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jr pass

JR Pass

Hi,

I will be arriving in Japan on 17/09/13 for a 19 days trip. Landing in Narita and departing from Kansai. Being a first time traveller to Japan, I feel quite daunting and stressful trying to work out how to get around Japan easily and cost effectively without speaking the language. I am contemplating on whether I should purchase a JR Pass. I would appreciate your expert advice on this. Below is my proposed itinerary, with places I would like to visit. Can you please advise if it is worthwile to purchase a 7, 14 or 21 days JR pass and whether it will cover all or at least 80-90% of my travelling costs to the major cities and also commuting within those cities.

  1. Narita Airport - Tokyo
  2. Tokyo - Disneyland/Yokohama/Kamakura - Tokyo
  3. Tokyo - Nagoya
  4. Nagoya - Takayama
  5. Takayama - Kanazawa
  6. Kanazawa - Kyoto
  7. Kyoto - Nara - Kyoto
  8. Kyoto - Kobe
  9. Kobe - Hiroshima
  10. Hiroshima - Miyajima
  11. Miyajima - Osaka
  12. Osaka - Kansai Airport

Any other advice is greatly appreciated.

Thanks in advance,

Teresa

teresatchiu
teresatchiu

Hi Teresa,

I made a list of ticket prices to see how a JR Pass would be best used:

Narita Airport - Tokyo (Narita Express) ¥ 3,140
Tokyo - Disneyland (return) ¥ 420
Tokyo - Yokohama (return) ¥ 900
Tokyo - Kamakura (return) ¥ 1,780
Tokyo - Nagoya ¥ 10,780
Nagoya - Takayama ¥ 6,070
Takayama - Kanazawa ¥ 6,240
Kanazawa - Kyoto ¥ 6,910
Kyoto - Nara (return) ¥ 1,380
Kyoto - Kobe ¥ 2,100
Kobe - Hiroshima ¥ 9,210
Hiroshima - Miyajima (return) ¥ 1,140
Hiroshima - Osaka ¥ 10,150
Osaka - Kansai Airport (KIX) ¥ 1,160

Adding this all to one bunch makes ¥ 61,380. The 21 day JR pass is ¥ 57,700 resulting in at least ¥ 3,680 in savings. The JR Pass is also valid on local JR trains in both Osaka and Kyoto, so you could add more to your savings that way and have all (!) your travel covered! The nice part about the 21 day JR Pass is that you could travel anywhere on any that that you'd wish. In addition you could add a day trip to Nikko to really get the most out of your JR Pass (and Nikko is just amazing!)

You could also look at a 14-day JR Pass (45,100yen) + some local tickets, which may turn out better. I don't know the exact number of days that you spend in Tokyo but travel around there is not very expansive, as you can see in the above list. For instance if you would start using it on the day that you traveled to Nagoya you could ramp up ¥ 55,140 in travel costs or ¥ 10,040 in savings.

I hope this helps!
Daniel

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

Thank you for your prompt and detailed response. It is very helpful for my trip planning.
Im still working out how long to stay at each destinations. I have 18 nights in total. Im thinking maybe base 6 nights in tokyo, 1 night in nagoya, 1 in takayama, 5 nights in kyoto, 1 night in kobe and 4 nights in osaka. I will be visiting hiroshima during the stay in osaka wont stay overnight.

Can you please advise if that is ok or should I re schedule? Is there much to do in kyoto and osaka?

Kind regards,

Teresa

teresatchiu
teresatchiu

Hi Terasa,

That looks pretty good to me, I would perhaps add one more night to Takayama and remove one from Osaka. Takayama is very nice and it is a bit of a trip to get there. This way you will have a full day to enjoy the village and surrounding area.

Osaka and Kyoto both have a lot to offer and you could spend over a month in the area without seeing anything twice. Kyoto especially is nice and makes for a good travel hub too, from there you can also make day trips to places such as Nara or Mie.

All the Best,
Daniel

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

Again thank you for your reply.

