questions & answers: itinerary check

itinerary check and suitable rail pass options

Itinerary Check and Suitable Rail Pass Options

Hi,

I'm planning to go to Japan from 10th May 2015 for 22 days. The following is a draft itinerary:

May-10 Arrive Osaka
May-11 Osaka - Hiroshima - Miyajima
May-12 Miyajima - Kyoto
May-13 Kyoto
May-14 Kyoto
May-15 Kyoto
May-16 Kyoto - Takayama
May-17 Takayama
May-18 Takayama – Lake Kawaguchiko
May-19 Lake Kawaguchiko - Nikko
May-20 Nikko
May-21 Nikko – Tokyo

May-22 Tokyo - Memanbetsu (flight to Hokkaido) – may hire a car for the stay in Hokkaido
May-23 Utoro
May-24 Shiretoko
May-25 Shiretoko
May-26 Akan
May-27 Sounkyo
May-28 Biei/Furano
May-29 Sapporo
May-30 Sapporo - Tokyo (flight back to Tokyo)
May-31 Depart Tokyo

Could you please advise if this is possible to do? Also, I’m not confirmed about the car rental in Hokkaido yet. Are you able to advise what is the best rail pass to purchase if I only wanted it the first part of my trip before Hokkaido and also if I wanted it for Hokkaido as well.

Your feedback would be greatly appreciated.

Thank you,
Cindy

cincheah
cincheah

Hi,
Given the length of your trip and the time you'd like to spend in each place, your itinerary is quite difficult in that any of the full JR Passes simply would not be economical. So in your case you might explore several regional rail passes, as well as some air passes and specials to try and save money. For the first part of your trip, you might look into a JR Kansai Hiroshima Area Pass:

http://www.japan-guide.com/e/e2361_kansai_hiroshima.html

With this pass, you can use the fastest bullet train, the Nozomi, to go see Hiroshima/Miyajima. It's also easy to go see Himeji, which is Japan's finest surviving castle. If you like, you could go a bit more and see Iwakuni as well, with its iconic bridge and mountaintop castle:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0COOZXi66mM

There are some regional passes for the Kansai area as well - they may or may not suit you:

http://www.japan-guide.com/e/e2357_005.html

http://www.japan-guide.com/e/e2361_03.html

http://www.japan-guide.com/e/e2361_08.html

I noticed you didn't mention visiting Nara - which would be a tragedy if you missed it.

For the next part of your trip, there is a special pass to go see Takayama:

http://www.japan-guide.com/e/e2361_takayama_hokuriku.html

It also covers Kanazawa, which is well worth a visit.

To see Nikko, you might look at the Tobu Nikko Free Pass:

http://www.japan-guide.com/e/e2358_002.html

To fly to Hokkaido, there are some good air passes you can use - which one may depend a lot on what your international carrier is:

http://www.ana.co.jp/wws/us/e/wws_common/promotion/experience_jp/

http://www.ana.co.jp/wws/us/e/wws_common/fare/special/airpass.html

http://www.ana.co.jp/wws/us/e/wws_common/fare/special/visit.html

http://www.jal.co.jp/yokosojapan/

For Hokkaido, this is where it gets sticky. There are 2 Hokkaido Rail Passes you should consider:

http://www.japan-guide.com/e/e2361_01.html

http://www.japan-guide.com/e/e2357_001.html

However, especially in eastern Hokkaido getting around by train and bus is slow and inconvenient. Many people opt to drive, and one of the better places to look for info is on:

http://northern-road.jp/navi/eng/index.htm

There is an enormous amount of freedom in driving in the countryside, and many of Hokkaido's best places really need a car or motorcycle. Make sure you get the International Driving Permit (IDP) before arriving in Japan though. Two popular and cheaper places to get the car are at:

http://www2.tocoo.jp/en/index?

https://www.japan-experience.com/car-rental-japan

One of the biggest problems with your plan of driving though is the fact that there are stiff drop off charges for renting a car in Memanbetsu and dropping it off in Sapporo - the longer the distance, the heavier the charge.

Toraneko
Toraneko

PS...looking at it again, a 7 day pass might work if you activate it from your 2nd day, use it to see Hiroshima/Miyajima (and Iwakuni if you like), and then on the last day use it to go to Takayama. Using it to see Nara and Himeji would enhance it further.

Toraneko
Toraneko

Hi,

Thank you so much for the information. I would definitely be going to Nara (a day trip from Kyoto) and Himeji but I forgot to put that in the original query.

Will look at the different options including the 7 day pass as you rmentioned from Day 2 until Takayama.

Regards,
Cindy

cincheah
cincheah

Hi Cindy,

I agree with Tokaneko that a JRPass would not work for the entire itinerary, also considering that you may not use it much in Hokkaido. However I do see good potential for a 14 day JR Pass.

Have a look at the following:

Osaka - Hiroshima ¥ 10,030
Hiroshima - Miyajima (return) 1,380
Hiroshima - Osaka ¥ 10,030
Osaka - Kyoto ¥ 560
Kyoto - Takayama ¥ 9,660
Takayama - Kawaguchiko ¥ 16,920 (Of which ¥ 1,140 is traveled on the Fujikyu line and not included in the JR Pass).
Kawaguchiko - Nikko ¥ 6,970 (Of which ¥ 1,140 is traveled on the Fujikyu line and not included in the JR Pass).
Nikko - Tokyo ¥ 5,380

For a total of ¥ 60,930 or ¥ 14,540 in savings as the 14 day JR Pass is ¥ 46,390. Additionally you can use the JR Pass for local travel in Tokyo and to the Airport. Additionally you'd have 3 days left of the 14 day JR Pass in Hokkaido, Memanbetsu is directly on a JR line and it could be useful there as well.

One other things I noticed that you may want to look at is Takayama - Kawaguchiko. There is not direct transport between these places and it takes around 7 hours by rail to travel from one to the other. This is the full route. A great alternative would be a visit to Hakone instead as it is much easier to access.

Hope this helps,
Daniel

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

Hi again!

I was looking at ticket prices in Hokkaido and you could even consider a 21 day JR Pass. The difference is price between a 14 and 21 day JR Pass is only ¥ 12,960.

Have a look at the following ticket prices.

Nishi-Memabetsu - Shirato-Shiretoko ¥ 1,270 (from there a car would be handy to Utoro).
Shirato-Shiretoko - Kuwayu Onsen ¥ 930 from there you can use either a car or bus to explore Akan park. Also see this access page.
Kuwayu - Onsen to Kamikawa ¥ 8,280 (from there buses go to Sounkyo 870 yen see here for details.
Kamikawa - Furano ¥ 3,500
Furano - Sapporo ¥ 4,340

For a total of ¥ 18,320 or ¥ 5,360 extra savings over normal tickets. Though, I do not know how much hiring a car would cost. I must say though that car hire in Hokkaido is a great way to explore the local country side.

I'd be more than happy to give you some pointers once you settle on transportation.

Hope this helps (too),
Daniel

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

Hi Daniel,

Thank you very much for your reply. It has been really helpful and I appreciate it. I will go to Hakone instead as the lake is too far out just for one night.

I will definitely consider the 14 day rail pass also.

Regards,
Cindy

cincheah
cincheah

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