**I’ve been bombarded with questions about the JR Pass and I don’t have time to reply to everyone. As a result, I’ve disabled comments. If you read this entire post, I make it pretty clear on how to know if a JR Pass is worth it. Just run your route through hyperdia.com and compare the cost of one-way tickets to a JR Pass.

First-time visitors to Japan are often amazed at the extensive rail network. Admittedly taking a look at the metro map of Tokyo can be incredibly intimidating, but once you arrive you’ll quickly realize how easy it is to navigate the system. Of course, the rail network isn’t limited to just the cities, Japan easily has the most efficient bullet trains – known locally as shinkansen – in the world.

Travellers will be happy to know that the Japan Rail Pass (JR Pass) is a cost-effective way to travel across long distances in Japan. The JR Pass is only available to tourists and can be ordered before you arrive in Japan. If you purchase it in advance, you’ll receive a voucher which you exchange for your pass in person in Japan. So if you forget your pass at home before departing, you’re out of luck. Unitl March 31, 2019, JR allows visitors to purchase the JR pass in person at any of their offices. Note that it’ll cost you a bit more if you do decide to go this route.

The pass comes in two types: ordinary and green cars. Green cars are first class seats which give you more spacious seats, but ordinary cars are quite comfortable already so there’s no need to upgrade. Let’s take a look at the JR pass price (when bought in advance) and see what the value is. Note that children aged 6-11 get 50% off the listed rates.

DaysOrdinaryGreen Car
7 consecutive days¥ 29,110¥ 38,880
14 consecutive days¥ 46,390¥ 62,950
21 consecutive days¥ 59,350¥ 81,870

Is the Japan Rail pass worth it?

It really comes down to simple math. If buying single tickets to your intended destinations cost more than a pass, then obviously the JR Rail Pass is worth it. You can look up the exact costs and times of your intended route on Hyperdia, but here’s a quick way to help you calculate if getting a Japan Rail Pass is worth it for you.

  • Tokyo – Osaka: ¥ 14,450
  • Osaka – Hiroshima: ¥ 10,230

Using these base trip costs you can see that a 7-day JR Pass is worth it if you do a round trip from Tokyo to Kyoto/Osaka. If you’re flying into Tokyo and out of Osaka, a 7-day pass likely won’t be worth it unless you’re making a side trip to somewhere far such as Hiroshima. Again, use hyperdia.com to add up all the costs of one way tickets and then compare it to the price of a JR pass. Often, you may just come out under, but you need to factor in the costs of local transit as well as using the pass to get you to/from the airport.

For the 14-day pass, you need to go as far as Hiroshima to maximize the value. If you plan on making trips to say Hakuba, Takayama, and other places, a 14-day pass may still be worth it, I just use Hiroshima as a reference point for costs. The price difference is pretty small between a 14-day and 21-day pass so adding another day trip or two and the JR pass price for 21 days all of a sudden becomes an incredible value.

If you’re flying into Tokyo, but departing from Osaka, purchasing one-way tickets might be of better value. Also note that you get to select when your JR Pass becomes activated, so if you plan your trip well, you may only need a 7-day pass even if you’re in the country for longer than that.

There are regional JR Passes available, but they can be of limited use. If you’re thinking about getting one of those instead, check with hyperdia.com to see if you’re getting good value from it.

Japan Rail Pass

Where is the Japan Rail Pass valid?

Since this is a physical paper pass and not an electronic card type pass, you can not use it at the turnstiles. All you need to do is show it to the ticket agent at the station and they’ll let you through. The following are the types of transportation you can use your pass on.

JR Trains – The JR Pass will give you access to all JR trains nationwide including shinkansen (except Nozomi & Mizuho trains), limited express, express, rapid and local trains. This includes the Narita Express train to/from Narita airport and the Tokyo monorail to/from Haneda airport. JR pass holders can make free seat reservations for the Shinkansen at any JR station with a JR office.

JR Trains in Tokyo – This is where a lot of confusion comes in. The JR Yamanote and Chuo lines are owned by Japan Rail so you can use those two lines for free with an active pass. The other metro lines are run by different companies and you will need to use an IC card (detailed below). You do not need a JR Pass if you’re staying just in one city.

JR Ferry to Miyajima – The JR ferry to Miyajima located near Miyajimaguchi station can’t be missed. There are only two lines and one is marked with “JR.” Just flash your pass as you get on. When you return from Miyajima, just show your pass again to get on the ferry.

Local JR Buses – Not many tourists will use local JR buses, but your pass is valid on them. The one major bus route that tourists may be interested in is the JR tourist loop bus in Hiroshima. Your JR pass is NOT valid for the Raku bus in Kyoto.

Final thoughts

As you can see the JR Rail Pass is worth it if you’re travelling a long distance in a set time period. The other advantage is that since you won’t need to buy train tickets, you can make any random side trip when you want to.

If you’re going to be in a single major city such as Tokyo or Kyoto, then you’re better off using a local IC card for your daily needs and supplementing it with individual tickets for any day trips. To be clear, if you’re visiting just Tokyo, then all you need is a Suica or Pasmo card.

Japan Rail Pass – Is it Worth it?

618 Comments

  1. HamTech87 (@HamTech87) on September 12, 2016 at 2:32 PM

    I found the JR Pass to be incredibly convenient for tourism, and far more useful than I initially expected. It seems there are a lot of JR trains that are decent alternatives to other train and bus routes, so we used it a lot. If you use Google Maps for directions as I did, you just have to filter your searches mentally for JR trains. (I wish Google Maps had a filter with just JR trains!) Often our guidebooks didn’t mention the JR alternatives, so look for them yourself to save money.

    Our trip in Kyoto to the Golden Temple was a good example of how we biased our search to a JR line. There are multiple ways to travel there: either an all-bus trip, a trip on a non-JR train to a bus, or a trip on a JR train to a bus. The all-bus is the longest, but you can use the Kyoto Bus daypass. The two train journeys were faster than the all-bus, and not much different in travel time from each other. So of course we chose the JR route. This happened many times — to Himeji, Osaka (twice), Kyoto-Tokyo, and Hiroshima where we also used it for the Miyajima Ferry.

    Waving the JR Pass instead of buying specific tickets to get onto unreserved trains was also far more convenient. Not all JR ticket offices have English speakers; wish you could buy tickets online or at your hotel.

    As for the subways and non-JR trains, it was great to see how the PASMO card worked for all of them that we took. Couldn’t miss a Hashin Tigers game!



    • Barry Choi on September 12, 2016 at 5:00 PM

      HamTech.

      Yes the JR pass is so convenient once you learn exactly where you can use it. The app Japan Trains is also really useful since you can filter it with or without the JR Pass. I did figure out in Kyoto it was easier to use the bus. Even in Osaka, I opted to use my Suica card because it was easier than using the long way via JR pass.



      • Krystal Lee on October 6, 2018 at 4:46 PM

        Hi Barry,

        I’m going to Tokyo (four days), then off to Kyoto (3 days), day trip to Nara and back to Kyoto, then heading to Nara and leaving from the Osaka airport. Since I’m not doing the round trip back to Tokyo, do you recommend getting the JR pass or is buying tickets on the go a better option? Thank you so much for your help in advance!



        • Barry Choi on October 6, 2018 at 5:02 PM

          Krystal,

          One way tickets are likely your best bet. I don’t even think the Kansai Pass will be worth it for you.

          Out of curiosity, why are you headed back to Nara before going to the Osaka airport? Can you not go direct?



          • Mark on November 11, 2018 at 6:35 AM

            Hi Barry,
            Me and my wife intend to travel from Tokyo to kyoto then to Nara and Osaka and then to Hiroshima and back to Osaka to fly home, Will the JR Pass be a better option ?



          • Barry Choi on November 11, 2018 at 8:32 AM

            Hi Mark,

            If you’re able to complete your travel from Tokyo to Hiroshima and back to Osaka in a 7-day window, then the 7-day JR Pass is an excellent value. You could just activate it the day you leave Tokyo or just ensure your pass is active for your return journey from Hiroshima to Osaka. If you have other side trips planned, just add up the individual costs on Hyperdia to see if it’s worth it for a 7-day or even a 14-day pass.



      • Wilfred on January 27, 2019 at 10:17 AM

        Hey Barry,

        Since you seem to be extremely helpful with the all the other comments, wondering if you could help me out regarding purchasing a JR Pass or not.

        We arrive in Haneda, and fly straight to Sapporo for 2 days.

        We then fly back to Tokyo to spend 5 days there including a visit to Mt. Fuji.(Thinking to activate the 7 day JR Pass on the Monday or Tuesday so i can make my trip to Kyoto and Osaka count)

        We then take a train to Kyoto for 3 days

        Osaka for 1 day and then fly back from Osaka

        Thanks



        • Barry Choi on January 27, 2019 at 12:57 PM

          Wilfred,

          If you’re flying back from Osaka, I doubt the 7 day pass will be worth it. You can just run your exact route via hyperdia.com to see what one-way tickets will cost you vs. a JR pass.



      • Paula Alu on March 3, 2019 at 12:52 PM

        Aloha Barry. My husband and I will be in tokyo for three nights, hakaone for one night, Kyoto for four nights, then back to Tokyo for three nights. In Tokyo, use regular local transportation then thinking of getting a rail pass for the rest of trip. What are your thoughts on value? Is it worth it.
        ?

        Mahalo



        • Barry Choi on March 3, 2019 at 3:57 PM

          Puala,

          You’ll probably just break even or come out a little under.

          Are you doing any side trips in Kyoto?

          You could always run your itinerary through hyperdia.com to compare the cost of one way tickets vs. the pass.



          • Nicka on March 17, 2019 at 11:08 PM

            Hi Barry,
            Thank you in advance for your insights. I am arriving in Tokyo in early April (NRT) then I will take the train to Kyoto for 2 days, and will head back to Tokyo for four days. Do you think it is worth it to get the JR pass?
            Thank you
            Nicka



          • Barry Choi on March 18, 2019 at 7:42 AM

            Hey Nicka,

            I just respodned via email, but the 7-day pass will be worth it.



          • Michael Flack on April 15, 2019 at 8:00 AM

            Warm Greetings

            I would like to note how awesome you are in helping others with info as this can be quite daunting (esp when its our first travel experience ever)

            So far from what you said it seems like I wont need a JR rail pass but I’m still a bit confused over the best option to take. for 17 days ill be renting a place in Hino – Tokyo (ironically I’m so nervous i have not made any real plans yet) mostly i imagine just traveling between Hino and the main stations around the CBD area of Tokyo.

            Any suggestions would be awesome also the travel dates are the Sat 27 Apr 2019 – Tues 14 May 2019.

            Kind Regards
            Michael



          • Barry Choi on April 15, 2019 at 8:02 AM

            Hi Michael,

            I’m not sure what you’re asking me. Are you not travelling outside of Tokyo? If you plan to, you need to consider where you’re going and if a JR pass is worth it. If you plan on staying just in Tokyo, then using a Suica card may be enough.



          • Michael on April 15, 2019 at 8:17 AM

            Warm Greetings

            Sorry i can be confusing, its true i don’t plan to travel outside of Tokyo. I was just unsure if the distance between Hino and stations like chuo or taito were considered local travel or if they required different tickets.

            The Suica card suggestion gives me something to work with so thank you.

            Kind Regards



          • Barry Choi on April 15, 2019 at 10:01 AM

            Hi Michael,

            If your plan is to stay within Tokyo, A regular Suica card will likely be fine. I believe Hino is on the JR Chuo line which cuts across the city. You can also transfer to the JR Yamanote line at Shinjuku station which will get you to many other parts of the city.



          • Michael on April 16, 2019 at 3:20 AM

            Thank you very much for the information, I’ll definitely feel a lot more confident traveling around Tokyo when the time comes 🙂

            Kind Regards
            Michael



      • Megan S on September 2, 2019 at 6:17 AM

        Hello,

        I am trying to see if it is worth purchasing a JR pass, I’m a little confused. Will you be able to help me out? This is what our itinerary is and we will be going for 3 weeks.

        12/10 – Tokyo
        17/10 Mt. Fuji
        18/10 Osaka
        23/10 Kyoto
        25/10 Hiroshima
        26/10 Back to Tokyo
        27/10 Day Trip to Hakone
        28/10 Remain in Tokyo until flight home which is 31/10



        • Barry Choi on September 2, 2019 at 7:34 AM

          Megan,

          a 14-day pass will be worth it (not a 21). Just make sure it’s still active as of the 27th. That means you shouldn’t active your pass any earlier than the 14th



    • Yelitza Delgado on January 17, 2019 at 9:08 PM

      Hi Barry,

      You seem to be super helpful. I am going to Japan for two weeks this March and i was convinced that i NEEDED to buy this JR Pass to save money in the end. However, now i am confused after reading this thread! Was hoping you could shed some light. We definitely would not do the 14 day pass, ideally the 7 day pass. If so, when would it make sense to activate it? Or is it not worth it given our route?

      This is our plan:

      03/09- Land in Tokyo

      03/09- Tokyo, 3 nights

      03/12- Hakone, 2 nights

      03/14- Kyoto, 3 nights

      03/17- Osaka, 3 nights

      03/20- Japan, 2 nights

      Fly out 03/22 from Tokyo



      • Barry Choi on January 17, 2019 at 9:22 PM

        Hi Yelitza,

        The 7-day pass isn’t much value to you since you won’t be able to make the return trip to Osaka and back to Tokyo within that time frame. A 14-day pass could be worthwhile, but you’d need to go as far Hiroshima during that time to get your money’s worth. If you don’t plan on going to Hiroshima, then just buy one-way tickets. You could always check your trip costs via Hyperdia.com and then compare it to the cost of a JR Pass



        • Yelitza Delgado on January 17, 2019 at 9:34 PM

          Okay, so even if we buy the Hakone pass separately and activate the JR PASS when leaving hakone on 03/14, and use it up to when we get back to Japan on the 20th, it won’t be worth it? We plan on doing the bamboo forest and a few things in Kyoto and Osaka but seems like the bus passes are better options! We wouldn’t activate the JR pass right away if need be but I’ll deff look at that site.



          • Barry Choi on January 17, 2019 at 9:52 PM

            Generally speaking, the 7-day JR pass is only worth it if you make a return trip from Tokyo to Kyoto. If you were to activate it in Hakone, you’d be travelling a shorter distance so it would not be worth. Hyperdia.com shows you exactly how much a train ticket will cost for your route which makes it easy to calculate if a JR Pass is worth it.



          • Nadia on March 11, 2019 at 2:01 PM

            Hi Barry, I planned to go to Osaka. Will be staying 10 days in Osaka
            Day trip each to Kyoto, Kobe, Nara – 3 days
            Day trip to Tokyo – 1 day
            Day trip to Shinjuku – 1 day
            Day trip to Hiroshima n Miyajima Ferry – 1 day

            So can I use all the trips with 7 day JR Ticket?



          • Barry Choi on March 12, 2019 at 5:54 AM

            Hi Nadia,

            Yes you could use the JR Pass for all of the day trips but why are you doing 2 separate day trips to TOkyo and Shinjuku? Shinjuku is in Tokyo, you be doing an overnight there so you save yourself the travel time.



        • Mikal on January 18, 2019 at 1:02 AM

          Hi Barry – I was wondering if you could help me decide if the JR rail pass is a good deal for us?
          Our itinerary is:
          – We land in Narita and need to go to Tokyo.
          – 3 nights in Tokyo
          -then to Kyoto for 3 nights
          -Hakone for 1 night
          – Kitakata/Koriyama area 2 nights
          – back to Narita to fly out

          10 days, 9 nights total for a family of 4 (kids are 13 and 16).

          Thank you!



          • Barry Choi on January 18, 2019 at 9:58 AM

            Hi Mikal,

            If you activate the pass on the day you leave for Kyoto, you’ll get your money’s worth. Obviously you’ll need to pay for local transit for the other spots. You may also want to look into the Hakone Free Pass (without transportation from Shinjuku)



          • Mikal on January 18, 2019 at 11:38 AM

            Ok, so not cost effective to do a 14 day pass, but get the 7 day pass and just use it once we leave for Kyoto from Tokyo? How do we get tickets for the express train from Narita to Tokyo if we don’t have JR pass and reservations?
            Thanks!



          • Barry Choi on January 18, 2019 at 11:40 AM

            Correct about the 14/7 day pass. The Narita Express is a regular commuter train, you can buy tickets in the airport and just get on. There’s no need to make a reservation for it.



          • Mikal on January 18, 2019 at 12:30 PM

            Thank you!



    • Laura on February 2, 2019 at 4:44 PM

      Hi Barry – husband and I are flying into Haneda for two weeks. We plan a trip to Hakone maybe twice, Tokyo Disney maybe two separate days and maybe Osaka . Would the jr pass be a good idea?



      • Barry Choi on February 2, 2019 at 5:29 PM

        Hi Laura,

        Without knowing your full itinerary, it’s hard to say if it’ll be worth it. Generally speaking, if you make a return trip from Tokyo to Hiroshima, a 14-day pass will be worth it. Just check your route on hyperdia.com and then add it all up to see if it’s a better deal to buy a pass.



    • Brett on June 15, 2019 at 7:38 PM

      Hi Barry

      Thanks so much for your article. It is very helpful.

      If it’s not too much trouble, I’d like to get your thoughts on whether a 7 day or 14 day JR pass would make sense for me, I would need 4 adult tickets and 1 child given children’s ages.

      Day 1 – arrive Tokyo Haneda (5 nights in Tokyo, day trip to Disneyland, day trip to Nikko, possible day trip to Mount Fuji/Hakone)
      Day 6 – depart Tokyo and spend 3 nights in Kanazawa (with day trip to Shirakawa-Go)
      Day 9 – depart Kanazawa for Kyoto (5 nights) with day trips to Nara, and separate day trip to Hiroshima)
      Day 14 – depart Kyoto for Osaka (fly out that day).

      I suspect a 7 day pass is necessary, but not sure if it would make more sense to structure my itinerary around that ie latter part of Tokyo or whether I just bite the bullet and get 14 day one and not worry about additional cost.

      Also interested in your thoughts on whether green pass is worth it if travelling mid March period of the year as I’ve heard trains can get quite full during or just before cherry blossom.

      Many thanks
      Brett



      • Barry Choi on June 15, 2019 at 7:53 PM

        Hi Brett,

        The 7-day pass is definitely worth it but it forces you to bunch your long travel together to make it worthwhile. With a 14-day pass, I think you’ll break even too.

        I just checked quickly Tokyo – Kanazawa – Kyoto – Hiroshima – Kyoto and that works out to 43840 yen. That’s pretty close to the regular cost of 46,390 Yen for the pass and I’m not factoring in any other travel.

        A few things to note. I think you’re being a bit ambitious with your day trips in Tokyo. There’s A LOT to see in that city. You can probably afford to drop Nikko. I personally would also consider dropping Mt. Fuji, but that’s just me.

        The JR pass doesn’t get you to Shirakawa-go, you’ll have to take a bus. Your time in Kyoto is reasonable. You might even be able to sneak in some time in Osaka too.

        I’ve never purchased the green pass, but from what I understand, it’s not worth it.



        • Brett on June 15, 2019 at 8:48 PM

          thanks Barry, appreciate your quick reply and advice.
          I think you might be right about dropping Nikko day trip and Mount Fuji too, and just making the most of our 5 nights in Tokyo…I will be staying in Asakusa – is it fairly easy to get around Tokyo on metro from there?
          I’ve sort of settled on 5 nights Tokyo, 3 nights in Kanazawa and 5 nights in Kyoto – which I’m hoping provides the right balance. When I speak to people back here, some tell me that Tokyo is hard work/full on – and they prefer Kyoto – so it makes it hard which is why I thought I’d split the tour evenly and break it up with Kanazawa.
          Other bit of contentious advice seems to be around whether or not a day trip (early to Hiroshima and back that night) is doable – I’d prefer not to have to book into another hotel to pack and unpack at Hiroshima to be honest.
          Let me know what you think?
          thanks again



          • Barry Choi on June 15, 2019 at 10:15 PM

            Brett,

            Asakusa is near 2 subway lines so you’ll have easy access to everything. If you end up getting the 14-day pass, you can use it on the JR lines.

            Tokyo and Kyoto are different, I think you have a good mix. You can go hard there but it’s not crazy. I would argue that Kyoto can be harder since their transportation isn’t as good as Tokyo. Navigating Tokyo is easier than Kyoto IMO.

            I personally think a day trip to Hiroshima and Miyajima is worth it and it was one of the highlights of my last visit there.

            https://www.moneywehave.com/hiroshima-and-miyajima-in-one-day-from-kyoto/



  2. Maxime on June 12, 2017 at 8:35 AM

    Do children under 6 travel for free then?



    • Barry Choi on June 12, 2017 at 9:12 AM

      Maxime,

      Correct. Kids aged 1-5 ride for free but they’re not entitled to a paid seat. In other words, you can’t reserve a seat for them. If you reserve a seat for yourself, they must sit in your lap. If there is a free seat in the unreserved section, they’re welcome to that.



  3. Lou on July 25, 2017 at 3:38 PM

    Hi Barry, thank you for the tip. I am planning to go to Tokyo – Kanazawa- Kyoto – Osaka – Naoshima -Tokyo, my trip is 15 days. `is this pass works for all these places? thanks you



    • Barry Choi on July 25, 2017 at 3:50 PM

      Hi Lou,

      Generally speaking, a 14-day JR pass is worth it once you make a return trip from Tokyo to Hiroshima. Although you’re not going as far as Hiroshima, your added trips to Kanazawa and Naoshima appear to make the pass of good value. You’ll obviously have to pay regular fares for one of your days. Depending on your itinerary, I would probably activate the pass as soon as you land and pay regular fares the day you depart.

      One tip, get familiar with the JR lines in advance via Hyperdia and download the JR Trains app.



    • Lily on April 21, 2019 at 3:29 PM

      Hi Barry,
      My family will be spending time in Osaka (3 nights), then to Kyoto (3 nights) following by a day trip to Nara {return to Kyoto from Nara). Then we will be travelling to Tokyo for another 2 nights and flying back home from Haneda Tokyo airport.
      Do you think JR pass is worth getting?
      Thanks



      • Barry Choi on April 21, 2019 at 8:16 PM

        Lily,

        Since you’re not doing a return trip to Tokyo, just buy one way tickets



      • Lynette on September 23, 2019 at 3:32 PM

        Hi Barry,
        My family of four will be going to Tokyo for 13 days in mid November, we are thinking of going to Kyoto for a day trip, do you think we should buy a 7 days pass. Thanks



        • Barry Choi on September 23, 2019 at 6:39 PM

          Hi Lynette,

          Are you doing just Kyoto for the day? There’s a lot to see there and is probably worth spending at least two nights there. That said, if you’re doing JUST Kyoto, a 7-day pass won’t be worth it. If you add another destination e.g. Osaka or Nara, you’d probably just break even.



  4. Barbara Chipperfield on July 26, 2017 at 12:57 PM

    Hi Barry, we are planning to travel from Okinawa to Kyoto to spend 3 days there and then return to Narita airport – would the pass be worthwhile – we could use it to do some trips from Kyoto as well.

    thanks, Barbara



  5. Barbara Chipperfield on July 26, 2017 at 1:03 PM

    Oops I meant Yokohama not Okinawa

    apologies



    • Barry Choi on July 26, 2017 at 1:40 PM

      Hi Barbara,

      The 7-day is worth while as long as you use the Narita express and make a round trip to Kyoto, so yes it would be worth it. You would be able to use the pass in quite a few places and make side trips to say Nara and Osaka while in Kyoto. The JR pass is of limited use within Kyoto (except to get o Arashiyama), but it’s still of good value just for convenience purposes.



      • Thomas on March 8, 2019 at 1:16 PM

        I am going g to japan for 2 weeks there are 5 of us and we are unsure if we should rent a car or get a rail pass, currently renting a car seems a lot cheaper than getting a rail pass for 5, plus I assume it’s more convenient plus I do want to drive in the mountains in Japan haha. Anyway what do you think car or rail pass? We all drive for our daily commutes so none of us are familiar with public transit I feel learning how to take public transit in a foreign country could prove troublesome.



        • Barry Choi on March 8, 2019 at 1:28 PM

          Thomas,

          Taking the train is much more convenient in Japan. Figure out what places you want to go to first and then do the math to see if a train pass is worth it. As for public transportation, it’s pretty straightforward. If you’ve ever taken a train in a major city, you’ll be fine. You just need to learn how it works before you go e.g. Look for the operator you want to take first when you enter a station e.g. subway or JR line, then look for the line e.g. JR Yamanote, then the direction you want to go for the right platform.

          Keep in mind that the app Hyperdia for IOS will tell you EXACTLY which platform number to take for your journeys. If you use Android, download the Japan Trains app



          • Leslie on March 25, 2019 at 12:52 AM

            Hi Barry:

            I looked up the legs of my trip via Hyperdia as you mentioned, and it looks like it’s not worth it for me but was wondering if you had a moment to help me validate my investigation..

            Flying into Tokyo on 5/27.
            Going to Kyoto on 6/2.
            Going to Nara as a day trip from Kyoto on June 5th.
            Going to Osaka from Kyoto on June 7th
            Going to Osaka to the airport on June 10th.

            My calculation rang up to approximately 17,200 yen if I start right before going to Kyoto — having the last day of the JR trip get me from Osaka to Kyoto , which is about $100USD less what a JR pass is worth.

            Thanks so much in advance! 🙂

            Leslie



          • Barry Choi on March 25, 2019 at 8:03 AM

            Hi Leslie,

            Your calculations are correct. The 7-day pass is typically only worth it when making a return trip to Kyoto from Tokyo. Since you’re flying out of KIX, you’re better off buying one way tickets.



  6. Carol on August 5, 2017 at 4:00 AM

    Hi Barry – we will be traveling to Japan in October. We’ll be there for a total of 15 days, spending the first four days in Tokyo. Initially, we were going to purchase a 14 day pass but it seems that JR lines are not convenient for travel within Tokyo and Kyoto. So, we are thinking of purchasing the 7 day pass so that we can travel from Tokyo to Takayama. (We will be visiting Shirakawa-go and Kanazawa but I believe the buses running to both of these towns are not included in the JR pass). From Kanazawa we will be going to Kyoto which will be our base for the rest of the trip. The first two days in Kyoto we will take 2 day trips to Himeji Castle, and Hiroshima/Miyajima to take advantage of the remaining days of the pass. After these two days we are planning on exploring Kyoto, inlacing the bamboo forest, Mt. Koya, Nara and Osaka.

    My questions is – the 7 day JR pass covers practically the long distance train rides for the first half of the trip. Would it be best to combine the 7 day JR pass with a Kansai Thru Pass or a JR Kansai regional pass? Not sure which of these two passes is more useful to travel within Kyoto, Nara, Mt. Koya and Osaka and between these towns.

    Thanks in advance for your response!



    • Barry Choi on August 5, 2017 at 9:07 AM

      Hi Carol,

      A few things to note to help you make up your decision
      – The JR lines IMO, are very convenient in Japan. The Yamanote line goes in a circle and goes to almost every major attraction (except Sensoji), there’s also the JR Chuo line that cuts across the city and is represented by a thin grey line on this map.

      http://bento.com/pix/subway/tokyo_subway_1700.gif

      – The bullet trains now go directly to Kanazawa but not shirakawa as you’ve noted.

      Based on what you’ve listed, to me it does sound like a 7-day pass + a Kansai pass makes sense since you’re doing all your long distance travel in those 7 days. The only question is, where are you flying out of? If it’s back in Tokyo, you need to factor that cost in. If it’s Kansai, then I think you already know the answer.

      The nice thing about the Kansai pass is that it covers the journey to Koyasan which the JR pass does not.

      The only other thing I would advise is to think about your route. I did something similar, but instead of Kanazawa and shirakawa, I spent extra days in Tokyo as the city has a lot to see. It’s really all personal preference, but Japan is a country where you want to slow down when you can.

      I should also note that Nara was the last day trip I took and by the time I got there, I was so tired of seeing temples. I spent an hour there and decided to go back to Kyoto and just eat and shop for a change of pace. The temples in Kyoto and Koyasan are absolutely stunning.



      • Carol on August 5, 2017 at 4:00 PM

        Thanks so much for the information. Sorry, I forgot to mention that we are flying out of Osaka – for this reason, I wasn’t sure the 14 day pass made much sense.

        In regards to Takayakama, Kanazawa and Shirakawa – we were originally planning on spending extra days in Tokyo and doing one day trip to see Mt. Fuji instead. As of right now, the itinerary feels a bit crammed and too fast paced…I might reconsider going to these towns. Have you been to Takayama and Kanazawa? If so, would you recommend one over the other? We would be arriving in Takayama on October 10th and I believe this is the last day of the autumn festival.



        • Barry Choi on August 5, 2017 at 4:26 PM

          Carol,

          Since you’re flying out of Osaka, it seems obvious that your idea of a JR Pass + Kansai pass makes much more sense. I personally did not do Takayama or Kanazawa for the same reasons you are thinking about dropping them now. I felt like my time was better spent elsewhere e.g. more time in Tokyo and Kyoto as my bases.

          I spent 7 days in Tokyo the last time I was there and easily found enough things to entertain myself. Part of the fun of Tokyo is exploring random lesser known neighbourhoods e.g. Yanaka Ginza, Daikayama, Kagurazaka.

          I had debated Mt. Fuji or Hakone, but just cuz of my timing, I didn’t think it would be worth it (there was volcanic ash in Hakone at the time).

          The 2 best places I visited were Koyasan and Miyajima. Both were a touch out of the way, but I LOVED them. Himeji was nice just for the castle. You could easily stop in Himeji on your way back to Kyoto as the only thing to see there is the castle.



  7. Barbara Chipperfield on August 5, 2017 at 10:59 AM

    Thanks Barry, that’s really helpful

    are there any other places you would recommend we visit from Kyoto that would utilise the pass

    kind regards

    Barbara



    • Barry Choi on August 5, 2017 at 11:05 AM

      Barbara,

      If you have time and are willing to do a long day-trip. Hiroshima / Miyajima is well worth it. I LOVED Miyajima. That being said, since you only have 3 days in Kyoto, you really only have time to choose ONE day trip. So it would have to be Nara or Hiroshima/Miyajima.

      You could also make a long day trip out of Nara e.g. Kyoto –> Nara –> Osaka –> Kyoto. The distance between each place is only 1 hours by JR trains. Be sure to purchase the Nara bus pass if you do this route to save time. Also note that in parts of Osaka, your JR pass will not work, but you can use your Suica or Pasmo card instead.



      • Salvador on November 24, 2018 at 3:48 PM

        Hi Barry, I see you are very helpful here and hope I can get a piece of advice.

        I’m planning a trip to japan next march, I will arrived and depart from to Narita airport.

        My planned itinerary would be:

        Tokyo 4 days
        Mt Fuji 3 days
        Kyoto-Nara-Osaka 6 days
        Hiroshima 2 days

        I think te best deal would be to activate a 14 day pass once I leave tokyo for the rest of my trip and return at the end.

        I just need to resolve how to get from Narita to Tokyo without a JR Pass.

        Any kind suggestions?

        Regards!



        • Barry Choi on November 24, 2018 at 4:59 PM

          Salvador,

          I’m assuming on the last day you’re going to travel from Hiroshima to Narita? If that’s the case, just back time your pass and activate it 14 days from your departure date.

          As for Narita to Tokyo. You can just buy a one way ticket on the Narita Express or you can take the bus. It’s roughly 3,100 yen.



  8. Sherie on August 9, 2017 at 3:28 AM

    Wow Barry, you seem like the person who may be able to give me some advice. I am travelling to Japan with my family in December. We are spending 3 nights at Disneyland (we arrive in Tokyo in the evening), 3 nights in Tokyo, 7 nights in Osaka and 7 nights in Hakuba before travelling back to Tokyo to fly home. The whole transport thing is confusing me. We are planning day trips to Hiroshima, Nara and Kyoto. Should we get a 21 day pass or is that not worth it?

    I appreciate any assistance you are able to provide.
    Sherie



    • Barry Choi on August 9, 2017 at 8:43 AM

      Hey Sherie,

      A few things to note

      You’ll make your money back with the 21day pass as long as you go from Tokyo -> Hiroshima roundtrip. However, if you’re able to rearrange your itinerary, you could get away with a 14 day pass e.g. depart Tokyo Day 5 and return to Tokyo before the 14-day pass is up.

      I personally think the 21-day pass is more convenient, but note that you’ll still need to pay for local transit in some places e.g. Some lines in Osaka, Kyoto, and Hiroshima.

      You’ll also want to look at your route to and from Hakuba. From what I understand, connections can be difficult.

      http://www.tabitabihakuba.com/get-hakuba-osaka-kyoto/



  9. Vicki Allan on August 24, 2017 at 8:42 PM

    Hi Barry,
    I have read all your comments and I’m still confused on what is best for us, 2 couples.
    We will be flying into Haneda airport then we need to get to Kyoto for 2 nights from there we will be going to Osaka 2 nights and then onto Tokyo for a few nights before boarding our cruise on the 13th of October.
    We have tours booked in Kyoto but no where else so will probably need trains for sightseeing.
    What would you suggest?



    • Barry Choi on August 24, 2017 at 8:47 PM

      Hi Vicki,

      It Assuming you’re in Kyoto and Osaka for 4 days combined total, you could probably just get a 7-Day JR pass and activate it whenever it’s convenient for you. The JR pass will be of limited use within Kyoto and Osaka, but the round trip ticket from Tokyo – Kyoto will pretty much mean you’ll break even. You can use the JR pass in Tokyo to get you to most major attractions.

      To supplement your local travel, get a suica or passmo card which you can use for non-JR trains. In Kyoto, the tourist bus pass will likely be your best option.

      https://www.moneywehave.com/kyoto-tourist-bus-the-raku-bus/



  10. Leon on September 18, 2017 at 12:06 AM

    Hi Barry, can you help me decide the best pass to get please? I’m traveling from Tokyo (and Kamakura & Yokohama)-Kanazawa-Takayama-Kyoto (and Koyasan)-Osaka-Hiroshima (and Miyajima)-Fukuoka

    I’m traveling one way and not returning to Tokyo via train, total time in Japan is about 17 days, I know it’s a busy agenda! I’m curious whether JR is the best option or maybe something else?

