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.

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

  1. Hi Takeshi,

    Is it possible to buy the “ICOCA & Haruka Pass” for a child and then buy another “child ICOCA” for the same child? Can a person possess 2 or more ICOCA cards at the same the time?

    For child, day trip Osaka – Himeji -Osaka, is it cheaper to get (single trip child ticket X 2 ) or the “Kansai Tru Pass” 1 day child pass?

    1. Hi Sou,

      ICOCA and Haruka is not available for child. If you use this ICOCA for child, adult rate is applied to child. Don’t use this deal for child. Simply purchase child ICOCA.

      You can Kansai area pass one day for trip to Himeji. Child rate is available.


      Takeshi /

  2. Hi Takeshi,

    I am asking which card should I use during my visit to Japan. I am planning to use ICOCA.
    I will visit Japan on march and plan to visit Osaka, Kyoto, Kobe and last Tokyo.
    Here is my itinerary
    I will arriving at KIX on the morning.
    I plan to have one day trip on Kyoto so I will buy ICOCA one way trip to Kyoto and then in the night I will go back to osaka by rapid train (use ICOCA). Spend the night in osaka (namba)

    The next day i will go around osaka for sightseeing and go to kobe for dinner in the noon. (i will ICOCA for accommodate my 2nd trip)

    on the third day, i will sightseeing again until afternoon and take shinkansen to tokyo. (also use ICOCA on tokyo)
    I also heard that ICOCA can also use in Tokyo but we cannot refund ICOCA in Tokyo.
    PS: I will go back from Narita

    Based on my Itinerary, Which card suited most? Is it ICOCA or Kansai Thru Pass?

    1. Hi Ryan,

      Regarding ICOCA, you cannot use it for Shinkansen. You have to purchase single ticket.

      I don’t think ICOCA and Haruka deal is a good choice for your trip. Only 1500 yen e-money is included in this deal. 1500 yen is not enough to cover all trips. Because you have to pay for subway and bus in Kyoto, Osaka and maybe in Kobe too.

      On the other hand, Kansai thru pass covers everything. You can get Kyoto, Kobe and subway and bus in these cities. But there is no direct trains that is covered by this pass. However you can drop off your luggage before heading to Kyoto. Even though you will spend your time but it makes your trip to Kyoto be easier.

      Please see the link to see the coverage of Kansai thru pass.


      Takeshi /

  3. Hi Takeshi. i will be at Osaka for 5 days. I am planning using Kansai Area Pass (JPY2200) just for 1 day. 1 plan to go Hikone and Nagahama. But when i saw this (Route map by westjr), they don’t mention about Hikone. No Hikone station. only Nagahama station there. Its different with your map above (i can see Hikone and Maibara). So which one i must follow?
    So, it is possible to travel from Osaka – Hikone – Nagahama with this pass? if can, could you explain how to go there from Osaka ? or i must buy Kansai Wide Area pass (JPY8500 for 5 days)?tqvm

  4. Hi Takeshi,

    I am planning to spend 4 days in Osaka, going to Arima Onsen the first day from Kansai Airport, 2nd & 3rd days in Osaka, then 4th day to Kansai airport. I wondered if it is worth to buy the 4-day Kansai Area pass? Or would you have any suggestion of passes to get around?

    Thank you in advance.

      1. Dear Takeshi,

        Thank you for your reply which is very helpful. But I am still overwhelmed with the various train lines. I am not sure if it would be cheaper to take the airport limousine to Sannomiya then Seishin-Yamate Line or to go to Osaka to connect bus to Arima onsen? And if the ICOCA and Haruka worth considering?

        1. Hi Mara,

          If you take a train from KIX to Arima Onsen, you have to change the train at least 3 times. But if you take a bus, you need to change it at Sannomiya only. So I recommend you to take limousine bus to Sannomiya and change the bus to Arima Onsen.


          Takeshi /

  5. Hi Takeshi,

    I’ll be travelling to Japan in October 2016, arriving in Haneda airport but i will be visiting mainly Osaka, Kyoto & Wakayama. Will buying the Japan Rail pass worth it?

  6. Fantastic,

    You’re really helping me Takeshi. And i found about this Kyoto – Osaka sightseeing pass (I’m sorry for the questions, because the choices are so unbelievably many and it’s really confused me to choose the pass), does this Kyoto – Osaka sightseeing pass cover Kansai Int Airport and Arashimaya?

    Actually I’ve decided to buy JR Pass for 7 days and i just have to find a pass for 3 days at Osaka and Kyoto that cover KIX, Osaka downtown, Arashimaya, Fushimi Inari, Kinkakuji & Ginkakuji, and Kyoto downtown. Can you give me an advice?

    Thanks again and Cheers,

    1. Hi Erna,

      If you have day trip to Kyoto from Osaka, you may think about Kansai thru pass.

      But if you stay in both Kyoto and Osaka, and need only one way transfer, you just need to add local deal, such as subway pass at each cities. Single fare is okay for Kyoto to Osaka.

      For Osaka to KIX, there are some deals:


      Takeshi /

  7. Hi Takeshi,

    Thank you for your reply earlier,
    I want to ask you about the 7 days JR pass usage, if i activate the pass on Dec 16th at 11am then it’ll end at Dec 22nd midnight? Or I’ve mistaken the meaning of 7days?


    1. Hi Erna,

      Yes. You are right. The pass is valid for midnight to midnight.

      When you exchange the pass, you have to decide which day you will start using pass. It doesn’t matter what time you start to use.


      Takeshi /

  • Your comment will not be shown until I approve.
  • 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.
  • 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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