questions & answers: using the japan rail pass

kansai and shikoku

Kansai and Shikoku

Hi
I will be traveling to Japan for 3 weeks at 18/9/2012. [SECOND TIME] I start and finish at Kansai Airport . I intend to visit Osaka ,Koyassan ,Amanohashidate ,Kobe+Arima Onsen. Hiroshima. Miyajima, Kurashiki , Okayama,Naoshima .
Takamatsu . Naruto ,Iya Valley+Oboke gorge, Matsuyama.
Do you recommend buying the JR pass or the small passes ?
I intend to stay 1 night at Koyassan Thank you Orly

od
od

Hi od,

Lets first take a look at the general JR costs for your travel over the 3 week period:

  1. Kansai airport > Osaka: ¥2600, (53mins, 57km)
  2. Osaka > Amanohashidate: ¥5440, (131mins, 149km)
  3. Amanohashidate > Kobe(hyogo): ¥5760, (168mins, 166km)
  4. Kobe(hyogo) > Hiroshima: ¥10780, (131mins, 378km)
  5. Hiroshima > Miyajimaguchi: ¥400, (26mins, 21km)
  6. Miyajimaguchi > Kurashiki: ¥6700, (109mins, 199km)
  7. Kurashiki > Okayama: ¥320, (17mins, 15km)
  8. Okayama > Uno: ¥570, (55mins, 32km)
  9. Uno > Takamatsu(kagawa): ¥1980, (82mins, 74km)
  10. Takamatsu(kagawa) > Naruto(tokushima): ¥3270, (93mins, 72km)
  11. Naruto(tokushima) > Oboke: ¥2030, (193mins, 111km)
  12. Oboke > Matsuyama(ehime): ¥8700, (191mins, 227km)
  13. Matsuyama(ehime) > Kansai airport: ¥14080, (319mins, 455km)

TOTAL: ¥62630 for 13 legs

  • 07 day rail pass (¥28,300) saving: ¥34330
  • 14 day rail pass (¥45,100) saving: ¥17530
  • 21 day rail pass (¥57,700) saving: ¥4930

Please note that I have assumed you will depart from Kansai airport and have calculated your itinerary as you have listed. In an attempt to maximise savings I have assumed you will return to Uno from Naoshima rather than get the ferry onto Takamatsu, however this will not affect the overall decision.

As you can see, the 21 day pass gives you minimal base savings of around ¥5000. In addition to this any further JR travel you wanted to do would be totally free. As such I have no problem in recommending the 21 day pass option to you.

Regarding smaller passes, the only other option that would give you the same coverage is multiple 5 day JR-West,shikoku and kyushu passes. As this option would come to a total cost of ¥92,400 I don't think it is as good value as the standard 21 day nationwide pass.

Hope this helps!

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mari
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Thank you very much .
Do i need to reserve a seat at this time? Orly

od
od

Hi there,

I would not expect you would need to reserve seats far in advance for this trip, and you should be able to arrive at the station and either jump onto the next train or reserve a seat for the next train if you have time.

If you are concerned about travelling at specific times however you should reserve these seats on arrival in Japan when you have your Japan Rail Pass. We have a good blog post about how to reserve seats here.

Hope this helps!

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mari
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Yes . Thank you very much .
Is there any way to go to Naoshima from Okayama using the JR PASS ?
Orly

od
od

Hi there!

Yes, the JR Pass will get you most of the way. You'll need to pay a small fare for the ferry to the island but it should only be around ¥300. He're a detailed guide for you, which includes directions from Okayama.

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mari
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Thank you Mari.

Can i use the JR West Pass for Osaka - Okayama or Osaka- Amanohashidate?
I thought about buying the JR West Pass for my first 4 days and then use the JR Pass for 14 days .
Is it worth it or sehh i buy the Pass for 21 days? Thanks Orly

od
od

Hi there,

You would be able to use a JR-West pass for Okayama, but will need to purchase separate tickets for Amanohashidate as it lies on non-JR operated tracks.

