questions & answers: using the japan rail pass

jr or jr east/west pass

JR or JR East/West pass

We are planning a trip, arriving in Osaka and leaving from Tokyo 19 days later in Jan 2014. We are family of 4 (1 on child fare).
We want to see Osaka, Kyoto, Hiroshima, Tokyo plus including 7-9 days skiing around Hakuba, and possibly other places such as Takayama.
Would we be better doing all the travelling on a 14 day pass, leaving the skiing until the end, then doing a one-way to Tokyo Narita, or doing 6-7 days on a JR-West pass (taking us from Osaka to Hakuba), then skiing, then another 6-7 days on JR-East pass (taking us from Hakuba to Tokyo)?
A 21 day pass seems expensive when we'll be won't need it for the 7 or so days skiing.
Many thx,


Hi Kath!

First let me say that Hakuba is great! Its very popular for winter spots and the landscape and be stunningly beautiful.

As for rail-pass options, I would certainly recommend buying a normal nationwide JR Pass.
This because buying a JR West + JR East Pass simply would not make sense in any way. The problem is that they both come in different periods of use (e.g. 4 and 8 days) and there is no transition area between them, meaning you would have to buy a train ticket from Kyoto to the starting area of the JR East pass (somewhere close to Tokyo).

I think the 14-day JR Pass is most likely the best option and then leave the skiing for the end and then buying a limited express train ticket to Tokyo for around 8000Yen.

Still a 21-day JR Pass may be a good option too, the price difference is only minimal and the extra days make for easy planning. The difference between the 14 and 21 day JR Pass is 12,600 Yen. It would also cover the limited express train to Tokyo so you would just need to do around 4,600Yen for the Pass to become worth it and you can plan your days Skiing at any time during your travel in Japan.

Hope this helps,


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