Posted by: jrhorse | February 26, 2010

Japan Rail Pass: To have, or not to have?

With much of the Olympics out of the way, and with my job off tomorrow because of our third (?) big snowstorm of the year, I figured I would chip in on my MONTHLY post to this blog… wow I don’t post much do I? But I hope that by now the advice that I have published here so far has helped at least one person in their trip plans for Japan.

I’d like to share with you some tips on the Japan Rail Pass. This came about as I came across a posting on a Japan Travel bulletin board with regards to itinerary help. The person who wrote, whose name I shall keep anonymous for obvious reasons, wanted to know if, with her itinerary, the Japan Rail Pass was right for her.

First, another recap: The Japan Rail Pass covers just about all train travel in Japan that is operated by Japan Railways, with a few exceptions, notably the “Nozomi” service which is the fastest service operating on the Tokaido and San’yo Shinkansen – the line that links Tokyo with Kyoto and Osaka, and continues onward to Hiroshima and Fukuoka. It is essentially available in six different versions: There are 7-day, 14-day and 21-day passes, all consecutive, and each of these has a standard class version and a first class version (in Japan first class is called the Green Car).

To see if the Japan Rail Pass is right for you, there are a few things in my opinion that must be established. Namely, your travel dates,  and the long-distance travel that you intend to make. There will be some local rail travel that you might take around big cities, especially around Tokyo, but unless you do LOTS and LOTS of trips on the Yamanote Line, local trains within a specific area are just a very small slice of the big pie. With a little bit of research you can find out if it’s worth purchasing a Japan Rail Pass. In one specific area, you can see if the cost of purchasing a Rail Pass would be less than purchasing rail tickets individually. And as pointed out, your travel dates also play a factor.

This person’s itinerary consists of the following: Tokyo from Mar 27 – Apr 2, Kyoto from Apr 2-9, Tokyo from Apr 9 – 13. Her travel dates are fixed, so they cannot be changed. She would like to take day trips to Nikko and Kamakura (both near Tokyo) and Nara (near Kyoto). She was concerned about her budget and wondered if it was worth paying about $500 to get a 14-day rail pass. Perhaps she would be able to save more if she went for a 7-day rail pass?

So let’s see what sort of long-distance travel she’ll be using. Well in this itinerary I only see 2: Tokyo to Kyoto, and Kyoto to Tokyo, which would be done on the bullet train. The Nozomi costs 13,500 yen each way, so that’s 27,000 yen round-trip. A 7-day ordinary rail pass costs 28,300 yen so with some expected local travel in Tokyo and Kyoto she’s all set, right? WRONG. Look at the dates that she will travel: Tokyo to Kyoto April 2, and then Kyoto to Tokyo April 8. That’s eight days, and the travel days are fixed. Which means that a 7-day rail pass would be no good since one of her trips would not be covered. A 14-day pass would cost 45,100 yen for ordinary class, which would be too much. Also factoring into this call are the three side trips, all of which could be done by taking cheaper private railways.

My recommendation to her therefore was to purchase regular tickets. Nozomi tickets both ways from Tokyo to Kyoto, side trip Kyoto to Nara by Kintetsu Railway, Tokyo to Kamakura by the Odakyu Railway Enoshima/Kamakura Free Pass and Tokyo to Nikko by Tobu Railway’s World Heritage Pass. The total budget comes to 37,000 yen which is right now around $410 in US Dollars. If she’s willing to sacrifice a little speed and willing to test some Japanese ability, she could opt for the discounted Puratto Kodama Economy Plan, mentioned in an earlier blog article. This will cut about 7,000 yen, or almost $80, out of her travel budget. As for local travel… I suggested to her (and to you as well) a stored fare card. No need to figure out fares on a chart and go to the ticket machines every time. Simply buy a stored fare card and tap your way in and out of the trains – the cards act as a debit card and deduct the appropriate fares automatically. In Tokyo the stored fare cards in use are SUICA and PASMO.

The moral of the story: Travel research helps in many different ways! You can learn more about the places you are going – before you get there, and while you are there – and you can save some cash too. Of course in the Japanese tradition, that means you have to use that cash to buy gifts for your relatives back home! 🙂

For more information on what I have discussed in this article, just click on the respective links.

