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.

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.

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. Kansai Area Pass covers JR Bus in Kyoto too. You can get Takao area by bus which is covered by this pass.

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.

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

  1. Hi Takeshi san,

    My partner and I are visiting Japan (Osaka, Kyoto then Tokyo) in March/April 2018 for 9 days and would like to seek your opinion regarding the type of transport/passes we should purchase. Initially we wanted to get the JR ordinary pass for 7 days, but after looking at your articles, we think the JR pass might not be our best option.

    Our draft itinerary is as follows:

    Osaka (30 March – 1 April 2018)
    – Arrive at Kansai Airport around 1pm
    – Kansai Airport to Namba station (Yokoso! Osaka ticket)
    – Namba station to Nippombashi station; our accommodation is at Kozu, Chuo Ward (Yokoso! Osaka ticket)
    – Osaka Castle & Osaka Museum of History (Yokoso! Osaka ticket)
    – Second day: Dotonbori, Shinsaibashi, Kuromon Market (Walk)
    – Third day morning: Single trip train from Nippombashi station to Namba (subway) to Umeda (subway), then walk to Osaka station and JR special rapid service to Kyoto Station

    Kyoto & Nara Park (1 April – 5 April 2018)
    – Our accommodation in Kyoto is 3 mins away from Kyoto Station and we plan to only visit Nara after we arrive in Kyoto as we have luggages.
    – Gion
    – Nishiki Market
    – Arashiyama, tenryuji temple, sagano bamboo groves
    – Fushimi Inari Shrine
    – Kiyomizu dera temple

    Tokyo (5 April – 7 April 2018)
    – Our accommodation in Tokyo is around 5 mins from Shinjuku station.
    – Shinjuku
    – Harajuku, Shibuya
    – Meiji Shrine
    – Ginza
    – Ueno
    – Disneyland
    – Shinjuku station to Haneda Airport in the afternoon on the last day.

    Would really appreciate your help on the transport/passes for the above.

    Thanks so much Takeshi san! 🙂

    1. Hi Kayla san,

      As you noticed, JR Pass is not your choice. You must have one round trip between Osaka/Kyoto and Tokyo to get the worth. One way trip is not enough.

      You can find the deal in each cities at the links below:
      http://jprail.com/travel-informations/other-rail-passes/rail-pass-for-residents/how-to-choose-the-best-train-pass-for-sightseeing-in-osaka.html
      http://jprail.com/travel-informations/other-rail-passes/rail-pass-for-residents/how-to-choose-the-best-train-pass-for-sightseeing-in-tokyo.html
      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

      For trip from Kyoto to Tokyo, you may consider using Platt Kodama if you want to save your cost.
      http://jprail.com/travel-informations/other-rail-passes/rail-pass-for-residents/platt-kodama-one-way-deal-among-tokyo-nagoya-kyoto-and-shin-osaka-by-shinkansen.html

      Regarding route from Nippombashi to Kyoto, you may use Kintetsu railway. You can take train at Kintetsu-Nippombashi station to Yamato-Saidaiji, and then take another train to Kyoto. Kintetsu-Nippombashi is same location as Nippombashi. Kintetsu railway’s Kyoto station is same as JR Kyoto station. You can get Kyoto with only one train change.
      http://www.kintetsu.co.jp/foreign/english/about/station/route_map/index.html

      Yamato-Saidaiji is just two stations away from Kyoto. I understand you have luggages but it’s very closed on the way to Kyoto. Kintetsu Nara station has many lockers.
      http://www.kintetsu.co.jp/foreign/english/about/station/coin_locker/pdf/nara.pdf

      Cheers,

      Takeshi / JPRail.com

      1. Hi Takeshi san,

        Thank you so much for the detailed explanation! 🙂

        I think I will go with you suggestions and take the Kintetsu railway between Osaka, Nara and Kyoto. Do you think the Kintetsu rail pass 1-day (1,500 yen) is enough?