    Thanks!
    Leon



    • Barry Choi on September 18, 2017 at 9:28 AM

      Hi Leon,

      It’s a bit trickier for you since you’re going one way. I suspect one-way tickets and possibly a Kansai pass may be the best value for you, however a 14-day JR pass my be the most convenient. I would suggest pricing out your individual routes at the following sites and then compare it to available passes.

      http://japan.aoimirai.net/jrpass_calculator.html
      http://www.hyperdia.com/



  11. Karen on September 18, 2017 at 7:21 AM

    Hello Barry,

    My husband and I are planning a trip and we are struggling to understand if the JR Pass will work for us. We need to travel by train from Kanazawa to Kyoto, from Kyoto we would like to do a anumber of day trips to Nara, Konya-San and Kinosaki and the. To go from Kyoto to Tokyo.

    We would be very grateful for any advice.

    Kind regards

    Karen

    9 Oct Takayama 02 301 Car
    17th century medieval town
    Museums
    Kanazawa 10 Oct Kyoto 02 Train
    Travel to Kanazawa to drop off car
    Kyoto 11 Oct Nara
    1h by Car less by train
    Train
    Kyoto will be the central base and Nara, Koya-San and Kinosaki will be day trips by train (not car)
    Home to 8 UNESCO World Heritage Sites Todaiji Temple Fushimi Inari Shrine
    World’s largest wooden structure and home to Japan’s largest Buddha
    Kyoto 12 Oct Koya-san
    3h 30m by car and will be less by train
    Train
    Kyoto will be the central base and Nara, Koya-San and Kinosaki will be day trips by train (not car)
    Kongobuji Temple and Garan temple complex
    Kyoto 13 Oct Kinosaki Train
    Kyoto will be the central base and Nara, Koya-San and Kinosaki will be day trips by train (not car)
    Onsen Town Hot Springs
    Kyoto 14 Oct
    Booked Castle Tour with Ken
    Kyoto 15 Oct Tokyo Hilton
    Tokyo 16 Oct Hilton
    Customised tour of Tokyo with Yoko



    • Barry Choi on September 18, 2017 at 9:40 AM

      Hey Karen,

      Is there a reason you’re renting a car to Kanazawa? Also, I see you’re starting in Takayama? Is there a reason for this too? What airport are you flying into?

      What I’m getting at is, if you build your itinerary a bit differently, you could probably maximize different passes.

      The Kyoto Thru Pass will cover your for Nara and Koya-san. Kinosaku (if you mean Kinosaki Onsen seems out of your way). When you depart Kyoto, you could get the Takayama-Hokuriku Area Tourist Pass which would get you to Kanazawa and Takayama. You could then use that same pass to get to Nagoya before purchasing a one way ticket to Tokyo.

      http://www.surutto.com/tickets/kansai_thru_english.html
      http://www.japan-guide.com/e/e2361_takayama_hokuriku.html

      If you’re schedule is fixed, one way-tickets might be your best option since you’re renting cars. If you don’t rent a car, a 7-day pass may be good enough as long as you arrive in Tokyo by the time it expires. Use the following sites to check how much you’ll spend on one way ticketes.

      http://japan.aoimirai.net/jrpass_calculator.html
      http://www.hyperdia.com/



  12. Melody on September 21, 2017 at 7:30 PM

    Hi Barry,

    I need some suggestions.

    So I’m planning to go to Japan next March 2018 and going for about 14 days. I’m flying in and out from Tokyo Narita Airport. I’m not sure if I should get the 7 days pass or 14 days pass. My plan is to stay in Tokyo the first 2 nights, then move to Kyoto, Osaka, Kobe, Nara the next 6 days, then coming back to Tokyo on the 9th day in Japan. My problem is that do I need to use the JR pass from Narita to Tokyo and Tokyo to Narita or a general pass will do and be much cheaper? And I will be activating the JR pass on the 3rd day in Japan to travel to Kyoto area. So I’ll only need a 7-day pass.



    • Barry Choi on September 21, 2017 at 8:12 PM

      Melody,

      Using a 7-day pass and activating it on day 3 is probably your best bet. You can buy individual tickets for the Narita Express or take the bus.

      One personal thing to note, I found Kobe to be incredibly boring. I went there for the beef, but I didn’t think it was anything special.



      • Melody on September 21, 2017 at 11:32 PM

        I’m actually going Kobe just to try Kobe beef tenpanyaki too!! Can you recommend some restaurants ??

        Will the individual tickets for Narita Express be too expensive?



        • Barry Choi on September 21, 2017 at 11:42 PM

          Melody,

          Steakland is the most popular spot, but honestly, I think teppanyaki style steak is really overrated. I personally would rather make a run to Hiroshima and Miyajima if you have the time.

          As for the Narita Express, it should be around 3,200 Yen for an ordinary class ticket. Some people think that’s expensive, but I think it’s pretty reasonable considering it’s like a 60min train ride.



          • Melody on September 21, 2017 at 11:45 PM

            Unfortunately, I dont have the time to go down to Hiroshima. How much approximately did it cost in Steakland and do I need to make a reservation?

            Does the JR railway take the same amount of time to reach Tokyo (60min) ?



  13. lila on September 26, 2017 at 5:27 PM

    hi barry, I’m hoping you can help.

    we are travelling to japan in October this year leaving UK 04th arriving at narita airport on the 05th. we are wondering if it is worth getting a JR pass for our time. we need to make the following train journeys

    narita airport to tokyo (05th)
    tokyo to kyoto (08th) first available train in the morning. how early do they start?
    koyto to osaka(kansai) airport (10th)

    or does it work out cheeper to do individual tickets?
    many thanks



  14. Leigh on October 9, 2017 at 8:56 AM

    Hi
    My sister and I want to travel from Hiroshima to Mt Koyo overnight then onto Osaka. Is this possible to use Japan rail pass?



    • Barry Choi on October 9, 2017 at 10:08 AM

      Hi Leigh,

      The JR pass would only cover Hiroshima to Osaka. You would have to purchase the Koyasan World Ticket to get from Osaka to Koyasan.

      https://www.japan-guide.com/e/e2358_012.html

      Note that Hiroshima to Osaka is about 3 hours and then Koyasan is another 1.5 – 2 hour journey, so plan accordingly. If you can, try to stay overnight in Kyoto or Osaka before heading to Koyasan in the morning.



  15. Kristy on October 16, 2017 at 12:32 AM

    Hello Barry,

    My partner and I are arriving at Narita Airport and are spending 6 nights in Tokyo, then going to Kyoto for 3 nights, Hiroshima/Miyajima for 1 night, Osaka (with a day trip to Nara) for 4 nights, then flying out of Kansai Airport. Would you advise the 7 day rail pass is more cost effective (activating it on last day when we go to Kyoto), the 14 days rail pass and activate from day 1, or just purchasing one way tickets and forgetting about the rail pass altogether?

    Thanks in advance.



    • Barry Choi on October 16, 2017 at 8:48 AM

      Hi Kristy,

      The 7-day pass would indeed be the best value for you. I agree it’s best to activate it the day you depart Tokyo (use it to get to the Shinkasen station). You can then use it in Kyoto (to get to Arashiyama), Hiroshima / Miyajima and then to get to Nara while in Osaka.

      There is a JR circle line in Osaka which you can use, but I found it to be not that convenient and just paid to use the regular lines.

      You could also use your JR pass to go to Himeji if you wanted another day trip from Osaka.



  16. Maria Kee on October 22, 2017 at 9:56 AM

    Dear Barry,

    My family will be flying to Osaka in November, taking a train to stay in Kyoto for 2 nights, then 4 nights at Osaka. Plan to go to Shirakawa-go & Kanazawa from Osaka. What is the best travelling method?
    Is it worth getting the 7 day JR pass?
    Any suggestions on what & where to go to while in Kyoto & Osaka.
    Please advise.



    • Barry Choi on October 22, 2017 at 1:30 PM

      Hi Maria,

      If the furthest you’re headed is Shirakawa-go & Kanazawa, I don’t think the 7-day JR pass will be worth it as normally you would need to make a return trip to Tokyo to break even.

      I’m looking at the Kanzai Thru pass and I doubt it would be of good value.

      I suspect your best bet is to just pick up a ICOCA or PiTaPa card and just pay as you go.

      Use the following sites to schedules and costs to figure out what’s the best value for your itinerary.

      http://japan.aoimirai.net/jrpass_calculator.html
      http://www.hyperdia.com/



  17. Cathy on December 6, 2017 at 12:23 PM

    My son is traveling to Tokyo with a friend for 2 weeks. They have a few activities planned, but were planning on getting the JR Pass for convenience.. can you travel to places like Osaka or Kyoto and return in a day? Can you see things like the countryside of Japan just taking trips on the train? Is there a better pass to get if staying mainly in Tokyo?



  18. Michael on March 22, 2018 at 3:41 PM

    Hi Barry,

    I really appreciate this article and your responsiveness to us uninitiated travellers to Japan!

    Here’s my itinerary and I’m hoping you can give me your feedback on JR vs. point to point as I’ll be in
    Japan for all of April, but from April 20 onward I’ll just in tokyo or doing short day trips, to Disney for example.

    Tokyo to Osaka
    Osaka to Tokyo

    Tokyo to Kyoto
    Kyoto to Toba (to see the Ise Shima area)
    Toba back to Tokyo

    So I can get the 21-Day pass, but I’ve been reading that the JR rail only includes the slower trains, is that correct?

    Looking forward to your feedback.
    Thank you in advance for your time. 🙂



    • Barry Choi on March 22, 2018 at 5:30 PM

      Hi Michael,

      Is it at all possible to do all your long distance travel within a 2 week period? E.g. activate your 14-day pass when you depart Tokyo for Osaka and make sure you return from Toba before the 14days are up? If not, the 21 days pass will still be worth it, but I’m just trying to see if it’s at all possible to bring down the costs.

      With the JR Pass, you wouldn’t get access to NOZOMI and MIZUHO trains, but the time difference is only 15mins from Tokyo -> Kyoto compared to all the other Shinkansen so it really doesn’t matter.



      • Michael on March 22, 2018 at 6:14 PM

        Unfortunately I can do it in 15 days but not 14. It’s with 2 separate friends so my schedule is beholden to theirs. Good news is that I can still do day trips outside Tokyo to get even more use from the JR Pass.

        But in the end, the 21-day pass will still be worth it at nearly $600?

        Is there a region pass I could get or just the all japan pass?

        Planning to order tomorrow so thanks a lot for your quick replies. Life saver!!



        • Barry Choi on March 22, 2018 at 7:28 PM

          Michael,

          The problem is, you’re going through multiple regions and backtracking to Tokyo, so I suspect the regional passes wouldn’t be much better. I took a look at Hyperdia and a 1-way ticket from Tokyo to Kyoto one-way is ¥14,110. Since you’re technically making that trip 4 times, that’s a total of ¥56,440. Kyoto to Toba is another ¥9,030 which totals ¥65,470. Buying a 21-day pass is still cheaper. At least you could use your pass for any other JR trains when using local public transportation.

          That being said, I’m not an expert when it comes to regional passes. I would suggest posting on reddit to see if the locals have a better solution.

          https://www.reddit.com/r/JapanTravel/



  19. Sarah on March 24, 2018 at 9:46 AM

    My mind is boggling at the trains! not sure if the Jr pass is worth it for me.

    I fly into Tokyo for 5 nights,
    then to Hakone for 1 night
    Kyoto for 3 nights
    Osaka for 4 nights
    and fly out of Osaka.

    From what I’ve read maybe not?
    Thanks 🙂



  20. Mel H on March 25, 2018 at 5:30 AM

    Hi Barry
    Traveling to japan may 2018

    Only for 6 days

    Staying in Tokyo
    Was planning on doing a day trip to Kyoto

    Is it worth it to get an JR pass
    Or just the prepaid ic card.

    Thankyou



    • Barry Choi on March 25, 2018 at 6:20 AM

      Mel,

      Are you flying home from Tokyo? If so, a 7-day JR pass is still worth a roundtrip ticket on the Narita Express + a roundtrip ticket to Kyoto will cost more than a 7-day pass.

      That being said, with just 6 days in Tokyo, I wouldn’t advise a day trip to Kyoto as there is so much to see there. You might be better off going Kamakura instead. If you drop Kyoto, a JR pass would NOT be worth it.



  21. Choo Poh Sim on March 29, 2018 at 10:18 PM

    Hi Barry,
    We’ll be traveling from Tokyo to Fujiyama, Kyoto, Koyasan and Osaka in twelve days.
    Could you please advise whether the JR pass is worthy?

    Thanks heaps!
    Pohism



    • Barry Choi on March 29, 2018 at 10:23 PM

      Choo,

      Are you heading back to Tokyo at the end? If so, then a 7 day pass is worth it if you can do all your travel in that time. If you’re flying out of Osaka, just buy point to point tickets. For Koyasan, you’ll need to buy the Koyasan World Heritage Ticket.



      • Poh Sim Choo on March 29, 2018 at 11:24 PM

        Hi Barry,
        I’ll depart from Osaka, not going back to Tokyo.
        Noted your advice.
        Greatly appreciate your kind and prompt feedback! It’s really helpful!

        Secondly, is it more convenient to travel from Osaka or Kyoto to Koyasan?

        Cheers!



        • Barry Choi on March 29, 2018 at 11:35 PM

          To get to Koyasan, you need to depart from Osaka Namba so technically speaking, it’s more convenient to travel from Osaka. If you do depart from Kyoto, just budget another hour for your travel time.

          When I travelled to Koyasan, I started from Kyoto as it was more convenient for my overall schedule.



          • Dominique Fahey on February 1, 2019 at 3:49 AM

            Hi Barry, I’ve spent a long time deliberating over the JR pass and it’s benefits so hoping you can advise me please.
            March 2019
            Fly into Osaka 5 nights, Kyoto 4 nights (day trips not yet decided) then Tokyo 6 nights (staying in and around Tokyo) Fly out of Tokyo Total stay 15 nights

            Many thanks in advance, Dominique



          • Barry Choi on February 1, 2019 at 7:57 AM

            Dominique,

            Without knowing your day trips, it’s hard to say if a pass is worth it. If you plan on going to Hiroshima then a 7-day pass could be worth it if you do all your major travel within that time frame. Check hyperdia.com for individual route costs so you can start building out your itinerary.



  22. Leone McEntee on March 30, 2018 at 9:13 PM

    Hi Barry,
    we are travelling into and out of Tokyo (Narita) in April with 4 days in Toyko and 3 days in Kyoto. we are 2 adults and wondering whether the 7 day pass is the best option
    Thanks
    LM



    • Barry Choi on March 30, 2018 at 10:32 PM

      Hi Leone,

      Assuming that you’re doing all your travel in 7 days, then yes, a 7-day pass is worth it.

      Remember, you can also use your JR Pass for the Narita Express so you can use it as soon as you land. The JR Yamanote Line will get you too all the major areas in Tokyo with the exception of Sensoji Temple and Roppongi.

      Note that the JR Pass is of limited use in Kyoto, but you can get a Raku bus pass there for 500 yen.

      https://www.moneywehave.com/kyoto-tourist-bus-the-raku-bus/



  23. Katie on April 9, 2018 at 8:09 PM

    Hi Barry, we are travelling to Japan for a short stay March 2019. We are going to Nozawa Onsen from Tokyo (arriving and departing to Australia from Narita) and spending time at Disneyland/DisneySea. There are 4 adults and 3 kids ages 6-9 years. I am not sure that the JR pass would be worth it for our families? I would like your advice please. Thanks.



    • Barry Choi on April 9, 2018 at 8:36 PM

      Hi Katie,

      Are you travelling anywhere else besides Nozawa Onsen and for how long?

      Looking at Hyperdia, a return ticket to TOGARINOZAWA-ONSEN will cost you about 18,000 Yen so you’ll unlikely get good value out of a 7 day pass.

      If you were making a return trip to say Kyoto, you’d get your money’s worth.



  24. Katie on April 9, 2018 at 8:39 PM

    Thanks, Barry. No other journeys only Tokyo to Nozawa return. 5 days in the snow and 4 days in Tokyo. I appreciate your advice. Kind regards.



  25. Ros on April 11, 2018 at 6:47 PM

    Hi Barry
    I understand if you buy the pass online (we are in Australia) you need to exchange it for a voucher once in Japan. We are traveling over the Dec/Jan holiday period (30/12 from Kyoto to Kanazawa, 2/1 Kanazawa to Takayama (is it better to take the bus??), 4/1 Takayama to Tokyo)

    People are telling me I need to prebook our seats as it is very busy this time of year. Can I only book the seats online before we get to to Japan or do I have to wait until we get our voucher (we arrive in Osaka on 23/12)

    Thanks for your help.



    • Barry Choi on April 11, 2018 at 7:25 PM

      Hi Ros,

      To confirm, you’re starting in Kyoto and ending in Tokyo? What day do you depart?

      Technically speaking, the cost of buying one way tickets is cheaper than a 7-day JR pass, but it’s almost a wash. I personally would just by the 7-day pass assuming you’re doing all of your travel in 7days. You could even use it for the Narita Express.

      You can only activate your pass when in Japan which in turn means you can only book your seats at that time. You book your seats at the JR office in Kyoto station. You can book ALL your seats at the same time.

      Note that even if you can’t get a reserved seat, you could just line up earlier for a non reserved car.



  26. Ros on April 11, 2018 at 7:36 PM

    Hi Barry
    Actually we are starting in Osaka. So Osaka – Kyoto, Kyoto – Kanazawa, Kanazawa – Takayama, Takayama – Tokyo.

    But it may change and we might skip Kanazawa all together and stay in Hiroshima for a couple of nights instead… Osaka – Hiroshima, Hiroshima – Kyoto, Kyoto – Takayama, Takayama-Tokyo. We will do one day side trips from Kyoto and Tokyo as well.

    Total time of stay 23/12 to 11/1.

    Thanks
    Ros



    • Barry Choi on April 11, 2018 at 7:45 PM

      Hi Ros,

      It’s a bit hard for me to comment right now without knowing your entire route. Obviously, in an ideal world, you would do all your major travel in a 7day window which would likely be Kyoto to Hiroshima and then all the way to Tokyo. However, that may not be possible.

      I would honestly just plug your route into hyperdia to see how much one-way tickets cost compared to a 7 or 14-day pass.

      http://www.hyperdia.com/en/

      Obviously, if one-way tickets are cheaper then just buy those. That being said, if it’s only costing you a little more for the pass, it may very well be worth it. a JR pass will also be convenient for side trips to say Nara or Himeji while in Kyoro or Nikko and Kamakura when in Tokyo. The pass is also good for a few lines in Kyoto / Osaka and it can get you just about anywhere in Tokyo if you’re close to the JR Yamanote line.



  27. Helen on April 12, 2018 at 8:01 PM

    Hi Barry – I found your post helpful as my partner and I are travelling to Japan next month!

    I’ve done some research and am still deliberating on whether we should get the JR pass. We are there for three weeks and our schedule looks like this:

    Fly into Narita – Tokyo (3N/4D) – Hakone (1N/2D) – Matsumoto (1N/2D) – Kanazawa (2N/3D) – Takayama (3N/4D) – Kyoto (4N/5D) – Osaka (4N/5D) – Tokyo (3N/4D)- Fly out of Haneda.

    We plan on getting the Hakone Free Pass for Hakone and between Matsumoto and Kanazawa, we are doing the Tateyama Kurobe Alpine Route. We would use the SUICA/PASMO IC Card for travels around Tokyo.

    Is it worth getting a 14 or 21 day pass?

    The reason why I say a JR 14 day pass is that we could use it when we leave for Matsumoto and use it on the return trip from Osaka to Tokyo. Though I did calculate individual tickets and it works out cheaper by $100AUD, using Hyperdia and using their total prices with seat reservation.

    From your experience, is it easy to purchase individual JR tickets, say on the day or day beforehand? For time and convenience, it is better to get a JR Pass for our itinerary?

    Cheers,
    Helen.



    • Geraldine on April 15, 2019 at 10:10 PM

      Hi Barry

      I’d just like to clarify if the JR Pass can also be used in Sapporo to Otaru route? Thank you.



      • Barry Choi on April 16, 2019 at 11:30 AM

        Geraldine,

        I believe that runs on the Hakodate Line which is owned by JR so it would work.



  28. Barry Choi on April 12, 2018 at 8:33 PM

    Hi Helen,

    You just got to do the math on one-way tickets which breaks down as follows:

    Narita Express – ¥3,000
    Tokyo – Odawara – ¥3,740
    Odawara – Matsumodo – ¥8,500
    Matsumodo – Kanazawa – ¥11,000
    Kanzawa – Takayama – ¥6,650
    Takayama – Kyoto – ¥5,600
    Kyoto – Osaka – ¥1,700
    Osaka – Tokyo – ¥14,450

    That adds up to ¥54,640 which is technically cheaper than the 21-day pass, but simply purchasing the 21-day pass is likely still worth it as you can use it still for the JR lines in Tokyo and Kyoto. Heck, the odds are you’ll do a day trip from Osaka or Kyoto to Himeji, Nara, or Hiroshima, so there’s a very good chance you’ll come out ahead.

    That being said, if you’re able to do all your long distance travel in a 14-day window, you’ll be able to save about ¥13,000



  29. Gabrielle De Vera on April 16, 2018 at 7:18 AM

    Hi Barry!

    We will be going on a trip and will be landing on Narita. We will be staying at Ueno for 5 days and will go to Osaka (Umeda) for 3 days. Do you recommend us getting a 7day JR Pass or just buy a single round ticket?

    Thank you!



    • Barry Choi on April 16, 2018 at 9:30 AM

      One way tickets would be better



  30. Kelly Calkhoven on April 16, 2018 at 3:01 PM

    HI,

    Thankyou for your excellent article! I am heading to Japan this summer for 12 nights, and am wondering if i should get a 7 or 14 day Jr. Pass. Four nights in Tokyp, then off to Hiroshima for 1 night, then to Kyoro for 4 nights, then finally back to Tokyo for 2 nights. Any advice would be appreciated!



    • Barry Choi on April 16, 2018 at 7:51 PM

      Hi Kelley,

      Buying a 7day pass and activating it the day you depart Tokyo would give you the best value.

      If you haven’t booked your accommodations yet, please consider using my booking.com affiliate.

      https://www.booking.com/index.html?aid=1457715



  31. Roxanne on April 21, 2018 at 2:48 PM

    Hi Barry,

    Can you please give me your thoughts on whether a rail pass makes sense for us? This is our itinerary. I’ve stated what I think are the approximate prices per leg. I think (but am not sure) that it does make sense for us to purchase a JR 7-day rail pass, but simply wait to activate it until Day 3. Thank you for the help!!!

    Day 1: Arrive Tokyo, Narita Express to Tokyo Station [4,000 yen round-trip?]
    Day 2: Tokyo sightseeing [not sure, but guessing about 2,000 yen]
    Day 3: Tokyo sightseeing [not sure, but guessing about 2,000 yen]
    Day 4: shinkansen from Tokyo to Nagoya, transfer to Takayama [16,000 yen total?]
    Day 5: Takayama to Nagoya, transfer to shinkansen to Kyoto [11,000 yen total?]
    Day 6: Kyoto sightseeing [not sure if I can use my rail pass in Kyoto?]
    Day 7: Kyoto sightseeing [not sure if I can use my rail pass in Kyoto?]
    Day 8: shinkansen from Kyoto to Tokyo [13,500]
    Day 9: Tokyo sightseeing [guessing about 1,000 yen]/ Narita Express from Tokyo Station [0 yen, already included in round trip ticket]



    • Barry Choi on April 21, 2018 at 7:32 PM

      Rocanne,

      You nailed it, getting 7-day pass and then activating it on day 3 will give you the best value. A few notes

      – Buy a one way ticket for the Narita Express on the way in since you can use your JR pass for it on the way out.
      – It’s unlikely you’ll use 2,000 yen per day in Tokyo, but it’s roughly 300 yen per trip
      – In Kyoto, you can really only use the JR Pass for the JR Sagano line which will take you to Arashiyama. You can also use the pass to get you to Kyoto or the express train to Osaka. For Kyoto, buy a Raku bus pass instead.

      If you haven’t booked your accommodations yet, please consider using my booking.com affiliate.

      https://www.booking.com/index.html?aid=1457715



  32. saira suchdeva on April 28, 2018 at 4:22 AM

    Hi Barry

    We would be travelling as follows :

    Enter into Osaka (From Jeju,Island)

    10th &11th May : Osaka
    11th-13th May : Kyoto
    13th-16th May : Tokyo
    16th May : Fly out of Tokyo

    Does it make sense to take the JR 7 day Pass ? Because ideally the long distance travel would only be Kyoto to Tokyo (no return) However, we want to try out the Nozomi express (fastest bullet train) as well which is not covered in the pass and need access to the subways etc in Kyoto and Tokyo.

    Please let me know,

    Thank you
    Saira



    • Barry Choi on April 28, 2018 at 9:25 AM

      Hi Saira,

      Since you’re only going one way, it’s better to just buy point to point tickets.

      You could simply pay for the Nozomi when you buy your one way ticket, but the premium is not worth since you’ll only save about 15mins.



  33. Matt on May 3, 2018 at 11:14 AM

    Hey Barry,

    I’m going to Japan for 10 days in May flying in and out of Tokyo. I was planning on visiting Kyoto, Osaka and a couple other places. I don’t have much planned yet but I was wondering if you think it would be best to buy a 7 day or a 14 day travel pass.

    Thanks,

    Matt



    • Barry Choi on May 3, 2018 at 11:56 AM

      Hi Matt

      The 7-day pass would likely be worth it since you’re making a round trip from Tokyo. Just make sure it’s active for your travel to and from Kyoto.

      If you haven’t booked your accommodations yet, please consider using my booking.com affiliate.

      https://www.booking.com/index.html?aid=1457715



  34. Pree on May 9, 2018 at 6:27 PM

    Hi Barry,

    We would really like to get your opinion if we should get the 7 day pass. Our trip is as follows:

    Arrive in Osaka
    Spend 4 days in Osaka with day trips to Hiroshima and Himeji
    Activate JLR 7 day pass to go Kyoto from Osaka
    Spend 4 days in Kyoto
    Kyoto to Tokyo
    Spend 6 days in Tokyo with a day trip to Hakone
    Fly off from Tokyo

    Thank you and i look forward to hearing from you



  35. Barry Choi on May 10, 2018 at 1:40 AM

    Hi Pree,

    I personally would advise the following

    2 Days in Osaka
    6 days in Kyoto with day trips to Hiroshima and Himeji ( go to Hiroshima on day 3 and activate your JR pass then)
    6 days in Tokyo

    The cost from Osaka to Kyoto is not very expensive if you take the local train which is why I suggest moving more days to Kyoto and using that as your base.

    If you book a hotel near Kyoto station, then things can be really easy. You could also use your JR Pass to go to Nara from Kyoto if you so desired.

    Also note that if you want to day trip to Hakone, it may be worth doing as you transit from Kyoto to Tokyo, but that’s a personal chouce.



  36. Jess on May 11, 2018 at 3:12 AM

    Hi Barry need you advise for Japan trip planning for my family trip for 2 adult, 2kids aged 6 and 3 years old. Planning to visit Osaka, universal studio and Disneyland in tokyo. Worth to buy JR 7 day pass travel ? Planning to stay for 7 days.
    either depart from Osaka and take train to Tokyo or vice versa. Save the traveling time and cost.
    What is your best advise. Thank you.



  37. Christine on June 1, 2018 at 4:53 PM

    Hi Barry,
    Would it be cost effective for my family and I to get a 7 or 14 day JR pass with the following itinerary?

    Day 1: Arrive Tokyo, Narita Airport to Skytower station
    Day 2 – 5: Stay in Tokyo – sightseeing
    Day 6: shinkansen from Tokyo to Kyoto
    Day 7: Stay in Kyoto – sightseeing
    Day 8: shinkansen from Kyoto to Osaka
    Day 9: Stay in Osaka
    Day 10: shinkansen from Osaka back to Tokyo -> Narita Airport

    This is my family’s first trip to Japan (2 kids ages 8 and 10). Would you recommend decreasing the number of days in Tokyo and increasing the days in Kyoto and/or Osaka? If so, what would you recommend in Kyoto and Osaka?

    Thanks in advance for your help!



    • Barry Choi on June 1, 2018 at 5:50 PM

      Hi Christine,

      Assuming that’s your set schedule, your best bet is to get a 7 day pass and activate it on Day 4 so it’s good to the end of your trip.

      This is just my personal opinion, but it may be easier to just stay in Kyoto for 4 days and make day trips as needed to Osaka. This will make things a little easier since that’s one less hotel you need to worry about.



  38. Michael on June 3, 2018 at 6:30 AM

    Hi Barry,

    Very helpful thread with a lot of information on the JR Pass. I am wondering if you can give me the same advice you have given so many people before me.

    My wife and I are travelling to Japan in 3 weeks. We are deciding whether or not to get the 21 day pass. Our itinerary thus far is:

    23/06 – Arrive Osaka
    25/06 – Osaka to Hiroshima
    27/06 – Hiroshima to Kyoto
    30/06 – Kyoto to Takayama
    02/07 – Takayama to Hakone
    04/07 – Hakone to Tokyo
    09/07 – Tokyo to Mt Fuji for overnight climb
    10/07 – Descend Mt Fuji and return to Tokyo
    12/07 – Fly out of Tokyo back home

    This is just shy of 3 weeks, so we were wondering whether to get the 21 day pass, or if we would be better off getting the 14 day pass and activating it at a certain point?

    Any help would be great.

    Thanks,

    Michael



    • Barry Choi on June 3, 2018 at 10:41 AM

      Hi Michael,

      So you could get a 14-day pass, but you would need to modify your schedule a touch.

      Right now, your major travel starts on 25/6 and technically ends on 10/7 which is 15 days.

      HOWEVER, if you moved your day trip to Hiroshima while you’re in Kyoto, then you would only need the 14 day pass. Osaka and Tokyo are close enough that you don’t need to take the Shinkansen.

      That being said, I’m assuming you’re making some side trips too that you haven’t mentioned e.g. Miyajima, Nara. For convenience purposes, a 21-day JR pass might be worth it so you’re not constantly having to worry about buying one-way tickets.

      If you haven’t booked your accommodations yet, please consider using my booking.com affiliate:

      https://www.booking.com/index.html?aid=1457715



  39. Shay on June 6, 2018 at 7:06 AM

    Hello Barry,
    I wanted some advice.
    I will be going to Japan in 2 weeks.
    Planning on doing 3 days in Tokyo and 2 days in Kyoto and flying out of Tokyo. Is the 7 day pass worth it ? I will be arriving at the Haneda and departing from Narita.



    • Barry Choi on June 6, 2018 at 8:28 AM

      Hi Shay,

      For convenience purposes, I would just buy the 7-day pass so you don’t need to worry about purchasing one-way tickets every time. For reference, here’s the math.

      7-day ordinary pass = ¥ 29,110
      Return trip to Kyoto from Tokyo = ¥ 26,800

      The price difference is about $23 USD.

      If you factor in the use of the monorail and JR lines in Tokyo, you’ll likely come out ahead with the JR Pass.

      Note that the JR Pass does not work in the Tokyo subway so you’ll still need a suica card. In Kyoto, your JR Pass is only good for 2 lines (To Arashiyama and Fushimi Inari-taisha / Nara). You’ll need to use the Raku bus to get to other sites.

      https://www.moneywehave.com/kyoto-tourist-bus-the-raku-bus/



  40. Serene on June 18, 2018 at 10:20 PM

    Hi Barry,

    Family of 3 A 3 C(under12).
    We plan to travel end Dec to mid Jan. Question is 7 day pass or 14 days?
    Current thought is:
    Landing Narita. Will be in Tokyo from christmas eve to 31st Dec (should be going to DisneySea, yokohama, around tokyo and day trips) — CAN be shorter days, if you think need more in osaka kansai region.
    Off to Osaka (if JR pass will take shinkansen), or fly direct
    Osaka 6 days and doing day trips to Kyoto, Nara, Hiroshima, Nagoya, (Universal Studios, Legoland) and if possible fit in mount Fuji, Hakone
    then off to Seoul (from Kansai) – Tokyo

    Thanks!



    • Barry Choi on June 19, 2018 at 9:43 AM

      Hi Serene,

      How many days will you be in Japan total? It’s hard to assess what is best without more information.

      One thing to note right away. You are trying to do A LOT in 14 days. It’s doable, but with 3 kids, you’ll get tired really fast. See below for a rough breakdown

      Day 1 – Arrive in Tokyo
      Day 2 – Tokyo
      Day 3 – DisneySea
      Day 4 – Yokohama
      Day 5 – Tokyo
      Day 6 – Tokyo Daytrip
      Day 7 – Nagoya Legoland
      Day 8 – Arrive Osaka
      Day 9 – Universal Studios (this is in Osaka)
      Day 10 – Nara
      Day 11 – Hiroshima
      Day 12 – Kyoto
      Day 13 –
      Day 14 –

      You can see based on a 14 day itinerary, you’ve already packed too much. 1.5 days of free time in Tokyo is not enough. Nor is one day in Kyoto.

      Since you’re flying out of Kansai, you should try to build all of your long distance travel in a 7-day period which would be Tokyo to Nagoya/Osaka/Kyoto and then Osaka to Hiroshima.

      If you need to spread out your travels, you’re likely better off buying one way tickets for the Shinkansen.



  41. Serene on June 19, 2018 at 10:04 AM

    Hi Barry, sorry to confuse you!
    At the moment, I plan to arrive 24th Tokyo and leave for Seoul on 26th for 6 days.
    Go direct to Osaka for 7 days. 7th day Head back Tokyo for 6 more days.
    Total we have 21 days, not 14.
    So thinking of only getting the 7 days pass to start from haneda , Osaka etc …and back again to Tokyo.
    Thanks!



    • Barry Choi on June 19, 2018 at 10:12 AM

      Hi Serene

      Are you flying to Seoul from Tokyo on the 26th?

      From Seoul, do you fly direct to Osaka?

      If that’s the case, a 7-day pass is likely best. Just activate it when you’re Osaka on the 4th or 5th day. You can then use it to get to Hiroshima, Nara, Nagoya, and Tokyo.

      When the pass isn’t active, just pay locally via a Suica or Passmo card. In Kyoto, the Raku bus is the most convenient way to get around.

      A 14-day pass is likely not worth it since you’ll be flying directly into Osaka and then out of Tokyo.



      • Serene on June 19, 2018 at 8:59 PM

        Hi Barry,

        So hard to get the plane tickets to Seoul! Fully booked. So I’m flying out of haneda and arriving gimpo instead of narita / Kansai.
        Means Tokyo /Seoul/Tokyo.
        Going to Osaka from haneda.
        Will activate 7 day pass from Tokyo to Osaka and return.
        How do I get from haneda to Osaka?
        Is it better to stay in Kyoto or Osaka to do the day trips?
        Thanks



        • Barry Choi on June 19, 2018 at 9:10 PM

          Hi Serene,

          Haneda and Gimpo airports are both closer to Tokyo and Seoul respectively so it’s actually not a bad thing.

