Sample itinerary Four world heritage sites (Shirakawago, Kyoto, Hiroshima and Miyajima), Kanazawa and Kyoto 7 days by Japan Rail Pass

Light-up at Kiyomizu-dera temple
Light-up at Kiyomizu-dera temple
Light-up at Kiyomizu-dera temple
Light-up at Kiyomizu-dera temple

This itinerary includes four world heritage sites, Shirakawa-go, Kyoto, Hiroshima and Miyajima. This also includes two popular sites, Takayama and Kanazawa.

We don’t use Japan Rail Pass for the transfer to downtown Tokyo from Narita airport because most of tourists stay in Tokyo for the first several days. You will start to use your pass from Tokyo station. If you want to learn how to use Japan Rail Pass, please refer to How to use Japan Rail Pass to its maximum.

*The information in this article is current at the time of writing.

Day 1 Tokyo – Nagoya – Takayama

Decoration for Tanabata in Takayama
Decoration for Tanabata in Takayama

07:33am Depart from Tokyo by Tokaido ShinakansenHikari 503”
09:21am Arrive at Nagoya
09:43am Depart from Nagoya by “Wide View Hida 5
12:13pm Arrive at Takayama
After arriving at Takayama, enjoy sightseeing in very traditional Japanese town.
(Overnight in Takayama)

Day 2 Takayama – Shirakawa-go – Kanazawa

Doburoku Festival in Shirakawa-go
Doburoku Festival in Shirakawa-go

08:50am Depart from Takayama for Shirakawa-go by Nohi Bus.
*<> don’t forget to make a reservation. This bus is not included in Japan Rail Pass. The bus fare 2,400yen.
09:40am Arrive at Shirakawa-go
Enjoy sightseeing UNESCO world heritage site Shirakawa-go.
16:50pm Depart from Shirakawa-go for Kanazawa by Nohi Bus
*<> don’t forget to make a reservation. This bus is not included in Japan Rail Pass. The bus fare 1,800yen.
18:05pm Arrive at Kanazawa
(Overnight in Kanazawa)

Day 3 Kanazawa – Kyoto

Kenrokuen Garden in Kanazawa. This is one of three most famous garden in Japan.
Kenrokuen Garden in Kanazawa. This is one of three most famous garden in Japan.

Enjoy exploring downtown Kanazawa in the morning.
13:55pm Depart from Kanazawa for Kyoto by Limited Express “Thunderbird 26”.
16:09pm Arrive at Kyoto
*You can skip free time in Kanazawa and get more time in Kyoto. We have Limited Express “Thunderbird” 07:02am, 08:05am, 08:15am, 09:03am, 09:53am, 10:52am, 11:18am, 11:56am and 12:53pm.
(Overnight in Kyoto)

Day 4 Kyoto

Full day free in Kyoto

Day 5 Kyoto – Shin-Osaka – Hiroshima – Miyajima-guchi – Miyajima

07:39am Depart from Kyoto by Tokaido Shinkansen “Kodama 91”
07:53pm Arrive at Shin-Osaka and transfer to Hikari Rail Star
08:02am Depart from Shin-Osaka for Hiroshima by “Hikari Rail Star 549”
*Don’t forget to reserve a seat for Hikari Rail Star. It has some non reserved seat. But the reserved seat much more spacious than non reserved seat. Please refer to Passenger’s review of Hikari Rail Star.

Light-up at Itsukushima Shrine in Miyajima
Light-up at Itsukushima Shrine in Miyajima

09:34am Arrive at Hiroshima
09:49am Depart from Hiroshima for Miyajima-guchi
10:17am Arrive at Miyajima-guchi and transfer to the ferry to Miyajima. The ferry terminal to Miyajima is 5 minutes away from the station. Please refer to “How to get Miyajima“.
The ferry takes you to Miyajiam in 10 minutes. This ferry is operated by Japan Railway. You don’t need to pay.
After arriving at Miyajima, enjoy sightseeing in Miyajima rest of the day.
(Overnight in Miyajima)
*Most of the accommodations in Miyajima are not cheap. If you want to save, you can stay in downtown Hiroshima. It’s only 45 minutes away from Miyajima.

