questions & answers: using the japan rail pass

questions about jr planning

Questions about JR Planning

Hello, I will be in Japan from the 6th to the 21st of December. And I have the following Questions:

1) When should I order the JR Pass?

2) I'm going to be staying in this order, at the following cities: Tokyo, Kyoto, Osaka, Hiroshima, Yokohama and from there for to the Narita airport and back to the U.S., what are good cities to visit outside of the cities where I will be staying, so that I can get the most out of my JR Pass and start planning my itinerary. For example, which cities are near Tokyo that are worth seeing and are accessible by JR Pass and can be seen in one day? Which cities are close to Kyoto, and so on and so forth.

3) The JR Pass is good for 14 days but I'll be there for 15, how much am I gonna spend to get from Yokohama to Narita Airport?

Thank you so much!!

Projektwelve
Projektwelve

Hi,
To be the most helpful, it'd be better to answer your last question first. If you are there from Dec 6-21, that makes it 16 days as far as using a rail pass goes. Since you want to take a train from Yokohama back to Narita, it'd be most cost effective to take the Narita Express, and so use your rail pass in the last 14 days of your trip (Dec 8-21). It is very easy and cheap to get from Narita to Tokyo either by a 1000 yen bus or try a or Keisei/Metro package. If you'll be in Tokyo for 3 days, a 3 day subway pass can also help you save money.

You can order the pass right now if you wish, if your plans are set. The exchange order will still be valid for Dec. 8th. You must get the exchange order before going to Japan though.

There are many good day trips from Tokyo. Some of the more popular places are Nikko, Kamakura/Enoshima, Kusatsu, Karuizawa, Izu, Hakone, the Fuji 5 Lakes area, Kawagoe and the Boso Peninsula. For near Fuji or Kamakura you also might check out some regional passes.
Near Kyoto, you should not skip Nara and Himeji. Kobe is nice too. Since you have some time, an overnight at Koyasan is worthwhile. Since you are already seeing Tokyo, you can largely skip Osaka during the day. After the temples of Kyoto close down around 5PM, you can zip over to Osaka for the evening. At night the city comes alive and has some great places to see, such as Dotonbori, plus the night view from the Umeda Sky Bldg is superb.

For Hiroshima, Miyajima is by far one of the biggest tourist draws in the area, but aside from the Itsukushima Shrine with the giant "floating" torii, the Daishoin Temple is also a must-see place. There are several other pagodas and temples, and climbing Mt. Misen offers a fantastic view over the island and whole area. Just a bit past Miyajima is Iwakuni with its iconic historical bridge and mountaintop castle. Onomichi is famous for its temple tour and wildly ornate Kosanji Temple. Nearby Kurashiki is a famous own city for its canals, and Okayama also has its own castle and one of Japan's other Top 3 gardens, Korakuen.

That should give you more than enough for all your travel time, so go through everything and choose what interests you most. There will still be enough for another memorable visit in the future.

Best of luck.

Toraneko
Toraneko

Thank you so much! Can you explain to me this Exchange Order thing? So I would order the pass in the next few days, what will I receive and when? And what do I do next before I go to Haoan? What do I do on the 8th to get my pass to start working? Thank you.

Projektwelve
Projektwelve

*Japan

Projektwelve
Projektwelve

Hi,
You can't buy the pass in Japan - it is for tourists going to Japan - so you buy the exchange order, fly to Japan, and go to any larger designated JR Station to exchange the order for the actual pass.
For complete info, you should look at the official website.

Please remember also that the day you activate and use it counts as Day One - which starts and ends at midnight. So if you activate it and use it at 6 PM, your first "day" is just 6 hours long. However, the day you get your pass does not have to be the first day of use - you can get the pass with a future date listed and start your 7 days later from any JR station, no matter how small.

Toraneko
Toraneko

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