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


Kansai Airport Express Haruka is covered by JR West Kansai Area Pass. This is the biggest advantage. (C) Sonic Rail Garden

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.


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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.

TYPES 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

*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.

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 pass for one person, like 1 x 2 days pass.

Covered 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 Wakayama is not so popular spot in Kansai area. And if you want to go to Mt. Koya, Nankai Railway is the best way. But Nankai is not covered by JR West Kansai Area Pass anyway.

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, what 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.


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86 Comments to “How to use JR West Kansai Area Pass. Compare pass and single fare.”

  1. Iman says:

    hello,

    i need some advices on train pass. i will be going to kansai for 6 days and stay in a hotel near shin osaka station (except for the last night). here’s my itinerary:

    day 1
    KIX – shin osaka
    kobe (sannomiya, motomachi)
    umeda

    day 2
    kyoto
    fushimi inari
    arashiyama
    gion

    day 3
    around osaka (amagasaki, sakai, ibaraki)
    nara

    day 4
    shinsaibashi, namba, nippombashi, dotonbori, tennoji

    day 5
    universal studios and surrounding areas (stay at universal city)

    day 6
    tennoji – kix

    should i buy ICOCA & Haruka (for KIX – Shin Osaka – KIX) + Kansai Thru Pass (for day 1, day 2 and day 3)?

    • Hi Iman,

      ICOCA & Haruka is okay and I think 2 days Kansai Thru Pass is enough. You can use ICOCA to get Kobe. And if you don’t exit the station, you can get Kobe by ICOCA & Haruka. Haruka can take you Shin-Osaka but you can transfer Special Rapid train. As long as you don’t exit the station, it’s fully covered.

      Cheers,

      Takeshi / JP Rail

  2. David says:

    Hello,

    Great information! I’m hopeing you can help me out. My wife, son, and I are flying into kansai airport traveling to the Chuo ward about six blocks from the castle. The first day were are hanging around Osaka. Second, we’re going to kyoto then back to osaka. Third, kyoto and back again. Fourth, to Nara and back to osaka. Fifth, Kobe then back to the airport. What are your recommendations? Is it worth getting the four day jr kansai area pass for all of us? Thanks for the help.

    1 kansai airport – chuo ward osaka
    2 chuo ward – kyoto – chuo ward
    3 chuo ward – kyoto – chuo ward
    4 chuo ward – Nara – chuo ward
    5 chuo ward – Kobe – kansai airport

    David

  3. Charlie_nyan says:

    Hi Takeshi,

    Good morning.
    I’ll be having my vacation in kansai from 23rd to 30th March.
    I have done some research on the tourist pass and would like to know your opinion if the pass i’m gonna buy is worth?

    23/-3 : KIX-Kyoto
    24/03: Kyoto
    25/03: Nara
    26/03: Osaka
    27/03: Kobe
    28/03: Osaka (USJ)
    29/03: Osaka
    30/03: Osaka-KIX

    I plan to get the haruka/icoca for my roundtrip travel from kansai to KIX & the remaining 1500yen+top up for JR line
    As I’m travelling consecutively from Nara-Osaka-Kobe from 25/03- 27/03, is Kansai Thru Pass (3 days) the best pass?
    I heard Himeji is a very famous place and was thinking to make it there for a day trip too. In that case will Kansai Wide area pass be a better option?

    Thanks,
    Charlie

  4. Joanna says:

    Hi Takeshi-san,

    I will be planning a trip to Japan in early April 2014 and was very overwhelmed by the different rail passes available. I wished I had done a more thorough research and found your website earlier before making the mistake of buying the JR Kansai Area pass for 4 days and 3 days respectively as this was advised by the travel agency for a 7-day trip in the Kansai region. Now reading the information on your website, I have doubts on my purchase and maybe, buying the Kansai Thru Pass should be better?

    So, I hope you can bear with me as I list out a summary of my trip and for any suggestions on changes to my itinerary especially the stay at Osaka / Kyoto in order to maximize the use of my rail pass:

    8 Apr – Arrived Narita airport, stay 1 night before fly to Nagoya meet friend.

    9 Apr to 12 Apr – Stay in Nagoya for 3 nights. What transport ticket is the best for a tourist during my stay here?

    As Central Japan is not covered under the JR Kansai Area Pass, I know I have to buy separate train tickets to travel between Nagoya – Osaka – Kyoto – Nagoya. Checked through Hyperdia that most trains that travel to Osaka are Nozomi trains? Even if I got the JR Rail Pass, it’s not covered. Can a train ticket be bought in advance, say 1 to 2 days at the Nagoya station before my travel date?

    12 Apr to 16 Apr – Travel to Osaka from Nagoya. Will stay 4 nights near the JR Kyobashi line. In between these dates, will explore Osaka, and planned day-trips to Kobe (Sannomiya), Nara and maybe Himeji (but read Himeji Castle is under construction – is it still worthwhile to make a trip there?).