          Now that you’re landing in Tokyo then headed to Osaka and Hiroshima before you head back to Tokyo to return home, a 14-day JR pass is probably a better value.

          To get to Osaka from Haneda (assuming your JR pass is active) you would take the monorail to Hamamatsuchō Station, you would then take the JR Yamanote line to Shinagawa station. You would then take the shinkansen to shin-Osaka. Note that you can get to Shinagawa station directly from Haneda if you take the metro, but this line is not covered by your JR Pass.

          I personally prefer to stay in Kyoto to do day trips since there are many hotels near Kyoto station and there are more things to do in Kyoto.

          If you haven’t booked your accommodations yet, please consider using my booking.com affiliate.

          https://www.booking.com/index.html?aid=1457715



          • Serene on June 19, 2018 at 9:51 PM

            Hi Barry,

            In this case, should I take the metro to Shinagawa first and then activate the JR pass there, to get on the Shinkansen to Kyoto?
            Or possible to activate at the monorail? Which route is better? since I have so many of us?
            I’m planning to get the 7 day pass and activate on the day i reurn from Seoul and heading to Kyoto. from there do my day trips around and use the 6th and 7th day on route from Hakone to Tokyo. I will then have 6 more days in tokyo before heading back home.
            I should be able to get around tokyo (Disney Sea, Nissin factory etc) without the JR Pass?
            Thanks !



          • Barry Choi on June 19, 2018 at 10:03 PM

            Hi Serene,

            The quickest way is to take the Metro directly from Haneda. However, the cheapest way is to go via Monorail and requires a few extra steps. Note that the actual price difference is likely less than 300 Yen but you’ll save 20 mins or so.

            Since you’re going to Osaka right away, you should activate your JR pass at Haneda.

            If you can complete all your long distance travel in 7 days, then that’s perfect. When you’re back in Tokyo, a Suica or Passmo card will do.

            Use the following site to plan your trips. Remember, Japan trains ALWAYS come on time.

            http://www.hyperdia.com/en/



  42. Grace on June 19, 2018 at 2:47 PM

    Hello Barry,

    Can you help me pls if it’s worth buying the JR pass or not. I’ll be travelling with my 8 y/o child. We’ll be arriving and departing from Haneda airport. We’ll be staying in Tokyo for 3 days then on the 4th day to Kyoto. We’ll stay in Kyoto for 4 days then back to Tokyo for 2 days. Plan to take JR Nara line to Fushimi Inari. Also JR Sagano line to Arashiyama Bamboo Grove. I booked a full-day trip to Nara.

    Can I use the JR pass to explore Ginza and other areas in Tokyo?
    Thanks.



    • Barry Choi on June 19, 2018 at 3:50 PM

      Hi Grace,

      Getting a 7-day JR pass will likely be worth it just for the convenience purposes. Obviously there will be 2 days in Tokyo where you can’t use the pass so just use a Suica or Passmo card during that time.

      The JR pass can be used to get you to Nara from Kyoto. Within Tokyo, you can use it on any JR line (Yamanote and Chuo). The only major destination in Tokyo where your JR pass won’t get you is Sensoji temple.



  43. Janet on July 4, 2018 at 4:13 AM

    Hi Barry. We are travelling to Japan in September/October this year and will spend time in Tokyo, Kyoto, Hiroshima, Osaka and Nikko. We have purchased our Japan Rail Pass (and will activate upon leaving Tokyo).
    Would you suggest a Pasmo or Suica card (or something else) for travel in the areas where our Japan Rail Pass doesn’t cover?
    Thank you heaps.



    • Barry Choi on July 4, 2018 at 7:41 AM

      Hi Janet,

      Any IC card will do to supplement your travels in Japan. Pasmo and Suica are essentially the same thing. Basically, you can use your Suica card just about any place where your JR pass is not accepted. There are a few exceptions though e.g. say you buy a regional pass such as the Hakone Free Pass or the Koyasan World Heritage Ticket. In Kyoto, buying Raku bus pass is likely better since those buses are aimed at tourist.

      One other thing to note. Although Osaka has a few JR lines, I personally found that it was not as convenient as just using my suica card and riding the regular lines.



  44. Marrah on July 4, 2018 at 9:14 PM

    Hi Barry,

    I found this article helpful but I would like to seek for your advice with our itinerary if we can maximize the use of JR pass:

    Day 1 – ETA KIX then go to Kyoto
    Day 2 & 3 – Kyoto (Arashima, Gion District, Fushimi Inari etc)
    Day 4 – Nara day trip then go to Osaka
    Day 5 – Osaka (Osaka Castle, Ume, Dotonbori, Shinsaibashi)
    Day 6 – USJ
    Day 7 – Osaka to Tokyo
    Day 8 & 9 – Tokyo
    Day 10 – ETD Narita

    Thank you.



    • Barry Choi on July 5, 2018 at 6:45 AM

      Hi Marrah,

      Since you’re flying into KIX and then out of Narita, I suspect a 7day JR pass will not be worth it. It’ll likely be cheaper to simply buy one-way tickets.

      You can double check the math by checking your routes via hyperdia.

      http://www.hyperdia.com/en/



  45. Marrah on July 6, 2018 at 2:09 AM

    Hi Barry,

    Thanks for the reply. Yeah, we figured that the 7day JR pass is not worth it. We’re thinking of getting 4day JR West Kansai Rail Pass (KIX-Kyoto-Nara-Osaka) then purchase local passes for our DIYS in Kyoto, Osaka, and Tokyo. Thanks again ^_^



    • Barry Choi on July 6, 2018 at 8:09 AM

      Marrah,

      The Kix pass not even be worth it since all of those areas are easily accessible from each other via regular commuter lines.

      The Raku bus pass is handy for Kyoto. You can get to/from Nara to/from Koyoto or Osaka for less than 600 yen. The train from Kix to Kyoto is about 2900 Yen.

      You’re probably better off just purchasing your Kix to Kyoto ticket on its own, and then purchasing an IC card to use for your regular travel. In Kyoto, use the Raku bus since it gets you to all the tourist attractions.



  46. Marrah on July 9, 2018 at 4:16 AM

    thanks for the additional info Barry. and yeah I am planning on getting the Raku Bus pass for our Kyoto DIY based on your recommendation from your other blog. actually I was thinking of getting the JR West Kansai Pass for the main reason that it is ‘unlimited’, is that right? if not, will an ICOCA + Haruka IC card suffice for our trip in Kansai region? thanks again



    • Barry Choi on July 9, 2018 at 6:04 AM

      Hey Marrah,

      It is unlimited, but based on cost, I think you’ll spend less using an IC Card. the ICOCA + Haruka IC card is likely the best value for you IMO since you’ll mostly be in the Kansai region. The odds are the amount you spend on that will cost you less than had you bought a KIX pass.



  47. Marrah on July 9, 2018 at 8:48 PM

    I see. another thing that I’m confuse with is about the ‘reserved seats’. how is it done if we’re using an IC card? thanks again.



    • Barry Choi on July 10, 2018 at 5:39 AM

      Hi Marrah,

      Which reserved seats are you referring to? As far as I know, IC cards do not get you access to reserved seats on the SHinkansen, you’d purchase that ticket separately.



  48. Marrah on July 11, 2018 at 4:25 AM

    I’m not really sure about this but I’m referring to reserved seats on the JR train. Can we also use the IC card on the JR trains/buses?



    • Barry Choi on July 11, 2018 at 7:34 AM

      Hi Marrah,

      Reserved seats are ONLY for the Shinkansen. You need to buy a separate ticket for that.

      Your IC card will work on all modes of transportation in Osaka, Kyoto, and Tokyo (regardless of who owns the line). Note that it’s cheaper to just buy a bus pass for Kyoto (and Nara if you don’t want to walk).

      If I recall correctly, it won’t work in Hiroshima on the tram, but you can just buy an individual ticket on board.



  49. Marrah on July 12, 2018 at 1:48 AM

    yay! thanks for answering my queries. now I understand. thanks a lot Barry and God bless



  50. Lynn on July 13, 2018 at 3:11 AM

    Hi Barry,

    We will be going to Japan in September for 14 days, and I am trying to put together an itinerary that would make the most sense. Flying in and out of tokyo, but I would like to visit osaka, kyoto, nara, hiroshima, and miyajima, I originally also was going to fit in Kobe, but read on your previous comment that it wouldn’t be worth it. Would the 14 day JR pass be worth it? Also, do you think that we’re trying to fit in too much on our 2 week schedule?



    • Barry Choi on July 13, 2018 at 7:48 AM

      Hi Lynn,

      I actually did a similar route but I also did Koyasan so I don’t think you’re trying to fit in too much. I even spent 7 days in Tokyo during that trip.

      I personally did not enjoy Kobe. I think Kobe steak is a bit overrated and you can get it anywhere in the country so it’s not like you NEED to go to Kobe for it. That being said, Kobe is only 30mins from Himeji so if you’re going to the castle, you could easily stop in Kobe after.

      Since you’re there for 14 days and you’ll be doing a return trip from Tokyo all the way to Hiroshima, the JR Pass will pay for itself. You’ll still need an IC card for some cities and I recommend the Raku bus pass for Kyoto. In Hiroshima, you’ll have to buy separate tickets for the tram.



  51. Becs on July 29, 2018 at 12:46 AM

    Hi Barry,

    I am heading to Japan for 14 days in September. 5 Days in Tokyo then headed to Nagoya for 1 day followed by Osaka for 4 days, Kyoto for 2 days and then back to Tokyo for 2 days (Narita Airport).

    Do you suggest buying the 7 day JR Rail pass or 14 day one?



    • Barry Choi on July 29, 2018 at 6:24 AM

      Hi Becs,

      as long as you leave and return to TOkyo within those 7-days, yes a 7-day pass is best for you.



  52. […] and possible, but I wouldn’t recommend them since you’ll be cramming in too much stuff. A 7-day JR pass will likely be worth it, so be sure to pick one up before you depart. Here’s how to spend one week in […]



  53. JL on August 5, 2018 at 3:06 AM

    Hi Barry,

    I will be in Japan for a total of 14 days in September. I could really use your advice about whether I should get a 14-day JR pass or a 7-day JR pass with a regional pass of some kind. Here is my itinerary (everything is flexible):

    Sept 20 Day 1 – Arrive Haneda/Tokyo
    Sept 21 Day 2 – Tokyo
    Sept 22 Day 3 – Tokyo
    Sept 23 Day 4 – Kyoto
    Sept 24 Day 5 – Kyoto
    Sept 25 Day 6 – Kyoto
    Sept 26 Day 7 – Kyoto
    Sept 27 Day 8 – Kyoto > Kobe
    Sept 28 Day 9 – Kobe > Hiroshima (& Miyajima)
    Sept 29 Day 10 – Hiroshima >osaka
    Sept 30 Day 11 – Osaka > Tokyo
    Oct 1 Day 12 – Tokyo
    Oct 2 Day 13 – Tokyo
    Oct 3 Day 14 – Leave Haneda/Tokyo

    I am planning to do some side trips as well – Nara while in Kyoto, maybe Takayama from Tokyo?

    What do you think – 7-day pass plus regional pass(es) of some sort, or a 14-day pass?
    Also, what is your suggestion for the best/easiest/shortest way to get to Takayama?

    Thanks in advance!



    • Barry Choi on August 5, 2018 at 7:13 AM

      Hi JL,

      I think a 14-day pass would be easiest. You can activate it at the airport and use it immediately on the monorail.

      You’ll still need some regional tickets (not passes) in Kyoto, Osaka, and Hiroshima, but that shouldn’t cost you much.

      In Kyoto, purchase a Raku Bus pass and use it for convenience. Your JR pass will get you to Arashiyama.

      https://www.moneywehave.com/kyoto-tourist-bus-the-raku-bus/



  54. Amy on August 10, 2018 at 8:25 AM

    Hi Barry,
    Thanks for all of the great information. I am heading to Japan in October. We will be arriving in Osaka and staying for 4 nights. Then heading to Nagoya for 2 nights and the Tokyko for 7 nights. We fly out of Tokyo. From what I have read, we would be best to buy single tickets instead of a JR pass, is that correct? What sort of card should I use yo pay for tickets, Pasmo, IC? Also, is it easy to travel with suitcases or should we use the bag transport?
    Thanks in advance for your help,
    Amy



    • Barry Choi on August 10, 2018 at 5:35 PM

      Hi Amy,

      Yes, I believe one way tickets would be best. You can buy tickets for the Shinkansen directly from any JR office. They accept cash or major credit cards.

      As for local transportation, any IC card will work, but purchasing a Raku Bus pass in Kyoto is a good idea too since it’ll take you to all the major tourist attractions>

      Suitcases are fine, just note that during rush hour, trains will be packed so avoid those times if you can. Some train stations are massive too and finding the elevator may not be easy. If you happen to have “backpacks” I’d recommend those, but I also wouldn’t stress about it either.



      • Amy on August 11, 2018 at 8:11 AM

        Thank you so much. Is the bus pass available to purchase on the bus?



  55. Laura Ortiz on August 14, 2018 at 2:50 AM

    Hi Barry!

    Thanks for this! Husband and I are celebrating our Honeymoon and we are so excited! Grateful for this article. Our itinerary is such:

    SEPTEMBER 24TH- FLY TO JAPAN
    SEPTEMBER 25TH- LAND IN JAPAN
    September 26- Tokyo Disney (stay in tokyo)
    September 27- Disney Sea
    September 28th- October 2st- TOKYO (5 days)
    October 3rd- Travel to Hakone, stay overnight in ryokan
    October 4th- travel to Kyoto
    October 5th-8th- Kyoto ( 4 days), (two of which we would like to commit to Hiroshima & Miyajima)
    October 9th- Travel back to tokyo
    October 10th- Fly home

    We don’t know if the 7 day or 14 day rail pass is worth it, or even if we should get it.

    Thank you so much!!



  56. Rachael Wong on September 1, 2018 at 11:35 PM

    Hello Barry,

    Thank you for this information! I just graduated from college and saved enough for my dream trip. I am super excited! I am wondering if it’s worth getting the 7 day pass or the 14 day pass? I will be coming in from Tokyo then heading to Kyoto then Osaka and back to Tokyo for New Years Eve. I am staying for 20 days. Which one would you recommend?

    Thank You!



  57. Rachael Wong on September 1, 2018 at 11:38 PM

    I will be spending 7 days in Kyoto then starving Osaka for 5 days then head to Tokyo



    • Barry Choi on September 2, 2018 at 10:36 AM

      Hi Rachel,

      It depends on your route but as long as you go as you make a return trip to Hirsohima from TOkyo, a 14-day pass will pay for itself.



  58. Queenie on October 12, 2018 at 11:18 PM

    Hi Barry,
    What if my itinarary like this? Will 14 days jr pass worth?

    10 NOVEMBER
    SHINJUKU
    SHIBUYA
    11 NOVEMBER
    ASAKUSA , Akhibara

    12 NOVEMBER
    Tsukiji Market ~~ Roppongi ~~ Tokyo Towel ~~ Ginza

    13 NOVEMBER
    OSAKA = Cup Noodle Museum, Dotomburi, Shinsaibashi shopping area, Glico man, Giant Crab, night culinary, 24 hr shopping at DON Q SHINSAIBASHI

    14 NOVEMBER
    OSAKA = Osaka Castle, Tempozan giant ferris wheel, Santa maria Cruise, Tennoji Temple, Umeda sky building rofftop garden, Hev Five mall and ferris, Dombori river cruise

    15 NOVEMBER
    HIROSHIMA
    MIYAJIMA ISLAND

    16 NOVEMBER
    HIMEJI CASTLE
    KOBE

    17 NOVEMBER
    KYOTO

    18 NOVEMBER
    KYOTO

    19 NOVEMBER
    KANAZAWA

    20 NOVEMBER
    SHIRAKAWA GO

    21 NOVEMBER
    YOKOHAMA

    22 NOVEMBER
    YOKOHAMA

    23 NOVEMBER
    Tokyo- KAWAGUCHIGO

    24 NOVEMBER
    Tokyo -KAMAKURA

    25 NOVEMBER
    Tokyo – EDO WONDERLAND

    26 NOVEMBER
    TOKYO – Odaiba

    27 NOVEMBER
    BACK TO BALI

    Do u think for the 1st 3 days in Tokyo, do we need to buy tokunai pass for 750 yen or using suica?
    What about another city? Will Jr pass pass cover for the local trains for each city or there is an extra fees to buy train tickets or bus?

    Thanks in advance



    • Barry Choi on October 13, 2018 at 7:59 AM

      Hi Queenie,

      Yes a 14-day pass will be more than worth it based on your itinerary. Just use a Suica card in Tokyo. Your suica can also be used in Kyoto and Osaka for local travel.

      Just a few notes.

      – You’re doing a lot on day 2 in Osaka. It’s doable, you’ll just be busy.
      – If You’re going to Himeji castle, there’s no point in going to Osaka castle, Himeji is MUCH more interesting
      – Besides steak and a robot statue, there’s not much to do in Kobe. That being said, since you have it paired with Himeji, you should be good.
      – 2 days in Kyoto may not be enough, I would consider adding a day and maybe dropping one from Yokohama
      – If you’re spending extra time in Kyoto, you can likely drop Kamakura and edo wonderland
      – The backend of your trip with all the day trips is a bit much, you’re going to be travelling too much, you’ll be exhausted.

      These are just my own casual observations, you can ignore me if you think you can do it.



    • Queenie on October 14, 2018 at 4:30 AM

      Hi Barry,
      Thank you for your information.

      If you were saying that our backend trips a bit too much specially we are going with our parents. So what do you think that we should skip and what should we do then?
      Since all the hotels are booked ?
      Do you think is worth to go to Himeji and kobe? We all are vegetarian.. but is it worth to check the city tho?
      Or we should take jr and go to Kyoto since u mentioned 2 days in Kyoto won’t enough?

      What about shirakawago? Small little town.. is it worth the time to go there or we should just explore Kanazawa or Takayama ?

      Thanks again!



      • Barry Choi on October 14, 2018 at 7:47 AM

        Hi Queenie,

        I would personally just cut back on some day trips. Tokyo has A LOT to see, so you could just wander the different neighbourhoods and check out the various museums. I spent 9 days in Tokyo the last time I was there and I didn’t even see everything I wanted.

        As mentioned, I would also dedicate more time to Kyoto.

        Himeji castle is nice, but note there are no elevators. I don’t know how old your parents are, but it’s all stairs. Kobe has a few things to see in the city, but it’s relaly not that exciting. You could spend that extra time in Osaka.

        Shirakawago is nice but so are Kanazawa and Takayama. Of those 3, pick one. The bigger issue is that you’re still packing in A LOT of travel. I’m in my mid 30’s and just reading your itinerary was exhausting.



  59. Carl Westman on October 13, 2018 at 11:14 PM

    Hi there Barry! You seem to know a lot! Me and my partner is coming from South Korea and taking the ferry to Fukuoka 🙂 we then intend to spend 14-17 days in Japan traveling up to Tokyo with day trips and are researching if a 14 days Jr pass might be worth it. Our itenerary looks like this atm:

    Fukuoka (2 days) – >
    Hiroshima (3 days with ferry to Miyajima) – >
    Himeji (1 day) – >
    Osaka (3 days, day trips to Nara and Kobe) – >
    Kyoto (3 days, maybe some day trip) – >
    Tokyo (3-5 days) (flying to Hongkong after this)

    Sadly our to “long trips” are very far apart (Fukuoka-Hiroshima and Kyoto-Tokyo) and since we are traveling one way we have a hard time deciding if its worth getting a 14 days Jr pass.. It seems really nice to have the freedom with the pass but I don’t know if its wise to go for that. Sadly we won’t be able to get all the way to Tokyo in just 7 days I think.

    What would you recommend?

    Cheers
    Amanda and Carl



    • Barry Choi on October 14, 2018 at 7:57 AM

      Hi Carl,

      A one way fare from Hakata (Fukuoka) to Tokyo is ¥42,300 whereas a 14-day JR pass is ¥46,390 so you’ll easily be able to get your money’s worth and I’m not even counting your side trips. The convenience alone makes it worth it IMO. You would still need an IC card for local transit.

      Here are a few notes about your Itinerary.

      You don’t need a separate day in Himeji. Just do Himeji/Kobe (Kobe is kind of boring) as a day trip from Osaka. You could add that extra day to Tokyo or Kyoto.

      Since you’re already doing Hiroshima, Miyajima, and Osaka as separate day trips, you might as well spend 3-4 full days in Tokyo. Kanzawa or Takyama are good day trip options, but no need to set it in stone, just see how things go when you’re there.

      There is A LOT to do in Tokyo.



  60. Lân on October 23, 2018 at 12:39 AM

    Hi Barry,

    fantastic job!

    I have a question regarding my itinerary:

    I stay in Tokyo from November 17th to November 22nd. On November 23rd I go to Osaka and stay there until 29. I plan.to do 3 days Osaka and 3 days Kyoto in that span. Then on 29 to 30th, one night in a ryokan in Hakone. and back to Toyko for last 2 days

    Do you think the Japan rail pass 7 days is worth it?

    Thanks for your help



    • Barry Choi on October 23, 2018 at 6:24 AM

      Hi Lan,

      You’ll just come out ahead with the JR pass with that route but note you’ll still need to pay for local transportation in those cities. Kyoto only has two JR lines. Osaka has a JR line that goes in a circle, but it’s not always that convenient.



  61. Bart on October 24, 2018 at 11:53 AM

    Hi Barry,

    Bart from The Netherlands here! I came across your website while searching the best means of transportation during my trip to Japan from Nov 3rd – 19th. A lot of good and useful information but I am still wondering what is the best itinerary for me, with or without a JR pass?

    I will travel with my girlfriend from Tokyo on Nov 7th to her family in Nagoya, we will stay here a few days and then travel on Nov 12th to Kyoto. Here we are planning to stay either 2 or 3 days, and here the difficulty to chose for either a JR pass or single tickets begins for me:
    If we are leaving on the 14th the JR pass will probably not be valid anymore to travel to Osaka / Kobe (since we are then on our 8th day and the JR is only valid for 7 days). Might as well stay another day and leave on the 15th for Osaka, buying a single ticket? I have no idea where to find the expenses for that trip, though.

    After the 14th/15th of November we will probably travel with local transport. On the 19th I am leaving back from Osaka to Amsterdam, so I also don’t have a roundtrip back to Tokyo.

    A lot of information but my question thus is, what should I do:
    – Buy a 7 day JR pass
    – Buy a 14 day JR pass; or
    – Buy single tickets for each trip?

    Hope you can help me out! Thanks in advance



    • Barry Choi on October 24, 2018 at 4:24 PM

      Hi Bart,

      It sounds like you’re better off doing one way tickets unless you play on making a run to Hiroshima and back while in Kyoto. To calculate one-way tickets, use Hyperdia- http://www.hyperdia.com/

      You would have to use a suica card for local transportation in the cities or the raku bus in Kyoto.



      • Bart on October 24, 2018 at 5:54 PM

        Hi Barry,

        Thanks so much for your quick reply! I just checked Hyperdia and indeed, turns out one way tickets are the best option for my trip as it stands now. Thanks again for the tips!
        Cheers!



  62. Shanelle on October 29, 2018 at 12:42 AM

    Hello Barry,

    We are flying into Haneda Airport on January 23rd, and going via bullet train out to Lotte Arai resort in Myoko on Jan 24th, where will stay a week, then back to Shinjuku for 4 days. We want to be able to do some travelling whilst in Shinjuku to sight see and get alot of activities done, but most likely won’t be doing much travel whilst out on the ski resort for a week. What do you recommend for our travel options? A JR pass is so expensive if we won’t really be needing it!



    • Barry Choi on October 29, 2018 at 7:51 AM

      Hi Shanelle,

      Since you’re based in two locations and one for a full week, you’re likely just better off buying one way tickets on the Shinkansen. As for within Tokyo, just use a Suica or Pasmo card. It won’t save you money, but it’ll be easier to get around.



  63. Roly on November 4, 2018 at 2:44 AM

    Hey Barry,

    Just planning my trip to Japan and a little confused on transport and if the JR pass is worth it.
    Flying into Osaka for 4 days doing day trips to kyoto and hiroshima then spending 5 days in Tokyo. Is the pass worth it?



  64. Jeff on November 5, 2018 at 1:15 PM

    Hi Barry,

    Great information, thank you. I will be heading to Japan in June from the 4th-13th. We land at Narita and were thinking of the following itinerary;

    4th Narita Express to Tokyo
    5th Tokyo
    6th Train to Kyoto
    7th Kyoto
    8th Day Trip to Nara
    9th Day trip to Osaka
    10th Train Back to Tokyo
    11th Tokyo
    12th Tokyo
    13th Narita Express to Airport

    Will the 7 day pass cover all of these trips? I was curious to see if I can use the pass to get a round trip narita express ticket and use the return portion after the 7 days on the 13th. If not is the pass still worth it? Thank you!
    9th Train to



    • Barry Choi on November 5, 2018 at 3:50 PM

      Hi Jeff,

      You would just about break even with a 7day pass even if you don’t use the Narita Express with it. The convenience alone would be worth it.



  65. Sally on November 11, 2018 at 7:36 PM

    Hi Barry,

    I am travelling to Osaka from Kansai Airport for 5 nights and then going to Kyoto for 2 nights, Tokyo for 6 nights and back to Osaka for 2 nights and may go to Nara for a day trip. Do you know it is worth buying the JR pass in this case? Thanks



    • Barry Choi on November 11, 2018 at 7:38 PM

      Hi Sally,

      If you get the 7-day pass and go to Tokyo and back within that time frame, you’ll probably come out just ahead.



  66. Sally on November 11, 2018 at 7:43 PM

    Hi Barry,

    So just the transitioning from Tokyo back to Osaka? Would using the JR pass be more efficient and faster than the local trains? Thanks again



    • Barry Choi on November 11, 2018 at 7:49 PM

      Sally,

      The JR pass can be handy in Toko since the JR Yamanote line will get you to almost every major tourist attraction. Within Osaka and Kyoto, it has limited use. If you do a run to Hiroshima during this trip, then a 14-day pass will be worth it. It would also almost cover your entire stay.



  67. Sally on November 11, 2018 at 7:54 PM

    Hi Barry,

    Would the total cost for the local trains be cheaper than the JR pass if i was to buy the 14 day pass ?(basically my entire japan trip) Thank you



    • Barry Choi on November 11, 2018 at 7:59 PM

      For the 14-day pass, it would only be cheaper if you went Osaka, Hiroshima, Tokyo, and back to Osaka. You can basically compare by checking the cost of all your individual trips via http://www.hyperdia.com/

      Even if it’s a minimal amount of savings, the convenience of the JR pass is often worth it.



  68. Sally on November 17, 2018 at 9:39 PM

    Hi Barry,

    Is purchasing the ordinary jr pass alright or do I need to purchase the regional pass

    Im going to osaka for 5 days, kyoto for 2 days, tokyo for 6 days and then back to Osaka for 2 days



  69. Lilli on November 18, 2018 at 10:36 PM

    Hi Barry,

    My sister and I are travelling to Japan in December.

    Flying into Tokyo (6 nights), move to Osaka (1 night) move to Kyoto (3 nights)

    Flying out of Kyoto.

    I have been told JR Pass is the way to go, however, after reading the comments perhaps one day tickets are a better option.

    Thank you



    • Barry Choi on November 18, 2018 at 11:25 PM

      Hi Lilli,

      Unless you’re planning a day trip to Hiroshima when you’re in Kyoto, the odds are individual tickets will be more cost effective for you.



  70. Matthew on November 21, 2018 at 8:36 AM

    Hi Barry

    Loved your article but I am still a little confused.

    Itinerary is as follows:

    Tokyo (5 nights as base camp to look around tokyo, Mt Fuji, Snowy Monkeys) –> Osaka (base camp for 4 days)

    Osaka –> Kyoto –> Osaka

    Osaka –> Nara –> Osaka (departing flight from Osaka)

    Is it best to get a JR pass? or should I buy individual tickets? Whats your suggestion?

    Thank you so much 🙂



    • Barry Choi on November 21, 2018 at 9:20 AM

      Hi Matthew,

      The odds are buying one-way tickets are better value. You can use a Suica/Pasmo reloadable card for convenience, but it won’t save you any money. You’d then just need to buy tickets for your longer journeys.



  71. valerie on November 21, 2018 at 11:57 AM

    Hi,

    Need your advise on my itinerary below to decide buy 7 days or 14days pass or not at all .

    Day 1 – KiX – OSAKA
    Day 3 – OSAKA- Kyoto
    Day 5 – Kyoto – NARA – Kyoto
    Day 7 – Kyoto – Tokyo
    Day 10 – Tokyo – Osaka
    Day 13 – Osaka – KIX

    based on above , would be spending 3 to 4 days in Kyoto and Tokyo. Osaka is 3 days each for the 1st leg and last leg.
    What other options should I have other than JR



  72. valerie on November 21, 2018 at 12:06 PM

    hi Barry,

    Based on what I read , perhaps easier for me to confirm with you my understanding . based on the above itinerary I provided , it would be more worth to buy 7 days pass . From Osaka – Kyoto -NARA, more worth to buy the iC card and RAKU card ?

    Buy the 7 day pass and activate it on the day i leave Kyoto to Tokyo and then to Osaka . Within Tokyo and Osaka, I can also use the 7 day pass and It will cover the same period until I leave Osaka for KIX .

    Is my understanding correct?
    thank you so much.



    • Barry Choi on November 21, 2018 at 12:38 PM

      Hi Valerie,

      Unless you’re making a side trip to Hirsohima, a 14-day pass won’t be worth it. You’d likely break even with the 7day pass if you used it for the return trip to Tokyo and within Tokyo.

      Within Osaka and Kyoto you can use an IC card or the Raku bus https://www.moneywehave.com/kyoto-tourist-bus-the-raku-bus/



  73. valerie on November 21, 2018 at 12:50 PM

    Thanks Barry for the information.

    it is of great help.



  74. Taylor on November 25, 2018 at 1:27 PM

    Hi Barry,

    Planning a week in Japan and trying to see as much as possible!

    Flying into Tokyo, spending 4 nights here over New Years Eve,
    We’d like to check out Kyoto, Okayama, Hiroshima after New Years. Doing each for a day or so and returning back to Tokyo for our flight out.

    After reading many of the posts here it seems the JR pass would be worthwhile for us? But I’m wondering if we need to be purchasing any additional transit passes for our 4 days spent in and around Tokyo?

    Thanks so much.



    • Barry Choi on November 25, 2018 at 7:53 PM

      Hi Taylor,

      How many days total are you doing in Japan? a 14-day pass pays for itself if you make the roundtrip from TOkyo to Hiroshima. If you can do all your train travel in 7days then obviously get a 7day pass. That being said, there is A LOT to see in Kyoto so I recommend allocating 2-3 days there if you have time.

      You wouldn’t need an additional pass beyond the JR pass, but you would need an IC card which can be used in almost every major city.



      • Taylor on November 25, 2018 at 7:58 PM

        Ah we are only going to be there for 7 days and I think now realizing Hiroshima might be too ambitious for our short time frame unfortunately since we’ll be in Tokyo before and up to New Years Eve then have from the 1st-4th at night available for other travel. Best to head to Kyoto then for those days?



        • Barry Choi on November 25, 2018 at 8:05 PM

          Taylor,

          It’s doable, but you just need to be realistic about what you plan on seeing in each city.

          Here’s a rough one week guide I wrote https://www.moneywehave.com/one-week-in-japan/

          But yeah, if you’re there from the 1st-4th, that means you’d arrive in Kyoto in the late morning of the 1st. That gives you time to see one part ok Kyoto. On the 2nd, you could spend the entire day in Kyoto. On the third, you could make a run to Miyajima.

          https://www.moneywehave.com/?s=miyajima

          The 4th could be spent exploring Kyoto again or making a side trip to Osaka or Nara. To be realistic, you may be tired of temples by this time so Osaka may be a better choice compared to Nara.



  75. Nicole Cheng on November 28, 2018 at 1:05 PM

    Hi Barry,

    I’ll be flying into Osaka (2 nights) , travel to Kyoto (4 nights), one of the days in Kyoto will be a day trip to Nara, then travel to Tokyo (2 nights). Depart fr Tokyo. Is it worth getting the 7 days pass?



    • Barry Choi on November 28, 2018 at 1:54 PM

      Hi Nicole,

      It would be cheaper to buy one way tickets. You can use an IC card for trips within Osaka, Tokyo and parts of Kyoto. Within Kyoto, it may be easier to use the Raku bus. Nara has an all day bus pass you can purchase.



  76. Gareth on December 1, 2018 at 3:22 PM

    Hi Barry,

    Would really appreciate some help as i cannot wrap my head around this JR Pass and if i would be saving.

    I’ve booked a 15 days trip to Japan in Jan/Feb 2019.
    Flying into Osaka – Kobe (2 nights), Hiroshima (1 night), Kanazawa (2 nights), Tokyo (3nights), Kyoto (4 nights), Then back to Osaka to spend the remaining days.

    I’m assuming the 14 days JR Pass would be cheapest? would the JR pass alone get me too all destination above?

    I would be very grateful for any advice.

    Regards

    Gareth



    • Barry Choi on December 1, 2018 at 3:33 PM

      Hi Gareth,

      A 14-day JR pass is the best value for you and would get you to all the places you’ve listed. Note that Kobe doesn’t have much to see. You would still need an IC card and Raku Bus pass for some local transit, but the JR pass will be good on any JR owned line.



      • Gareth on December 1, 2018 at 4:27 PM

        Thanks Barry for the information and clearing things up.



  77. maggie on December 5, 2018 at 5:45 AM

    Good Evening Barry,

    Could you please tell me what would be the cheapest way for me to travel from Narita airport to Akihabara? Can I get the tickets at the station? I was told it’s very difficult to travel around in Japan and I’ve never been before. I am staying in Tokyo for 5 days only, including 2 day conference. Is there much to see in Akihabara?
    Thank you so much for being so helpful here.
    🙂
    Maggie



    • Barry Choi on December 5, 2018 at 7:50 AM

      Hi Maggie,

      The easiest way to get to Akihabara from Narita is to take the Narita Express to Tokyo station and then take the JR Yamanote line to Akihabara station. You can purchase your N’ex ticket in Narita. You’ll need to buy a reloadable IC card (Pasmo or Suica) to use the JR line. I believe you can purchase that in Narita, but you can also get it at Tokyo station from the automated machines.