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Responses

  1. Hi, thanks for the tips. Can you pleasw help us!!! We are travelling to japan from jan 10- 14 group of 5! We will arrive at kansai airport. We plan to go to tokyo, kyoto, osaka, and mount rokko. Is it cheaper to purchasw 7day pass or is there any alternatives? Thanks

    • Hi Ivy! Thank you for reading my blog.
      You have a lot that you want to do but you only have a few days to do it (6 days total?)
      I will try to do my best if I can get a few details from you.
      The first questions are: have you already booked plane tickets, and if so will you be flying home from Kansai Airport?
      You can reply here or if you prefer to email I can be reached at jrsideproject@aol.com
      Thanks!

  2. Great post! I’m trying to figure this out too and some help would be greatly appreciated! We’ll be doing Tokyo 6th Jan – 10th Jan and then Osaka 10th Jan to 16th Jan. We want to do day trips to Kyoto, Nara and maybe Hiroshima from Osaka. Is it worth getting a JR Pass?! Thank you so much.

    • Hello Connie! Thanks for reading my blog! In order for me to come up with the best answer, I need to know the airports in Japan that you will be using. Is this an “open jaw” where you are landing in Tokyo and then flying out of Osaka? Or will you be returning to Tokyo at the end of the trip?
      Jose

  3. Hi Jose,

    I’m so glad I stumbled across your blog! I am travelling to Japan with my husband and adult daughter on 26th January and I am having difficulty in planning our trip! Japan was never on my agenda of places to visit but when my son got a job in Niseko, we thought why not go and visit him. Like others have asked you, we are also wondering if to get a JR pass or not. We are in Tokyo for 2 days then plan to go to Mt Fuji (prob overnight) then Kyoto for 3 nights (including a trip to Hiroshima and then Osaka 2 nights- we are flying from Osaka to Sapporo to then bus it to Niseko for 4 nights then home to Sydney. Any tips, hints etc. you can give me would be much appreciated.

    Cheers,
    Shelley

    • Hi Shelley! Thanks so much for reading my blog and I’m sorry to keep you waiting. 🙂
      Based on your comments, I am guessing you will be using trains while in Japan up until your flight from Osaka to Sapporo ,at which point you will bus to Niseko and back, and take a domestic flight from Sapporo to connect to your return to Sydney.
      If that is the case, purchasing a 7-day Japan Rail Pass will save you at least 3,500 yen over regular train tickets.

      You could schedule your travel as follows:

      From Tokyo to Mount Fuji, the journey by train would be to take a train from Shinjuku (west part of Tokyo) to Otsuki and then change to a train. The train from Otsuki to Lake Kawaguchi (Kawaguchi-ko) is not covered by a Japan Rail Pass. A sample journey would be:
      – Limited Express from Shinjuku to Otsuki, ~70 minutes, covered by the pass
      – Fujikyu Railway from Otsuki to Kawaguchi-ko, ~50-60 minutes, not covered by the pass (pay 1,140 yen)

      Alternatively, if you wanted to take a direct bus from Shinjuku to Mount Fuji it costs just 1,750 yen and it takes under 2 hours depending on traffic.

      The next day, to get from Mount Fuji to Kyoto, the most direct way is:
      – Fujikyu Bus from Kawaguchi-ko to Mishima station, ~2 hours, not covered by the pass (pay 2,480 yen)
      – Shinkansen train from Mishima to Kyoto, ~ 2-3 hours depending on connections, covered by the pass

      You can save some money by taking a bus from Mount Fuji to Gotemba (1,510 yen), then taking two local trains to either Mishima or Shizuoka from which you can pick up the bullet train to Kyoto.

      You may want to keep some time budgeted to make the connection between bus and bullet train.

      Either way, the 7 day rail pass is more cost-effective (by at least 3,500 yen) compared to a one-way going from Mishima to Kyoto, and a round-trip on the bullet train between Kyoto/Osaka and Hiroshima. Depending on what day you leave for Mount Fuji, it could also cover part of the journey as described above.
      You can easily take the JR commuter trains between Kyoto and Osaka, which are very fast and timely (the “Shin-Kaisoku” trains are the fastest).

      If your rail pass is still valid the day you fly from Osaka to Sapporo:
      – If your domestic flight leaves from Kansai Airport, you can take the JR Haruka limited express, a one-seat ride from Kyoto to Kansai Airport.
      – Not sure how exactly you will go from Sapporo Airport to Niseko, but JR trains operate from Sapporo Airport to the city center, which are covered by the rail pass. JR also runs trains to Niseko, which should also be covered, but the frequency of trains is sparse. By the time you leave Niseko, your rail pass will be expired.

      Those are my thoughts so far 🙂 I look forward to hearing back from you, and perhaps I can help fine-tune this. If you prefer to e-mail me, I’m at jrsideproject@aol.com.

