questions & answers: general japan travel

family of 3 seeks advice for 10 travel: osaka, kyoto, hakone, hiroshima

Family of 3 seeks advice for 10 travel: Osaka, Kyoto, Hakone, Hiroshima

We are parents visiting our 21 year old during his spring break from Kansai Gaidai Univ. Osaka.
We'd like to visit Kyoto at least 3 to 4 days, Nara I day, and want to add another excursion or 2: Hakone?
Hiroshima? Tokyo? What makes sense? Is a JRPass a smart move?

Thanks for your help.


Hi there!

It is a bit hard to give you some definite advance as you don't have an itinerary yet.

In general, a 7day JR-Pass is about the same costs as a return Kyoto Tokyo.
If you do more travel that this, say a two day trip to Hiroshima, then you will be sure to make some really great savings.
All the options you have listed are great to visit! The main factor is how much time you will have to stay in Japan.

Let me know how many days you are considering staying in Japan and then I can help you with making a travel plan.

Expert button 2

Hi Daniel,

Thank you for your reply. We are only going to be visiting for 10 days total. Day 1 will be in Osaka, then days 2 through 6 in Kyoto including a one day visit to Nara, we think. From what you say about the Kyoto Tokyo return, a 7 day pass might make sense if we visit both Hiroshima and Hakone. Would this be too much to accomplish in such a short trip ?

Thanks very much for your help!


Hi Karen,

That is a very is a good question! I feel it would be a little to much, assuming you would want to be back in Kyoto/Osaka on day 9 to get ready for flying back on the 10th day. This would mean traveling to Hiroshima on the 7th day, then the 8th to Hakone and back on the 9th. While certainly possible, I feel it would be better to stay somewhere for atleast a day without having to travel. For that period of time alone Hakone would be perfect, otherwise Kanazawa is a great destination too!

If you had a day more, say you would leave on day 6 to Hiroshima or be able to return on day 10, then I think it would really make a great trip. You would be able to see some of the most beautiful and imperssionate things that Japan has to offer.

If you decide to go to Hakone, consider buying a local Hakone Free Pass.
It will cover all your travel in Hakone and provide you with discounts too!

Hope this helps with your planning!

Expert button 2

Hello again Daniel,

I hope you are still free and willing to help us plan our trip.

We have confirmed reservations for days 1 through 7 of our ten day visit:

3/21 Osaka, 3/22 -26 Kyoto including a day trip to Nara, 3/27 Miyajima Island.

This leaves 3 days and nights: 3/28, 29 and 30. Our flight leaves 3/31 late afternoon from Osaka.
We are unsure how long or difficult the travel between Kyoto and Miyajima will be on the 27th.
Likewise, we are unsure how to plan our departure from Miyajima, or where to visit from there.

We like your suggestion of Kanazawa and/or Hakone. Other ideas: Mount Koya, Ise peninsula.

What do you think? Should we get a 7 day or 14 day JRPass?

Again, thank you for your help!


Hello again,

Of course you are more than welcome!

Here is an example of your Journey to Miyajima,
Kyoto --> Miyajima ¥ 11,110 + ¥ 170 for Ferry / Free with JR Pass A return would be ¥ 22560.
One way takes a little more than 3 hours, so you would spend more than 6 hours in the train that day, if that is too much consider staying the night in Hiroshima.

The journey itself is quite straightforward so I don't expect any problems.

What to do in the last 3 days?

All the destinations you listed are great! Let me put it this way:
What would you like to see/visit the most?

Hakone: Beautiful nature, lakes, forests and a breathtaking view of Fuji.

Kanazawa: A very charming town, with history, beautiful geisha quarter, caste and great mountain views over the city.

Izu Peninsula: Beautiful coast lines and great hot springs (onsen).

Mount Koya: Great Hiking tracks and an enchanting nights-stay at a Temple

Personally I would either go to Hakone or Kanazawa, if you have had enough travel from your return to Miyajima, Kanazawa is probably the most practical, because there is a direct express train between Kyoto and Kanazawa. So you get in and ride to your destination without further hassle.

In your situation I think a 7 day rail pass is best, with your return to Miyajima you will already have covered most of the costs (¥ 22560 of the ¥ 28300 cost) and with anymore travel to any of the destinations except for Mount Koya you would be sure to make some good savings. For mount Koya you have to ride a non JR-line from Osaka so only in this case a JR-Pass would not be the best option. I would the 7 day JRPass in the last 7 days of your trip, this way you can use it for your trip to Nara and the return to the Airport as well!

Hope this helps and let me know your thoughts!

Expert button 2

Thank you!

Your suggestions are very helpful. We will be staying overnight in Miyajima at a lovely ryocan.
From there, we could travel back to Kyoto to take the train to Kanazawa or to Hakone. I would
love to visit Kenrokuen Garden in Kanazawa but the hot springs in Hakone and overall natural beauty
seems too good to pass up. Since we will have 3 nights (2 full days), we could relax and explore
either destination.

We will definitely get two 7 day JRPasses. Our son will be staying in Japan 4 months, so he
isn't eligible to purchase a pass. Do you know if there are student discounts for train travel?

Thank you again!



Yes 3 nights would be great to visit Hakone! Like you say you would have enough time to explore and enjoy nature.

There is possible 20% discount for students that study in Japan if you are in the possession of a Student Discount Card (Gakuwari). These are issued by Educational Institutes them selfs (Universities etc) so you would have to inquire with them if your son is eligible for one. Some other Terms and Conditioning also apply. You can read more about it here.

Kind Regards,

Expert button 2

Hi again,

As I have continued reading about opportunities in southern Japan, the chance that we might see cherry trees in bloom in Kyushu at the end of March lead me to book a hotel in Kumamoto March 28th. The trip south from Miyajima is not too far.

To recap, out trip is as follows:

March 21: Osaka hotel
March 22-26: Kyoto Machiya
March 27: Miyajima ryocan
March 28: Kumamoto hotel

Our questions now are:

Do we have time to visit Kanazawa ? We would have to travel several hours by train from Kumamoto
on the 29th, tour the city the 30th, stay at a hotel the 29th and 30th, then travel from Kanazawa to catch our
afternoon flight at KIX.

Or, should we simply travel back to Kyoto for our final 2 days?

What regional passes would be best to get for our son, who is in Osaka for 4 months (no JRPass)? He will accompany us on the entire trip. I don't think he would be eligible for the Gakuwari.

Thank you again for any help you can provide to us. We are almost finished with all these questions!!!

Kind regards,



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