Kansai WIDE Area Pass, the best deal for Kansai and Okayama, Kurashiki, Kinosakai and Shingu area

Kinosaki Onsen is one of most popular hot springs in Japan. ©Toyooka City/©JNTO
Kinosaki Onsen is one of most popular hot springs in Japan. ©Toyooka City/©JNTO
Kansai Airport Express Haruka
Of course, Kansai Airport Express Haruka is covered by this rail pass

Since Kansai WIDE Area Pass was released in April, 2012, this deal has been very popular for the tourist who wants to travel outside Kansai, like Kinosaki Onsen, Kii peninsula and Okayama/Kurashiki. This pass covers much bigger area than other Kansai area passes, like JR West Kansai Area Pass, Kansai Thru Pass. I am very happy that tourist tries to visit not only Osaka, Kyoto and Kobe but also outside Kansai.

In this post, I would like to show you the details of this pass and make sure the difference from other passes.

*The information in this article is current at the time of writing.

Coverage area

Kansai WIDE Area Pass covers not only Kansai area, such as Kyoto, Osaka, Kobe, Kansai airport, Nara and Himeji but also many places outside Kansai area. I would like to introduce some popular spots. Please see the map below:

Click to view large map
This 287 series is newer fleet for Limited Express Kounotori. (C) Jonathan Ayre
Limited Express Kounotori and Kinosaki are operated by the newest 287 seires. (C) Jonathan Ayre
  • Kinosaki Onsen (城崎温泉) – One of popular hot springs resort in northern Hyogo prefecture. It can be accessed by limited express Kounotori from Osaka and limited express Kinosaki from Kyoto.
  • Amanohashidate (天橋立) – It is connected directly with Kyoto by limited express Hashidate. You need to pay some extra because this train goes through Non JR line. But even Japan Rail Pass do not cover it either. Please see the details about extra at limited express Hashidate.
  • Shirahama (白浜) – This popular hot springs area is located in Kii peninsula. It can be accessed by limited express Kuroshio from Kyoto, Shin-Osaka and Tennoji.
  • Shingu (新宮) – This town is located at the south end of Kii peninsula. It is the gate town of UNESCO World Hertage Site, “Sacred Sites and Pilgrimage Routes in the Kii Mountain Range”. This can be accessed by limited express Kuroshio from Kyoto, Shin-Osaka and Tennoji too.
  • Okayama (岡山) – This city is located in Chugoku region and have one of three best landscape garden, Kourakuen Garden. It can be accessed by Shinkansen from Shin-Osaka in one hour.
  • Kurashiki (倉敷) – It is 15 minutes away from Okayama by local train. The preserved “Canal Area” is quite popular. There is Shin-Kurashiki station on Sanyo Shinkanse. But this station is not located in Kurashiki area. And Sanyo Shinkansenn between Okayama and Shin-Kurashiki is not covered by Kansai WIDE Area Pass either. Get on local train from Okayama when you get there.
  • Takamatsu (高松) – It is a gate city in Shikoku. It has Takamatsu castle and very popular Udon noodle.

I recommend you to stay in these places. But you can visit all above spots as day trip. If you are looking for something different in your trip other than Kyoto, Kobe, Osaka, Nara and Himeji, this pass gives you access and a huge saving.

Valid period

You can purchase and use this pass in all year round.

Valid trains and bus routes

Please take a look at the map at Kansai WIDE Area Pass official page one more time. You can take all local, rapid trains and Non Reserved seat on the following express trains.

