How to use JR West Kansai Area Pass. Compare pass and single fare.


Limited Express Haruka from KIX is covered by this pass.
Limited Express Haruka from KIX is covered by this pass.

The post, How to choose discount railway ticket and pass in Kansai (Kyoto, Osaka, Kobe, Nara) area is one of most popular one in this site. Since I published this post, I have received many comments and questions. I have written about Kansai Thru Pass in the previous post. This pass covers most of private railway companies, subway trains and some bus services. It may give you the great value if you use it. But JR West Kansai Area Pass is more suitable for some travellers. Especially if you go to Kyoto or Shin-Osaka from Kansai Airport, this pass gives you very good deal.

In this post, I would like to share the information about JR West Kansai Area Pass with you. And I will compare the price of pass and single fare.

Coverage area

Please refer the map in JR West Kansai Area Pass official site.

The pass cover most of points of interest, such as Osaka (Umeda), Namba, Universal Studio Japan, Kobe, Kyoto, Nara, Kansai airport, Himeji

Major spots that are not covered by this pass are Wakayama and Mt. Koya. But if you want to go to Mt. Koya, Nankai Railway is the best way. But Nankai Railway is not covered by JR West Kansai Area Pass anyway. Nankai Railway’s Koyasan World Heritage Ticket or Kansai Thru Pass is a right choice for trip to Mt. Koya.

Nankai Railway Koyasan World Heritage Ticket
How to use Kansai Thru Pass. Compare pass and single fare.

After March 1, coverage area is bigger, but price is higher. You can find the coverage area after March 1, 2015, at the map below:
Kansai Area pass map

Wakayama, Iga, Tsuruga, Hikone, Ako and some more places will be in the coverage area after March 1, 2015.

Who is eligible

Visitors who land as “Temporary Visitor” status can purchase this pass. If you live in Japan, you cannot purchase it. Kansai Thru Pass may be your choice.

Types and prices

You can choose from 1 day to 4 days. The price will be higher after March 1, 2015.

Before February 28, 2015

Duration Adult Child (6-11yrs)
1 Day 2,060 yen 1,030 yen
2 Days 4,110 yen 2,050 yen
3 Days 5,140 yen 2,570 yen
4 Days 6,170 yen 3,080 yen

After March 1, 2015

Purchase outside Japan or online Purchase inside Japan
Duration Adult Child
(6-11 years old)
Adult Child
(6-11 years old)
1 day 2,200 yen 1,100 yen 2,300 yen 1,150 yen
2 days 4,300 yen 2,150 yen 4,500 yen 2,250 yen
3 days 5,300 yen 2,650 yen 5,500 yen 2,750 yen
4 days 6,300 yen 3,150 yen 6,500 yen 3,250 yen

*5 year old or younger child is free. Maximum 2 children per one adult.

The pass must be used in consecutive days. The validity of a rail pass starts from 12 O’clock at night (midnight to midnight).

ex) If you start to use 3 days pass on May 1, the pass is expired at 23:59 on May 3.

The pass can be purchased once per visit. So you cannot purchase multiple passes for one person, like 1 x 2 days pass.

Valid trains and bus lines

This pass covers all JR local trains and non reserved seat of Limited Express Haruka. You CANNOT ride any other express trains, such as Tokaido Shinkansen, Limited Express Thunderbird. But as long as you travel in Kansai area, you don’t need to ride Limited Express trains. Rapid Services Network is very convenient. It is fast and frequent. The following list shows you trains that you can ride by JR West Kansai Area Pass.

Of course, you can ride any local trains that are not shown on above list.

On the other hand, which trains you cannot ride by this pass? JR West Kansai Area Pass does not cover any private railway lines, subway lines and bus lines. Most of major private railway companies and subway lines are shown on the following list:

Kiyomizudera is one of most popular temple in Kyoto Higashiyama area. But you cannot get there by JR trains only. ©Sue Ann Simon/©JNTO
  • Osaka Municipal Transportation (Subway)
  • Kyoto Municipal Transportation (Subway and city bus)
  • Nankai Railway (Namba-Kansai airport, Namba-Mt.Koya)
  • Kintetsu Railway (Namba-Nara, Kyoto-Nara)
  • Hankyu Railway (Sannomiya-Umeda-Kawaramachi)
  • Keihan Railway (Yodoyabashi-Kyobashi-Shijo-Sanjo)
  • Hanshin Railway (Namba-Sannomiya, Umeda-Sannomiya-Himeji)
  • Sanyo Railway (Umeda-Sannomiya-Akashi-Himeji)

