questions & answers: using the japan rail pass

which pass is most economical for me?

Which pass is most economical for me?

Hello. I'll be in Japan from July 25 to August 5. I'll fly into Osaka and spend a few days there, then move on to Kyoto for a few days, then to Hiroshima for a few days, and finally go to Fukuoka on the morning I depart from Japan.

There are many JR Pass options -- the national pass, regional passes, etc. -- and I can't figure out what would be the most economical for me since my destinations are in more than one region.

I would like to avoid paying for a 14-day national pass (it's a bit expensive for me!), but I can't tell if a combination of other passes might be cheaper, more convenient and such.

So let's say my itinerary is this:

Osaka: Travel from the airport and stay for three days (two nights) with maybe a side trip to Ikeda.
Kyoto: Five days (four nights), with side trips to Nara and Saga-Arashiyama.
Hiroshima: Four days, with a side trip to Miyajima.
Fukuoka: Just a last-day trip from Hiroshima to the airport.

And the other days, perhaps trips to smaller communities of interest, or just more time in the cities mentioned above.

How can I spend as little money as possible while still enjoying the flexibility of the most appropriate JR Pass?

Thanks! This website is great!


Hi there!

This is a pretty tricky question, but the first thing to do is get a handle on what the approx. JR costs of your travel will be:

  1. Kansai airport > Osaka: ¥2200, (53mins, 57km)
  2. Osaka > Kyoto: ¥540, (29mins, 42km)
  3. Kyoto > Sagaarashiyama: ¥230, (16mins, 10km)
  4. Sagaarashiyama > Hiroshima: ¥10590, (141mins, 390km)
  5. Hiroshima > Miyajimaguchi: ¥400, (26mins, 21km)
  6. Miyajimaguchi > Hakata: ¥8810, (120mins, 302km)

TOTAL: ¥22770 for 6 legs

As you can see, the total projected JR costs for the travel you mention over the 13 day period (not including flexible travel to other areas) will come out significantly cheaper than any of the JR rail pass options you have available to you for the whole trip (national or regional) for the duration of your trip. Unless you intend to do 1 or 2 more chunks of significant travel, I recommend you to buy JR tickets as needed, or perhaps look into using Highway Bus services if you are on a very tight budget and have lots of time.

A final note, as you look like you'll be spending a fair amount of time in Kansai, you should certainly check out the Kansai Thru Pass, though whether this is useful to you really does depend on the amount of travel you intend to make during the validity period.

Hope this helps, and sorry I couldn't give you a definitive answer!

Expert button 2

No, that's terrific information, mari. Thanks!

There will be a few side trips to places like Nara and Hijemi and such, but you're right -- the cost of individual tickets combined is a fraction of the cost of JR Passes. I do like the convenience of the passes, but it's not worth doubling my expense!

Thanks again! It was very helpful!


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