questions & answers: using the japan rail pass

is it better to buy a 14 day ticket and a single day ticket, or a 21 day ticket for 15 days?

Is it better to buy a 14 day ticket and a single day ticket, or a 21 day ticket for 15 days?

My husband and I will be staying in Japan from Dec 22, 2012 until Jan 5, 2013. I am not sure whether to buy a 14 day pass and a single ticket back to the airport, or to get a 21 day pass. Also, since this is the busy holiday season, we were wondering if buying seats in the Green Car is a better option. This is our itinerary:
Dec 22 Arrive at Narita Terminal 1 at about 2:55 PM (I assume luggage collection and customs will take 1-1 1/2 hours)
Dec 22-27 Kyoto
Dec 27-28 Kobe
Dec 28-29 Osaka
Dec 29-30 Okayama
Dec 30-Jan 5 Tokyo
Jan 5 Depart for Narita at 9 AM

Will we be able to make 1 reservation for the train from Narita to Kyoto? Our Son is studying at Doshisha this year and living in Kyoto. He will meet us at the station, but wants to know when we will arrive. I have no idea what to tell him.

Any suggestions you can offer will be very helpful. Also, we read that smoking is allowed in the Green Cars. Are there Green Cars with no smoking (my preference)?

teacher20ma
teacher20ma

Hi there!

I recommend you purchase a 14 day JR Pass, and also purchase a single combined Keisei Skyliner + 2 day metro pass ticket on arrival at Narita for your train back to Narita on the 5th.

It's worth bearing in mind that the 14 day rail pass (¥45,100) will be slightly more expensive than individual tickets for the legs you mention (¥42,380), however you will have complete flexibility with further JR travel so I think it is probably worth it on balance.

The Green Car comes in both smoking and non-smoking cars so you should be fine. Please note that the Hikari service between Tokyo and Osaka does not always run a green car. As such, and also based on your plans, I recommend you use standard class, and reserve seats for your trip back to Tokyo on the 30th on arrival/jrpass exchange at Narita.

I'm afraid that you will not be able to make reservations for the Narita to Kyoto train online, however as the 22nd is a Weekend, I do not think you will have any problems with hopping onto unreserved on your train of choice, or placing a reservation just before you board at Narita. Here's a sample itinerary that will get you to Kyoto at 21:11 and accounts for customs and JR Pass exchange (30-60mins in peak times).

Hope this helps!

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mari
Expert_button_2

Thank you for the clarification and link. The 14 day pass is most likely worth the cost because in addition to the cities listed, there will also be side trips to Nara and Hiroshima. But why do I need the 2 day metro pass?

teacher20ma
teacher20ma

Hi there!

If you're going to do daytrips then the 14 day will certainly be a good choice :)

Regarding the metro pass, my thinking was as follows:

To get back to Narita you have two options:

  1. Purchase train tickets when you need them (Keisei Skyliner is ¥2400, Narita Express is ¥2940)
  2. Take advantage of a combination deal (train + metro) which offers a discount over the whole.

From your plans we know you will be spending a minimum of ¥2400-¥2940 on transport back to Narita.

There is a discounted bundle available to you that includes the Keisei skyliner + 1 day of metro travel for ¥2600, and another that offers 2 days of metro travel for ¥2980. As we know you'll be spending a minimum of ¥2400, you will be able to get 2 days of unlimited metro travel for ¥580, which is a pretty great deal. Alternatively, you could purchase the 1 day pass deal which will work out at an extra ¥200.

I think a metro pass is a good addition to your travel pass arsenal, certainly for your last day as you will need to get to a main stations to get to the Narita trains. You may also find it useful on the 4th for travelling around Tokyo. The JR Pass does cover a lot of places in Tokyo (here's a map of JR lines in Tokyo), but there are certain areas that are easier to get to via subway (here's a map of the subway).

Paying as you go is also a fine option as metro transport is quite reasonable (¥160-¥200 per trip), but thought I'd add in the metro pass as an option for you.

Hope this make my thinking clear!

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mari
Expert_button_2

I understand your thinking and think this is a great option. Where do I purchase the
Kensei Skyliner+ 2 day metro pass? Can the 2 day metro pass be used at the end of the trip, since that is when I will be in Tokyo? Or does the 2 day pass become activated the same day I board the Kensei Skyliner?
Thank You

teacher20ma
teacher20ma

Hi there!

You can buy the Keisei + 2 day metro pass at on arrival at Narita. There is more information on the process and a map of the ricket office here.

The 2 day metro pass can be used at the end of the trip (you can start the 2 day period anytime within 6 months of purchase), so I recommend you start it on the 4th.

Note that the Keisei Skyliner departs from Ueno Keisei station - you will be able to use the metro pass to get there :).

Hope this helps!

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mari
Expert_button_2

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