questions & answers: using the japan rail pass

jr pass or jr east + jr pass

JR pass or JR east + JR pass

Our family of 4 (including a 12 and 14 yr old) will be holidaying in Japan and i am wondering which rail pass will best suit our needs. Our itinerary is as follows:
20 Dec Haneda to Nagano
21 Dec Nagano to Yudanaka
23 Dec Yudanaka to Tokyo
26 Dec Tokyo to Kyoto
28 Dec possible side trip by rail to Hiroshima or somewhere from Kyoto
29 Dec Kyoto to Tokyo
30 Dec Haneda flight to Sapporo
30 & 31 Dec in Sapporo
1-8 Jan is sorted as we are skiing. No rail pass needed.

A JR pass makes sense for when we are in Kyoto. I can't work out if we should go for a 14 day JR pass or get a JR east pass for the Nagano part of our trip and then a 7 day JR pass for the Kyoto part of the trip. While we are in Tokyo we will use the subway. Is there a subway pass you recommend or should we pay per journey?

I have read that we may need to reserve seats to Nagano and Kyoto. Is this necessary? How can we do this in advance of arriving in Japan as we are travelling to Nagano on the day we land in Tokyo.
Look forward to your guidance.


Hello there,

There are basically two options you can consider buying a 7 day JR Pass + one way Haneda to Nagano or buy a 14 day JR Pass. Especially if you were to include the visit to Hiroshima, this can cost a lot without a JR Pass. So in a way traveling there using a JR Pass with get the best out of the pass and your time in Japan.

For local travel in Tokyo, a Tokyo Metro Day pass is an interesting option if you plan on using a metro 5 times a day or more.

Seat reservations are not required per see but it is recommended, also see our reservations page.

Hope this helps,


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