Sample itinerary Tokyo, Kyoto, Osaka and Hokkaido 10 days by Japan Rail Pass 7 days

Clock Tower is Sapporo’s icon.

I have posted the sample itinerary that includes Kyoto, Osaka and Hokkaido before. But at that time, Hokkaido Shinkansen was not open. Current train schedule and operation are completely different from that time. At this time, I revise all train schedule and update the information. And I add many more detailed information and help you to build your plan much more.

In this post, I would like to share this new itinerary. It is 10 days trip plan but I used 7 days JR pass. Local deals are added at the beginning and the end of the trip to shrink the total cost. But mostly JR pass covers the trip. Actually JR Pass 7 days gives you super saving!

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

Day 1 Narita or Haneda to Tokyo

Keisei Railway Skyliner
Keisei Railway Skyliner is the fastest train other than Shinkansen. This is the best way to get Ueno from Narita.

There are many kinds of deals available. Before you choose the deal, you have to make sure which airport you will arrive and which place in Tokyo you will stay. The following links shows you the deals for airport to Tokyo and airport Tokyo with subway ride combo.

The list of deals for access to downtown Tokyo from Narita airport
Tokyo Metro official site, deals for Customers Traveling Between the Airport and Downtown Tokyo

Ueno is very convenient if you arrive in Narita. You can access to Ueno directly by Keisei railway from Narita airport. Especially limited express “Skyliner” is the fastest way to get downtown Tokyo. Ueno is Keisei railway’s terminal station. Ueno is also accessible to Akihabara, Shinjuku, Asakusa, Tokyo Skytree. Average hotel rate is more reasonable than most of places in downtown Tokyo.

Shinagawa is most accessible place in downtown Tokyo from Haneda. You can get Shinagawa from Haneda by Keihin Kyuko railway directly. Average hotel rate is not so reasonable actually. But you can catch Shinkansen to Kyoto at Shinagawa. This is a big asset to stay in Shinagawa. There is no subway station but you can catch JR local trains, such as Yamanote line. You can get Akihabara, Harajuku, Shibuya, Shinjuku Yurakucho (Ginza) directly by Yamanote line.

Day 2 Tokyo

Senso-ji temple and Tokyo Skytree in Asakusa ©Yasufumi Nishi/©JNTO

You may use airport access + subway 24 hours ride pass. In this case, you can use subway pass for sightseeing in Tokyo. But some of you look for the deal to visit the places in Tokyo. The following link gives you some idea to find the best deal.

Guide to take trains in Tokyo. How to choose the best deal and the best route by train to get the major spots?

If you want to stay in Tokyo more, you can extend to stay as many as you want. You start using JR pass when you leave Tokyo and use other deal before that anyway.

Day 3 Tokyo – Kyoto

Kinkakuji temple in Kyoto ©Akira Okada/©JNTO
Kiyomizu-dera temple in Kyoto ©Akira Okada/©JNTO

This is the first day of using JR pass. JR pass can be exchanged in advance. You can exchange JR pass on day 1 when you arrive in airport if you want. There are station or service counter. Once you turn in the actual pass, you can start booking your seat. I recommend you to exchange in advance.

You can take Hikari on Tokaido Shinkansen. Hikari is second fastest train on Tokaido Shinkansen. Nozomi is the fastest but it is not covered by JR Pass. Please see the timetable in the link below. You will find “H” in the timetable that is Hikari.

JR Central official site, Tokaido Shinkansen timetable from Tokyo

If you want to spend the time in Kyoto as much as you can, please try to take the train as early as possible. It takes 3 hours to get Kyoto by Hikari. But when you take Shinkansen, you need to get Tokyo station or Shinagawa station. If you stay near one of these stations, you can take Shinkansen very smoothly. But if you do not stay near these stations, you need to take local trains. You might know how crazy local trains in downtown Tokyo in weekday morning peak hours. Please try to avoid to take local trains between 7:30 and 9:00.

If you stay in Ueno, you may take Shinkansen for the short ride to get Tokyo station. It takes only 5 minutes. You have JR pass and it covers. Some commuters use Shinkansen but it is not crazy busy. You can avoid to take a crazy packed commute train even if you depart in peak hours

After arriving Kyoto, you can take JR trains in Kyoto by JR pass. Please see the link below to get the coverage information in Kyoto at the link below:

Guide to take trains in Kyoto. How to choose the best route by train to get the major spots?

Please remember that JR pass does not cover subway and non JR trains in Kyoto. You can get Arahsiyama, Nijo, Fushimi and Uji, But you need to take subway and/or city bus to get other places in Kyoto such as Gion, Kiyomizu-dera temple, Kinkaku-ji temple (Golden Pavilion), Kurama. Please see the link below to find the information about local deal in Kyoto.