  • Sanyo Shinkansen (Shin Osaka-Okayama only)
  • Limited Express Haruka (Kansai airport-Shin Osaka/Kyoto)
  • Limited Express Kuroshio (Kyoto/Shin Osaka-Shirahama/Shingu)
  • Limited Express Kounotori (Shin Osaka/Osaka-Kinosaki Onsen)
  • Limited Express Kinosaki (Kyoto-Kinosaki Onsen)
  • Limited Express Hamakaze (Osaka-Tottori)
    This express trains goes to Tottori. And this is only train to get Tottori from Osaka directly. Tottori was not in coverage area but it was included as of mid April, 2017.
  • Limited Express Thunderbird (Osaka-Tsuruga)
    This express trains goes to Kanazawa and Toyama. But these areas are outside of the area where is covered.
  • Limited Express Hashidate (Kyoto-Fukuchiyama)
    This express trains goes to Amanohashidate. You can get Amanohashidate directly from Kyoto by this train. Amanohashidate is located on Kyoto Tango Railway which was not covered by this pass. But as of mid April, 2017,
    the coverage area was expanded. Kyoto Tango Railway is not covered by this pass fully.
  • Limited Express Super Hakuto (Kyoto-Kamigori)
    This express trains goes to Kurayoshi. But these areas are outside of the area where is covered. And this train is not mentioned on the official page. But technically you can take this train between Kyoto and Kamigori with no charge. However you can take Sanyo Shinkansen by this pass. Aioi staiton on Sanyo Shinkansen is two stations away from Kamigori. Shinkansen is much faster than this train, Super Hakuto.
  • Limited Express Wide View Hida (Osaka-Maibara)
    This express trains goes to Takayama. But this is obviously outside of the area where is covered. And this train is not mentioned on the official page. But technically you can take this train between Osaka and Maibara with no charge. However there is only one round trip a day. It is not much useful.

As of mid April 2017, this pass started to cover JR bus in Kyoto and Fukui. In Kyoto, you can get Ryoan-ji temple, Kitano-Tenmangu shrine, Takao area via Nijo. This pass also covers Obamba to/from Omi-Imazu bus service and Sonobe to/from Fukuchiyama bus service.

As I mentioned above, Kyoto Tango Railway is now covered. You also can take Wakayama Dentetsu Railway between Wakayama and Kishi by this pass.

Price

There will be two different prices, purchase outside Japan and inside Japan. If you purchase it outside Japan, price is slightly cheaper. Please see the details at the below:

5 days pass

Purchase outside Japan or online Purchase inside Japan
Adult 9,000 yen 9,500 yen
Child
6-11 years
4,500 yen 4,750 yen

The validity of a rail pass starts from 12 O’clock at night, midnight to midnight.

Compare with regular fare

This is very attractive price. It is very easy to pay off. The following sample fares includes base fare and non reserved seat limited express surcharge:

  • One way trip from Kansai Airport to Shin Osaka by Limited Express Haruka — 2,330 yen
  • One way trip from Kansai Airport to Kyoto by Limited Express Haruka — 2,850 yen
  • Round trip between Shin Osaka and Himeji by Shinkansen — 6,440 yen
  • Round trip between Shin Osaka and Okayama by Shinkansen — 11,000 yen
  • Round trip between Osaka and Kinosaki Onsen by Limited Express Kounotori — 10,160 yen
  • Round trip between Kyoto and Kinosaki Onsen by Limited Express Kinosaki — 8,640 yen
  • Round trip between Shin Osaka and Shirahama by Limited Express Kuroshio — 10,160 yen
  • Round trip between Shin Osaka and Shingu by Limited Express Kuroshio — 13,380 yen

As you see above, if you take Haruka from Kansai airport to Shin-Osaka and have round trip by Shinkansen to Himeji from Shin-Osaka, it is pay off. It is very very attractive price.

Compare Kansai WIDE Area Pass and other passes

I have already written about JR West Rail Pass – Kansai Area Pass and Kansai Thru Pass (Surutto Kansai Pass). Please refer my post, How to choose discount railway ticket and pass in Kansai (Kyoto, Osaka, Kobe, Nara) area.