      Japan has the BEST public transportation in the world, it’s incredibly easy to get anywhere. All the metro stations are in English and the majority of Staff who work at train stations speak English.

      Akihabara is the electronics town so there are a lot of anime shops and maid cafes if you’re into that kind of stuff. You’re better off just taking the train to some of the other popular spots e.g. Shibuya, Shinjuku, Harajuku, Ueno. The JR Yamanote line goes in a circle so it’s pretty easy to get to all of those locations without transferring. You should also go see Sensoji temple which is by Asakusa station (requires a transfer).

      The Tokyo metro map is actually pretty easy to read once you understand it. At any given station, you’re looking for the line first e.g. “JR Yamanote” or “Ginza line”. You then look for the platform towards the next stop that you want to go to. E.g. If you’re Akihabara station and you want to go south to Tokyo station, you’d look for JR lines and then the sign that probably says “Tokyo, Shimbashi” since are the next major stops



  78. maggie on December 5, 2018 at 8:23 PM

    This is so much help!!! Thank you ever so much Barry! 🙂



  79. agnes florecita on December 11, 2018 at 1:18 AM

    hi, Barry. my family and i want to go to japan. we will go to osaka first for 6 days and then to tokyo for 8 days. which one do you think is the best choice, jr pass or ic card? thank you



    • Barry Choi on December 11, 2018 at 7:28 AM

      Hi Agnes,

      Use an IC card for local transit and then buy a one-way ticket to Tokyo on the Shinkansen.



      • agnes florecita on December 12, 2018 at 12:45 AM

        hi barry,
        but what do you think the most suitable ic card???
        thank you



        • Barry Choi on December 12, 2018 at 7:48 AM

          Hi Agnes,

          It makes no difference as they’re all interchangeable. ICOCA, Passmo, and Suica would all work on each other’s systems. There are also no discounts if you choose one over the other.



          • Agnes florecita on December 12, 2018 at 9:48 AM

            Then, what do you think the most used IC card that people usually use in japan??
            Thank you
            Best Regards



  80. Sophia on December 12, 2018 at 6:17 AM

    Hi Bary,

    Me and my fiancee plan to go to japan for honeymoon. Do you have itenararyas well as JR pass recomendation.

    From what i read from your previous post, if we plan single trip Tokyo-Kyoto-Osaka (not return), it’s cheaper to buy single ticket, is it true?

    Below is my rough itenerary

    Tokyo 4N
    3day city tour + 1 day disneyland

    fuji 1N
    Stay in hakone

    kyoto 2N
    City tour

    Osaka 4N
    2 day city tour
    1 day harry potter trip
    1 day round trip to Nara

    Appreciate your kind help 🙂



    • Barry Choi on December 12, 2018 at 7:52 AM

      Hi Sophia,

      Congrats on the engagement and soon to be wedding/honeymoon! It is indeed cheaper to buy one way tickets if you plan to fly out of Osaka.

      Your itinerary looks pretty reasonable. Osaka is a bit small so you might not need 2 days there, maybe giving a third day to Kyoto is worth considering. That being said, you could decide at the last minute since Kyoto is so close to Osaka and you could easily backtrack for the day.

      A few notes

      – Purchase an IC card and use that in Tokyo / Osaka / and Kyoto when you can
      – In Hakone, the Hakone Free Pass might be worthwile, but it depends on what you’re doing there
      – In Kyoto, the Raku bus may be easier – https://www.moneywehave.com/kyoto-tourist-bus-the-raku-bus/

      Here are some other resources I wrote

      https://www.moneywehave.com/one-week-in-japan/
      https://www.moneywehave.com/kyoto-3-day-itinerary/



  81. Doug on December 12, 2018 at 3:48 PM

    Barry—-quick question for you. I am heading to Japan with my family in May-June 2019. We will be there from Monday to the following Wednesday.

    3 days Tokyo
    3 days Osaka (Kyoto side trip) Shinkasen Trip from Tokyo to Osaka
    1 day Kyoto
    Then either last 2 days back in Tokyo or Kanazawa and Tokyo (1 day each). Shinkasen from Kyoto to Tokyo on 7th day of travel????

    I will be on the ground in Japan from Monday 5-27 at 1:30pm to Wednesday June 5 at 3:15pm. Should I buy a 14 day JR ticket? Also—what is your thought on the green pass. I will be with my wife and 2 kids (10 & 14)



    • Barry Choi on December 12, 2018 at 3:53 PM

      Hi Doug,

      As long as you complete your long distance travel within any 7 days, you’ll make your money back as long as you make a return trip from Tokyo to Kyoto. If timing works out where you can activate it the day you arrive in Japan, that helps since you can use the JR pass on the Narita Express (or the monorail if you’re coming from Haneda).

      The 14day pass seems excessive since you’re only there 9 days. It would only be worth it if you go as far as Hiroshima.

      I don’t think paying extra for the green car is worth it. The regular class cars are excellent and you can reserve your tickets so why pay the premium?



  82. Syazwina Zafira on December 13, 2018 at 12:11 PM

    Hi, thank you for this post!

    Id like to ask for some opinion.

    Im planning to go to Kyoto for a day,

    My journey in the morning starts from DOBUTSANMAE station or SHIN IMAMIYA station straight to saga arashiyama, then, we’ll go to kiyomizu dera temple, then, fushimi inari, then gion then back to kyoto station before going back to shin imamiya.

    (And the next day we’d be using KANSAI AREA PASS for snow activities at hakodateyama)

    I’d like to know if it’s better if I use KANSAI AREA PASS (KAP) at kyoto (starting from the beginning of my journey-shin imamiya), as I know KAP only covers JR LINES and JR buses, Which I read from one of your posts that Raku Bus in Kyoto is not covered under JR Pass, so yeah (might get another bus pass for that lol), but do U think it’s better if I just use KAP to tour around kyoto since my main concern is, it’s quite costly from shin imamiya to saga arashiyama, and kyoto to shin imamiya, after calculating, it costs me maybe nearly 2000yen for only that.

    Based on your post, it seems that you do recommend to use IC card in kyoto. So, i’m quite confused now, if I really should get the KAP or just use IC Card for kyoto. I’d still have the suica card in any ways, so i’m thinking if I should have KAP if it does save cost better than the IC card in terms of the transportation.

    Btw, here’s my iti;
    Day 1- arrival at KIX at 10pm, straight to shin imamiya area hotel. (No pass, maybe Suica)
    Day 2- Shin imamiya to USJ (maybe Suica)
    Day 3- Shin Imamiya / Dobutsanmae station to OSAKA AMAZING PASS to tour around Osaka.
    Day 4- shin imamiya/ dobutsanmae station to kyoto (cant decide on the pass)
    Day 5- shin imamiya/dobutsanmae station to Hakodateyama (JR kansai area pass)
    Day 6- shin imamiya/dobitsanmae station to nara to rinku town to KIX (no pass, maybe suica)

    Thank you for reading



    • Barry Choi on December 13, 2018 at 2:25 PM

      Adding a day to the KAP could be beneficial, but the savings you get is likely minimal.

      From SHIN IMAMIYA you could technically get to Arashiyama via JR lines only, but that adds some time. Kiyomizudera is on the opposite end of the city so you’d have to backtrack to Kyoto station and then take the Raku bus. To get to fushimi inari, you have to go back to Kyoto station again and catch the JR Nara line. Finally, to get to Gion, you’d have to Kyoto station and take the raku bus. As you can see, that’s a lot of backtracking.

      I personally would probably just use an IC card and the Raku bus since it would be more convenient.



  83. Mark on December 14, 2018 at 3:11 AM

    Hello,

    My entry point is in Osaka (4d3n) then I’m off to Kyoto for 4d3n including a day trip to Nara (head back to Kyoto at night). After that, I’ll travel to Tokyo (5d4n) which will be my exit point.

    Is the 7-day JR Nationwide pass worth it for this IT?

    Thanks a lot!



    • Barry Choi on December 14, 2018 at 8:15 AM

      Hi Mark,

      One-way tickets for the Shinkansen would be cheaper. Use an IC card or the raku bus for local transit.

      That being said, if you plan on making a trip to Hiroshima and then your way to Tokyo within 7days, the 7 day pass would be worth it.



  84. Amina on December 16, 2018 at 5:38 AM

    Hi Barry,

    Ive been reading all these comments and still can’t decide whether to purchase 7 day JR pass or not. Need your opinion. My itinerary is as below:

    Osaka – 3 days (including a day trip to Kyoto)
    Osaka to Mt Fuji(Mishima St.) day trip – not decided yet to use shinkansen or sleeper bus.*
    Mishima St. to Tokyo – 3 days in Tokyo

    * Is it worth it if I purchase 7 day JR pass @ one way JR shinkansen tiket to Mishima St. @ buy a sleeper bus ticket ?

    Appreciate your help a lot. Thanks 🙂



    • Barry Choi on December 16, 2018 at 8:30 AM

      Hi Amina,

      I suspect that using an IC card / Raku bus and one-way tickets on the Shinkansen will be best for you.

      I personally would take then Shinkansen over the sleeper bus but I value comfort over cost.



  85. Joseph on December 18, 2018 at 9:33 AM

    Greetings to you Barry !

    I have read the comments. Understood that JR pass is best suited for Tokyo, Kansai pass / Suica / Pasmo card for Osaka, Kyoto bus for Kyoto. Perhaps you could enlighten me with your travel knowledge.

    I will be flying into kansai airport (Osaka), bought Peach airline tickets on the 5th day to fly out into Tokyo (Total of 10 days in japan). My wife and I booked hotels in osaka for 4 nights and hotels in tokyo for 5 nights (all not paid yet).

    We would most probably re-consider our itinerary as we like to stay a few nights in kyoto (read that you mentioned kyoto has much more to see hence one day won’t be enough).

    We are also thinking of cancelling our flight tickets if visiting attractions are worth as such, spending couple of night in osaka and couple of nights in kyoto before traveling into tokyo (by JR pass).

    I guess what I am really asking is, should i still purchase kansai pass for couple of days in osaka, and JR pass (7 days) for travel within tokyo be worth it even i were to visit kyoto in between?

    So sorry, questions from a first-timer. Thank you so much in advance for your time in responding.



    • Barry Choi on December 18, 2018 at 10:38 AM

      Hi Joseph.

      From what I understand, you have 10 days in Japan total. You’re flying into Kansai and then out of Tokyo? You’ve booked a flight between Kansai and Tokyo with the option to cancel the flight and you want to know if 7-day pass is worth it? Is this correct?

      If that’s the case, you need to consider your itinerary. You have 4-days in Osaka/ Kyoto and 5 days in Tokyo. If I were you, I would consider the following as rough itinerary.

      Day 1 – Arrive at KIX, make your way to Kyoto as your base. If you’re in your hotel by noon. Consider Arashiyama and Kinkaku-ji. Gion or fushimi inari at night
      Day 2 – Full day eastern Kyoto
      Day 3 – Day trip to Osaka, perhaps detour to Nara on way back to Kyoto (or skip Nara)
      Day 4 – Activate JR Pass – Make a run to Hiroshima / Miyajima
      Day 5 – Shinkansen to Tokyo
      Day 6 – Tokyo
      Day 7 – Tokyo
      Day 8 – Day trip to Kamakura (if you don’t go to Nara)
      Day 9 – Tokyo
      Day 10 – Tokyo

      In the above scenario, a 7-day JR pass is worth it since you would have made the run to Hiroshima. If you’re not doing Hiroshima, don’t bother with the JR Pass. Then Kansai Pass also won’t be of good value to you.

      I personally don’t think there’s a need to fly to Tokyo from Kyoto since it’ll likely take longer (when you consider the time getting to/from the airport as well as the wait times)



  86. Joseph on December 19, 2018 at 8:54 AM

    Greetings to you again Barry !

    Can’t thank you enough for your time to provide travel advises, even to provide the rough itinerary.. Unfortunately we don’t have the option to cancel our flight out Osaka. It is more like we will forfeit the tickets if the attractions in kyoto are more ‘must-go-worthy’ than rushing to catch our flight.

    I noticed that you indicated full day visit to eastern kyoto on Day 2. Is there really a lot to visit over there?

    Cheers bro !



    • Barry Choi on December 19, 2018 at 9:03 AM

      Hey Joseph,

      If the flight is booked, I wouldn’t go out of my way to forfeit it. I think the time you have set aside is good. Don’t bother with a JR pass.

      What you could do is, the day before your flight, stay the night in Osaka. This will be your day in Osaka and it’ll put you closer to the airport. With the other days, stay in Kyoto.

      Kyoto has A LOT to see so you could easily do a whole day in Eastern Kyoto. That being said, you may eventually get bored of temples. When you’re on the ground, you could always decide at the last minute to go to Nara, Himeji, or Hiroshima as a day trip. Hiroshima is 3 hours by Shinkansen from Kyoto, so only do it if you really want to.

      The nice thing about Japan is that there are so many trains and they always run on time. You can literally decide at the last minute.

      Don’t worry too much about any passes, the odds are you won’t save very much especially since you’d have to forfeit your flight.



      • Joseph on January 1, 2019 at 3:26 AM

        Good day to you Barry,

        Sorry for the late reply. I have completed my kyoto itinerary. Much thanks to your guide.

        If I may ask one last ques, would there be any food i.e ramen/sashimi you definitely recommend in osaka/tokyo (possibly outlets that are not very crowded)? 🙂

        Your replies have been very helpful to us. It was a pleasure talking to you.



        • Barry Choi on January 1, 2019 at 9:31 AM

          Hi Joseph,

          Ichiran Ramen is my fave and I think it’s worth the wait. Afuri ramen is also very good. Both are in Tokyo. Sushi/Sashimi in Tokyo is so fresh that it doesn’t matter where you go.



  87. David on December 20, 2018 at 11:13 AM

    Hey Barry!
    Looking for some advice. We’re in Japan four days (quick I know) so seeing as much as we can. Landing in Osaka, going straight to Tokyo, couple days there, a night in Kyoto, then back to Osaka to fly out. Would a JR pass be of good value for this itinerary?
    Osaka – Tokyo
    Tokyo – Kyoto
    Kyoto- Osaka

    Many thanks!



    • Barry Choi on December 20, 2018 at 12:28 PM

      Hi David,

      You’d probably come out just break even or come out slightly ahead with the 7-day JR pass. You’d have to purchase it when you land and then immediately take the Limited Express Haruka train from KIX to Shin-Osaka where you’d then jump on a train to Tokyo. On the way back, you’d just go to Kyoto and then make your way to the airport eventually.

      That being said, if you’re only there for 4 days, I would advise staying in Kyoto / Osaka and not making the run to Tokyo, you don’t have enough time. There’s TONS of stuff to see in Kyoto and Osaka in 4 days. You can even take a day trip to Nara or Himeji.



  88. David on December 20, 2018 at 12:38 PM

    Fantastic. Thanks for your thoughts.
    Buy it there? Or buy in Canada before leaving the country?



    • Barry Choi on December 20, 2018 at 12:48 PM

      You can now but in person when you land if you’re travelling before March 31st, but I believe it’s a little more expensive. If you have time, you can buy it in advance.



  89. Lynn on December 25, 2018 at 10:10 AM

    Hi Barry. I will be travelling to Tokyo and Kyoto with my friends in mid-late June 2019. We are planning to arrive at KIX Osaka airport and travel to Kyoto straight away with the Haruka express, or the Airport express+local train to Kyoto station. We will be spending 4-5 days in Kyoto, before travelling to Tokyo, spending 4-5 days in Tokyo and leaving from Narita airport.

    We are planning to spend a total of 10 days in Japan, and are unsure if JR pass will be worth it? Especially considering the JR pass is only available for 7 days or 14 days. We are also quite unfamiliar with how costly the local train transports are in Kyoto and Japan.



    • Barry Choi on December 25, 2018 at 1:15 PM

      Hi Lynn,

      A 7-day JR pass would only be worth it if you also plan on doing a trip to Hiroshima. I don’t think a 14-day pass would be worth it.

      Local transportation costs depend on the city and distance you travel, but it’s reasonable in my opinion. Besides the Raku bus in Kyoto, there aren’t many local passes that are worth it. You’re better off just using an IC card and preloading it with funds, then add more cash when you need to. Generally speaking, you should budget $10 USD per day for local transport.

      You’ll obviously have to buy a one-way ticket from Kyoto to Tokyo which is about 13,000 Yen, but IMO that’s reasonable considering the distance and how quickly you’ll get there.



      • Lynn on December 25, 2018 at 1:22 PM

        Hi Barry,

        I did some research on the locations we are visiting in Tokyo and Kyoto. There are two to three activities that are not on the JR lines, while the rest can use JR pass to get there. Will it still be cheaper to use IC card in Tokyo? I heard transport in Tokyo is particularly expensive.



        • Barry Choi on December 25, 2018 at 1:29 PM

          Hi Lynnm

          IC cards can be used on ALL lines in Kyoto, Osaka, and Tokyo so it doesn’t matter what line you use.

          As for costs, it really depends on your definition. E.g. I live in Toronto and if I were to pay a cash fare, it would cost me $3.25 CAD per trip. That’s about the same cost in Tokyo. Now if you’re taking 5-6 rides in a day, then yes it can add up, but as mentioned, it’s also based on distance so sometimes it’s not that expensive.

          In other words, you should plan your days so you’re not zigzagging around the city. If you go to Hyperdia.com, you can find out EXACT costs of each trip.



          • Lynn on December 25, 2018 at 9:56 PM

            Hi Barry,

            Regarding IC cards, how and where could I purchase those? Would I get them in Osaka KIX, or prior my trip to Japan?



          • Barry Choi on December 26, 2018 at 7:57 AM

            Hi Lynn,

            Your best bet is to buy the Haruka + ICOCA combo ticket at the airport.

            https://www.japan-guide.com/e/e2359_icoca_haruka.html

            Note that with the ICOCA card, you can only return in Kyoto or Osaka if you want a refund of the 500 Yen deposit. Some people return it before they get on the Shinkansen and the buy a new IC card when they arrive in Tokyo. They would then just return that before they get on their flight home to get the 500 yen back again. I personally don’t think it’s worth the hassle. Plus, I like keeping transit cards as a souvenir.



  90. Lynn on December 26, 2018 at 11:50 PM

    Hi Barry,

    Thank you for advice!

    Will discuss what you’ve told me with my friends, and see if JR is really worth it in the end.

    Many thanks!



  91. Syeda Fatima on December 31, 2018 at 6:53 AM

    Hi Barry!! Wil be going from Tokyo to Osaka , then from Osaka to Kyoto and from Kyoto back to Tokyo !, it will be within 7 days when we start are trip. Should we get the pass..



    • Barry Choi on December 31, 2018 at 6:58 AM

      Syeda,

      Yes, the odds are the pass will pay for itself during that time period.



  92. T Licauco on January 4, 2019 at 12:06 AM

    Hi! If travelling to Japan in 2 weeks. Going from Osaka to Tokyo and returning to Osaka, will it be worth it to get a JR pass? Can I use it to go from Osaka to Kyoto and back? And Osaka to Himeji and back? And Osaka to Nara and back? Sorry, so many questions.



    • Barry Choi on January 4, 2019 at 5:24 AM

      Hi T,

      The 7-day pass will be worth if you can make it to Tokyo back within that time. If you get the 14 day pass, you need to make another trip to Hiroshima for it to be worth it. Yes the JR Pass will get you to Himeji and Nara but you may have to take some trains that aren’t owned by JR to get you to the stations that are owned by JR first.



  93. Paula on January 4, 2019 at 11:09 AM

    Hello Barry,

    Can you please look at our itinerary and tell us what’s our best option. Is it best to get a 14 days JR pass or individual tickets? My husbands parents have been to Japan and said they had the Jr Pass and found that is very helpful to have it for peace of mind, as the trains are very busy. Would it be too complicated and risky to buy individual tickets?

    Our itinerary is not set in stone as we haven’t booked hotels yet, we are trying to find the best options.

    Arrive in Tokyo. 6 nights in Tokyo
    2 nights in Hakone
    4 nights in Kyoto
    Travel to Mount Koya via Osaka and stay for 1 night
    3 nights in Osaka with day trips to Hiroshima and Nara
    Fly from Osaka

    Thank you



    • Barry Choi on January 4, 2019 at 1:49 PM

      Hi Paula,

      Your parents in law are definitely right about the convenience and peace of mind, but let me share a few things for you to consider.

      – From a straight cost perspective, you’ll probably just break even or come up a little under. IMO, I would just pay for the 14-day pass and activate as soon as you land in Tokyo. Just make sure you’re in Osaka at the end of the 14days. Although you likely won’t save money, it’s very convenient to be able to access any JR train whenever you want. Keep this in mind in Tokyo as it’s to your benefit to stay near a JR train station. Almost every major attraction in Tokyo can be accessed by a JR line with the exception of the fish market and Sensoji.
      – You’ll still need a Suica card to use non JR lines in Tokyo/Kyoto/Osaka/Hiroshima
      – In Hakone, you may need to buy the Hakone free pass
      – In Kyoto, you’ll likely be better off buying a raku pass
      – For Koyasan, buy the world heritage in Osaka.
      – If you’re going to Hiroshima, try to make it to Miyajima too

      Although you’ll be spending a decent amount on transit, it’s 100% worth it. Trains can get crowded during rush hour so avoid it whenever you can. For your shinkansen journeys, reserve a seat when you know what time you plan on departing (this can be done in advance).

      I am SO excited for your trip. My wife and I did a similar itinerary a few years ago and it was absolutely fantastic.



      • Paula on January 4, 2019 at 2:28 PM

        Thank you so much for your help. It made it all much easier to understand. Do we buy the other passes (hakone, world heritage etc) in Japan or can we buy them online?

        We are super excited about this trip. We love travelling so we’ll be following your blog more often, great advice!!



        • Barry Choi on January 4, 2019 at 2:33 PM

          Hi Paula,

          Since you have the JR pass, you can buy the pass from Odawara station which is a bit cheaper than the version from Shinjuku. Double check this. Also note that the Hakone free pass is only useful if you plan on doing the Hakone circuit e.g. mountain ropeway and pirate ship. If you’re going to Hakone just to hang out in the onsen, I don’t think you need the pass.

          World Heritage pass is bought from Namba or Shin-Imamiya – https://www.japan-guide.com/e/e2358_012.html

          I have quite a few posts on Japan on my site so you might find some of the info useful. Feel free to reach out anytime.



        • Paula on January 4, 2019 at 2:41 PM

          For Hakone to Mount Fiji would you recommed buying a Hakone Pass or Fuji Hakone Pass and pay separetly to get to Mount Fuji?



          • Paula on January 4, 2019 at 2:43 PM

            Sorry Barry, I’ve only just seen your reply regarding the Hakone Pass. Thank you, I will read your posts. Very kind of you to help.



          • Barry Choi on January 4, 2019 at 2:46 PM

            Hey Paula,

            It depends what you want to do, you’d just have to look at your itinerary and then decide what’s best for you.

            One thing to note. You’re already really starting to pack your schedule. Adding Mt. Fuji to your itinerary will be BUSY.

            I totally understand why you’re considering it, but even with the bullet trains, you’ll be doing A LOT of travel. I literally had a similar itinerary but decided to drop Hakone / Mt. Fuji to spend more time in Tokyo. At the end of my trip, I didn’t even want to see another temple so I spent most of my time eating and shopping.

            If you don’t mind all the travelling, then go for it!



  94. Paula on January 4, 2019 at 2:54 PM

    I did think that we are doing too much, we do tend to travel a lot. I felt the same during our trip to China last year.

    We’ll have to check our itinerary and decide what we want.

    Thank you for all your advice!!



    • Barry Choi on January 4, 2019 at 3:00 PM

      Here’s something a close friend asked me when I told him I wanted to hike Mt. Fuji (he had done it).

      He said, do you hike a lot at home? I go no. He then says then why would you want to hike a mountain in Japan? It’s not something you just decide to do, you gotta train for it even if you take the easiest route.

      I dropped Mt. Fuji from my itinerary immediately after that.



  95. Pam on January 5, 2019 at 6:01 PM

    Hi Barry,

    I am trying to figure out if the Japan Rail Pass is worth it for my family – 2 adults, and I child aged five. We will be in Japan a total of 18 days with an itinerary as follows: 9 days Tokyo, 6 days Kyoto and then 2 days in the Hakone/Mt Fuji area, and from there to back to Narita. The 21 day Japan pass seems quite expensive. I am wondering if we might be better off to either pay for individual tickets or only purchase a 7-day pass which covers the period of travel from Tokyo to Kyoto and Kyoto to Mt Fuji. I am also wondering which is the best and most accessible place to see the mountain not climb it eg Hakone?? Would appreciate your advice.

    Best



    • Barry Choi on January 5, 2019 at 6:54 PM

      Hi Pam,

      A 21-day pass isn’t worth so rule that out now. A 7 day pass is worth it if you add a trip to Hiroshima/Miyajima. If you don’t plan on doing that, then you’re probably better off just buying one way tickets. A 14-day pass is also worth if you do a trip to Hiroshima because you can use it during some of your time in Tokyo, and make it all the way back to Tokyo after going to Kyoto and/or Hiroshima.



  96. Jamie on January 6, 2019 at 1:54 AM

    Hi Barry,

    My family and I will be traveling to Japan in October. We are flying in to KIX and staying in Kyoto for 6 nights (visiting Osaka, Nara and Shiga). We will then head to Hakone for a night and to Tokyo for 7 nights.

    We will be in Japan for a total of 15 days. Should we get a 14-day pass or break it down by region? I admit I’m thoroughly confused as to which pass to purchase.

    Thank you for your help!



    • Jamie on January 6, 2019 at 1:57 AM

      I forgot to add that we are flying out of Narita.



      • Barry Choi on January 6, 2019 at 6:53 AM

        Hi Jamie,

        Based on your itinerary, it’s likely cheaper to buy one way tickets on the Shinkansen as opposed to a pass. If you plan on doing a trip to Hiroshima, a 7-day pass would be worth it as long as you complete your travel to there and to Tokyo within that time frame.



  97. Hang T Mai on January 6, 2019 at 1:03 PM

    Hi Barry,
    I’m planning a trip to Japan this May with my husband and daughter. We will be in Tokyo for 4 nights ( will 4 nights be enough?) and 3 nights between Kyoto and Osaka. Would you recommend the 7 days Jr pass? Which city do you think would be be best for us to make as our home base while we’re in Kyoto and Osaka? We are flying to Seoul out of Osaka.
    Thank you so much,
    Nikki



    • Barry Choi on January 6, 2019 at 1:10 PM

      Hi Hang,

      You could live a decade in Tokyo and still not see everything =P. Four nights is a good amount of time since it appears you only have one week total in Japan. Don’t bother with a 7-day pass since you’re flying out of Osaka. Just buy a one way ticket on the Shinkansen and use a suica card in TOkyo/Osaka and the raku bus in Kyoto.

      As for where to stay between Kyoto and Osaka, I personally prefer Kyoto. I stayed by Kyoto station last time for convenience. That being said, you need to keep your daughter in mind. Kyoto is more about history and temples. Osaka is good for food and shopping so think about what’s more important to you.



  98. Nikki on January 6, 2019 at 1:27 PM

    Thank you for the quick response. We haven’t purchased our flight yet so we’re flexible with our dates/ days in Tokyo. Glad you mentioned the difference between Kyoto and Osaka. This trip is our gift to our daughter who is graduating from college. And you know shopping and good food with college kids;).



    • Barry Choi on January 6, 2019 at 1:46 PM

      Hi Nikki,

      One thing I forgot to mention. Often people say Seoul is a Tokyo-lite. I personally think Tokyo is 10X more fun, but I’m also not into K-pop. I would choose TOkyo every time over Seoul. That’s not to say Seoul isn’t interesting, it’s just a different type of city.

      If you have flexibility, then of course I would recommend adding days to your trip to Japan =D



  99. Kirsten on January 6, 2019 at 5:21 PM

    Hi Barry,

    Thanks for the article but I am still confused and indecisive if its worth its to get the JR pass. My friends and I will be at Japan for 12 days. We will be arriving and flying out of Narita Airport.

    Tokyo for 5 days —> Kyoto for 3 days ——> Osaka for 3 days —-> Back to Narita Airport (Tokyo)

    Should we bother to buy the JR pass? If yes, where can we buy it in advanced or is it better to wait once we land at the airport? What is a better deal that will help us save money?

    Thank you in advance! Much appreciated!



    • Barry Choi on January 6, 2019 at 5:54 PM

      Hi Kristen,

      The way your itinerary is currently scheduled doesn’t give you much value for a 7-day pass since it’ll take you 8 days to complete your travel from the day you leave Tokyo to the day you return. A 14-day pass could be worth it, but you would have to make a day trip to Hiroshima. The advantage of a 14-day pass is that you can use it in TOkyo a fair amount if you stay near a JR line and you could also make other day trips e.g. Kamakura, Nara, Himeji/Kobe. You would also be able to use the JR pass from the airport to Tokyo and then from Tokyo to Narita when you depart.

      I personally think making a run to Hiroshima and Miyajima is worth it.

      https://www.moneywehave.com/hiroshima-and-miyajima-in-one-day-from-kyoto/



  100. Joanna on January 7, 2019 at 3:25 AM

    Hi there, like to seek advice if I should get a jr pass because i had heard shinkansen tickets are even more expensive buying them alone. I will be going to Nagano- shiga kogen from hanede airport for skiing for 5 days then back to tokyo for 2 days. The 7 days pass costs sgd 397, is buying standalone shinkansen tickets cheaper since i wont b travelling much in shiga. Where do i buy shinkansen tickets from btw? Thanks for your help!



    • Barry Choi on January 7, 2019 at 8:08 AM

      Hi Joanna,

      I’m not familiar with Nagano so I would advise you go to hyperdia.com and compare the price of one way tickets vs. the 7day JR pass. Make sure to uncheck NOZOMI / MIZUHO / HAYABUSA (SHINKANSEN) since those trains are not included in the JR pass.

      I suspect one way tickets will be better which can be purchased at any JR office.



  101. Pam on January 7, 2019 at 6:13 AM

    Thanks for your quick response Barry. You mentioned in your post that I should consider going for one way fares rather than the JR pass. Can you recommend a site where I can price the one way fares in order to compare?



    • Barry Choi on January 7, 2019 at 8:07 AM

      hyperdia.com is the best site to use. Make sure to uncheck NOZOMI / MIZUHO / HAYABUSA (SHINKANSEN) since those trains are not included in the JR pass



  102. Pam on January 8, 2019 at 4:44 AM

    Thanks Barry. Your knowledge is truly awesome!!



  103. Gazal on January 8, 2019 at 12:51 PM

    Hi Barry. Need your help. I will be travelling to Japan ( Tokyo and Kyoto ) in April ( tokyo -> kyoto -> tokyo ) . Flying in and out of Narita, Tokyo. Will probably do a day trip from kyoto to nara. We are 2 adults and 2 kids ( 6 yrs and 1 yr). Do you think buying the JR pass would be a better option for us than to buy tickets for each journey ? If yes, then where can I buy the JR pass from ? Thanks in advance for your help.



    • Barry Choi on January 8, 2019 at 1:27 PM

      Gazal,

      If you’re completing your travel between Tokyo -> Kyoto -> Tokyo within 7-days, then the 7day pass will likely be worth it. You order the pass online and it’s usually mailed to you. If you happen to live in a major city, you could check online if there are any travel agents that can arrange them for local pick up. Just google “JR Pass my city” or something along those lines.



      • Gazal on January 8, 2019 at 1:32 PM

        Thx Barry. I will be travelling from Hong Kong and am sure there will be travel agents helping out with pick up of passes here. i will check it out. Thx for your help.



        • Barry Choi on January 8, 2019 at 1:33 PM

          Do you reside in Hong Kong? In my opinion, it’s best to get it in your home country.



          • Gazal on January 8, 2019 at 1:35 PM

            yups living in HK 🙂 PR here



          • Barry Choi on January 8, 2019 at 1:38 PM

            I’m incredibly jealous of your location. Maybe not the working hours, but I love HK!! You will have zero issues getting a JR pass in HK. One thing to note, there are A LOT of packaged deals to Japan from Hong Kong which may be worth looking into. I’ve had friends go to travel agents who basically arranged flights, hotels, and the Shinkansen tickets for less than if he did everything themselves.



  104. Gazal on January 8, 2019 at 1:52 PM

    Thx for the tip. Will explore it as well. I agree HK is very well placed in Asia . I am also not a fan of long working hrs here but its a trade off so I enjoy its proximity to other Asian countries 🙂



    • Barry Choi on January 8, 2019 at 2:48 PM

      Feel free to reach out if you have any other questions about Japan.



  105. Holly Whale on January 9, 2019 at 7:13 AM

    Hello Barry,

    Hoping you can help me work out whether myself and my husband should purchase 7 day JR rail passes for our trip to Japan in April.

    We arrive in Tokyo (Haneda Airport) on April 20th (we are staying in Shinjuku), on the 24th we plan to take the bullet train to Kyoto, then on the 27th we will travel to Osaka (we will fly home from Osaka on April 30th).

    In total we will be in Japan for 10 nights (11 days). As far as I can see it will not be worth purchasing the pass as we will not be making a round trip to Tokyo.

    Any advice would be very much appreciated!

    Many thanks



    • Barry Choi on January 9, 2019 at 7:56 AM

      Hi Holly,

      One way tickets would indeed be a better deal for you. That being said, if you plan on making a trip to Hiroshima while in Kyoto or Osaka, then a 7-day pass may pay for itself



      • Holly Whale on January 9, 2019 at 7:59 AM

        Thank you Barry! I will look in to that option



    • Jade on March 4, 2019 at 5:01 AM

      Hello sir.

      Is travelling from tokyo-osaka-tokyo free with jr pass? Or is there any additional fare? Thank you



      • Barry Choi on March 4, 2019 at 7:43 AM

        Jade,

        That route is covered by the JR Pass.



  106. Natalie Chan on January 11, 2019 at 2:24 AM

    Hi Barry,

    I’m travelling to Japan in two weeks and will be there for a total of 15 days. Our current schedule is:
    Jan 24 – Arrive to Tokyo
    Jan 30 – Hakone
    Jan 31 – Kyoto
    Feb 4 – Osaka
    Feb 5 – Nara day trip
    Feb 8 – Depart from Osaka

    All the different train and bus lines are overwhelming me. Would you recommend getting any of the passes (JR or Kansai?), and is the Hakone Free pass only available with return trips to Shinjuku? Also, does the PASMO card work in all three major cities, or do I need to get different ones? Thank you so so so much in advance for your help. Your expertise is so invaluable.