How to choose the best train pass for sightseeing in Kyoto

Sample itinerary
Ueno 08:31 (Yamabiko 204) 08:36 Tokyo 09:03 (Tokaido Shinkansen Hikari 465) 11:49 Kyoto
Or
Shinagawa 09:10 (Tokaido Shinkansen Hikari 465) 11:49 Kyoto

Hikari between Tokyo and Kyoto runs almost every 30 minutes. Please see the link below to find the timetable. Hikari is shown as “H” in the timetable.
Tokaido Shinkansen timetable (westbound)

If you leave after 09:00 am from Ueno, you don’t need to take Tohoku Shinkansen. You can catch a local train too. Trip time is not much different. But Tohoku Shinkansen platform in Ueno station is located in very deep underground. It is not very convenient and local train is easier.

After arrival at Kyoto station, drop off your baggage at your hotel and eat lunch. And then you can start to explore Kyoto. Hotel near Kyoto station is recommended.

Kyoto 13:37 (JR Nara line local train) 13:42 Inari
Inari station is located just in front of Fushimi Inari shrine.

Fushimiinari 15:08 (Keihan Railway / 210 yen extra) 15:14 Kiyomizu-Gojo (Walk 1.7 km / 20 minutes) Kiyomizu-dera temple
Even if you take a bus from Kiyomizu-Gojo station, you need to walk about 1 km. There is no buses to get Kiyomizu-dera directly. If you do not walk or travel with senior, do not hesitate to take a taxi. It costs less than 1,000 yen.

Kiyomizu-dera temple (walk about 2km) Gion
There are sightseeing spots, like Sanneizaka, Ninenzaka between Kiyomizu-dera and Gion. I highly recommend you to walk to Gion. It is very scenic and lots of shops along this route. You may have dinner at Gion area. Gion is one of the biggest downtown core in Kyoto. Enjoy the atmosphere of Kyoto in Gion!

Gion (city bus 15 to 20 minutes ride / 230 yen extra) Kyoto

Day 4 Kyoto – Osaka

Autumn in Arashiyama is breathtaking. ©Akira Okada/©JNTO

You can enjoy sightseeing in Kyoto until late afternoon. After sightseeing in Kyoto, proceed to Osaka. It is very short trip from Kyoto to Osaka. Even if you take commute rapid train, “Special Rapid Service”, it takes only 30 minutes. You can catch even Shinkansen for this short trip. It takes only 10 minutes from Kyoto to Shin-Osaka.

Shin-Osaka is most recommended place to stay in Osaka in my opinion. It is only one station away from Osaka (Umeda) by JR train. You can catch subway to get Namba directly. But subway is not covered by JR pass. Please see the link below to find the coverage of JR pass in Osaka:

Guide to take trains in Osaka. How to choose the best route by train to get the major spots?

Umeda Sky Building is one of popular spots in Umeda area. ©JNTO

I show you the sample itinerary that include Arashiyama, Kinaku-ji temple (Golden Pavilion) and Umeda.

Sample itinerary
Kyoto 09:03 (JR Sagano line local train) 09:12 Enmachi 09:21 (city bus #204 / 230 yen extra) 09:30 Kinkakujimichi (walk 5 minutes) Kinaku-ji temple
You have one hour to view Golden Pavilion.
*Leave your baggage at your hotel and pick up when you leave Kyoto later.

Kinkaku-ji temple (walk 5 minutes) Kinakujimichi 10:59 (city bus #204 / 230 yen extra) 11:08 Enmachi 11:15 (JR Sagano line local train) 11:19 Saga-Arashiyama
You have 4.5 hours in Arashiyama for sightseeing and lunch time. If you want, you can squeeze Sagano Scenic Train (Torokko train). Sagano Scenic Train is not covered by JR Pass.

Saga-Arashiyama 15:48 (JR Sagano line local train) 16:04 Kyoto
Pick up your luggage before you take Shinkansen train when you leave Kyoto.

Kyoto 16:49 (Tokaido Shinkansen Hikari 475) 17:03 Shin-Osaka
You can take earlier or later train. Even if you take Special Rapid train (commute rapid service train), it takes less than 30 minutes to get Shin-Osaka from Kyoto and it runs every 15 minutes. Of course you can take this train by JR pass.
After you arrive in Shin-Osaka, drop off your baggage at your hotel and go to Umeda. Umeda is same location as JR Osaka station. It is only one station away from Shin-Osaka and it takes 5 minutes. Train runs almost every 5 minutes until midnight.

