questions & answers: using the japan rail pass

14 day pass or not and when to use

14 day pass or not and when to use

Hello,

My wife and I will be traveling to Narita Airport on 2/28 at 2 pm.
We'll stay in Tokyo, Shinjuku region for 2 nights.
From Tokyo, we'll then go to Takayama for 2 nights.
From Takayama, we'll stop at Shirakawa-go for the day, then continue to Kanazawa and stay for 3 nights. While we're in Kanazawa, we plan on doing a day trip to Nikko.
From Kanazawa, we'll go to Kyoto for 5 nights. While we're in Kyoto, we plan on doing a day trip to Hiroshima and Miyajima Island and another day trip to Mt. Koya and finally, a half day trip to Himeji castle.
From Kanazawa, we'll go to Nara for 1 night.
Finally, Nara, we'll go to Hakone for a final 1 night.
We then return back to Tokyo, Narita Airport with our flight at 6 pm.
Total is 14 nights, 15 days.
My questions:
If the JR pass is good for us, when should we activate the JR Pass?
How do we get from Takayama to Kanazawa via Shirakawa-go using the JR Pass?
We plan on doing some of the ropeways, like the one in Takayama and Miyajima Island, but can we use the JR Pass for that or is there a discount having the JR Pass?
How can we get to Mt. Koya from Kyoto using the JR Pass?
Does having a JR Pass give discounts on visiting the World Heritage sites (Koyasan, Shirakawa-go, for example)?
Can we use the JR Pass in Hakone to get around or to see Mt. Fuji?
Any recommendations on our travel would be appreciated.

Thank You.

boswell310
boswell310

Hi,
You can make a 14 day pass pay off with your plans, but you are making several errors in your itinerary planning.
If you wish to go to Nikko, it should be done as a day trip from Tokyo. Kanazawa is 2½ hours away from Tokyo, and Nikko is about 1¾-2 hours north of Tokyo.

Likewise, Kanazawa is about 2 hours from Kyoto, and Nara is about 30 minutes from Kyoto. Going to Nara from Kanazawa is simply ill-advised.

Regarding the pass usage, from what you write it looks like using the pass for final 14 days of your trips makes the most sense, and you can use the pass on your last day to go on the Narita Express back to the airport. You wouldn't be able to use the pass from Narita when you land then, but the 1000 yen bus to Tokyo Stn is a good way to save money, together with a 2 or 3 day subway pass, or try the Keisei+Metro ticket.

For Shirakawago there is no rail access, so you must pay for the bus there, and you can pay for a direct bus from there to Kanazawa. For Koyasan and Hakone the JR Pass will only help you partway. You should get some other regional passes to save money, namely the Koyasan World Heritage Ticket and Hakone Free Pass. The Hakone Loop Course is a common way to see the area.

The pass allows you to take the JR ferry to Miyajima without additional charge, but there is no discount for any ropeways or the other destinations. If the weather is good, climbing to the top of Mt. Misen is well worth it for the fantastic view, plus the Daishoin Temple is also a must-see place in addition to the popular Itsukushima Shrine with the giant "floating" torii.

For Hakone, take the bullet train from Kyoto and get off at Mishima Stn., then to save money, buy the Hakone Free Pass there. After seeing the area, return but go to Odawara Stn., then catch the next bullet train into Tokyo.
If you still have some energy, after a day of sightseeing in Kyoto, you can go to Osaka for the evening, and on another night, go see Kobe.

Good luck.

Toraneko
Toraneko

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