questions & answers: using the japan rail pass

2 weeks. should i get a pass?

2 weeks. Should I get a pass?

Hi,

My husband and I are planning to go to Japan next month for about two weeks. We just started planning this trip, so we don't have it all figured out yet.

We are planning to fly into Osaka and then fly out of Tokyo. We have 15 days and we are interested in Osaka, Kyoto, Nara, Mt. Fuji/Hakone, Tokyo, and Disneyland. If we have time, I would also consider Mt Koya or Hiroshima.

My husband likes the idea of basing ourselves in Kyoto for 6-7 days and making daytrips to Osaka and Nara before moving on to Mt Fuji and Tokyo. Would you recommend buying single tickets or buying one of the tourist rail passes (like JR 7 day, Kansai area, or Kansai Thru Passes? Would your recommendation change if we added Hiroshima?

Thanks!

urcoolness
urcoolness

Hi there!

I think the idea to base yourself out of Kyoto makes a lot of sense - there's nothing worse than lugging baggage around while you are on holiday.

Looking at your itinerary without Hiroshima, I think I'd recommend purchasing a Haruka + ICOCA on arrival into Kansai to give you transport into Kyoto and some prepaid travel on the metro/JR with ICOCA card. After this, within Kansai it would really depend on the amount of travel you do as to whether a regional pass makes sense, but you should plan on purchasing single tickets up to Tokyo.

If you do include Hiroshima/Miyajima, then the situation gets a little more clear. Here are your rough costs:

  1. Kansai airport > Kyoto: ¥3,690 (75mins, 99km)
  2. Kyoto > Hiroshima: ¥10,990 (112mins, 380km)
  3. Hiroshima > Kyoto: ¥10,990 (126mins, 380km)
  4. Kyoto > Osaka: ¥540 (28mins, 42km)
  5. Osaka > Kyoto: ¥540 (29mins, 42km)
  6. Kyoto > Nara: ¥690 (44mins, 41km)
  7. Nara > Kyoto: ¥690 (44mins, 41km)
  8. Kyoto > Tokyo: ¥13,420 (161mins, 513km)
  9. Tokyo > Otsuki: ¥2,860 (85mins, 87km)
  10. Otsuki > Tokyo: ¥2,860 (76mins, 87km)
  11. Tokyo > Narita airport terminal 1: ¥3,140 (58mins, 79km)

JR ticket cost: ¥50,410 for 11 legs

As you can see, with Hiroshima a 14 day pass becomes a good choice. In addition to the savings you'll also have the flexibility to change plans and use the rail pass within Tokyo.

Please note that for Mt Fuji I have assumed you'll go to Kawaguchiko. The JR Pass will take you as far as Otsuki. From here you should use the non-JR Fujikyu lines up to Kawaguchiko itself (¥1110 each way).

On balance, if you include Hiroshima, a 14 day pass is a good idea. However if you do not include this leg, or are very firm in your plans, then a 14 day pass may not be the best choice.

Hope this helps!

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mari
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Great! Thanks for all that info. I guess the final decision lies on whether or not we are going to Hiroshima. :)

urcoolness
urcoolness

Yep - you got it :)

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mari
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