10 Day Trip to Japan - is a JR pass worth it and how should I use it?
Hi, we will be travelling in Japan for 11 Days.
Friday/Sat/Sun - We will be in Tokyo and staying within the metro area.
Monday/Tues - We will travel by train monday morning to Kyoto and stay there for two days.
Weds/Thurs - We will travel to Osaka wednesday morning and spend weds and thursday there.
Thursday - We will be taking a day trip to Nara on thursday as well
Friday/Saturday/Sunday - We will take the train back to Tokyo and stay within the metro area.
My questions are:
In general a 7 day rail pass makes sense if you do 1 return trip to Osaka from Tokyo. As you'll be doing this, I can recommend you purchase the 7 day pass.
Looking at your itinerary I recommend activating the rail pass on Monday, for use until your day of departure on Sunday. In addition to your travel down to Kyoto, the JR Pass will also cover your JR travel within Tokyo and back to the airport. Assuming you will leave from Narita, here are your JR ticket costs for comparison with the JR Pass price of ¥28,300:
JR ticket cost: ¥32,610 for 6 legs
As you can see you'll make savings with a 7 day JR Pass, in addition to having the flexibility do any further JR travel for free (such as the previously mentioned Tokyo based JR travel or a day trip to Nikko from Tokyo).
While you are in Osaka/Kyoto/Nara, transport between these cities will be covered by the JR Pass, however you will need to purchase metro/bus travel as these are not operated by JR. As you will be in the area for a few days I recommend you purchase a PiTaPa card while you are in these towns - you can purchase this at all Metro stations in Kyoto/Osaka. You may also want to look at these municipal day passes for Kyoto and Osaka.
Overall I think your itinerary is great for a first time visit! If you would like to see more while you are there I recommend looking into trips to:
Hope this helps!
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