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
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.

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

  1. Hi Takeshi,

    I would appreciate you help with the Kansai portion of our trip. We have the JR pass and are arriving in Osaka from Hiroshima next week. We are staying in Osaka for 3 nights at the St Regis. The closest subway station is Hommachi. We would like to explore Kyoto and Nara from here as well.

    Since our hotel is not near a JR stop would it benefit us to get another type of day pass for getting to/from hotel and exploring Kyoto/Nara to go along with the JR pass we already have?

    Thank you so much for this informative blog. It has been a massive help in preparing me for our trip.

    1. Hi Kelly,

      As long as your JR Pass is valid, try to maximize to use JR Pass. You may add extra fare for taking subway in Osaka. When you go to Kyoto, take Midousuji line from Honmachi to Umeda. Umeda is same place as JR Osaka. When you go to Nara, take Yotsubashi line to Namba. You can get Namba by Midousuji line. But Yotsubashi line Namba station is much closer to JR Namba. Please see the links below to fine the route and station info.
      http://jprail.com/travel-informations/tips-for-japan-rail-pass/how-to-transfer-among-kyoto-osaka-and-kobe-compare-japan-railway-and-private-lines.html
      http://jprail.com/destinations/kansai-area/guide-to-take-trains-in-osaka-how-to-choose-the-best-route-by-train-to-get-the-major-spots.html
      http://jprail.com/destinations/kansai-area/osaka-station-guide-how-to-change-jr-trains-subway-trains-and-other-private-railways.html
      http://jprail.com/travel-informations/basic-informations/station-information/osaka-station-guide-how-to-change-jr-trains-subway-trains-and-other-private-railways.html

      Cheers,

      Takeshi / JPRail.com

  2. hi!
    Thanks for the excellent article.
    My itinerary is as follows. Appreciate if you could advise on the type of rail/bus passes that I should purchase.

    Kansai (Osaka,Nara, Kyoto)
    but I will stay at my friend’s house in Kyoto (kusatsu station)

    day 1- arrive at KIX > nara > kyoto (kusatsu)
    day 2- from kusatsu > osaka> kusatsu
    (it’s good to purchase osaka amazing pass?)
    day 3-kyoto then go to tokyo

    1. Hi Zara,

      You can use Kansai Area Pass 2 days for the first 2 days.
      On day 2, you can get many places in Osaka by Kansai area pass. Please see the link below to find the coverage in Osaka.
      http://jprail.com/travel-informations/tips-for-japan-rail-pass/guide-to-take-trains-in-osaka-how-to-choose-the-best-route-by-train-to-get-the-major-spots.html

      On day 3, use single ticket to get Kyoto. After arriving Kyoto, you can use Kyoto city deal.
      http://www.insidekyoto.com/special-kyoto-bus-train-subway-passes

      For trip to Tokyo, single ticket is only choice. There are express bus from Kyoto to Tokyo. I’m not very familiar with express bus. But you can find some info at the link below. That’s all I can tell about the bus.
      https://willerexpress.com/en/

      Cheers,

      Takeshi / JPRail.com

  3. Hi,
    Thanks for the excellent article. I will be travelling to Osaka and would appreciate your help on getting a suitable pass/passes on the following routes.
    Day 1. Airport to Osaka station.
    Day 2. Osaka – Nara – Kyoto – Osaka
    Day 3. Osaka – Himeji – Osaka.
    Day 4. Osaka – Hiroshima – Miyajima – Osaka
    Day 5. Osaka by bus or metro
    Day 6. Osaka station to airport.

    1. Hi Nadeem,

      You may use Kansai Hiroshima Area Pass for the first 5 days.
      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

      On day 5, you still can use Kansai Hiroshima Area Pass. You can access to many places in Osaka. But if you need to take subway or bus, you can add single fare or subway pass. Please find the link below:
      http://jprail.com/travel-informations/tips-for-japan-rail-pass/guide-to-take-trains-in-osaka-how-to-choose-the-best-route-by-train-to-get-the-major-spots.html

      You also need to add subway or/and bus pass in Kyoto.
      http://jprail.com/travel-informations/tips-for-japan-rail-pass/guide-to-take-trains-in-kyoto-how-to-choose-the-best-route-by-train-to-get-the-major-spots.html

      Nara and Himeji are okay by this pass.

      On the last day, there are some deals available to get KIX.
      http://jprail.com/sample-itineraries/airport-access/kansai-kix/how-to-choose-the-deals-for-access-tofrom-kansai-airport.html

      Cheers,

      Takeshi / JPRail.com

  4. Dear Takeshi,

    I will be going to Japan next month with a few friends and it will be our first time! 🙂

    We are arriving at Tokyo but need to go Kyoto as our apartment is located there.
    We will be in Kyoto for a week. We will spend the first 3 days exploring Kyoto and then we want to make day trips to Nara, Osaka, and Kobe on the following days (One day for each location before returning to Kyoto at night to our apartment).

    Example:
    Kyoto (day 1-3)
    Kyoto –> Nara –> Kyoto (day 4)
    Kyoto –> Kobe –> Kyoto (day 5)
    Kyoto –> Osaka –> Kyoto (day 6)

    Which passes would you recommend for us that would cover both local trips within Kyoto and the day trips to the other areas?

    I am a little confused with the various options so your help would be most appreciated!