Day 5 Osaka – Tokyo

Dotonbori(道頓堀) is most popular spot in downtown Osaka.
Dotonbori(道頓堀) is most popular spot in downtown Osaka.

You enjoy full day sightseeing in Osaka. You have to leave Osaka for Tokyo because Hokkaido is very far to access from Osaka. But you can stay in Osaka until dinner time. I show you the sample itinerary that includes Kaiyukan Aquarium, Osaka Castle, Dotonbori and Namba. But you can build your own day plan.

Sample itinerary
Before starting trip, please purchase Osaka Kaiyu ticket (2,550 yen) at subway Shin-Osaka station. This deal includes admission for Kaniyukan aquarium and 1 day subway unlimited ride.
Osaka Kaiyu Ticket

Shin-Osaka 09:25 (Osaka Subway Midousuji line) 09:36 Hommachi 09:42 (Osaka Subway Chuo line) 09:53 Osakako (walk 10 minutes) Osaka Kaiyukan Aquarium
Enjoy Aquarium and eat lunch at Tenpozan Market Place.
*Leave your baggage at your hotel before you leave for Tokyo.

Osakako 13:26 (Osaka Subway Chuo line) 13:41 Tanimachiyonchome
Tanimachiyonchome station is located beside Osaka Castle Park. But this park is quite big. You have to walk around 20 minutes to get the castle.

Osaka Business Park 15:41 (Osaka Subway Nagano/Tsurumiryokuchi line) 15:51 Shinsaibashi
Osaka Business Park station is also located beside Osaka castle park. You can get Shinsaibashi directly. After arrival at Shisaibashi, enjoy eat and shop in Dotonbori and Namba.

19:40 (Osaka Subway Midousuji line) 19:53 Shin-Osaka 20:37 (Tokaido Shinkansen Hikari 482) 23:36 Tokyo
Pick up your baggage before you go to Tokyo.
*Hikari runs almost every 30 minutes. This above train is the last Hikari to Tokyo. You can take earlier train if you want to get Tokyo earlier. I just maximize to stay in Osaka. You stay in Tokyo on day 5 but you just stay there and prepare to take early train to Hokkaido next morning.

Day 6 Tokyo – Lake Toya

Lake Toya has nice Onsen resort (C) Toyako Tourist Association / JNTO

It is such a long trip by train. You spend 6 hours on board. After arriving Toyako Onsen (Lake Toya), enjoy lake cruise or walk along the lake shore.

You can skip Lake Toya and stay in Noboribetsu if you want. You make a stop at Noboribetsu next day. But if you stay in Noboribetsu, you can leave Noboribetsu earlier and make some extra time in Otaru or Sapporo.

I do not recommend you to stop at Lake Toya and then move to Noboribetsu on day 6. There are express bus running between Lake Toya and Noboribetsu. But no bus is available after 15:00. If you use train from Lake Toya to Noboribetsu, you have to take local bus to Toya station and then take train. And then you need to take local bus to Noboribetsu. You need to spend extra minutes and waste your time.

Sample itinerary
Tokyo 08:20 (Hokkaido Shinkansen Hayabusa 5) 12:22 Shin-Hakodate-Hokuto 12:34 (Limited Express Super Hokuto 11) 14:09 Toya 14:20 (Donan Bus / extra 330 yen) 14:40 Toyako Onsen

If you skip Lake Toya and stay in Noboribetsu, the itinerary is the following:
Tokyo 08:20 (Hokkaido Shinkansen Hayabusa 5) 12:22 Shin-Hakodate-Hokuto 12:34 (Limited Express Super Hokuto 11) 14:50 Noboribetsu 15:20 (Donan Bus / extra 340 yen) 15:34 Noboribetsu Onsen

Day 7 Lake Toya – Noboribetsu – Otaru – Sapporo

Noboribetsu Jigokudani means hell valley (C) Noboribetsu Tourist Association / JNTO

Leave Lake Toya by express bus for Noboribetsu Onsen. You have a quick stop at Noboribetsu Onsen and see the valley of hell. It is just step away from the bus stop in Noboribetsu Onsen. You also spend a few hours for sightseeing in Otaru.

Otaru Canal (C)Y. Shimizu
Otaru Canal is the highlight of Otaru city. (C)Y. Shimizu

You stay in Sapporo and enjoy the evening there.

