questions & answers: using the japan rail pass

not sure which japan rail pass/es to buy - please help!

Not sure which Japan Rail Pass/es to buy - please help!

My boyfriend and I are travelling to Japan in late June. We spend 9 nights in Tokyo initially, with one day trip to Mt Fuji. We're then getting a train to Kyoto where we will stay for 9 nights with one day trip to Hiroshima. We're then getting the train back to Tokyo where we will stay for one night before we fly back to Australia.

My understanding is that there is a JR line in Tokyo and we're staying near a JR station so we'll get a lot of use out of a rail pass in Tokyo, but I've heard that it's easier to use the subway and buses in Kyoto so we'll not be using the JR pass much there.

Can someone please recommend the cheapest way of doing this? We could technically get the 21-day JR Rail Pass but is there a cheaper way considering we won't be using the pass much in Kyoto (apart from the day trip to Hiroshima)?

Thanks in advance.

elliej085
elliej085

Hi there,

While the JR Pass is useful in Tokyo (map of JR lines in Tokyo for reference), you'll will find you'll have to top up travel with the Subway there to make the most out of the city. The same holds for Kyoto.

A 14 day rail pass is ¥45,100, so you have to spend more than that on plain tickets to make one worthwhile. Lets take a look at your rail costs:

  1. Tokyo > Kyoto: ¥13220, (164mins, 513km)
  2. Kyoto > Hiroshima: ¥10790, (112mins, 380km)
  3. Hiroshima > Kyoto: ¥10790, (126mins, 380km)
  4. Kyoto > Tokyo: ¥13220, (161mins, 513km)
    TOTAL: ¥48020 for 4 legs

As you can see with a 14 day pass you'll make a saving of ¥2920 over normal tickets. You will also be able to use the rail pass a bit while you are in Tokyo, and also have the flexibility to travel between Nara and Kyoto (or other) if you do a day trip there. I recommend the 14 day pass in your case.

You can also save money around Tokyo and your trips to and from Narita (if that's your airport) by using the Suica/Narita Express Combo that will save you around ¥2000 on metro travel. You can learn more about that here.

Hope this helps!

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mari
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Thanks for your reply. That's very helpful.

One more quick thing. I will be purchasing my pass/es through an Australian distributor - their website suggests I could buy a JR West pass - http://www.japantravel.com.au/Rail-Pass-Details.asp?RailPassID=40 - which appears to let me travel from Kyoto to Hiroshima and back. As you'll see, a 1-day adult pass is only $25 AUS. Have you heard of this? I'm assuming it would save us a great deal of money on the Kyoto > Hiroshima, and Hiroshima > Kyoto legs of our journey.

elliej085
elliej085

Hi there!

There are a few flavors of the JR West Pass - Kansai and Sanyo type. The pass you are referring too is the Kansai Pass which only allows you access to JR trains in the immediate Kansai area (Osaka, Kyoto, Kobe) and does not cover the bullet trains (so you won't be able to use it for Hiroshima). The JR West Sanyo Pass does cover the Hiroshima area by normal JR and Shinkansen, but costs ¥20,000 for 4 days. As the full country rail pass is only ¥8,300 more and covers your trips to and from Tokyo I think I'd recommend you aim for the full Japan Rail Pass.

Hope this helps!

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mari
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Thank you so much. We didn't realise there were different varieties of the JR West Pass and probably would've unknowingly bought the Kansai type without realising we couldn't get to Hiroshima using it.

I think we'll get the 14-day JR Rail Pass and the Suica pass as suggested.

Thanks again for your help, we really appreciate it. Have a great day.

elliej085
elliej085

No problem!

Have a great trip!

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mari
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