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.

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

  1. Hi Takeshi san,
    I would like to hear from you the best pass/ticket to purchase based on my itinerary as below,
    1) 2/12 – Kansai to Shirakawa and Takayama
    2) 4/12 – from Takayama to Shin Osaka station
    3) 5/12 and 6/12- Shin Osaka to Kyoto
    4) 7/12 – Shin Osaka to Nara and another half maybe Kyoto or Osaka
    5) 8/12 – Universal Studio
    6) 9/12 – spend day trip in Osaka
    7) 10/12 – Shin Osaka to Kansai

  2. Hi

    We are traveling to osaka-tokyo route. On our first day we are traveling to osaka – kyoto – kobe – osaka. We will be visiting the following places in this particular order:
    1. Arashiyama
    2. Fushimi-inari
    3. Kinakaku-ji
    After visiting Kinakaku-ji we will be heading kobe to visit harborland then back to oaska at night.
    Afterwards we will be heading to UNiversal and visit places around Osaka.
    On the 27/11 we will be heading to tokyo and visit the sites there however no itinerary yet in tokyo. Which is more preferable to purchase for our itinerary? Jr pass or jr kansai area pass or jr kansai wide area pass?

    1. Hi Franz,

      Kansai area pass one day is your choice. But you have to pay for bus to get Kinkakuji. Other places are okay but Kinkakuji is not located on JR line.

      Single ticket is required to get Tokyo and you may use single fare ticket or subway pass in Tokyo.
      http://jprail.com/destinations/kanto-area/tokyo-kanto-area/guide-to-take-trains-in-tokyo-how-to-choose-the-best-deal-and-the-best-route-by-train-to-get-the-major-spots.html

      Cheers,

      Takeshi / JPRail.com

  3. Hi,

    I would like to ask.
    1- I will stay 1 nite in osaka
    2- 2nd day travel to himeji than same day to kyoto
    3- spend 2 full days in Kyoto ( 3rd and 4th day)
    4- 5th day travel to nara than same day back to osaka
    5- 6th day hostel – kix

    I plan to use
    Kansai thru pass for #2 and #4, The rest I ll be using ICOCOA.
    my question .
    1- i ve read that kansai thru pass not accessible to JR and some said can use kansai thru pass
    2- kansai thru pass have discounted for temples entrance fee?
    3- which is better deal kansai thru pass or wide area ? because wide area does not cover any private railway lines, subway lines and bus lines.
    4- from kix to namba i just want to use ICOCOA

  4. Dear Takeshi-San,

    I would like to seek your advice on the types of rail pass for the following itinerary for 2 adults and 2 children- 7 to 11 years old.
    May I know whether the following passes are sufficient to cover the entire trip and the fare calculation is correct?

    – Two passes for adult HARUKA and Kansai One Pass (One way from KIX to Kyoto), Yen 3,600 x 2
    – Two return HARUKA for the Osaka-> KIX for 2 adults, Yen 1,100 x 2
    – Two 2 Day Kansai Area Pass for children (KIX to Kyoto and travelling in Kyoto on Day 1, Osaka to KIX on Day 8), Yen 2,150 x 2
    – Children ICOCA cards, Yen 2,000 x 2
    – OSAKA Kaiyu Ticket – 2 Adults and 2 children, Yen 2,550 x 2 and Yen 1,300 x 2

    Total: Yen 25,400

    Day 1: (KIX To kyoto)
    i) KIX-> Kyoto Station for Luggage Delivery Service to Hotel,
    ii) Kyoto Station to Arashiyama,
    iii) Arashiyama->Gion,
    iv) Gion->Ponto-Cho,
    v) Ponto-Cho->Hotel next to Omiya station

    Day 2: (Kyoto)
    i) Omiya station-> Nishiki Food Market,
    ii) Nishiki Food Market-> Gekkeikan Okura Sake Museum,
    iii) Gekkeikan Okura Sake Museum->Fushimi Inari Taisha,
    iv) Fushimi Inari Taisha->Kyoto Station,
    v) Kyoto Station->Omiya station

    Day 3: (Kyoto -> Nara -> Osaka)
    i) Omiya station-> Nara Station (Deposit Luggage at Station) and proceed to Nara Park,
    ii) Nara Park->Hotel next to Nipponbashi station

    Day 4 (Osaka -> Kobe “Day Trip”)
    i) Nipponbashi station->Arima Onsen
    ii) Arima Onsen -> Nankinmachi
    iii) Nankinmachi-> Nipponbashi station

    Day 5
    Planning to stroll around shopping areas in Namba Station, Kuromon Ichiba Market, Shinsaibashi Street, and Dotonbori (Using Kansai one pass and children ICOCA)

    Day 6
    i) Nipponbashi station-> To deposit luggage at Hotel which is next to Higobashi Station
    ii) Higobashi Station-> Shinsekai
    iii) Shinsekai -> Shin Umeda City
    iv) Shin Umeda City -> Higobashi Station

    Day 7
    i) Endo Sushi -> Osaka Aquarium kaiyukan
    ii) Osaka Aquarium kaiyukan -> Shin Umeda City
    iii) Shin Umeda City -> Higobashi Station

    Day 8
    i) Higobashi Station -> KIX

    Thanks!