These above railways and bus lines are NOT covered. When you are in Osaka or Kyoto, subway trains and city bus services are very convenient. So you may have pay a single fare or purchase day pass. I think this is the biggest disadvantage of JR West Kansai Area Pass. I wrote about JR trains and Kyoto subways/buses in Kyoto at this post, Japan Rail Pass is the best way to explore Kyoto? How to use Japan Rail Pass in Kyoto. The rules of JR West Kansai Area Pass is almost same as Japan Rail Pass. The only difference to use in Kyoto, JR West Kansai Area Pass does not cover any JR bus services. If you think about use Kansai Area Pass in Kyoto, I believe this post may give you some ideas.

Compare cost between pass and single fare. Best way to use.

First of all, please see the fare table for major sections below:

Stations Osaka Shin
Osaka
Kyoto Kansai
airport
Sannomiya
(Kobe)
Nara Himehji JR Namba
Osaka 160 540 1160
1150
390 780 1450 190
Shin
Osaka
160 540 1330
1150
540 890 1450 210
Kyoto 540 540 1830
1150
1050 690 2210 890
Kansai
airport
1160
1150
1330
1150
1830
1150
1660
1150
1660
730
2730
1150
1030
730
Sannomiya
(Kobe)
390 540 1050 1660
1150
1210 950 690
Nara 780 890 690 1660
730
1210 2210 540
Himeji 1450 1450 2210 2730
1150
950 2210 1620
JR Namba 190 210 890 1030
730
690 540 1620

*If there are two fares, basic fare is shown at the top and limited express surcharge at the bottom. For example, if you travel from Kansai airport to Shin-Osaka, basic fare is 1330 yen and surcharge is 1150 yen.

Special Rapid Service operated by JR West 223 series.
Special Rapid Service dominates Kyoto-Osaka-Kobe-Himeji transfer.

As you saw the fare table above, most of trips from Kansai airport is very efficient because of limited express Haruka. If you travel to Osaka, Kansai airport rapid may be better than Haruka because Haruka do not stop at Osaka. But if you think about getting on Haruka, Kansai Area Pass is considerable. Even one day pass is cheaper than basic fare + surcharge. If you go to Namba, you can access there by JR trains. But Nankai Railway gives you much better access to Namba. Especially if you think about transfer to subway at Namba, Nankai Railway Namba station is much easier to transfer to most of subway lines. Please see the details at the post, How to access from Kansai airport to downtown Osaka, Kyoto and Kobe.

Next, I recommend you to use this pass for the trip to Himeji. Special Rapid Service connects Osaka with Himeji in 62 minutes. This train is the fastest and most frequent service. If you think about Kansai Thru Pass, this pass do not cover JR trains. If you go to Himeji by Kansai Thru Pass, the pass cover all part of your trip to Himeji. But you will spend more than 90 minutes. Kansai Thru Pass is very efficient for the trip to Kyoto or Mt. Koya. But if you go to Himeji, I recommend you to use JR West Kansai Area Pass.

If you go to Kyoto, Nara or Kobe from Osaka, it may not be very efficient. The fare range is between 500 and 1,000 yen. The difference between 1 day pass and 2 days pass is 2,000 yen. If you will purchase 3 days or 4 days, the price difference is 1,000 yen. If you have two trips, from Kansai airport by Haruka and trip to Himeji, you will already make more than 4,000 yen worth. You can use the pass to Kyoto, Kobe or Nara. But if you use 2 days pass for trip from Kansai airport and trip to Kyoto, Nara or Kobe, you may not be able to make more than 4,000 yen worth.

JR West also sell ICOCA and Haruka. This discount ticket include trip from Kansai airport by Haruka and 1,500 yen value e-money in ICOCA prepaid card. If JR West Kansai Area Pass is too expensive for your trip, ICOCA and Haruka may be suitable for your trip. ICOCA can be used for not only JR trains but also Kyoto subway, Osaka subway and other major private railway companies. ICOCA is more flexible than JR West Kansai Area Pass. Please see the details about ICOCA at the post, ICOCA and Haruka ticket. Very flexible and good deal for tourist who stay in Kansai..

At last, if you want to explore some more places, I strongly recommend you JR West Kansai WIDE Area Pass. This pass is available in 4 days pass only. But the area where is covered is much bigger. And limited express train and Shinkansen between Shin-Osaka and Okayama are covered by this pass. And the price is only 1,000 yen higher than Kansai Area Pass 4 days. I am very happy if you are interested in other places outside of Kansai area.