      One more thing: if you decide on a JR pass you can go to one of the JR East foreign service centers in Tokyo when you arrive to set up all of your train travel arrangements, as well as receive the pass itself. There’s one at Narita Airport, one at Tokyo Station, and one that just opened at Shinjuku Station.

      Thanks again!
      Jose

  4. Hi, My fiance and I are going to be in Japan March 22 – April 5 2015 for our Honeymoon. We arrive and depart from Tokyo. We want to visit Himeji, Kyoto, Osaka, Tokyo, Snow Ski and of course see all the great cherry blossoms. The location dates are flexible and I would like to arrange it to only use the 7 day JR pass. My thoughts are to stay in Tokyo for 4 or 5 days then start the 7 day pass to see the rest, what do you think? I would like to go to a Ski Resort that is near the shinkansen so we dont have to spend a lot of travel time. I have looked at Yuzawa but there are so many! I would like to visit a mountain that has a gondola to the top just for sight seeing, not skiing – my Fiance is only a beginner.

    Any suggestions would be great!
    ~Keith

    • Thanks Keith for writing, and for visiting my blog!
      While I don’t have a lot of experience skiing, I looked around and it seems that a location you could check out is Mount Naeba. It consists of several ski resorts connected by a gondola that is one of the largest in the world at approx. 3 1/2 miles long.
      Some links to look at:
      http://www.princehotels.com/en/ski/mtnaeba/
      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dragondola
      The Kagura ski resort, at the other end of the gondola, apparently has some novice slopes.
      http://www.powderhounds.com/Japan/Honshu/Kagura.aspx

      Otherwise the ski resort most popular with foreigners is Niseko, but this is located out of the way in Hokkaido.

      If you want a ropeway that offers a view and nothing else, there are a few located around Kobe – the Mount Rokko and Shin-Kobe Ropeways.

      You should select a place to visit and incorporate it into your 7-day Japan Rail Pass plan… Himeji is an easy day trip from Kyoto or Osaka with quick travel times on the bullet train. The JRP won’t get you around much in Kyoto itself, but in Osaka there are several JR lines including the Osaka Loop Line (akin to Tokyo’s Yamanote Line).

      Let me know if you have any thoughts or questions. Thanks again!

  5. Hi, thanks for doing this!

    I will appreciate your help. I want to know tokyo, kyoto, osaka, kamakura, nara, mt fuji, and perhaps hiroshima, i will be in tokyo from 31 march 2015 until 7 april and still don’t have accomodation for the other days (sold out :P) in kyoto I want to stay to be near of the other cities. So, what do you think? JR pass for 14 days? Does it worth it?

    Thanks a lot!

    • Hi Sara! Thank you for visiting my blog and for your comments! I got your other comment saying that you are staying until the 13th of April.
      So if I understand correctly you are saying that Kyoto hotels are already sold out for when you want to go there? If that is the case, you might want to look around in nearby Osaka to see if there are any places you could stay. You can access Kyoto and Nara from there. Also, maybe check around station called Tambabashi, south of Kyoto. From Tambabashi, you can reach Kyoto (by Kintetsu Railway), Nara (also by Kintetsu Railway) and Osaka (Keihan Railway).
      You can probably get around Tokyo pretty well using basic train tickets, or a Suica/PASMO. I’d use this for going around Tokyo and visiting Kamakura.
      For Mount Fuji – NOT Hakone – I would suggest a bus both ways, which is cheap at 1,750 yen per person each way.. it is also as fast as taking the train there. More detail about Mount Fuji buses here: http://highway-buses.jp/fuji/… note if you want to go to the 5th station on Mount Fuji you will need to take another bus for a separate charge.
      There are also day tours that you can look at from JTB.. the one that visits Mount Fuji costs 7,900 yen per person for the day and it’s a pretty good deal. More here http://bit.ly/1BjMYkw
      After spending a week in Tokyo you can then use a 7 Day Japan Rail Pass for the period of 7 April to 13 April. If you travel from Tokyo to Osaka and back by bullet train and then take a day trip to Hiroshima, you will have tremendous savings using the 7 Day pass. Since you are going to spend 1/2 of your trip around Tokyo alone, and you are not making many long distance trips, a 14 day pass will probably be too expensive.
      Will you be returning to Tokyo for your flight home?
      Thanks,
      Jose

  6. I for got to mention i am staying til 13 april 2015 😛

  7. Hi! I emailed you. 🙂 Thanks

  8. Hi Jose,

    I am having a hard time deciding about how I can travel Japan as a budget traveler. Timely, I came across your blog and i felt delighted by the way respond and help people here. I hope you can help me as well.