The difference in price between a 14 and 21 day pass is ¥12,600 for an extra 7 days, so any other option that you choose will need to be cheaper than that to be really worthwhile. The only JR-West passes that could be an option to consider are the 4 days wide area pass at ¥7000 or the 4 day standard area pass at ¥6000.

Whether these make sense for you will very much depend on your travel plans for this whole 7 period I think. Either will be a good choice!

Hope this helps!

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mari
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Thank you Mari
Are those train not covered by the JR Pass?

09:10

OSAKA 

[ Departure track No.4 ] Station timetable | Add to favorite

Map
Hotel
Rent-a-car
[94 Min]

LTD. EXP KONOTORI 3
Train timetable | Interval timetable
¥1,890

10:44
10:45

FUKUCHIYAMA 

Station timetable | Add to favorite

Map
Hotel
[36 Min]

LTD. EXP HASHIDATE 1
Train timetable | Interval timetable
¥750

11:21

AMANOHASHIDATE 

Add to favorite

Can i use the JR-West pass to Kurashiki from Osaka ?Can i buy it at the Kansai airport?
Thanks
Orly

od
od

Hi Orly,

Yes, my mistake! The trains to Amanohashidate are covered by the JR Pass.

You can read more about the validity and purchasing of the JR-West pass here.

Hope this helps!

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mari
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Thank you Mari
I would like to know if the JR PASS is good for the SHINKANSEN from Kagoshima to Osaka ?
Orly

od
od

Hi Orly,

Yes, the JR Pass is good for Sakura and Hikari class shinkansen from Kagoshima to Osaka. Here is a sample itinerary for you.

Hope this helps!

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mari
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Yes . Thank you very much .
Orly

od
od

Hi Mari

i changed my tour to this:
Is it ok or too crowded ? I will by the 21 days JR PASS . Will it be good to all this tour?
Where to stay the night for the Tateyama Kurobe Alpine Route? How to get to and from Takachiho Gorg ?

18/9 Kanasai Airport - Osaka .

19/9 Mt. . koya . staying the night .

20/9 Morning living koya back to osaka . taking train to Kagoshima . night at Kagoshima .

21/9 Kagoshima - Ibusuki spa -kirishima national park . night at the park

22/9 -Kirishima National Park . return to Kagoshima for the night .

23/9 Kagoshima -Mt. Aso. night at Aso.

24/9 Aso-Takachiho Gorge - at the evning arriving to Yufuin .night at Yufuin .

25/9 Yufuin -Hiroshima . arriving Hiroshima at the evning. night at Hiroshima

26/9 Hiroshima- Miyajima-Hiroshima. night at Hiroshima

27/9 Hiroshima - Mazda factory - afternoon to Onomichi . night at Onomichi .

28/9 Onomichi-tour on Shimanami Kaido -Imabari- Matsuyama at night .

29/9 Matsuyama- Takamatsu . night at Takamatsu .

30/9 Takamatsu-Kurashiki . night at Kurashiki.

1/10 Kurashiki -Okayama. night at Okayama .

2/10 Okayama -Uno- Naoshima. night at Naoshima .

3/10 Naoshima . -- at the afternoon train to Kyoto . night at Kyoto .

4/10 Kyoto -Toyama

5/10 Toyama-The Tateyama Kurobe Alpine Route- Shinano Omachi -Kyoto .night at Kyoto

6/10 Kyoto-Amanohashidate-Kinosaki Onsen - Kyoto .night at Kyoto .

7/10 Kyoto- Kobe

8/10 Kyoto -Kanasi Airport

Thank you very much
Orly

od
od

Hi Orly,

I've had a look over your itinerary and while it will be busy, it is possible. You may want to mix in a bit more time in the same place rather than moving hotel so often to save you moving luggage around. Here are some thoughts:

