Sample itinerary Tokyo to Osaka plus Nikko and Himeji in 7 days by Japan Rail Pass

Torii gates in Fushimi Inari shrine in Kyoto
Torii gates in Fushimi Inari shrine in Kyoto

7 days JR Pass price is almost same as round trip fare between Tokyo and Osaka by Shinkansen. That means if you have one way trip from Tokyo to Osaka or reverse, JR Pass is not worthwhile using. However if you add some trips when you stay in Osaka and Tokyo, you may use JR pass 7 days.

In this post, I add Nikko and Himeji at the both end to get the worth of JR pass 7 days.

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

Day 1 Narita airport to Tokyo

You can take Narita Express to Tokyo, Shinagawa, Shinjuku or Ikebukuro. Narita Express runs very frequently. Please see the link below to find the timetable.

JR East official site, Narita Express timetable from Narita airport to Tokyo

Of course you can take any JR trains in downtown Tokyo as well. After you get off Narita Express, you can take JR local trains, such as Yamanote line to get the nearest station to your hotel.

Please remember that subway and other Non JR trains are not covered by JR pass.

In this sample itinerary, Ueno is the place to stay. Ueno is four stations away from Tokyo. You need to take local train on Yamanote line. But average hotel rate is quite reasonable. You can take Tohoku Shinkansen directly. Asakusa is very close. Ueno is a good place to stay.

Day 2 Tokyo

You can use JR pass to visit many places in Tokyo. Please see the link below to find the coverage of JR pass in downtown Tokyo.

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

Some of the places in Tokyo cannot be reached by JR pass, such as Asakusa, Odaiba. You may need to add single fare or Tokyo Subway Ticket. If you need to take subway four times or more, think about using Tokyo Subway Ticket. You may find the information about Tokyo Subway Ticket in the link above.

Day 3 Day trip to Nikko from Tokyo

Nikko Toshogu shrine
Nikko Toshogu shrine

You can take Tohoku Shinkansen to Utsunomiya. And then transfer to local train on JR Nikko line. All trips are covered by JR Pass.

Sample itinerary
Ueno 08:34 (Tohoku Shinkansen Nasuno 253) 09:21 Utsunomiya 09:32 (JR Nikko line) 10:21 Nikko
Nikko 17:12 (JR Nikko line) 17:58 Utsunomiya 18:20 (Tohoku Shinkansen Nasuno 280) 19:10 Ueno

You can find the timetable of Tohoku Shinkansen in the links below. It runs very frequently:

JR East official site, Tohoku Shinkasnen timetable from Tokyo
JR East official site, Tohoku Shinkasnen timetable to Tokyo

However the train on Nikko line runs mostly every hour. Please use hyperdia to find the schedule:

Hyperdia perfect guide, train timetable and route search engine

Day 4 Tokyo to Osaka

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 see Osaka, please try to take the train as early as possible. It takes 3 hours to get Shin-Osaka by Hikari. This is only day to spend the time in Osaka.

After arriving Shin-Osaka, you can take JR trains in Osaka. Please see the link below to get the coverage information in Osaka at the link below:

Guide to take trains in Osaka. 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 Osaka either. You can get many places in Osaka but subway is more convenient in many cases. For example, if you stay in Namba, subway is better idea to get there after arriving in Shin-Osaka. You can get Namba from Shin-Osaka by subway Midousuji line directly. But if you take JR lines, you have to change the trains twice, at Osaka and Imamiya stations. You may need to take subway in Osaka. That cost is extra on top of JR pass.

Day 5 Day trip to Kyoto from Osaka

You can take JR trains to Kyoto. Please see JR train network in Osaka, Kyoto, Kobe and Himeji in the link below:

How to transfer among Kyoto, Osaka, Kobe, Nara and Wakayama. Compare Japan Railway and private railways.

You can visit Arashiyama, Nijo, Fushimi Inari shrine and Uji by JR pass. But you need to pay extra fare or buy day pass to get other places, such as Gion by bus and subway. Please see the links below to find the detailed information in the following links:

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

I show you one day sample itinerary to Kyoto from Osaka. That includes Arashiyama, Fushimi Inari, Kiyomizu-dera and Gion.

Sample itinerary
Shin-Osaka 08:16 (Tokaido Shinkansen Hikari 512) 08:31 Kyoto
You can take ordinary train, such as Special Rapid. Most of travelers do not take Shinkansen for Shin-Osaka to Kyoto because it is a short ride and very expensive. But you have JR pass and it covers Shinkansen trips as many as you want. Shinkansen is 15 minutes faster than Special Rapid train.

Kyoto 08:48 (local train) 09:03 Sagaarashiyama
Change the trains at Kyoto station to Arashiyama.

Kyoto station guide. How to transfer among Shinkansen, Kintetsu, Subway and JR local trains.

