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.

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

  1. Hi Takeshi san,

    I have been reading you site with great interest and there seems to be a few passes that I have and am considering, but we are not too sure where we would get good value with some, such as the JR Kansai area pass (apart from a 1 day pass to use it to go to Himeji as it is cheaper than the return ticket from Osaka to Himeji) but maybe one of the other Kansai passes, we are too confused.

    By looking at the below itinerary we have planned, would you suggest any passes to be possible or not? Or are we better to use our ICOCA card and combination of separate tickets, apart from the Koyasan and Hakone? We cannot change any main city, as we are booked the accommodation, but at worse, would consider changing if a pass would be of value in a different itinerary? We are flying into and out of KIX airport, and did like this plan, as we are doing long-short-long-short and city-town-city-town-city kind of trip to break it all up.

    Day 1 (Wed) – KIX to Osaka (Yotsubashi subway station – Blue line) – Yokoso! Osaka pass for Rapi:t limited express to Namba, then one way fare to Yotsubashi. Will also buy an ICOCA card to use when needed.

    Day 2 (Thu) – Osaka, make use of the 1-day unlimited pass that comes with the Yokoso! Osaka.

    Day 3 (Fri) – Day trip to Himeji: Yotsubashi/Nishi-Ohashi subway to JR Osaka > Himeji. Was thinking to buy a 1 day JR Kansai area pass as this is Y2200 and the return ticket to Himeji is Y2980.

    Day 4 (Sat) – Osaka

    Day 5 (Sun) – Osaka

    Day 6 (Mon) – Yotsubashi to Namba; Nankai Namba to Koyasan (Namba > Gokurakubashi > Koyasan on the Koya Limited Express @ 8.42am, will used Koyasan World Heritage ticket).

    Day 7 (Tue) – Koyasan to Nara (Koyasan > Gokurakubashi > Hashimoto on Nankai-Koya line, then Hashimoto > Nara on JR Wakayama line); Nara to Shinjuku on overnight bus.

    Day 8 (Wed) – Tokyo (Shinjuku to Shimokitazawa).

    Day 9 (Thu) – Shimokitazawa > Tokyo Disneyland.

    Day 10 (Fri) – Shimokitazawa > Maybe daytrip to Kamakura (will be possibly using the Enoshima Kamakura free pass for this) and Yokohama.

    Day 11 (Sat) – Shimokitazawa > Maybe half a day to Mt Takao.

    Day 12 (Sun) – Shimokitazawa/Tokyo (in the morning I need to be in Chiyoda area).

    Day 13 (Mon) – Shimokitazawa > Hakone-Yumoto, will buy the Hakone free pass for 3 days, as we will spend 2 nights/3days in Hakone.

    Day 14 (Tue) – Hakone

    Day 15 (Wed) – Miyanoshita > Odawara > Kyoto (Tokaido-Sanyo shinkansen, Hikari), Kyoto >Karasuma Oike > Sanjo (Kyoto subway)

    Day 16 (Thu) – Kyoto (Kinkaku-ji, Arashiyama, Sagano romantic train and that side of Kyoto); Shijo/Gion.

    Day 17 (Fri) – Kyoto (Kiyomizu dera, Fushimi inari and that side of Kyoto).

    Day 18 (Sat) – Kyoto > KIX on JR Haruka (will buy a 1-way Haruka ticket with ICOCA discount).

    Thanking you for your help and much appreciated.


    1. Hi Michael san,

      I have a few things to mention to you.

      For trip to Himeji, Kansai area pass is the best choice because JR train is the fastest to get there. But you may thing about using Kansai thru pass. You can take subway to get Namba and then you can take Hanshin – Sanyo railway to get Himeji by Knasai thru pass.

      The reason why I recommend Kansai thru pass is for trip to Nara from Koyasan. Your planned route is okay. But you can take the following route and those routes are fully covered by Kansai thru pass.
      Koyasan – Gokurakubashi – Namba – Osaka-Namba – Kintetsunara – Kyoto

      Trip time is not much different even if you go back to Namba. It may be faster actually than your route.

      In this case, you don’t need to use Koyasan heritage ticket. You can use 3 days pass. Just add limited express fee to take Nankai railway limited express train.

      In Osaka and Kyoto, you can use local deals.

      There is no deals for Takao. You may use ICOCA in Tokyo as well.

      And there is no deals for Odawara to Kyoto. Only single fare is your choice. ICOCA cannot be used for long trip, like this.


      Takeshi /

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