    • Barry Choi on January 11, 2019 at 6:16 AM

      Hi Natalie,

      A JR Pass won’t be worth it based on your itinerary. Just buy one way tickets for the Shinkansen. The Hakone Free Pass has a version which does include roundtrip transportation from Shinjuku – https://www.odakyu.jp/english/passes/hakone/

      Many people just buy it at Odawara station since that’s the gateway station to Hakone.

      Your Pasmo card will work in the major cities, but in Kyoto, it might make more sense to buy a raku bus pass. Nara also has a bus pass, but you could easily walk to many of the sites.



      • Natalie Chan on January 11, 2019 at 9:36 AM

        Yes, I figured it didn’t seem to make sense but needed your expert opinion. Thank you so much. You’ve been very helpful 🙂



  107. Maxine Stewart on January 11, 2019 at 10:48 AM

    Can I activate m6 JRPass atNarita to cover the train jourbe6 into Tokyo? How far ahead do you need to order a pass as I u derstNd it gets sent in the mail I live in Canada!



    • Barry Choi on January 11, 2019 at 12:03 PM

      Hi Maxine,

      Yes, you can activate your pass as soon as you land at Narita. I personally give myself a month to get the pass, but it usually doesn’t take long. If you live in Toronto or Vancouver there are even a few agents where you can pick it up in person (after you’ve ordered it).

      http://www.jtb.ca/eweb/jrpass/alljrpass.aspx



  108. Kate on January 11, 2019 at 11:23 PM

    Hi Barry,
    Working on a trip for myself and adult daughter and came across your article and have read through the comment section only to be more confused than when I started 🙁 As others have done, I thought getting a JR pass would be best (14 or 21 days or not at all??) but now I’m not so sure.
    Travelling in April/May coming from Seoul to:
    Osaka (3 days)
    Nara (1 day)
    Kyoto (3 days)
    Hiroshima (2 days)
    Hiroshima to either Hokkaido or Tokyo
    If Hokkaido (3 days) and probably via plane rather than rail due to time and not wanting to take the tunnel
    Tokyo (7-10 days based on if Hokkaido)
    As you can see, the Hokkaido portion is still in question and I think there are some potential day trips from Tokyo that might be worth doing that I haven’t yet fully explored. Other than coming into Osaka and leaving via Tokyo, nothing else is set in stone so if you have any advice on the order of things I’d certainly appreciate it! Thanks!



  109. Jan on January 14, 2019 at 12:46 AM

    Hi Barry,

    We arrive in Osaka Kansai at 6 pm for 8 nights, departing from Kansai for Tokyo at 6.40 am where we’ll spend 6 nights before embarking on a cruise from Yokohama.
    Any suggestions, particularly re Osaka & day trips / JR rail pass etc. I’m finding it all rather confusing – my other half booked the cruise and has now handed it over to me!!!

    Thanks.



    • Barry Choi on January 14, 2019 at 7:36 AM

      Hi Jan,

      From Osaka most people do Hiroshima, Kyoto, Nara, and Himeji. If you’re able to travel to Hiroshima and Tokyo within 7 days, the 7-day pass will be worth it. If you don’t plan to do Hiroshima, just buy one-way tickets.



      • Jan Lapinskas on January 31, 2019 at 10:59 PM

        Thanks Barry. I am wondering if a 5 day JR Kansai Hiroshima Area Pass would suffice for us.



        • Barry Choi on February 1, 2019 at 7:55 AM

          Jan,

          You’d have to compare your route on Hyperdia.com to the costs of the Kansai pass to know if it’s worth it.



  110. Elena K on January 14, 2019 at 4:05 AM

    Hi Barry,

    This trip to Tokyo would be the first for my teenagers. We are a family of 5. Our trip is approximately 9 days. Most days will be spent in Tokyo and maybe 1 night in Osaka. Do you think it’s worth it to get the JR Pass to make use of the Tokyo->Osaka-> Tokyo route?



    • Barry Choi on January 14, 2019 at 7:39 AM

      Hi Elena,

      If you use the JR-pass for the Narita Express either on the way in or out of Tokyo, you’ll probably just break even so it’s more like do you want the convenience of the pass? To take full advantage of the pass, be sure to stay near a JR line in Tokyo. The pass has limited use in Osaka. Also note that in TOkyo, you could use the pass to day trip to Kamakura or Yokohoma (if you wanted).



      • DeMarie on January 14, 2019 at 11:44 PM

        Hi Barry and wow all the comments…lots of advice!

        So we (me, my husband and 2 teenage sons) are traveling to Japan from Louisiana for a 10 day trip. Looking at May 27/28 to June 8 and I have no idea what I am doing! I am trying to put together an itinerary but am stuck. My oldest teenage son has cerebral palsy and is confined to a wheelchair. How do we get around with him? I guess we are flying into Narita but how do I get from airport to hotel with luggage and trying to maneuver him in his wheelchair? This is his dream trip so I am trying to plan the best of the best in 10 days.



  111. Joanne on January 15, 2019 at 1:29 AM

    Flying into Narita 3rd Feb from Ireland
    Tokyo 2 nights
    Osaka 2 nights
    Flight from Osaka to Okinawa 2 nights ( Cherry Blossom)
    Okinawa to Singapore
    Could you advise what is the best way to travel
    From Tokyo to Osaka
    And what are the best sights to see in Tokyo : Osaka
    Would love to see Mt Fuji



    • Barry Choi on January 15, 2019 at 5:44 AM

      Hi Joanne,

      There’s no point in getting a JR pass based on your itinerary. With just 2 nights in Tokyo and 2 nights in Osaka, you won’t have time to stop and see Mt. Fuji. THat being said, if you’re paying attention on the train ride to Osaka, you’ll see it in the distance.

      The best sites are the typical ones

      Tokyo: Shijuku, Shibuya, Harajuku, Yoyogi, Akihabara, Ueno, Sensoji, all the food
      Osaka: Osaka Castle, Dontonbori, Umeda Sky.

      Spend a day in Kyoto if you can.



  112. Joanne on January 15, 2019 at 6:05 AM

    Hi Barry.

    Thank you so much

    Kind regards
    Joanne



  113. Lena on January 15, 2019 at 5:50 PM

    Hello Barry, our online life-saver!

    I am going to Japan for 11 days in March, flying in/out Narita.

    My plan is:
    day 1 – fly in, move to Kyoto
    day 2 – 4 Kyoto
    day 5 back to Tokyo
    day 6 Tokyo city
    day 7 morning Kamakura, then move to Atami (plum garden) – end the day at Lake Ashi, sleepover
    day 8 – morning to ARAKURAYAMA SENGEN PARK/ views of Mt. Fuji and later in the day back to Tokyo
    day 9 – 10 – Tokyo
    day 11 – departure in the morning

    I have purchased the 7day JR Pass and I am wondering if activating it on day 5 ( Kyoto – Tokyo) makes more sense or activating it on day 1 leaving me in Tokyo to get some 1 or 2 day subway pass & Narita express..

    While doing Tokyo, I was thinking about going also to: NARITASAN SHINSHOJI TEMPLE. and seaside in case weather will be nice.

    What would you suggest? What is the situation in Tokyo and in Mt.Fuji area to use the JR Pass?

    Thanks a LOT for any advise,
    Lena



    • Barry Choi on January 15, 2019 at 6:00 PM

      Hi Lena,

      I concur that it makes more sense to activate your pass on Day 5 when you depart for Tokyo as you’ll get more value there.

      I’m not familiar with Arakurayama Sengen Park, but according to this site https://www.japan-guide.com/e/e6905.html you can take the JR train and bus to get there.



  114. Luke on January 15, 2019 at 8:22 PM

    Hi Barry,

    Thank you for the insights. I was wondering if I should get a JR pass if I am travelling from Osaka to Hiroshima on a 5D4N tour. I intend to tour Hiroshima for 2 days at least going to miyajima etc. Day 1 would be at Osaka. Day 2 and 3 would be around Hiroshima. Day 4 and 5 would be back at Osaka. What would you suggest?:) I have been to Himeiji Castle and Nara and Kyoto so I am not going to these places again 🙂 Also do you have other suggestions on places I must visit along the way?

    Thank you so much.



    • Barry Choi on January 15, 2019 at 8:40 PM

      Hi Luke,

      A round-trip ticket from Shin-Osaka to Miyajimaguchi is 20,700 Yen, so it’s not quite worth buying a JR Pass.

      You could go to Koyasan from Osaka as an overnight or a long day trip, but your JR Pass won’t really be of any use there.



  115. Megan Coohill on January 16, 2019 at 12:18 AM

    Hi, I am just trying to see if it is worth buying the JR pass. I will be coming in from Osaka (getting in around 7pm) and starting my trip in Kyoto (July 7th-July 13th) with a day trip to Osaka (potential to do one other day trip nearby) Then heading to Tokyo for the rest of the trip (July 13th- July 20th) Flight back home is 2am July 21st so will be at the airport around 11pm. I read that Kyoto doesn’t have many JR train lines and that it really isn’t worth it for kyoto, but I was wondering if it is worth getting a 7 day to use mid Kyoto so that I have it for half my Kyoto stay for travel to and from Osaka and then for my trip to Tokyo. I will more than likely get a Pasmo/Suica pass to use for when the JR pass doesn’t work.

    OR is it more worth it to just get a kyoto sightseeing pass (2 day pass 2,000 yen) and for osaka day trip get a Kyoto-Osaka
    Sightseeing Pass (Keihan + Osaka Metro) (1,400 yen) then use tokyo subway ticket (72 hr pass 1,500 yen) and to be safe get a Pesmo/Suica pass.



    • Barry Choi on January 16, 2019 at 6:20 AM

      Megan,

      If one of your day trips is Hiroshima, then a 7-day pass will likely be worth it if you can complete that trip and your journey to Tokyo within that time frame.

      Both the kyoto sightseeing pass and Kyoto-Osaka Sightseeing Pass tend to be good value. If I recall correctly, the 72 hr pass in Tokyo doesn’t cover the JR lines which are above ground so that’s something to consider. Just about every major area has a subway line nearby, but you may have to make some transfers whereas the JR Yamanote line goes in a circle.



      • Megan on January 16, 2019 at 1:46 PM

        I will not be doing a day trip to Hiroshima. more likely I will do Nara or Osaka again. Also I know the Tokyo Metro does cover the JR lines. I would also be grabbing the Pasmo/Sucia pass to use when it is more convenient. So if we take Hiroshima out of the picture it is probably more worth it for me to just get Kyoto-Osaka sightseeing pass a Pasmo/Sucia pass for when I might need to use JR lines or for when the JR line is more convenient and also a tokyo metro pass. and paying the one way fare from Kyoto to Tokyo (13,600-13,910 yen)

        Thank you so much for your help it is extremely appreciated.



  116. Caroline on January 16, 2019 at 10:42 PM

    Hi Barry, I am so glad that I found this article. My boyfriend and I are going to Tokyo on 15/5/2019 for 8 days (leaving on 22/5/2019) and we are planning to stay in the Shinjuku area (near the station). Our plan is to stay in Tokyo for a few days and then do a day trip to Mt Fuji (just to see the view). We also plan to visit Kawasaki, Yokohama and Kamakura and Nikko (this is optional as I am not sure if we have enough time for Nikko).

    Do you think if I need to get a JR Pass? Does the JR East Pass cover the above area please? Thank you.



    • Barry Choi on January 17, 2019 at 7:44 AM

      Hi Caroline,

      I believe the JR East pass covers all of those destinations, however you need to double check based on where you plan on seeing Mt. Fuji. Most people go to either Hakone or Kawaguchiko Lake to see Fuji. Also when you say the view, do you plan on hiking the mountain or you just want to see the mountain from a distance?

      That being said, you’re doing A LOT of travel in 7 days. That’s 5 day trips in 8 days and that’s counting the day you arrive and depart. You’re going to spend A LOT of time on trains and that barely leaves you any time to do anything in Tokyo.

      You know the way you like to travel better than I do, but with that limited amount of time, I would only pick one or two day trips from TOkyo or possibly just spend 2 nights in Kyoto or somewhere else.



      • Caroline on January 17, 2019 at 12:59 PM

        Thank you so much Barry! I think I am going to figure out what I want to do / where I want to go in Tokyo first. I think I will just drop the day trip to Nikko cos that’s a 2 hour ride one way.

        We are just going to see Mt Fuji from distance and we might just go to Hakone for a day. I know that’s a lot of day trips 🙁 I wish I could extend my trip longer. Thank you for your help Barry, have a nice day.



        • Barry Choi on January 17, 2019 at 1:25 PM

          If you’re going to Hakone to see Mt Fuji, you can buy a roundtrip Hakone free pass with transportation from Shinjuku ticket which would eliminate the need for a JR Pass. Since you’ll likely drop some day trips, it likely wouldn’t have been worth it anyways.



  117. Natalia Vakulenko on January 17, 2019 at 7:34 AM

    hi Barry, we are travelling the following rout:

    9th Feb – Osaka Airport – Kyoto
    12th Feb- Kyoto – Takhayama
    12-14th Feb – going to Alps by a car rental/ local bus
    14th Feb – NAGONO -Tokyo .
    16th Feb – Tokyo to Harita airport

    Does it worth buying 7 days JR Pass?

    thank you Natalia



  118. nina on January 17, 2019 at 5:54 PM

    Hey Barry!

    Im having a little trouble deciding whether or not a 14 day JR pass is worth it for my trip in March.
    We will be flying in/out or Narita airport

    Day 1-3 tokyo
    Day 4-7 yokohama
    Day 8-11 Osaka kyoto & nara
    Day 12-14 last days in tokyo then head back to our flight in narita

    Are there alot of JR options & do you think we will have to pay for any additional transportation fees based on my itinerary?



    • Barry Choi on January 17, 2019 at 9:15 PM

      Hi Nina,

      You might just break even if you get the 7-day pass and use it when you depart Yokohama for Osaka and then your journey back to Tokyo/Narita.

      Osaka and Kyoto have limited JR lines. I’m not familiar with Yokohama so I can’t really comment there.



  119. Jo on January 18, 2019 at 5:23 PM

    Hì Barry,
    We are first time travelers to Japan and have three weeks in early November, we fly into and out of Narita airport.
    We are thinking of spending a week in Tokyo and like the look of Kouenji.
    One week in Osaka and one week in Kyoto, do you think we would be best with the three week pass.
    Thanks in advance
    Jo



    • Barry Choi on January 18, 2019 at 7:30 PM

      Hi Jo,

      It sort of depends on your route. You’d have to compare way tickets vs. the cost of a pass via hyperdia.com.

      One week in Kyoto and one week in Osaka is a bit long unless you plan on doing a bunch of day trips.



  120. Jessica on January 18, 2019 at 6:01 PM

    Hey Barry,
    Would I break even if I got a 7 day JR Pass, traveling a total of 14 days. Landing in Osaka. purchasing one way tickets to Kyoto. Day trips to Ōsaka and Nara. Activate pass on day 7 to travel up to Tokyo then take the train back to Ōsaka.Thanks for your feed back!
    Jessica



  121. Jessica on January 18, 2019 at 6:02 PM

    Hey Barry,
    Would I break even if I got a 7 day JR Pass, traveling a total of 14 days. Landing and flying out of Osaka. I would purchase one way tickets to Kyoto. Day trips to Ōsaka and Nara. Then Activate pass on day 7 to travel up to Tokyo and take the train back to Ōsaka.Thanks for your feed back!
    Jessica



    • Barry Choi on January 18, 2019 at 7:34 PM

      Hi Jessica,

      Generally speaking, you’d probably break even with that route. I’d double check on hypderdia.com to see if you’re getting your money’s worth. Don’t forget to factor in your trip to the airport if it falls within those 7-days.



  122. Monika on January 19, 2019 at 3:31 PM

    Hi Barry,
    So happy to find your post. We are going to Japan mid of April , flying to and from Narita airport. We are staying in Tokyo ( 12-17)5 days and then heading to Kyoto arriving 17.04 till 20.04 and then going back to Narita airport in Tokyo. We are family of five. Reading about all different transportation makes my head spin. Do you think is worth it to buy JR Pass or continue with buying single tickets . Since is only Tokyo and Kyoto. I was even thinking to fly back to Tokyo Narita as we are spending one night there. Would love to hear your feedback



    • Barry Choi on January 19, 2019 at 3:34 PM

      Hi Monika,

      Generally speaking if you can do a return trip from Tokyo to Kyoto + a trip to Narita on the NEX in 7 days, you’ll probably just about break even.

      If you’re not going to do any side trips while in Kyoto e.g. Nara or Osaka, you might come out just under breaking even.

      You should input your routes via hyperdia.com so you have an estimate of what you would spend on one way tickets and then compare that to the 7-day pass cost.



  123. Victoria Franzen on January 21, 2019 at 4:11 AM

    Hello,
    We are flying into Osaka and staying there 5 dats with day trips to Hiroshima, Kyoto, Nara and the spending 6 days intokyo with a a couple days at Disney . Is the pass with it for us?



    • Barry Choi on January 21, 2019 at 6:31 AM

      If you can do all your travel between Hiroshima, Kyoto, Nara and Tokyo within 7 days, then the 7day pass is worth it. I’m assuming you’re flying out of Tokyo



      • Victoria Franzen on January 21, 2019 at 11:09 PM

        Yes we are flying into Osaka and flying home Tokyo. There are 4 adults and we are trying to budget so we can spend our money on fun activities



        • Barry Choi on January 22, 2019 at 7:50 AM

          WIth the exception of theme parks, most attractions in Japan are free or inexpensive. Train travel will seem expensive, but considering it will get you just about anywhere, I think it’s actually a good price.



  124. Jenny on January 22, 2019 at 3:49 AM

    Hi Barry

    I am flying to Japan on the 23 March and staying until the 30th of March. Arriving at Narita airport. I would like to stay in Tokyo for 3 days and 4 days in Kyoto. Flying back on the 30 march at Narita airport. Do u think l should buy a 7 days JR pass? Do u recommend to stay in Tokyo first or Kyoto first?

    Thanks for your help in advance.



    • Barry Choi on January 22, 2019 at 7:52 AM

      Hi Jenny,

      It’ll probably be easier for you to just stay in Tokyo first. Narita is about 90 mins from Tokyo and then Kyoto is another 2 hours by train so you need to add at least 4-5 hours to your journey when you factor in picking up your luggage and then getting to your hotel in Kyoto.

      A 7-day JR pass will likely be worth it, just be sure to be back in TOkyo before it expires.



  125. Helen on January 23, 2019 at 6:34 PM

    Hi Barry

    Just wondering if you could help. I am looking to travel to Japan in October and flying into Hiroshima- then working my way to Osaka(day trip to Kobe)- Kyoto- Tokyo (maybe a day trip somewhere) then fly out from here. Would the pass be good value for me? In total I would be travelling 14 days.
    Thank you in advance



  126. Helen h on January 23, 2019 at 6:35 PM

    Hi Barry

    Just wondering if you could help. I am looking to travel to Japan in October and flying into Hiroshima- then working my way to Osaka(day trip to Kobe)- Kyoto- Tokyo (maybe a day trip somewhere) then fly out from here. Would the pass be good value for me? In total I would be travelling 14 days.
    Thank you in advance



    • Barry Choi on January 23, 2019 at 10:10 PM

      Hi Helen,

      Since you’re not doing a return trip, a 14-day pass likely won’t be worth it. If you can do all your travel within 7-days, it would be good value.



  127. Rhoda on January 23, 2019 at 7:30 PM

    Hi Barry,

    We are travelling to Japan on March 29, 2019. Here is our itinerary:
    March 29-Arrive in Tokyo and staying for 3 nights
    April 1-6- Travel to Osaka, staying in Osaka for 5 nights. Travel to Kyoto, Nara and possibly to Hiroshima during this stay
    Apri 6-8- Disneyland and Disneysea
    April 6-14 Back to Tokyo. We will get a one day tour to Mt Fuji and Hakone during this stay.
    Do we need to get a JR pass and if so which one do we get?
    Thank you so much Barry.

    Rhoda



    • Barry Choi on January 23, 2019 at 10:13 PM

      Rhoda,

      The 14-day pass is good if you activate it when you leave for Osaka. I’m assuming you’ll use the pass to get to Hakone also. You’ll be back in Tokyo by the 14-days so that makes it worth it. Keep in mind that you must go as far as Hiroshima for you to break even.



      • Cesca on April 20, 2019 at 3:48 AM

        Greetings, Barry!

        Was just wanting to seek a little bit of your advice if I may. We are flying out to Narita Airport during early December. It seems like the single purchases of the JR pass (bullet train), as well as an IC card (Suica/Pasmo) would be more suitable for this type of itinerary:

        Day 1 – Explore Tokyo using an IC card.

        Day 2, 3, 4 – Mt Fuji; Kyoto; and Nara Rail Tour w/ bullet train tickets included in the tour. This also has the option of returning to Tokyo, which we will probably take.
        https://www.viator.com/tours/Tokyo/3-Day-Mt-Fuji-Kyoto-and-Nara-Rail-Tour-by-Bullet-Train-from-Tokyo/d334-2142TYO_SH3#

        The evening of 4 + Day 5 & 6 – Travelling to Sapporo, Hokkaido by bullet train (assuming single purchase) & exploring a bit of the Hokkaido region.

        Day 7 – Travelling back to Tokyo (assuming single purchase).

        Day 7 to Day 16 – Continue exploring Tokyo

        I hope that this makes sense and any help is appreciated! Thank you!

        Kind Regards,
        Cesca



        • Barry Choi on April 20, 2019 at 2:18 PM

          Cesca,

          Most people fly to Sapporo from Tokyo as it the travel time by train is quite long and takes quite a bit of time. Flights can even be cheaper than train tickets if you book in advance with one of the discount carriers.



  128. Rhoda on January 23, 2019 at 11:52 PM

    Hi Barry!

    If we buy the Hakone and Mt Fuji tours that includes transport, do we still need the 14 day pass? Thank you

    Rhoda



  129. Kelsey on January 26, 2019 at 6:50 PM

    Hi Barry!

    My family and I are travelling to Tokyo in feb and are unsure as to wether we should buy a JR pass or not.

    Our plans are: Narita (one night) —> Hakuba (7 nights) —> Osaka (3 nights) —> Tokyo (5nights)

    We have a bus booked to get us from Narita to Hakuba, we think that perhaps trains will be the best way go get around once leaving Hakuba but just need a little help please.

    Thank you in advance!



    • Barry Choi on January 26, 2019 at 7:50 PM

      Hi Kelsey,

      You’ll probably be better off buying one way tickets on the Shinkansen once you depart Hakuba. In both Osaka and Toyo, just use an IC card.



      • Kelsey on January 26, 2019 at 7:57 PM

        Thank you so much Barry, your reply was so quick!!

        Last time I was in Tokyo we used an IC card, if I purchase one in Osaka, can I use the same card in Tokyo or are they different cards?



        • Barry Choi on January 26, 2019 at 8:07 PM

          Yes, the IC cards you buy in Osaka can be used in Tokyo. That being said, you can’t refund your Osaka card in Tokyo.

          Some people will refund their card before they depart Osaka and buy a new one in Tokyo. Personally, I wouldn’t bother cuz all you’re really losing is a few dollars for the deposit.



  130. Emma on January 27, 2019 at 11:27 PM

    Hi Barry !!

    Myself and two friends are travelling to Japan in 2 weeks time and we are still unsure of whether to purchase JR pass or not …

    We are in Tokyo (6 nights) , then Kyoto (3 nights) , then Osaka (3 nights ) then fly home from Osaka , do you think rail pass will be worth it ?

    Thanks so much



    • Barry Choi on January 28, 2019 at 8:02 AM

      Unless you plan on making a trip to Hiroshima, a JR pass won’t be worth it. If you do decide on Hiroshima, buy a 7 day pass.



  131. Flo on January 28, 2019 at 7:48 PM

    Hi Barry,

    8 of us will be in Tokyo for a month long trip but only have free time on the weekends to travel far distances. We probably will use subway/train on the weekdays to close places within Tokyo, but are interested in visiting other prefectures in Japan on weekends. Will the pass be worth it. If so, which option would you recommend? Thank you!



    • Barry Choi on January 28, 2019 at 8:13 PM

      Flo,

      You can only get the JR pass for 3 weeks at max so you’d have to compare prices on Hyperdia.com to see if your routes are worth it. It’s possible it could be, it just depends on how far you plan on going during those weekend trips.



  132. junah embesan on January 30, 2019 at 6:54 PM

    hi barry
    you’ve been very helpful to everyone
    i ave 16 and 7 yrs ol we are in tokyo for 6 days which place is the best to go
    Thank
    junha



  133. Geneva on January 31, 2019 at 1:25 AM

    Hello Barry! Thanks for the post although I’m still a little confused so hoping you can help. My family and I will be in Japan for 12 days, trying to decide which (if any) JR pass to get. Our itinerary is below.

    March 23 – arrive at NRT (4 nights in Tokyo)
    March 27 – train from Tokyo to Kyoto (one night stay in Kyoto)
    March 28 – train from Kyoto to Osaka (7 days in Osaka)
    April 3 – leave Osaka via KIX

    We are also thinking of a trip to see Mt Fuji (from Tokyo?) and to Nara (from Osaka?).

    Would a 14 day JR pass be worth it? Or just the 7 day pass to use in Tokyo and to Kyoto/Osaka? Or should we just get individual train tickets to Kyoto/Osaka and a regional JR west pass?

    Any help is much appreciated.



    • Barry Choi on January 31, 2019 at 8:01 AM

      Hi Geneva,

      Since you’re not making a return trip to TOkyo or going as far as Hiroshima, one way tickets on the Shinkansen are probably best.



  134. Marilyn Barton on February 3, 2019 at 7:29 AM

    Hello Barry, we are a group of three traveling for the first time to Japan for seven days – March 7-14, 2019.
    We are flying in and out of Narita. We’re planning to stay in Tokyo for 2 days sightseeing day trips around Tokyo and Mt Fuji. Are private tours better? Then we plan to go to Osaka on the 10th to the 12th, hopefully will have the time to make a quick trip to Kyoto.is that likely? On the 12th we go back to Tokyo and explore it some more and leave on the 14th. I guess a JR pass is a must? Please feel free to suggest alternatives to our plan. Thank you so much. Hope to hear from you soon.



    • Barry Choi on February 3, 2019 at 7:37 AM

      Hi Marilyn,

      A 7-day JR pass would likely be worth it. With 7 days total in Japan, I don’t recommend spending more than 4 days outside of Tokyo. That would likely mean a trip to Hakone and possibly an overnight where you can see Mt. Fuji. Spend two days in Kyoto if you want to see temples. If you want to explore the food scene and shop, go to Osaka instead. I personally would choose Kyoto over Osaka.



  135. Kate on February 3, 2019 at 9:53 PM

    Hi Barry,

    Thanks for being so helpful and assisting so many people figure out if they JR pass is right for them. As most, trying to figure out the best method is confusing – so your advice is greatly appreciated. Despite suggestions from others (being told to get the pass that covers all of Japan) I’m not convinced that the JR pass would be best for us.

    Our October dates are as follows:

    • Osaka: 2nd – 6th (with a day trip to Nara and Universal)

    • Kyoto: 6th – 11th (day trip to Kobe)

    • Nagoya: 11th – 15th (during this time we would need to head to Suzuka Circuit for the F1)

    • Tokyo: 15th – 22nd (when we depart back to Sydney)

    We were told to get the JR pass for all regions for 7 days (to be activated when we leave Osaka) to get us to Kyoto and Nagoya. And from there, buy a single ticket to Tokyo. But with the destinations being fairly close in the Kansai region, would it be worth just getting a general train card?

    Thanks and look forward to your reply 🙂



    • Barry Choi on February 3, 2019 at 10:10 PM

      Hi Kate,

      There’s no way a 7-day JR pass would be worth it for your itinerary. You can double check on hyperdia.com, but I’m almost positive it’ll be cheaper to buy one way tickets.



      • Kate on February 4, 2019 at 4:01 PM

        Hi Barry,

        Thanks so much for reaffirming my thoughts. I checked out hyperdia and you were right. We are actually saving $100s by buying individual tickets. Thank you again!



  136. Edna on February 4, 2019 at 3:18 PM

    Hi Barry,

    My friend and I are flying into Haneda airport. We are planning to go straight to Kyoto the day we arrive in Haneda. We are planning to stay in Kyoto for a couple of days and then head back to Tokyo for the remaining of our trip. I am not sure yet if we will add a trip to Osaka. Do you think the 7 day pass is worth it? Also, for the other train/subway passes, is there a discount to get the pass rather than getting a single ticket?

    Thanks.



    • Barry Choi on February 4, 2019 at 3:27 PM

      Edna,

      You’d probably just break even. But this assumes you’re able to use the JR lines in Tokyo and the the Monorail from Haneda.

      THere is an all day ticket you can buy for the Tokyo subway, but note that doesn’t include the JR lines which may have more direct access to spots depending on where you’re staying.



  137. Cindy on February 4, 2019 at 3:35 PM

    Hi Barry,

    My family and I are flying to Narita airport during March and we plan to go straight to OSAKA for 4 days (including Kyoto for 1 day). Then we will make our way back to Tokyo and spend 5 days there. Do you think I should get the 7 days pass, since I will need to purchase additional metro pass for 2 days in Tokyo after the 7 days JR pass expired. I also heard it’s better to purchase the OSAKA-Kyoto train pass for better convince. With all these extra train passes that we have to purchase, I’m not sure if the 7 Days JR Pass is worth it.

    Thank you,



    • Barry Choi on February 4, 2019 at 6:48 PM

      CIndy,

      You’ll probably break even or come under just a bit. The JR pass is convenient, but since you’re going right to Osaka, you’ll have limited use of it there. You might as well buy one way tickets for the Shinkansen and use an IC card or raku bus pass (in Kyoto) for all your local transit.



  138. Dan on February 5, 2019 at 12:52 AM

    Hi Barry,

    My girlfriend and I are flying into Haneda Airport in March and are staying Tokyo for the first four nights. While we are there we are considering a day trip to Mt. Fuji. After this, we are staying Kyoto for four nights and are considering a day trip to Nara. We will then stay in Osaka one night and fly out of Kansai International. Would the 7-day rail pass be worth it if were to include all of these day trips? Or would it be better to buy the tickets individually? Any help is much appreciated



    • Barry Choi on February 5, 2019 at 7:43 AM

      Hi Dan,

      It’s likely cheaper to buy one-way tickets. Note that instead of doing a day trip to Mt. Fuji, you’re probably better off doing it on your way to Kyoto since it’s on the way.



  139. Scott on February 5, 2019 at 7:53 AM

    Hi Barry
    We are going for the rugby wc.
    16days
    Travel from tokyo to kyoto
    Return 8 days later
    Other days we travel tokyo to yokohama and kyoto to kobe.
    As the trip is 16 days it would need to be21 day pass to include airport runs.
    Looking simply it would suggest individual tickets would be far more cost effective but will adding up daily innercity travel and smalller trips around tokyo anf kyoto respectively make up thd difference.
    And is yhe highr JR cost made worthwhile taking out the hassle of buying numerous individual tickets?



    • Barry Choi on February 5, 2019 at 8:03 AM

      Scott,

      You could just get a 14-day pass and pay for the remaining two days out of pocket. That being said, I don’t think a 14-day pass would be worth it for your itinerary. You’d have to run your exact route via Hyperdia.com and then compare it to the cost of a 14-day pass for your answer.

      I suspect one way tickets for the long distance travel and IC cards / Raku bus pass for local travel will be more cost efficient.

      Buying individual tickets on the Shinkansen is easy since it can be done at any JR office. if you know your route and the trains you want, you can buy all your tickets at any time and reserve your seats at the same time.



  140. Amani on February 6, 2019 at 11:51 PM

    HI Barry
    I am going with my family (husband and kids 11, 7 and 3) to Tokyo. Our agenda is Tokyo (Haneda), Osaka, Kyoto and home from Narita.
    Is the JR pass the way to go?
    Can the JR pass be used for metro areas in Tokyo?
    Also how do you book your seats for JR?



    • Barry Choi on February 7, 2019 at 7:41 AM

      Amani,

      Will you be travelling to Osaka and back to TOkyo within 7-days? If so, the 7-day JR pass is worth it



  141. Erronn Doligas on February 10, 2019 at 1:41 PM

    Hello Barry,

    First off I want to say thank you for the very informative and precise way of explaining the JR system.

    We will be visiting Japan for 6 days. Our point of entry is Haneda airport and same with point of exit. We will concentrate mostly in Tokyo and a day trip to Kyoto and back to Tokyo. Would the 7-day JR pass be worth it?

    Thank you and more power



    • Barry Choi on February 10, 2019 at 7:55 PM

      Hi Erronn,

      You’ll probably just break even but that’s still worth it for the convenience. Try to stay near the JR Yamanote line in Tokyo so you can maximize the pass while you’re there. You can even use the pass from Haneda via the monorail.



  142. Rebecca on February 10, 2019 at 2:52 PM

    Hello Barry, I came across your very helpful page and wondered if you could give me some advice. I am visiting Japan in April for 2 weeks. We stay in Tokyo for 4 days, then travel to Kyoto for 3 days. Afterwards we are going to Hiroshima for one night before moving to Osaka for 2 days (with one day trip from Osaka to Nara). Then we go back from Osaka to Tokyo for the four nights. We are also going to Fuji Q for the day, and also Lake Kawaguchiko both from Tokyo (but on separate days). Would you recommend the Japan Pass and if we should go for the Green Pass as we will have our big luggage with us? Thank you!



    • Barry Choi on February 10, 2019 at 7:57 PM

      Rebecca,

      Get the 14-day pass as it’ll more than pay for itself. THere’s no need to get the green version as the regular shinkansen are very spacious and there’s plenty of room for full size luggage.



  143. Omar on February 10, 2019 at 8:35 PM

    Hi Barry:

    We have a two week trip to Japan scheduled for April and are wondering if we go with Japan Rail pass for 14 days (i think we will after seeing how our trip breaks down.

    Fly into Tokyo April 13th then straight to Kyoto
    Kyoto Home base April 13th to April 20th
    April 15th – day trip Osaka
    April 17th – day trip to Himeji and Hiroshima
    April 20th travel to Tokyo
    Tokyo home base April 20th to April 27
    April 24th- Overnight night stay in Hakone Onsen
    April 27th travel back home



    • Barry Choi on February 10, 2019 at 8:36 PM

      Omar,

      A 14 day pass will definitely be worth it. You may want to stop in Hakone on your way back to Toyo since you pass by it. That would just save you a bit of time.



