questions & answers: using the japan rail pass

please help us with most cost efficient transport

Please help us with most cost efficient transport

First time in Japan and very confuse over the many different rail passes with good discounts. I am sorry to ask you many questions.

Firstly, do I have to pay for fare and seat fees? When do I have to pay for reserved seats? Please help me look in my itinerary and advise me which are the days that I should made advance bookings and reserve seats because of the New Year season?
Am I supposed to buy my 7 days JR Pass in Singapore and activate only when I want to use it on my 3rd day to go to Kyoto? How and When do I activate the JR pass?
Is the 7 day JR pass most economical or the JR west since I am in Kyoto area then buy the Hakone Pass?

My Itinerary:
26 Dec D1 Take Narita express to Tokyo into Shibuya. (1440Y or 2670Y)
27 Dec D2 Spend in Tokyo
28 Dec D3 Activate JR Pass. JRPD1 Shinkansen to Kyoto (13700Y) Do I take the Shinakansen from Shibuya to Shinagawa to Kyoto? 2h 40min?
29 Dec D4 JRPD2Shinkansen to Arashiyama and Sagano (430 Y) Do I take the Shinakansen to ARASHIYAMA(HANKYU)?
30 Dec D5 JRPD3 Nara. Take 30 min train to old town of Nara (690Y)
31 Dec D6 JRPD4 Osaka's Namba and Dotombor (800Y)
1 Jan D7 JRPD5 Higashiyama Area
2 Jan D8 JRPD6 Kyoto to Hakone (12280Y for reserved seat) How can I enjoy the Hakone Pass since I am not coming from Tokyo to Hakone/
3 Jan D9 JRPD7 Hakone to Shinjuku. I heard everyone is going back after the holidays, do I need advance bookings?
4 Jan D10 Tokyo
5 Jan D11 Tokyo to Narita by Narita Express

Is this the most cost effective way of using my 7 day JR pass? can I enjoy the benefits of Hakone free pass without the train fares?
Please help me! Thank you so much!


Hello there,

Let's start with what the JR Pass covers in terms of fares, seat reservation fees etc. This is simple as the JR Pass covers all costs, including fare, seat fee and reservations fees. Meaning that you can travel all JR lines without additional costs.

To talk a bit more about seat reservations, these are generally not required as most trains do not sell out. However I would recommend making seat reservations when possible. This will make travel more relaxed as you don't have to queue on the platform to gain a seat. During busy days - such as the new year period - seat reservations are required as a lot of people will be traveling cross country and trains can sell out. Try to make reservations 2-3 days in advance. This can be done once you are in Japan at any JR Station or travel center.

Now for the JR Pass. A 7 day JR Pass would be a good option for your travel as it is about the same price as a normal return ticket Tokyo - Kyoto using the Shinkansen. Any additional travel besides the return is basically what you save. Such as travel to Nara and Osaka.

Some other points.
-To travel to Arashiyama with the JR Pass, travel to the station Saga Arashiyama, this is the JR Station for Arashiyama. -The Hakone pass can be purchased at Odawara station. This is the Shinkansen station for Hakone and can be reached directly from Kyoto. -The Hakone pass does cover all train fares and a lot of other transport within the Hakone area.

Hope this helps!


Thank you Daniel for your advice! I have to buy JR pass online or from any travel agent in Singapore, right?
You mentioned it is not necessary to make reservations. And if I do, I have to make them 2-3 days in advance at any JR stations. Once I made a reservations, is it possible to change if I have change in travel plan?
Can I check if it is easy for me to go to Shibuya straight using the Narita Express and then from Shibuya to Kyoto?
I am trying to save as much time as it is short daylight in winter.
Thank you!


Hi again,

Yes you could either order it online or buy it locally.

You are allowed to change your reservations as needed with he JR Pass.

Some of the Narita Express trains make a stop at Shibuya so you could get out there. To get to Kyoto, travel to Tokyo first and from there take the Shinkansen.

Hope this helps too,


Thank you so much Daniel-san! I decided to stay in Shinagawa cos then I can take the JR straight to Kyoto from that station. One more question is my son who is studying in States will be joining us in Japan so should he buy the JR pass from USA or should we buy it for me although we arrive at different time to take the Narita Express to the city but we are not activating our JR 7 day pass then.
Do we need to activate the JR pass upon arrival in Narita Airport even though we won't use it until we travel to Kyoto?
Thank you so much for your patience and advice!


Hi Ruskie!

You can activate your JR Pass at any time within 90 days of purchase. This can be done at any of these stations. So you could either buy your JR Pass or have your son buy it for you, both options work.

Hope this helps :)


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