questions & answers: using the japan rail pass

tokyo to kyoto and then back shoul we get pass

Tokyo to kyoto and then back shoul we get pass

5 of us will land in Tokyo for 4 nights and then travel to Kyoto for 4 nights with a day trip to Nara. We will then return to Tokyo for one last night. One of our travelers will remain in Kyoto In the end. Is it worth it to get pass?


Im interested in this question too. Saves me doing another post with the same topic.

Our itinerary is the same. We are landing in Tokyo and spending 4 nights (Taito area), the going to Kyoto 4 nights (possible day trip to Osaka), then back to Tokyo for one last night (Yotsuya area). So 8 nights in total.

Im assuming that a 7 day pass would be best??? If so, when is best to activate it given we will be short a day at the start or end???



In general a JR Pas starts to make sense if you do 1 return trip to Kyoto from Tokyo. A 7 day pass costs ¥28,300 so in order for a rail pass to be good value you need to spend around the same amount on JR tickets. Lets take a look at the ticket costs for the journey you mention:

  1. Tokyo > Kyoto: ¥13420, (164mins, 513km)
  2. Kyoto > Tokyo: ¥13420, (161mins, 513km)

TOTAL: ¥26840 for 2 legs

As you can see, the JR ticket costs are only ¥1460 cheaper than a full 7 day rail pass. Most people will easily spend an extra ¥1460 on JR travel, for example on JR travel from the airport, around Tokyo (here's map of JR lines in Tokyo for reference), or between Kyoto and Nara. In addition to this all further JR travel is free for JR Pass holders, so if you have a change of plans or would like to do more day trips (eg, Hiroshima, Nikko), the transport to these locations will be free. As a typical example here's the breakdown with the Nara day trip you mention including 1 leg to Narita on the Narita Express:

  1. Tokyo > Kyoto: ¥13420, (164mins, 513km)
  2. Kyoto > Nara: ¥690, (45mins, 41km)
  3. Nara > Kyoto: ¥690, (44mins, 41km)
  4. Kyoto > Tokyo: ¥13420, (161mins, 513km)
  5. Tokyo > Narita airport terminal 1: ¥3140, (58mins, 79km)

TOTAL: ¥31360 for 5 legs

  • 07 day rail pass (¥28,300) saving: ¥3060

As you can see even with this base travel you start to make savings. Any further JR travel from here will add to the savings. Based on this I can recommend the 7 day JR Pass for those who are returning to Tokyo.

For the traveller who is not returning to Tokyo, I don't think a 7 day pass makes sense as they won't spend enough on tickets to justify a rail pass - in their case I would recommend they purchase individual JR tickets as needed.


Here are the base costs for your trip:

  1. Tokyo > Kyoto: ¥13420, (164mins, 513km)
  2. Kyoto > Osaka: ¥540, (28mins, 42km)
  3. Osaka > Kyoto: ¥540, (29mins, 42km)
  4. Kyoto > Tokyo: ¥13420, (161mins, 513km)
  5. Tokyo > Narita airport terminal 1: ¥3140, (58mins, 79km)

TOTAL: ¥31060 for 5 legs

  • 07 day rail pass (¥28,300) saving: ¥2760

As you can see you will also make good savings with a 7 day pass, with the added bonus that all further JR travel will be free.

@Mike & @glaskb01

I recommend starting your 7 Japan Rail Pass validity on day 2 of your trip to the final day, and using either the Keisei Skyliner + 2 day unlimited Metro Pass deal or the Narita Express + ¥1500 prepaid Suica card deal to get into Tokyo. As these deals are only available at Narita it makes most sense to take advantage of them at the start of your trip. This will allow you to make good savings on travel from the airport and around Tokyo at the start of your journey.

Hope this helps!

Expert button 2

Very helpful thankyou!


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