questions & answers: using the japan rail pass

tokyo-kamikochi-kanazawa-kyoto-tokyo

Tokyo-Kamikochi-Kanazawa-Kyoto-Tokyo

I'd like some advice on whether getting the JR pass would make sense for two adults on this itinerary:

Narita to Shinjuku, 10 Nov
Tokyo to Kamikochi, 11 Nov
Kamikochi to Kanazawa, 14 Nov
Kanazawa to Kyoto, 15 Nov
Kyoto to Tokyo, Shinjuku to Narita, 18 Nov

Our total trip 9 days. I know we can take the limited express thunderbird for the Kanazawa to Kyoto, but am not sure if it is covered by a JR Pass. And if it makes sense to buy the JR pass, how then do we go about booking the each leg?

Looking forward to your advice!

lynK
lynK

Hi there!

You're in luck - the Ltd Exp Thunderbird is covered by the JR Pass :). Bookings are free for JR Pass holders, but you'll need to place them on arrival into Japan and on presentation of your pass. We have a good blog post with more here.

Here are the costs for your trave assuming you'll be travelling to Matsumoto first, and then use the bus to Kamikochi:

  1. Narita airport terminal 1 > Shinjuku(jr): ¥3,310 (84mins, 89km)
  2. Shinjuku(jr) > Matsumoto: ¥6,710 (176mins, 225km)
  3. Matsumoto > Kanazawa: ¥6,600 (306mins, 243km)
  4. Kanazawa > Kyoto: ¥6,910 (126mins, 224km)
  5. Kyoto > Shinjuku(jr): ¥13,220 (184mins, 517km)
  6. Shinjuku(jr) > Narita airport terminal 1: ¥2,460 (95mins, 86km)

JR ticket cost: ¥39,210 for 6 legs

As you can see you'll not do enough travel for a 14 day pass to be worthwhile (14 day pass is ¥45,100). However, you could fit it all into a 7 day JRPass if you return to Tokyo 1 day earlier (from 11-17th) and would gain good minimum savings of around ¥5000 and would retain some travel flexibility.

If you did go this route you should purchase a discount return from Narita to Tokyo that includes some free JR and metro travel. I recommend the Narita Express + Suica deal as you will be able to go direct to Shinjuku from Narita on the Narita Express.

Hope this helps!

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mari
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Hi Mari,

Thanks for the quick reply. We've already made plans for Kyoto, and so wouldn't want to leave Kyoto a day early. Also, the ryokan owner at Kanazawa advised us to travel from Kamikochi to Kanazawa via Takayama on the Nohi bus. I guess this means that even the 7-day pass won't make sense for us. Thanks for the recommendation for the Narita Express + Suica deal; we'll probably get that when we get there. I read somewhere that the JR East pass includes discounts for the Nohi bus, but there's the connection even though the Narita Express + Suica deal is from JR East, right?
Lastly, I checked the Limited Express Thunderbird on Hyperdia, but how do I can from there to actually booking the tickets? Thanks!

lynK
lynK

Hi there!

Yes, the Nohi bus is an excellent way to get from Matsumoto/Kamikochi to Kanazawa! The JR East pass (only - not included with the NEX/SUICA deal) does include a discount for a round trip from Matsumoto to Takayama by Nohi bus, but you'll need to transfer at Hirayu onsen to the Kamikochi bus, and would need to return to Matsumoto rather than Takayama so you may not be able to take advantage of it. Also, the JR-East pass is unlikely to save you money on JR travel as the majority of your travel looks like it'll happen outside the JR area.

I'm afraid there is no way to book JR tickets in english online right now, but you should be fine to book them on arrival into Japan at the JR ticket counter.

As a final tip, while you are at Narita at the start it may also be worth picking up some all day unlimited metro passes. These are cheapest at Narita rather than in town, are only available to foreign tourists, and are very cost-effective. The 2 day metro passes work out at ¥490/day for example.

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mari
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Hi Mari,

Will it possible to book JR tickets in advance online in Japanese? Thank you.

lynK
lynK

Yes :)

You can reserve seats online using Ekinet.

Hope this helps!

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mari
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