questions & answers: itinerary check

tokyo - nagano-kyoto-koyasan-osaka

Tokyo - Nagano-Kyoto-Koyasan-Osaka

Hi there,
I will be travelling to Japan in late June/early July for 2 weeks with my 2 teenage daughters.

I was wondering if a JR pass was worth it for the following itinerary. Also, any input on improving the itinerary would be greatly appreciated:

1) Fly into Haneda airport and spend time in Tokyo for 5 days. We may take a day trip to FujiQ for one day and then back to Tokyo. Should we take a day trip to Nara??
2) Then to Nagano for 2 nights to see snow monkeys and Olympics. Perhaps do some hiking in the alps?
3) Then go to Kyoto for 4 days.
4) Then to Koyasan for 1 night to stay in the Budhist temple
5) Then to Osaka for 1 night. Fly back to Canada from Osaka airport

Based on my preliminary calculations, it is cheaper not to buy the JR pass. Can you please give advise on the itinerary and whether we should buy the JR pass?

Thanks so much!!


Hi there,

Your preliminary calculations for this itinerary it is better to purchase normal tickets as you travel. Though the JR Pass could give you good value if you returned from Osaka to Tokyo.

The itinerary itself also looks good, although I would visit Nara from Kyoto, as it is a bit far from Tokyo :)

Hope this helps,

Expert button 2

For your time in Tokyo, perhaps you meant a day trip to Nikko?

With a one-way itinerary like yours, a full JR Pass would not be cost effective. However, if you want to see places like Nagano, etc there is a 3 day JR Kanto Area Pass where you could get to Karuizawa in just one hour by bullet train, and on the other days see Nikko, and some other place like Kamakura, Kusatsu, etc.

Nara is definitely worth seeing - but it is best seen as a day trip from Kyoto. The Todaiji Great Buddha is simply magnificent, and other places in Nara Park are also well worth seeing, including Kasuga Shrine, Kofukuji, Yoshikien and Isuien Garden. After the temples of Kyoto close down around 5PM, you can zip over to Osaka for the evening. At night the city comes alive and has some great places to see, such as Dotonbori, plus the night views from the Umeda Sky Bldg, and Abeno Harukas Bldg.
If you can squeeze in a half day to see Himeji Castle which is Japan's finest, it would also be well worth it.
Be ready for some very humid and muggy weather - bring sunblock too, which is expensive in Japan.


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