questions & answers: using the japan rail pass

tokyo & hakone - is 7 day jr pass worth it?

Tokyo & Hakone - is 7 day JR pass worth it?

Hi,

I will traveling to Japan with my family in middle of July for 7 days. We will be staying in Shinjuku and will spend most of our time exploring Tokyo. However we plan on taking a day trip to Hakone (leave Tokyo early morning for Hakone & return the same night) so I wasn't sure if a 7 day JR pass was worth it.

Questions:

1) We were thinking of taking the RomanceCar from Shinjuku to Hakone mainly because it seems like the quickest way to travel and also because we won't have to switch trains. Is this a good idea or do you recommend getting off at Odawara to visit the castle and then travel to Hakone using the Hakone Free Pass? Since we are only doing a day trip to Hakone I wanted to make sure we saw the best parts.

2) Is the RomanceCar fare covered by the 7 days JR pass? Is there another way to get to Odawara that is covered by the JR pass?

3) Other than Hakone, we will spend our 7 days exploring sites in Tokyo at a relaxed pace. Should we get a 7 day JR pass or is there a more economical way for us to use the rail system? We will mainly want to take the rail everywhere we go since my daughter cannot walk very far due to issues with her legs.

Thanks for your help.

Neil

Neil
Neil

Hello Neil,

From reading your itinerary I think that a JR Pass would not be put to good use and I would recommend buying normal tickets instead. So it's good that you ask.

1.) The Hakone Free Pass can be a great deal of you travel around the area. Especially if you use it for travel from Tokyo as well. The Romance Car from Shinjuku to Hakone is a special train service which requires an additional fare, even with the Hakone Free Pass nor does the JR Pass cover it. You can however take the normal Odakyu service if you want to save a bit of money.

2.) With the JR Pass you can travel from Tokyo - Odawara using the Shinkansen, from there however other transport is required to explore Hakone.

3.) Personally I would recommend just buying normal tickets for travel within Tokyo. Local travel cost is low and there are so many transport systems in place that one kind of budget pass only serves to limit your travel. What I would recommend is buying a SUICA card. This is basically a prepaid travel card and it takes the need away to buy tickets every time you travel.

Hope this helps and enjoy Japan!
Daniel

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Daniel-san
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Hi Daniel-san,

Thanks very much for your prompt & thorough response. I have a follow-up question. If I understand correctly, I have 3 options to get to Hakone from Tokyo by train: a) Romance Car from Shinjuku to Hakone, b) Odakyu service from Shinjuku to Hakone, or c) Shinkansen from Tokyo station to Odwara.

In your opinion, is the Romance Car from Shinjuku to Hakone worth the additional fare or is the Odakyu service or Shinkansen just as good (in terms of speed, train comfort, and scenery along the train route)? Which of these 3 options would you recommend (I don't mind paying slightly higher fare if it is worth the extra)?

Thank you,
Neil

Neil
Neil

Hi Neil,

Actually you have 4 ways to get to Hakone using rail transport. Odakyu offers two, Romance car and - missing a better name - normal car. Then there is JR, with the Shinkansen but also using local rail. Here is an example.

I have not used the Romance Car myself (always have a JR Pass with me) but it is well known for being the scenic route and I think it is worth considering if you wish to enjoy your traveling as much as possible. If you want to go for speed, take the Shinkansen this only takes 36min from Tokyo station vs 86 min using the Romance Car. Comfort will be about the same. Maybe also good to keep in mind when you make a choice is where you stay in Tokyo, Shinjuku and Tokyo station are quite far apart, so it may be better to travel from the one closest to your hotel.

Hope this helps!
Daniel

72a8815842aa5db137c135807bd6bb11?s=50&d=mm
Daniel-san
Expert_button_2

Hi Daniel,

Since I'll be staying close to Shinjuku station maybe I'll take the Romance car going to Hakone and take the Shinkansen on the return trip. Hopefully the one-way fares for each train are not much less economical than the round-trip fare on either train. I'll see if I can find the fares online to make the final decision.

Thanks again for your advice.

Neil

Neil
Neil

Hi Neil,

Return tickets as exactly the same as 2x a one way ticket. So no worries there :)

Enjoy your trip!
Daniel

72a8815842aa5db137c135807bd6bb11?s=50&d=mm
Daniel-san
Expert_button_2

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