questions & answers: general japan travel

jr v rural travel, one way only....5 weeks

JR v rural travel, one way only....5 weeks

Just read some of your posts for the first time........excellent!
I have a few questions, we basically keep heading south with gaps in travel and would appreciate your advice re the best transport options
We arrive in Tokyo for the first time on 24 Nov for 5 nights............
1 Getting a Suich card package at the airport, what is it , is it the same as an all day metro pass?
2 If 5 days in metro, do you suggest a daily pass, or other options.
3 We travel by train to Tarkaragawa Onsen for the night of 29 Nov
4From 30 Nov we head towards Kyoto to arrive on 4 Dec, should we go via Matsumoto........or Kanazawa, options/ideas?
5 We have 4 nights in Kyoto...........local day pass?
6 Thinking of heading down the peninsula for 3/4 days to do some of the Kumano pilgrimage walk............easy to get a bus or train?
7 Continue to head south towards Hiroshima, aiming to get to Nagasaki on 18 it worth staying over in Fukuoka?
8 is this section of travel one way perhaps the best option for a JR pass?
9 On 18 Dec we fly from Nagasaki to Okinawa returning on 26 Dec for 5 days exploring Kyushu............buses or local rail pass?
10 On 31 Dec we arrive at Kansai airport and will need to get to Narita, is there a direct train, approximate travel time?

Many thanks


Hi there!

That's a lot of interesting questions, especially since your trip is one that is somewhat unique.
At the same time I have to say that it really looks great, especially since in includes Kyushu and Okinawa.

Once you arrive at Narita Airport you've got two options. The first is the Suica + N'EX package. This includes a discounted ticket on the Narita Express to Tokyo and a pre-loaded suica card with 1500yen which you can use to travel around the capital and other parts of Japan.

The 2nd option is the Keisei Skyliner and Metro Pass this is a ticket on the Keisei Skyliner to Tokyo (Ueno) and also includes an all day metro pass.

The Keisei Skyliner pass may be a little more economic because you can travel as much on the Metro as you like for a day or two. However I usually recommend the Suica package because it is more flexible and the Narita Express stops at more major stations in Tokyo.

For general travel in Tokyo there are lots of options, one the all day metro pass and other is the Tokunai ticket which allows for unlimited travel on local JR lines in Tokyo for a single day. Here's a great website with all discount tickets listed in Tokyo it is hard to say which is best as it really comes down to what you would do with them.
I would recommend sticking to a Suica card if you are unsure, this because it is valid on every kind of transport and makes for very convenient travel (however it does not provide a discount by itself).

Looking at your travel after Tokyo it all is spaced apart so it can be hard to really take advantage of the JR Pass, be it a 7 14 or even 21 day pass. Maybe when you travel from Kyoto to Nagasaki (Point 9) a 7 day JR Pass could be useful. A normal ticket is ¥ 20,090 and the 7 day JR Pass is 28,300yen, so it would not be hard to making savings with it if you did some additional travel with it. You may want to look into a JR Kyushu pass for your local travel around Kyushu though. A 7 day JR Pass could also be useful for your last week. When you travel from Nagasaki - Kansai Airport (¥ 19,730) and Kansai Airport - Narita (Airport, I assume) (¥ 17,700). There's no direct train but the travel is pretty forward and mainly traveled with the Shinkansen, travel time is 4-5 hours.

On your way to Kyoto it looks easier to make a stop over at Matsumoto than Kanazawa, especially since you can take a direct there from Shinjuku (Tokyo). This would also be a more economic option. Once you are in Kyoto consider buying a 500yen bus ticket which is valid for a full day and allows for unlimited bus travel. This is especially great because a normal bus ride is 220yen. Unlike Tokyo, Kyoto is best traveled by bus making this ticket the best way to get around.

For local travel in Kyushu you have also two options, one is the Kyushu rail pass (mentioned before) there's bus pass, both are pretty good deals although I personally prefer the rail pass as rail travel is quicker and more comfortable.

Hope this helps you!

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Thank you for your prompt and detailed response.
The web links you have included give me far more detail than I had previously.
You have provided great options for me to consider.
I think I got it wrong to say i would be going to Kansai, we fly from Nagasaki to Haneda airport on 31 Dec then need to get to long does that take?
Any ideas on website link for dark beers in Japan?

Many thanks


Hi Again,

Rail travel from Haneda to Narita Airport is about 100 minutes by rail although it would be saver to reserve 2H in case you miss a train or other complications. There's no direct train, to get from Haneda to Narita Airport by rail. First take the Monorail from Haneda Airport to Hamamatsucho (the last stop of the monorail) there transfer to the Yamanote line bound for Tokyo (this takes about 6 min) at Tokyo station transfer to the Narita Express bound for Narita Airport. This route should be considered if you have the JR Pass and for it's reliability because trains rarely have a delay.

In addition you could also consider taking the limousine airport bus service which is a direct service between both airports and takes about 90 minutes, the only downside is that it is prone to traffic delays.

As for dark beers? Do you mean Ale, Stout or dark Lager? I would recommend to try out Asahi Dark or Sapporo Kuroi brew. They are the most popular, in addition to Guinness. I don't know a website that specialises in Japanese dark beers but this blog reviews Japanese beers in General.

Hope this helps too!

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Many thanks.........again.
I have been away and just looked at the links - all great.
I am very impressed that you made the distinction between dark beers and ales.
I am a home brewer in Melbourne and have spent most of the day making a strong old ale similar to Old Peculiar!
I assume that I will get not only to some craft beer breweries but also sake and miso breweries (at the moment I prefer miso tp sake, but I am keen to be educated).
I think the J league ends on 7 dec, is there a game in Kyoto that night?

Thanks again



Hi George,

It's a bit of a shame that you don't go all the way up to Hokkaido where you can enjoy the Sapporo Beer Museum and Factory but maybe it's an excuse to return to Japan at a later date.

On the topic of Sake, I've found that there is a wide range of sake and it can be hard to find one that appeals to your taste. If you are in Kansai (area around Kyoto and Osaka) consider a visit to Kobe, there are a different Sake Breweries there and they all have small museums and more Sake tasting.

Other Japanese alcohol I've found to go down well, is the Umeshu or plum wine. Every time I visit Japan I bring back a bottle or two to enjoy with family and it's become very popular.

If you are keen on trying new kinds of local alcohol, be sure to check out Awamori, the local drink native to Okinawa.


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