Day 6 Miyajiama – Miyajima-guchi – Hiroshima – Shin-Osaka – Tokyo

A-Bomb dome
A-Bomb dome

You can move anytime in the morning to Hiroshima. You can even skip a free time in Hiroshima, if you want to stay in Miyajima more.
18:15pm Depart from Hiroshima for Shin-Osaka by “Hikari Rail Star 574”
19:44pm Arrive at Shin-Osaka and transfer to another Hikari for Tokyo
20:23pm Depart from Shin-Osaka for Tokyo by Tokaido Shikansen “Hikari 532”
23:10pm Arrive at Tokyo
*If you want to arrive Tokyo earlier, we have lots of Hikari earlier.

Day 7 Tokyo – Narita airport

Take Narita Express to Narita Airport.

Find your hotels in 218 cities throughout Japan!!!

Best Western Hotel Takayama Well known brand and good location
ANA Crowne Plaza Hotel Hiroshima 5 mins walk from the peace memorials

34 thoughts on “Sample itinerary Four world heritage sites (Shirakawago, Kyoto, Hiroshima and Miyajima), Kanazawa and Kyoto 7 days by Japan Rail Pass”

  1. Hi Takeshi san,

    My husband and I will be travelling to Japan next month, Feb 14 to 25.

    Will be arriving from Haneda airport and departing from Narita airport on 25 Feb.

    I had booked 5 nights hotel in Tokyo already.

    But still not yet book our other days of stay in Japan.

    After Tokyo, we plan to go to Kyoto, Nikko, Nara, Nagano (for skiing), Shirakawa-go, Hiroshima, Miyajima.

    Can you recommend an itinerary for us covering these places?

    Also which area is the best place we need stay to easily travel these places.

    Greatly appreciate your kind reply.
    Thank you so much.

  2. Dear Takeshi / JP Rail,

    I’ll be traveling to Osaka from 6th – 14th Feb 2016.
    I have few places in mind that I wanna visit. But I have no idea on how to arrange my trip.

    Osaka. Kyoto. Takayama. Shirakawa. Kanazawa. Kinosaki Onsen.

    Any day pass that is suit for these places?
    Really need your advise.

    Many thanks,

    1. Hi Ean,

      I think you need to have two rail passes.

      1. Kansai Wide Area Pass for Kinosaki, Osaka and Kyoto

      2. Takayama Hokuriku Area Pass for Takayama, Kanazawa and Shirakawago

      Takayama Hokuriku Area Pass covers Kyoto and Osaka but very limited. It covers also KIX-Osaka/Kyoto. So you may need to use this pass for either arrival or departure day from/to KIX.


      Takeshi /

      1. Hi Takeshi/JPRail,

        Thanks much for your fast response. 🙂

        If I’m planning to only use Kansai Wide Area Pass for Kinosaki, Osaka and Kyoto.

        How can I fully utilise the Pass in the 5 days? Besides Osaka, kyoto & kinosaki… any other places tht I shouldn’t miss during February winter time?

        Really need your recommendations.. thanks. 🙂

  3. Hi Takeshi San

    I will travel 14 days, will use JR pass in 29 june 2016 – 12 July 2016.
    I will be landing in Fukuoka, dan will be take off from Tokyo.
    I don’t want to move to much from city to another city, because I will be travelling my my mom which 68years old.
    My bucket list is alpine route and shirakawago and miyajima.
    but I will visit: nagasaki, hiroshima + miyajima, osaka, kyoto, nara, nagoya alpine route, shirakawago, mt Fuji and tokyo and nearby which can go on the sameday.
    do you think I have enough time for that, maybe you have another suggestion.
    thank you
    I will visit USJ but will skip Disneyland and disneysea.

    1. Hi Josephine san,

      Yes, you can. The time is enough to cover these places.
      You may do some day trips. You can visit Kyoto and Nara from Osaka. And you will visit USJ, so you can stay in Osaka for 4 to 5 nights. It’s much easier to visit these places without luggage.

