questions & answers: using the japan rail pass

reservations in august

Reservations in August

Hello all,

I’m planning a trip to Japan and planning on starting in Tokyo and then visiting Hikone, Matsuyama Kobe, Kyoto and Nara on the Japan Rail Pass. I had a few questions and wondering if someone can help me?

  1. Are all of these cities available on the rail pass
  2. Is there a website (in English) where I can look up schedules and how long it takes to get in between and plan an itinerary
  3. We plan on doing this between the 11th and the 17th August which I believe is around the Obon Festival, is it safer to get the ‘Green Seats’
  4. Is it possible to arrive in Tokyo, reserve seats straight away and then not start the ticket until a few days later?

Many thanks for any help!


Hi Matthew,

1.) All cities (Matsuyama, Kobe, Kyoto, Nara and ofcourse Tokyo) can be reached with the quickly JR Pass!
You can also use to JR Pass to travel to the Bullet Train station for Hakone called Odawara, from here you will have to change to local transport methods that don't accept the JR Pass. You may find a Hakone Free Pass useful here as supplement to your JR Pass.

2.) Yes, there is a very handy website called Hyperdia which shows you all the information you could wish for and probably more. I suggest reading our guide on how to plan with Hyperdia to get started.

3.) Travel during Obon can be very crowded. I don't think you will have any problems getting your train tickets if you can make the reservations one day in advance. A Green Pass may also help with this, the real reason why I would recommend a Green pass however during Obon is to avoid the traveling crowd.

4.) This is no problem either, you can activate your pass the moment that you arrive in Japan and pick a starting date up to 30 days in the future. You can also make all the reservations you want at this point, even if your first day of use is in the future.

Hope this helps,


Many thanks Daniel, very helpful


Hi Daniel,

Would also be travelling to Japan on August 11 to 19. Would like to ask regarding reserving your seats day before. Is it possible to reserve your seats month before? or what is the earliest time that we could reserve our seats? (Is this applicable for both green and ordinary seats?) How do we do this?

Hope for your advice.



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