    16 Apr to 18 Apr – Travel to Kyoto from Osaka. Stay 2 nights – explore Kyoto area.

    18 Apr to 19 Apr – Travel back to Nagoya by shinkansen to catch flight home from Centrair airport on 19th morning.

    I feel rather reckless in my purchase of the Kansai Area passes and was wondering if I am able to cancel it and get a refund. Considering it doesn’t even cover the JR buses when the travel agency said it does. I think they got confused by thinking it’s the same as a Japan Rail Pass. Also, I seem to understand from the JR West website I can’t change the Exchange Order unless I am in the Kansai region or have I misunderstood? This is inconvenient as I thought I can get it exchange in any JR Exchange offices despite the region.

    I apologize for my long comment and your patience to answer my questions as well as others. Thank you in advance for setting-up this website and in my next trip to Japan, I know where to get information for a better itinerary. Arigato gozaimasu!

    Best regards,
    JoannaC

    • JPRail says:

      Hi Joanna san,

      At this point, it’s hard to say which pass the best choice is for you. Please check the following:

      1. 4 day pass at 6000 yen. So you have to use 1500 yen worth per day.
      2. Return trip to Himeji is more than 3200 yen. But I don’t recommend to visit there at this point because of construction.
      3. Return trip to Sannomiya (Kobe) is appx 1100 yen. But Kobe can be combined with Himeji.
      4. Return trip to Nara is appx 1400 yen.
      5. When you stay in Osaka and Kyoto, you may not have many chance to use Kansai Area Pass.

      So if you go to Himeji, this pass may work. Otherwise it’s not a good choice. On the other hand, I think Kansai Thru Pass is not a good choice either. It’s too complicated to get Kobe and Himeji by only non JR lines from Kyobashi. Even when you travel to Nara, you have to take JR line to Tsuruhashi from Kyobashi. And also you may not use the worth to use Kansai Thru Pass either. If you go to Kyoto from Osaka everyday, this pass will give you a great deal. However in Kobe and Nara, many places can be accessed by walk. You need to purchase single ticket to get there.

      My recommendation is the following:
      1. Osaka Eco card for exploring in Osaka
      http://www.kotsu.city.osaka.lg.jp/foreign/english/ticket/convenient.html
      2. Kyoto sightseeing card or all day bus pass for exploring in Kyoto
      http://www.city.kyoto.jp/koho/eng/access/transport.html
      3. single ticket for all other trips.

      In Nagoya, subway pass and bus pass are available.
      http://www.nagoya-info.jp/en/access/getting_around_nagoya/discount_tickets_passes/1day.html
      These are only choices in Nagoya. But I’m not sure where you want to go in Nagoya and these pass will cover your place or not.

      At last, you can purchase JR single tickets in any JR stations in advance. You can book and purchase all ticket at Nagoya, of course.

      Cheers,

      Takeshi / JP Rail

  5. jack says:

    Hi Takeshi,

    Appreciate if you can give me some advice which pass should i use for my trip as below.

    Day 1: KIX – Kyoto
    Day 2: Kyoto
    Day 3: kyoto
    Day 4: kyoto – Osaka
    Day 5: Osaka – Kobe ( Day trip)
    Day 6: Osaka – Nara ( Day trip)
    Day 7: Osaka
    Day 8: Osaka – KIX

    Thanks in advanced.

  6. Fakhru says:

    Thank sir for fast reply.

    Regarding the ICOCA and Haruka card, instead i take single trip, is it fine if round trip is purchased so i can use it for KIX to Kyoto and later the end from Shin-osaka to KIX again? and the balance i may use for as u said to Kobe and coming back to Osaka.

    and if i wanna put Nara in between my itinerary mentioned KIX-Kyoto-Kobe-Osaka-KIX, where should i put? is Nara much nearer to Osaka or maybe i can stop by at Nara when im heading to Kobe? is it adviseable? or when im already in Osaka i can make a return trip to Nara just like that?

    Thank you.

  7. Fakhru Imran says:

    Hai there, i need some advice from you

    My itinerary

    3rd March 2014, reaching KIX at 11pm , sleep at the airport
    4th March 2014, catch the first train to Kyoto. Sleep one night at Kyoto.
    5th March 2014, heading to Kobe for but coming back to Osaka (booked hotel at Namba)
    6th March 2014, One day visit at Osaka ( Osaka Unlimited Pass is wise idea?)
    7th March 2014, Heading to KIX flight at 11am

    So from KIX i should buy Kansai Area Pass to go to Kyoto or simply single fare tix using Hankyu? and i’ll buy Kyoto Sighseeing Pass is a good choice right?
    Then the next day if from Kyoto to Kobe what is the best (cheapest) way because by evening i’ll coming back to Osaka, so spend maybe 6-8 hours in Kobe.

    And Kansai Area Pass can be used for going back to kansai Airport also right?

    Please advice, thank you.

  8. Anna says:

    Hi Takeshi,

    I need your advise concerning organization of my travelling in Japan.

    I will arrive in Kansai Airport on 25 March in the morning. Then I will immediately go to Kyoto and stay there till 28 March, when I plan to go to Tokyo by train. On 6 April I will go to Osaka also by train and finally on 8 April I will leave Japan from Kansai Airport.

