Yokohama and Kamakura are very popular places to visit from Tokyo as day trip. Of course you can visit these places from other places, like Osaka and Kyoto. But there are several routes to get Yokohama and Kamakura from Tokyo. If you visit these places from Osaka, Kyoto and Nagoya, you will consider to drop by these places on the way to Tokyo. But is this a right way. Should we go to Tokyo first and then go back to Yokohama?
Limited Express Super Hakuto (スーパーはくと) connects Kyoto (京都), Shin-Osaka (新大阪), Osaka (大阪), Sannomiya (三ノ宮) and Himeji (姫路) with Tottori (鳥取) and Kurayoshi (倉吉). This it the fastest and most frequent direct train service to Tottori from Osaka, Kobe and Kyoto. But this train goes through non JR line, Chizu Kyuko Railway. That means you need to pay extra if you use this train by Japan Rail Pass. If you don’t want to pay extra, Limited Express Hamakaze is available between Osaka and Tottori. However there is only one round trip and travel time is 1.5 hours longer than Super Hakuto.
Nara is former capital city in Japan and it is older than Kyoto. Some of shrines, temples and districts are listed as UNESCO World Heritage Site. When you travel in Kansai area, you may think about trip to Nara or stay in Nara. If you go to Osaka or Kyoto from other cities, such as Tokyo, you can get on Shikansen. It is easy and very accessible. How about Nara? It is not very accessible as much as Kyoto or Osaka. But it is easy. Especially if you use Japan Rail Pass, JR West Kansai Area Pass and Kansai WIDE Area Pass, you can access to Nara by JR lines without any extra charge. And Kintesu Railway (private railway company) connects Osaka/Kyoto with Nara too.
Most of travellers who stay in Tokyo think about visiting Hakone (箱根). It is only a few hours away from Tokyo. It is well known as one of the most popular hot springs resort in Japan. And also it is very close to the highest mountain in Japan, Mt. Fuji. But Hakone is not connected with Tokyo by Japan Railway. That means Japan Rail Pass cover limited part of your trip to Hakone. Odakyu Electric Railway (小田急電鉄) that is one of the major private railway companies in Tokyo and Highway bus are more convenient way to get there. Though Japan Rail Pass cover limited part of travel, some of you still think about using Japan Rail Pass as much as you can and try to minimize the extra cost.
As you probably have already known, train system in Japan is very complicated. Especially in urban area, there are lots of railways. You might not understand the difference between Japan Railways (JR), subways and private railways.
Especially in Kansai area, such as Osaka, Kyoto, Kobe, Nara, Himeji and Wakayama, many trains runs among these cities. You may be overwhelmed. But it is very important to understand the train system. You will make a trip much smoothly and save your trip time.
As you know, Mt. Fuji is the highest mountain in Japan. Sometimes we can see it even from downtown Tokyo. And when you travel to west from Tokyo by Shinkansen, you will be able to see this beautiful shaped mountain through the window on your right side.
*If you want to see Mt. Fuji on Shinkansen, when you reserve the ticket for Tokaido Shinkansen, try to get D which is isle side, or E which is window side unless you travel as party of 3. The seat configuration on Shinkansen is 3 (A,B,C) + 2 (D,E). (If you take Green seat, C and D are the right place to see it.) Even if you travel to opposite direction (from Osaka to Tokyo), the seat configuration is same. D and E are always on the mountain side.
Kyoto (京都) is most popular destination in Japan. You may visit Kyoto by Japan Rail Pass, Kansai Area Pass, Kansai Wide Area Pass, Kansai Hiroshima Area Pass and other JR West Rail Passes. You may be wondering how much you can use your pass to explore Kyoto?
These trains connect Shinjuku and Ikebukuro in Tokyo, and Nikko and Kinugawa-Onsen. These trains run on JR line and Tobu Railway line. That means you have to pay extra if you use JR Pass. JR Pass cover JR line portion only. But if you use JR East Passes, such as JR East Pass Nagano Niigata, Tokyo Wide Pass, JR East Pass Tohoku, both JR line and Tobu Railway lines are covered. This may be complicated for you.
Mt. Koya (Koyasan) has been getting popular destination in these days. Most common way to Mt. Koya is Nankai Railway line. It takes you to Gokurakubashi station where is located at the base of Mt. Koya. You may transfer to the funicular to Mt. Koya.
If you use JR deals, such as JR Pass (nationwide pass), Kansai area pass, Kansai Hiroshima area pass and other JR West passes, you cannot use the pass because Nankai Railway is not JR. If you do not use these JR deals, you may use other deals, such as Kansai Thru Pass, Koyasan World Heritage Pass.
You may use these JR deals partially to get Mt. Koya if you want.