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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.


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
Kyoto Kansai
Nara Himehji JR Namba
Osaka - 160 540 1160
390 780 1450 190
160 - 540 1330
540 890 1450 210
Kyoto 540 540 - 1830
1050 690 2210 890
- 1660
390 540 1050 1660
- 1210 950 690
Nara 780 890 690 1660
1210 - 2210 540
Himeji 1450 1450 2210 2730
950 2210 - 1620
JR Namba 190 210 890 1030
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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116 Comments to “How to use JR West Kansai Area Pass. Compare pass and single fare.”

  1. Shell says:

    Hi Takeshi,

    I am going to Kansai from 4-13 April 2015.
    The accomodation is in Nagase throughout the whole journey
    (4 minutes walking distance from Nagase Kintetsu Station, 10 mins from JR Nagase).

    Itineraries as below:
    4 Apr – Reach KIX. Nankai train or Haruka Express to Namba depending on which rail pass to be selected. Dotonbori/Shinsaibashi.
    5 Apr – Kyoto
    6 Apr – Kyoto
    7 Apr – Kobe
    8 Apr – Nara
    9 Apr – USJ
    10 Apr – Osaka Aquarium Kaiyukan & Market Place
    11 Apr – Nihonbashi & Minami Senba
    12 Apr – Tennoji & Osaka Castle
    13 Apr – Nagase to KIX

    After reading your posts on how to select the best rail pass, I am still confused which to choose among:
    (i) Kintetsu rail pass wide/Rail Pass
    (ii) Kansai Thru Pass

    If my destination from KIX is Namba station, shall I take ICOCA & Haruka or Nankai train?
    Kintetsu rail pass wide includes train tickets from KIX as well, is that more worthy?

    Since there is JR Nagase station around my apartment, shall I get JR Kansai Area 4-day Pass instead? For the 2 days Kyoto, Nara and Kobe.

    Hope you can assist. Thanks


    • Hi Shell,

      Kansai thru pass is the best choice. You may use 2X3 days pass for Apr 4-8 and 13.
      For other days, single fare will be cheaper. But Kansai thru pass is considerable if you drop by other places in Osaka when you visit USJ, Kaiyukan or other places. It depends on how many trips you have.

      You may find some info at the link below:


      Takeshi / JP Rail

      • Shell says:

        Dear takeshi,

        Thanks for your advice.

        Something to re-confirm with u, Kansai thru pass covers return trips to and from KIX?
        Only nankai train?

        For 9 and 10 apr, if i only go to USJ on the first day and Kaiyukan & market place on day 2, is it necessary to get the 2-day Kansai Thru Pass?


        • Hi Shell,

          Nankai Railway is covered by JR pass. But if you take Rapi:t express train, you have to add express surcharge, 510 yen.
          You don’t need to use this pass for USJ and Kaiyukan. Single ticket is enough. But if you drop by somewhere before/after these places, Kansai Thru Pass may be better choice. Single ticket must be cheaper than Kansai thru pass if you have just round trip to these places


          Takeshi / JP Rail

  2. MC says:

    Hi, need advise. I am thinking of using ICOCA + Haruka (round trip) for the travelling to and from KIX and Heritage Ticket to and from Koyasan. As for Osaka only, Namba to Nara and Kyoto only use the ICOCA. Is this the best ‘strategy’?
    Day 1, KIX to Namba
    Day 2, Osaka only – one or few places (no USJ but to Suita)
    Day 3, Namba to Nara
    Day 4, Namba to Koyasan
    Day 5, Koyasan to Namba to Kyoto
    Day 6-7, Kyoto only – one or few places
    Day 8, Kyoto to KIX

    My first time asking a question. Do not need to post but you can reply me via my email instead

  3. Phoebe says:

    Hi Takeshi-san,

    I really enjoyed reading your posts and detailed analysis.

    I am going to Kansai next week, itinerary as follow, what passes would you recommend? ICOCA + Haruka (day 1,2,5&6) & 2-day Kansai Thru (day 3&4)? Or do I need JR West Pass too?

    Day 1 – KIX to JR Osaka + going to Namba /Shinsaibashi afterwards

    Day 2 – Within Osaka (probably to Osaka Castle area)

    Day 3 – Osaka to Nara

    Day 4 – Osaka to Kyoto

    Day 5 – Universal Studio + Umeda

    Day 6 – JR Osaka to KIX

    Thank you!


  4. Christine kitasako says:

    Dear takeshi san,
    My itinerary is reach nagoya airport on 14th nov..stay 14th n 15th..16th to hiroshima (start use JR pass)..18th to kagoshima n 21st bck to hiroshima 22nd to takayama n 24th bck to nagoya airport.
    Wat do u suggest. ..buy one week pass or 2 week pass.
    Thank you.

  5. Banii says:

    Im plan to osaka from 7 to 18 Dec. At the moment my itenary is to cover kansai perfecture. My question is which pass is most suitable for me?

    Or anybody has better idea other place to visit?

  6. Neelam M says:

    Hi I am planning a trip to Japan but I am very confused about which pass to buy, so here is my itinerary:

    1st Sept – 5th Sept – Tokyo

    5th Sept – 7th Sept – Hakone, we want to purchase the Hakone Free Pass but dont know how this works or how to get to Mount Fuji?

