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Narita to snow monkeys to osaka
almost 5 years ago
2 responses

I'm confused by all the options! We have only 8 days to arrive at Narita, perhaps go via Nikko to then see the snow monkeys at Yudanaka then travel onto (perhaps Shirakawa-go), Kyoto, Nara and finish at Osaka airport. I know none of the JR passes include Yudanaka so what's the best add-on option? Would I be better off with a 7 day JR pass or a Kanto pass then a Kansai pass. If I do that where would be a smart place to take the 1st pass to then transit onto the next pass?!
Finally, with limited time is there somewhere else on that itinerary I should not miss (being most interested in historical, wildlife spectacles, temples and photos.)
Thanks for any assistance you can offer!

12228 posts
almost 5 years ago
Expert button 2

Hi there,

There are indeed a lot of option to get around in Japan! I took a look at what you would like to visit and options available, since you did not have a final itinarary it was a bit difficult but I think the 7-Day JR-Pass is the best option because it is the most flexible. The Kanto and and Kansai pass are very nice for those areas but it is hard to transition from one the the other. The Kanto Pass allows for travel up to Odawara from there you would have to take the Shinkansen to Kyoto (¥ 11,550)

For Yudanaka:
Most of the way to Yudanaka is covered by the JR-Pass! You can ride the Shinkansen from Tokyo up to Nagano and from here take Nagaden Nagano Line to Yudanaka for 1130 Yen.

Savings you could make with the JR-Pass

Narita -> Tokyo ¥ 2,740
Tokyo Nikko 10,460 (return)
Tokyo -> Nagano (for Yudanaka) ¥ 7,770
Nagano --> Kyoto ¥ 10,330
Kyoto Nara ¥ 1,380

For a total of ¥ 32,680, a 7 Day JRPass costs ¥ 28,300 saving you at least ¥ 4,380

Please note that I left Shirakawa-go out, I was a bit unsure when you planned to visit this (directly from Nikko or Tokyo?). From Tokyo you can take to train to Takayama (a very good stop too!) and from there travel by Honi Bus to Shirakawa-go

If you have a day left in Kyoto or Osaka, I would recommend a day visit to Hiroshima to visit the peace museum and if you leave early you could visit Miyajima too! This would also be a really great use of your JR-Pass!

Hope this helps!
2 posts
almost 5 years ago

Wow! Thanks for your awesome response. I hope you can help me flesh out a few more details. We arrive around 5pm Feb.2nd at Narita and leave pretty early on the 10th from Osaka. We've been to Tokyo before so don't mind leaving right away or could start early the next day. Would it make any sense (assuming I take your advice and get the JR Pass) to overnight to Sapporo?! I was hoping that even tho' the ice fest will not have started there might be some interesting work being done in preparation? Then take an overnight back to Nikko. Then is it possible to go on to Nagano without backtracking to Tokyo?
Finally, we'd want to move on from Yudanaka (probably via looks great) in time for a short visit to Nara (we've been to Kyoto before and wouldn't need long there) before heading towards Osaka and then the airport.
Could you let me know how doable this would be. I know it'd be a lot of time on trains but we do love train journeys (and like to get a lot of use out of a pass!)

ps...I only see a means to get a pass sent via fedex. Is there no way to get a voucher online? Thanks again!

12228 posts
almost 5 years ago
Expert button 2

Hi Again,

You mean taking the night train on the same day that you arrive? I checked out the night train possibilities, there is the Hamanasu from Aomori which leaves at 22:42 but you would have to leave Narita at 16.15, the other possibly is the Akebono Express Train this one runs from Ueno (in Tokyo) to Aomori overnight and leaves at 21.15. Normal seats that do allow you to lay down are free with the JR-Pass! You will arrive in Aomori around 7 the next day and can take an early train to Sapporo from there!
I don't know how far preparations for the ice festival will be along but if you love show, it is the place to be!

From Nagano, yes you can travel through mid country by limited express train from Nagano, this does however take longer than by Shinkansen back to Tokyo and on to Kyoto. So if you love trains and scenic views this may be the route for you! You would board to Shinano express to Nagoya which takes about 3 hours.

How doable is it?
Technically it is possible, I think most people may find it a little too much trains though for 6 days and your time at most places would be very limited.

Here's how you could do it:
Day 1- Arrival in Narita, plus night train to Aomori.
Day 2. On to Sapporo plus rest of the day there + Hamanasu night train back to Aomori
Day 3. Travel to Nikko + Nikko
Day 4. Travel to Nagano/Yudanaka + rest of the day there.
Day 5. Travel to Nara + rest of the day there maybe in the evening to Kyoto.
Day 6. To Kansai Airport and back home.

Of course you would make very good use of your JRPass :D

For delivery:
Right now the only possibility is the use of an official voucher that you can exchange in Japan for the Rail Pass. Because it includes official stamps and other validation information the only way is to send it is by real mail.

Hope this helps!

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