questions & answers: using the japan rail pass

visiting kansai area - which rail pass is a better option?

Visiting Kansai area - which Rail Pass is a better option?


I'll be in Japan for 10 days arriving at Kansai Airport. My intended itinerary as below on a tight schedule & budget

Visiting around Osaka (2 days)
Osaka - Nara (day trip)
Osaka - Kobe/Himeji (day trip)
Osaka - Hiroshima (day trip)
Osaka - Kyoto & visiting around Kyoto (2 days)
Kyoto - Arashiyama (day trip)
Kyoto - Kurama (day trip)

optional: planning to squeeze in a day trip to Hakone to see the beautiful Mt. Fuji.

Japan rail pass/ Kansai area pass/ Sanyo area pass... which will be a better option?


Hello there!

Lets take a look at your travel costs (including the trip to Hakone):

  1. Kansai airport > Osaka: ¥2600, (53mins, 57km)
  2. Osaka > Nara: ¥780, (59mins, 48km)
  3. Nara > Osaka: ¥780, (55mins, 48km)
  4. Osaka > Kobe(hyogo): ¥390, (24mins, 33km)
  5. Kobe(hyogo) > Himeji: ¥950, (39mins, 54km)
  6. Himeji > Osaka: ¥1450, (61mins, 87km)
  7. Osaka > Hiroshima: ¥10150, (104mins, 345km)
  8. Hiroshima > Osaka: ¥10820, (109mins, 345km)
  9. Osaka > Kyoto: ¥540, (29mins, 42km)
  10. Kyoto > Sagaarashiyama: ¥230, (16mins, 10km)
  11. Sagaarashiyama > Kyoto: ¥230, (16mins, 10km)
  12. Kyoto > Odawara: ¥11950, (177mins, 429km)
  13. Odawara > Kyoto: ¥11950, (160mins, 429km)
  14. Kyoto > Kansai airport: ¥3690, (79mins, 99km)

JR ticket cost: ¥56510 for 14 legs

  • 07 day rail pass (¥28,300) saving: ¥28210
  • 14 day rail pass (¥45,100) saving: ¥11410

Please note that for Hakone the JR Pass will take you as far as Odawara, from which you'll need to use the non-JR Odakyu lines up to the Hakone area. I recommend the Hakone Free Pass for this.

The only pass that will cover all of your intended travel is the Nationwide Japan Rail Pass. If you do not include the option to visit Hakone, then a Sanyo area pass would give you good coverage.

The Sanyo pass is priced at ¥20,000 for 4 days whereas 7 days of nationwide pass is priced at ¥28,300 and both are good value for travel. It's hard to predict which option is best for you, but you should based your choice on the degree of flexibility needed (eg 4 vs 7 day) and on if you decide to visit Hakone.

Hope this helps!

Expert button 2

Thanks mari! You've been a great help!


I've decided on 4 days Sanyo pass for my following itinerary

Day 1 - KIX to hotel in Osaka
Day 2 - Osaka - Hiroshima (day trip)
Day 3 - Osaka - Nara (day trip)
Day 4 - visiting around Osaka

Any pass recommendation for my remaining days? Or I should just purchase individual tickets?

Day 5 - Osaka - Kyoto
Day 6 - Kyoto - Hikone
Day 7 - around Kyoto
Day 8 - Kyoto - Arashiyama (day trip)
Day 9 - Kyoto - Kurama (day trip)
Day 10-Kyoto - KIX

Many thanks in advance for recommendation.


Hi there!

If you are including the Kyoto - Hakone leg, then I recommend you use a 7 day JR pass from day 1-7. The return trip to Hakone will be ¥23,100. In addition to the Sanyo Pass your travel costs will come to ¥43,100. With a 7 day rail pass, you would cover all your first 7 days for ¥28,300 - representing a good saving.

For day 8-10, I recommend you purchase individual day trips as needed I think.

Hope this helps!

Expert button 2

Nope. I'm not going Hakone. I'm going to Hikone - Lake Biwa.
I changed my destination because Himjie castle in still under renovation. So I'm going to see Hikone castle instead
I'm looking at Kansai various pass, I think only Kansai Wide Area cover Hikone area, but I'm not sure if it would be worth it.



Ah - sorry for the mistake! I think I got confused with your original question :)

As the Kyoto > Hikone travel cost is ¥3280 each way (¥6560 return), and a 4 day wide area pass is ¥7000, I think it makes sense to use a wide area pass for this part of your trip from day 5-8, but bear in mind that the savings won't be huge in this case - possibly around ¥1000.

Also, please note the wide area pass won't cover the transport to the airport as its duration is too short so you will need to purchase individual tickets for this.

Hope this helps!

Expert button 2

Thanks Mari for your view.

I think if play around with my itenerary & use the Wide Area pass for the last 4 days. I may benefit a little including the transport back to KIX.



Great idea - if you can include that then you'll make good savings with the wide option.

Expert button 2

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