179 thoughts on “How to use JR West Kansai Area Pass. Compare pass and single fare.”

  1. Dear Takeshi,

    First of all, thanks for having this helpful blog.

    Can you please advise which is the best train pass we should get, the Haruka&Icoca pass, Kansai pass or somethingelse?

    Day 1 We arrive 8pm from KIX Airport and will take train to our hotel near Shin-Osaka station.

    Day 2 Shin-Osaka – Himeji Castle – Kobe – Shin Osaka
    Day 3 Shin- Osaka – Nara – Osaka downtown – Shin Osaka
    Day 4 Shin- Osaka – Kyoto – Shin Osaka
    Day 5 Shin Osaka – Osaka downtown – Shin Osaka – KIX airport, our flight is at 7pm

    Which is the best pass should we get?

    Thank you,
    Tates

    1. Hi Tates,

      There are many options for your plan. I think the following combination.

      ICOCA and Haruka for arrival and departure day
      ICOCA e-moeny towards to day 4 trip to Kyoto.

      Kansai area pass 2 days for day 2 and 3

      If you still have some fund in ICOCA after Kyoto, you can use it for subway in Osaka on day 5. Otherwise add single fare or subway pass in Osaka.

      Cheers,

      Takeshi / JPRail.com

      1. Hi Takeshi.

        Is it more economical for us to purchase the 2 days Kansai Area pass than use the ICOCA card to buy single tickets?

        Thank you,
        Tates

        1. Hi Tates,

          Kansai area pass is the best choice for Himeji and Kobe. Almost same fare between single ticket and pass. But you also need to think about after trip. If you go to Umeda (JR Osaka), you will take JR trains. So there are many situation. I think pass is more flexible.

          If you want to save your cost as much as you want, you have to make the detailed itinerary and find how many times you will take a train. But it’s very hard to find it before you go. This is the reason why I recommend you to use the day pass.

          ICOCA gives you flexibility. But it gives you exactly same value as cash.

          Cheers,

          Takeshi / JPRail.com

          1. Dear Takeshi,

            I have some more questions please

            1. What train do we take to get to Himeji on Day 2 and Nara on Day 3 from Shin Osaka station using the 2 days JR Kansai area pass.

            2. Can I buy the JR Kansai area pass the same time I buy the Haruka & Icoca at the KIX airport?

            Thank you so much for answering my question.

            Tates

  2. Hello Takeshi,
    Been going through some of your sample itineraries and came up with this:
    Buy 1 Day Osaka Amazing Pass to see Osaka Castle, Aquarium and Umeda Sky
    Buy 1 Day JR West Pass (?) to travel to Hiroshima/Miyaji
    Buy 2 Days Kansai Pass to visit Kyoto and Nara

    We are a family of 4 travelling on Oct. 10.

    1. Can I buy the above passes in Osaka or I need to buy them at Kansai Airport? or before travelling to Japan? We will be arriving late in the evening so we’ll hurry to catch the limousine bus to our hotel.
    2. Do I need to buy all passes by 4? is there a family pass or something?
    3. Oct. 12 is a National Holiday and we intend to visit Hiroshima. Will there be a big crowd then?

    Cheers!

    1. Hi Cynthia,

      First of all, if you want to go to Hiroshima, you have to purchase Kansai Hiroshima Area Pass.
      http://jprail.com/travel-informations/other-rail-passes/rail-pass-for-visitors/kansai-hiroshima-area-pass-perfect-deal-for-the-traveller-who-wants-travel-both-kansai-and-hiroshima.html

      I think you mean Kansai Area Pass 1 day. But this pass does not cover Hiroshima. The coverage of this pass is way smaller to get Hiroshima. Even though Kansai Hiroshima Area Pass is way more expensive than other passes, it’s cheaper than round trip fare by Shinkansen

      If you purchase Kansai Hiroshima Area Pass, it’s valid for 5 days. You don’t need to get 2 days Kansai pass. But Kansai Hiroshima Area Pass does not cover subway in Osaka and Kyoto. You have to add single fare or subway pass.

      There is no family deals but if your child is less than 6 years old, it’s free. Any deals are not required.

      Oct 12 will be busy than other days, but it’s not super busy. But if you can change the date, I recommend you to visit there in weekday.

      You can purchase the pass on the spot at KIX. But as you see the link above, online price is cheaper.

