questions & answers: using the japan rail pass

is a jp rail pass necessary?

Is a Jp rail pass necessary?

Hi... Although I have only 4 full days to explore Japan, I planned to visit Kyoto & Osaka too besides Tokyo. My flight departs from Haneda, so a 7-day Jp rail pass will be worthwhile right? Please advice~ thanks. ; )

Josephine
Josephine

Hi,
It is never necessary. The question is if it will save you money or not. If you go Tokyo-Osaka-Tokyo, plus a little more here and there, you can make it pay off. You can activate it immediately if your arrival is not too late, and use it on the monorail into Tokyo. Four days is seriously insufficient to enjoy all that Japan has to offer, but you can see a few good places, and hopefully someday in the future come back to see much more.

Toraneko
Toraneko

Thanks for the prompt reply! :D
I'm aware that it's too short a time to enjoy Japan but that's all the time I can spare for now. Will definitely come back for more when opportunity arises!
Thanks again for your kind advice~
Regards.

Josephine
Josephine

You're most welcome, enjoy your trip.

In Tokyo a few of the best places to see are the Tsukiji Fish Market, plus the site that every last tourist goes to see, the Sensoji Temple. If you are in Tokyo on a Sunday afternoon, be sure to go visit Harajuku to see the youth with their wild fashions. Meiji Shrine and Yoyogi Park are next to it and well worth seeing also. And be sure not to miss the Shibuya Hachiko intersection especially on a weekend when it looks like half the city is crossing the street all at once.
For others ideas, the government has a good tourist guide, as well as one from residents, and there is another from JAL that is organized by area.

In Kyoto you could spend weeks there and not see everything. The three best sights though are the Kinkakuji Temple, Kiyomizudera Temple, and Fushimi Inari Shrine. Fushimi is the most time consuming; you could spend a couple of hours to over half a day there.

Nara is often neglected by some tourists, which is a shame. Missing the Todaiji Great Buddha in Nara is like going to India and skipping the Taj Mahal. Nara Park has a lot of great places, such as Kasuga Shrine, Kofukuji Temple, and feeding the many deer in the area.
A few other great places missed out even by those who go to Nara though are the Isuien and Yoshikien Gardens. They are gorgeous and not crowded at all.

For your future reference, there are other numerous great places you can visit in the area. Okayama is not far and it is famous for its castle, plus Korakuen, one of Japan's Top 3, and also the Handayama Garden. If you'd like to get off the beaten trail for a while, the half day hike up to Konpirasan in Kotohira is stunning. Going to Takamatsu is also nice - it has one of Japan's finest gardens also, called Ritsurin.
Hiroshima also has a number of good places. Miyajima is the most famous, and aside from Hiroshima itself, Onomichi with its temple tour and Kosanji Temple is spectacular. Just beyond Miyajima also lies Iwakuni with its historical bridge and castle on top of the mountain. Taikodani is also a beautiful shrine in Tsuwano, Shimane. Hagi Castle was actually delightful, and the preserved samurai district and Mori related temples a rarity. One of the very best is the Akiyoshi Limestone Cave, a 300 million year old wonder with huge caverns and underground river running through it.

If you can, try to find a little time to see the Japanese themselves. Go visit a Japanese supermarket and see what people typically eat. Nishiki Market is one place in Kyoto, but it's also overrun with the tourists - see the ordinary things as well and you will learn a lot. Look through a park and watch the Japanese kids play. Learn about the history of some of the places you visit before your departure - it will give your trip so much more meaning.

Good luck.

Toraneko
Toraneko

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