questions & answers: using the japan rail pass

jr pass worth it for tokyo - kyoto?

JR Pass worth it for Tokyo - Kyoto?


My wife and I are debating on getting the JR Pass for 7 days.

Will it worth taking the JR pass if we only plan to go from Tokyo to Kyoto and use the subway in Tokyo?

If we go for the JR pass, I am still confused on how to reserved the train for Kyoto. We arrived in Tokyo and we were planning on going directly to Kyoto. I know we have to exchange the pass at an office in Narita but then how do we reserve a seat on a Bullet train to Kyoto?
Where is the closest train station from Narita?

Finally can we use the JR pass to go from Tokyo to Narita?

Thank you very much for your help.


Hi there,

A 7 day pass will be worth it if you spend over ¥28,300 on JR travel over a 7 day period. Lets take a look at the ticket costs for your itinerary:

  1. Narita airport terminal 1 > Tokyo: ¥3140, (62mins, 79km)
  2. Tokyo > Kyoto: ¥13420, (164mins, 513km)
  3. Kyoto > Tokyo: ¥13420, (161mins, 513km)
  4. Tokyo > Narita airport terminal 1: ¥3140, (58mins, 79km)

JR ticket cost: ¥33120 for 4 legs

A 7 day pass will give you a base saving of ¥4820, in addition to this any further JR travel is free (more on this below), so I can recommend the 7 day JR Pass option for you.

Here are some further answers for you:

  1. The JR Pass can be used on the Narita Express from Narita Airport into Tokyo. There is a station at Narita airport itself - here's a sample itinerary into Tokyo for you
  2. You can get good use of the JR Pass across Tokyo, with JR lines going to most main destinations. Here's a map of JR lines in Tokyo for reference.
  3. The JR Pass allows free travel on reserved and non-reserved seating so a seat reservation is not necessary (except on the Narita Express). Making a seat reservation is very easy - simply present your JR Pass at the normal JR ticket counter and specify the train you want to reserve seats on. If you want to make the seat reservations for your entire trip when you arrive at Narita you should visit the JR ticket office after your exchange your JR Pass.

I hope this helps!

Expert button 2

Thanks Mari for all these info.

I have another questions. We are arriving around noon at Narita on Sept 17th. Our plan is to trade the JR pass at Narita.

Will it be possible to reserve 2 seats for a Bullet train to go to Kyoto on the same day? Do you think seat availability will be ok?
Then i am guessing we should take the Narita Express to Tokyo Station and then take the Bullet Train to Kyoto.

Thank you


Hi there,

For Kyoto from Narita you should get the Narita Express to Tokyo and then board a Hikari Shinkansen bullet to Kyoto.

You can reserve your seats on the bullet train the same day that you activate your JR Pass - in fact it's quite normal to do the reservation just before you get on the train. For your plans the seat availability will be fine, especially as you'll have the 1 hour trip from Narita to Tokyo station before you board.

(little tip - there are ¥1000 shower rooms at Narita airport. Highly recommended if you are arriving on a long haul flight!)

Hope this helps!

Expert button 2

Going Tokyo-Kyoto-Tokyo almost pays for a 7 day pass, you'd need a side trip or two, or to go to/from Narita Airport on the N'Ex to break even. But either of those are easy to do.
In Kyoto you could spend weeks there and not see everything. The three best sights though are the Kinkakuji Temple, Kiyomizudera Temple, and Fushimi Inari Shrine. Fushimi is the most time consuming; you could spend a couple of hours to over half a day if you want to romp over all the trails.

The Fushimi Inari Shrine is something people of all ages would love very much. And the Otagi Nenbutsuji is one of the most humorous and whimsical places you could visit in Japan - well worth visiting, even for kids.
Nara is often neglected by some tourists, which is a shame. Missing the Todaiji in Nara is like going to India and skipping the Taj Mahal. Nara Park has a lot of great places. A few other great places missed out even by those who go to Nara though are the Isuien and Yoshikien Gardens. They are gorgeous and not crowded at all.
In addition, there are other numerous great places you can visit in the area. Okayama is not far and it is famous for its castle, plus Korakuen, one of Japan's Top 3, and also the Handayama Garden. If you'd like to get off the beaten trail for a while, the half day hike up to Konpirasan in Kotohira is stunning. Going to Takamatsu is also nice - it has one of Japan's finest gardens also, called Ritsurin.
Hiroshima also has a number of good places. Miyajima is the most famous, and aside from Hiroshima itself, Onomichi with its temple tour and Kosanji Temple is spectacular. Just beyond Miyajima also lies Iwakuni with its historical bridge and castle on top of the mountain. Himeji Castle is also close by and has Japan's finest castle.


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