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.

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

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. 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.

In March, 2015, the coverage area was bigger but price is higher. The coverage are map is below:
Kansai Area pass map

Wakayama, Iga, Tsuruga, Hikone, Ako and some more places were added 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

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
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.

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

  1. Hello,

    i will be traveling from Oita to Fukuoka the first day,
    In the second day i will go to Nara
    And the third day i will go back to Oita.

    What is the best combination of JR tourist pass/what should i buy?


    1. Hi Tinita,

      You may use Kyushu rail pass 3 days norther Kyushu type and Sanyo Sanin Area Pass.

      You will travel only three days but even 7 days pass is cheaper than regular fare. There is JR pass to cover all part of this trip too. But this combination is slightly cheaper than JR pass.


      Takeshi /

  2. Hi Takeshi san,

    We have 2 adults and 1 child 9 yrs old travel to Kyoto/Osaka. Please suggest the tickets to/ fro KIX. Thank you.
    Day1: KIX -> Kyoto (arrive 4pm) stay near higashino subway station.
    Day3:Kyoto-> Osaka (stay at higashimikuni)
    Day8: Osaka-> kix.

    1. Hi Ong san,

      You may use ICOCA and Haruka one way to Kyoto.

      You also can use Haruka one way ticket from Shin-Osaka to KIX. Higashimikuni is one station away from Shin-Osaka by subway.

      The following link shows you some more info. Please refer it.


      Takeshi /

  3. Hi Takeshi-san,
    Would like to seek your advice please. We’re planning for a 10-day trip in November. We will be based in Kyoto most of the time. The plan is
    Day 1 – Kansai International Airport -> Kyoto -> Kinkakuji Temple -> Teramachi and Shin Kyogoku Shopping Arcades
    Day 2 – Toei Kyoto Studio Park -> Kiyomizudera Temple -> Higashiyama District -> Ishibe Alley -> Shouren-in
    Day 3 – Kyoto -> Nara Park -> Todaiji Temple -> Heijo Palace -> Kyoto
    Day 4 – Kyoto -> Nagiso -> Tsumago -> Magome
    Day 5 – Magome -> Narai -> Kyoto
    Day 6 – Nijo Castle -> Imperial Palace -> Sento Palace -> Philosopher Path -> Ginkakuji Temple -> Gion
    Day 7 – Kyoto -> Dotonbori (Osaka) -> Shinsaibashi Shopping Arcade (Osaka) -> Kyoto
    Day 8 – Kyoto -> Osaka Castle -> Nishinomaru Garden -> Kyoto
    Day 9 – Kyoto -> Tenjinbashisuji Shopping Arcade -> Kyoto
    Day 10 – Kyoto -> Kansai International Airport

    Is this good use of the JR West pass? If it is, when should the pass start? If it is not, what are the alternatives?

    Thank you.

    Yours sincerely,

    1. Hi Alaric san,

      The following deals are recommended.

      ICOCA and Haruka for arrival and departure days.

      ICOCA e-money can be used for trip to Nara.

      Kyoto city deals for sightseeing in Kyoto

      Kansai thru pass for trip to Osaka
      This pass is better than JR West pass. Because this pass covers subway in Osaka. It’s more convenience and more flexible.

      Only single ticket is your choice for Kiso valley.


      Takeshi /

  4. Hi Takeshi-san,

    Would like to seek your advice please. We’re planning for a 2 weeks trip in November. For the first 5 nights we’ll be based in Shin Imamiya, Osaka . The plan is

    Day 1 – arrival at night. Purchase JR Kansai Area 4 days pass, travel to Osaka.
    Day2 & 3 – Kyoto trips, using the JR Kansai Area pass, can we use the JR Haruka from Tennoji to Kyoto?
    Day 4 – Himeji and back Osaka
    Day 5 – Nara and back Osaka, no pass use on this day probably
    Day6 – travel to Kanazawa, with Takayama Hokuriku 5 day pass
    Day7- Kanazawa
    Day8- travel to Takayama via Shirakawago
    Day9 – Takayama
    Day 10 – travel to Gero
    Day 11- Gero to Osaka
    Day 12 – To Tokyo.
    2 nights in Tokyo.

    Is this good use of the 2 JR pass – kansai area and Takayama Hokuriku? Thank you.


    1. Hi Dennis san,

      Kansai area pass is a good idea. You can take Haruka to get Kyoto from Tennoji directly. However it does not cover Kyoto very much. Please see the link below:

      You may need to have Kyoto city deal to take subway and city bus.

      On the other hand, Kansai thru pass covers all.

      However you cannot take JR trains. So you have to take subway to get Yodoyabashi or Umeda to take Hankyu railway or Keihan railway. Haruka is more convenience and much faster. But Kansai thru pass covers all. You can use this pass in unconsecutive days. You can use 3 days pass for 2 days Kyoto and Nara. You can take Nankai railway to get Shin-Imamiya directly from KIX. One day Kansai area pass can be used for Himeji.

      By the way, do you really need to go back to Osaka after Gero? If you go to Nagoya and catch Shinkansen, it’s much easier to get Tokyo and cheaper. Takayama Hokuriku Area Pass is expired when you go to Osaka from Gero. You have to add single fare anyway. If you go back to Osaka, you have to pay for Gero to Osaka and Osaka to Tokyo. If you go to Tokyo after Gero, you need to pay only Gero to Tokyo.