    • Amy on August 21, 2019 at 8:39 AM

      Hi Barry,

      Thanks for your helpful page! Would appreciate if you can give me some advice and if the 14 day JR pass is worth it for our schedule (family of 3 and child is under 6). We like to travel leisurely but am keen to know if you would recommend other day trips. We would probably activate the JR pass leaving Hakone if we have the 14 day pass.

      Fly in to Narita, stay in Tokyo (13/10 – 17/10) : am thinking just one-way NEX + suica

      Tokyo – Hakone (17/10 – 19/10) : am thinking of the Odakyu romance car from shinjuku + hakone free pass

      Hakone – Nagoya (19/10 – 21/10) : planned Legoland

      Nagoya – Kyoto (21/10 – 25/10) : planned day trip to Nara

      Kyoto – Osaka (25/10 – 28/10)

      Osaka – Tokyo (28/10 – 01/11) : planned Disneyland

      Thanks in advance! 🙂



      • Barry Choi on August 21, 2019 at 8:43 AM

        Amy,

        It’s unlikely a 14-day pass will be worth it unless you plan on making a run to Hiroshima. Your idea of just getting NEX, SUICA, Hakone free pass is the way to go. In Kyoto, you could use the Raku bus too (buy a bus pass if you go this route).



        • Amy on August 21, 2019 at 8:55 AM

          Thanks very much Barry! Would you recommend any other day trips we could/should do from Kyoto or Osaka?



          • Barry Choi on August 21, 2019 at 9:10 AM

            With a young child? You could go to Himeji to see the castle but Osaka has a castle so that might be the better bet. There’s also Disneysea in Tokyo which isn’t a day trip, but kids love that.



  144. Chan Yoong Tat on February 10, 2019 at 9:49 PM

    Hi Barry, I’m travelling to Japan during the Golden Week (I didn’t know that until yesterday *sigh*). I’m going to get a JR pass but there are quite a few options to choose from.

    Osaka (26-29/4)
    Kyoto (29/4-2/5)
    Tokyo (2/5-6/5)

    My questions are:
    1. Will the JR pass cover all of my public transportation needs at the very least, within Osaka Kyoto?
    2. Will it cover my journey from Osaka to Kyoto (29/4 train)?
    3. Can I use the JR pass to travel from Kyoto to Tokyo? Or should I buy a seperate Shinkansen train instead?

    Thanks in advance, you definitely seem as a person who knows this context well!



    • Barry Choi on February 11, 2019 at 7:15 AM

      Hi Chan,

      You’re flying into Osaka and out o Tokyo right? If so, there’s no point in getting a 7-day JR pass as you won’t get your money’s worth. I recommend buying your Shinkansen tickets from any JR office as soon as you can and reserving your seats since it’ll be golden weak (you only really need the Shinkansen from Kyoto to Osaka).

      As for local transportation, purchase an IC card in Osaka and just load it with funds. You can use the same card in Kyoto and Tokyo. However, note that if you want to get a full refund on the card, you need to refund it in Kyoto and then buy a new one in Tokyo (different regions). You’d then have to refund the one you bought in Tokyo before you leave. Personally, I think this is a hassle and a waste of your time to get a few hundred yen back, your time is more valuable.

      In Kyoto, it might make more sense to buy a raku bus pass depending on where you’re going.



  145. Lisa on February 12, 2019 at 10:54 PM

    Hi Barry,

    My friend and I are planning to be in Japan from May 24th to June 5th. I’ve looked into the JR pass and it looks like it might not be worth it but I’m not sure if I’m doing this right. If you don’t mind, could you please review our itinerary to see if it’ll be beneficial to have a JR Pass in your opinion?

    May 24th: Flying into Osaka (KIX)
    May 26th: Day trip to Nara
    May 27th – 28th: Staying a night at a ryoken by Amami station in Osaka
    May 28th: Kyoto
    May 30th: Day trip to Uji
    May 31st: Tokyo
    June 5th: Flying out of Tokyo (NRT)

    Thanks for your help!



    • Barry Choi on February 13, 2019 at 8:15 AM

      Hey Lisa,

      You’re doing things right. It’s definitely better to buy one way tickets for the shinkansen.



  146. Kar on February 13, 2019 at 9:28 AM

    Hi Barry, I’m just so glad to find your page here and reading your threads. You’re awesome to offer advise for so many people! I live in Toronto too!
    I would love to know your thoughts for our family trip of 5. We plan to an 8 days trip in Tokyo this summer and wonder if it’s worth it for buying a JR pass for 2 adults and 3 kids.

    Arriving Narita airport
    3 nights in Shinjuku
    1 night in Hakone
    1 night in Kyoto
    2 nights in Nagoya
    1 night in Tokyo
    Leaving Haneda airport



    • Barry Choi on February 13, 2019 at 10:55 AM

      Hi Kar,

      You would probably just break even with the 7-day pass. That being said. If you changed your itinerary so you have 2 nights in Tokyo at the beginning of your trip and 2 nights at the back end, you’d be able to use your 7-day JR pass on the Narita Express and return to Tokyo after Nagoya.

      Any reason why you’re spending 2 nights in Nagoya? That’s not a typical spot for most visitors.

      I should note that you’re doing a lot of travel for 8 days.



      • Kar on February 13, 2019 at 1:52 PM

        Thanks so much for your help Barry. We’re staying in Nagoya because we will go to Shirakawago

        Also, do you know if JR pass will cover bullet train portion from Tokyo to Kyoto



        • Barry Choi on February 13, 2019 at 2:21 PM

          Kar,

          If you’re going to Shirakawago, that’s A LOT of travel you’re doing in 8 days with three kids. Shirakawago is a healthy distance from Nagoya.



  147. Dick Smith on February 16, 2019 at 12:31 AM

    4 Seniors ravelling in November [21 days] landing and departing from Osaka. Planning several days in Kyoto + Tokyo, Kumamoto, Nara &over to Shikoku. Sounds like the 21 day pass would be the best



    • Barry Choi on February 16, 2019 at 7:15 AM

      Hi Dick,

      A pass is only worth if you’re getting value for what you’re paying. It’s worth checking your route via hyperdia.com to see how much one way tickets cost compared to the 21 day pass



  148. Toni on February 17, 2019 at 9:50 PM

    Hi Barry
    Thanks for this information, very helpful. We have traveled to Japan before and have purchased the JR Rail Pass. For this upcoming trip I have done the math and the cost of one way tickets is slightly cheaper than purchasing the JR 7 day pass. We are traveling during Sakura and wondering if the JR pass is a better option for reserving seats during this busy time?
    We are planning on purchasing our tickets through the JR Tourist Centre as soon as we arrive in Tokyo.
    Any advice would be appreciated.
    Toni



    • Barry Choi on February 17, 2019 at 9:52 PM

      Hey Toni,

      If you plan on purchasing your tickets as soon as you arrive, I don’t think it really matters if you buy the pass or not. Either way, you need to reserve seats and you can’t do that until you arrive. Keep in mind that there are also cars on every train without reserved seating so it’s unlikely you would not be able to get on a specific train you want.



  149. Kiri Harvey-Rosser on February 20, 2019 at 12:05 AM

    Hi Barry!

    I was wondering if you could help me determine whether it’s worth getting the JR pass.

    My father and I are arriving at Narita Airport and will be in Tokyo for 6 days, then to Kyoto for 4 days, Osaka 6 days and then back to Tokyo for 4 days before heading back to Narita airport.

    Thank you!!



  150. Ee Lim on February 20, 2019 at 6:41 AM

    Hi Barry,

    My itinerary as follows:

    D1: Landing at Osaka
    D2: Osaka
    D3: Osaka
    D4: Osaka- Nara return
    D5: Osaka – Kyoto
    D6-7: Kyoto
    D8: Kyoto – Shirakawago
    D9: Shirakawago – Hiroshima
    D10: Hiroshima – Osaka
    D11: Flying off from Osaka

    Wondering if a JR Pass (7 days starting on D4) will be worth it?

    Thanks in advance!



    • Barry Choi on February 20, 2019 at 6:54 AM

      Ee Lin,

      I suspect the answer is yes since you’re going to Shirakawago and Hiroshima, but you should run your itinerary through hyperdia.com to see what one tickets cost compared to a 7-day pass.

      That being said, Shirakwago to Hiroshima is quite the journey. It might be better to go to Hiroshima on day 5 before Kyoto.



      • Ee Lim on February 20, 2019 at 8:48 AM

        Hi Barry,

        As the 7 day JR Rail Pass (29110 yen) does not cover Nozomi, will it be wiser to combine Kansai-Hokuriku 7 day pass (15000 yen, covering D3-D9) and Kansai-Hiroshima 5 day pass (13500 yen, covering D9-D10) since the total amount would be 28500 yen?



        • Barry Choi on February 20, 2019 at 9:18 AM

          Ee Lim,

          The JR Pass let’s use any shinkansen besides Nozomi which shouldn’t be an issue since there are so many other trains available and t may only add 10mins of travel time. If you want to get 2 separate passes to save 610 yen, that’s an option. If you’ve run the numbers via Hyperdia, then you’ll know what’s best.



  151. Ee Lim on February 20, 2019 at 7:35 PM

    Barry,

    What about a Hokuriku 4D Pass (5000 yen) and a Kansai-Hiroshima 5D Pass (13500 Yen), both starting at D6? For D1-D5 I will use pay-as-you-go ICOCA as most of the journeys will be by subway, not JR.



    • Barry Choi on February 20, 2019 at 8:03 PM

      Ee Lim,

      I’m not familiar with the other passes so I really can’t comment there.



  152. Tamara on February 21, 2019 at 9:40 AM

    Hi Barry,

    I’m planning to visit in April and was thinking of getting the JR Pass for the 14 days. Here’s a brief overview of my itinerary:

    Tokyo for 3 days
    Roundtrip day trip to Nikko from Tokyo
    Tokyo to Kyoto (spend 3 days in Kyoto, day trip to Arashiyama for one of those days)
    Kyoto to Osaka (spend 3 days in Osaka)
    Osaka back to Tokyo (flight departs from Narita)

    I had assumed that the 14-day pass would be a good value, but after reading your blog, it seems like it’s only good value if going to Hiroshima. I’d like to have your opinion if the 14-day pass would be a decent value for this breakdown.



    • Barry Choi on February 21, 2019 at 4:46 PM

      Hi Tamara,

      You’re right, the 14-day pass isn’t worth it unless you make that extra trip to Hiroshima, but you might get close to the value since you’re going to do Nikko and you can use the pass on the Narita Express. Run your journey through Hyperdia.com and compare the costs for a definite answer.



      • Tamara on February 21, 2019 at 10:47 PM

        Thanks so much for your response and for your feedback on the JR rail pass. After comparing the costs I think I will do the 7 day JR pass and activate it while going from Tokyo to Kyoto. It is a lot more cost effective that way as I am planning to spend 6 days between Kyoto and Osaka before heading back to Tokyo for a few more days before departure.

        There is a train pass I can get from Asakusa station where it’s about $18 roundtrip to Nikko for tourists. I think I may opt for that rather than spend all of that extra money for the 14 day JR pass. Again this was really helpful in making a more cost effective trip.



  153. Stephanie on February 22, 2019 at 9:32 PM

    Hi Barry,

    I have read your article and done some additional research regarding train fares and the JR pass. I used HyperDia to look up the cost for travel for my itinerary, but I feel like I might not be using it correctly because the fares I found seem very low. You mentioned that the 7 day JR pass would be worthwhile if you do a roundtrip from Tokyo to Kyoto. We aren’t doing a roundtrip between those 2 cities, but we are travelling quite far between the cities we are visiting (Tokyo, Kyoto and Toyama) so I thought that the costs might be similar. When I look up the following itinerary on Hyperdia, it seems way less expensive to buy one way tickets, but I feel like I might be doing something wrong because it is so much less than the cost of a 7 day pass. (also, I realize that I would actually need an 8 days of train travel so that would require me to purchase the 14 day pass)
    April 23 tokyo-toyama
    April 27 toyama-kyoto
    April 30 kyoto-tokyo
    I was getting the train fares to be 6800 yen, 5080 yen and 8210 yen respectively. This just seems really low compared to what you mentioned about the pricing of a roundtrip ticket from Tokyo to Kyoto. Could you offer any comments/guidance as to whether I have used HyperDia correctly and if this seems like correct pricing. If so then the JR pass will be much more expensive than individual train tickets.

    Thank you for your time,

    Stephanie



    • Barry Choi on February 22, 2019 at 10:25 PM

      Stephanie,

      I believe you’re only looking at the ticket fare. You need to look at the total fare which includes the seat fee. The train tickets should cost you 12730, 7540, and 12740 respectively. That’s way below a 14-day pass so not a good value for you. Since you’re travelling over 8-days, one-way tickets will be cheaper.



  154. Guido Colaris on February 22, 2019 at 10:45 PM

    I need some input on wether to take the 14 days JAPAN RAIL PASS or just go with local trains/busses, etc.

    From 2-22 April we will be discovering Japan, flying in on Osaka and out from Tokyo. For 21 days in total.

    Our planning is as followed:
    Osaka 3 night (Daytrip Universal Studios)
    Kyoto 7 night (Daytrip Nara)
    Fuji 1 night
    Hakone 1 night
    Tokyo 7 night (Daytrip Nikko) fly out from here)

    Would you recommend to still get the 14 days pass or just travel one way tickets and use local passes?



    • Barry Choi on February 23, 2019 at 5:19 AM

      Guido,

      You should run your route through hyperdia.com for an exact answer, but at a quick glance, it doesn’t appear that a 7-day or 14-day pass will be worth it.



  155. Graham Shrimpton on February 23, 2019 at 12:06 PM

    Hi Barry

    In early stage of planning a trip to Japan in November, arriving November 6th.

    Loose plan to arrive in Tokyo for 6 nights visiting perhaps Nikko and Mount Fuji while there.

    Travel then to Hiroshima or Miyajima for 2 nights.

    Travel then to Kyoto for 3 nights perhaps visiting Himeji from there.

    Travel then to Osaka for 3 nights perhaps visiting Mount Koya from there.

    Not sure if a 7 or 14 day JR Pass makes sense with the side-trips.

    Thanks for any thoughts.



    • Barry Choi on February 23, 2019 at 4:46 PM

      Graham,

      Are you flying out of Tokyo? If so, the 14 day pass would be worth it. If not, get the 7 day pass and try to travel to Nikko, Fuji, Hiroshima/, Miyajima and then to Kyoto within that period. If you can’t do all of that in 7 days, just activate it when you depart Tokyo for Hiroshima.



      • Graham Shrimpton on February 23, 2019 at 6:25 PM

        Thanks Barry,

        Should have made it clear I’m planning to be flying out of Osaka.

        That makes sense doing the Tokyo side-trips at the end of the Tokyo stay and trying to cover them and the journey to Hiroshima/Miyajima and Kyoto within the seven day pass period.

        Thanks



        • Barry Choi on February 23, 2019 at 8:42 PM

          Graham,

          I’m pretty sure you wouldn’t get value out of a 14-day trip since you’re flying out of Osaka, but you’d likely come out ahead with a 7-day pass if you bunched your long transit together in that time period.



  156. Dan on February 24, 2019 at 1:14 AM

    Hey Barry,

    Do you think the 14-day JR Pass is worth it with our itinerary below? Thanks in advance for your advice!

    Flying into Haneda
    Tokyo (3 days)
    Tokyo –> Kyoto (1 day)
    Kyoto –> Naoshima (2 days)
    Naoshima –> Osaka (3 days)
    Osaka –> Kyoto (2 days)
    Kyoto –> Kaga (2 days)
    Kaga –> Tokyo (2 days)
    Fly out of Narita



    • Barry Choi on February 25, 2019 at 8:28 AM

      Dan,

      I’m not familiar with a lot of those locations so you’d have to run your route through Hyperdia and compare it to the cost of a pass to see if it’s worth it. I suspect it is, but also note that you’re doing A LOT of travel, you may want to try and pace yourself.



  157. Kelsey on February 24, 2019 at 7:07 PM

    Hi Barry, would like your comment on whether we should get the JR pass.

    I’m arriving in KIX on 18march, after which we will take a haruka train to Kyoto where we will spend 4 nights till 22nd March. Then, we plan to take the bullet train to Tokyo 22-25 March and then back to Osaka 25-26 March. Do you think a jr pass is worth it or do I just get ICOCA card and buy the bullet train ticket separately? Thanks in advance!



    • Barry Choi on February 25, 2019 at 8:24 AM

      Hey Kelsey,

      Since you can use your JR Pass from KIX to Kyoto, you might be able to get value out of it, but you’d have to adjust your schedule so you’re back in Kyoto or Osaka by the end of the 7-days. That being said, the savings will likely be minimal (if at all) so it might be easier to stick to the one-way tickets and get an IC card.



  158. Brenda Murray on February 24, 2019 at 8:54 PM

    Hi Barry,
    would love your advice.
    We fly into Hiroshima for 3 nights, then 2 nights Kinosaki Onsen, 5 nights Kyoto, 1 night Yokohama, 14 night cruise around Japan, 4 nights Tokyo, home from Narita
    We are thinking of buying a 5 night Kansai Hiroshima passand activating it second day in Hiroshima. And just paying from Kyoto to Yokohama with maybe a Kyoto pass.
    Thoughts? Thanks!



    • Barry Choi on February 25, 2019 at 8:21 AM

      Hey Brenda,

      I’m not familiar with the other passes so I really can’t comment. If you just run your route via hyperdia.com, you’ll quickly find out if it’s cheaper to buy a pass or one-way tickets.



  159. Yvonne on February 26, 2019 at 4:29 PM

    Hi Barry,

    I’m travelling with my son (14-yr old) this summer, our plan is flying in Tokyo and out of Osaka. We will be Tokyo 3-4 nights, during stay in Tokyo, we will take one day trip to mount Fuji; then we will be stay in Osaka, for 3 – 4 nights, during staying in Osaka, we will take one or two day trips to Kyoto without overnight. Do you recommend the 7-day JR pass, is it worth? and, in terms of 7 days, e.g., I activate on July 12, will 7-day bring me to July 19 (12+7), which means Aug 12 & Aug 19 inclusive?

    Thanks in advance for you advise!



    • Barry Choi on February 26, 2019 at 5:45 PM

      Yvonne,

      Since you’re flying into Tokyo and out of Osaka, a 7-day pass is not worth it. Just buy one-way tickets for the Shinkansen. In Tokyo and Osaka use an IC card. In Kyoto get the raku bus pass if it’s convenient for you otherwise use your IC card.



  160. Yvonne on February 26, 2019 at 8:04 PM

    Make sense, it’s super helpful, thanks Barry!



  161. Stefano on February 28, 2019 at 3:36 PM

    Hi Barry,

    My partner and i will be going to japan for 23 days next 2 months.. we will start our holiday in kyoto stay there for 5 days. we will then move to osaka for 8 days and then spend the rest of our trip in tokyo. do you recommend us getting a rail pass.. we do intend on doing a few days trips around.



    • Barry Choi on February 28, 2019 at 3:37 PM

      Stefano,

      Since you’re there for two months, it’s unlikely any pass will be worth it. The passes are intended for long distance travel in short periods of time. That being said, it may be worth looking into regional passes. Unfortunately, I’m not familiar with those.



      • Stefano on February 28, 2019 at 3:38 PM

        oh im not out there for 2 months.. im travelling there in 2 months and will be staying there for 23 days



        • Barry Choi on February 28, 2019 at 4:33 PM

          Stefano,

          Opps, I read that wrong. The 14 and 21 day pass can be good value but it really depends on your route. Generally speaking if you can go from Tokyo to Hiroshima and back to tokyo in 14days, you’ll get your money’s worth. Since you’re there for 23 days, I’d run your route in Hyperdia.com to find out what single tickets cost vs. a pass.



  162. Jodi on February 28, 2019 at 11:33 PM

    Hi Barry,

    As my first trip to Japan, I am a bit overwhelmed. We are a family of 5, with 3 children , my youngest is 8 and the other 2 are over 12 anyway. We are staying in Tokyo for 3 days and then we are going to Kyoto on a Saturday and from Kyoto we are going to Nikko the following Friday. Is it worth it to get the JR pass for all of us for Tokyo-Kyoto-(Tokyo)-Nikko- I am assuming we get off in Tokyo to catch something to Nikko – don’t know yet if that’s a JR line or another line?\

    Jodi



  163. Jodi on February 28, 2019 at 11:34 PM

    also, how long in advance do I need to purchase the JR pass before going to Tokyo?

    Jodi



    • Barry Choi on March 1, 2019 at 8:10 AM

      Hi Jodi,

      You’ll have 7-days from the date you leave Tokyo to the day you return (sat-Fri), the question is where else where you go when you depart Tokyo? E.g. what other day trips do you have planned in Kyoto?

      Generally speaking, the JR Pass is worth it if you can complete a trip to Kyoto form Tokyo and back in 7-days but if you’re going to base yourself in Kyoto for a week, you may not get good value. Now if you were adding trips to Osaka, Nara, Hiroshima, then you’d be getting value.

      You can get to Nikkon in a variety of ways – https://www.japan-rail-pass.com/japan-by-rail/itineraries/tokyo-nikko

      However, you mentioned you plan on going to Nikko the day you get back from Kyoto? It takes 2 hours to get from Kyoto to Tokyo and then another 2 hours to get to Nikko and that doesn’t include transfer times. That’s a lot of time to be travelling.

      If you go to Nara, you may not need to go to Nikko since they’re similar. Either way, you should run your route through hyperdia.com to see the cost difference between one way tickets and the JR Pass.

      Getting the passes are relatively quick, but I’d give yourself at least a month before your trip just to play it safe.



  164. Steven on March 1, 2019 at 11:58 PM

    Hi Barry,

    I have just confirmed my itinerary and was wondering if the Jpass is what i need.

    27.04.19 – Land Tokyo via Narita
    |
    01.05.19 – Leave Tokyo for Kyoto (bullet train)
    |
    03.05.19 – Day trip Kyoto to Osaka
    |
    03.05.19 – Osaka back to Kyoto
    |
    04.05.19 – Kyoto to Tokyo
    |
    06.05.19 – Tokyo to Narita Airport

    Your help and knowledge is much appreciated.



    • Barry Choi on March 2, 2019 at 6:20 AM

      Hi Steven,

      If you time your JR pass so it ends on April 5th (Activate on March 31st), you’ll likely just break even or come out a touch ahead/under. It’s probably worth getting just for the convenience.



  165. Maria Theresa Wu on March 3, 2019 at 5:01 AM

    Hi Barry, our family of 4 ( 2 adults, 1 teenager &1 child)will be travelling to Japan in June/July. Will be arriving in Tokyo on June 27 at 9am and will stay 3 nights in Tokyo. Will then fly to Korea and stay there for 4 nights. From Seoul will fly to Osaka and stay there for 5 nights. Will definitely do Hiroshima, Kyoto, Nara and head back to Narita and stay for 2 nights and fly back to Australia on July 11th. Should we buy the 7 day JR pass from Osaka and activate it from Osaka?? Any help will be greatly appreciated.

    Thank you,
    Maria



    • Barry Choi on March 3, 2019 at 7:45 AM

      Hey Maria,

      If you buy the 7 day pass when you return to Japan from Korea, it’ll definitely be worth.



  166. Michael on March 5, 2019 at 12:06 PM

    Hi Barry,

    Awesome article. I tried reading most of the comments but couldn’t find one that aligns with my itinerary, so I thought I would ask. I am traveling with 5 people total.

    3/23- tokyo
    3/26- tokyo to osaka
    3/28- osaka to kyoto
    3/30- kyoto to tokyo

    If I activate my pass 3/26, i believe it should be worth it? I think I work out a cost and there wasn’t too much of a difference from the pass and buying one ways. Also, the pass covers any additional luggage we may have correct?

    Thank you.



    • Barry Choi on March 5, 2019 at 2:11 PM

      Michael,

      What day do you depart Tokyo? Ideally, you want to try and use your pass on the Narita Express (if you’re flying out of Narita) so back time it from there. This also assumes, you’re going to Osaka/Kyoto and back to Tokyo/Narita within 7-das.

      Even if you don’t fly out of Narita, your 7-day pass will have you about break even so it’s worth getting just for convenience. The JR pass is useful in Tokyo if you stay near one of the JR lines.



      • Michael on March 5, 2019 at 5:20 PM

        I am departing Tokyo on 4/1 from Haneda Airport so it will be within 7 days of when I activate the pass on 3/26. I read that you can use the JR pass for the monorail to Haneda? I am also staying by the Akasaka-Mitsuke Station.



        • Barry Choi on March 5, 2019 at 7:20 PM

          Hi Michael,

          Yes the JR pass will work on the monorail that takes you to Haneda, but note that Akasaka-Mitsuke Station is not on a JR line so you’ll need to take a subway regardless.



          • Michael on March 7, 2019 at 10:18 AM

            Sounds good. The JR Pass also covers the round trip train from Osaka to Kyoto, correct?



          • Barry Choi on March 7, 2019 at 10:41 AM

            Michael,

            ON JR lines, yes.



  167. Jojo on March 5, 2019 at 7:25 PM

    Hi Barry,

    I just want to ask if it is worth it buying a 7day jr pass for my japan trip?
    Here’s my iterinary:
    Mar 31- narita to tokyo(2days)
    Apr 2 – tokyo-osaka
    Apr3 – osaka-nara-kobe-osaka
    Apr4 -osaka-kyoto-osaka
    Apr5 -osaka
    Apr6 – osaka- kix

    Your help and knowledge is much appreciated.

    Thank you



    • Barry Choi on March 5, 2019 at 7:48 PM

      Hi Jojo,

      It would be cheaper to buy one way tickets.



      • Jojo on March 5, 2019 at 11:56 PM

        Noted
        Thank you so much



  168. Syahida on March 6, 2019 at 8:27 AM

    Hi Barry,

    My husband and I have just confirmed our itineraries and we are still lost if the JR pass is what we need for the trip.

    23/03/19 – Arrive Tokyo via Narita
    |
    27/03/19 – Leave Tokyo for Osaka
    |
    29//03/19 – Leave Osaka for Kyoto
    |
    30/03/19 – Kyoto back to Narita Airport
    (Staying at Hotel Nikko Narita due to early flight next morning)

    Your help and knowledge is much appreciated.



    • Barry Choi on March 6, 2019 at 9:25 AM

      Syahida

      You’ll just about break even with a 7-day pass if you active it on the 24th so it lasts you to the 30th.



      • Syahida on March 7, 2019 at 7:55 AM

        Oh, i forgot to mention that my friend has passed me 2 PASMO cards that can be used for this trip as well.. so do you think it’s worth it to buy the JR pass?



        • Barry Choi on March 7, 2019 at 8:56 AM

          Pasmo cards are just used for local transit. You’ll still just about break even with a 7 day pass.



  169. dawn on March 7, 2019 at 10:24 PM

    Barry,
    My husband, daughter, and I are visiting Japan for the 1st time but haven’t made any specific plans yet.
    Our itineray:
    3/17 arrive Osaka Kansai 3:50 pm (4 nights in air B&B). Plan to visit Kyoto.
    3/17-3/20 staying in air B & B
    Shinkansen to Tokyo
    3/21-3/26 staying at Hotel Rose Garden Shinjuku
    3/27 Depart from Narita airport at 10:00 pm.

    What do you recommend for transportation to get around.
    Thank you very much!



    • Barry Choi on March 8, 2019 at 7:47 AM

      Dawn,

      Since you’re flying into Osaka and out of Narita, there’s no point in getting a JR Pass. Buy an IC card for local transit and then just buy a one way shinkansen ticket to get you to Tokyo.

      Note that IC cards purchases in Osaka can’t be refunded in Tokyo. You’d have to return the card in Kyoto before departing for Tokyo and then buy a new one when you arrive. To be honest, it’s not worth the hassle since the deposit is only like 500 yen.



  170. Iva on March 8, 2019 at 4:37 AM

    Hi Barry,
    Can you help me figure out if it would be worth getting a 14-day JR pass for our trip? I have checked several fare calculators and according to them we would either just break even, or be just under.
    Our itinerary:
    – Arrive in Tokyo, stay there 4 days. One of the days making a one-day trip to Kamakura and back to Tokyo
    – go to Hakone – 2 days
    – go to Kyoto – 3 days
    – go to Nara – 1 day
    – go to Osaka – 3 days
    – go to Kanazawa – make a short stop – then to Nagano (1 day)
    – finaly back to Tokyo
    total 15 days from arrival to departure

    Thank you very much!



    • Barry Choi on March 8, 2019 at 7:49 AM

      Iva,

      I’m pretty sure a 14-day pass will be worth it, just be back in Tokyo by the 14th day of your pass.

      You should still run your itinerary through Hyperdia.com to double check.



  171. Alyssa on March 8, 2019 at 12:41 PM

    Hi Barry,

    My friend and I unfortunately are making it confusing for ourselves to try and save time. We were going to land in separate airports (haneda and narita) around 4 in the afternoon, activate our 7-day JR passes, then try to book it to Shinjuku station in order to make it down to Osaka or Kyoto that same night (since we’d be jet lagged and be unable to do anything productive anyway). Then we were thinking 5 nights in the osaka/kyoto region (with one day trip to Nara), then hakone one night, and end with 4 nights in Tokyo. That last day we’d be able to wander tokyo some more before flying out of Narita.

    We are considering a hakone free pass to get around that area. Is this a smart way to use the JR pass? Or are we wasting it by activating too early?

    Thank you!



    • Barry Choi on March 8, 2019 at 1:16 PM

      Hi Alyssa,

      I wouldn’t go as far as calling it a waste. If you run your itinerary through Hyperdia.com, I suspect you’ll likely just break even or just come out under with a 7-day pass. You’d basically be paying for convenience, but considering your itinerary is straightforward, you could probably just buy one-way tickets. **If you add a trip to Hiroshima during your 5 nights in Osaka/Kyoto, the pass would be totally worth it.

      You would need to Hakone free pass regardless, but since you have a JR pass, you could buy the one from Odawara which is a bit cheaper than the other two starting destinations.

      Note that the Shinkansen to Osaka takes off from Tokyo and Shinagawa stations. There is no bullet train from Shinjuku.



  172. Gaurav Jain on March 9, 2019 at 7:14 PM

    Hi Barry,
    I am a little confused whether to buy a JR pass or not and if yes which one 7 day or 14 day one? I would be very grateful if you could help me out

    The following is my itinerary in Japan
    Arrive in Tokyo on 24th March.
    24th March – 29th March in Tokyo
    29th March – Tokyo to Osaka

    Osaka to Kyoto and back.
    Day trip to Nara from Osaka
    Osaka to Hiroshima and back – Day trip( maybe not finalised )

    1st April – Back to Tokyo from Osaka
    Apart from the local Tokyo sight seeing till 8th April will go to Mt Fuji and also one day trip to Kamakura and back to Tokyo
    Depart on 8th April

    Have the following queries
    1. Is JR pass worth it? If yes which one 7 day one activated at a particular date or a 14 day one to cover the entire itinerary ?
    2. I read some where about regional passes. Will those make sense ? ( Ex – Sisca etc ) and purchase a separate regional pass to cover Osaka ?

    Since travel to hiroshima from Osaka is not yet finalised, it would be awesome if you could share your two cents considering both the scenarios

    Thanks much!
    Regards



    • Barry Choi on March 9, 2019 at 11:28 PM

      Gaurav,

      I don’t quite understand your itinerary. From March 29 – 31 you’re in Osaka but you also plan on doing Kyoto, Nara, and Hiroshima? So you’re doing 4 locations in 3 days? It’s just not possible.

      Generally speaking, if you can complete a round trip from Tokyo to Kyoto within 7-days, then a 7-day pass is worth it.

      Regional passes only make sense if you’re in one area, but you pass through two different areas when you leave Tokyo and head to Kyoto so that doesn’t benefit you.

      Suica cards are strictly for local transit.



  173. Mignon Malik on March 11, 2019 at 12:33 PM

    Hi Barry,

    I see you’ve been so helpful with everyone else’s itinerary, that I hope you don’t mind me reaching out as well!

    My husband and I will be traveling to Japan April 12th (unfortunately he has to fly into Narita and I will be flying into Haneda so he’s coming to meet me in Haneda). We will be purchasing a JR pass in advance as we’ll be in the country for 10 days. We’re trying to decide whether it would be worthwhile to buy the 14 day pass as our itinerary is as follows:

    April 12 – 14 Hiroshima (as soon as we land, we will be catching the bullet train from Tokyo to Hiroshima – figured it would make sense to go all the west to head back east as we fly out of Tokyo)

    April 14 – 16 Osaka

    April 16 – 19 Kyoto

    April 19 – 22 Tokyo

    Do you recommend the 7 day or should we purchase the 14 day? If we purchase the 7 day, we’ll have to supplement our leg from Kyoto to Tokyo and all through Tokyo.

    Also, how much will we be able to use the JR pass within each city? I know we can use for ferry in Hiroshima and bus loop, but not sure how much in Osaka and Kyoto or if we’ll need to supplement with a PASMO or SUICA card. Also, I now we can use for JR trains in Tokyo.

    Any tips or recommendations would be much appreciated!

    Thank you!



    • Barry Choi on March 11, 2019 at 1:56 PM

      Mignon,

      Get the 14-day pass for convenience since you’ll easily break even and then you can use it for any JR lines throughout the majority of your trip.

      The JR pass is quite useful in Tokyo if you stay near a JR line. Kyoto has a JR line that takes you to Arashiyama. Osaka has a decent amount of JR lines, but it may be easier to take local lines depending on where you stay. The pass is mainly used for long distance travel.

      Get an IC card for the local transit but in Kyoto, it may be easier to take the Raku bus.



  174. Mei on March 12, 2019 at 12:38 AM

    Hai Barry,

    i see you’ve been very helpful with everyone else itinerary, i wonder if you could help me with the itinerary. we have a plan to visit japan for 13 days with the detail as follows:

    April 22 – Arrived in tokyo at 16.25 go to osaka (still confused either better use the JR or buy the domestic flight tiket from narita to osaka)
    April 23 – Citiy Tour osaka
    April 24 – Universal studio
    April 25 – Osaka – Kyoto
    April 26 – Kyoto City Tour
    April 27 – Kyoto – Nara
    April 28 – Kyoto – Fuji
    April 29 – Fuji City tour
    April 30 – Fuji – Tokyo
    May 1 – May 4 – Tokyo City tour

    I’m so confused either i used the JR pass 7 days from the day i arrived in tokyo but if i used the JR pas from the day i arrived it only can be used for 7 days so it only can be used from April 22-28 and we need to pay another train ticket to go back to tokyo from fuji. But if i activated the JR on April 24 i can use it until April 30 at least until we get back to tokyo. but the side effect is after i calculated some of the ticket price for major train that we will used fromApril 24 to April 30 it seems that it’s not worth it since the total price not reach the jr pass amount.