      Cheers,

      Takeshi / JP Rail

      1. Hi again Takeshi,

        Our Schedule would be like this:

        Day 1 – late arrival, take Airport Bus Limousine (sat)
        Day 2 – Day trip to Kyoto (Sun)
        Day 3 – Day trip to Nara
        Day 4 – Day trip to Kobe
        Day 5 – Day trip to Hiroshima/Miyaji
        Day 6 – Universal Studios Japan
        Day 7 – Osaka
        Day 8 – Travel to Kansai Airport

        So we just need the following passes: JR Kansai Hiroshima Pass (5Days) and Osaka Amazing Pass (1 day). For Universal Studios Japan, we’ll just buy ticket as we ride right?

        Can you recommend other places to visit other then Kobe when using Kansai Hiroshima Pass?

        Thanks again.

        1. Hi Cynthia,

          You also can use this pass to get USJ. You can take a train from Osaka to Universal City station. It’s covered by the pass.
          You may add Amazing pass of day 7.

          I like Kinosaki Onsen and Shirahama. But those places are not very closed. It takes a few hours to get there from Osaka. You may use one more day for Kyoto. Or you can visit Kobe and Himeji on same day.
          http://jprail.com/destinations/kansai-area/how-to-access-to-himeji-and-kobe-from-osaka.html

          Cheers,

          Takeshi / JP Rail

  3. I intend to do a day trip from kyoto-Osaka-himeiji-kobe-Osaka. Is the one day pass can cover all the transport for these places?

  4. Hi,
    I will be visiting Osaka/Kyoto in October for 3 days before going to Tokyo.
    i’ve already book a hostel in Kyoto for 2 nights

    Here is my itinenary:
    – arrive Kansai airport in the morning and straight away off to Kyoto for checkin hostel
    – from kyoto i will coming back to Osaka and plan to go to Osaka castle, Umeda Sky Building, Universal Studio, and sightseeing Dotonburi/ShinsaibashC area.
    – then go back to kyoto from Namba station later that night.

    For 2nd&3rd day, ill be doing Kyoto sightseeing and plan to buy Kyoto Sightseeing 2Day Pass Card.
    Is JR West Kansai Area Pass is the best option or u have any other recommendation for my first day?

    thanks

      1. thanks Takeshi…

        i’m planning to take flight from kyoto to tokyo…which means i need to come back to kansai airport on my 3rd day.

        what is the best option for me to travel from kyoto back to osaka? can i buy ICOCA card and use it? or shuld i just use single fare?

          1. Hi Takeshi,

            Thanks for the reply.
            now i get a clearer picture.

            So this is what im going to use:

            Day 1: Kansai-Kyoto-Osaka
            1) i will use Haruka from Kansai airport straight to Kyoto.

            2) Get back to Osaka from Kyoto by JR Special Rapid Service (fare 540 yen) (as mentioned in your ICOCA Haruka post).

            3) Use ICOCA for exploring Osaka

            4) If i want to get to Kyoto from Namba, use JR Special Rapid Service

            Day 2: Kyoto
            1) I can use ICOCA for Kyoto sightseeing

            Day 3: Kyoto-Kansai
            1) i will use Haruka from Kyoto straight to Kansai airport

            Takeshi, can u explain more on JR Special Rapid Service? which ill be using on my first day from Kyoto to Osaka/Namba-Kyoto

            thanks

          2. Hi Aju,

            I think you need to purchase Kyoto city sightseeing card or all day bus pass. You have only 1500 yen in ICOCA. Your ICOCA will be empty after you finish your trip to Osaka. You can add more fund into your ICOCA but ICOCA does not give you any discount. It gives you exactly same value as cash. You may take subways and buses many times. It’s not good idea to use ICOCA for sightseeing in Kyoto. You should have unlimited ride pass for Kyoto.

            You can find more info about Special rapid at the link below:
            http://jprail.com/trains/sort-by-type/rapid-service/special-rapid-service.html

            Cheers,

            Takeshi / JP Rail

  5. Hi Takeshi,

    I am in Japan now. I am intending to travel to Kyoto from Tokyo for a short trip for 3 days 2 nights. Will a 3-day JR Kansai pass work for me for trains from Tokyo to Kyoto and back to Tokyo.

    If not, what’s a better way for me?

    Hear from you soon.

    Thank you.

    Joachim

  6. Hi Takeshi,
    I am planning a 6 days trip to Osaka end of this month, in which I will be exploring Osaka, Kyoto, Himeji and possibly either Nara or Kobe. With my hotel based in Osaka, how would you suggest I arrange the sequence of these places of interest when I will be using a 3 Day Kansai Thru Pass, a 3 Day Kansai Area Pass and possible a ICOCA card if needed.