        Also, if I were to take take the train from Kintetsu-Nippombashi to Kintetsu-Nara first to do some sightseeing, do I have to purchase a limited express ticket in addition to the 1-day pass? Then, Kintetsu-Nara to Kyoto on the same day will I also have to buy the limited express ticket again?

        1. Hi Kayla,

          Actually single ticket is okay. Total fares is around 1100 yen. Kintetsu pass covers bus in Nara. But most of places can be accessed by walk. Single ticket is okay.

          You can take Limited Express train if you like, but not required. Limited Express does not run very often between Osaka and Nara. You may need to take an ordinary train even if you want.

          Cheers,

          Takeshi / JPRail.com

  2. Hi Takeshi san, I would like to ask your recomendation which pass or transport should I take for my trip:
    Day 1: morning travel from hamamatsucho to osaka, will stay at kitahama. Visit osaka castle, namba and dontonburi
    Day 2 : from kitahama, visit arashimaya, kinkakuji and fushiri inari and gion and back to kitahama osaka.
    Day 3 : kitahama to Toei kyoto studio and gion. Back to kitahama
    Day r : kitahama to nara, back to osaka visit around osaka. At niight travel to KIX
    Please advise. Thank you and ki d regards, Enie

      1. Dear Takeshi san,
        Thank you for the quick response. I will follow your suggestion. I will buy the one day Osaka Visitor pass and 3 days Kansai Thru pass. Can I buy them at Singapore or has to be in Japan ?
        One more question, I plan to use IOCCA card in Tokyo, I will do sightseeing around Tokyo for 2 days (Modern part and Traditional part, 2 days Disneyland and Disneysea. Is it the right decision to use IOCCA card instead of any day pass? Should I get the refund before leaving Tokyo, or will I need it when I am at Osaka Kyoto?
        Thanks and regards, Enie

        1. Hi Enie san,

          You cannot buy Kansai thru pass before you come to Japan.
          http://www.surutto.com/tickets/kansai_thru_english02.html

          And you should use Enjoy Eco card at 800 yen. It’s 200 yen higher than Osaka visitor’s ticket but you can buy Eco card at Shin-Osaka or Umeda or any other subway stations. You can get it right after you get Osaka. If you want to buy visitors ticket, you need to get Shinsaibashi and you need to spend more than 200 yen to get there. It doesn’t make sense.

          I think you mix up ICOCA and Suica. ICOCA is sold in Osaka and Suica is sold in Tokyo. Both card can be used in both cities. But if you want to get the refund, you have to do it before the city where the card is sold. If you use Suica in Tokyo, you have to refund it before you leave in Tokyo. You cannot get ICOCA in Tokyo but you can get refund it in Osaka.

          For traveling in downtown Tokyo, subway pass is better way.
          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

          But Disney is not covered by subway pass.

          Cheers,

          Takeshi / JPRail.com

          1. Dear Takeshi-san,
            Kindly advise on the type of pass that is most suitable for my trip to wakayama in january 2018, my stay is for 14 days, I’m 50, traveling with wife, mother age 80 and a friend;

            the key areas that i want to cover are as below;

            1. wakayama city – spend 2 nights
            2. koyasan – doing the temple stay for 1 night
            3. kumano kodo to see the 3 grand shrines, hongu taisha, nachi
            taisha and hayatama taisha and daimonzaka?
            4. the onsens in Hongu town
            5. Nachi waterfall
            6. Katsura
            7. Shirahama
            8. Dorokyo Gorge/Shingu
            9. Kushimoto

            A few key questions are;
            I read about the Ise-kumano-wakayama Tourist 5days pass, is it necessary to buy 2 passes for my 13 days, can it be use from Kansai Airport upon arrival? Will it be able to take care of most of my areas/attractions to visit while in wakayama? What’s your advise?

            Where would you recommend as my bases(cities/town) to stay for the respective areas eg. will shingu be a good base for visiting kumano, kushinmoto, nachi, katsuura?

            For kumano kodo and hongu town do i need a few days to cover the main attractions?

