questions & answers: using the japan rail pass

jr pass good idea for our trip? any other advice?

JR pass good idea for our trip? Any other advice?

My son and I are coming to Japan for three weeks, arriving August 1.
For info I am 56 and he is 13.
I had planned to visit in a couple of years time and 'travel round japan', although with no particular idea where to go as we haven't really done much research
However, my wife has booked it as a surprise trip, and paid for us to stay in tokyo (near Shinjuku) for three weeks, so not quite what I had in mind.
After a bit of rushed internet searching, we have booked to stay with a japanese family in Kyoto for 4 nights, and a Ryoken near Hakone.
So the itinerary currently looks like this:
1 arrive
2 Tokyo
3 Tokyo or maybe a trip to somewhere and return to Tokyo
4 Tokyo
5 Go to Kyoto
6 Kyoto
7 Nara
8 Kyoto
9 Kyoto and back to Tokyo
10 Tokyo
11 Trip to somewhere and return to Tokyo
12 Tokyo
13 Trip to somewhere and return to Tokyo
14 son's birthday, probably Tokyo
15 Ghibli museum (booked)
16 Tokyo / trip
17 Tokyo / trip
18 to Hakone / ryokan
19 Hakone and back to Tokyo
20 Tokyo
21 return to UK

I'm very under researched and under prepared, but have been told that the JR pass is generally a good idea.
Do you think this is the case?

I have started looking at day trips from Tokyo, but haven't decided anything.
Do you have any suggestions?
I'd like to get a better idea of what we are going to do each day, and how we are going to manage our travel plans, rather than spending time while we are there wondering what to do, how to get there and getting lost

Any advice would be much appreciated


I've been having a look round your site, and Hyperdia, which seems very useful indeed but I'm not sure I'm reading it correctly.

So, if I'm going from Shinjuku to Nagaokakyo (nearest station in Kyoto to host japanese family) on the 5th August at 10am-ish and I keep all the options ticked:

Costs: Y15,790, including a 'seat fee' of Y7,370 ... what's this seat fee?
So, that's roughly £90, for a single trip, or is this automatically a 'return' fare?

Journey: Shinjuku via Narita express 17 to Shinagawa, change, via Shinkansen Nozomi 25 to Kyoto, change, via local train to Nagaokyo ... Takes: 192 mins

If I un-check the box for Nozomi/Mizuho/Hayabusa, does this make the services equivalent to the options with the JR pass? If so:

Costs: Y14,010, with seat fee Y5,590
So, that's roughly £80 (single?)

Journey: Shinjuku - Osaki - Shinagawa, change, via Shinkansen Kodoma 649 to Kyoto, change, local train to end. Takes: 270 minutes

Could you please Is my reading of this correct, especially regarding fares, whether single/return, and the equivalence to the JR pass. Thanks


Hello there,

Trust me a visit to Japan is always great even a surprise visit! I also see that you are already putting a good amount of research in your itinerary.

Staring with the JR Pass, a 7 day JR Pass could be useful if you use it to travel from Tokyo - Kyoto and back. The pass itself is almost the same price as a normal return ticket Tokyo - Kyoto and you can make savings if you use it for any other travel as well.

The seat fare is a fee you pay for fast trains such as the Shinkansen and Limited express trains. Look at the total if you want to know the full ticket price. Prices in Hyperdia are for one way and Y14,010, is the correct fare for the route you searched for (without the Nozomi). The Nozomi and Mizuho trains are not covered by the JR Pass while the Hayabusa is. The Hayabusa is the fastest train north of Tokyo, however it looks like you won't be using it with the Itinerary above.

For day trips from Tokyo, there are a couple of that stand out. Namely Kamakura, Nikko and Yokohama. These can all be visited by the JR Pass and have various attractions well worth visiting. Nikko especially is impressive and makes for a good visit if you would like to see a bit more of Japanese tradition and history.

I can also give you some more specific recommendations if you let me know what you are interested in.

Hope this helps,


Thank you very much.

I think with the 4-6 days we have free for trips out of Tokyo, I'd like to mix it up a bit (also bearing in mind neither of us are very athletic and do not cope well with heat/humidity!)

I like your suggestions for Nikko, Kamakura and Yokohama.
Also in the mix at the moment are Kawagoe, Karuizawa, Takaosan, and Nokogiriyama (my son liked the idea of the river ride). He was also thinking about Takasaki city (he wants to buy daruma!)

Viewing Mt Fuji from Kawaguchi-ko is also under consideration but maybe this will be too similar to our Hakone visit where we stay overnight?

I was considering the walk between Magome-Tsumago but it's clearly too much travel, and probably too much exertion in the heat anyway!


Fuji, while very pretty, does pretty much look the same from each side. You may spend your time better visiting something else of interest.

If you want a somewhat relaxed experience, why not head to the Izu Peninsula south of Hakone. You could even spend a day on the beach there if the weather becomes to hot to do anything of much effort. It's a beautiful area and you can also enjoy the view of Fuji from there.


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