    7th Sept – 11th Sep – Kyoto, we want to travel to many places around Kyoto, any ideas Kyoto bamboo forest ext

    11 Sept – 15th Sept – Osaka, we want to go to Hemije, Kobe ect we were also thinking about going to Hiroshima/ miyajma but not sure if it is to much?

    then we fly home on the 15th from Osaka

    Please can you help?

    Also if we get a JR Rail Pass were thinking about activating it after Hakone so we could get the 7day one?

    Many thanks

    Neels and Rick

    • Hi Neels and Rick,

      First of all, regarding Hakone, you can see Mt. Fuji from Lake Ashi in Hakone area. But Lake Kawaguchi is most popular place to see Mt. Fuji. Lake Kaaguchi is located at other side of Mt. Fuji. Please see the link below to find more info:

      If you do this, Fuji Hakone Pass is better choice.
      But if you use this pass, you have to give up the last portion of this pass for Odawara-Shijuku. Because you can take Shinkansen from Odawara to Kyoto. If you go back to Shinjuku, you will waste time.

      If you stay in Hakone, Hakone Free Pass is okay. If you just want to see Mt. Fuji, Hakone is okay.

      At last, if you are really sure to visit Hiroshima and Miyajima, you can use JR Pass. This trip must be done. Otherwise JR Pass is way more expensive than single fare. Day trip to Hiroshima from Osaka is not impossible. Of course if you can stay there, it’s much better. But it takes 2 hours to get Hiroshima by Shinkansen from Shin-Osaka.


      Takeshi / JP Rail

  7. wandererclaire says:

    Hi Takeshi,

    Will be traveling on Nov 16-21 and this will be our itinerary:
    Nov 16- late arrival in KIX (8PM) and directly to Kyoto
    Nov 17 – Kyoto (Arashimaya Sagano Scenic Railway/Nijo Castle/Imperial Palace
    Nov 18 – Kyoto (Kinkakuji), then transfer to Nara (overnight stay)
    Nov 19 – Nara (AM)/Osaka (PM)
    Nov 20 – Osaka (USJ)
    Nov 21 – Osaka (late flight back home 8PM)

    Will it be better if I buy roundtrip HARUKA+ICOCA Card? Also, should I take the Kansai Thru Pass with my itinerary Kyoto-Nara-Osaka (might have a quick lunch tour to Kobe too) or I’d rather take the Kyoto All Day Pass?

    Thank you in advance!

    :-) Claire

  8. Jane says:

    Dear Takeshi san,

    we will travel to Japan on Apr 1 – 14, 2015. Plan to buy JR Pass (7 days or 14 days). Below is my itinerary:

    Apr 1 – 5 tokyo
    Apr 4 go to Nikko (one day trip) buy own train ticket
    Apr 5 spent sunday in harajuku
    Apr 6 Takayama (start using JR pass)
    Apr 7 Takayama – Shiragawako – kanazawa by gus (not covered by JR Pass)
    Apr 8 Kanazawa – kyoto with JR pass
    Apr 9 Kyoto sightseeing
    Apr 10 Kyoto – Nara – Osaka (go to Osaka castle) – Kyoto (use JR Pass)
    Apr 11 Kyoto – Hiroshima -Miyajima (use JR Pass)
    Apr 12 Hiroshime – Osaka (will go to shinsaibashi and dotonbori) back to Kyoto use JR pass
    Apr 13 Kyoto sightseeing
    Apr 14 Leave Kyoto to Kansai Airport

    My questions is:

    Do I need to buy 7 days or 14 days JR pass?
    How much is the train ticket from tokyo to Nikko? Where and how to buy it?
    Can I use JR west kansai pass to travel from Kyoto station to Kansai airport? Is it direct train or hv to transfer? In view of carrying big luggage. Is there any space to put our luggage in the train?
    when travelling inside Osaka, do you recommend to buy single fare trip or is there any one day subway pass?

    Thank you very much for your help and regards.

  9. dunkpitter says:

    Hi Takeshi,

    Have few questions here regarding the JR West Rail Pass. Firstly, does it cover JR Namba to Osaka Station and from Umahori, Arashiyama Station to Osaka/Kyoto Station? Hope to hear from you soon. Thanks.

    Best Regards,

  10. Mimi says:

    Hi Takeshi-san,

    I will be staying in Shinsabashi, and would like to make a day trip to Kobe.
    Is it advisable to buy Hankyu Tourist Pass 2 days pass

    By the way. can I use this Hankyu Tourist Pass to make a day trip to Nara and
    then back to Shinsabashi?

    Pls advise.

    Thank you.


    • Hi Mimi san,

      No. It costs 1200 yen a day. But if you take Hanshi train from Namba, return fare is 820 yen. You have to take subway to Namba, but if you take Hankyu, you have to take subway too. And subway is not covered by this pass.

      You can’t use this pass for trip to Nara either. Both Hanshin and Hankyu do not run to Nara.

      Single ticket is the best choice for trip to both Nara and Kobe.


      Takeshi / JP Rail

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