questions & answers: using the japan rail pass

honshu & kyushu in 14 or 21 days?

Honshu & Kyushu in 14 or 21 days?


We are two travellers going to Japan end of July 2012. It's our first time in Japana and we are planning to do the following route:

Day 1 Arrival to Tokyo in the morning
Day 2 Tokyo
Day 3 Tokyo (day trip to Nikko)
Day 4 Tokyo (day trip to Kamakura)
Day 5 Tokyo to Kyoto
Day 6 Kyoto
Day 7 Kyoto
Day 8 Nara
Day 9 Osaka
Day 10 Tanabe (Kumano Kodo area)
Day 11 Hongu (Kumano Kodo area)
Day 12 Shingu (Kumano Kodo area)
Day 13 Hiroshima
Day 14 Hiroshima
Day 15 Fukuoka
Day 16 Kumamato
Day 17 Mt Aso
Day 18 Kurokawa
Day 19 Beppu
Day 20 Beppu to Tokyo
Day 21 Return Fligth from Tokyo

Our question will be:
- Is it worth to get a 21 days rail pass ? Or is it better a 14 days rail pass + some other regional rail/buss pass? - Do you think that our route is possible to be done? Or is it too much?

Thank you so much in advance



Hi Veronica,

This trip looks excellent - you'll cover a lot of great sights in Japan with it.

I think that a 21 day will give you the best savings as you will be doing expensive JR travel from day 3 up until you return to the airport. That said, here are your rail pass options and the costs associated with them and your itinerary breakdown:

14 & 21 day rail pass costs

14 day: ¥45,100 / ¥3221 per day
21 day: ¥57,700 / ¥2747 per day (+¥12,600 over 14 day pass)

Itinerary breakdown

  1. Narita airport terminal 1 > Tokyo: ¥2740, (62mins, 79km)
  2. Tokyo > Nikko: ¥5230, (121mins, 150km)
  3. Nikko > Tokyo: ¥5230, (117mins, 150km)
  4. Tokyo > Kamakura: ¥1700, (48mins, 51km)
  5. Kamakura > Tokyo: ¥890, (58mins, 53km)
  6. Tokyo > Kyoto: ¥13020, (164mins, 513km)
  7. Kyoto > Nara: ¥690, (45mins, 41km)
  8. Nara > Osaka: ¥780, (55mins, 48km)
  9. Osaka > Kiitanabe: ¥5090, (146mins, 175km)
  10. Shingu > Hiroshima: ¥17340, (380mins, 759km)
  11. Hiroshima > Hakata: ¥8500, (69mins, 280km)
  12. Hakata > Kumamoto: ¥4790, (35mins, 118km)
  13. Kumamoto > Aso(kumamoto): ¥1080, (99mins, 49km)
  14. Beppu > Tokyo: ¥23550, (441mins, 1228km)
  15. Tokyo > Narita airport terminal 1: ¥2740, (58mins, 79km)

TOTAL: ¥93370 for 15 legs

As you can see you stand to make an excellent saving with the 21 day pass (a whopping ¥35,670) so I recommend this option for cost and also for general ease of travel. There are a few exceptions where I recommend using local bus services in your itinerary over JR:

  1. Kiitanabe > Hongu > Shingu. While it is possible to use JR to loop back to Shingu from Kiitanabe, I think you're meaning to traverse the penninsular. As such, I recommend you look into public buses from Kiitanabe to Hongu and then onto Shingu and have omitted these legs from your JR pricing.

  2. Mt Aso > Kurokawa > Beppu. Again, it's possible here to loop back from Aso to Beppu, but I think you mean to travel up to Beppu stopping at Kurokawa on the way. As such I recommend you look into a bus from Aso to Kurokawa, and from there onto Beppu and have also omitted these legs from your JR pricing.

You are rather busy towards the end of your trip. How about considering the Mt Aso experience in between overnights at Fukuoka and Kurokawa (Hakata/Fukuoka(night) > Aso > Kurokawa(night)), and skipping Kumamoto (unless you have a reason to go)? This would give you an extra 2 nights to play with. I'd also look into whether you can visit Kiitanabe, hongu and shingu at the same time as a day trip from either Kyoto or Osaka or with only a single night stay to further free up time and allow some more 2 night stays in your itinerary.

You can look up train timetables and costs for all of your legs at the Hyperdia travel planning website and learn how to use Hyperdia for Japan Rail Pass holders through our video blog.

Hope this helps!

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Hi Mari,

Thanks so much for your useful and detailed question.

We may consider to change a bit the end of our trip as your suggested. We could skip Kumamoto as you are saying. Regarding Kiitanabe, hongu, shingu we were planning to go by bus to Tanabe-Honghu and then do a 2-days walking route between Hongu and Shingu; that's why we were booking 2-3 days in this area. If we see its not possible, we could always change to a day trip from Kyoto or Osaka.

Thanks a lot again



Ahh that explains it! That would be an excellent route - very exciting! In that case you won't need either the bus or the train ;)

Have a great trip!

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