questions & answers: using the japan rail pass

best options

best options

We (two adults) will be in Japan from 12/2 through 12/18 (16 days total)
We will be in Tokyo from 12/2 through 12/8 then in the Osaka/Kyoto/Nara area until about 12/16 (hotels and daily trips are still in planning stages).
We will arrive back in Tokyo area on 12/16 through our departure on 12/18,

Our question is which pass is best. We will be out of Tokyo for about 9 days.
1) It seems that the JR Rail pass is only good for 7 days costing about $275 pp.; and that a one-way ticket between Kyoto/Osaka and Tokyo is about $140pp, and a 14 day pass is just about $440 (which is just $25 more).
1a) Given out itinerary is it better to purchase a 14 day or a 7 day plus buying add-ons?
1b) What advantages and savings will having a 14 day pass give us in the Tokyo, Osaka, and Kyoto areas if we activated it on 12/3 through 12/17?
2) Are there any legitimate rail/hotel packages between Tokyo and Kyoto and/or Osaka that offer real discounts?
3) Can green car upgrade (to the JR Railpass) be purchased just on the long trip between Tokyo & Osaka/Kyoto? how much is it for just that segment (round trip)?
4) We will have minimal luggage (carry-on & backpack) is it difficult storing them in ordinary class cars for the trip between Tokyo and Osaka and/or Kyoto?
Thank you. We have found your responses to the other questions in the forum very helpful


Hi McVille,

1.) This is a good question, without a definite itinerary it is hard to say if a JR Pass would be beneficial. In general a 7 day JR Pass is a good option if you make a return between Tokyo and Osaka or Kyoto. A 14 day JR Pass is good for a trip Tokyo - Kyoto - Hiroshima - Osaka - Tokyo. If your Shinkansen travel is limited to Tokyo Kyoto with 9 days between, then buying normal tickets may be the best option. The JR Pass is also valid on all local JR lines in both Tokyo and Osaka and can also be used for to a limited extent for sightseeing around Kyoto. This is very convenient and great for making some extra savings but I would not recommend a JR Pass for local city wide travel alone.

2.) There are travel agencies that offer discount packages for rail travel in combination with a hotel room. You can also make use of special rates at JR hotels if you have a JR Pass.

3.) I would always recommend buying a Green Pass if you wish to travel in Green Class, you can buy an upgrade with the ordinary JR Pass but you would have to pay the full Green seat charge. For example this is ¥ 9,880 between Tokyo and Kyoto, which alone would pay to upgrade your JR Pass to Green.

4.)Luggage never really is an issue, train cars come equipped with a special luggage compartment where you can store your suitcase(s).

I hope this helps!

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