questions & answers: using the japan rail pass

is the jrp worth it for this itinerary?

Is the JRP worth it for this itinerary?

I'm planning a trip to Japan with the following itinerary:

  1. SENDAI AIRPORT - SENDAI(MIYAGI/JR)   08:00 pm  Aug/2012/18 Y630
  2. SENDAI(MIYAGI/JR) - RIFU   02:00 pm  Aug/2012/19 Y230
  3. RIFU - SENDAI(MIYAGI/JR)   10:00 pm  Aug/2012/19 Y230
  4. SENDAI(MIYAGI/JR) - RIFU   02:00 pm  Aug/2012/22 Y230
  5. RIFU - SENDAI(MIYAGI/JR)   10:00 pm  Aug/2012/22 Y230
  6. SENDAI(MIYAGI/JR) - KOBE(HYOGO)   08:00 am  Aug/2012/23 Y11660
  7. Kobe Subway Kosokukobe Station to Sodoundokoen Station Y420
  8. Sodoundokoen Station to Kobe Subway Kosokukobe Station Y420
  9. Kobe Subway Kosokukobe Station to Sodoundokoen Station Y420
  10. Sodoundokoen Station to Kobe Subway Kosokukobe Station Y420
  11. KOBE(HYOGO) - KYOTO   08:00 am  Aug/2012/24 Y1050
  12. KYOTO - KOBE(HYOGO)   05:00 pm  Aug/2012/24 Y1050
  13. KOBE(HYOGO) - SHINJUKU(JR)   08:00 am  Aug/2012/27  Y9030
  14. SHINJUKU(JR) - URAWA   08:00 am  Aug/2012/29 Y380
  15. URAWA - SHINJUKU(JR)   10:00 pm  Aug/2012/29 Y380
  16. SHINJUKU(JR) - NARITA AIRPORT TERMINAL 1   12:00 pm  Sep/2012/01 Y1450

questions:
Does JRP cover the subway in Kobe for legs 7,8,9,10?

I have included the price that Hyperdia quoted for each leg. The total adds up to 28,230 yen which is cheaper than the 14-day pass of 44,021 yen. Is this correct? It is not worth it to buy the ticket?

Mr. Huerta

mauriciohuerta
mauriciohuerta

Hmm. I think you may not have included valid shinkansen (the JR Pass is valid on all non-Nozomi and Mizuho class shinkansen). Using these high speed lines is recommended for many of the long distance legs such as Sendai to Kobe which takes 15 hrs by standard trains, but 5hrs by valid shinkansen bullets.

I have run your costs again using the standard JRPass valid options and have the following price breakdown:

  1. Sendai airport > Sendai(miyagi/jr): ¥630, (27mins, 17km)
  2. Sendai(miyagi/jr) > Rifu: ¥230, (16mins, 12km)
  3. Rifu > Sendai(miyagi/jr): ¥230, (17mins, 12km)
  4. Sendai(miyagi/jr) > Rifu: ¥230, (16mins, 12km)
  5. Rifu > Sendai(miyagi/jr): ¥230, (17mins, 12km)
  6. Sendai(miyagi/jr) > Shin-kobe: ¥22110, (346mins, 941km)
  7. Shin-kobe > Kyoto: ¥3440, (29mins, 75km)
  8. Kyoto > Shin-kobe: ¥3440, (36mins, 75km)
  9. Shin-kobe > Shinjuku(jr): ¥14470, (218mins, 593km)
  10. Shinjuku(jr) > Urawa: ¥380, (27mins, 21km)
  11. Urawa > Shinjuku(jr): ¥380, (28mins, 21km)
  12. Shinjuku(jr) > Narita airport terminal 1: ¥1450, (100mins, 86km)

TOTAL: ¥47220 for 12 legs

As you can see, using valid shinkansen you will make a small saving of ¥2120 with a 14 day rail pass (¥45,100), and also have the added flexibility of all further JR travel being free. Please note that as the Kobe subway is not operated by JR you will not be able to use the JR Pass for these legs.

The options on Hyperdia can be confusing - You can learn how to use Hyperdia with options for JR Pass holders through our video blog.

Hope this helps!

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mari
Expert_button_2

Thank you for your response, I have follow up questions.

With this itinerary, is it worth buying the "first class" pass? Do most trains in this itinerary have first class cars? I'm assuming first class cars are less crowded and it should be easy to find a seat without having to worry about reserving a seat.

Let's assume I buy a 14-day regular JRP, how easy or inconvenient is to reserve a seat?

