questions & answers: using the japan rail pass

jr pass if useful

JR pass if useful

I am planning to visit Japan for a week and will going to arrive in Haneda from there my plan to visit Ota Gunma, Osaka, Marugame, explore Tokyo and may visit Naogya. If it is a good idea to get a JR rail pass for my trip. I also like to know what are the JR rail /buses / subways / mono / metro rails services will cover with JR pass?

Thanks
AL

AL
AL

Hi,
If you're planning to do that within a week, you would save a lot of money using a JR Pass. You can use the pass on all JR routes (but not the fastest bullet train, the Nozomi), plus local JR bus lines, Miyajima ferry, and monorail to/from Haneda. In Tokyo you can use it on JR lines going to/from the city, plus the Yamanote line which loops around the main part of Tokyo and goes to many popular areas. You cannot use the pass on metro rail, subways, and virtually all non-JR rail services.
Marugame (if you mean in Kagawa) is a very unusual destination. But nearby one gem that locals love and few others get to is the climb up to Konpirasan Shrine in Kotohira, with a marvelous view and paved mountain hike. Takamatsu is very good too, with its islands, castle and Ritsurin Garden which is one of Japan's best.

Unfortunately, Ota in Gunma is one of the few places that the JR Pass won't help you much. The line is serviced by Tobu which is not JR. But it is not expensive to get to.

Best of luck.

Toraneko
Toraneko

Thanks for your info and suggestions about famous places. The idea I got that it is good idea to have a JR pass. Yes, I mean Kagawa and like to ask you if JR pass will be helpful during my travel to Gunma and Kagawa which two place I will visit apart from explore Tokyo, Osaka and Kobe; as per my plan I wanna fly from Haneda to Kobe so that I only need to use JR rail/ bus from Kobe to Kagawa and back to Kobe for return flight.

Thanks

AL
AL

Hi,
Well if you plan to fly down to Kobe, that changes the equation entirely. In that case a JR Pass won't pay off. What you could do is look into getting a JR Kansai Wide Area Pass. You could use it to go to Utazu Station in Kagawa, which is close to the castle. You could also go up to Takamatsu, and see the sights there. If you want to see Kotohira or go to Marugame Stn, which is a little bit closer to the castle, you'd need to pay the fare from Utazu but it is not expensive at all.

You can see regular fares, routes and schedules on Hyperdia.

Toraneko
Toraneko

If you have time and would like to explore more, there are other passes that might help you too, by the way. You might look at the various passes from JR West.

The Sanyo-San'in Area pass is one of the most far reaching and you can travel a lot, and for less than the regular JR Pass. There is lots to explore and enjoy. Okayama is pretty close and it is famous for its castle, plus Korakuen, one of Japan's Top 3, and also the Handayama Garden. If you'd like to get off the typical tourist path for a while, the half day hike up to Konpirasan in Kotohira is stunning. Going to Takamatsu is also nice - it has one of Japan's nicest gardens also, called Ritsurin.
Hiroshima also has a number of great spots. Miyajima is the most famous, and aside from Hiroshima itself, Onomichi with its temple tour and Kosanji Temple is spectacular. Just beyond Miyajima also lies Iwakuni with its historical bridge and castle on top of the mountain. Taikodani is also a beautiful shrine in Tsuwano, Shimane. Hagi Castle was actually delightful, and the preserved samurai district and Mori related temples a rarity. One of the very best is the Akiyoshi Limestone Cave, a 300 million year old wonder with huge caverns and underground river running through it.

Even Kyushu is not far if you want to see it. Fukuoka is one of the nicer cities there. There are many open parks, shopping, seaside historical areas, and urban neon. See this site as a good guide.
Don't miss the Nanzoin Temple which is one of Japan's finest yet almost totally unknown to the outside world and completely free.
Look into a Fukuoka Tourist City Pass also.
You can also see a lot of previews on the best there is to see here. You could expand your plans a bit and see Nagasaki as a day trip if you start early - there is a lot there - the best sights are the Peace Park/Museum - but if you see the one on Hiroshima you might skip it - Glover Garden, Dejima, and Koshibyo Shrine. Gunkanjima would also be well worth seeing, but it takes 3 hours. And at night be sure to go see Mt. Inasa at night for a spectacular night view over the city.

Or, see Kumamoto for its castle and wonderful Suizenji Garden. Beppu is another possibility and famous for its hot springs, but its Hells Tour, plus the Takasakiyama monkey park/aquarium are all terrific. The best hot springs though you'd need to take a bus to get to, but Kurokawa in Kumamoto is one of Japan's finest hot spring resort areas with beautiful forested outdoor baths.

Have a great trip.

Toraneko
Toraneko

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