questions & answers: using the japan rail pass

narita > hiroshima > osaka > kyoto

Narita > Hiroshima > Osaka > Kyoto

Here is our itinerary.

Day 1 Narita Arrival 5pm - Apa Hotel Keisi
Day 2 Narita > Hiroshima > Miyajima Island Ferry > Hiroshima - Hiroshima Garden Palace
Day 3 Hiroshima >Osaka - Hotel Shin Osaka
Day 4 Osaka
Day 5 Osaka > Kyoto Urban Hotel Kyoto
Day 6 Kyoto
Day 7 Kyoto > Tokyo Sunlite Shinjuku
Day 8 Toyko > Narita

Questions:
1) Plan to authorize JR Pass at Narita Airport on day 1, activation day starting day 2. Will take airport bus shuttle to hotel on Day 1. This "saves" 1 day for the 7 day pass, maximizing use and covering day 8 for leg back to airport.

2) Can I or do I have to "reserve" seat from KeiseiNarita station to get from Narita to Tokyo, since we will NOT be starting from the airport terminal 1 or 2? I understand we need to reserve the seats from Tokyo to Narita leg on day 8 using JR pass. Can the airport express seats be reserved on Day 1 or 2 or has to be done same day 8?

3) Is this itinerary too rushed?

4) Hotels are based on close walking distances from JR stations. We plan to leave our luggage at the hotels at the front desk in the morning (before check-in times) and then go to the attractions. I assume all hotels will do this?

5) Any general suggestions to this itinerary? For instance, recommend staying 3 days in Kyoto and 1 in Osaka or 2 days each? Seems like more things to see in Kyoto. Maybe 3 days in Kyoto and 1 day trip to Nara?

6) Any advantage of buying JR Pass here vs in person at other authorized outlets?

Thank you

princeb
princeb

Hi there,

1.) This sounds like a good plan to me, you will arrive late in the after noon so it is better to save the JR-Pass for a later day. In addition you can just take the shuttle bus directly to your hostel, savings you some hassle with the luggage.

2.) You can make reservations for the Narita Express to Tokyo at Narita Airport, both for your return ticket there and all the other tickets too. This can be done at the moment that you exchange your JR-Pass, even if you put the first day of use on a later date.

3.) I think you will be able to get a good feel of all places you plan to visit. With only limited time in Japan, this is perhaps the way the most of the trip. On the other hand it can nice to linger a little longer somewhere too.

4.) Yes most hotels will offer this service. Still I can't vouch for all hostels so it may be a smart idea to contact them beforehand to confirm this. Alternatively train stations come equipped with large Coin Lockers and you can leave your baggage there too.

5.) I think this depends on your personal preference. For culture and a most relaxed environment stay in Kyoto and if you prefer the atmosphere of metropolis stay in Osaka. I personally prefer to stay in Kyoto and take the train for day trips to Osaka, It is only 30 minutes between Kyoto station and the heart of Osaka by JR-Train. Also Nara can be reached within an hour from both cities and makes for a wonderful day trip.

6.) Yes, we use a very sharp currency conversion so prices are better than many other places. Shipping is really fast and secure, of course there is the forum :)
In case you are not yet convinced read some of our customer feedback.

Hope this helps,
Daniel

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Daniel-san
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Thanks for quick reply Daniel.

Followup,
1) I read that a 2 day bus pass in Kyoto is helpful to get to local sites. Where can these be purchased?

2) When I reserve the seats for future travel, do I have to specify which exactly which station of embarkment and exact time? Or is it just going to the station counter and reserve "on the spot" just 10-20 min prior to train departing?

3) Leaving for trip mid-May. When do you suggest the JR Pass should be purchased? It looks like the price changes daily depending on the rates?

Thanks

princeb
princeb

Also would it be faster to go from Narita station back to the airport in order to catch the Narita. Express. Into Tokyo,? Ie. Does the Narita express make a stop at Naritakeiseistation ?

princeb
princeb

Hi Again,

Here are the follow up answers :)

1.) You can buy an all day bus pass at the bus information center at Kyoto station, once you exit the station trough the central gate go right and it will be right in front of you. If the weather is good, consider renting a bicycle to explore Kyoto. You can find most tourist spots without trouble and you may see many interesting things on the way.
Personally I really love bicycling in Kyoto!

2.) You don't have to give specific times/trains for a single reservation. In case you want to make multiple reservations at once: bring a list with routes you wish to travel and an approximate time indication, this will speed up the process and the JR-Staff will be thankful too!

Also during normal travel days you can just go to the station staff and tell them that you wish to go to Hiroshima for instance, they will look up the train that is departing next and reserve tickets for you.

3.) The JR-Pass in linked to the current Yen conversion rate. It is hard to predict the future of currencies (otherwise I may have been rich by now), usually there is only small difference on a day-by-day basis. I would recommend buying the pass at least 2 weeks before you depart so you will be sure to have it on time.

I think it would be a little bit faster to go back to the Airport to catch the Narita express, also the extra comfort is very nice. The Narita express does not stop at Narita station or NaritaKeisei (they are 2 minutes apart if you walk) but it is only an 8 minute ride back to the Airport from Narita station.

Hope this helps,
Daniel

72a8815842aa5db137c135807bd6bb11?s=50&d=mm
Daniel-san
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Question, do the trains have food for purchase? Otherwise it seems the stop-over in the stations are very short time, eg. leg from Narita to Hiroshima will be a long time. Can we run out of train to the station to purchase food?

princeb
princeb

Also, how early do we need to arrive at the station. Say for 6:40am scheduled departure, do we need to go to the station 20 min early to reserve seats, etc?

princeb
princeb

Hi Again,

Yes all limited express trains and Shinkansen have a small chart coming by every so often, they sell everything from drinks to snacks, sandwiches and eki-bento's. Also when you have a transfer feel free to enjoy some of the food the station has to offer but I would not recommend leaving the train for a quick snack once you are on it.

If you have seat reservations already you only have to go trough the gate and to the right platform, so 5 minutes should be enough. If you have to make seat reservations take about 15 minutes, it will probably proof to be too much but sometimes there may be a queue for tickets or something else unexpected may happen.

Enjoy Japan!
-Daniel

72a8815842aa5db137c135807bd6bb11?s=50&d=mm
Daniel-san
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