questions & answers: using the japan rail pass

jr pass or recommend transport for tokyo/kyoto/osaka

JR Pass or Recommend Transport for Tokyo/Kyoto/Osaka

my husband and I are visiting Japan in January and need some guidance on the best way to travel for about 11 days. Our itinerary is as follows:

Jan 12 - arrive in Narita, go to Tokyo
stay in Tokyo for 5 days
day trip to Nikko
Jan 17 - Go from Tokyo to Kyoto
stay in Kyoto for 4 days
day trip to Nara
Jan 21 - Go to Osaka
Jan 23 - leave Osaka (Kix)

Can you tell us if the JR pass would be the best way to go or if we should buy individual trips? We would like to go on the Shinkansen high speed railway from Tokyo to Kyoto, but that might not be covered by the JR pass?

We have also heard of the regional pass, and also the Kansai pass that is used in Kyoto/Osaka area, but don't know if that is something we should be doing or how to go about it.

Thank you for your help!


Hi there,

From reading your itinerary I think that it would be best to buy normal tickets as you travel.The JR Pass can help make some very good savings when you do a certain amount of travel between different regions in Japan but your longer distance travel is limited to a one way Tokyo - Kyoto and a JR Pass would not pay of, even with the side trips thrown in. For instance, if you did make a return Tokyo - Kyoto, then it would quickly pay of.

As for regional passes, they generally require strategic use in order the pay of and I would certainly recommend using using normal tickets for your visit to Nara/Osaka.

Something I think that would be of use is a Narita + Suica package. It gives you a discounted ticket between Narita Airport - Tokyo and comes with a Suica card which you can use to make your travel around Tokyo and Kyoto a lot easier.

Have a great time in Japan!


Thank you Daniel, this is very helpful! Would you also recommend getting the Kansai Thrupass or any other regional passes?

Thank you very much for your assistance!


Hi again!

Not unless you have very specific plans. The Kansai Thrupass and other local passes in Kansai are always very specific to certain areas or require a good amount of travel before they pay off. I don't think that a regional kansai pass would pay of if you just stick with Kyoto - Osaka - Nara, however it may become worth it if you add something like Himeji or Wakayama.


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