Sample itinerary
Toyako Onsen 09:06 (Donan Bus “Express Iburi” / extra 1,700 yen) 10:11 Noboribetsu Onsen 12:00 (Donan Bus / extra 340 yen) 12:12 Noboribetsu 12:35 (Limited Express Super Hokukto 7) 13:48 Sapporo 14:13 (Rapid Airport) 14:45 Otaru 18:30 (Rapid Airport) 19:02 Sapporo

If you skip Lake Toya and stay in Noboribetsu on day 6, you can leave Noboribetsu earlier. The itinerary is the following:
Noboribetsu Onsen 09:45 (Donan Bus / extra 340 yen) 09:57 Noboribetsu 10:09 (Limited Express Hokukto 3) 11:27 Sapporo 11:43 (Rapid Airport) 12:15 Otaru 17:30 (Rapid Airport) 18:02 Sapporo

You can skip Otaru and spend more time in Sapporo if you like.

Day 8 Sapporo – Otaru – Hakodate

Night view form Mt.Hakodate ©Hokkaido Tourism Organization/© JNTO
Night view form Hakodate mountain (C) Hokkaido Tourism Organization / JNTO

You spend the time in Sapporo until late afternoon. The last train to Hakondate is 20:00 departure. However night view from Hakodate mountain is marvelous. I recommend you to arrive Hakodate by 20:00 because Hakodate mountain gondola is operated until 21:00 in winter time and 22:00 in summer time.

The train in the following sample is the latest train to see the night view from Hakodate mountain. And also I recommend you to stay in the hotel near Hakodate station. You can drop off your luggage right after arrival in Hakodate. And catch the taxi to get Hakodate mountain ropeway station.

Sample itinerary
Sapporo 15:39 (Super Hokuto 18) 19:24 Hakodate
Hakodate (10 minutes by taxi / extra fare about 2,000 yen) Hakodate mountain gondola station
*You can take tram to Jujigai from Hakodate station and walk from there to gondola station. You spend 210 yen only but you spend 10 minutes for tram and 15 minutes to walk.

Day 9 Hakodate – Tokyo

Goryokaku is one of the best spots to see cherry blossom in Hokkaido. (C) JNTO

Enjoy sightseeing in Hakodate and leave for Tokyo by Hokkaido.

This is the last day of JR pass. You have to get Tokyo by midnight. There is no overnight trains available either.

Sample itinerary
Hakodate 18:01 (Rapid Hakodate Liner) 18:23 Shin-Hakodate-Hokuto 18:36 (Hokkaido Shinkansen Hayabusa 38) 23:04 Tokyo
I pick the last train to Tokyo. But you can take earlier train. Please check the timetable in the link below:

Hokkaido Shinkansen timetable

You can get off the train at Ueno if you go to Narita on next day.

Day 10 Tokyo to Narita or Haneda

If you use round trip deal on arrival day, you can use the remaining portion. Otherwise single fare is your choice to get the airport.

Cost break down

During 7 days period of JR pass, these following costs are covered by JR pass 7 days at 29,100 yen.

Tokyo – Kyoto one way trip by Shinkansen – 13,600 yen
Kyoto – Fushimi one way trip by local train – 140 yen
Kyoto – Osaka one way trip base fare – 560 yen
Shinkansen seat fee for Kyoto to Shin-Osaka – 2,250 yen (*)
Shin-Osaka – Tokyo one way trip by Shinkansen – 14,140 yen
Tokyo – Toya one way trip by Shinkanansen and Limited Express Hokuto – 25,120 yen
Noboribetsu – Otaru one way trip by Limited Express Hokuto and rapid train – 6,510 yen
Otaru – Sapporo one way trip by rapid train – 640 yen
Sapporo – Hakodate one way trip by Limited Express Hokuto – 8,830 yen
Hakodate – Tokyo one way trip by rapid train and Shinkansen – 23,210 yen
Total 94,910 yen

You can save more than 60,000 yen!

Even if you use 14 days pass at 46,390 yen, it still gives you about 50,000 yen saving. In this sample itinerary, I use 7 days pass and I recommend you to use other deal for day 1, 2 and 10. The extra cost for these 3 days is around 5,000 yen. For example, if you use Keisei Railway Skyliner round trip ticket + Tokyo Subway Ticket 24 hours combo is sold at 4,700 yen. You can get round trip access by high speed access express and 24 hours subway unlimited ride. If you arrive in Haneda, Haneda is much closer to Tokyo than Narita and you will spend lesser. So 14 days pass is still cheaper than actual cost but 7 days JR pass and other deals combination is cheaper than JR pass 14 days.

If you want to make the trip be longer

As I mentioned, even if you use 14 days pass, you have already to get the worth of that by this trip. So you can use 14 days JR pass and add any places. But if you just want to extend your stay in Tokyo, simply add subway ticket on this trip plan. 14 days JR pass is not very efficient in Tokyo and just wasting money.

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