  • How about postponing the Koyasan element for the last part of your journey while you are in Kyoto - that way you'll have some time to acclimatise in Osaka.
  • Kirishima national park is an area rather than a definite "park" as such. I certainly recommend a night on Sakura-jima island off the coast of Kagoshima if you're undecided on exact location.
  • There is not a fantastic amount of accommodation in Aso itself. You may want to look at staying in Kumamoto, or in the nearby hotspring town of Kurokawa.
  • You can get the ferry from Takamatsu to Naoshima, and from there on to Uno on Honshu. I recommend this route rather than doubling back to Naoshima.
  • Kobe, Kurashiki & Okayama are all day trip distance from Kyoto or Osaka. How about doing these as day trips rather than overnighting, or even visiting both in 1 day and spending more time elsewhere?
  • at 2.5hrs away, Toyama is a long trip from Kyoto (though possible). How about the Koyasan trip here, or more of the Kii peninsular
  • I would try to spend at least 1 night in Kinosaki onsen. I'd possibly swap that for the trip to Kobe unless there's something specific you'd like to see in the city?

Hope this helps!

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mari
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Thank you Mari
Do you think visit Sakura-jima island instad of kirishima national park? Why?
If to stay the night at Kurokawa. . how to arrive there and do you know where to stay ?
Naoshima - can not be at Monday - that is why i plan it this way .
Toyama - i will spend the night there and do the tour the day after. Is it less busy like that?
. Thanks Orly

od
od

Hi Orly,

  • Sakurajima is part of the Kirishima national park area, so essentially you will experience some of both :)
  • For Kurokawa you can get the (non-JR) bus from Aso station direct to the village. For more information on places to stay in Kurokawa I recommend you consult the official website which also has more information on accessing the village.
  • My thoughts about Toyama were that there is still a lot to see within the Kansai Region that may not require such long distances to travel (and would not need a hotel move) - of course the Alpine route will also be excellent and well worth the journey :)

A nice way to use the rail pass is to base yourself from a large city like Kyoto and do day trips out from there - this reduces the need to move luggage - I do sound like a stuck record with this, but after 21 days I know I would begin to get tired of carrying bags! :)

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mari
Expert_button_2

Thank you for the quiqe answer . You are right about reduces the need to move luggage . I tried to do it but beacuse of Naoshima that is not good to visit at weekend and Monday i did the tour at Okayama and Kurashiki . Do you have an idea to arrenge it in another way?
It is my second time at Japan so i have been at Kyoto and the area for 6 days .
How to do :Aso-Takachiho Gorge - at the evning arriving to Yufuin .night at Yufuin ?

I am trying to change according to your addvice
Thank you very much Orly

od
od

Ah ok, I understand.

An option would be to take a smaller day/night 20-30l bag with you, and leave your main luggage in a coin locker or left luggage office at Kyoto station while you are out travelling light. Here is more information on luggage lockers and counters at Kyoto station and here also.

Getting to Takachiho from Aso

Takachiho is not really equipped for easy public transport+day trips so you'll need to keep your timings in mind. There is a 11:00 bus from Takamori on the other side of Mt Aso to Aso town to Nobeoka that stops at Takachiho, however there are only 2 buses per day, the 11:00 which arrives at 12:09 and the 17:20 which arrives at 18:29. This gives you a 5 hour period in Takachiho if you use the first bus to get there and the last bus to leave.

To get to Takamori to get the bus to Takachiho, you'll need to use the 8:49 train from Aso changing at Tateno. Please note that this trip includes non-JR operated legs and will cost ¥470:


View Larger Map

Getting to Yufuin from Takachiho

The 18:29 bus gets you into Nobeoka at 19:27. You should then get to the JR station for the 19:46 train to Yufuin, changing at Oita arriving at 22:52. (I told you it was a tough day trip!).

Here's a map of the rail route from Nobeoka:


View Larger Map

Hope this helps!

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mari
Expert_button_2

Thank you .
I thought about sending my luggage 2-3 times during my tour and take a small day/night bag . [ i did it last time also ] /

About
24/9 Aso-Takachiho Gorge - at the evning arriving to Yufuin .night at Yufuin .
It is really difficult. what a day trip you thought about?

22/9 -Kirishima National Park . I want to see the 3 lakes so shell i start at Abino-Kogen ? How to continue?