    Any tips or recommendation would be much appreciated

    Thank you!



    • Barry Choi on March 12, 2019 at 5:56 AM

      Hi Mei,

      The issue is that you’re simply not travelling enough to make the JR pass worth it. A 7-day pass is typically only worth it if you’re doing a return trip from Tokyo to Kyoto. In your case, you’re just going one way so you might as well just buy one way tickets.



  175. Michael on March 12, 2019 at 9:28 AM

    Hi Barry C, Me and my wife shall be arriving in Haneda,Tokyo on the13th of April. Our itenary is to travel to Nagano the next day by shinkansen, spend three days in Nagano, touring cherry blossom and snow monkey park, Tateyama Alpine tour and a visit to Shinano Machi. I believe there are also concessions for JNR pass holders for these tours by bus.

    On the 4th day, bullet train ride from Nagano to Fuji San and back to Tokyo. The next three days Intend to travel to Kamonggawa, Chiba Ken, Tokyo Disneyland and Yokohama.

    Another 4 days travelling by rail within Tokyo Metropolitan before flying out of Haneda.

    I would really appreciate your feedback on the purchase of the JNR 7 day/ 14 day travel pass.

    Arigato

    Michael



    • Barry Choi on March 12, 2019 at 12:42 PM

      Michael,

      I’m not familiar with all those locations, so you’d have to run your itinerary through hyperdia.com to see if it’s worth it. I’m pretty sure a 14-day pass would not be worth it.

      When you return to TOkyo, you’ve listed 4 different places that are typically day trips but you plan on seeing them in 3 days? I don’t think that’s possible.

      Will you not be checking out Tokyo at all?



  176. Victoria on March 13, 2019 at 6:42 PM

    Hi Barry- Thank you so much for your very detailed and informative post above, i have found it very useful to weigh up the options in regards to a JR rail pass. I’ve also downloaded the app and visited Hyerdia- you have been so helpful to all the questions above so i apologies to ask for your time with my query as well.

    We are visiting Japan for 17 days at the end of April with my husband and 3 children and i was convinced we would need the 14 day rail pass, I’m just unsure as to when to activate it.
    We have a very rough itinerary at this stage as would like to ‘go with the flow’ a bit while we are there, but basically fly into Tokyo, a few days in Tokyo then a visit to somewhere in the country (Kanazawa maybe) for approx a week and then down to Kyoto, with a day trip to Osaka. From Kyoto back up to Tokyo and then fly home.
    We were going to visit Disneyland when we first arrived in Tokyo but i have just discovered this is the start of something called ‘Golden Week’ and its best to avoid during this period- so thinking visit instead the two days before we fly out home. What do you think? Also any tips you have on Golden Week would be lovely as i’ve just discovered this starts the day we arrive and not sure if a good thing or not!!! Thank you so much for your time, i really appreciate it.

    Victoria 🙂



    • Barry Choi on March 13, 2019 at 7:53 PM

      Hey Victoria,

      As long as you activate your pass before you depart Tokyo and are back in Tokyo before the pass expires, you’re good. That being said, if you’re flying into or out of Narita, trying to time things so your pass is still valid for one of those journeys will help you maximize the value. The JR Pass is also useful within Tokyo if you happen to be near JR lines.

      I sort of like your go with the flow idea but I would still have a rough itinerary e.g. say you budgeted 4 days in Kyoto. Well, with the JR pass you can make day trips to Osaka, Nara, Hiroshima/Miyajima without having it set in stone. Most people don’t spend a lot of time in Kanazawa, but that’s a personal preference.

      Golden week happens to have a bunch of holidays so Disney would be busy. Try to go when it’s not Golden Week. I guess the only real tip is that you need to be aware that there will be more crowds and some attractions may be closed. The nice thing about Japan is that just wandering the streets is a lot of fun so it likely won’t matter if some things are close.



  177. Helen on March 14, 2019 at 5:18 AM

    Hi Barry,

    How are you?

    You are the fountain of all knowledge on this subject so I just wanted to run my itinerary past you.

    Day 1 arrive Narita airport
    Day 2,3,4 Tokyo sightseeing
    Day 5, Tokyo to Fuji 5 Lakes
    Day 6 Fuji 5 Lakes to Hakone
    Day 7 Full day Hakone
    Day 8 Hakone to Kyoto
    Day 9, 10 Kyoto
    Day 11 Day trip to Nara from Kyoto
    Day 12 Kyoto to Hiroshima to Miyajima
    Day 13 Miyajima to Hiroshima to Okayama to Uno Port to Naoshima
    Day 14 Full day Naoshima
    Day 15 Naoshima to Uno Port to Okayama to Osaka
    Day 16 Osaka
    Day 17 Osaka to international airport

    I have done an approx calculation using HyperDia. Unless my calculations are wrong I think its cheaper to purchase one way tickets as I was thinking of purchasing the Fuji Hakone 3 day pass which means I wouldn’t activate the JRP for the first 7 days. If I activated from day 8, again this seems pointless as I’ll be in Kyoto for 2 full days sightseeing and Inwouldnt be able to fit in the last 2 trips from Naoshima to Osaka and Osaka to the airport.

    Do you have any advice or suggestions that could help in my planning?

    Thank you so very much.
    Helen



    • Barry Choi on March 14, 2019 at 5:47 AM

      Hi Helen,

      I agree that a 14-day pass wouldn’t be worth it. My only concern with your schedule is that it’s extremely busy. With the exception of Tokyo, you’re not doing more than 1.5 days in any spot. You may want to consider giving yourself a bit more time in Kyoto.



  178. Helen on March 14, 2019 at 5:52 AM

    I want to see lots!! I do have 4 nights in Kyoto. 2 full days and 2 half days.

    What would you drop from the itinerary if anything?

    Thank you.



    • Barry Choi on March 14, 2019 at 5:54 AM

      Helen,

      Fair enough, if you don’t mind the travel, then there’s nothing wrong with that. I haven’t been to half the places you plan on seeing, so it’s not fair for me to judge. I just personally think it can be a more relaxing vacation when you’re travelling at a slower pace.



  179. Elaine on March 16, 2019 at 12:32 PM

    Hi Barry

    We are planning to arrive in Japan in April 2019 and very confused as to whether the JR rail pass is worth getting for 7 days.

    Arrive Tokyo Narita Airport and go straight to Kyoto for 5 nights (probably do a day trip or two)
    Kyoto to Hakone for 2 nights
    Hakone back to Tokyo for 3 nights
    then Narita Airport to London

    Can you please advise.
    Thanking you in advance.



    • Barry Choi on March 16, 2019 at 7:37 PM

      Hi Elaine.

      It appears that it’ll take you 8 days from the time you depart Tokyo to the time you’re back so a 7-day JR pass likely isn’t worth it. That being said, if one of your day trips is to Hiroshima while you’re in Kyoto, a 14-day pass could be good value.

      Just run your route in hyperdia.com and then compare what the one way tickets cost to JR passes.



  180. Christi on March 19, 2019 at 10:37 AM

    We will be in Tokyo for 3 days traveling to Hiroshima and Iwakuni for 1 day then flying back to Tokyo. Would the Rail Pass be worth it?



    • Barry Choi on March 19, 2019 at 3:09 PM

      Christi, yes a 7-day pass will pay for itself



  181. Steph on March 19, 2019 at 2:37 PM

    Hey Barry,

    I came across this thread and was hoping you’d give me a little more insight on whether the JR pass (and which) would be worth it for our trip.

    We land at Haneda on Apr 11, then plan on trekking it down to Osaka the same day, then subsequently visiting Kyoto, Nara, and possibly Hiroshima and Miyajima as well (the latter two are not quite yet decided on). We return to Tokyo around Apr 17/18 and fly on Apr 20. I’m wondering if it would be worth it to get the 14 day pass or just stick with the 7 day pass and buy separate tickets or something to get to Haneda when we leave.

    Thanks!!



    • Barry Choi on March 19, 2019 at 3:11 PM

      Hi Steph,

      You’re right, getting the 7-day pass is the best value since you can easily just pay for local transit when you’re back in Tokyo.



  182. K Dewar on March 19, 2019 at 6:17 PM

    This is all quite mind boggling. When u see how cheap it is if travelling by car………… Looks like cheap if u are based in Tokyo and use the subwayor train. Otherwise pricey going from cruise port to Narita, If hotel out by airport costly to travel in to Tokyo everyday. Cheapest seems to be the bus from Narita to Ginza. £15 and takes 1hr 15min. We are 4 nights in Tokyo. Saw 3 day JR pass/Tokyo wide pass, 10,000 yen = £67.65. See the sights then just pay as u go. Some hotels(near airport) do free shuttle buses to Narita and hotels in Tokyo may do shared mini bus. Still cheaper than local transport. THAT IS IF THERE IS A 3 DAY JR PASS!!



    • Barry Choi on March 19, 2019 at 7:27 PM

      K Dewar,

      Narita is in a different city so it’s healthy distance. You would waste a lot of time travelling.

      There are plenty of moderately priced hotels in Tokyo.



  183. Katrina Dewar on March 20, 2019 at 8:14 AM

    Thanks, managed to get change of hotel from Narita to Shiba Park area. Probably still get JR Tokyo Wide Pass, valid 3days. 10,000yen ((£67.78). Get about but less time spent travelling into Tokyo.



    • Barry Choi on March 20, 2019 at 8:20 AM

      Katrina,

      Note that the JR Tokyo Pass is only worth it if you plan on venturing outside Tokyo but you play on staying within the allowed area.

      https://www.jreast.co.jp/e/tokyowidepass/

      If you’re just going to be in Tokyo with no day trips, just use an IC card



  184. Jerry on March 20, 2019 at 9:32 PM

    Hey Barry,

    Thanks for writing this up! Although I am still a bit confused on whether my friend and I should get a 14-day JR pass or just buy tickets / use an IC card during our 14-day trip there.

    Here is the general itinerary we had in mind:

    – Arrive at Narita airport and head over to Tokyo, staying for 4 nights
    – Tokyo to Osaka, staying 3 nights
    – Osaka to Kyoto, staying 3 nights
    – Back to Tokyo from Kyoto, staying 3 nights
    – Tokyo to Narita airport, then fly back home!

    I’ve crunched the numbers to see if a 14-day JR pass is worth it, which it is not. However, I am more concerned about the convenience since my friend and I don’t speak any Japanese.

    Any advice you could give would be greatly appreciated!



    • Barry Choi on March 21, 2019 at 6:51 AM

      Jerry,

      A 7-day pass could be worth it if you activate it the day you depart for Osaka as you’ll be back in Tokyo by day 7. Alternatively, if you are planning a trip to Hiroshima, 14-day pass would be worth it.

      I wouldn’t worry too much about the language barrier, there will always be someone at a JR office who speaks English. Many Japanese people also have a strong understanding of English even though they’ll say it’s not very good. They say this because they are very modest.

      That being said, if you download Hyperdia for iOS or Japan trains for Android, you’ll always have access to a train schedule. Make sure you have a data plan and you won’t have any issues either.

      The one time I came across someone who didn’t speak any English was a cab driver, I just showed him the closest subway station to my hotel and he understood right away where I wanted to go.

      Oh, many restaurants also have English menus.



  185. Hayley on March 24, 2019 at 12:25 AM

    Barry, it looks as though you have become the JR Angel! Our travel agent has suggest the pass but, like everyone else here, their information seems a little skewed!

    We are flying to Osaka with 3 days there ( including Universal Studios), Kyoto for 5 days including Nara day trip, then back to Osaka for 2.

    2 adults + a 10 month old.

    Skip on the JR Pass? Thank you so much for your time.



    • Barry Choi on March 24, 2019 at 12:16 PM

      Hayley,

      A 7-day JR pass wouldn’t be worth it. It might be worth checking your schedule against the 4-day JR Kansai pass, but I doubt that will be worth it either.

      https://www.japan-guide.com/e/e2361_03.html

      Note that you can use an IC card to get to everywhere on your itinerary.



  186. Vijay on March 24, 2019 at 1:54 AM

    Dear, We (3 Adults) will be following the below itinerary in travel to Japan in Apr:
    Arrive in Tokyo, 2 days in Tokyo
    Shinjuku to Odawara via the Romance car, Use Hakone Free pass for sight-seeing there
    Odawara to Kyoto: Shinkansen
    Kyoto: 2 days sight-seeing
    Kyoto to Hiroshima: Shinkansen
    Hiroshima: 2 days sight-seeing
    Hiroshima to Osaka: Shinkansen
    Osaka: 2 days sight-seeing and fly out of Japan

    Is JR Pass for 7 days worth the 3 travels we plan to do via Shinkansen? I added up the costs for one-way tickets on Hyperdia and it comes to more than the JR Pass for 7 days.

    Also, should I buy JR 7 Pass for Whole Japan travel in this case?
    Thanks,
    Vijay (India)



    • Barry Choi on March 24, 2019 at 12:19 PM

      Vijay,

      A 7-day JR pass would be worth it as it’s the only one you can travel all across Japan on one fare. Just make sure that you’re in Osaka before it expires.



  187. Najmi Mansoor Ahmed on March 24, 2019 at 8:26 AM

    Hi,

    I am unable to justify JR 7 day pass for my below trip

    30/03/2019 – KIX to Shin-Osaka station
    31/03/2019 – Osaka- (Kaiyukan) Aquarium
    01/04/2019 – Kyoto- Bamboo Forest (Arashiyama)
    01/04/2019 – Nara – Park
    02/04/2019 – Hrioshima
    03/04/2019 – OSAKA to Tokyo UENO Park
    04/04/2019 – Mount Fiji
    05/04/2019 – Tokyo Disneyland
    06/04/2019 – Ueno Park to NRT airport

    Please comment

    regards



    • Barry Choi on March 24, 2019 at 12:25 PM

      Hi Najmi,

      If you activated the 7-day JR pass on the day you arrive, you would be in Tokyo on day 7 so a 7-Day JR pass is more than worth it.

      You should be more concerned about your schedule as it is INSANELY packed.

      I’m assuming you’re staying in Osaka but you plan on doing Kyoto and Nara in the same day. That’s a lot of travel in one day and you’re barely seeing Kyoto.

      Hiroshima is doable in one day, but it’s 3 hours away by train.

      You’ve also plan on going from Osaka to Tokyo UENO Park and then Mount Fuji the next day. Why are you not stopping at Mt. Fuji on your way to Tokyo? You’re backtracking for no reason.

      You’ve dedicated no time to Tokyo whatsoever. You’re basically there to sleep.

      This is your vacation so you can do what you like, but I’ve never seen so much travel packed in such short period of time.



      • Najmi Mansoor Ahmed on March 24, 2019 at 4:26 PM

        Thanks, Barry for your reply and helpful recommendation.

        Yes, It seems I have underestimated commuting time between. I did reasonable research and thought I would be able to achieve this itinerary that too along with 3 kids all under 10.

        Let me re-do my calendar maybe I should drop Mt Fiji and Bamboo park and give the full days to TOKYO, NARA, and KYOTO respectively.

        30/03/2019 – KIX to Shin-Osaka station
        31/03/2019 – Osaka- (Kaiyukan) Aquarium
        01/04/2019 – Nara – Park
        02/04/2019 – Hrioshima
        03/04/2019 – OSAKA to Tokyo UENO Park
        04/04/2019 – TOKYO City
        05/04/2019 – Tokyo Disneyland
        06/04/2019 – Ueno Park to NRT airport

        Does it look manageable ?

        Regards



        • Barry Choi on March 24, 2019 at 4:30 PM

          With 3 kids, I still think they’ll be exhausted.

          I’d consider dropping Hiroshima also. You can explore Osaka or Kyoto instead that day.

          If you do drop Hiroshima, it’ll be cheaper to just buy one-way train tickets.



          • Najmi Mansoor Ahmed on March 25, 2019 at 12:42 AM

            If I dropped Hiroshima then I would not need 7 days JR pass, right?

            Regards



          • Barry Choi on March 25, 2019 at 8:01 AM

            Najimi,

            Since you’re going in one direction, buying one-way tikcets would be cheaper.



  188. lim einlai on March 26, 2019 at 10:59 AM

    for local travel around and in osaka what transport should i rely on?
    pls advise. Thanks



    • Barry Choi on March 26, 2019 at 11:16 AM

      the trains will get you just about everywhere.



  189. Damian on March 26, 2019 at 10:59 AM

    Hi Barry,

    Thank you for answering my question, I’m planning travel to Japan in August but my situation is a little different than most. My Mom is a flight attendant for American who regularly flies into Narita. I’m planning to go with her and stay with her for two days to begin my trip and two days to end. I will be taking the train into Tokyo during the days in between and want to make the most of my time, traveling to as many areas as I can with a return to Narita after. I’m wondering if the JR week pass makes sense for me, as I’ll likely only be using it a few of my days, but plan to pack them full with trips to Mt. Fuji, and other areas. Thank you for your help!



    • Barry Choi on March 26, 2019 at 11:17 AM

      Damian,

      The JR pass comes down to cost and distance. The 7-day pass is only worth if you travel from Tokyo to Kyoto roundtrip within 7days. If you plan on doing that in a few days, then the pass pays for itself. Run your itinerary through hyperdia.com and then compare the costs.



  190. Laura Molella on March 29, 2019 at 4:23 PM

    Hi Barry,

    You seem to be more helpful than all the site I’ve visited. My husband and I are travelling to Japan April 5-20 and are trying to determine if the 7 day JR pass is worth it. I understand that based on the single fact that we are arriving and departing from Tokyo, it would be worth it. However, the 7 day use of it doesn’t fall in line with our itinerary. Our rough itinerary/trips we will be making is:

    Narita airport to Shinjuku district
    Shinjuku to Shirakawago
    Shirakawago to Osaka
    Osaka to Kyoto
    Kyoto to Nara and back(Day trip-round trip)
    Kyoto to Narita airport (Tokyo)

    Thank you SO much for your help



    • Barry Choi on March 29, 2019 at 4:59 PM

      Hi Laura,

      You’re right, a 7-day pass wouldn’t be worth it as you won’t be back in Tokyo by the time it expires. A 14-day pass also wouldn’t be worth it since you’re not travelling that far. Just buy one way tickets.



  191. Kelsie on April 1, 2019 at 7:29 AM

    Hi Barry,
    I found your article helpful. Wanted to ask about if my itinerary would qualify for the JR pass –
    April 9 – Tokyo to Kanazawa
    April 11 – Kanazawa to Takayama
    April 13 – Takayama to Tokyo

    We are 5 people but my son is 5 – does he need any ticket at all? Since I am leaving soon, would I be able to purchase online and pick up in Tokyo at the train station? Many thanks! Kelsie



    • Barry Choi on April 1, 2019 at 8:40 AM

      Kelsie,

      yes, you’ll get your money’s worth a 7-day pass. Children 5 under do not need a pass.

      Order one online right away. Check to see if you can print it right away or if they mail you a voucher.



  192. Riley on April 2, 2019 at 6:25 AM

    Hi Barry!

    Another traveller in need of your sound advice. We are considering a 7 or 14 day JR pass.

    Our itinerary:

    Day 1 – Narita to Tokyo
    – Stay in Tokyo (4 days)
    Day 5 – Tokyo to Hakone
    Day 6 – Hakone to Kyoto
    – Stay in Kyoto (3 days)
    Day 9 – Kyoto to Hiroshima
    Day 10 – Hiroshima to Onomichi
    Day 12 – Onomichi to Koyasan
    Day 13 – Koyasan to Osaka
    Day 14 – Osaka day trip to Nara
    Day 15 – Osaka to Tokyo

    Our main question is whether we would benefit from a 14 day pass to cover the first half of the trip? Or buy single trips and activate the 7 day later on.

    Thanks Barry,
    Riley



    • Barry Choi on April 2, 2019 at 4:43 PM

      Hi Riley,

      A 14-day pass will be worth it, just make sure you’re back in Tokyo when it expires. As you likely know, the JR Pass will be of no use in some areas and you’ll have to but a local pass.



      • Riley on April 4, 2019 at 5:49 AM

        Thanks – you’re the best Barry!

        Just one more clarification, to be clear:
        We are definitely getting a 7 day pass to cover Days 9-15.
        We are just not sure whether to extend it by another 7 days for Tokyo -> hakone -> Kyoto as these trains alone don’t make it worthwhile I don’t think, but trips to the bamboo grove or tori shrines etc might tip it over.
        Our trip is 15 days long, so the first airport journey would not be covered either way. Is the 14 days still worth in your opinion?



        • Barry Choi on April 4, 2019 at 11:23 AM

          Riley,

          I’m pretty sure a 14-day pass would be worth it even though the first day won’t be covered. Even from Tokyo to Hakone you can use your pass to get you to Odawara Station and then purchase the discounted Hakone free pass.

          Generally speaking, a 14-day pass is worth it if you do around trip from Tokyo to Hiroshima which you’re doing.



  193. katy shutt on April 6, 2019 at 11:57 PM

    Hi Barry!

    You are a godsend helping everyone with their travel plans! I am travelling to Japan in May. Should I do a JR pass with the below itinerary?

    Tokyo 4 days
    Hakone 2 days
    Kyoto 4 days with day trips to Osaka and Amanohashidate
    Back to Tokyo to fly home

    Was thinking of activating when we leave for Hakone. Thank you so much in advance!!



    • Barry Choi on April 7, 2019 at 10:47 AM

      Hey Katy,

      Yes, a 7-day pass would be worth it as long as you’re back in Tokyo before it expires.



  194. Laurentius Steven on April 8, 2019 at 8:59 AM

    Hi Barry,

    I’m another traveller in need of your help. This is my first time going to Japan and are still debating whether to buy 7 day JR pass or just buy single tickets.

    My itinerary are
    Day 1 : Arriving at Chubu Centrair Airport then going straight to Namba
    Day 2 : Universal Studios
    Day 3: Osaka to Kyoto round trip
    Day 4 : Osaka to Tokyo
    Day 5 : Disney Sea
    Day 6 : Tokyo to Asakusa round trip
    Day 7 : Strolling around Tokyo and flight back at Narita Airport

    Thanks in Advance



    • Barry Choi on April 8, 2019 at 5:57 PM

      Laurentius,

      You’d have to run your route through hyperdia.com to see if a 7-day pass is worth it, but I suspect it won’t.



  195. robyn mathers on April 10, 2019 at 8:07 PM

    Hi Barry,

    I was not planning to get a JR pass as I don’t think there is value. This is my itinerary so far:

    Narita – tokyo – overnight
    tokyo – osaka via Shinkansen, overnight
    travel to Koyasan overnight
    travel to Ryujin Onsen overnight
    Travel to Kii Tanabe
    Walk for 5 days to Kii Katsuura
    Travel Kii Katsuura to Kyoto
    Kyoto for 4 days
    Kyoto to Tokyo. Tokyo for 4 days.

    We will be using some local buses in the Komodo kudo region. I looked at Kansai area pass, but became very confused . I think single ticketing options may be best for us, but would appreciate any insight you have.



    • Barry Choi on April 10, 2019 at 10:19 PM

      Robyn,

      You’re correct, a JR pass would not be worth it, get single tickets and regional passes when appropriate e.g. Koyasan World Heritage Pass



  196. Adam on April 10, 2019 at 8:54 PM

    Hi Barry,

    I just read your post and I have a question. I’m taking my family (of four – kids are 10 and 14) to Japan for 8 days. We are landing in Tokyo (2 days) and than are planning to go to Kyoto (4 days) and back to Tokyo (2 days) for fly back home. Will the JR Pass be worth it and useful (including the in-city travels to different sites) or would you recommend something different.



    • Barry Choi on April 10, 2019 at 10:21 PM

      You might just break even but it depends on how much you use it within cities and if you do any day trips in Kyoto.

      The JR Pass can only be used on JR lines. In Tokyo, thay have a major line that gets you to just about every major tourist attraction but that only benefits you if you’re staying near the JR Yamanote line. In Kyoto, there’s a line that takes you to Nara and a line to Arashiymama, which are useful, but most of the attractions are in areas where you can’t use your JR pass.



  197. Christee on April 14, 2019 at 1:40 AM

    Hi Barry –

    I’ve read through so many of your comments – both here and on another Q – and still didn’t see anything like my situation. We are flying into and out of Osaka. Staying for 7 days and were only visiting Osaka, Nara, and Kyoto. Now on your recommendation I definitely want to squeeze in a visit to Hiroshima/Miyajima. My son is stationed there on Okinawa and seems to think all we will need is passmo or suica cards? Do you agree? I’m now wondering if a regional JR Kansai pass is necessary?

    I’d really appreciate your advice as we’re 2 women traveling on our own and don’t have a huge budget and want to have the easiest, safest, and most affordable means of travel while we are there. Thanks so much for any thoughts/advice!



    • Barry Choi on April 14, 2019 at 1:36 PM

      Hi Christee,

      So a few things here. A 7-day JR pass would only be worth it if you’re FOR SURE going to Hiroshima as well as Nara and Kyoto. You don’t technically NEED a JR pass, but you’d have to buy one way tickets on the shinkansen for your long journeys (mainly to Hiroshima). For short travel which includes to Kyoto and Nara, you can simply use an IC card like your son suggested. In the Kansai region, the IC card brands are ICOCA and PiTaPa which work the same as Passmo/Suica. Note that in Kyoto it may be better to use a Raku bus pass. Japan is a VERY safe country, you won’t have any issues there and there’s always someone who speaks English at the JR stations. Travel is affordable, but long distance travel can add up. E.g. a roundtrip ticket to Hiroshima from Osaka is $190USD which sounds expensive, but considering the distance, it’s pretty reasonable.

      I don’t think you need the Kansai Pass as it doesn’t cover Hiroshima.



    • Christee on April 14, 2019 at 11:31 PM

      Thanks so much Barry! I feel a lot better and really appreciate your help! 🙂



  198. Liz on April 14, 2019 at 6:21 PM

    Hi Barry!
    I’ve been doing my research with hyperdia on transportation for my upcoming trip and I’m fairly sure that a JR or regional pass would not be cost effective but i would be super grateful for your advice. It’s a two week trip. Flying into haneda then Tokyo for two days, Kyoto for three days then hiking kumano kodo for 5 days from kii tanabe to kii katsuura. We then leave from kii katsuura back to haneda. I didn’t see any JR lines on that last leg back to the airport so I don’t think it makes a two week pass worth it. What do you think? Thank you so much for being super helpful



    • Barry Choi on April 14, 2019 at 7:29 PM

      Liz,

      You’re right, the JR pass doesn’t make sense for your itinerary. Just buy one-way tickets as needed.



  199. Kathlyne Velasco on April 14, 2019 at 9:12 PM

    Hi Barry

    We are planning to arrive in Japan in May 2019 and very confused as to whether the JR rail pass is worth getting for 7 days or 14 days.

    Arrive Tokyo Narita Airport and go straight to Osaka on May 9,be back to Tokyo on May 15 and return to Manila on May 20.

    May 9-15 (Osaka,Kyoto)
    May 15-20 (Tokyo)

    Can you please advise.
    Thanking you in advance.



    • Barry Choi on April 15, 2019 at 7:58 AM

      Hi Kathlyne,

      You’d probably just break even with a 7-day JR pass if you activated it right away since you’ll be back in Tokyo within 7days. The JR Pass is of limited used in Osaka, but you can use it to get you to Kyoto, Nara, and any other day trips.



  200. Nina Steiner on April 15, 2019 at 4:49 PM

    Hi Barry – planning my first Japan trip this September with a friend. Been researching JR train pass for awhile and got kind of confused. Arrive in Tokyo (2 nights) then Kyoto (5 nights) and Osaka (5 nights) and return to Tokyo (2 nights). Planning lots of day trips for the entire time. Thinking of a 14-day pass and trying to figure out the advantage of Green Pass. Any insights on this would be greatly appreciated.



    • Barry Choi on April 15, 2019 at 5:11 PM

      Nina,

      The 14-day pass is only worth it if you’re going as far as Hiroshima and back to TOkyo so keep that in mind. The green pass doesn’t offer good value in my opinion, just get the regular versions.



  201. Nina Steiner on April 15, 2019 at 5:16 PM

    So I guess the single bullet trains from Tokyo to Kyoto, Kyoto to Osaka and Osaka to Tokyo (with side trips) is less expensive than JR pass? Not sure about going to Hiroshima, but for sure Nara, Asakusa and Onsen. Thanks for the advice to get regular pass if that’s the route I take



    • Barry Choi on April 15, 2019 at 5:28 PM

      Nina,

      Based on your current itinerary, one way tickets would be cheaper. Note that from Kyoto to Osaka or Nara you can take a regular train.



  202. Nina on April 15, 2019 at 6:33 PM

    Thanks much, Barry



  203. Jo on April 17, 2019 at 8:21 AM

    Barry I can’t even believe how generous you are with your replies, thank you!! I’m going to add one too and see if you recommend saving quite a bit by not getting a 14 days JR Pass!! We will be 3 adults, 2 children, arrive Narita night of May 23rd and leave Narita night of June 6 unfortunately 15 days so wouldn’t get to airport and back on the 14 day JR Pass anyway. Was thinking 4 nights Toyko, 4 nights Kyoto, 4 nights Osaka, 2 night Toyko, so not sure whether to shave a day off one place and get a 7 day pass, stick to a 14 day pass or if I even need one now?! Would love your advice, thanks in advance!



    • Barry Choi on April 17, 2019 at 3:17 PM

      Hi Jo,

      You’d actually have to shave 2 nights for the 7 days as it would be 4 nights + 2 nights = 6 nights, depart on day 7.

      I wouldn’t shave this just for the sake of cutting costs. For example, if you made a day trip to Hiroshima sometime during your days in Kyoto/Osaka, then the 14day pass would likely pay for itself. There’s a good chance you’ll end up going to Nara too where you can use the pass.

      If you don’t want to go to Hiroshima, just buy one-way tickets and don’t worry about the JR Pass



  204. Adrianna on April 18, 2019 at 10:35 PM

    Hello Barry! Wow I just found your website and can’t believe how nice you are with helping everybody lol!
    Good on you!

    I was hoping you can help me as well…
    My boyfriend seems to be convinced we need the JR pass but I’m unsure.
    We fly to Haneda airport and then:
    – 4 nights in Tokyo
    – 3 nights in Kanazawa
    – 3 nights in Kyoto
    – 2 nights in Osaka and then fly back from Haneda.

    What do you recommend? he seems to think we can use the JR pass to use it locally in each of these cities…

    Many thanks for your help!



    • Barry Choi on April 19, 2019 at 7:38 AM

      Hey Adrianna,

      Based on your route, I don’t think a 7-day or 14-day pass would be worth it. You’d be out of Tokyo for 8days so that right away eliminates the value of the 7-day pass. With a 14-day pass, you usually need to go as far as Hiroshima for the value to be worth it. I don’t recall the cost of going to Kanzawa, but I’m pretty sure when you add everything up, a 14-day pass isn’t worth it.

      You can use the JR pass on SOME lines locally but it can be limited. e.g. in Tokyo it’s of good use IF you’re staying near a JR line. You could say the same about Osaka but again, you’d need to stay near a JR line. Kyoto only has 2 JR lines that will get you to Nara and Arashiyama, but not to the other major attractions. I haven’t been to Kanazawa so can’t really comment there.



  205. Eric Ramos on April 21, 2019 at 7:06 AM

    Hi Barry, We are going to Japan this May. Here’s our itinerary,

    Will arrive Osaka on 10th May and will stay there for 4 days with a side trip to Kyoto. Then we will go to Tokyo and stay another 4 days. Do you think it is worth it to buy JR Pass or a one way ticket from Osaka to Tokyo will do? Thank you.



    • Eric Ramos on April 21, 2019 at 7:16 AM

      Additionally, we will fly home from Tokyo.



      • Barry Choi on April 21, 2019 at 1:24 PM

        Eric,

        Buy one-way tickets



  206. Renato Boschiero on April 22, 2019 at 1:46 AM

    Hi Barry we are flying into Osaka on the 16th May and using this as our base / we would like to go ton day trips as well as see lots of Osaka on walk tours/ not sure if 7 day pass is feasible/ day trips we would do would be Kyoto probably 2 days / Hiroshima 1 day /miyajima 1 day//mt Koya 1 day / HomeKit castle// if we would go to Tokyo it would be 1 day quick trip to use the bullet train but probably not this time but next trip to japan / do you think buying passes or the 7 day pass would work as this requires using it from airport / we are there for 11 days. Thanks



    • Barry Choi on April 22, 2019 at 9:37 AM

      Renato,

      You’d probably come out ahead if you were able to do your travel to Hiroshima, Himeji, and Kyoto within 7-days. Ideally, you would use the pass for one of your journeys to or from the airport too.



  207. Brianna on May 2, 2019 at 4:05 AM

    Hi Barry!
    We’ll be in Tokyo for 7 days, then heading to Osaka for 6, Nagoya for 5, then we’ll be travelling back to Tokyo but we’re making a stop in Yamanshi for a few days.
    Would getting a JR pass (we’re thinking a 14 day pass) be worth it? Since we are doing a round trip. We were thinking of just getting generic trains around, but then we might spend a lot of time travelling.



    • Brianna on May 2, 2019 at 4:06 AM

      forgot to add we are also planning on doing day trips to Kyoto from Osaka and possibly from Nagoya (we haven’t done a lot of day trip planning so far though)
      We’ve realised there isnt a whole lot to do in Nagoya so we might be doing a fair few day trips while we’re staying there.



      • Barry Choi on May 2, 2019 at 7:49 AM

        Brianna,

        Nagoya really has nothing to see so you’ll be making constant day trips. I’m assuming your staying with friends hence why you’re staying there as your base instead of say Kyoto?

        As for if a 14 day pass is worth it, it really depends on how many day trips you’ll be doing. You need to run your exact route through hyperdia.com and then compare the cost of 1-way tickets to the cost of a 1-day pass to see if it’s worth it.

        Generally speaking, a 14-day trip is only worth it if you’re making a return trip from Tokyo to Hiroshima. If you’re constantly going back and fourth, it make sense still to get a 14-day pass but you’ll be wasting a lot of time in transit each day.



