questions & answers: using the japan rail pass

should we buy the pass?

Should we buy the pass?

We will travel to Japan in Feb for 3 days. We will travel from Narita to Tokyo, next day from Narita to Kyoto and last day from Narita to Mt. Fuji. It's a short trip, should we buy the pass? Is driving difficult in Japan? Any English road sign in Japan?

Hi there,

If you travel from Narita to Tokyo and then onward to Kyoto and back to Narita with a visit to Fuji it could be worth it to use a 7 Day Rail Pass. Could you tell me what area around Fuji you plan to visit, this way I can make a route for you?
In General a 7-day pass is about the same costs as a return Tokyo Kyoto so if you make some stops on the way and/or use it to travel to Narita Airport you are sure to make some savings!

As for driving, you drive on the left side of the road, so if you are from the UK it is not very different, otherwise if you have no experience driving on the left side it may not be recommended but it depends on the person I think. Road signs are pretty much universal with a couple of additions but should post no problem. Bigger city names are usually displayed in English too so it is not that hard to get around.

Personally though I would recommend using trains to travel in Japan, it is a very nice experience by itself.

Enjoy the weekend,

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Arigato Daniel-san.

I'm still debating where is the best place to see Mt Fuji. Some review I have read recommended go to 5th station to see Mt. Fuji, some mentioned Mt. Fuji can be see from Tokyo city. Some recommended to see Mt Fuji from Lake Motosu or Yamanakako. We will probably check out Lake Ashi as well. So far, besides Mt Fuji and we are still not sure where to go after that. Any suggestions?

Thanks again.

Dou itashimashita :)

For Fuji, it does depend a bit on the amount of time you have there to spend. Most people visit or start at Lake Kawaguchiko and go from there. If it is just a day trip I would stick to that and walk around in the area.

Have you decided yet on the method of transport? If you do decide to drive, Izu Peninsula makes a lovely ride and is not to far from either Fuji-san or Tokyo.

By train: Takayama may be a good option, the ride very lovely, especially from the wideview train between Nagoya and Takayama. I think the town and area are very lovely and on the way there you may see Fuji from the Shinkansen. Otherwise Kyoto is a great option too!

Hope this helps!

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I have purchased two JR-Passes on Jan 12, 2013, now the price drop a bit :((. How do I have obtain the JR-Pass route timetable? I realized from Narita to Tokyo is about 60 mins, from Tokyo to Nagoya is about 60 mins, from Nagoya to Takayama is about 2 hrs. I don't want to miss the last train, plus I already booked all 4 nights hotels in Narita. We might stay one night in Nagoya or Kyoto, what do you think? Does Kyoto Imperial Palace really closed on weekend? If so, we will miss that because we will be in Kyoto on weekend. Does it worth to see the Kyoto Imperial Palace? What is the difference between Tokyo Imperial Palace and Kyoto Imperial Palace?

Arigato Daniel-san, your information is truly helpful.


We have linked our JRPass order system directly to the Yen exchange rate in order to offer the best price. Still if you got it yesterday you got it for a good price! Since the yen has been becoming somewhat cheaper again over the last 2 months (luckily for us Japan visitors).

The easiest way is to use Hyperdia for route and time information, we have a great blog post to help you on your way. Most trains in Japan will stop riding at midnight, if your journey takes say 90 minutes the last train will leave around 22.30.

If you want to stay a night in Nagoya or Kyoto, then I would recommend Kyoto. This because Nagoya looks a lot more like Tokyo and most people seem to enjoy Kyoto more too. The grounds of the imperial palace are open everyday but tours are not organized in the weekend and on Holidays, also an on-line application is required. The Imperial palace is where the emperor used to live before the Meji Restoration, after that he moved to Tokyo, the one in Kyoto is build in a more traditional style.

Hope this helps and let me know if you have more questions :)

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Konnichiwa Daniel-san:

I have more questions. With the JR Pass, do we need to stop by the JR office to get train ticket for the Shinkansen (bullet train) seat? I understand that for the local train/metro, we just need to show our pass at the gate. Also, when boarding the train, is there a way to tell which seats are reserved and which are non-reserved? Is it necessary to reserve the seat?

I feel better learning that Kyoto Palace is open for the public on weekend.

Arigato. :))

Konnichiwa Merry-Chan,

If you would like a reserved seat on any train (including the Shinkansen) you have to go to a ticket office and make the reservations there by showing your JR-Pass. If you are fine with a non-reserved seat then you can just show your JR-Pass at the ticket gate and proceed to the train. When you get to the platform all train cars are numbered and will also display if the car is for reserved or non-reserved seats. Also the platform is already marked with where every car will stop and if it is reserved or not.

About the imperial Palace, I made a mistake there. The palace park (which is really nice) is open to Public at all days but if you want to walk in around the palace buildings you do require to sign up for a guided tour and these are only available during mid week. You can make reservations (here)[].
Sorry for the confusion!

Have a good trip!

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