I will do as you recommend and swap Kobe . : I would try to spend at least 1 night in Kinosaki onsen. I'd possibly swap that for the trip to Kobe unless there's something specific you'd like to see in the city?

For the Alpine route i will leave the luggage at the hotel at Kyoto . I thought to see there the autumn leaves.
Thank you
Orly

od
od

Hmm - instead of Takachiho, you could use the Kyushu Odan Express train from Aso to Beppu/Yufuin and stop at places in Oita on the way. Here's the Oita official tourism website for more inspiration.

For Kirishima NP, it very much depends on how much you like hiking :). Near Ebino-Kogen there are a few lakes, but the largest crater lake - Mi-ike is s 23km hike away (with an overnight stay). Also, Ebino-kogen is not easily accesible by rail. You'll get as far as Kirishima Jingu Station or Kobayashi but from here you'll need to take a bus. Honestly, if I was visiting I think I'd be tempted to rent a car for the day from Ebino or Kobayashi or Kirishima.

Hope this helps!

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mari
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Yes . Thank you Mari

od
od

Hi

I am trying to find the train from Kyoto to Amanohashidate at 9:25 but nothing .Can you help please? Can you please find one back at the late afer noon?

Do my Jr PASS cover only a part of the way ? shell i buy ticket for that at Kyoto?

Thank you .

od
od

Hi there,

The JR Pass covers most of the journey, however a part of the journey lies on non-JR tracks so you will need to pay a small supplement. Please speak with the staff at the JR station at the ticket counter in Kyoto who will be able to assist you with purchasing the supplementary fare.

Hope this helps!

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mari
Expert_button_2

Thank you Mari
I saw it in what you sent me but when i changed the day to the 4 October i did not find the above . I want to travel at the 4/10/12 from Kyoto at 9:25 and go back the same day at the afternoon . Can you help please?
Is there any way to go from Amanohashidate to Kinosaki Onsen at the same day or it is too much?

I will be at Kurokawa Onsen at 24/9/12 and i want to go at noon to Yufuin . I have JR PASS . I know that there are some problems in the rout since the rain. at the area of Aso . Can you tell me how to go?

If i want to travel at the Ibusuki no Tamtebako from Kgoshima to Ibusuki can i make the reservation when i stsrt my tour at Osaka? Is it covered by the Jr PASS ?

THANK YOU
Orly

od
od

Hi there,

It looks like on the 4th the earliest direct train is the 10:25am train out. There are earlier trains but they do require many changes I'm afraid.

I think Kinosaki onsen may be a bit tough unless you intend to stay overnight there, but from Amanohashidate, Kinosaki is only 85mins away so you could do it :)

By the time you are there the entire line connecting Aso and Yufuin may be operational. At the start of September the Hohi line opened between Beppu/Oita and Bungo-Taketa and it is only a matter of time before the connecting lines are fixed between Aso and Bungo-Taketa. Until this part of the line is fixed, JR are laying on a free bus service to ensure no loss in service coverage.

The Ibusuki no Tamatebako (aka Ibutama) train is covered by the JR Pass, however reservations are required. As this is a special tourist train, I recommend you make your reservation as soon as you start your tour in Osaka.

Hope this helps!

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mari
Expert_button_2

Yes . Thank you very much .
Is the JR bus for the route to Yufuin will take more time than the train ? Can you tell me how much so i can know the time i will be at Yufuin?

od
od

The replacement service is operating between affected stations rather than direct to Yufuin - I'm not sure of the exact times (they are likely to change), but as it's a shuttle it's unlikely to be more than 1-2 hours I think.

Hope this helps

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mari
Expert_button_2

Yes Thank you

od
od

Hi Mari
We just came back from our tour at Japan
. It was wonderful and i want to thank you for all your help and good ideas. Kurokawa Onsen was the best . Thank you very much . You have beautiful country and friendly people
All the best
Orly

od
od

Hi Orly!

That's so good to hear! I'm really glad you enjoyed yourself in Japan :). Great to hear you enjoyed Kinosaki onsen - it's a lovely little town and so tucked away from the hustle of modern Japan - I loved it too!

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mari
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