            I know some of the questions doesn’t involve JPRail but i would surely appreciate any pointers or advise that you can provide.

            Thank you in advance,
            Julian Tham
            Malaysia

          2. Hi Julian san,

            I think you may have one pass and add single fare. Koyasan is not covered by this pass. You can get there from Wakayama. But it’s much easier to get there from Namba (Osaka). You should visit there before/after using this pass.
            http://www.howto-osaka.com/en/ticket/ticket/koyasan.html

            It’s hard to say how many days you need for Kumamo, Kushimoto area. I’m sure you need two or three days at least. But it depends on how much you want to see these places.

            Regarding using pass, I think you need one pass only. Wakayama-Shingu one way fare + express seat fee is around 6000 yen. Bus fare is around 1600 yen. I don’t think you can get the worth of two passes. You need only one pass + single fare to go back to Osaka or Wakayama.

            Shingu is the best place to visit Kumano area.

            Cheers,

            Takeshi / JPRail.com

          3. Many thanks Takeshi-San for your advise, I will follow your advise.
            Cheers fr julian Tham

  3. Hi Takeshi,

    I just realized the JR Kansai Pass needs to be used on consecutive days, so please disregard my question to you earlier again about whether I should buy the 4 Day JR Kansai Pass or not.

    I will probably just buy the 1 Day JR Kansai Pass + 2 Day Kansai Thru Pass Option.

    Thanks.

  4. Hello,

    I would like to check on the following:
    If I buy a Kansai area pass for 4 days must the usage be on consecutive days? I intend to be in Osaka for 2 nights followed by 3 nights in Kyoto and then back to Osaka. Whilst in Osaka I will be making a day trip to Nara and another to Tennoji Zoo. Can the pass be used on 4 non consecutive days or is there a better option?

    Thanks

    1. Hi Gerrie,

      You have to use it in consecutive days.
      I this this pass does not suit your trip plan. Kansai thru pass 3 days is better choice.
      http://jprail.com/travel-informations/other-rail-passes/rail-pass-for-residents/how-to-use-kansai-thru-pass-compare-pass-and-single-fare.html

      You may not use this pass in consecutive days. You can use it for trip to Nara, Osaka to Kyoto and Kyoto to Osaka. In Osaka and Kyoto, you can add other deals as you need.
      http://jprail.com/travel-informations/other-rail-passes/rail-pass-for-residents/how-to-choose-the-best-train-pass-for-sightseeing-in-osaka.html
      http://jprail.com/travel-informations/other-rail-passes/rail-pass-for-residents/how-to-choose-the-best-train-pass-for-sightseeing-in-kyoto.html

      Cheers,

      Takeshi / JPRail.com

  5. Hi Takeshi san, i would like to ask for your recommendation as to whether we should take jr westkansai area pass or kansai thru pass, here is our itinerary:

    Day 1: Reached Osaka at night, from kansai to Tsurugaoka Station – one way ticket
    Day 2: Osaka tour around city (Osaka Castle, Umeda Sky Building, Dontobori ferry, Hep Five Ferry Whee) – Osaka Amazing pass
    Day 3: Sumiyoshi Taisha, Shinsekai, Dontobori- Osaka Amazing pass
    Day 4: To kyoto (Kinkaju-ji, Shijo Dori) – Kansai thru pass 3 days
    Day 5: To Nara and Kobe- Kansai thru pass 3 days
    Day 6: To Arashiyama Bamboo- Kansai thru pass 3 days
    Day 7: Kiyomizu, Fushimi Inari Taisa
    Day 8: To Osaka – one way ticket
    Day 9: To kansai airport from Nagahoribashi Station

    1. Hi Yap Ka Mei san,

      I think you can use Kansai area pass one day for Nara and Kobe on day 5. You may use one day of 3 days Kansai thru pass on day 8. You may visit somewhere in Osaka or/and Kyoto on day 8 by this pass.

      Cheers,

      Takeshi / JPRail.com

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