questions & answers: using the japan rail pass

25 days itinerary check from hokkaido > hakata (kyushu) > hiroshima > osaka > kyoto > arima onsen > kobe > wakayama > (takayama, shirakawago, kanazawa and nagoya) > tokyo. (mt fuji and yokohama are optional)

25 days itinerary check from Hokkaido > Hakata (Kyushu) > Hiroshima > Osaka > Kyoto > Arima Onsen > Kobe > Wakayama > (Takayama, Shirakawago, Kanazawa and Nagoya) > Tokyo. (Mt Fuji and Yokohama are optional)

Hi,

I will travel to Japan very soon and am considering to buy JR pass. I would like to know how can I use the JR pass in the most effective and efficient way (Obviously I understand not all transportations are covered by JR pass but I would like to use the JR pass as many as I can during my stay). Since I will stay over 21 days in Japan, I would like to know when I should activate my pass.

Itinerary (21 Jan 2017 to 14 Feb 1017)

21 Jan – Arrive New Chitose Airport in the midday (Stay near Sapporo station for 4 nights)
21 Jan midday to 25 Jan morning – Hokkaido.
25 Jan midday – arrive Fukuora airport by air and am planning to activate my 21 days JR pass from the airport till the end of my journey. (Stay near JR Hakata station for 4 nights)
26 Jan – Mt Aso then Kumamoto castle.
27 Jan – Kagoshima
28 Jan – Beppu, including Takasakiyama Monkey Park and 8 Hells.
29 Jan – Hakata to Hiroshima and visit Miyajima. Then heading to Osaka hotel in the evening from Hiroshima.
29 Jan to 2 Feb morning – Osaka (Stay 4 nights around Shinsaibashi)
2 Feb to 5 Feb morning – Kyoto (Stay 3 nights around JR Kyoto Station)

From 5 Feb to 10 Feb – I have not book any accommodation so far but I would like to visit the following places at minimum (by maximizing the benefit of JR pass).
1. Stay a night or two in Arima Osen hotel. (From Kyoto or Wakayama)
2. Wakayama and Wakayama Marina city for fresh seafood and pickled plum. (From Kyoto or Arima Osen)
3. Takayama, Shirakawago, Kanazawa and Nagoya surrounding areas from Kyoto or Osaka. Is staying around Kanazawa for 3 nights a good idea if I want to visit all places as mention in point no. 3. I don’t want to change hotel day by day due to heavy luggage. Also, is it good to stay in Kanazawa if my next stop is Tokyo?
4. Any Onsen hotel location which is accessible by JR and around Takayama, Shirakawago, Kanazawa or Nagoya? I would like to spend one more night in Onsen hotel around the area.
5. Visiting Mt Fuji and Yokohama are optional. How do I maximize the JR pass to visit these places if I am staying in Kanazawa or Tokyo?

11 Feb to 14 – Tokyo
14 Feb evening – leaving Japan via Haneda airport.

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Hi there,

That's a very nice trip! Its also smart to fly from Sapporo - Fukuoka as it would be a killer trip to make by train. The JR Pass will cover over 90% of your travels but here are some general tips to start with. I recommend learning to plan with Hyperdia this way you can find any route/time table and more. Its a great tool for planning with the JR Pass. We also have a useful interactive map with all JR lines included.

Now let's have a look at some details.
Staying at Kanazawa is a great idea. The city has lots to offer and you can make direct trips from there to Shirakawa-go (by non-JR bus) and Takayama. The Hokuriku Shinkansen connects Kanazawa directly to Tokyo, so you're good to go. I am not sure how to fit in Nagoya but you can consider dropping it, the city is mostly a business city and does not offer much for tourists.

A lovely onsen town near Takayama is Gero Onsen. Gero has a railway station almost in the middle of the town and there are many Onsen ryokan within 5min walk. Others offer free pick-up at the station. Its not very big though, so I would just stay for one night.

Personally I would visit Kanazawa over Yokohama. However Fuji is very much a personal preference. You basically just go to see a mountain, at the same time its so iconic for Japan that you may not want to miss it. However Fuji can be done as an easy day trip from Tokyo, see: http://www.jrpass.com/blogs/itinerary-tip-mt-fuji

Hope this helps,
Daniel

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Daniel-san
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