questions & answers: itinerary check

osaka + kyoto + nozawa onsen + tokyo (26 dec to 5 jan)

Osaka + Kyoto + Nozawa Onsen + Tokyo (26 Dec to 5 Jan)

Hi,

My friend and I are planning a trip to Japan at the end of the year on a budget. Our dates are fixed (or can be shortened) and the itinerary is flexible. We would like to cover Kyoto and Nozawa Onsen mainly as both of us have been to Tokyo and Osaka before.

Tentatively:

  • 26 Dec: Osaka
  • 27-29 Dec: Kyoto
  • 31 Dec - 2 Jan: Nozawa Onsen
  • 3-5 Jan: Tokyo

We are planning our itinerary in a such a way so that we spend New Year at Nozawa Onsen. We found out that most tourist attractions are closed over this period, hence the decision to attempt to ski+ onsen.

  1. Are there other places we can visit (apart from temples and shrines) for New Year?
  2. Assuming that we are sticking with our original plan, where can we find budget accommodation in Nozawa Onsen as well as beginner's skiing classes in English? The route from Kyoto to Nozawa Onsen looks complicated. Should we get to Nagono then to Nozawa Onsen?
  3. Also, we are undecided if we should fly back from Tokyo or Osaka. We will choose the cheaper option as Tokyo is an optional stopover for us.
  4. Is it feasible to include Nikko or Nara in our itinerary?
  5. Please advise if we should get the 7 days JR pass?

Many thanks in advance.

Cheers,
Jump

wuguijump
wuguijump

Hi there,

Here are some answers for you:

  1. While New Years day is very similar to Christmas day in that many shops and attractions are shut, the 31st and 2nd will see business as usual for most places - indeed the new years sales start on the 2nd in earnest. If you're in Nozawa Onsen on the 1st I recommend you go for a ski/snowboard/walk or hunker down in the spa's and relax with a good book if shrine visiting is not your thing.
  2. Here's a great resource no getting to Nozawa Onsen by mainly JR. As you can see you can use JR lines up until TOGARI NOZAWA ONSEN STATION, at which point you'll need to take a bus. Here's an itinerary for you leaving Kyoto at 9:50am on the 31st.
  3. If you're travelling without the JR Pass, the cost from Nozawa Onsen will be ¥13,890 to Kansai airport vs ¥10,800 to Narita Airport. If you're going to the aiport direct from Nozawa Onsen then Tokyo will be the cheapest with no JR Pass.
  4. certainly you could fit Nara into an afternoon while you are in Kyoto. A trip to Nikko will really require a day trip from Tokyo to get the most out of it. If you intend to stay in Tokyo, then it will be possible. You could even decide to overnight in Nikko rather than Tokyo if it's an optional stopover for you.
  5. Whether you should use a 7 day JR Pass or not will depend on your optional extras and departure airport. If you are leaving from Osaka, then a 7 day pass will be well worth it for the flexibility. If you add in the trips to Nikko and Nara then you'll make further savings. If you intend to depart from Tokyo, then without the Nikko leg you basically break even in costs. With the Nikko trip you will start to make savings:

Costs for your trip with Nikko, departing from Narita

  1. Kansai airport > Kyoto: ¥3690, (75mins, 99km)
  2. Kyoto > Nara: ¥690, (44mins, 41km)
  3. Nara > Togarinozawaonsen: ¥12300, (370mins, 478km)
  4. Togarinozawaonsen > Nikko: ¥11510, (267mins, 350km)
  5. Nikko > Narita airport terminal 1: ¥8860, (209mins, 229km)

JR ticket cost: ¥37050 for 5 legs

  • 07 day rail pass (¥28,300) saving: ¥8750

Costs for your trip without Nikko, departing from Narita

  1. Kansai airport > Kyoto: ¥3690, (75mins, 99km)
  2. Kyoto > Nara: ¥690, (44mins, 41km)
  3. Nara > Togarinozawaonsen: ¥12300, (370mins, 478km)
  4. Togarinozawaonsen > Narita airport terminal 1: ¥11600, (280mins, 339km)

JR ticket cost: ¥28280 for 4 legs

You can look up precise train timetables and costs at the Hyperdia travel planning website and learn how to use Hyperdia for JR Pass holders through our video blog.

Hope this helps!

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mari
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Hi,

Here is our finalized details:

24th Dec: Osaka
25th - 27th Dec: Kyoto
28th -29th Dec: Kinosaki
30th Dec - 2nd Jan: Tokyo
3rd - 5th Jan: Osaka

We are thinking of activating our JR pass travelling from Kinosaki to Tokyo on 29th Dec. Please advise if this arrangement will be more cost-saving.

Also, can we find out what pass we can use while in Kyoto?

Thank you.

wuguijump
wuguijump

Hi there,

I think you can activate your rail pass on the 28th to include your trip to Kinosaki. This will mean your last day of use will be tuesday the 3rd, by which time you should be back in Osaka from Tokyo with all of your expensive travel done.

You can find out more on municipal passes to use in Kyoto here (at the bottom of the page), and can purchase them on arrival into Kyoto station. I recommend visiting the excellent tourist information counter at Kyoto station for more information.

Hope this helps!

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mari
Expert_button_2

Hi,

Thanks so much for all the useful advice!!

I read on other posts that the JR pass can be used on the Yamonote Line in Tokyo. Just wondering if there are other lines that JR pass can be used?

Cheers,
Jump!

wuguijump
wuguijump

Hi there,

Yes - the JR Pass can be used on all JR lines within Tokyo, including the Tokyo Monorail. Here's a map showing all the JR lines you can use in Tokyo - especially useful are the Yamanote (green circular) and central Chuo line (yellow).

Hope this helps!

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mari
Expert_button_2

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