questions & answers: using the japan rail pass

tokyo > kyoto > hakone on 7 day pass?

Tokyo > Kyoto > Hakone on 7 day pass?

Three of us (myself and my 14 and 21 year old kids) are flying in to Narita on June 29 and taking a Shinkansen from Tokyo to Kyoto on July 1 (Sunday) coming back to Tokyo on July 3 and going up to Hakone. We are leaving Hakone to go to Tokyo on July 5th. We will be in Tokyo until we leave for Seattle on July 9.

Question 1: Is it worth it to buy a JR Pass and if it is should I get a 7 day pass? When should I get it? I'm leaving for Kyoto on a Sunday.

Question 2: If I want a Green Car, should I buy it ahead of time or can I wait until I get there? What is the cost and is it worth it? I didn't want to chance not getting a seat and ending up in a smoking car.

Question 3: How do I get to Hakone from Kyoto? Can I take a Shinkansen?

Question 4: How do I get from Hakone to Tachikawa?

Question 5: Is my 14 year old considered an adult?

Question 6: Can I use the pass in all the lines around Tokyo including buses?

Thank you so much for considering these questions!

Sam

samuel
samuel

Hi Sam!

Based on your itinerary I'd say you could make good savings with a 7 day rail pass for use starting as soon as you arrive in Tokyo on the 29th until the 5th of July where you return from Hakone. For a 7 day rail pass to start making savings for you, you need to spend over ¥28,300 on individual JR tickets. To confirm your savings, lets take a look at your projected costs (note that for Hakone, the JR Pass will take you as far as Odawara. From Odawara you should use the Odakyu lines to get up to the Hakone area, perhaps using a Hakone Free Pass):

  1. Narita airport terminal 1 > Tokyo: ¥2940, (62mins, 79km)
  2. Tokyo > Kyoto: ¥13220, (164mins, 513km)
  3. Kyoto > Odawara: ¥11750, (177mins, 429km)
  4. Odawara > Tokyo: ¥1450, (36mins, 83km)

TOTAL: ¥29360 for 4 legs

As you can see you'll make a basic saving of ¥1060 using the 7 day pass, with the added bonus that any further JR travel during this period will be totally free (such as JR travel around Tokyo, or day trips to Hiroshima, Nara or Nikko).

Here are some thoughts on your other questions:

  1. For Green Car you should purchase a Green Car class JR Pass. Please note that you will be unable to upgrade to green seats once in Japan with a standard JR Pass. We have a blog post on the benefits of Green Car seats here. It is true that the cars themselves are very spacious however I have found normal class to be more than adequate, and have always managed to get a non-smoking seat. Don't forget that all seat reservations are free for JR Pass holders, so you can make seat reservations for your entire trip in advance if you are concerned about this.

  2. For Hakone from Kyoto, you should aim for Odawara via the shinkansen, and then transfer to the Odakyu lines I mention above.

  3. Here's a sample itinerary to Tachikawa from Hakone/Odawara. If you were to use a 7 day JR Pass, this extra leg of ¥4080 would be free.

  4. 14 year olds are subject to the full adult pricing (any child over 11 is considered a full adult fare, with no 'youth' fare available for the JR Pass).

  5. You can use the Japan Rail Pass on all JR lines around Tokyo (map of JR lines in Tokyo for reference), however you will be unable to use it on the non-JR Metro service and non-JR buses (most buses in Tokyo are non-JR). In general you can travel very freely around Tokyo with a Japan Rail Pass using the JR train lines accompanied with a Pasmo prepaid metro card for use on journey's that JR does not cover.

Hope this helps!

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mari
Expert_button_2

Thank you so much Mari. I feel so much better with all the information that you gave me! I heard that JR West (Hikari)doesn't have Green Car? Will that effect me in any way with the itinerary given?

If I was to purchase a Green Car pass, would I still need to make reservations for Sunday, July 1? I heard that Green Cars are usually not full. We were interested in riding the newest Shinkansen. Are they all new? Is it true that Tokyo to Kyoto Shinkansen leaves every few minutes? I live in Seattle, when will I recieve the pass if I ordered it today?

Thank you!

Sam

samuel
samuel

Hi Sam,

It is true that JR-West doesn't run it's Hikari with Green Cars, however the JR-East operated Hikari service does have green car available - approx. one per hour. This will affect your ability to always use green car seats as not all Hikari services will have them.

Green Car seats always require a reservation, so you would always need to make one regardless of how busy the carriage is. Making a seat reservation is a simple process and you can make one just before you board. We also have a blog post on making seat reservations.

The Hikari service on the Kyoto-Tokyo route are all the latest N700 class bullet trains so I don't think you'll miss out in this regard. Valid Hikari Tokyo to Kyoto Shinkansen services run approximately twice per hour, but you can look up exact train timetables and costs for your legs at the Hyperdia travel planning website and learn how to use Hyperdia for Japan Rail Pass holders through our video blog.

Delivery to Seattle US will take 2 working days (1 day process + 1 day delivery). This means that if you were to order today you should receive it by Tuesday, or Wednesday at the latest.

Hope this helps!

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mari
Expert_button_2

Thank you for all your help Mari! I'm very impressed with the detailed help you have given me. You are very much appreciated!

Gratefully,

Sam

samuel
samuel

Not a problem Sam - have a great trip!

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mari
Expert_button_2

Going Tokyo-Kyoto-Tokyo, plus a side trip or 2, or going to/from Narita by the N'Ex would pay for a 7 day pass.
But you can increase your savings more by expanding your plans and seeing some of the best sights in the area.
In Kyoto you could spend weeks there and not see everything. The three best sights though are the Kinkakuji Temple, Kiyomizudera Temple, and Fushimi Inari Shrine. Fushimi is the most time consuming; you could spend a couple of hours to over half a day if you want to romp over all the trails.

The Fushimi Inari Shrine is something people of all ages would love very much. And the Otagi Nenbutsuji is one of the most humorous and whimsical places you could visit in Japan - well worth visiting, even for kids.
Nara is often neglected by some tourists, which is a shame. Missing the Todaiji in Nara is like going to India and skipping the Taj Mahal. Nara Park has a lot of great places. A few other great places missed out even by those who go to Nara though are the Isuien and Yoshikien Gardens. They are gorgeous and not crowded at all.
If 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 views from the Umeda Sky Bldg, and Abeno Harukas Bldg are wonderful.

It's also possible to go see Hiroshima/Miyajima.

If that is still not enough, there are many places between or close to Hiroshima. 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. If your kids are itching to explore, then in Kagawa there is the Konpirasan Shrine in Kotohira, with a marvelous paved mountain hike.

Toraneko
Toraneko

Hello!

My husband and 2 adult children are going to Japan from March 19 to April 1, 2016. T This is our itinerary:

Manila to Osaka - 4 nights
Osaka to Kyoto - 3 nights
Kyoto to Hakone - 3 nights
Hakone to Tokyo - 4 nights

Is it better to get the Japan Rail Pass than to buy separate tickets?
If we have Japan Rail Pass can we use in the city subways and buses in Osaka, Kyoto, Hakone and Tokyo?

Thank you.

Perks Domingo
Perks Domingo

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