questions & answers: itinerary check

tokyo - kyoto - osaka 7 days

Tokyo - Kyoto - Osaka 7 days

Hi,

My itinerary is as follows:

12-15th June Tokyo
15-16th June Kyoto
16-18th June Osaka
18-19th Kine Tokyo

I will fly in and out of Japan from Haneda airport and plan to get to Kyoto, Oskaa and then back to Tokyo using the Shinkansen. Is the 7 day pass worth getting for this itinerary?

Also, can I use the JR pass for the trains within Tokyo as well as the subway in Kyoto and Osaka?

liray01
liray01

Going from Tokyo down to Kyoto/Osaka and back to Tokyo will almost pay for the pass. Adding a side trip would easily put you over the top. You could: Take a day trip to Nikko, or take a day trip to Himeji, which has Japan's finest castle. Either would do it and you actually have the time to do both. Spend at least half a day in Nara as well - it is time very well spent. You can largely skip Osaka during the day. After the temples of Kyoto close down around 5PM, you can zip over to Osaka for the evening. At night the city comes alive and has some great places to see, such as Dotonbori, which it terrific.

You can use the JR Pass within Tokyo for the Yamanote line, and within Osaka for the Loop Line. For Kyoto, you can use it if you go to Arashiyama, or go to see the Fushimi Inari Shrine, which is one of Kyoto's best. You cannot use it on regular subways though.

Best of luck.

Toraneko
Toraneko

Thank you for your quick response. How far away is Nara, Himeji and Nikko from Tokyo? Would I be taking the bullet train to those places too?

Since the temples close around 5pm in Kyoto, do you recommend staying the night in Kyoto or would it be better to get the train over to Osaka? Besides the temples, what else would you recommend seeing/doing in Kyoto?

Is there a train to Osaka station or only the bullet train to Shin Oskaa station?

liray01
liray01

Hi,
NIkko is about 150km north of Tokyo, and with a good connection (part way by bullet train) you can get there in about 106 minutes. Nara is about 42km from Kyoto and takes 44 minutes by express train (no bullet trains). Himeji is about 130km from Kyoto and by bullet train about 54 minutes (including changing trains at Shin-Osaka Stn).

For Nara, most of the best is at Nara Park. The Todaiji Great Buddha is a must see place. Also you can feed the deer around it, and see Kofukuji Temple, Kasuga Shrine, and the Isuien and Yoshikien Gardens are wonderful.

I recommend you check rail schedules on Hyperdia.

There is a common syndrome among Kyoto tourists who pack in as many temples/shrines they can in a day, and by the end of the day everything is just a blur - called getting "templed out". To avoid this it's better to break up the schedule with other things, and Kyoto has some good places as well. Visiting Nishiki Market is one (where many people go to buy their daily foods - it's a great window into cuisine and food culture), there is also a beautiful and mostly unknown garden between Nanzenji Temple and Heian Shrine called Murin-an located where the Niomon Street curves E to SE. Nijo Castle is another. Going to see the Shugakuin Imperial Villa is another good pick (prior reservations required), plus there is the Shogunzuka Mound with a city overview. On Kyoto's west side is Arashiyama, and there is a nice temple garden at Tenryuji, the famous bamboo grove is next to it, there is a monkey park on top of the hill facing that, and so on. And the Otagi Nenbutsuji is one of the most humorous and whimsical places you could visit in Japan - well worth visiting, even for kids.

Read some info on what the city has, and then plan accordingly.

Shin-Osaka is the bullet train station for Osaka. Osaka Station is for express and other trains. You could go to either, but the distance is not far and you don't save much time by taking the bullet train. Besides, to go somewhere else in Osaka, you generally have to connect to another train or subway, so Osaka station is the more common place to go to. Unless you want to whoop it up til way late at night (trains stop around midnight) then you might visit Osaka for the evening and go back to Kyoto for the next day.

Good luck!

Toraneko
Toraneko

Because I'm planing to stay in Kyoto on the 15th and then staying in Osaka from 16-18th, is it easier to go from Kyoto to Nara for the day and then go straight to Osaka from Nara? Or do you think it's better to go from Kyoto to Oskaa and then to Himeji since I need to change at shin Osaka anyway? Is there a direct bullet train back to Tokyo tom Himeji or would I have to go back to Osaka from Himeji and get the billet train from there?

Does the JR pass cover the express trains and bullet trains to Nara and Himeji too?

I'll be taking the bullet train from Tokyo to Kyoto so will I arrive at Kyoto station or is there a different station for the bullet train? From Kyoto station how would I get to the fushimi inari shrine?

liray01
liray01

Hi,
First, yes, it's easier to go to Nara from Kyoto. But to go to Himeji, it's easier to go from Osaka. If you go from Kyoto, you may need to change trains. You can go directly from Himeji to Tokyo by bullet train, but their frequency is less than from Shin-Osaka. You should use Hyperdia to pick the best train connection and time for you.
The JR Pass certainly does cover the trains to Himeji. I recommend taking the bullet train there to save time. For Kyoto, Kyoto Station is the central station for the city - there isn't any separate station for bullet trains like in Osaka. To go to Fushimi Inari Shrine from Kyoto Stn take the JR Nara Line and go 2 stops to JR Inari Station. The Shrine is literally across the narrow street right next to the station.

It's unfortunate that you don't have more time. Beyond the Kansai area, Hiroshima is nice also, as is Iwakuni with its iconic historical bridge and mountaintop castle. And also in Yamaguchi is Akiyoshido, which is a 300 million year old limestone cave, with giant caverns and an underground river. Well, maybe next time.

Enjoy your trip!

Toraneko
Toraneko

I'm thinking of going from Kyoto to Nara then straight to Osaka for two days, and then visit Himeji before taking the bullet train back to Tokyo. I have checked on hyperdia and that seems to work. Would you agree? Does the jr pass cover the JR Nara line in Kyoto?

Also I saw from Nara to Osaka i can take the JR yamatoji rapid service. Am I right in thinking that all services are covered by my JR pass as long as they are run by JR? So all the bullet trains and the rapid services if they have JR in front of them? Do I need to reserve seats on my journeys in advance of travelling or should there be plenty of Seats available?

liray01
liray01

Hi,
I think your pan works quite well. Although as I said, if you are already seeing Tokyo, you can largely skip Osaka in the daytime since it is more or less a clone. There are some good places to see of course, but the night views from the Umeda Sky Bldg, and Abeno Harukas Bldg are particularly wonderful.
You might consider taking a half or full day from Osaka to go sightseeing in Kobe.
You can take any JR route. The only big thing to remember is that you cannot take the fastest bullet train, the Nozomi. Reserving seats is not required at all, and only needed really during peak seasons or if you have some special seat in mind.
The best of Nara is around Nara park, about 20 minutes on foot from the JR Nara Station. You can get more info here. For all rail schedules, you can go to Hyperdia and just plug in your starting point and end point, plus date/time that you like. But be sure under "More Options" to deselect "Nozomi..." since you can't ride that on the Pass.

Toraneko
Toraneko

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