      Shirakawago can be accessed from Takayama or Kanazawa. So you may add one of these cities. Both are very lovely and highly recommended.

      Fuji can be visited as day trip from Tokyo if you want.

      If you stay in many cities, you can feel many different atmosphere. But if you make many day trips and stay in one place, your trip is easier.


      Takeshi /

  4. Dear Takeshi,

    we ara planing a short retreat from Nagoya in February 2016.
    Our itinerary is as follows:
    Day 1: Nagoya – Takayama
    Day 2: Takayama
    Day 3:Takayama – Shirakawago – Kanazawa
    Day 4: Kanazawa – Nagoya
    Day 5: Nagoya
    Plse advise teh better option if JR pass is available for the whole journey.
    Thank you

  5. Dear Takeshi-San,

    Thank you, I guess this itinerary will maximise benefit of JR pass.
    May I ask for your help to review the following itinerary for my coming family trip (22-30 Nov 2015):

    Day 1 : Arrival at Haneda Airport at 10.30pm
    Day 2 : Tokyo – Hakone – Tokyo
    Day 3 : Tokyo – Nagoya – Takayama
    Day 4 : Takayame – Shirakawago – Kanazawa
    Day 5 : Kanazawa – Kyoto
    Day 6 : Kyoto
    Day 7 : Kyoto – Nara – Osaka
    Day 8 : Osaka – Hiroshima – Miyajima – Osaka
    Day 9 : Osaka – Tokyo (Depart from Haneda Airport at 11pm)

    Is it possible to add in Himeji in Day 7 or 8?
    As luggage might cause us problem, would u recommend going back to overnight in Kyoto on Day 7?

    Thanks in advance for your assistance.

    1. Hi YJun1212 san,

      You can use JR pass from day 3 to the end. Hakone Free Pass is the best choice for day 2.

      I understand you have luggage issue if you go to Osaka from Kyoto via Nara. However if you don’t reach Osaka, you have same issue on day 8. I think Osaka is better choice to stay on day 8.

      Himeji is not impossible to squeeze on day 8, but it’s very tight. And time management is very difficult. If you go to Himeji, you have to drop by HImeji first, Otherwiese you cannot visit HImeji in daytime. But in this case, you will reach Hiroshima in late afternoon. Please see the day trip itinerary at the link below:

      If you really want to visit Himeji, day 9 is better if you are okay with no time in Tokyo.


      Takeshi / JP Rail

  6. Dear Takeshi-San

    Thank you for your advise I have added some destinations in between hope the 14 days pass work for the below:-

    Day 1 & 2 :- Tokyo
    Day 3:- Tokyo to Hiroshima
    Day 4:- Hiroshima to Miyajima
    Day 5:- Miyajima to Kyoto
    Day 6: Kyoto to Arashiyama
    Day 7: Kyoto to Nara
    Day 8: Kyoto to Kanazawa (stopover, is there coin locker to put luggage?) before staying overnight in Takayama
    Day 9:- Takayama to Shirawago
    Day 10:- Takayama to Kamikochi
    Day 11:- Takayama to Uozu
    Day 12:- Uozu to Kurobe Gorge
    Day 13:- Uozu to Tokyo
    Day 14:- Tokyo to Nikko
    Day 15:- Tokyo ( can we still use the JR pass to Ueno )
    Day 16:- Tokyo to Narita

    thank you

    1. Hi Kareline,

      14 days pass will work. You can start to use it on day 3 and it will cover until end of your trip at Narita. This is the best way to use it. You may use some deal for day 1 and 2.

      Any major JR stations have coin lockers. Of course Kanazawa does. But if you intend to use large size locker, usually it’s very limited and sometimes very hard to find empty one.

      I think you can stay in Kanazawa on day 8 and drop by Shirakawago from Kanazawa to Takayama. There are lockers and luggage storage service in Shirakawago. As you probably know, Shirakawago is located between Kanazawa and Takayama. Even if you just drop by Kanazawa on day 8, Kanazawa-Takayama via Shirakawago bus is the best way.


      Takeshi / JP Rail

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