questions & answers: using the japan rail pass

narita-nazawa onsen - kyoto - tokyo

Narita-Nazawa Onsen - Kyoto - tokyo

W are arriving in Tokyo Narita on 20/12/2014. We are staying near the airport for the first night, as we arrive late. The next day, 21/12/2014, we intend to travel to Nozawa onsen, where we have booked a ryokan, and will ski etc. We leave Nazawa Onsen on the 28th December, and head to Kyoto where we will stay until the 3rd January. In Kyoto we are staying in a hotel near a railway station (I think Higashiama is the closest). We plan to use trains, buses etc to get around. We head back to tokyo on 3/1/15, staying in an apartment in Bunkyo. Also expecting to get around by train etc in Tokyo. Leaving there on 8/1/2014 to return to Narita to get 7:35pm flight home to Australia.
Do you think it would be useful for us to get a JR pass? Or would it be better to just pay for the trains as we go?

Also could you help me with clear instructions about getting from NArita to Nozawa onsen, then on to kyoto, and then on to tokyo?
Are signs etc written in English?
Advice will be much appreciated.

narelle149
narelle149

Hello there,

I checked your itinerary for the best option with a JR Pass and would advise buying normal tickets for your arrival and travel to Nozawa. Then use a 7 day JR Pass for travel between Nozawa - Kyoto and Kyoto - Tokyo. You may still have to buy normal tickets for travel locally in Kyoto but there are good savings to be had nevertheless.

As for travel to Nozawa, I'd advise having a look at a direct express bus like this one. It is also possible to travel there by rail but it will take at least 5 transfers.

To get to Kyoto, take travel to Nagano from Nozawa, either by local rail or bus. From there take a Shinkansen to Tokyo and transfer to the Tokaido Shinkansen bound for Kyoto. Most stations will have signs in English, as well as English announcements in the train and on platforms.

Hope this helps,
Daniel

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Daniel-san
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Hi Daniel!
Just another quick question. Thanks for your advice.
As you have recommended a 7 day JR pass for us, does this mean that we won't be able to use it in Tokyo e.g. on the Tokyo Metro?
We need to get back to Narita on the 8th from Tokyo as well.
Thanks for your help.
Narelle

narelle149
narelle149

Hi Narelle,

The JR Pass is not valid on the metro but you can use the local JR Network, which provides good coverage of most of the metropolis.

For travel back to Narita Airport, you could either use the Narita Express, which is fast, comfortable and around 3,000yen/one way. Or take local trains from Tokyo, which are slow, may require a transfer but only cost 1,200yen.

Hope this helps too :)
Daniel

72a8815842aa5db137c135807bd6bb11?s=50&d=mm
Daniel-san
Expert_button_2

In Australia, we only have one rail network which is owned by the government and doesn't have all that many stations. So we aren't used to this system of multiple owners of lines, and haven't used one like this anywhere else in the world either. Do both of those systems go to the same stations, or do they have their own railway lines and stations? In other words, do you actually travel on the same lines, and can you change from one type to another at the same station? The apartment we are staying in in Tokyo is near JR Nipporo station on the JR Yamanote Line. So should we extend the JR pass to cover the time we re in Tokyo as well? i.e from 3/1/2015 until 8/1/2015. This would mean from 28/12/2014 (when we leave Nozawa) to 8/1/20105, being 12 days, so would a 14 day pass be better value for us? Does the JR pass cover the Narita Express as well?Thanks for your help again!
Narelle

narelle149
narelle149

Hi Narelle,

Ah yes, I remember the first time arriving in Tokyo and totally getting lost in all the transport options and rail lines available. Most of the time you will go to an other section of the station or walk to an other station close by when transferring between stations. For instance, at Ueno station (close to Nippori) transferring between the JR and the Metro means going down a couple of levels and transferring from one section of the station to the other trough a ticket gate.

As for the JR Pass, I'd advise a 7 day pass and use iot from 28 Dec - 3rd of Jan. This will cover all expensive travel. Travel within Tokyo - for example on the Yamanote line - is not that expansive and generally it is more economic to buy local tickets instead of a pass. The JR Pass does cover the Yamanote line and Narita Express if you have one.

I'd advise familiarizing yourself with the Yamanote line first, then the JR Chuo/Sobu line, those are by far the most important in Tokyo and will bring you to most places. Nationwide, I'd advise having a look at this Shinkansen map the Shinkansen are the Bullet trains. As you can see, it is basically one long route and knowing this route will make planning a lot more easier.

Hope this helps,
Daniel

72a8815842aa5db137c135807bd6bb11?s=50&d=mm
Daniel-san
Expert_button_2

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