questions & answers: using the japan rail pass

narita to nagano? tokyo to kyoto?

Narita to Nagano? Tokyo to Kyoto?

Hi. We are flying into Narita, and plan to stay overnight in a hotel near the airport. Our plan is to travel the next day to Nagano, the Yamanouchi (I know this is a local train not on the JR line) for an overnight at an onsen and visit to the Snow Monkey Park the next day. Then we would travel to to Tokyo.

  1. Is there a Shinkansen we can pick up at Narita that would take us to Nagano? Is it on the same line, or would we need to train into Tokyo first, and then pick up the JREast?

  2. Will the JR Pass work from Tokyo to Kyoto on the super fast trains (Nozumi?) We will travel from Tokyo to Kyoto on Dec. 29, and then from Kyoto to Narita (to fly home) on Jan. 2. If the JR Pass won't work for the fast trains, does it make more sense for us just to buy separate tickets for all of these trains (Narita-Nagano, Nagano-Tokyo, Tokyo-Kyoto, Kyoto-Narita)?


Hi there,

The best way to travel from Narita Airport to Nagano is to take the Narita Express for Tokyo station and there transfer to the Nagano Shinkansen to Nagano station. There's no direct train service between Narita Airport and Nagano.

As for the Shinkansen between Tokyo and Kyoto, you can take the super fast Shinkansen between both cities, however do keep in mind that trains classified as Nozomi are not covered. Instead use the Hikari Shinkansen, these are the same trains as the Nozomi but make a couple more stops on the way and therefor take a little more time. For instance Tokyo - Kyoto the extra travel time is only 19minutes.
As for a JR Pass, it would be perfect for the above itinerary. You would make great savings as a normal return on the Shinkansen Tokyo - Kyoto already pays for the 7 day JR Pass. You make very good savings by visiting Nagano as well.

Lastly some general advice, I see that you plan to travel around new year. Trains can get very busy in this period, especially on old years and new years day. Be sure to reserve seats a couple of days in advance.

Hope this helps!


Thank you so much. This was very helpful.

One last question:

If our first day traveling by train would be on December 22nd, from Tokyo Station to Nagano, and our last day traveling would be on January 2nd, from Kyoto to Tokyo to Narita, would we need the 14 day pass? I don't understand quite how the time frames work on the passes...

If we need the 14 day pass, does it still make sense to get passes instead of booking our tickets separately?

Finally, can I make seat reservations online, or must I do that at a station if I have a pass?

Again, thank you so much for your help.


Hi Again,

The JR Pass is valid of a consecutive period of time of 7, 14 or 21 days. I thought that you would make the trip in 7 days. However lets have a look at ticket prices and see how a 14 day JR Pass would do.

Narita Airport - Nagano ¥ 10,980
Nagano - Tokyo ¥ 8,200
Tokyo - Kyoto ¥ 13,600
Kyoto - Narita Airport ¥ 16,380

For a total of ¥ 49,160 or ¥ 2,770 in savings as the 14 day JR Pass is ¥ 46,390. The JR Pass is also usable for local travel in Tokyo and also for a limited extend in Kyoto, adding even more to your savings.

Seat reservations can be made once you are in Japan at any JR Station. This applies for travel with and without the JR Pass.


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