I just realised I left out Kanazawa which I initially planned to visit, now I feel like Im being too ambititious with my itinerary trying to fit in too many locations given there will be alot of travelling time required. Im not sure whether or is worth sacrificing a day from Tokyo or Kyoto to visit Kanazawa. Can I please have your opinion?

Regards,
Teresa

teresatchiu
teresatchiu

Hi Teresa,

It really depends what you wish to visit in either Tokyo/Kyoto and what you would have to give up in order to see Kanazawa. Personally I've always enjoyed my visits there a lot and its a very beautiful and relaxed town. You could also drop Nagoya and head directly to Kanazawa. 6 Nights Tokyo is pretty long so I do think that you could miss a night or day there.

Regards,
Daniel

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

Can you please help me determining which is the best type of trains or train line (JR covered) to travel between the places listed in my initial post? Much appreciated.

Regards,

Teresa

teresatchiu
teresatchiu

Hi Teresa,

You won't have to worry about what trains to use or how to travel. This because the JR Staff is here to help. When you are in Japan simply tell the JR Staff where and when you wish to travel, show your JR Pass and they will find the best route for you and print the tickets without you having to pay anything!

I took a look at all your routes and they are all pretty straightforward and I don't think that you will have to worry at all.
I've added notes to every route to make the travel as easy as possible.

Narita Airport - Tokyo. From Narita Airport take the Narita Express to Tokyo, this is the best way to travel there and will bring you to Tokyo directly.

Tokyo - Disneyland/Yokohama/Kamakura - Tokyo
All these places are covered by the JR Pass and can be reached directly from Tokyo there's actually a lot of trains going to each direction and trains leave about every 10 minutes so just go to the station ask the JR Staff what train is leaving and enjoy the ride. The station for Disney land is called maihama and can also be reached directly from Tokyo

Tokyo - Nagoya
There's a direct Shinkansen service between Nagoya and Tokyo, leaving at least 4 times an hour. So head to Tokyo station and travel board the Shinkansen, don't forget to reserve your seats free of charge at any manned JR counter before leaving.

Nagoya - Takayama
This is also a direct route with on the Hida Wideview train and is one of the most beautiful routes in Japan. Trains leave every 30 minutes.

Takayama - Kanazawa
This may be the only route that is a little tricky as train connection and transfers vary and trains ride somewhat irregular. I would recommend trying to catch this train connection leaving Takayama at 11 a.m. as it is by far the most convenient way to travel. This route like all others is covered by the JR Pass.

Kanazawa - Kyoto
This is a direct train connection departing 1-2 times an hour and is a very nice ride. The train is called the Thunderbird Express, which is think is pretty cool!

Kyoto - Nara - Kyoto
Nara is easy to reach from Kyoto, just take the Nara line directly from Kyoto station leaving multiple times an hour and will reach Nara in about an hour.

Kyoto - Kobe
Like Nara, Kobe can be reached directly from Kyoto, the train connection is called the ShinKaisoku (new rapid service) departs every 10 minutes and stops in the center of Kobe. The central station in Kobe is called Sannomiya and you may want to get out here depending on your accommodation.

Kobe - Hiroshima
In Kobe travel to the Shinkansen station called Shin-Kobe you can take the Sakura Shinkansen directly from there to Hiroshima. Also leaving multiple times per hour.

Hiroshima - Miyajima
Take a local train to Miyajimaguchi, here you can board to ferry to Miyajima island, both the train and ferry are covered by the JR Pass.

Miyajima - Osaka
Take the Ferry and Local train back to Hiroshima, you can board the Bullet train (shinkansen) to Shin-Osaka where you can take a local train into the city depending where your accommodation is.

Osaka - Kansai Airport
There's a direct train service from Osaka called the Airport Express going to Kansai Airport (KIX) leaving twice an hour.

All trains are covered by the JR Pass!

I hope this helps!
Daniel

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

Thank you so much you had been more than just helpful.
Im certainly looking forward to my first trip to Japan.