    Thank you very much
    Kind Regards,

    Priscilla

    1. Hi Priscilla,

      If you take a train from Tokyo to Kyoto and back to Tokyo on day 7, you need JR pass 7 days.
      http://jprail.com/travel-informations/other-rail-passes/rail-pass-for-visitors/japan-rail-pass-user-guide-how-to-use-jr-pass-to-its-maximum.html

      JR pass covers many part of your trip in Kyoto, Nara, Kobe and Osaka. Please see the link below:
      http://jprail.com/travel-informations/tips-for-japan-rail-pass/how-to-transfer-among-kyoto-osaka-and-kobe-compare-japan-railway-and-private-lines.html

      If you take other way between Kyoto and Tokyo, and need the deal for just Kyoto, Osaka, Kobe and Nara, you can use Kyoto city deal for the first 3 days and Kansai thru pass for the last 3 days (Nara, Kobe and Osaka).
      http://www.insidekyoto.com/special-kyoto-bus-train-subway-passes
      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 / JPRail.com

  5. Dear Takeshi,
    We plan to go to Kobe for a 5-day trip next week and below is the itinerary:
    Akashi bridge, Himeiji
    Miyajima/hiroshima/nunobiki herb garden
    Arashiyama or omihachiman/hikone
    Kobe
    I note there are Kansai-hiroshima area pass, sanyo-san,in area pass and Kansai wide area pass, and JR rail pass,please advise which pass to get. Thank you.
    Regards
    Mara

      1. Dear Takeshi,

        Thank you for your reply. Do we need to exchange for JR ticket to go to hiroshima?

        Thanks

        Mara

        1. Dear Takeshi,

          Thanks. So just buy one pass, no need to buy Kansai thru pass and we can use the pass to take train to Kobe Sannomiya from Kansai airport instead of taking limousine bus, right? Is the pass good for travelling to Hieizan?

          Thanks

          Mara

          1. Hi Mara,

            You don’t need to have Kansai thru pass. But you need to add some extra because this pass does not cover city bus, subway and non JR trains. For example, when you go to Nunobiki falls, you need to get Shin-Kobe. It’s one station away from Sannomiya by subway but subway is not covered. But it’s not a big deal. Kansai Hiroshima pass is your choice anyway.

            You can take JR trains between KIX and Sannomiya. But there is no direct trains. The best route is taking limited express Haruka from Kansai airport to Shin-Osaka. And transfer to Special Rapid to Sannomiya.

            You cannot get Hieizan by only this pass. You have to take JR train to Hieizan-Sakamoto station by this pass. But after that, you have to pay extra for taking bus and ropeway.
            http://www.hieizan.or.jp/_att/english.pdf

            Cheers,

            Takeshi / JPRail.com

  6. Dear Takeshi,

    Hello and good day to you. I will be travelling to Osaka/Kyoto/Kobe/Nara and back to Osaka. My itinerary is as follows. Appreciate if you could advise on the type of rail/bus passes that I should purchase.

    Day 1 – Arrive in Kansai Airport (KIX). To take the Haruka from KIX to Kyoto Station. Arrive in Kyoto midday and check in at hotel near the Kyoto Station. To walk around to familiarise ourselves as well as to visit Gion – Shijo area. To take Bus Number 100 or 206 (Yen 230) from Kyoto Station to Gion. What kind of pass should I buy.
    Day 2 – Sightseeing in Kyoto. Places to visit are Arashiyama & Sagano, Kinkaku-ji temple, Ginkaku-ji temple, take Sagano Sightseeing tram.
    Day 3 – To visit Fushimi Inari Shrine in the morning and Nara in the afternoon. Both are accessible by the JR line. Can I use the 7 day JR Pass that I intend to buy?
    Day 4 – To return to Osaka, Namba in the morning by Haruku. Sightseeing around Osaka, Namba.
    Day 5 – Day trip to Kobe to see Himeji Castle and Kobe. To buy the JR West Kansai Area Pass. 1 Day pass for Yen 2,200.
    Day 6 – Sightseeing in Osaka, Namba. To travel either by metro or bus.
    Day 7 – Sightseeing in Osaka, Namba. To travel either by metro or bus.
    Day 8 – Osaka, Namba to Kansai Airport for flight home. Will take the JR Kansai Rapid Service from Osaka Station to Kansai Airport for Yen 1,160. Is there a cheaper alternative.

    I have in mind to purchase the 7 day JR Pass at 29,110.

    While in Kyoto, can I also use this JR Pass?

    What is the Kyoto City Sightseeing Card – I thought it should be useful for Day 2 and 3. Could you please advise.

    Sorry for the long email and thanks in advance.

    Cheers.

    Lily

    1. Hi Lily,

      Please see the link below. It is one of my sample itineraries. It’s almost same as your trip.
      http://jprail.com/sample-itineraries/7days/visit-kyoto-osaka-nara-and-kobe-for-5-to-7-days-sample-itinerary.html

      JR Pass is not required and it’s way more expensive than even single fare.

      You can follow this itinerary but if you want to use Haruka to Namba, you should purchase 2 days Kansai area pass for this trip and to Kobe and Himeji next day.

      The last day, if you are okay with transfer train at Namba, the following deal is cheaper.
      http://www.howto-osaka.com/en/ticket/ticket/chikatoku.html

      Cheers,

      Takeshi / JPRail.com

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  • Please do not ask me to make your itinerary. Because I am not your personal travel agent. I am very happy to check your itinerary. But please try to make the plan by yourself. In this website, there are lots of resources to make your plan.
  • Please do not ask me about the access to your hotel. You can google your hotel and find it at hotel website or google map easily.
  • If you want to ask me which pass suits your plan, please tell me your detailed itinerary and location to stay. I cannot choose any deals without the detailed itinerary because I have to compare the total single fare and deals

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