Compare Kansai WIDE Area Pass and Kansai Area Pass

You can choose 1 to 4 days from Kansai Area Pass. Please refer the post, How to use JR West Kansai Area Pass. Compare pass and single fare. The prices are 2,060 yen, 4,110 yen, 5,140 yen and 6,170 yen. Kansai Area Pass covers only Kansai area and does not allow you to take any express trains other than Airport Express Train Haruka. I recommend you to use 1 days pass for transfer from Kansai airport to Shin-Osaka/Kyoto. As you saw the regular fare above, 1 day pass rate 2,330 yen is cheaper than one way trip to Shin-Osaka from Kansai airport. But there is ICOCA and Haruka that includes Haruka one way ticket and 1500 yen ICOCA e-money. This is better deal than Kansai Area Pass one day.

If you compare both passes, the price is less than 2,000 yen difference. Kansai WIDE Area Pass covers many more places and more trains. In my opinion, Kansai Wide Area Pass has much greater value than Kansai Area Pass.

Even if you stay and travel in Kansai area only, Kansai Thru Pass may be better choice because it covers subway and bus services in Osaka, Kyoto and Kobe.

Compare Kansai WIDE Area Pass and Kansai Thru Pass

As I mentioned on my post, How to choose discount railway ticket and pass in Kansai (Kyoto, Osaka, Kobe, Nara) area, Kansai Thru Pass is the best rail pass for sightseeing in Osaka, Kyoto, Nara and Kobe. This deal includes Kyoto municipal transportation (subway and bus) and Osaka municipal transportation (subway and bus). This is a huge asset to explore in Kyoto and Osaka. Especially you cannot go to any popular spots without subway and bus services in Kyoto. All JR rail passes, Kansai WIDE Area Pass, Kansai Area Pass, even Japan Rail Pass, do not cover any subway and city bus services. Kansai Thru Pass covers all major private rail lines too. In Kansai area, there are many private rail lines. When you go to Kyoto and Nara from Osaka, private lines, Hankyu (Umeda-Kawaramachi), Keihan (Yodoyabashi/Kyobashi-Shijo/Sanjo), Kintetsu (Namba/Tsuruhashi-Nara, Kyoto-Nara) are more convenient.

Conclusion

So if you are sure that you stay and travel in Kansai area only, I don’t recommend you to use Kansai WIDE Area Pass. But if you are interested in the area other than Kyoto, Kobe, Osaka, Nara and Himeji to visit, this pass may be suitable for you. Kansai Thru Pass is a good rail pass. But this pass does not cover the area other than Kansai area, such as Kinosaki, Okayama and Shirahama.

If you stay in Kansai area for 3 days or less, you do not have enough time to explore outside Kansai. You should stay and enjoy sightseeing in Kyoto, Osaka, Kobe and Nara. But if you stay for 4 days or more, you may have an extra time to enjoy both Kansai are and outside of Kansai.

ex) If you stay in Osaka for 5 nights,
Day 1 Kansai airpot – Shin Osaka (Kansai WIDE Area Pass)
Day 2 Day trip to Shirahama (Kansai WIDE Area Pass)
Day 3 Day trip to Kurashiki (Kansai WIDE Area Pass)
Day 4 Day trip to Kyoto (Kansai Thru Pass)
Day 5 Day trip to Nara (Kansai Thru Pass)
Day 6 Osaka – Kansai airport (Kansai Thru Pass)

Even though you use Kansai WIDE Area Pass for 3 days, you get your money worth.

I hope this pass encourages you to explore outside Kansai area. I love Kinosaki and Kurashiki. If you have an extra time, I strongly recommend you to visit these places!

