pass) seems to cover all the areas I want to visit.
Then I also saw the JR West Kansai Area Pass, as well as the Kansai Thru Pass aka (Surutto Kansai Pass).
Are there that many passes or are they known by different names?

From my understanding, it seems that

  1. Kansai Area Pass == JR West Rail Pass (3 Day - 5000 Yen) Getting this pass would let me use the Limited Express Hiraku, unreserved seat with no further payment

I confess I am quite confused by by non-reserved seats on the Haraku service mentioned in the Kansai Area Pass webpage -- does non-reserved mean I will have to stand or does it mean I can only go into a designated carriage and then try my luck getting a seat?

  1. Kansai Thru Pass == Surutto Kansai Pass (3 days of my choice - 5000 Yen) Getting this pass wouldn't allow me to use Limited Express Hiraku without paying

Is the JR West Kansai Area Pass actually a third pass? The post below mentions that it is like the nation wide JR Pass but it doesn't cover JR buses in Kyoto... 0_o

It is really mind-boggling. I really dont know what is best?!

Should I just get the following combination Haruka + Icoca Return Trip set --> 4000 Yen (covers my arrival and departure Haraku Ltd Express)
Then just top up the ICOCA card's 1500 Yen as and when I need? Thought I might just charge 5000 Yen and get a refund if any is left at the end of the visit.

Or shall I also get one of the above 3 day passes for 5000 Yen and use it for my Kyoto / Miyajima trips? Then the rest of trip rely on the ICOCA for getting around.

Thank you v much!


My itinerary has been fleshed out more

27 Tue
Arrival in late evening

28 Wed
AM: Osaka Castle & Park
PM: Miyajima / Mount Misen (2 hr hike) / Itsukushima Shrine

29 Thu Kyoto (Northern)

Higashimaya District
1. Yasaka Shrine
2. Maruyama Park
3. Kodaiji Temple (Illumination 2012: 10/20 to 12/10, sunset to 21:30) and/or
4. Kiyomizudera ( Illumination 2012: 11/10 to 12/2, 18:30 to 21:30)

If time permits
* Eikando (start of Philosopher's Path) * Ginkakuji (Silver Temple) is at the other end of Philosopher's Path * Kinkakuji (Golden Pavilion) at another side of Northern Kyoto."

30 Fri Kyoto (Southern)
Fushimi Inari Shrine / Thousand Torri Gates / 2 hour hike
Tofukuji Temple Free / Tsutenkyo Bridge, Gardens
Byodoin (* Phoenix Hall under renovation, do not visit)

Hence go to Nara after Tofukuji?
Kofukuji Temple ( Central Golden Hall closed) / Sarusawa Pond / Pagoda / Deer park.
Yoshikien Garden
Isuien Garden (
closed on Tues)
Kasuga Taisha

1 Sat Mino Park & Osaka
Mino Park / Mino Waterfall / Ryuanji Temple
Osaka Castle & Park if not done.

2 Sun Osaka
Visit Minami (Namba)
- Hozenji Yokocho Temple / Alley - Samba Parks - Amerikamura - Den Den Town (Similar to Akihabara / Otaku)

3 Mon Osaka "Umeda" / Leave for Airport by 3.
Osaka Station City
Umeda Sky Building
HEP (Hankyu Entertainment Park)


Hi there!

There are indeed that many passes. Be careful about using passes which do not include JR travel (such as the Surutto Kansai Pass). They are great value, but you cannot use any JR lines. On the other hand, the JR-West Passes do not include any metropolitan services (city bus, metro / subway), so both options have their pros and cons.

Kansai Area Pass is a type of JR-West Pass, but essentially you are right - they are the same thing. The main thing to bear in mind for your trip is that with the trip to Miyajima/Hiroshima you have 2 distinct zones of travel:

  1. Kansai Area
  2. South West Japan

For the Kansai Area, the various small passes will work great. For Hiroshima/Miyajima however, you need to plan on a full day trip. With use of the long distance bullet train, Hiroshima is around 2 hrs from Osaka each way, and will also be around ¥10,000 each way. Note that this won't be covered by any of the Kansai passes - you'll need to either purchase tickets, or a wider rail pass such as the 7 day JR Pass to access this area.

In summary, you have:

Short range passes/deal

  • Haruka + ICOCA: travel to/from airport + discounted metro travel
  • JR-West Kansai Area Pass: travel to/from airport + longer distance JR travel. No metro
  • Surutto Kansai Pass (Kansai Thru Pass): travel to/from airport with surcharge + metro/bus. No JR
  • general bus passes for each municipality

Longer range passes

  • 7 day Japan Rail Pass: travel to/from airport, all local JR + all national shinkansen bullet travel. No metro
  • 4 day Sanyo Area Pass: travel from airport + all local JR + West Japan bullet travel. No metro, expensive per day.

If you do the Miyajima leg, I really advise you to look into one of the longer range passes as the JR ticket cost alone will make them worthwhile purchasing. If you do not do the Miyajima trip, then I think a Haruka+ICOCA+ topup will be a great way to start. You can always top it up, or purchase a municipal day pass for metro or bus, (or a Surutto Kansai Pass) if you think it'll be needed on your busy days, like friday 30th for example.

Hope this helps clear things up with the various travel options you have!


Hi Mari,

Thank you so much for your feedback! I am wondering it would be feasible to make the following adjustments to my itinerary. How would it affect my choice of travel passes?

27 Tue (KIX)
Arrival in late evening
Travel to Hiroshima, stay for the night.

28 Wed
AM : Hiroshima
PM: Miyajima / Mount Misen (2 hr hike) / Itsukushima Shrine / Evening low-tide view of Gate
Travel back to Osaka (i'd have to go back to Hiroshima isn't it? Perhaps I can leave my backpack in a coin locker at Hiroshima station in the morning?)
Check in Osaka.

There'd be little to no change to the rest of the itinerary.

29 Thu
Kyoto (Northern)

30 Fri
Kyoto (Southern)

1 Sat
Mino Park & Osaka

2 Sun

3 Mon
Osaka (Leave for Airport by 3)

I really appreciate your patience and guidance!


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