questions & answers: using the japan rail pass

japan rail pass vs japan express bus

Japan Rail Pass vs Japan Express Bus

I am planning to travel around Japan for 7 days in mid of October starting from Osaka, with tentative plan as follows:

Day 1 Arrival Kansai International Airport - Osaka City (Overnight)
Day 2 Osaka - Nara - Osaka (Overnight)
Day 3 Osaka - Himeji - Kobe (Overnight)
Day 4 Kobe - Osaka (Overnight Train or Express Bus, if possible) - Toyama
Day 5 Toyama - Tateyama / Unazaki Onsen (Overnight) - Kurobe Gorge - Keyakidaira
Day 6 Toyama - Kyoto (Overnight)
Day 7 Kyoto - Osaka (Overnight)
Day 8 Departure Kansai International Airport

Please advice what is the best and cheapest means of transportation in such case (Using Japan Rail or Using Municipal Buses Combined with Japan Express Buses for intercity traveling).

Thank you very much for your kind advice. Regards

Iskander
Iskander

Hi there!

Buses are often a cheap option, but do mean you can spend a lot of time on the road. Lets take a look at your costs to see how they weight up against a 7 day rail pass (¥28,300:

  1. Kansai airport > Osaka: ¥2,600 (53mins, 57km)
  2. Osaka > Nara: ¥780 (59mins, 48km)
  3. Nara > Osaka: ¥780 (55mins, 48km)
  4. Osaka > Himeji: ¥3,440 (43mins, 95km)
  5. Himeji > Kobe(hyogo): ¥950 (35mins, 54km)
  6. Kobe(hyogo) > Osaka: ¥390 (25mins, 33km)
  7. Osaka > Toyama: ¥9,540 (210mins, 327km)
  8. Toyama > Kyoto: ¥7,560 (175mins, 284km)
  9. Kyoto > Osaka: ¥540 (28mins, 42km)

JR ticket cost: ¥26,580 for 9 legs

As you can see the individual ticket costs for your trip are slightly lower than that of a 7 day pass. Whether you go for the 7 day pass or not really depends on how flexible you'd like to be in the 7 day period. As the prices are relatively similar, I think I'd go for the JR Pass option, however you should weight it's convenience and speed against the possible savings by travelling by bus before you make your decision.

Hope this helps!

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mari
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Hi Mari,

Your prompt and detail reply is very helpful for me. I have decided to go for the JR Pass, as it give me a whole lot of flexibility and extra time to travel anywhere I like with less hassle, Thank you very much for your great assistance.

Best Regards,

Iskander
Iskander

No problem - have a great trip!

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mari
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Hi,

As a holder of JR West Kansai Wide Rail Pass, I want to travel from Osaka/Kyoto to :
A. Amanohashidate
B. Kinosaki Onsen

My Questions:
1. Are both areas covered by the Pass?
2. How much is the extra fare and charges needed to go to Amanohashidate?
3. Can I travel directly from A to B using the Pass?
4. How long will it take from A to B?
5. Is it possible to go to both places within a day trip?

Thank you for your advice.

Best Regards

Iskander
Iskander

Hi there,

I think that the Kansai Wide will cover the locations you mention but as this pass is relatively new I'm not 100% sure of the precise details. The WIDE area pass does cover Kinosaki Onsen and I think not Aminohashidate (it's not very clear from the JR-West documentation). I recommend you contact JR-West directly using this contact form to find our more information. If you could report back here it would be most appreciated!

Assuming you can, then I recommend you stay overnight at Kinosaki Onsen to really make the most out of the town. Also, as Kinosaki and Amanohashidate are both on the Japan Sea side of Japan, it is possible to visit both in the same day. To travel between the 2 locations' you will need to change trains at Toyooka.

Hope this helps!

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mari
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Hi There,

Thank you very much for your very helpful information regarding the use of JR Pass to travel within the remote areas near Japan Sea.

I was able to travel comfortably and easily between the two places, paying extra small fee of 680 Yen each way to cover for the private KTR (Kinki Tango Railway) train between Fukuchiyama and Miyazu City. For traveling to Kinosaki Onsen from Fukuchiyama via Toyooka, on the other hand, is fully covered by the JR Pass. I had a great time indeed!

Thank you again for the great suggestion. You have been very helpful.

Best Regards

Iskander
Iskander

Thank you for letting me know, that's very helpful!

Glad you enjoyed your trip :)

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mari
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