      Takeshi /

      1. Thanks Takeshi. I did the math and your recommendation works out perfectly!

        On going back to Osaka yes, we have a domestic flight covered from Osaka to Tokyo as part of transit before flying back to our home country.

        I got another question on the Takayama Hokuriku pass vs self drive, let me ask you in your other post about this pass.

        Thank you!


  5. Dear Mr. Takeshi,

    On Nov 06, I will have a trip to Japan. The flight arrive at KIX 02:15 a.m and I will take JR train from KIX to Osaka then change to Himeji line, late afternoon I will take train from Himeji to Kyoto,

    I checked several options, it seems Kansai Area Pass 01 Day could be the best for my case.

    I’m just worry how to calculate 01 day. Your post mentioned “from midnight to midnight”, that should be fine for my case. However, from JR West website
    at “Availability and Use” it is said that “The validity of a rail pass starts from 12 a.m. “. Does it mean from noon time 06 to noon time 07?
    Would you kindly help me on that information. Thanks.

  6. Dear Mr Takeshi

    I will visit Japan next month. up to now,still looking for appropriate pass to travel.

    this is my itinerary

    Day 1 KIX – Dotonbori
    Day 2 Osaka Castle – Tempozan/Kaiyukan aquarium
    Day 3 Kobe – Nara
    Day 4 Namba Park – Universal City Walk – KIX (to Tokyo)
    Day 5 Disneyland
    Day 6 asakusa – skytree – sumida park – imperial park
    Day 7 Ueno – Odaiba
    Day 8 Fujiko F Fujio – Yokohama
    Day 9 Lake Kawaguchi – ginza
    Day 10 Shinjuku – Tokyo governmnet – Harajuku – shibuya – Roppongi – Tokyo tower
    Day 11 Chiba – Narita – KIX
    Day 12 Arashiyama Bamboo Forest – Tenryu-ji Temple – Golden Pavillion – Gion
    Day 13 Fushimi Inari – Nijo Castle – Imperial palace
    Day 14 KIX

    place we stay
    Osaka : Fukushima
    Tokyo : Ueno
    Kyoto : near Hanazono

    as i read your article about pass that used in japan, i will use :
    1. Kansai Thru pass –> Osaka and Kobe
    2. Tokyo Wide pass –> 3 days (Odaiba, Yokohama, Fuji)
    3. Kyoto sightseeing
    4. ICOCA or SUICA
    5. ICOCA and Haruka : for KIX to Osaka back to KIX
    and for Kyoto to KIX back to KIX
    6. Osaka Amazing pass : because offers some famous place

    maybe you can give suggestion about my pass based on my itinerary.


    1. Hi Anita,

      Overall I agree with your choices. I want to mention a few little things.

      Kansai thru pass
      I don’t think you need this pass. This pass is too much for sightseeing in Osaka. But if you use only one way ICOCA and Haruka for arrival day and taking Nankai railway from Namba to KIX, 2 days Kansai thru pass will work.

      ICOCA and Haruka
      As you probably know, you can use ICOCA in Tokyo too. So once you get ICOCA on arrival day, you don’t need to have any other cards.

      If you switch day 5 (disney) and day 10, you may use Keisei + subway combo deal.


      Takeshi /

      1. Hi Mr Takeshi

        Thanks for your suggestions.
        one more question..
        If I buy the Haruka-ICOCA round trip, which one is the kind of service section i should take, Kansai to Kyoto or Kansai to Osaka?
        Since the first arrival in Kansai, i will go to Osaka. But second arrival in Kansai i will go Kyoto..


        1. Hi Anita,

          You may purchase ICOCA and Haruka to Tennoji for the first arrival. For second arrival, you may purchase just Haruka discount ticket.

          If you want to use ICOCA and Haruka for first arrival day (KIX-Osaka) and the last departure day (Kyoto to KIX), round trip deal does not work. You can use one way ICOCA and Haruka for the first arrival day and use Haruka discount ticket as you need.


          Takeshi /

  7. Dear Mr Takeshi

    i need your suggestion. will go to japan for 9days and this is my itinerary

    Day 1 Osaka – Kaiyukan Aquarium – Shinsaibashi
    Day 2 Osaka – Universal Studio – Dotonbori
    Day 3 Nara Park – Todai ji Temple – Kyoto
    Day 4 Arashiyama Bamboo Forest – Tenryu-ji Temple – Golden Pavillion – Fushimi Inari – and will go to kobe harbour if i have spare time
    Day 5 Kyoto – Tokyo – Disneyland
    Day 6 Tokyo – Asakusa – Shibuya – Ginza
    Day 7 Gala Yuzawa (all day)
    Day 8 Doraemon Museum – mt Fuji

    after i read your information about jr pass. i think icoca is most suitable for my itinerary. is it true? need your suggestion.


    1. Hi Deassy,

      You can use JR pass for the day 1 to 7 or day 2 to 8.

      If you arrive in KIX on day 1 and want to go to Kaiyukan, you can use Yokoso Osaka ticket and start using JR pass on day 2.

      ICOCA is not a right choice. You can have it to take local train in each cities. But you cannot use it for a long trip, such as Kyoto to Tokyo, Tokyo to Gala. And also it does not give you any discount and unlimited ride.

      JR Pass covers most part of your trip. But it does not cover city bus, subway and non JR trains. Please see the link below to find the coverage of JR pass.

      I don’t think you have any extra time to visit Kobe on day 4. On day 8, it may be tight to visit both Doraemon museum and Fuji in one day. If you just watch Fuji, you can make it at Lake Kawaguchi.


      Takeshi /

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