  208. Ce on May 2, 2019 at 3:05 PM

    Hello Barry,

    I stumbled onto this site and was looking for info on JR passes. I will be flying into Haneda in Nov. I’m thinking of going to Japan for a maximum of 7 days. Maybe 3/4 nights in Tokyo, 2 nights in Kyoto (don’t think I can squeeze in Osaka but would like to) and back to Tokyo to fly out of Narita. Do you think the 7 day JR pass is worth it?

    Thanks!



    • Barry Choi on May 2, 2019 at 4:37 PM

      Ce,

      If you’re in and out of Tokyo within 7 days and going as far as Kyoto, you’ll likely just break even. Don’t forget to use your JR pass from Haneda and try to find a hotel near a JR line in Tokyo to maximize the use of your pass.



  209. Alyssa on May 7, 2019 at 1:39 PM

    Hi Barry – You’re a wonderful resource for all of us trying to determine if a JR pass is worth it. Thank you so much for sharing your insights!

    We are traveling the following route – and wondering if a JR pass would make sense?
    May 19 Tokyo to Hakone
    May 21 Hakone to Kyoto
    May 26 Kyoto to Kii Tananbe
    May 31 Kii Katsura to Hakone
    June 1 Hakone to Tokyo

    Thank you!



    • Barry Choi on May 8, 2019 at 8:27 AM

      Alyssa,

      I’m not familiar with some of those areas so I can’t say exactly for sure if the pass is worth it or not. Just run your route through hyperdia.com and then compare the costs of 1-way tickets to a 14-day pass.



  210. Ann on May 16, 2019 at 12:38 AM

    Hi! i just found this post as i was searching about the Japan Rail Pass.

    I’m going to be in Tokyo for about 7 days with my sister. Arriving & departing from Haneda to Tokyo. We are thinking of doing a day trip to Osaka / Nara during our stay since we are going to be based in Shinjuku for the entirety of our trip.

    My question is which shinkansen line can we use & that is covered by the JR pass? From what i understand, we would need to take the Tokaido Shinkansen line, but are only covered for the Hikari & Kodama trains?? Thanks in advance!



    • Barry Choi on May 16, 2019 at 7:48 AM

      Ann,

      A JR pass gets you on ALL JR lines. However, you can’t board NOZOMI / MIZUHO / HAYABUSA trains. That shouldn’t be an issue as another train comes quite frequently. Just plan your route via hyperdia.com. Note that with Osaka, you want to go to Shin-Osaka since that’s the Shinkansen stop.



  211. Torrance Liew on May 20, 2019 at 8:04 AM

    Hi Barry,

    Im heading to Japan in October and I got really confused to compare whether is it worth to take the 7D JR pass. Appreciate if you could advise me.

    Day 1 & 2 – Osaka
    Day 3 & 4 – Kyoto
    Day 5 – Mt Fuji
    Day 6 – 8 – Tokyo

    I believe one way route it is more likely to use individual tickets. But what about the impact to travel within the local region?

    Really appreciate a lot in advance for your advise! ;))))



    • Barry Choi on May 20, 2019 at 8:17 AM

      Torrance,

      One-way tickets on the shinkansen would be cheaper. Just use an IC card for local transit



      • Torrance Liew on May 20, 2019 at 9:04 AM

        Thanks Barry! The JR pass does not cover most of the public transport within the locals which required to hop around the tourist attractions which would incur additional cost. Am I right? ;)))))



        • Barry Choi on May 20, 2019 at 9:14 AM

          The JR Pass just covers JR lines which is limited outside of Tokyo. More importantly, the 7-day pass is only really worth it if you’re doing a return trip from Tokyo to Kyoto which you’re not.



          • Torrance Liew on May 20, 2019 at 9:23 AM

            Alright, this clears my doubt!

            Thank you so much for solving this dilemma for me! ;)))))



  212. Amanda Lam on May 21, 2019 at 4:49 AM

    Hi Barry,

    My family and I are flying into Tokyo at Narita Airport and staying in Shinjuku (stay 5 days in tokyo) then going to Osaka (stay 5 days) one of the 5 days at Osaka will be a day trip to Kyoto and back to Osaka. We then have to make our way back to Tokyo Narita airport and thinking of taking the plane from Osaka to Tokyo Narita directly. Do you think that this is the best way for us? And is getting the JR Pass for the trips in between worth it?

    Thanking you for your help in advance!



    • Barry Choi on May 21, 2019 at 7:59 AM

      Amanda,

      You’ll probably save time by taking the train vs. flying. Costs likely won’t be much different. You could buy a JR Pass and activate it when you’re gone for the 5 days as you’ll be back in TOkyo within the 7-day period. That being said, I suspect you’d come just under the value of a 7 day pass so it may be cheaper to just buy one way tickets.

      Are you doing any other trips while in Osaka e.g. to Hiroshima, Nara, etc?



      • Amanda Lam on May 27, 2019 at 5:19 AM

        Hey Barry,

        Thanks for your quick reply! ok great thank you! This was really helpful for us to make our final decisions and bookings.

        Unfortunately no, from Osaka we’re only planning to do Kyoto for a day as we might not have enough time I believe a full day will be taken up in Universal Studios Osaka – leaving only 3 more days to see Osaka.. (not counting the day in Kyoto).

        Thanks again Barry for your help – this platform is a great idea and of so much help!!

        Cheers!

        Amanda



  213. jesse chen on May 22, 2019 at 8:27 AM

    Hi Barry,

    I’m planning to go japan, have booked flights to tokyo and am looking to stay there for roughly 1 week, then heading to kyoto for roughly 1 week, then osaka for just less than one week as we head back to tokyo to catch flight back. During the times at osaka or kyoto I’m thinking of going to kobe and nara for like a day trip. overall my trip is 20 days, and in your opinion would you recommend getting a JR pass.



    • Barry Choi on May 22, 2019 at 1:54 PM

      Jesse,

      It just depends on if you plan on doing any trips beyond Nara and Kobe. Generally speaking, a 14-day pass is worth it if you can do a return trip from Tokyo to Hiroshima within 14 days. If you think you’ll go to Hiroshima, then the JR pass is worth it.

      The JR Pass has limited use in Osaka and Kyoto depending on where you’re staying so you’ll need to supplement with an IC card for local travel.



  214. Chino on May 26, 2019 at 1:46 AM

    Hi Barry,

    Thank you for helping us clueless soon to be visitors to Japan, you are a good man, keep it up.

    I wonder if you can help me, my plan right now is this:

    DAY1: arrival Osaka
    DAY2: Osaka- Nara halfday, Osaka exploration
    DAY3: Kyoto
    DAY4: Kyoto
    DAY5: Osaka
    DAY6: Osaka

    I am wondering if its better to get the Kansai Pass, or to just buy single journey tickets when i get there?

    Also, if you can give any other tips, it will surely be appreciated. Cheers!



    • Barry Choi on May 26, 2019 at 11:57 AM

      Hi Chino,

      It costs 800 yen one-way to get to Nara from Osaka and about 560 yen to get to Kyoto on a regular commuter train so I doubt a Kansai pass will be worth it.



      • Chino on May 26, 2019 at 11:47 PM

        Thank you for the heads up Barry, appreciate it. So, if you will suggest the best way to do it, is to just get single tickets every time I need to go somewhere in that area, even inter-city? Cheers!



        • Barry Choi on May 27, 2019 at 7:48 AM

          Chino,

          Since you’re not doing any long distance travel, you can likely just use your local IC card for everything. That being said, buying an airport express ticket from the airport might be a better value and there’s also a bus pass in Kyoto that is good value.



          • Chino on May 31, 2019 at 9:36 PM

            Thank you very much for the advice Barry 🙂



  215. Skylar on May 27, 2019 at 6:18 AM

    Hi Barry,

    Thank you for all your advance you have given above. I have read through but haven’t found the information that applied to me. There are currently 2 of us travelling and our plan is –

    DAY 1, 2, 3: Arriving at Tokyo (Haneda)
    DAY 4, 5: 6: Leaving Tokyo and going to Kyoto + Osaka
    DAY 7: Back to Tokyo (Haneda)

    Would the JR Rail pass be worth it? How would you recommend splitting up the 3 days in Kyoto and Osaka?

    Thank you so much!



  216. Lynda on May 27, 2019 at 10:03 PM

    Hi Barry,
    I’m not sure whether a JR pass would be with it for me travelling in September. It will be my first time in Japan and I am freaking out about all the different trains I would need to catch. I’ll be in Japan for roughly 13 days. Would you be able to help guide me in the right direction 🙂

    Fly into NRT at night and need to catch a train to Tokyo
    4 days in Tokyo
    2 days in Hakone
    3 days in Kyoto
    3 days in Osaka
    1 day in Hiroshima

    I’m reading too many forums and am getting confused.

    Please help.

    Many thanks, Lynda



    • Barry Choi on May 28, 2019 at 8:06 AM

      Lynda,

      Where are you flying home from? If you’re returning to TOkyo from Hiroshima to get home, then a 14-day pass is worth. Just make sure it’s still active when you return to Tokyo.

      Taking the trains are actually quite easy if you go to Hyperdia and put in your route, it tells you the EXACT time and train platform to take.

      If you have iphone, download the hyperdia app. If you use Android downloand Japan trains. Both will give you all the directions you need.

      Also, just familiarize yourself with the train stations you need to go to. E.g. in Osaka there’s Shin-Osaka which is the bullet train station and then a regular Osaka station.



      • lynda on May 29, 2019 at 12:45 AM

        Hi Barry,

        Thank you for replying back 🙂 I will be flying home from Osaka Airport.

        Thanks for the app help. I will download that one.

        Many thanks,
        Lynda



  217. James on June 6, 2019 at 7:29 AM

    Hi Barry,

    Thank you for all the useful information. My girlfriend and I are flying in to Sapporo from the UK and spending 4 days there before flying to Osaka. We then have 4 days in Osaka, 4 days in Kyoto before spending our last 10 days in Tokyo and flying from Haneda.

    Based on what I have read, I planning on not buying the JR rail pass as we only have one long journey (Kyoto to Tokyo). Would you agree with this?

    Would the best approach be to buy an IC card on arrival in Sapporo and then use that for the rest of trip? Can that card be used to purchase the shinkansen journey from Kyoto to Tokyo?

    Many thanks,

    James



    • Barry Choi on June 6, 2019 at 8:24 AM

      Hey James,

      I’m in total agreement with you to go with one way tickets. The only exception is if you know for sure you’re going to add in Hiroshima to your journey. You could basically depart Osaka, do Kyoto and Hiroshima in your four days and then make it to Tokyo in 7-days which should make a 7-day JR pass worth it.

      IC cards are for local travel. With Shinkansen, you have to buy a physical ticket (at any JR station with an office).



  218. Mary on June 11, 2019 at 3:26 PM

    Hi Barry!

    I’m so glad I came across this post as I am starting to plan for our first Japan trip for this November! Everything I read here is super helpful but I just wanted to get your thoughts as well on whether we should pass on the JR pass as it doesn’t seem worth it for us based on our itinerary below? If so, should we just only buy one way passes and other local transportation cards (IC card,etc) instead? Per HyperDia, it looks like it’s not worth it to get a JR pass. I just want to make sure that I am calculating all of this correctly and have a clear understanding of what the cheapest option would be for us. We will be in Japan for 15 days. Would you mind taking a look at our itinerary below?

    Day 1: Fly into Osaka (KIX)
    Day 2: Osaka
    Day 3: Osaka -> Kyoto -> Osaka
    Day 4: Osaka -> Nara -> Osaka
    Day 5: Osaka -> Hakone
    Day 6: Hakone -> Tokyo
    Day 7-12: Tokyo
    Day 13: Tokyo -> Osaka
    Day 14: Osaka
    Day 15: Fly home from Osaka (KIX)

    Any help and tips is greatly appreciated as it is a bit overwhelming trying to plan out the transportation piece of this trip.

    Thank you so much in advance!
    -Mary



    • Barry Choi on June 11, 2019 at 8:00 PM

      Hey Mary,

      YOur calculations are right, a JR pass wouldn’t be worth it. A 14-day pass could be worth it if you add Hiroshima to your itinerary, but I can see you’re already quite busy.

      One thing to note, Kyoto is quite large and you won’t see everything in one day. You may want to budget two days there.



  219. Ivon on June 14, 2019 at 5:28 AM

    Hi Barry,
    I have bought a 5 days JR West. If i activate it on 16 June at 10 pm, the pass will end on 21 june 10 pm OR it will end on 20 june midnite?

    Thx in advance
    Ivon



    • Barry Choi on June 14, 2019 at 7:42 AM

      Hi Ivon,

      It would expire at midnight on Kine 20th.



  220. vijay on June 18, 2019 at 11:14 AM

    Hi Barry,

    How are you. Thank you for kind help.

    I’m traveling with my 2 teenage sons. My itinerary looks like this.

    29 June ………….arrive in Narita
    Narita to Tokyo
    Tokyo to Odawara
    30 June……………Odawara to Hakone back to Odawara
    1 july………………..Odawara to Hakone back to Odawara
    Odawara to Tokyo
    2 July………………..Tokyo ( full day)
    3 July ……………….Tokyo ( half day) then to Narita
    4 July ……………….flying out from Narita.

    I’m an easy traveller . Would like to take my time to travel. would like to experience the Shinkansen with my boys. what will be the best choice.
    thanks



  221. Wolfgang on June 24, 2019 at 3:23 AM

    Hi Barry,
    did a bit of calculation, but somehow still not totally sure – so, just wanna get your confirmation.
    We are going to arrive in Tokyo, stay 5 days in Tokyo and then have the following rides.

    – maybe one daytrip to Nikko – where we would probably activate the 7 day JR pass (if we get one) – or 1 day later
    – one or two days later go to Hakone from Tokyo (second possibility to activate pass)
    – next day go from Hakone to Kyoto
    – maybe a day trip from Kyoto to Himeji
    – 3 days later from Kyoto to Osaka
    – 2 days later from Osaka to Kansai

    We then come back to Haneda 6 days later and stay one more night in Tokyo and fly the next morning out of Narita.
    I believe only a 7 day pass for the major trips might make sense. When I calculated the fares for all trips it was close to the amount a 7 day pass costs, probably a bit less. Can you confirm that? Or could even a 14 days pass make sense?
    And also – Would it make it easier if we had the JR pass in terms of admin – buying tickets, etc.?

    Thanks a lot,
    Wolfgang



    • Barry Choi on June 25, 2019 at 7:39 AM

      Hi Wolfgang,

      Your calculations are correct. Generally speaking, you need to make a roundtrip from Tokyo to Kyoto and you’ll be about even.

      Buying a pass makes things easier since you don’t need to buy individual tickets and you can use it for any local JR lines.

      That said, if you’re not staying near a JR line in Tokyo, you won’t be using your pass. Plus as you mentioned, you’d only activate it when you leave. Buying one way tickets on the Shinkansen is pretty easy since people in the JR office speak English. For any local travel including from Kyoto to Osaka, you can use an IC card.



  222. Wolfgang on June 27, 2019 at 4:02 PM

    Thanks a lot for this Barry – very much appreciated & also put the IC card back on my radar!



  223. janey lee on July 1, 2019 at 12:09 PM

    hi barry, hoping u can help me out. we’re planning a trip in aug and based on what i read from u so far…it seems getting individual tickets will be better vs. the pass, can you please confirm?

    Passengers: 4
    Tokyo – 3 nights
    Kyoto – 3 nights.
    Departing from Kyoto to Kansai airport.

    Thanks!



    • Barry Choi on July 1, 2019 at 2:57 PM

      Janey,

      I can confirm that 1 way tickets would better



  224. Janey Lee on July 1, 2019 at 7:54 PM

    thank you so much!



  225. angie on July 9, 2019 at 10:18 PM

    Hey there! We are traveling to Japan for 2 weeks:
    Arrive in Tokyo Friday night.
    Plan to take the bullet train to Hakone, spend 3 nights there.
    Then Bullet train to KYOTO, spend 3 nights there.
    Then back to Tokyo for the remaining 7 days.

    Does it make sense to buy the 7 day JR pass and the Hakone Free pass, then buy a different type of transportation for the last 7 days in Tokyo? Or should we get a 14 day pass?

    If we go for the 7 day HR pass, what should we get for the 7 days in TOKYO? We want to go to PUROLAND and possibly Disneyland…make day trips within 1 hours distance within those last 7 days. THANKS!



    • angie on July 9, 2019 at 10:21 PM

      also, its 2 adults and 1 child. We dont want to spend all our time on commuting places. Also, my daughter isnt the best traveler….so convenience is a must!



    • Barry Choi on July 10, 2019 at 6:38 AM

      Angie,

      Since you’ll back in TOkyo within 7 days, you’ll probably just break even or come in just under with a 7-day pass. With Hakone, you’ll still need the Free Pass and when you’re back in TOkyo, use an IC card.



  226. MAUREEN CADJEW on July 12, 2019 at 4:23 PM

    Hi. I will be arriving in Tokyo (Haneda) on a Monday Afternoon- staying 2 nights then travel to Kyoto (Wednesday) for 2 nights hoping to do a day trip to Osaka, returning to Tokyo for one night (Friday) to fly out of Haneda to Misawa on a Saturday morning. I am meeting up with a US Citizen already in Japan, however this person is there with the US Military. Is the JR Pass beneficial for me to purchase and what are my options with my traveling companion that I will be meeting in Tokyo? Any help or direction will be greatly appreciated.



    • Barry Choi on July 12, 2019 at 8:18 PM

      Maureen,

      You’ll probably just break even with a 7-day JR pass, but it might actually be cheaper to buy one way tickets on the shinkansen. For local travel for you and your companion, just use a Pasmo or Suica card.



  227. Andree on July 18, 2019 at 4:38 PM

    Hi Barry – thank you so much for answering everyone’s questions! Clearly we are all very confused haha
    Hoping you can help me out. My husband and I are traveling to Japan for 9 days/8 nights:
    (day 1) HND – Tokyo
    staying near Ebisu station, which I believe is on the JR Yamanote Line. So I assume we can use the JR to get around for those first two days…
    (day 3) tokyo – kyoto
    explore kyoto
    (day 6) kyoto – tokyo
    undecided where we will stay yet, either near nezu station or shinagawa station.
    (day 9) tokyo – HND

    I assume we DO NOT need the JR pass given our itinerary? If so:
    – which metro card should we buy for use in Tokyo/Kyoto? And do we purchase it there?
    – is the metro card usable in both tokyo & kyoto? or do you need different cards for different cities?
    – should i just buy our train ticket to kyoto separately?

    Thank you so much !!



    • Barry Choi on July 18, 2019 at 8:12 PM

      Andree,

      It sort of depends. If you plan on going to say Hiroshima during one of your days in Kyoto, you could get a 7day pass. If you’re not headed there, just buy one way tickets on the Shinkansen. For local transit in Tokyo and Kyoto, you can use any IC card so just get a Pasmo or Suica when you land in Tokyo. Note that Kyoto has a Raku bus that’s aimed at tourists where you can buy a pass, that may be a better bet some days depending on your itinerary.

      I love the Ebisu area in Tokyo, it’s quite quiet and there’s a Shake Shack. It’s also walking distance to Daikanyama which is a really cool neighbourhood to explore if you have extra time.



      • Andree Cor on July 19, 2019 at 9:28 AM

        Thanks so much Barry!



  228. Wilson on July 30, 2019 at 11:40 PM

    Hi Barry,

    Good day!

    Could you advise the trip as below :-

    25/12 Arrived at Tokyo
    26/12 Tokyo
    27/12 Tokyo
    28/12 Nagoya
    29/12 Nagoya
    30/12 Osaka
    31/12 Osaka
    1/12 Kyoto
    2/12 Kyoto
    3/12 Nagoya
    4/12 Nagoya

    Please advise. Thank you.

    Best regards



    • Barry Choi on July 31, 2019 at 9:24 AM

      Wilson,

      A JR pass won’t be of much value for you on that route.



  229. Renee L Garza on August 2, 2019 at 5:00 AM

    Hello Barry,

    I’m glad to know that there is someone who is familiar with JR pass. we are going to be in Japan in early October. we land in
    Tokyo, and head out to Osaka, then up to Kyoto, then back to Tokyo. will the JR pass cover all the expenses for unlimited rides on the JR trains and shinkansens? we plan to ride the Shinkansen to get to the other cities in Japan. Any guidance would be greatly appreciated.



    • Barry Choi on August 2, 2019 at 8:25 AM

      Renee,

      Without knowing your days and what else you plan on seeing, I can’t really say if it’s worth it or not. a 7-day pass would only be worth it if you went to Osaka and back from Tokyo. Run your itinerary through Hyperdia.com and then compare the cost of a one-way ticket to the pass and you’ll have your answer.



  230. Rohan Pinto on August 2, 2019 at 7:13 AM

    Hi Barry ,

    I can see That you are of Great Help , I wil be visiting Japan end of November 2019.

    Plan is to spend 11 days and 12 nights (flight tickets booked to arrive Kansai 27th NOV night-return from Haneda 08dec late night ) : arrive Kansai in the night ( stay in Osaka or Kyoto).. Spend time with in the region with day trip to Nara etc Probably 3 to 4 nights (including arrival night ).. Travel to Hiroshima 1 night 2 days then travel to Hakoney (view Mt Fiji) for a night .. and rest of the days in Tokyo (with possible day trips too in the region) .. before returning from Haneda airport .

    based on this itinerary can I opt only a 7 day Jr pass instead of 14 days.. if yes when would you think its Ideal to activate , is it on the day I intend to leave from (Osaka or Kyoto) to Hiroshima ?

    need your input ..Thank you so much.



    • Barry Choi on August 2, 2019 at 8:22 AM

      the 14-day pass likely won’t be worth it.

      I suspect the 7day pass will be worth it as long as you do Hiroshima and get to TOkyo within 7days.

      You can run your itinerary through Hyperdia.com to double check.



  231. Renee L Garza on August 2, 2019 at 12:54 PM

    This is our schedule:
    We arrive at Narita airport on the 4th of October.
    We head out to Osaka Oct 5-7
    Go over to Kyoto Oct 7-10
    Back to Tokyo 10-13



    • Barry Choi on August 2, 2019 at 1:24 PM

      Renee,

      One way tickets will probably be cheaper.



  232. Emily on August 5, 2019 at 2:23 PM

    Hi Barry,

    I read through most of your questions and didn’t see one relating to this.

    If I validate my 7 day JR rail pass on Monday, September 9th will it still be valid for use on Monday, September 16th or will I have to travel on the Sunday September 15th?

    Thank you in advance for your response!

    Emily



    • Barry Choi on August 5, 2019 at 8:17 PM

      Hi Emily,

      Day 1 starts as soon as you activate the card so it would expire on Sunday the 15th.



  233. Akshaya on August 17, 2019 at 6:10 AM

    Hello barry ,

    We are travelling to japan in october and this is our itenary :

    We fly to the kansai airport and leave from the narita airport.

    Osaka-1 day
    kyoto- 4 and a half days
    kinosaki onsen-2 days
    tokyo- 4 days

    Which JR pass would you recommend on taking?

    Thanks
    Akshaya



    • Akshaya on August 17, 2019 at 6:15 AM

      We plan on doing day trips from kyoto as well .



    • Barry Choi on August 17, 2019 at 7:58 AM

      Akshaya,

      It really depends on what day trips from Kyoto you plan on doing. E.g. if you’re going to Hiroshima and then you can make it to Tokyo within 7-days, then the 7-day JR pass would be worth it. Now if you only plan to go to say Nara or Himeji, I’m fairly positive you’re better off buying one way tickets.

      That said, I don’t know what the cost of train tickets to Kinosaki is so you need to run your itinerary through hyperdia.com and then compare the cost of one way tickets vs. a 7-day JR pass. It’s highly unlikely a 14-day pass would be worth it.



  234. Kesslar on August 22, 2019 at 9:00 AM

    Hi Barry,

    Thanks for being so helpful with others! Hoping you can recommend whether JR pass would be worth it for our trip?
    1. Land in Haneda -> travel to Tokyo. Stay 4 nights (including day trip to Hakone)
    2. Tokyo -> Osaka. Stay 4 nights (including day trip to Nara)
    3. Osaka -> Kyoto. Stay 3 nights
    4. Kyoto -> Tokyo. Stay 2 nights (including trip to Disney)
    5. Tokyo -> NRT Airport

    Thanks again!



    • Barry Choi on August 22, 2019 at 9:29 AM

      Kesslar,

      A 14-day pass wouldn’t be worth it unless you plan on doing a side trip to Hiroshima.



  235. James on August 29, 2019 at 8:59 AM

    Hi Barry,

    Looking at the 14 day pass – would you say it was worth it to purchase based on the fact we will be travelling from Tokyo to Kyoto and back along with a journey from Tokyo up to Sendai and back again?
    Would appreciate your help here.

    Many thanks,
    James.



    • Barry Choi on August 29, 2019 at 9:26 AM

      I just ran your route through Hyperdia.com and it the 14day pass would be worth it.



  236. Jonathan on September 2, 2019 at 9:43 AM

    Hi Barry

    Thanks for your comments here – really helpful

    My itinerary is as follows, is the JR pass worth it?

    09 Sep – Land in Osaka Airport. Train direct to Osaka station (Hotel is very close to Osaka central)
    10 Sep – Stay in Osaka
    11 Sep – Stay in Osaka
    12 Sep – Train from Osaka to Tokyo
    13 Sep – Stay in Tokyo
    14 Sep – Stay in Tokyo
    15 Sep – Stay in Tokyo
    16 Sep – Stay in Tokyo
    17 Sep – Stay in Tokyo
    18 Sep – Stay in Tokyo
    19 Sep – Stay in Tokyo
    20 Sep – Stay in Tokyo
    21 Sep – Stay in Tokyo
    22 Sep – Train to Tokyo Narita Airport

    I would like to use the super high speed bullet train 🙂

    Thanks very much in advance!

    Kind regards,

    Jonathan



    • Barry Choi on September 2, 2019 at 8:31 PM

      Jonathan,

      One way tickets would be cheaper than getting a JR Pass. You can take a bullet train from Osaka to TOkyo



      • Jonathan on September 3, 2019 at 3:53 AM

        Thank you, Barry



  237. Jack on September 5, 2019 at 11:04 AM

    Hi Barry,

    My itinerary as follows. Do you think the 14 day pass will be worth it?

    24-Sep Tokyo
    25-Sep Tokyo
    26-Sep Takayama (activate pass)
    27-Sep Kanazawa
    28-Sep Kyoto
    29-Sep Kyoto
    30-Sep Kyoto
    01-Oct Nara
    02-Oct Osaka
    03-Oct Osaka
    04-Oct Osaka
    05-Oct Tokyo
    06-Oct Tokyo
    07-Oct Tokyo
    08-Oct Tokyo
    09-Oct Tokyo (pass ends)
    10-Oct Tokyo
    11-Oct Tokyo

    Many thanks,
    Jack



    • Barry Choi on September 5, 2019 at 1:02 PM

      Jack,

      Please run your route through hyperdia.com, you’ll find out if a pass is worth it or not.



  238. Amy on September 24, 2019 at 5:49 AM

    Hi Barry
    I will travelling with my family to Japan (first time) December this year. What is your best advise on mode of travelling based on following itinerary

    23 Dec – 27 Dec (5D/4N) : Tokyo
    27 Dec – 29 Dec (3D/2N) : Kyoto
    29 Dec – 31 Dec (3D/2N) – Tokyo

    Thank you very much !



    • Barry Choi on September 24, 2019 at 7:39 AM

      Amy,

      It’ll probably be cheaper to just buy one way tickets. That said, if you plan on doing a side trip to say Osaka or Nara when in Kyoto, you’ll probably come out just ahead with a 7-da7 pass if you time it so it’s still active when you go to the airport on your way home.



  239. Lucas on September 25, 2019 at 8:17 PM

    I want to travel from Nagoya to Tokyo on the Chuo line through the mountains. Eg shioriji, Ostsuki, Okaya, Chino, Kombuchizawa. Will my jr pass cover that and how long will take and is there anything particular to look at on the way. thanks, Lucas



  240. Lucas on September 26, 2019 at 1:50 AM

    Thanks. Also Any recommendations for what to do in Akita, Yamagata. I’m looking for things to do in those regions and around them(Like Northern japan) I have The JR pass so I can get on the JR lines. Thanks, Lucas



    • Barry Choi on September 26, 2019 at 9:22 AM

      Lucas,

      I have not been to those regions so I can’t really comment.



  241. Claudia on September 26, 2019 at 1:58 PM

    Hi Barry,

    I will be traveling to japan for a month.

    1 week in tokyo
    2 days in shiojiri
    1 day in mt fuji
    1 week in kyoto
    1 week in Osaka

    And some open space just in case we want to travel somewhere close or relax. which pass do you recommend for us to use ?



    • Barry Choi on September 26, 2019 at 4:57 PM

      Claudia,

      You’d have to run your itinerary through hyperdia.com and compare one-way tickets to the cost of the different passes. If you make a run to Hiroshima, a 14 or 21 day pass might be worth it. But you should double check since you’re not returning to value and that’s typically one of the major costs.



  242. Lucas on October 3, 2019 at 4:05 AM

    I was reading on the JR website that if you are from one of the 67 visa-exempt countries. Eg Australia that you get the visa when you enter Japan. (Tourist Visa). I need the tourist visa to get the JR pass. Is this correct, any help.Thanks, Lucas



    • Barry Choi on October 3, 2019 at 7:49 AM

      Lucas,

      You need to order the pass before you arrive. Once you land, you activate the pass at a JR station where you show your passport and visa. The visa is indeed given upon arrival. **I forgot to mention, since you’re exempt, you probably just need to show your passport to activate your pass.



  243. Lucas on October 3, 2019 at 6:20 PM

    Thanks. so I don’t have to fill the form?



    • Barry Choi on October 3, 2019 at 7:22 PM

      Lucas,

      I’m not sure which form you’re referring to. The JR pass is ordered and delivered to you before you depart for Japan. Once you arrive, you basically exchange/activate it at the office. Since you have a foreign passport, that basically proves you’re eligible for the pass.



  244. Lucas on October 3, 2019 at 7:34 PM

    The Visa application form as it says you need the visa to get the jr pass. Thanks



    • Barry Choi on October 3, 2019 at 8:26 PM

      Lucas,

      When entering Japan, you technically get a visa for 90 days if you’re there for tourism even if you’re from a visa-exempt country. If you’re on a working visa, you wouldn’t qualify for a JR Pass. You need to purchase the JR pass before you depart. What you get is a voucher which you exchange for the pass. JR will simply look for the 90-day “visa” in your passport.



  245. Lucas on October 3, 2019 at 9:08 PM

    Ok thanks so much.



  246. Danielle on October 4, 2019 at 12:30 PM

    Hello,

    We are traveling to Japan with the below itinerary. I’ve researched (probably too much) and can’t decide if it’s worth the money to purchase the JR Pass. We are flying into Osaka and out of Tokyo.

    Kansai Airport -> Osaka
    Osaka -> Kyoto
    Kyoto -> Hakone
    Hakone -> Tokyo
    Tokyo -> Narita Airport

    From my calculations, it doesn’t look like it would be necessary to purchase it, but I wasn’t sure if there would be the opportunity to use it while in Kyoto or Tokyo to possibly make up the difference. I also wasn’t sure if the convenience of not having to purchase train tickets at every stop would outweigh any over-purchase.

    I’m also not sure if we have time to buy it – we leave October 9 🙂 I’ve spent too much time researching.

    Thanks!
    Danielle



    • Barry Choi on October 4, 2019 at 12:36 PM

      Danielle,

      You’re right, it won’t be worth it to get a pass. Getting an IC card will allow you to use local transportation in Osaka, Kyoto, and Tokyo. This is convenient since it’s a reloadable card. In Hakone, you’ll want to buy the local pass. For the Shinkansen, buy one way tickets. It shouldn’t be that hard since the IC cards can be purchased from a machine at just about any train station and it has an English option. The Hakone pass is straight forward and same with the Shinkansen passes. Most people who work at the train station sales offices have a good command of English so I wouldn’t be too concerned.



      • Danielle on October 4, 2019 at 2:22 PM

        Thank you so much! This is very helpful, I appreciate it!



  247. Irene on October 6, 2019 at 5:13 AM

    Hi Barry,

    we will travel to Japan in December. We are flying into Tokyo and also out of Tokyo.
    We will stay for 22/12 until 2 January. Our base will be Tokyo and we are planning to visit places as Kioto, Osaka, Nikko, Hakone even Hirosima (if it’s possible) for one day tours.
    I would like to know if it’s worth to get the card and if you think it’s easy to visit these places with train for a day trip.

    Thanks a lot!
    Irene



  248. Irene on October 6, 2019 at 2:00 PM

    Thank you very much for being so helpful!



  249. Audrey on October 9, 2019 at 11:47 PM

    Hi Barry,

    Saw that your comments were very helpful to many people. Could you kindly help me.
    My friend and I are flying into Tokyo on 31Oct 2019 and out in Osaka 10 Nov 2019. Please provide some insight as to should I get the JR pass? or just get individual?

    My Itinerary are as follows:
    31Oct 1035am – reach Tokyo
    01 Nov – Tokyo DisneySea
    02 Nov – Ksakusa / Sky Tree Sightseeing
    03 Nov – Travel to Shirakawa /Tamaya (stay 1 night)
    04 Nov – Travel to Kanazawa (Stay 1 night)
    05 Nov – Travel to Kyoto
    06 Nov – Kyoto -> Nara / Kobe
    07 NOv – Travel to Osaka
    08 Nov – Osaka Universal Studios
    09 Nov – to Riku Premium Outlet
    10 Nov – To travel to Osaka Kansei Airport

    If needed to get the JR Pass, which date should I start?
    Do I need to get the Icoco card as well in Osaka?
    Any cost efficient way to airport with 4 large luggages in Osaka?

    Thank you very much



    • Barry Choi on October 10, 2019 at 7:53 AM

      Audrey,

      One way tickets will likely be cheaper. Note that travel from Tamaya to Kanzawa is best done by bus. In Tokyo, you’ll need to buy a Suica or Passmo card for local transit which can be used in Osaka / Nara too.

      As for cheap ways to the airport, I’m guessing public transit is your best bet.



  250. Van Galagate on October 10, 2019 at 7:43 AM

    Hi! Just want to ask if a 7-day JR pass is worth for my itinerary.

    Arrive at Osaka- 2 days
    Fly to kyoto – 2 days
    Fly to Tokyo – 3 days
    Will depart from Tokyo to Manila



    • Barry Choi on October 10, 2019 at 7:51 AM

      Van,

      Buy one way tickets