Regards,

Teresa

teresatchiu
teresatchiu

Hi Daniel,

Sorry this is a very off topic question but wondering if you might know by any chance a nice ryokan with in room private onsen in any of the cities I will be visiting? I googled around but only can find ryokan in Hakone that offer this in room facility but Hakone is not on my itinerary.

Regards,
Teresa

teresatchiu
teresatchiu

Hi Teresa!

Ryokan can be a little hard to book, have rates per room and some per person. I would recommend taking a look at this website for Ryokan and Hotels in Japan. Usually has a couple more places than the western booking sites.

Hope this helps!
Daniel

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

I also want to add Odaiba to my itnerary as a half or full day trip during my stay in Tokyo. Can you please suggrest the best way to get there please?

Regards,
Teresa

teresatchiu
teresatchiu

Hi Teresa,

Where in Tokyo will you be staying?

If you stay near the Yamanote line, than I would recommend taking the Yurakimome from Shimbashi. This is an unmanned monorail that almost floats trough the skyline of Tokyo. You can sit in the front (where normally the train driver sits) and enjoy the view of the Metropolis, it does not get any better than this!

If you have time consider walking back to Tokyo over the Rainbow Bridge which offers a beautiful view on Tokyo bay and you can see Tokyo tower as well.

Don't forget to ride the Ferris-Wheel!
-Daniel

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

Hi Daniel,

I still need to book accomodation so not sure where I will be staying yet.

One more question if you dont mind. When I arrive at Narita I can exchange for my jr pass but does it get activated straight away as Im not planning to use until a few days later.

Regards,
Teresa

teresatchiu
teresatchiu

Hi Teresa,

That's no problem at all! You can select a day of use up to 30 days in the future at the moment that you activate your JR Pass.

Do note that the exchange office at Narita Airport can be busy and I would recommend activating your JR Pass in Tokyo if you have the luxury of time.

Kind Regards,
Daniel

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

Hi Daniel,

Thanks for advice :)

I do have time in Tokyo so where I can exchange jr pass there?

I also wanted to stop by Shiragawago (it looks very lovely there) on the way to Kanazawa but cant seem to find a train route for it. Do you have any suggestion? It seems abit difficult to get there to by train?

Regards,
Teresa

teresatchiu
teresatchiu

Hi Again!

You can exchange the JR Pass at most major station in Tokyo including Ueno, Shinjuku, Shibuya, Ikebukuro, Shinagawa and Tokyo station of course.

Travelling to Shirakawago done by bus from either Kanazawa or Takayma, this because there are no train tracks going to the village. You can book an express bus from Kanazawa station directly to Shirakawago (the bus is not covered by the JR Pass).

Kind Regards,
Daniel

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

Hi Daniel,

I'm not sure whether I should stay in Osaka or shin osaka. What is the different? I'm planning to visit universal studios while I'm there. Also I will be flying back from kansai. Can you please advise base on that where I should base in terms of accomodation?

Regards,
Teresa

teresatchiu
teresatchiu

Hi there,

Shin-Osaka is the Shinkansen station for Osaka and there's not much there to be honest! Instead I would recommand staying around Umeda (Osaka station) or Namba, these are by far the best places to stay in Osaka.

There's not much difference in getting to Kansai Airport from either Osaka or Shin-osaka, both have direct train connections altough Hakura express that calls at Shin-Osaka is the most comfortable.

Kind Regards,
Daniel

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

Thank you Daniel.
I would like to ask the best way to get to Tsujiki fish market from Tamachi station?
Regards,
Teresa

teresatchiu
teresatchiu

Hi Teresa,

This can actually be a little difficult to do by train, what would recommend is to take the train to Yurakucho and the Tokyo metro from there to Shintomicho, from here you can walk to Tsukiji.

You can find the route in Hyperdia here and how to walk from Shintomicho to Tsukiji here.

Do note that Tsukiji is best visited around 5 a.m. so be sure to take the first train there (leaving at 5.07 am).
-Daniel

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