    I am scheduled to travel to Japan on Nov. 19-28. My point of entry is Nagoya (Nov. 19) and exit through Narita Airport (Nov. 28). Here’s my schedule:
    Day 1 arrive in Nagoya
    Day 2 around Nagoya and stay in Nagoya (or go to Kyoto stay in Kyoto)
    Day 3 go to Kyoto then go back to Nagoya
    Day 4 in Nagoya
    Day 5 in Nagoya
    Day 6 from Nagoya drop by Shizuoka for Mt. Fuji
    Day 7 Go to Tokyo
    Day 8 around Tokyo
    Day 9 around Tokyo (?)
    Day 10 go back to my country from Narita Airport

    a. Given my schedule, what transportation passes should i get in order to avoid overspending on transportation cost or misusing transpo cards because of their validity and applicable routes (e.g. JR Railpass cannot be used in Nagoya, etc.)?
    b. What other places i can enjoy going through your suggested economical passes?

    PLEASE PLEASE LET ME KNOW ^_^
    THANK YOU IN ADVANCE.

    Pines, Independent traveler

    • Hello Pines, Independent Traveler! Thanks for visiting my blog and I am so sorry to reply late.
      Let me break down the costs to travel by train.
      * Nagoya Centrair Airport to Nagoya: Only Meitetsu Railway runs this route. You will have to pay for this trip outright, but it’s very inexpensive. A regular ticket costs 870 yen but I highly recommend paying the additional 360 yen to reserve a myu-SKY reserved seat.
      * Nagoya to Kyoto: By bullet train this trip costs 5,800 yen each way (11,600 yen round trip)
      * Nagoya to Shizuoka: By bullet train this trip costs 6,350 yen.
      * Shizuoka to Tokyo: By bullet train this trip costs 6,350 yen.
      * Tokyo to Narita Airport: Your options include the JR Narita Express train from Tokyo and some of the area’s other major train stations, the Keisei Skyliner from Ueno, or the Airport Limousine Bus (though keep in mind possible traffic by bus)

      By my calculations, a 7 day Japan Rail Pass would cost *more* than the JR train options mentioned. So, if you want to travel by train between the major cities, I recommend
      * Purchasing a round-trip bullet train ticket from Nagoya to Kyoto
      * For the trip from Nagoya to Shizuoka and Tokyo, you can purchase a BASIC train ticket from Nagoya to Tokyo (via Tokaido Shinkansen) for 6,260 yen. Under the distance rules, you have three days to use this basic ticket to reach Tokyo. As long as you stay on the ticketed route and do not backtrack, you can stop over at any station along the way (Except within Nagoya city and Tokyo city)
      Then, you will need to purchase two shinkansen reserved seat tickets: One from Nagoya to Shizuoka (3,000 yen) and one from Shizuoka to Tokyo (3,000 yen). This will bring your one way ticket cost between Nagoya and Tokyo to 12,260 yen, which is slightly cheaper than purchasing two regular one-way tickets outright.

      Train travel times are:
      Nagoya-Kyoto, 36 minutes
      Nagoya-Shizuoka, 60-80 minutes
      Shizuoka-Tokyo, 60-90 minutes

      There are cheaper travel options, but they take much longer:
      – Nagoya to Kyoto by regular JR train (not the bullet train) OR bus costs 2,500-2,600 yen each way and takes an average of 2 hours 15 minutes.
      – Nagoya to Shizuoka and Tokyo by regular JR train costs the basic ticket fare of 6,260 yen by the Tokaido Main Line. You can take up to three days to travel to Tokyo by regular commuter trains. Nagoya to Shizuoka by regular train takes approximately 3 hours. Major stations along the way include Hamamatsu and Toyohashi. If you want to take a rest stop at one of these stations, it will increase your travel time. Shizuoka to Tokyo also takes around 3 hours. Atami, Odawara and Yokohama are major stops along the way.
      – Nagoya to Shizuoka by bus costs 2,880 yen and takes around 3 1/2 hours to Tomei-Shizuoka, the highway stop for Shizuoka. You then have to go from there to the center of town (190 yen, 15 minutes by express bus).
      – Shizuoka to Tokyo is served by buses operating directly from Shizuoka’s train station to Tokyo’s Shibuya and Shinjuku in 3 hours at a cost of around 3,000 yen.

      I hope this information helps!

