questions & answers: using the japan rail pass

namba station

Namba station

Hi! I was able to booked a room in Hotel Monterey Grasmere in Namba. We will be coming from Kansai Airport & I will avail of the JR Pass. I believe there is no direct JR train from airport to that hotel, us that correct? How do we go to Hotel Monterey?

How do we also maximize the usage of JR pass if we will also be going to Tokyo/ Universal Studios / Shirakawa-go & Hiroshima from our hotel? Does Namba station doesnt have train stop for JR?

Hope you can help me.

Thanks

bhel17g
bhel17g

Hi,
You can get from KIX to Namba by JR, but you'll need to transfer trains at Tennoji or Shin-Imamiya. However, the rest of your itinerary is unclear, it would help if you gave your full itinerary. Are you returning to Osaka within a week, or leaving Japan from Narita? If the latter, it might be better to take a cheap 1000 yen to get from KIX to Namba and use the pass for longer days of travel.
For getting to Hiroshima/MIyajima, Takayama/Shirakawago, and Tokyo, you can take a bullet train either all or most of the way, leaving from Shin-Osaka Station. For Shirakawago you need to go to Takayama and catch a bus which is not covered by the JR Pass. For USJ, you can go from Namba to Nishikujo, transfer, and take a train to USJ.
You can see regular fares, routes and schedules on Hyperdia. But be sure under "More Options" to deselect "Nozomi..." since you can't ride that on the Pass.

Toraneko
Toraneko

Toraneko

Thank you for your reply...below is our Itinerary:

1st day - arrival from KIX to our hotel in Namba / go to Dotonbori & Shinsaibashi
2nd day - from our hotel to Universal Studios then go back to hotel
3rd day - from our hotel in Namba to Nagoya then go to Shirakawago then go back to the hotel in Namba
4th/last day - our hotel in Namba to Tokyo then Tokyo to our hotel.... then check out then go to Kansai airport

can you also suggest other places that we can visit within our itinerary places?

From KIX to Namva by JR, if we are going to transfer train at Tennoji or Shin-imamiya, will it be covered by JR? What time of train are we going to ride from KIX, is it a Shinkansen?

Sorry if I have too much questions, it's going to be our first time to go to Japan :)

bhel17g
bhel17g

Hello,
Thanks for giving more info on your plans. Four days is very short and not enough to see much of Japan, but for what time you do have, hopefully you can make the most of it. For your first day, seeing Dotonbori is a lot of fun and be sure to try the great food there. If you are not too tired, the night views from the Umeda Sky Bldg, and Abeno Harukas Bldg are wonderful. You can go from KIX to Namba by JR as I mentioned, although there is no bullet train that goes to the airport, and the Haruka express train that does stops at Tennoji where you'd need to transfer. Nankai is another rail company that goes straight from the airport to Namba in about 45 minutes, but it is not covered by the pass.

However your plans for your 3rd and last day are simply not being realistic. To go to Shirakawago from Osaka would require over 3 hours to Takayama, and then a 50 minute bus ride, so you are talking about 8 hours of the day getting there and returning - unless you are going to overnight there, it simply isn't worth it. If you have your heart set on such a place, you might instead go to Miyama which is about 30km north of Kyoto City. It is not as large or famous of course, but you will enjoy the same atmosphere and actually have time to see the area.

Also to go to Tokyo takes 3 hours by bullet train - so 6 hours there and back, plus an hour to get to the airport, plus needing to be there a couple of hours before your flights, already eats up about 9 hours of your day. You will have extremely little time to see Tokyo at all. Your plans would make a rail pass pay off, but at a terrible expense of time that in just four days you really can't afford. Besides, you are not seeing Kyoto or Nara at all, which are the cultural jewels of the country. Missing the Todaiji Great Buddha in Nara is like going to India and skipping the Taj Mahal. Nara Park has a lot of great places, such as the Kasuga Shrine, Kofukuji Temple, feeding the many deer in the area, plus the Isuien and Yoshikien Gardens.

Kyoto has enough for you to spend several weeks there. But the three top places are the Kinkakuji Temple, Kiyomizudera Temple, and Fushimi Inari Shrine. Fushimi is the most time consuming; you could spend a couple of hours to over half a day if you want to romp over every trail.

If you have your heart set on riding the shinkansen, you could do a day trip to see Hiroshima/Miyajima, which in itself is very worthwhile, in addition to a half day to go see Himeji Castle, which is Japan's finest, and newly renovated. You could then go to the airport and not end up completely exhausted. That would make a 7 day pass pay off, and you can take the JR trains to/from the airport, which are otherwise pricey.

At any rate, please consider your plans, and do what you think is best for your interests and limited time.

Best of luck.

Toraneko
Toraneko

hi! you've been so helpful...I will look into my itinerary again for I will consider the things you told me.
Is the Umeda Sky Bldg open even at night time? is it just near Dotonbori or our hotel - Hotel Monterey Grasmere?
For the Shirakawago, I just actually thought of going there because my kids wants to experience snow. Is there a much nearer place in Namba like a ski resort rather than Shirakawago? We are not really after the skiing & everything, just want to feel playing in the snow....we will be going in Japan on winter, January 17-20.

I apologize for so many questions that I ask you....sorry, it's going to be our first time :)

bhel17g
bhel17g

Hi,
The easiest would be going to the Biwako Valley in Shiga Prefecture. You will find it is a lot closer. Probably Shirakawago would be better, but you simply don't have the time.

If you still want ways to spend some time, there are other numerous great places you can visit in the area. Okayama is not far and it is famous for its castle, plus Korakuen Garden, one of Japan's Top 3, and also the Handayama Garden. If you'd like to get off the beaten trail 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 finest gardens also, called Ritsurin.
Hiroshima also has a number of good places. 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 Clan 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 Kyoto Station has some fun things to look at, and it is still just a train station.

The Umeda Sky Building is open until 10:30 PM, with last entrance allowed til 10 PM. The Abeno Harukas Bldg has a last entrance until 9:30 PM. Both are well worth it, and quite different from each other. See the links I gave above. The Umeda Bldg is about 10 minutes on foot from Umeda Stn and you can go there directly by subway or if you want to use a JR Pass you can get to it through the JR Loop Line. See their website for more info.
Good luck.

Toraneko
Toraneko

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