questions & answers: itinerary check

open to suggestions!!!!!

Open to suggestions!!!!!


My wife and I are spending 3 weeks in Japan over Christmas and New Year (21 December - 10 January) and are unsure if we would benefit from getting a JR pass for the entire duration of our trip. If you don’t mind could you please give us a few suggestions on what you think would be our best options. We were also wondering if the JR pass works on the local trains in the cities, Tokyo, Kyoto etc.

Can you please also confirm if JR is closed at all over the Christmas and New Year period?

Here’s are rough itinerary

Tokyo ( 3nights )
Not sure when to activate the pass, because we may be able to get a metro/travel card (if they have them in Tokyo) for the 3 nights and that way only get a 2 week pass instead of a 3 week pass.

Nagano-Shiga kogan (4 nights )
Just doing a little snowboarding

Kanazawa (2 nights )

Kyoto (5 nights )
Thinking of doing a day trip down to Hiroshima on new years day, just incase of the crowds around Kyoto, do you think this would be do-able as a day trip?

Osaka (2 nights )

Koya-san (1 night )
Would love to stay in a temple but un sure if the rail pass would be able to get us there( does the pass work on buses also.

Tokyo (3 nights)
Would it be an issue getting from Koya-san to Tokyo in 1 day?

Thank you for your help and I look forward to hearing from you.

Kind Regards

Ryan Smith


Hi there Ryan,

Japan is absolutely a great place to spend the holidays, what else could you wish for the celebrate the new year together in a warm with a good glass of hot sake?

First let's talk a little about travel during the Holiday period. Christmas is not celebrated the way it is the Europe or the America's, it's not even a national holiday and travel many only be a little more busy than on normal days, so I don't expect any trouble around the Christmas period. New Year however is a completely different story! It is almost like Japan undergoes a mass migration and trains (they do ride!), roads and buses can be completely packed, so it is better to to avoid traveling on these days or at least book your tickets well in advance. I read that you are considering a day trip to Hiroshima on New years day, Hiroshima is certainly possible as day trip from Kyoto/Osaka but I would try to stay in postpone it until the 3rd of January. On new years day I would visit a temple or two and see how the Japanese celebrate New Year and see the surrounding ceremonies, Kyoto is absolutely the best place for this and I would recommend visiting both Kyomizu-dera and Fushimi-Inari.

14 or 21 day JR pass? I think a 14 day JR Pass would be best suited for your plans, this because you can use it to do all your long distance travel with it and be back in Tokyo on day 14 of it's validly period. Than for Tokyo and travel from the Airport consider a Suica + N'EX package, which will give you a discounted ticket to travel on the Narita Express from the Airport to Tokyo and you can use the Suica card to pay for your local travel around on all kinds of transport, including the Tokyo Metro within the metropolis of Tokyo.

Going to Koya-san. The best way to get there is to use the JR Pass to travel to Osaka and transfer there to the Nankai express (850 yen, not covered by the JR Pass) bound for Koya-san which takes about 100minutes from Osaka. You can read more about getting to Koya here. Going back from Koya to Tokyo on a single day is not really a problem but the total amount of travel time will be somewhere around 5 hours, you should ask your self if that is too much train for a gives day.

I hope this helps and let me know if I can help anywhere else!

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Hi Daniel

Thank you for your response - it has been very helpful with making our plans.

I just had a few other questions, when we order our JR Pass how long do we need to this in advance before we pick it up? Is it something that we could arrange to do from our hotel or do we have to go to a designated station? We're still unsure if we are going to get the 21 or 14 day pass for our trip, do you know if the pass would also work on the Tokyo, Kyoto and Osaka metro trains too?

Thanks again

Ryan Smith


Hi Ryan Smith,

You will receive a JR Pass voucher by FedEx dispatch when you order the pass. You can than exchange the voucher for the actual JR Pass when you arrive in Japan. This can be done at most Major JR station in Japan, such as Narita airport, Tokyo or Shinjuku station.

The JR Pass is valid on the local JR Network in Tokyo, Osaka and around Kyoto which will get you to most places but it is not valid on other companies such as the Tokyo or Kyoto Metro.


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