    While staying in Kyoto I wish to visit Nara and during stay in Tokyo perhaps I would like to go to Hakone and Kamakura (not sure yet).

    At first I thought of buying JR Pass for 14 days, but since most of the time I will spend in Tokyo, I think JR pass would cost me more than regular tickets. I guess the most economic solution will be JR West Kansai Area Pass for the first 3 or 4 days for travelling from the airport to Kyoto by Haruka, sightseeing in Kyoto and going to and from Nara. For travels Kyoto-Tokyo, Tokyo-Osaka and Osaka-Kansai I intend to buy regular tickets.

    Please let me know, if my planning is correct.
    Or maybe for the stay in Osaka I should rather buy Kansai Thru Pass? Can I have JR West Kansai Area Pass and Kansai Thru Pass during one stay in Japan? If so, can I buy them both on my arrival at the airport?
    Do I understand correctly, that I can use Suica card in Kyoto and Osaka/

    I will be very much obliged for your comments and advices.

    Greetings,
    Anna

  9. Michael Foo says:

    Hi Takeshi,

    I hope you can give me some advise on my itinerary:

    28 Apr 2014 – 715AM – Arrive Kansai airport
    I plan to visit Kyoto on this day, and planning to take a midnight bus from Kyoto to Shinjuku on the same day. I am interested to visit Kinkakuji & Fushimi Inari Shrine.

    Question 1: The best option for this is to buy JR WEST Kansai area 1 day pass @ 2000yen, from Kansai airport to Kyoto station via Haruka correct? The only additional ticket which i need will be subway to Kitaoji station for visit to Kinkakuji? As JR WEST Kansai area 1 day pass should cover Fushimi Inari Shrine by using JR Nara line to Inari station?

    Question 2: Do you think it is possible to do a whole 1 day to visit Kiyomizudera, Kinkakuji & Fushimi Inari Shrine ? How would you suggest this itinerary to be?

    Thanks !

    • JPRail says:

      Hi Michael,

      I think ICOCA and Haruka one way pass is better than Kansai Pass one day. ICOCA and Haruka is 1000 yen more than pass. But ICOCA 1500 yen money is included and this can be used for subway. And also, if you make ICOCA empty, you can return ICOCA to JR and get 500 yen refund. So it costs actually not 3000 yen but 2500 yen.
      Especially if you go to Kiyomizudera, you can take Keihan after Fushimi Inari to Kiyomizu-GOjo station. This can be covered by ICOCA too.

      If you don’t go to Kiymizudera, Kansai Area Pass is cheaper. But if you go to Kiyomizudera, ICOCA and Haruka is better. I think you can go to three places in one day.

      Cheers,

      Takeshi / JP Rail

      • Michael Foo says:

        Thank you Takeshi for the input !

        How would you suggest to visit all 3 places ?

        Will it be Kyoto station –> Kinkakuji via subway –>Fushimi via JR inari station –> Kiyomizudera via Keihan ?

  10. Fina says:

    Hi, I’m planning to visit Osaka and Kyoto in February. Im hoping you can assist me to find the best pass/ticket during my trip. So this is my itinerary:

    Day 1
    KIX-Osaka (Hearton Nishi Umeda Station)
    Osaka Castle

    Day 2
    Kyoto Trip

    Day 3 and Day 4
    Will explore around Osaka

    Day 5
    Osaka-KIX

    I know since Haruka did not go to Osaka station, so is it wise to buy the Osaka unlimited pass for Day 1?

    For Day 2 and 3, I am thinking of buying the 2 day kansai thru pass. Or should I just get a single ticket for Osaka-Kyoto then buy the Kyoto unlimited pass? And then for osaka i can just buy the one day pass which cost 600 yen on weekends? And then on Day 5, I should buy a single ticket again?

    Thank you.

    • JPRail says:

      Hi Fina,

      Even though Haruka does not stop at Osaka. But I recommend you to use ICOCA and Haruka round trip tikcet. This deal cannot be ignored. Especially ICOCA 1500 yen e-money is very useful. You can use this to get Kyoto from Osaka by JR. Or if you go to Arashiyama you can use ICOCA for Hankyu train from Umeda.

      I’m not sure Osaka Unlimited Pass is your choice or not. Many attractions are included in this deal. If you visit many attractions, this deal is a good choice. But it does not include any transfer from KIX. ICOCA and Haruka is still useful.

      Kansai Thru Pass may be your choice. But it depends on you itinerary in Kyoto. 2 day pass is 3800 yen. If you get Kyoto by Hankyu, the fare is 390 yen one way. If you take subway or train at least 5 times in Kyoto to get worth 1900 yen or up. Make sure your wish list in Kyoto and find how many times you will take bus and train in Kyoto. If you go for Kansai Thru Pass, you can use ICOCA for subway in Osaka.

      So try to build your detail itinerary and make sure where you want to go.
      And then you will find the most suitable deal for your trip.

      Cheers,

      Takeshi / JP Rail

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