questions & answers: using the japan rail pass

jr rail pass or individual tickets

Jr rail pass or Individual tickets

Hi

We are looking to come to Japan on sept 29 until oct 7. Fly into narita and then want to go to Kyoto for a few days and then we have a conference in Kobe for two days and then fly back out of narita. I am very confuse as to whether it is easier or cheaper to get the pass or to get individual tickets. I also saw that the pass does not work for some bullet trains so don't know if that is an issue with our plans. Any advice is appreciated

Thank-you in advance

Wyman
Wyman

Hi there,

The JR Pass is valid for use on all JR lines and Bullet lines. You cannot use it on Nozomi and Mizuho class bullets, however there are always alternative Hikari or Sakura class bullet trains that are valid. These trains are essentially the same as the Nozomi class bullets but stop at more stations en route.

Here is the cost breakdown of your most costly 7days of travel for reference:

  1. Tokyo > Kyoto: ¥13,420 (164mins, 513km)
  2. Kyoto > Kobe(hyogo): ¥3,440 (55mins, 75km)
  3. Kobe(hyogo) > Narita airport terminal 1: ¥16,060 (307mins, 668km)

JR ticket cost: ¥32,920 for 3 legs

As you can see you'll make a good minimum saving of ¥4620 with the 7 day pass over individual tickets, and also have freedom to change your plans or add more trips as you wish free of charge.

As the JR Pass won't cover all of your trip, I also recommend purchasing the single Narita Express + Suica prepaid metro card deal at Narita. This will give you a discount on getting into Tokyo from the airport, and will also give you ¥1500 of free metro travel if you spend time in Tokyo itself.

Hope this helps!

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mari
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Thank-you so much. I notice there is a train from Kobe to narita but is there a train from narita to Kyoto?

Wyman
Wyman

Hi there,

Yes, there is a Narita to Kyoto route. Here's a sample itinerary for you.

You can look up precise train timetables and costs at the Hyperdia travel planning website and learn how to use Hyperdia for JR Pass holders through our video blog.

Hope this helps!

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mari
Expert_button_2

Thank-you Mari,

For these Narita-Kyoto would the JR pass cover all of it or would we need a separate pass. I was also wondering how we get the tickets with the JR pass? Is there a chance that we arrive in Tokyo and can't get tickets? I apologize if these all seem like simple questions but we have never been to Japan so are feeling very unsure about how everything works.

Thank-you for your time

Wyman
Wyman

Hi there,

No problem :)

The JR Pass allows unlimited travel on all JR lines so it will cover all of your journey on JR lines during it's validity period. If you are going directly to Kyoto from Narita and then back to Narita from Kyoto over a 9 day period, you'll need to look at a 14 day pass to get full coverage which in your case is not recommended without doing further travel as it will not be cost effective. Bear in mind that the 7 day pass can offer great savings, but you need to be doing the travel to make it worthwhile - at least spending ¥28,300 on individual JR tickets.

To use a JR Pass you need to first purchase it before you arrive in Japan (the nationwide pass is not available to buy in Japan). On arrival you activate it at a JR counter, and from that point on you can walk through all JR ticket barriers just by showing your pass. You do not need to purchase tickets for travel.

The only case where you may have tickets is where you make seat reservations. Reservations are free for JR Pass holders (normally a charge is applied), and you can make them by visiting a JR ticket office and specifying the train you'd like to use. You will receive a seat reservation ticket which you can then use on the train to find your seat.

There are so many bullet services running on the Tokyo to Kyoto route that it is extremely unlikely you will not be able to get a seat. If that does happen you can simply wait 30mins for the next Hikari bullet.

Hope this makes things clearer. We have explanatory videos here and here with more information that may also be helpful.

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mari
Expert_button_2

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