    1. Hi Nat san,

      I have a few things to mention to you.

      1. Kansai One Pass
      It’s ICOCA based IC card but it’s different. You can use Kansai One Pass as same way as ICOCA but it’s sold separately from Haruka ticket. Kansai One Pass is sold at 3000 yen (2500 yen + 500 yen deposit). And Kansai One Pass gives you some discount. Please see the details at the link below:
      http://kansaionepass.com/en/about.html?info=1

      2. Kansai Area Pass for children
      2 days pass must be used in consecutive days. Unfortunately you cannot use it for day 1 and 8. And you cannot purchase 2 X 1 day pass. Official site says, “Caution: A Visitor may purchase Kansai Area Pass ONLY ONCE per visit.” You have to purchase a regular ticket for your children on day 8.

      3. Kansai thru pass
      You may use ICOCA or Kansai One Pass for most part of your trip but Kansai thru pass is better choice for trip to Nara and Kobe on day 3 and 4.
      http://jprail.com/travel-informations/other-rail-passes/rail-pass-for-residents/how-to-use-kansai-thru-pass-compare-pass-and-single-fare.html

      At last, when you go to KIX from Higobashi, you can take subway to Namba and then take Nankai railway. It’s easier to take Haruka from Tennoji. Your children cannot use Kansai area pass and need to purchase a regular ticket for Haruka. But if you take Nankai railway, there are some deals. Child rate is also available.
      http://www.howto-osaka.com/en/ticket/ticket/tokuwari.html
      http://www.howto-osaka.com/en/ticket/ticket/chikatoku.html

      Cheers,

      Takeshi / JPRail.com

      1. Hi Takeshi,
        Need your help, should I purchase a Japan Rail Pass? JR Kansai Wide Area Pass? JR Kansai Area Pass? Kansai Thru Pass? Then use Suica card and Hakone Free Pass in Tokyo for the itinerary below:

        Nov 25- at 5.20am arrival at Kansai International Airport
        – from Kansai International Airport travel to Hotel in Shinsaibashi area
        – from Shinsaibashi travel to Kyoto ( visit Arashima, Fushimi-inari and Kinakaku-ji)
        From Kyoto travel to Kobe (harborland then back to
        Osaka at night time.

        Nov 26- Universal Studios Japan and Tempozan Ferris Wheel. Visit other places near the area.

        Nov 27- explore Namba area before taking the shinkansen to Tokyo.

        Nov 28- from Kasai station travel to Disneyland/ Disneysea Tokyo

        Nov 29- from Kasai station travel to Mt Fuji, Hakone, Lake Kawaguchi

        Nov 30- early morning: tsukiji market and Tokyo Skytree
        – After lunch transfer to another hotel, nearest station is Kodemmacho subway. then Explore- Ginza, Asakusa, Roponggi

        Dec 1- fly out via Narita Airport

        Hope to hear back from you soon and thanks in advance.

        1. Hi Ameron,

          Nov 25 and 26
          Kansai thru pass 2 days
          http://jprail.com/travel-informations/other-rail-passes/rail-pass-for-residents/how-to-use-kansai-thru-pass-compare-pass-and-single-fare.html

          Nov 27
          Single ticket

          Nov 28
          Single ticekt. I think bus runs between Kasai and Disneyland but not sure actually.

          Nov 29- from Kasai station travel to Mt Fuji, Hakone, Lake Kawaguchi
          This is possible but it is super tight trip in one day. Please see the link below:
          http://jprail.com/sample-itineraries/1-day/fuji-hakone-one-day-trip-sample-itinerary-you-can-visit-both-lake-kawaguchi-and-hakone-by-day-trip-from-tokyo.html

          You have to take subway to get Shinjuku before doing this sample.
          You can use Tokyo Subway Ticket 48 hours for this trip to Shinjku and sightseeing in next day, Nov 30.
          http://jprail.com/destinations/kanto-area/tokyo-kanto-area/guide-to-take-trains-in-tokyo-how-to-choose-the-best-deal-and-the-best-route-by-train-to-get-the-major-spots.html#Tokyo_Subway_Ticket

          Dec 1
          Subway from Kodenmacho to Ueno, Keisei Railway from Ueno to Narita
          http://www.tokyometro.jp/en/subwaymap/pdf/routemap_en.pdf
          http://www.keisei.co.jp/keisei/tetudou/skyliner/us/index.php
          Only single ticket is available.

          Cheers,

          Takeshi / JPRail.com

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