288 thoughts on “Kansai WIDE Area Pass, the best deal for Kansai and Okayama, Kurashiki, Kinosakai and Shingu area”

  1. Hi Takeshi,
    First of all, thank you for all the information you share with us in this website. It is a amazing work.
    I’ve read quite a lot of posts and I’ve now a much clearer mind about my trip. However, could you please help me to confirm my understanding?
    Here is my plan:
    D1 to D3: Tokyo => Kyoto (by train). Sightseeing in Kyoto
    D4-D5: Kyoto => Koyasan.
    It seems to me that Kansai Thru Pass covers this trip. Am I right?
    D6: Kyoto => Nara
    D7: Kyoto => Uji
    D8: Kyoto => Himeji or another place
    D9: Kyoto => Beppu Oita
    With this itineary I think that Kansai Thru Pass is the most suitable for these 9 days.
    Also, it seems to me that there is useless buying JR Pass, even if the trip Kyoto Beppu might be quite expensive.
    Could you please give me your advice and your point of view?
    I am a very slow tourist and love spending time walking, visiting. I prefer to visit less spots to hurry all around.
    I am deeply grateful for your help.
    Thank you in advance
    Trang

    1. Hi Trang,

      You need JR pass if you go to Beppu from Kyoto. One way base fare and express trains surcharge are more than 17,500 yen. You can get the worth of 7 days JR pass by only this trip. And if you intend to visit there as day trip, it takes almost 4 hours for one way. You will spend lots of times and lots of costs to do trip to Beppu.

      And also you have a trip to Kyoto from Tokyo. It costs more than 13,000 yen. Even if you use 14 days pass, it works.

      But you cannot get Koyasan by JR pass. If you use JR pass, you can get Shin-Imamiya by JR pass. And you can purchase Koyasan world heritage pass there to get Koyasan.
      http://www.howto-osaka.com/en/ticket/ticket/koyasan.html

      I think JR pass is a right choice but I cannot see what you do after going to Beppu. I cannot say which one the best deal is for you at this point.

      Cheers,

      Takeshi / JPRail.com

  2. Dear Takeshi,

    I purchased the Kansai Wide Pass, 5 days. I will be staying in Osaka. Can I use this pass on the Anpanman Train to Okayama or Takamatsu? Please advise which train route I should go to catch the Anpanman Train.

    Depart from Osaka
    Day1: Okayama/Himje
    Day2: Wakayama/shirahama
    Day3: Kyoto
    Day4: Kyoto/ Kinosaki Onsen
    Day5: Nara/Osaka

    1. Hi Loanna,

      Okayama – Takamatsu segment is covered by this pass. But Ampanman seat is reserved seat and not covered by this pass fully. You have to pay extra to take reserved seat. Extra seat fee is around 1000 to 1500 yen. It’s varied by the distance.

      You have a chance to take Anpanman train on day 1 only. But your trip will be very tight if you add Anpanman train trip on top of Okayama and Himeji.

      Cheers,

      Takeshi / JPRail.com

  3. Dear Takeshi San,

    My itinerary is as follows:
    D1 25/3 – Arrive Osaka
    D2 26/3 – Osaka – Nara – Osaka
    D3 27/3 – Osaka – Himeji – Kobe – Osaka (use 1-day Kansai Area Pass)
    D4 28/3 – Osaka
    D5 29/3 – Osaka
    D6 30/3 – Osaka – Shirahama (Kansai WIDE area pass D6-D8)
    D7 31/3 – Shirahama
    D8 1/4 – Shirahama – Kyoto
    D9 2/4 – Kyoto
    D10 3/4 – Kyoto
    D11 4/4 – Kyoto
    D12 5/4 – Depart from Kyoto

    Am I getting the right passes for my trip?

    As the Kansai WIDE area pass is with unreserved seats, is it necessary to ‘top-up’ for reserved seats for D6/D8?

    How do I go about getting reserved seats and what will be the additional costs?

    1. Hi Ken san,

      Kansai area pass 1 day is the best way to get Himeji. But you may consider using Kansai thru pass 2 days for Himeji/Kobe and trip to Nara too.
      http://jprail.com/travel-informations/other-rail-passes/rail-pass-for-residents/how-to-use-kansai-thru-pass-compare-pass-and-single-fare.html

      If you use this pass, trip time to Himeji is much longer than JR train which is covered by Kansai area pass. But you may get unlimited ride of subway in Osaka and Kyoto. You may use this pass to explore in Osaka after trips. You can take Kintetsu railway to get Nara by this pass. You will get lots of benefits if you accept to spend more time to get Himeji.

