questions & answers: using the japan rail pass

is it worth it to get the jr pass for tokyo-osaka-kyoto-nara? any recommendation?

Is it worth it to get the JR Pass for Tokyo-Osaka-Kyoto-Nara? Any recommendation?

Our tentative plan is as follows:

1st 2 days in Tokyo Marriott (close to the JR train station?)
Next 3 days at Osaka Marriott (close to the JR train station?)
Last 3 days at Tokyo Marriott (close to the JR train station?)

We plan to visit the following:
From Tokyo: Meiji Shrine, Asakusa Temple and Tokyo Bay Cruise
Best of Edo Japan: Nikko National Park and Edo Wonderland Day Trip from Tokyo (incl UNESCO Nikko Toshogu Shrine, burial place of the founder and first shogun of the Tokugawa government)
Tokyo Studio Ghibli Museum Afternoon Tour
Nagano Day Trip from Tokyo: Snow Monkeys, Hot Springs and Zenko-ji Temple
Mt Fuji, Lake Ashi and Bullet Train Day Trip from Tokyo:

From Osaka:
Kyoto Morning Tour of Kinkakuji Temple, Nijo Castle and Kyoto Imperial Palace from Osaka (2 UNESCO World Heritage Site)
Kyoto and Nara Day Tour Including Golden Pavilion and Todai-ji Temple from Osaka
Kyoto and Nara including Nijo Castle

PLEASE SUGGEST OTHER THINGS THAT WE SHOULD SEE GIVEN THE TIME LIMIT WE HAVE (We have two kids: 8 and 11)

WILL IT BE WORTH IT FOR US TO BUY JRPASS?

eDude
eDude

Hi,
Yes, since you are making a return trip and also going to Nikko, a 7 day pass would pay off. As for other places to see, a day trip to Hakone is often very enjoyable and you can see Mt Fuji on a good day. There is still lots to see and do if you can't.

http://www.japan-guide.com/e/e5200.html

After the temples of Kyoto close down around 5PM, you can zip over to Osaka for the evening. At night the city comes alive and has some great places to see, such as Dotonbori, plus the night views from the Umeda Sky Bldg, and Abeno Harukas Bldg are wonderful.
For Tokyo, the Sky Tree offers a fantastic view over the whole area, although it is still new and not cheap. The Sensoji Temple near by is also a popular place and almost carved in stone for every tourist to go see. Also on a Sunday afternoon, going to Harajuku is often fun to see the youth and their wild fashions. Next to it Meiji Shrine and Yoyogi Park are also nice to visit. If you like traditional Japanese gardens, there are several as well, including Shinjuku Gyoen Park, Hamarikyu Gardens, Rikugien Garden, Kiyosumi, and Koishikawa Korakuen Garden. Kappabashi is fun for the mindblowing realistic plastic restaurant displays for sale, and Odaiba at night is a really enjoyable and surreal place. Try looking through:

http://www.gotokyo.org/en/index.html

http://www.jnto.go.jp/eng/location/regional/tokyo/index.html

http://www.ar.jal.com/world/en/guidetojapan/city_information/tyo/see/akasaka/

and

http://www.kyoto.travel/

http://www.ar.jal.com/world/en/guidetojapan/city_information/uky/see/central/

http://narashikanko.or.jp/en/

Good luck.

Toraneko
Toraneko

Thanks so much for your answer. It really helps.

My wife is still worried that the train may not take us that close to where we wants to go (Mount Fuji, Nara, Hakone, ...). Are the tourist destinations within walking distance? In looking at the maps our hotels should be very close to the stations in Tokyo and Osaka, correct?

We have iPhone 5S through Verizon. Should we use chips or the Wi-Fi service? As part of our hotel deal, we have free Wi-Fi use at our hotels.

Would you recommend going to the North? We worry about Fukushima and are thinking of avoiding the North totally.

eDude
eDude

Hi,
Nearly anywhere in the big cities is not far from a train or subway station, so that is really not a huge concern. Hakone has a round course you can take, and there is lots to see and do:

http://www.japan-guide.com/e/e5200.html

http://www.japan-guide.com/e/e5206.html

http://www.japan-guide.com/e/e2358_008.html

http://www.japan-guide.com/e/e5210.html

The Fuji 5 Lakes Area also has many lakes and nice scenery. But going up onto Fuji itself is rather a waste since there is nothing there, and no real scenery part way up the mountain. Hakone and the 5 Lakes area are much better, and Fuji looks much nicer from afar.

You can rent a Sim card or use a wi-fi unit, perhaps wi-fi is a better way to go. Some places allow you to use them for free, but you need to sign up first.

http://7spot-info.jp/7spot-guidebook_info/

http://wi2.co.jp/en/

http://flets.com/freewifi/index.html

http://www.softbank-rental.jp/en/phones/sim3g.php

http://www.bmobile.ne.jp/english/u300_visitor.html

https://www.econnectjapan.com/products/sim/

Going up north is FINE. As long as you are not near the nuclear site (and you can't get near it anyway), then you will be OK.

Enjoy!

Toraneko
Toraneko

Thank you for your reply. According to your link, I will still have to pay for another train after I get off from a JR train, correct?

Another questions, will we be able to use JR Pass to go to all destinations listed in these Viator tours:
a) http://www.viator.com/tours/Tokyo/Mt-Fuji-Lake-Ashi-and-Bullet-Train-Day-Trip-from-Tokyo/d334-2142TYO_F800_F820 b) http://www.viator.com/tours/Tokyo/Nikko-National-Park-Day-Trip-from-Tokyo/d334-2142TYO_F300_F308 c) http://www.viator.com/tours/Osaka/Kyoto-and-Nara-Day-Tour-Including-Golden-Pavilion-and-Todai-ji-Temple-from-Osaka/d333-2142OSA_P910 d) http://www.viator.com/tours/Tokyo/2-Day-Mt-Fuji-Hakone-and-Bullet-Train-Tour-from-Tokyo/d334-2142TYO_F810_F860

Will there be any other fees that we will have to pay (other train/bus/shuttle that do not accept JRPass, entrance fees, ...)?

Thanks.

eDude
eDude

Hi,
Yes, that's correct. A JR Pass doesn't cover the private railways like near Mt. Fuji. The links you gave are not functioning. But I believe your question has been answered. JR is good mainly for long distance travel, not inter-city travel. Hence getting a Hakone Free Pass is often a good idea. For Nikko, see:

http://www.japan-guide.com/e/e2358_002.html

For other fees, not sure what you mean. Transport and entrance fees are your main concern though.

Good luck!

Toraneko
Toraneko

Order your Japan Rail Pass Online

Starting from $254.00 for 7 days of unlimited Japan Rail travel

Please note: we are only able to handle order related enquiries via our online direct support. Commercial advertising is prohibited as per our website terms.