Sagaarashiyama station is located in Arashiyama. It is not located in the center of Arashiyama but you can walk to most of places in Arashiyama. You have 4 hours for sightseeing and lunch in Arahsiyama.

Sagaarashiyama 13:08 (local) 13:24 Kyoto 13:37 (local) 13:42 Inari
After Arashiyama, proceed to Fushimi Inari shrine. 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.
In my estimation, you stay in Kiyomizu-dera about 1 hour (15:45 to 16:45) and spend 2 hours from Kiyomizu-dera to Gion. If you want to visit more temples from Kiyomizu-dera to Gion, I recommend you to shorten the time in Arashiyama. Some of temples are closed by 17:00. You should leave Arashiyama by 12:00 and make one extra hour after Kiyomizu-dera.

Gion (city bus 15 to 20 minutes ride / 230 yen extra) Kyoto 19:13 (Tokaido Shinkansen Hikari 521) 19:26 Shin-Osaka

You can take later train from Kyoto to Shin-Osaka. You can enjoy the dinner in Gion or Kyoto station before going back to Shin-Osaka. You can catch Shinkansen even around 23:00. Even if you miss Shinkansen, you sill can take local or rapid train. These commute trains run until midnight.

Day 6 Day trip to Himeji and Kobe from Osaka

World Heritage Site, Himeji Castle
World Heritage Site, Himeji Castle

You can take Shinkansen to get Himeji from Shin-Osaka station. Actually you can get Himeji by JR ordinary train but Shinkansen is faster and more comfortable. This is the benefit of JR pass. In this sample itinerary, Shinkansen is used for one way to Himeji only because Shinkansen station in Kobe is Shin-Kobe that is not located in downtown Kobe. Special Rapid train is the choice to get Sannomiya in Kobe from Himeji. Of course Special Rapid is covered by JR pass.

Sample itinerary
Shin-Osaka 09:18 (Sanyo Shinkansen Sakura 549) 09:49 Himeji
After arrival Himeji, you can walk to Himeji castle. It takes about 20 to 30 minutes.

Himeji station guide. How to get Himeji castle from the station

Himeji 12:12 (Special Rapid train) 12:51 Sannomiya
You have half day for sightseeing in Kobe. City loop bus (not covered by JR pass) is very convenient to see the tourist spots in Kobe.

Kobe city loop bus

Sannomiya (Special Rapid) Shin-Osaka
This train runs mostly every 15 minutes. You can stay in Kobe until even midnight if you want.

Day 7 Osaka to Kansai airport

Limited Express Haruka connects Shin-Osaka and Kansai Airport directly. It runs every 30 to 60 minutes from early morning to around 22:00. It is fully covered by JR pass.

Cost break down

Tokyo – Nikko round trip by Shinkansen – 5,580 yen x 2 = 11,160 yen
Tokyo – Osaka one way trip by Shinkansen – 14,140 yen
Osaka – Sagaarashiyama one way trip base fare – 970 yen
Sagaarashiyama – Fushimi one way trip by local train – 240 yen
Kyoto – Osaka one way trip base fare – 560 yen
Shinkansen seat fee for Shin-Osaka to Kyoto round trip – 4,500 yen
Osaka – Himeji one way trip by Shinkansen – 3,740 yen
Himeji – Sannomiya one way trip by Special Rapid – 970 yen
Sannomiya – Osaka one way trip by Special Rapid – 410 yen
Total 36,690 yen

JR Pass 7 days is 29,100 yen. You can save more than 7,000 yen. Even if you do not take Shinkansen between Kyoto and Shin-Osaka, you still can save about 3,000 yen. But actually you can save more. Some of you may notice that I do not include the fare for Narita airpot to Tokyo and Osaka to Kansai airport, and also you may take local train in Osaka and Tokyo. Train trips in Osaka and Tokyo can be made at very reasonable fare. It is not a big issue. But train trips for Narita to Tokyo and Osaka to Kansai are not cheap. I will explain why I did not include it in the next chapter.

If you want to make the trip be longer

As long as you make the trips in the chapter of “Cost break down” above, JR pass 7 days works. That means you still can use JR pass even if you cannot make trip for Narita to Tokyo and/or Osaka to Kansai. If you can include these trips in 7 days period, you can save more. The fare for these airport access trips are the following:

Narita airport – Tokyo one way trip by Narita Express – 3,020 yen
Shin Osaka – Kansai airport one way trip by Haruka – 2,850 yen(*1)
*1 – This is regular fare. Haruka discount ticket is available at 1,300 yen but this deal covers only non reserved seat. JR pass covers reserved seat fee too.

The cost is about 6,000 yen. If you include both trips in 7 days, JR pass is a huge deal. Even if you include one of those trips, you can save more!

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