questions & answers: itinerary check

best choice of jr pass to buy for my particular itinerary

Best choice of JR pass to buy for my particular itinerary

Hi there,

We're a family of 3 travelling to Japan in March 2016, flying in to Tokyo Haneda and flying out from Hiroshima. This is the planned itinerary:
- 7 nights in Tokyo (including day trips to Kamakura and Nikko) - 2 nights in Hakone - 5 nights in Kyoto (including day trips to Nara and Osaka) - 3 nights in Hiroshima

I still don't know if it pays off to use JR pass days to the Tokyo portion of our trip... Is it cheaper to buy an alternative local pass - PASMO or Suica - just for the 7 nights in Tokyo and the use a JR pass for the rest of the trip, or is it cheaper to buy a longer JR pass to cover the whole trip? That would decide whether we buy 7, 14 or 21 day long JR passes.

Please comment.


Hi there,

I was reading your itinerary and tried to see how to best match a JR Pass to it. What I must conclude here is that it would actually to better to just buy normal tickets as you travel instead of a JR Pass. This may sound odd at first but most people use a JR Pass for a return Tokyo - Kyoto or even Hiroshima. By traveling one way, you simply don't get a high amount of transportation costs.

Tokyo - Nikko (return) ¥ 10,760
Tokyo - Kamakura ¥ 1,840
Tokyo - Odawara station (for Hakone) ¥ 3,540
Odawara - Kyoto ¥ 11,880
Kyoto - Nara (return) ¥ 1,420
Kyoto - Osaka (return) ¥ 1,120
Kyoto - Hiroshima ¥ 11,370

For a total of ¥ 41,930 while the 14 day JR Pass is ¥ 46,390. The difference is not that big but for now it would be more economic to just buy normal tickets.

Hope this helps,

Expert button 2

Hello Daniel,

Thanks for the prompt answer. I see your point, but your comparison is not contemplating the cost of local trips inside the cities. Unless my understanding of the JR pass is incorrect, we could use most of the public transport in all of these cities without having to pay (i.e. just show the JR pass). And I was told subway trips (for instance inside Tokyo) can get rather expensive.

My original rationale is that we could perhaps save some money buying a shorter JR pass (for instance 14 instead of 21 days) and use a PASMO or Suica local pass to cover the balance of our time in Japan (for instance the first 3 nights in Tokyo, before doing the day trips to Kamakura and Nikko). Would it work? Would it be cheaper than just buying a 21 days JR pass?


Hi again!

It is true that I did not include local travel, this because I simply don't know how much you will be using it. The JR Pass covers the local JR network in cities such as Tokyo, Kyoto and Osaka. Other transport such as the Metro is not covered. On average a one way ticket for local travel costs 200yen, this would still mean that you'd have to do a ton of rides before you get to a point where you can make savings from local travel.

You can instead use an IC card like Suica for local travel, this make travel a lot more convenient but does not provide a discount on travel in itself.

Does that help?

Expert button 2

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