questions & answers: itinerary check

tokyo, nozawa onsen & kyoto - 19 days!

Tokyo, Nozawa Onsen & Kyoto - 19 days!

Hi,

My Fiance and I are going to Japan arriving to Narita airport on 12th January and are going straight from here to Nozawa Onsen though I believe we do have to go to Tokyo to change trains. We have already booked the accommodation and lift passes so this part of the trip is certain, the only other thing that is certain is that we are flying out of Osaka airport on 29th January so the plan is:

12th Jan TRAVEL Narita - Nozawa Onsen
12th-19th Jan - Snowboarding in Nozawa Onsen
19th Jan TRAVEL Nozawa Onsen to Tokyo
19th Jan - 23rd Jan sightseeing in Toyko including a trip to Nikko
23rd Jan TRAVEL Tokyo to Kyoto
23rd Jan - 27th Jan sightseeing in Kyoto including a trip to Nara
27th TRAVEL Kyoto to Osaka
27th-29th sightseeing in Osaka and fly home from Kansai so will need to travel from Osaka to Kansai airport

I think it's pretty close on whether the JR Pass is worth it for our trip but I was thinking of getting a 14 day pass and then the 4 day JR Kansai pass for the end of our trip. Can you help?

Also I was wondering whether it is easier to travel with the JR pass rather than buying each ticket as you go or is it the same as you have to reserve seats anyway?

How does my itinery sound, I am staying anywhere too long or anywhere not enough?

Thanks
Hannah

hannahg
hannahg

Ok, I am officially jealous! Sounds like a great trip.

Here are some answers to your questions:

Narita airport on 12th January and are going straight from here to Nozawa Onsen though I believe we do have to go to Tokyo to change trains.

Yes, you have to change trains at Tokyo to the Nagano Shinansen.

I think it's pretty close on whether the JR Pass is worth it for our trip but I was thinking of getting a 14 day pass and then the 4 day JR Kansai pass for the end of our trip. Can you help?

Lets take a look at the costs of your legs, bearing in mind your trip is for 18 days:

  1. Narita airport terminal 1 > Tokyo: ¥2740, (62mins, 79km)
  2. Tokyo > Nagano: ¥7770, (105mins, 222km)
  3. Nagano > Togarinozawaonsen: ¥740, (58mins, 38km)
  4. Togarinozawaonsen > Nagano: ¥740, (58mins, 38km)
  5. Nagano > Tokyo: ¥7770, (106mins, 222km)
  6. Tokyo > Shibuya: ¥1000, (22mins, 14km)
  7. Shibuya > Tokyo: ¥190, (21mins, 14km)
  8. Tokyo > Nikko: ¥5230, (121mins, 150km)
  9. Nikko > Tokyo: ¥5230, (117mins, 150km)
  10. Tokyo > Kyoto: ¥13020, (165mins, 513km)
  11. Kyoto > Nara: ¥690, (49mins, 41km)
  12. Nara > Kyoto: ¥690, (46mins, 41km)
  13. Kyoto > Osaka: ¥540, (28mins, 42km)
  14. Osaka > Kansai airport: ¥2940, (57mins, 64km)

TOTAL: ¥49290 for 14 legs

Yes - looking at your itinerary the only rail pass that makes sense is the 14 day rail pass starting as soon as you land, and that's more for convenience and flexibility than any massive cost saving.

I'm not sure a 4 day Kansai pass makes sense at the end of your trip however. At ¥6000 for 4 days, you'll have to do another ¥3000 more travelling than you have listed at the end of your trip for it to be worthwhile. That said, the good thing about the Kansai Pass is that you can buy it in Japan, so you can leave this decision until you get to Kyoto Station and arrange it there.

Also I was wondering whether it is easier to travel with the JR pass rather than buying each ticket as you go or is it the same as you have to reserve seats anyway?

Personally I prefer the JR Pass experience as you don't have to fiddle with money/cards and can easily change plans if you fancy it or hear of a nice place to go while you are travelling. You can reserve seats (or not if you are in a rush at the station) with a JR Pass, but with single tickets you'll always have to remember to leave good time to buy tickets before your train.

How does my itinery sound, I am staying anywhere too long or anywhere not enough?

Sounds really good. You've got a good length of time in the snow as soon as you arrive, and the pace from there is very good.

If I could change anything I may suggest you spend another day or two in Tokyo over Osaka/Kyoto. Currently you are intending to say 2 full days in the capital (if you intend to go to Nikko) and then 6 full days in Kansai. As Osaka, Kyoto and Nara are so close, you can always hop between these for relatively little outlay if you need to spend a little more time in any of them. This is personal preference more than anything else however, and depends on what you're looking to get out of your trip.

Hope you have a great time!

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mari
Expert_button_2

Hi,

Thanks for all this wonderful information. We have been talking about changing the timescales but are still undecided. However, I have one more question. Which train to we catch from the airport to Tokyo as for some reason I am under the impression that you cannot use the JR Pass on the Narita Express?

Thanks
Hannah

hannahg
hannahg

Decisions decisions!

Some good news that may help is that yes, you can use the JR Pass on the Narita Express. All seats are reserved on the Narita Express, so be sure to book your reserved seats (for free) at a JR ticket counter.

Happy to help if you have any more questions.

Happy holidays!

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mari
Expert_button_2

Well, it's nearly time and I am super excited as well as nervous of course!

I was just wondering whether I can reserve any of the seats online with the JR Pass once I'm there? Just thinking of ways to help seeing as the only Japanese I know is Konnichiwa and I'm not convinced that's going to get me very far!

Also, are there any disruptions to the lines following the earthquake or is everything now back to normal?

I have really appreciated having this website to refer to, it's really helpful. Thank you so much.

hannahg
hannahg

Hi Hannah!

So sorry I missed your comment - I hope this gets to you in time!

Here are some answers:

was just wondering whether I can reserve any of the seats online with the JR Pass once I'm there? Just thinking of ways to help seeing as the only Japanese I know is Konnichiwa and I'm not convinced that's going to get me very far!

:D. You'll be fine! If you are a little worried, I really recommend reserving all of your seats at the same time you exchange your rail pass in Japan. The JR staff will certainly be able to speak english at all the main stations so you shouldn't have too much trouble. If you do want to reserve some seats online for JR-East trains (nagano, nikko etc), you can do at their website for free (credit card needed in case of no-show), but I would recommend you just reserve all the seats once you arrive. Also, even if you cannot reserve, the free seats will be just as good - in fact when I first used a pass I didn't know that the staff spoke English so I travelled the whole time on the non-reserved seats and was totally fine. One good tip just to be sure is to have a simple print out of your whole itinerary handy to show to any non-english speaking attendants. In general Japanese people can read Japanese names written in English, so that may be a help!

Also, are there any disruptions to the lines following the earthquake or is everything now back to normal?

All the main lines are back to normal now. Certainly for your itinerary all the lines will be operational.

I have really appreciated having this website to refer to, it's really helpful. Thank you so much.

No problem! hope you have a great time!

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mari
Expert_button_2

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