    As suggested in your post, Himeji will be best with the JR pass, and Osaka & Kyoto would be best with Kansai Thru Pass. So I would like to ask what about Nara and Kobe? Will JR pass be good enough?

    Thank you so much for your guidance.

    Warm Regards,
    Yamie

  7. Hi Takeshi,

    I have my accommodation booked near Imamiya for my 10 days Osaka trip.

    apart from 4 days in Osaka, i intend to travel to Nara, Kobe, Kyoto (2 days), Himeji and Hiroshima.

    I did some initial calculations and it seems that the JR pass (7days) might not be worthwhile for me. will you suggest if i purchase the JR west Kansai pass instead , and if yes can you suggest for which trip should i get? or should i stick to the JR pass?

    Basically my calculation is as below.
    Imamiya – Kobe – JPY 1420
    Imamiya – Kyoto – JPY 3680 (2 days travel)
    Imamiya – Nara – JPY 1120
    Imamiya – Himeji – JPY 3320
    Imamiya – Hiroshima – JPY 11,240
    Total : JPY 20,780

    given each city a day, i will still have a day to use, but i do not believe i will use JPY 8,330 worth of travel (JR pass 29,110 – 20,780).

    Thank you very much for your kind assistance.

    Kind Regards,
    Joel

    1. Hi Joel,

      Kansai Hiroshima Area Pass is the perfect choice for you.
      http://jprail.com/travel-informations/other-rail-passes/rail-pass-for-visitors/kansai-hiroshima-area-pass-perfect-deal-for-the-traveller-who-wants-travel-both-kansai-and-hiroshima.html

      It’s valid for only 5 days. If 5 days is not enough to cover all of your trip, you may add Kansai thru pass 2 days. Especially when you go to Kyoto, you need to take subway and bus in Kyoto. Any passes by JR do not cover subway and bus in Kyoto but Kansai thru pass does.
      http://jprail.com/travel-informations/other-rail-passes/rail-pass-for-residents/how-to-use-kansai-thru-pass-compare-pass-and-single-fare.html

      Cheers,

      Takeshi / JP Rail

  8. Hello.. I’d like to ask you about going to osaka and kyoto from tokyo, which JRpass I should buy? Could I use jrpass kansai wide? Thanks

      1. Thanks Takeshi-san for your help. But I still little bit confuse, the single ticket that you told me is for one trip..
        My plan is from Tokyo – kyoto – osaka and then back to Tokyo because my flight is from Tokyo.
        And I read that I can’t going back to Tokyo again after I use this entry ticket, am I wrong? Thanks again

  9. Hi Takeshi

    We are planning a trip to visit our son in Sept. Will arrive at the Kansai International Airport and need to find our way to Senrioka Station. Can you advise us to the most direct route and easiest route with as little transfers as possible.

    Thank you, Kim

  10. Hi Takeshi,

    I will be in Japan for two months and here is my itinerary:

    Arrive in Tokyo – 5 days
    Fly to Hakodate – 4 days
    Train to Sapporo – 4 days
    Fly to Fukuoka – 3 days
    Train to Hiroshima – 2 days
    Train/bus to Tottori – 2 days
    Train to Kinosaki Yamamotoya – 2 days
    Train to Osaka – 4 days
    Train to Kyoto – stay 2 weeks
    Train to Hamamatsu – stay 3 days

    That’s all I have planned so far but I don’t know the best JR pass I should get! How long after you buy one do you have to use it? Should I get multiple 14 week JR’s? That might be expensive but is the alternative more expensive? Any help you could give would be great!

    Thank you,

    Shannon

    1. Hi Shannon,

      First of all, single ticket is the best choice for Hakodate and Sapporo if you intend to take Hakodate – Sapporo one way only. If you will visit other area in Hokkaido other than city of Sapporo, Hokkaido Rail Pass may be suitable.
      http://jprail.com/travel-informations/other-rail-passes/rail-pass-for-visitors/hokkaido-rail-pass-the-best-deal-for-rail-trip-in-hokkaido-for-oversea-visitors.html

      After arriving Fukuoka, it’s very hard to find the deal. If you take trains for all part of your trip from Fukuoka to Hamanatsu, single ticket will be much cheaper than 14 days pass. Multiple 14 days pass is way more expensive.

      So far, I don’t have any other choice other than single ticket for you.

      Cheers,

      Takeshi / JP Rail

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