questions & answers: using the japan rail pass

tokyo-kyoto/nara & tokyo-karuizawa

Tokyo-Kyoto/Nara & Tokyo-Karuizawa

Hi, I am considering to purchase the JR Pass for 7 days.

In general: can I use the pass for below itinerary? Is seat reservation required for all routes?
I've also put some specific questions below.

  1. Tokyo Shibuya to Kyoto with JR Shinkansen Hikari or Kodama (Nozomi is excluded from what I understood).
    What is the duration with Hikari or Kodama (I read that Nozomi takes approx 2,5 hrs)? Where can I find those time tables?
    How much costs the additional fee if I take the Nozomi?

  2. Kyoto to Nara (two-ways)
    Is 1 day sufficient to see the highlights of Nara?

  3. Kyoto to Tokyo Shibuya
    Is 1 day sufficient to see the highlights of Kyoto?

  4. Tokyo Shibuya to Karuizawa with JR Shinkansen Asama.

And which areas of Mount Fuji would you recommend coming from Tokyo?



Hi Jane,

To answer your general question - Yes, the JR Pass is usable on all places that you wish to visit!
Now let's get a little into detail.

1.) The Nozomi train is indeed excluded, this is the train that makes the least stops and is thus a little faster than the Hikari or Kodama trains. The difference in travel time between Tokyo and Kyoto with the Hikari takes about 20 minutes more (140 vs 160 minutes). For time tables and route information I would suggest using Hyperdia which is a great resource to start planning with. To get you started read our blog on how to plan with Hyperdia. Also note that you can't purchase an "upgrade" to the Nozomi with a JR Pass.

2 and 3.) Nara is great for a day trip, you will be able to see most of the town and enjoy the best spots. Kyoto needs a little more time to really enjoy. The city has an amazing amount of things to offer and one day simply is not enough.

4.)Yes this is also covered by the JR Pass :)

For Fuji, either consider a visit to Hakone or to Fuji 5 Lakes which are both very popular areas to visit.

I hope this helps!


Thanks Daniel. I have some additional questions.

  1. Is a JR Railway map and timetables included with the JR pass? If not, where can I pick up this?

Hyperdia is indeed handy but unfortunately not available from a mobile device outside Japan. The web version is accessible from outside Japan though. I have found the Android app Japan Trains as a good alternative.

  1. So the voucher for the JR pass can be exchanged at Narita airport terminal 2 (

  2. What's the difference between reserved and unreserved seats (aside from risking no seats available)? What to do if I miss the train with reserved seat?

  3. Midori-no madoguchi offices can be found at any JR station?

  4. For getting around Tokyo metropolitan area in 5 or 6 non-consecutive days, should I purchase a Suica or a Pasmo card?


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