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should we buy rail passes?

Should we buy rail passes?

, Any help would be greatly appreciated, my husband and i are going to japan on 20th April until Monday 6th may, flying in and out of narita. We are going to travel around a bit and are wondering if a rail pass would be the best option. Our plan is:

20th - 24th April Tokyo
24th - 27th April Hakone
27th - 29th April Hiroshima
29th April - 1st May Miyajima
1st - 5th May Kyoto (with a day trip to Osaka and another to Nara)
5th - 6th May Tokyo before flying out on morning of 6th

Thanks for your help,



Hi Lucy!

Lets get a handle on your JR travel costs first as you lay out:

  1. Narita airport terminal 1 > Tokyo: ¥3,140 (62mins, 79km)
  2. Tokyo > Odawara: ¥3,840 (35mins, 83km)
  3. Odawara > Hiroshima: ¥17,530 (260mins, 810km)
  4. Hiroshima > Miyajimaguchi: ¥400 (26mins, 21km)
  5. Miyajimaguchi > Kyoto: ¥11,110 (165mins, 402km)
  6. Kyoto > Osaka: ¥540 (28mins, 42km)
  7. Osaka > Kyoto: ¥540 (29mins, 42km)
  8. Kyoto > Nara: ¥690 (44mins, 41km)
  9. Nara > Kyoto: ¥690 (44mins, 41km)
  10. Kyoto > Tokyo: ¥13,420 (161mins, 513km)
  11. Tokyo > Narita airport terminal 1: ¥3,140 (58mins, 79km)

JR ticket cost: ¥55,040 for 11 legs

As you'll be spending 17 days in Japan, I think a really good combination that will both give you tonnes of flexiblity and also save money will be the following:

  1. Purchase a Narita Express + Suica Travel card deal single into Tokyo. This will cover your travel from the airport and also give you a ¥1500 prepaid card to spend on either Metro or JR services in Tokyo. You can also purchase a further discounted 1 or 2 day unlimited metro card (at this price at Narita only!) if you think you'll do a lot of in-Tokyo travel. This should cover you for you first 3 days in Tokyo.
  2. Purchase a 14 day JR Pass for your out of Tokyo travel and return to Narita. This will give you good minimum savings of ¥6800 per person (the first Narita leg is covered by your above ticket), and also give you the flexibility to branch out on side trips as you want while you journey around Japan.

I hope this helps!


Thank you so much Mari, that is REALLY helpful and really appreciate your help as was a bit of a minefield to us!

Just a fewmore questions, hope that's ok...

The Narita express+Suica travel card plus discounted 2 day travel card sounds like a great deal, can we buy this on arrival into Narita on the Saturday afternoon or should we do this beforehand from the UK?

Also, for the 1 day unlimited metro card - will the 1 day (24 hours) start when we buy it (so at the airport) or does it start when you put it in the gate to make your first journey? I ask as on our first day, we will probably just look around Shinjuki where we are staying so no metro journies really need and then will explore more on the Sunday, Monday and Tuesday.

Then for the rail pass - thank you, we will definitely get the 14 day pass as you suggest (what a great deal!). I guess we should have it starting from Monday 22nd April, ending Monday 6th May - does the 14 day rail pass include the metro or is this seperate? If not, we may need get the 2 day unlimited metro pass I think.

For the trains between the different places, should we book which trains we are taking and seats? If so, can you do this when buying the pass or do we have to do it on arrival in Japan?

Thank you!


p.s. sorry I somehow managed to post my first post 4 times...hope this time it doesn't happen!


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