Regarding Hyperdia, the only options I deselected were:
NOZOMI / MIZUHO / HAYABUSA (SHINKANSEN)
Airplane
Private Railway

isn't that correct?

I'm not sure why I got different prices for the legs from Sendai to Kobe, Kobe to Kyoto, Kobe to Tokyo. Perhaps because I used station KOBE(HYOGO), and you used the station Shin-Kobe instead. Is that correct?

Mr. Huerta

mauriciohuerta
mauriciohuerta

Hi there,

It's hard to say regarding the Green Pass. Certainly when I have used it in the past it has been very quiet and the seating is much bigger than that of standard class. Please note that all seats in Green Class must be reserved (normally you can simply reserve just before you travel, however all seats must be reserved).

As all seats in Green class must be reserved and you are planning on travelling during rush hour periods, I recommend that you purchase a standard class JR Pass and reserve your seats as soon as you arrive in Japan. Seat reservations are free for JR Pass holders and are very simple to make at the station - you can learn more how to make seat reservations here.

About your hyperdia search, I actually couldn't replicate your search, and the price of the train was very similar to Kobo(hyogo) and Shin-Kobe (they are very close, just Shin-Kobe is the bullet train terminal so I used this as it will be the faster option). Here is the search again using Kobe(hyogo):

  1. Sendai airport > Sendai(miyagi/jr): ¥630, (27mins, 17km)
  2. Sendai(miyagi/jr) > Rifu: ¥230, (16mins, 12km)
  3. Rifu > Sendai(miyagi/jr): ¥230, (17mins, 12km)
  4. Sendai(miyagi/jr) > Rifu: ¥230, (16mins, 12km)
  5. Rifu > Sendai(miyagi/jr): ¥230, (17mins, 12km)
  6. Sendai(miyagi/jr) > Kobe(hyogo): ¥22110, (356mins, 941km)
  7. Kobe(hyogo) > Kyoto: ¥1050, (55mins, 75km)
  8. Kyoto > Kobe(hyogo): ¥1050, (56mins, 75km)
  9. Kobe(hyogo) > Shinjuku(jr): ¥14470, (252mins, 593km)
  10. Shinjuku(jr) > Urawa: ¥380, (27mins, 21km)
  11. Urawa > Shinjuku(jr): ¥380, (28mins, 21km)
  12. Shinjuku(jr) > Narita airport terminal 1: ¥1450, (100mins, 86km)

TOTAL: ¥42440 for 12 legs

As you can see, using Kobe(hyogo) is slightly cheaper than the 14 day rail pass overall, however it involves slower trips to and from Kyoto so there is a tradeoff here. Overall they are much the same in terms of costs I think.

On balance as the difference in prices is so little I think I'd advice to go with the rail pass vs individual ticket so that you maintain flexibility to change plans/stations and not affect your overall travel budget, however this may depend on the degree to which you have your travel plans finalised.

The options you deselected on Hyperdia were correct, so I wonder where your original costs for the Sendai > Kobe came from! As a check I am sure the price you have of ¥11660 is not correct (maybe a system error?) as a single from Tokyo to Osaka (which is much less than the journey you are making here) is ¥13,950.

Hope this helps!

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mari
Expert_button_2

Hi Mari,
I have more follow up questions:

1) What is the time window in the morning and evening that is considered "rush" hour in Sendai, Tokyo, Kyoto, and Kobe? I'll try to stay way from those times.

2) In Hyperdia, when I click into this leg Sendai(miyagi/jr) > Rifu: ¥230, (16mins, 12km), I don't understand what the icon associated with the station IWAKIRI is. The icon is 2 upside down gray triangles. It is different than a "transfer icon". What is the passenger supposed to do?

Thank you

mauriciohuerta
mauriciohuerta

Hi there,

Rush hour in Japan

The windows for rush hour in Japan are in general:

  • Morning: 7-9am
  • Evening: 5-7pm

The Tokyo rush hour will extend out by an hour at either end of these times, but gradually taper off. You should be fine to travel around these times provided you have a reservation. Using non-reserved seating on the bullets at these times will be a bit of a gamble.

Hyperdia icon graphics meaning

You can find a list of all the meanings associated to the icon graphics in Hyperdia here. In route 1's case here, it means that the train will stop at Iwakiri and then continue on to Rifu. Where you see the yellow T.ra Icon (as in route 5 of the previous link), this means you will have to transfer, or change train.

Hope this helps!

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mari
Expert_button_2

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