      One more thought to consider: The basic train ticket from Nagoya to Tokyo will take you to ANY train station in Tokyo. So if you use the bullet train to get there, you can still use the basic ticket to get off at ANY JR train station within Tokyo.

      If you have any other questions, please ask.

      Jose

  9. Hi, Jose

    I am having a hard time deciding about how I can travel Japan with low budget with my family. I hope you can help me as well. We will be arriving Osaka on the 6th early morning. Get around osaka for 2 days. Travel to Kyoto after check out on 8th morning. Get around Kyoto until 11th Oct. On the 11th will travel to Tokyo and leaving on 14th early morning. Considering to visit Mount Fuji also.

    The schedule to travel is on Oct 6-14. My point of entry is Narita airport on the 6th of Oct and exit through Kansai Airport on 14th Oct early morning.

    Given my schedule, what transportation passes should i get in order to avoid overspending on transportation cost and for the convenience of 2 elderly. Prefer to reduce transition between rails.

    Besides that what other places i can enjoy going through your suggested economical passes?

    PLEASE PLEASE LET ME KNOW AND HIGHLY APPRECIATE IT ^_^
    THANK YOU!

    Regards
    melisa

    • Hello Melisa!
      Please confirm first – you said that you will be starting in Osaka and making your way towards Tokyo, but then you said your point of entry is Narita and point of exit is Kansai, which means you would be traveling the other way from Tokyo to Osaka… Please let me know which way you are going. 🙂
      Thanks!
      -Jose

  10. Hi Jose,

    I’ve just discovered your excellent blog and hope it isn’t too late to ask advice on this thread. Me and my partner are travelling to Japan for the first time this year and could really use some help figuring out which JR Pass option is best for us. We arrive into Tokyo Narita at around 6pm on 26th March and depart in the evening on 10th April. Our planned itinerary is to spend 26th to 31st March in Tokyo making side trips to Nikko, Yokohama and Kamakura. On the 31st we will travel to Hakuba and stay until 4th April. We’ll be staying overnight on 4th April in Ainokura and travelling from there to Kyoto on 5th April. Hopefully whilst staying in Hakuba we will be able to make some side trips that will also require train travel. We will be leaving Kyoto on 9th April and heading back to Tokyo before flying back to Sydney on the 10th.

    Any tips you can give us on which JR pass would work best for us would be great! Many thanks J

    • Hello! Thanks for visiting my blog.
      I had been thinking about your itinerary, and honestly there is an argument, based on your itinerary, that a rail pass will not be justified since your travel will be spaced out.
      However, if you rely heavily on the shinkansen during your trip, then a rail pass WILL be justified.
      Here is the cost breakdown for your long distance travels, per person:
      *Narita Airport to Tokyo: 2,200 yen discount tickets on Keisei Skyliner or 3,020 yen on Narita Express (4,400 yen / 6,040 yen round-trip; costs do not include transfers to/from Skyliner or arrival/departure at other Narita Express stations)
      *Tokyo to Nikko: 11,160 yen round-trip if using the Shinkansen, changing in Utsunomiya, or 2,670 round-trip using the Tobu 2-Day Nikko Pass (Spacia trains cost extra). A Japan Rail Pass will not cover buses in Nikko, but the Tobu pass does.
      *Tokyo to Yokohama is inexpensive, around 470 yen per person each way
      *Tokyo to Kamakura is also inexpensive, around 920 yen per person each way. There is also a free pass sold by Odakyu for 1,470 yen (romance car extra) if you are willing to change in Fujisawa.
      *Tokyo to Hakuba depends on the route. The most expensive route now, and among the fastest, is the Hokuriku Shinkansen from Tokyo to Itoigawa, then using the JR Oito line to take local trains down to Hakuba (11,860 yen). You can also take the bullet train to Nagano, the Shinano limited express to Matsumoto, and finally the Oito line to Hakuba (11,090 yen). Finally you can take the Azusa limited express from Shinjuku to Matsumoto and change to the Oito line (8,300 yen). One morning Azusa train runs directly from Shinjuku to Hakuba without transfers.
      *Hakuba to Ainokura by train requires taking the JR Oito line to Itoigawa, then the Hokuriku Shinkansen to Shin-Takaoka (4,950 yen) from which you can take a bus to Ainokura. Note that the connections are very sparse so you will probably want to leave Hakuba early (8:00 ish) to make the connections. Bus timetables are here.
      *Ainokura to Kyoto requires backtracking to Shin-Takaoka, taking the bullet train one stop to Kanazawa, then taking the Thunderbird limited express to Kyoto (8,660 yen)
      *Finally Kyoto to Tokyo is an easy trip on the Tokaido Shinkansen (13,600-13,910 yen).

