questions & answers: using the japan rail pass

narita express vs kansai express & using non-reserved seating

Narita Express vs Kansai Express & using non-reserved seating

Hi there

We will be landing in Tokyo on 31st August and leaving on the 3rd September for Hakone. We will then travel to Hiroshima, before arriving in Kyoto on the 6th September and flying out of Kansai on the 9th September. I've already worked out that it will be beneficial for us to buy the JR pass, but would it be better for us to validate the 7 day pass on the 1st September, so we can use it in Tokyo (our hotel is on the Yamanote line) or have it start on the 3rd September so we can use it to travel to Kansai from Kyoto? Or would there be not much difference.

Secondly, if we do not reserve seats on trains, can we just walk onto the train with our JR pass? Will it get looked at by someone on the train or is there someone on the station that needs to look at it first?

Thanks in advance for your help!



Hi Miranda,

Here are some answers (of a sort!) for you:

JRPass for Narita Express vs Kansai Airport Haruka Express

Lets take a look at the possible costs:

  • Narita Express > Tokyo (¥3140) vs Kyoto > Haruka Kansai Airport (¥3690)
  • Possible use around Tokyo - 4 trips @ ¥200 : ¥800 vs limited use of JR lines within Kyoto (¥0)

Difference of ¥250 (Tokyo: ¥3940 vs Kyoto: ¥3690)

As there's very little difference in overall costs, I think the decision could come down to which side of your trip you would like more flexibility on. You can get good use of the JR Pass around Tokyo, but can also use the JR Pass to travel further afield while you are in Kyoto.

You could also base your decision on the size of the queue at Narita's JR Pass Exchange Office when you arrive. If it looks like it'll take a long time you could visit the ticket office instead and purchase the Narita Express + Suica package and use that for your Tokyo stint, activating the JRPass on the 3rd.

Using non-reserved seats

Using non-reserved seats couldn't be easier and is exactly as you expect - you just walk onto the train! In fact I've done entire trips with non-reserved just because it's so simple and saves waiting at the ticket office for a reservation.

The main areas where your rail pass will be checked are:

  1. At the JR ticket barrier before you go into the main platform concourse
  2. On the train if asked. This check is not normal in standard seating, but is normal in the Green Car.

Hope this helps!

Expert button 2

Thanks Mari - appreciate it!


Order your Japan Rail Pass Online

Starting from $258.00 for 7 days of unlimited Japan Rail travel

Please note: we are only able to handle order related enquiries via our online direct support. Commercial advertising is prohibited as per our website terms.