      For trip to Shirahara. I don’t recommend you to book a reserved seat. If you do it by Kansai wide area pass, the pass covers only base fare and you cannot get the worth. Please see the link below to find more info:
      http://jprail.com/travel-informations/travel-tips/reserved-seat-vs-non-reserved-seat-how-to-get-a-seat-on-non-reserved-car.html

      Cheers,

      Takeshi / JPRail.com

  4. Hello Takeshi-san! I’m so happy I found your post!

    I’ll be traveling to Osaka and Kyoto with my family in two weeks time and am also planning (really, really planning) to go to Okayama and Kurashiki. 🙂

    I’m wondering if the JR Kansai Wide Area Pass is worth it? I’m not sure if this pass covers short distance travel around the cities (for example, from Shin-Osaka to Osaka Castle and then Namba area). Do we need to purchase a different card for the local trains or buses? We’ll only be in Japan for seven days though.

    Thank you so much! I am so excited to visit Japan — it’s our first time! Have a great day! 🙂

  5. Dear Takeshi,

    So does this mean tourists can buy 2 types of passes (Kansai WIDE Area Pass, Kansai Thru Pass) and use consecutively?
    i.e. use (Kansai Thru Pass) for first 3 days and (Kansai WIDE Area Pass) for next 5 days.

    Thank you!

    1. Hi Ling,

      You can purchase both. And you have to use Kansai Wide area pass in consecutive days. But you don’t need to use Kansai thru pass in consecutive days. You can pick any 3 days in your trip period if you want.

      Cheers,

      Takeshi / JPRail.com

      1. Thank you for the reply, Takeshi.

        May I also know with this Kansai Wide area pass, what is the fastest way I can get to Kinosaki-onsen from Namba station?
        Are all the fares covered with this pass?

        Thank you.

        1. Hi Ling,

          The fastest way is the following:
          Namba (subway) Umeda/Osaka (limited express Kounotori) Kinosaki Onsen
          http://jprail.com/trains/sort-by-type/limited-express/limited-express-kounotori.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

          In this schedule, subway from Namba to Umeda is not covered. If you want to use the pass only, the following route is available.
          JR-Namba (local train) Imamiya (local train) Osaka (limited express Kounotori) Kinosaki Onsen

          But in this schedule, JR-Namba is not very convenient location and need to change trains more.
          http://jprail.com/travel-informations/basic-informations/station-information/namba-stations-guide-how-to-change-the-trains-among-nankai-kintetsu-hanshin-subway-and-jr.html

          Cheers,

          Takeshi / JPRail.com

          1. Dear Takeshi,

            Thank you for your reply.
            I’m thinking of maybe going to Wakayama as well. May I know how do I get to Wakayama from Namba by this Kansai WIDE Area pass please?

            Thanks again.

  6. Dear Takeshi,

    I have following plan, but not sure what is the best to buy for last 3 days (2 adults and 3 children):

    – Day 1 Osaka KIX, head straight to Kyoto (Kansai Wide Area Pass)
    – Day 2 Kyoto all day (local day pass)
    – Day 3 Kyoto, Nara, then back to Osaka (Kansai Wide Area Pass)
    – Day 4 Okayama, Himeji (Kansai Wide Area Pass)
    – Day 5 Osaka surrounding, Kobe (Kansai Wide Area Pass)
    – Day 6 Osaka central
    – Day 7 Osaka Universal Studio
    – Day 8 Osaka KIX

    Many thanks,
    Thet

    1. Hi Thet,

      You can choose one of the deals for day 6 in the link 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

      Single ticket is okay for day 7 and you may choose the deal to get KIX in the link below:
      http://jprail.com/sample-itineraries/airport-access/kansai-kix/how-to-choose-the-deals-for-access-tofrom-kansai-airport.html

      Cheers,

      Takeshi / JPRail.com

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