      If you heavily rely on the Shinkansen, then it will be enough to justify a 14 day Japan Rail Pass (ordinary class) which could be used, say, from 28 March to 10 April… as long as you visit Nikko no earlier than 28 March, and you can use the Rail Pass to return to Narita Airport on the Narita Express on 10 April.

      There are Rail Pass exchange counters at the JR East Foreign Service Centers at Tokyo and Shinjuku stations, so you could easily visit one of these locations, say, on 27 March, get your rail pass, and make ALL of your shinkansen and limited-express seat reservations in one go if you wanted to.
      The most important thing to consider on your trip is the trip from Hakuba to Ainokura, and from there to Kyoto, as the transit connections are sparse and you will need time to make those journeys.

      I hope this helps you out! Let me know if you have any questions. If you prefer you can mail me at jrsideproject@aol.com … it’s up to you 🙂

      Best wishes
      – Jose

      • Hi Jose,

        Thank you so much for taking the time to reply to my post :). In the end we have gone for the 14 day passes as I think we will probably rely on the Shinkansen. We are going to take your advice and activate it on the 28th. Fingers crossed that the journey from/to Ainokura works out 🙂

  11. Hi Jose,
    Your blog is a big help!
    I will be in Japan for 11days 17-27 April, would like to ask if a JR pass is necessary? If it’s necessary how and when should i use it?
    My plan is as follows:

    17-19 :Tokyo
    19 – 22:Kyoto
    22-24: Osaka
    24: Mt fuji (Day trip from tokyo)
    25 – 27: Tokyo

    Also,should i stay in Kyoto or Osaka? Would like to do some day trip like to nara, himeiji from either Kyoto or osaka.

    Cheers,
    Jane

    • Hello Jane! Thanks for visiting my blog. Sorry it took so long to reply.
      I read your itinerary. If you don’t take any side trips from Tokyo or Kyoto/Osaka, and if you intend to use JR on part of your journey to Mount Fuji, a 7 day rail pass would probably be justified (April 19-25). To Mount Fuji you would take a JR train to Otsuki then a Fujikyu railway train which is a separate charge. But the JR journey from Tokyo to Otsuki and back, combined with a round-trip from Tokyo to Kyoto/Osaka, will make a 7 day pass justified.
      If you want to do day trips from Kyoto or Osaka, it’s quite easy from either city to reach the places that you want to go to. It all depends on what is more cost-effective as far as lodging is concerned.

  12. Hi Jose,

    I chanced upon your blog. And I really find it very useful. My husband and I we’ll be in Japan from 26 Oct – 05 Nov. And below are the dates and places we plan to visit. Appreciate if you can advise and assist us if the 7 day JR pass is worth having? And if ever when is the best time to have? We have already booked our accommodations on these dates. So dates are already fixed.

    Tokyo:26-29 Oct (we plan to have day trip to Fuji on 27th or 28th)
    Kyoto: 29 Oct – 02 Nov (we plan to sidetrip to
    Nara on these dates)
    Osaka: 02-05 Nov

    Would really appreciate your advice and guidance on our planned trip.

    • Hi Cristina! Thank you very much for writing and for visiting my blog. I am usually slow in replying to messages during the summer months so I am sorry for the delay.

      Since you are doing what in travel terms is called “Open-Jaw”, in other words, you are arriving in the country in Tokyo and leaving the country from Osaka, I do not recommend a 7 day Japan Rail Pass as you would pay too much.

      For your trip I suggest buying a regular bullet train ticket from Tokyo to Kyoto on October 29. This will cost 13,910 yen per person for a reserved seat on the “Nozomi”, the fastest of the bullet trains.

      You can easily and cheaply travel from Kyoto to Nara, and from Kyoto to Osaka.

      From Kyoto to Nara, I recommend taking the Kintetsu Railway, as Kintetsu will leave you closer to Nara’s main attractions like Todai-ji. This will cost 620 yen in each direction, and for another 500 yen you can travel in a reserved seat on an express.

      From Kyoto to Osaka, you have a few options including the JR, Keihan and Hankyu railway, all of which cost 400-600 yen per person for the trip.

      The rail pass is only useful if you do several long trips on Japan Railways… since you are only going one way, the expense for a pass is not justified.

      I hope this information helps! Please feel free to write back if you have any other questions.

      Thanks again
      – Jose


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