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JR Pass vs. Regional JR Passes

almost 3 years ago
5 responses


We plan to go to Japan from December 12-24, 2017 with the following itinerary

Dec 12 - arrival at Fukuoka at night
Dec 13 - Fukuoka
Dec 14 - Beppu, Aso
Dec 15 - Nagasaki (for Huis Ten Bosch)
Dec 16 - Hiroshima/Miyajima
**Dec 12-16 - we'll be based in Fukuoka only

Dec 17 - Fukuoka - Tokyo (travel)
Dec 18 - Tokyo
Dec 19 - Yuzawa
Dec 20 - Tokyo - Osaka (travel)
**Dec 17-20 - we'll be based in Tokyo

Dec 21 - Osaka
Dec 22 - Nara + Kyoto
Dec 23 - Himeji + Kobe
Dec 24 - Osaka (depart at night)
**Dec 21-24 - we'll be based in Osaka

  1. We'll be getting a 7-day JR Pass, but we're unsure which day to activate it. Considering costs and coverage of the JR passes, would it be best to activate it on Dec 16 to cover our Fukuoka-Hiroshima-Fukuoka trip, then use it until Dec 22 to cover Osaka-Nara-Kyoto-Osaka? In that case, we would be getting a 3-day JR North Kyushu Pass to cover Dec 13-15 itineraries, then a 2-day JR Kansai Pass to cover Dec 23-24?

  2. Or would it be better if we get a 14-day JR Pass, instead of a 7-day + 2 regional JR passes?

Thanks in advance.

16610 posts
almost 3 years ago

Hi there,

I would definitely go for a 14 day JR Pass. There is no regional pass that covers the routes Fukuoka - Tokyo and Tokyo - Osaka. Also buying multiple tickets is generally more pricey than one pass for your whole trip.

Regional passes like the Kansai Pass also come with a range of other limitations, such as no seat reservations and not valid on certain Shinkansen lines (Tokaido Shinkansen). With the JR Pass you don't have to worry about this at all.

Hope this helps,

1303 posts
almost 3 years ago

While a series of long distance day trips can really rake in the savings, you have to manage your time carefully. You'll be traveling around the start of winter when daylight hours are shortest. The more long distance travel you can do after sundown from city to city, the more sightseeing time you will have.

One day in Fukuoka can cover the best places. A subway day pass is one good way to get around and many good places are near a subway station. There are many open parks, shopping, seaside historical areas, and urban neon. See this site as a good guide. The Nanzoin Temple is one of Japan's finest and should not be missed. See it before the tourist crowds and tourist guidebook "experts" discover it.

But seeing both Beppu and Aso in a day is nearly impossible. From Fukuoka by train is close to 2 hours, then to Aso is 2-2½ hours - then more time to get around the area. There won't be much time to see a lot.
It'll also be about 6 hours from Fukuoka to Tokyo, and you're not giving much time for there. All the Kansai cities are worth seeing, but just half a day in Kyoto is sorely cheating yourself. I suggest you take half a day from seeing Osaka and see more of the city. A lot of Osaka is best at night anyways, like Dotonbori, and going just before sunset to both the Umeda Sky Bldg, and Abeno Harukas Bldg are great ways to watch the day turn into night.

It looks quite packed, but I'm sure you'll have a great time.

Good luck.

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