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Help! Still can't decide if we should purchase rail pass!??

over 12 years ago
4 responses

We are travelling to Japan in April. We are coming to visit our daughter who is teaching there and we will be there during Golden Week as she has that time off. I understand that many of the Shinkansen trains may get booked up during this time. We are also travelling with our in-laws (in their late 70's) and our other daughter so there will be 6 of us travelling together. Our Itinerary is as follows:

Arriving Tokyo April 26, staying 4 nights. We want to travel around the city exploring the sights on our own, and may book a 1/2 day tour.
We depart for Hakone/Mt Fuji (staying 1 night) on a tour so our bus is included but we are wasting the bullet train back to Tokyo as we are then heading to Kyoto May 1.
We want to take the bullet train to Kyoto, and we are staying there 4 nights with a 1 day tour of Kyoto w/ Nara included.
We want to visit Hiroshima but the tours are not running during Golden Week so we may opt to go on our own.
We then head back to Narita Airport to send off the in-laws and our daughter and will then stay the last 3 days alone with our daughter in her little town of Okegawa with some day sightseeing tours on our own with her.

I am still not clear if the pass is good for the local travel within Tokyo and in Kyoto and the only long train trips we are taking is to Kyoto and back to the airport. If Hiroshima and the adjacent island are included will that help to make it worth our while? Thanks for any help and suggestions you can give!!

1950 posts
over 12 years ago

Hi there,

The JR Pass is pretty good (but not comprehensive) for travel in Tokyo (here is a map of JR lines in the city), but not so good for local travel in Kyoto. I think with some planning you can get good use from the JR Pass in Tokyo.

A 7 day Japan Rail Pass is generally cost-effective if you do one return trip from Tokyo to Kyoto. The rail pass costs ¥28,300 vs the return Tokyo <> Kyoto trip ticket cost of ¥26,840 (¥1460 difference).

If you purchase the 7 day rail pass you will also be able to use it for the trips to Nara and also for the trip to Hiroshima. The normal ticket price to Hiroshima is ¥21980 return from Kyoto, and this trip becomes free with a Japan rail pass.

Whichever way you decide to travel, Golden Week is really busy, so please ensure that you purchase reserved seating as soon as you land. Your daughter may even be able to reserve seats at the JR ticket offices well in advance of your arrival even if you intend to travel with a Japan Rail Pass. If this is possible, I certainly recommend it.

Hope this helps!

4 posts
over 12 years ago

Dear Mari,

Thank you for your help. I apologize but I'm still a bit confused.

If I can please clarify our itinerary:
*We arrive Tokyo April 26.
* April 30 Depart Tokyo on a tour to Hakone for 1 night. * We then want to travel by Shinkansen train from Odawara to Kyoto May 1 (not using the bullet train on the tour to return to Tokyo) * Then travel from Kyoto to Narita Airport May 5.
* For the 7 day pass we would not be able to activate it until Sunday April 29, so that it would be available to use to return to the airport from Kyoto. We would not have the pass for the majority of the time in Tokyo, and you say it cannot be used in Kyoto?

If we decide to go to Hiroshima while in Kyoto we can use the pass for that.. We already have a tour booked that will take us to Nara and the tour that takes us from Tokyo to Hakone.

I guess we would still need to purchase a Suica card for our time in Tokyo, and what train system do we use in Kyoto? Also, getting around in Hakone (local train/bus), would the pass or Suica card be good for that?

I very much appreciate your help and I am sorry for my confusion.

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