questions & answers: using the japan rail pass

tokyo - kyoto - osaka in 12 days

Tokyo - Kyoto - Osaka in 12 days

Hello! We are a family of 4 traveling to Japan for the first time in late March 2016. That's me and my husband in our late 30s, my 80 year-old mother in law (who cannot walk for more than 15min, hence we plan to bring 8kg lightweight wheelchair to push her) and my 2 year-old toddler (no stroller - she can walk but if she gets tired we plan to let her sit on her grandma's lap while in wheelchair). We may also have 1 large wheeled luggage + 3 medium bags.

Below is our itinerary. What combination of passes (national/regional/city-wide) should we get as most economical yet convenient? Also keeping in mind the logistics bringing the wheelchair + luggage/bags, our family may need to take taxi more frequently than other travelers.

Day 01 (Mar 24) - Tokyo (Haneda limo bus to Shinkuju station then take cab to apartment)
Day 02 (Mar 25) - Tokyo (Disney Sea)
Day 03 (Mar 26) - Tokyo (East Central Tour)
Day 04 (Mar 27) - Tokyo (West Central Tour)
Day 05 (Mar 28) - Daytrip to view Mt. Fuji then to Kyoto (check-in to downtown Kyoto apartment)
PLAN A Kawaguchiko (if clear day)

  a) Early trip (Train/Bus) from Tokyo to Kawaguchiko, leave luggage in Kawaguchiko station locker
  b) Short day-trip (buy pass that includes Kachikachi ropeway, sightseeing boat, and retro bus)
  c) Catch a 3:20PM Bus from Kawaguchiko to Mishima, then 5:48PM Shinkansen from Mishima to Kyoto

PLAN B Hakone (if not a clear day)

  a) Early trip (Shinkansen) from Tokyo to Hakone, leave luggage in Odawara station locker
  b) Daytrip to Hakone (Hakone free pass?)
  c) Catch a 6:08PM Shinkansen Hikari 519 from Odawara to Kyoto

Day 06 (Mar 29) - Kyoto Tour (Kyoto Sightseeing Bus/Subway 2-day pass?)
Day 07 (Mar 30) - Kyoto Tour
Day 08 (Mar 31) - Early trip (Train) from Kyoto to Nara daytrip, then head to Osaka (check-in Namba apartment)
Day 09 (Apr 01) - Early trip (Shinkansen) from Osaka to Hiroshima-Miyajima daytrip, back to Osaka
Day 10 (Apr 02) - Osaka Universal Studios (Osaka 2-day Amazing Pass?)
Day 11 (Apr 03) - Osaka Tour, shopping
Day 12 (Apr 04) - Early trip from Osaka to KIX Airport then return to home country

What type of pass do you recommend for traveling within the city of Tokyo, Kyoto, and Osaka?
Will a national JR Pass pay off - if yes, when should I activate it?

cathidio
cathidio

Hi there,

I see that you are planning well in advanced. Using a 7 day JR Pass with your itinerary will also work well, as you can make good savings compared to buying normal tickets for travel to Kyoto, Hiroshima and Osaka. These are all routes that can cost a lot without the pass. I'd advise using the 7 day JR Pass from Day 5 to Day 11 for the best coverage.

Fuji, I think it is also a good plan to have two options. In terms of accessibility, my preference would certainly be plan B. You could consider using it with good weather as well, as it will be a lot less hassle.

For local travel in Tokyo, Kyoto and Osaka you can look at buying day tickets for the metro or the bus. These generally over good value if you plan on using them for at least 4 rides in one day.

Hope this helps,
Daniel

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Daniel-san
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