Sample itinerary Four world heritage sites (Shirakawago, Kyoto, Hiroshima and Miyajima), Kanazawa and Kyoto 7 days by Japan Rail Pass

Light-up at Kiyomizu-dera temple
Light-up at Kiyomizu-dera temple
Light-up at Kiyomizu-dera temple
Light-up at Kiyomizu-dera temple

This itinerary includes four world heritage sites, Shirakawa-go, Kyoto, Hiroshima and Miyajima. This also includes two popular sites, Takayama and Kanazawa.

We don’t use Japan Rail Pass for the transfer to downtown Tokyo from Narita airport because most of tourists stay in Tokyo for the first several days. You will start to use your pass from Tokyo station. If you want to learn how to use Japan Rail Pass, please refer to How to use Japan Rail Pass to its maximum.

Day 1 Tokyo – Nagoya – Takayama

Decoration for Tanabata in Takayama
Decoration for Tanabata in Takayama

07:33am Depart from Tokyo by Tokaido ShinakansenHikari 503”
09:21am Arrive at Nagoya
09:43am Depart from Nagoya by “Wide View Hida 5
12:13pm Arrive at Takayama
After arriving at Takayama, enjoy sightseeing in very traditional Japanese town.
(Overnight in Takayama)

Day 2 Takayama – Shirakawa-go – Kanazawa

Doburoku Festival in Shirakawa-go
Doburoku Festival in Shirakawa-go

08:50am Depart from Takayama for Shirakawa-go by Nohi Bus.
*> don’t forget to make a reservation. This bus is not included in Japan Rail Pass. The bus fare 2,400yen.
09:40am Arrive at Shirakawa-go
Enjoy sightseeing UNESCO world heritage site Shirakawa-go.
16:50pm Depart from Shirakawa-go for Kanazawa by Nohi Bus
*> don’t forget to make a reservation. This bus is not included in Japan Rail Pass. The bus fare 1,800yen.
18:05pm Arrive at Kanazawa
(Overnight in Kanazawa)

Day 3 Kanazawa – Kyoto

Kenrokuen Garden in Kanazawa. This is one of three most famous garden in Japan.
Kenrokuen Garden in Kanazawa. This is one of three most famous garden in Japan.

Enjoy exploring downtown Kanazawa in the morning.
13:55pm Depart from Kanazawa for Kyoto by Limited Express “Thunderbird 26”.
16:09pm Arrive at Kyoto
*You can skip free time in Kanazawa and get more time in Kyoto. We have Limited Express “Thunderbird” 07:02am, 08:05am, 08:15am, 09:03am, 09:53am, 10:52am, 11:18am, 11:56am and 12:53pm.
(Overnight in Kyoto)

Day 4 Kyoto

Full day free in Kyoto

Day 5 Kyoto – Shin-Osaka – Hiroshima – Miyajima-guchi – Miyajima

07:39am Depart from Kyoto by Tokaido Shinkansen “Kodama 91”
07:53pm Arrive at Shin-Osaka and transfer to Hikari Rail Star
08:02am Depart from Shin-Osaka for Hiroshima by “Hikari Rail Star 549”
*Don’t forget to reserve a seat for Hikari Rail Star. It has some non reserved seat. But the reserved seat much more spacious than non reserved seat. Please refer to Passenger’s review of Hikari Rail Star.

Light-up at Itsukushima Shrine in Miyajima
Light-up at Itsukushima Shrine in Miyajima

09:34am Arrive at Hiroshima
09:49am Depart from Hiroshima for Miyajima-guchi
10:17am Arrive at Miyajima-guchi and transfer to the ferry to Miyajima. The ferry terminal to Miyajima is 5 minutes away from the station. Please refer to “How to get Miyajima“.
The ferry takes you to Miyajiam in 10 minutes. This ferry is operated by Japan Railway. You don’t need to pay.
After arriving at Miyajima, enjoy sightseeing in Miyajima rest of the day.
(Overnight in Miyajima)
*Most of the accommodations in Miyajima are not cheap. If you want to save, you can stay in downtown Hiroshima. It’s only 45 minutes away from Miyajima.

Day 6 Miyajiama – Miyajima-guchi – Hiroshima – Shin-Osaka – Tokyo

A-Bomb dome
A-Bomb dome

You can move anytime in the morning to Hiroshima. You can even skip a free time in Hiroshima, if you want to stay in Miyajima more.
18:15pm Depart from Hiroshima for Shin-Osaka by “Hikari Rail Star 574”
19:44pm Arrive at Shin-Osaka and transfer to another Hikari for Tokyo
20:23pm Depart from Shin-Osaka for Tokyo by Tokaido Shikansen “Hikari 532”
23:10pm Arrive at Tokyo
*If you want to arrive Tokyo earlier, we have lots of Hikari earlier.

Day 7 Tokyo – Narita airport

Take Narita Express to Narita Airport.

43 thoughts on “Sample itinerary Four world heritage sites (Shirakawago, Kyoto, Hiroshima and Miyajima), Kanazawa and Kyoto 7 days by Japan Rail Pass”

  1. One more thing I am interested in is the Tateyama Kurobe alpine route. The price is quite expensive though 9000 yen for transportation. But is it too tight schedule if I do this route for one day? (I have 5 years old son). Also, do they still open on November 10th?
    How abiut Kurobe Gorge route?
    They all look stunning.

    Regards

    Jessie

  2. Hi Takeshi,

    My name is Jessie. My husband, my 5 years old son and I will travel to Japan this November. I have spent so much time reading all your comment and advise here. Thank you so much for your information. I have itinerary here, can you please check and let me know which pass should I use? Thanks in advance
    Day 1: Narita- Tokyo (stay at Shibuya)
    Transportation:
    1. Skylinner Narita + 3 days subway ticket
    2. Direct roundtrip Narita-Shibuya (does it valid only 14 days as we will stay in Japan for 19 days?)
    Day 2 – Day 7: Tokyo and surround (Asakusa, skytree, Tsukiji market, Tokyo midtown, Rippongi hills, HArajuku, Ginza, Imperial East garden, Yokohama and Disneyland)
    Day 8: Tokyo- Kyoto (start JR Pass 7 days today)
    Stay at Gion-Shijo station
    Day 9: Kyoto- Nara – Kyoto
    Day 10: Kyoto- Osaka (stay at Minami or near Dotomburi)
    Day 11: Osaka- Hiroshima – Miyajima – Osaka
    Day 12: Osaka- Himeji – Kobe (maybe Kobe?) – Osaka
    Day 13: Osaka – Takayama (stay at Takayama)
    Day 14: Takayama – Shinkagawa-go (half day tour) – Tokyo (JR pass will expire midnight tonight if I am not wrong)
    Stay at Shinjuku this time
    Day 15: Tokyo (go around Shinjuku and Akihabara)
    Day 16: Tokyo- Nikko- Tokyo
    Buy Nikko all area pass?
    Day 17: Tokyo- Hakone or Lake Kawaguchiko – Tokyo
    Buy Hakone free pass (2 days pass)
    Day 18: Tokyo – Narita
    Buy Narita express ticket? Or can I use the direct round trip NRT-Shinjuku?
    Optional: Buy JR Wide Pass ( for the last 3 days)
    So which pass should I choose, please advise.

    Regards

    Jessie

    1. Hi Jessie,

      Your research is impressive. I don’t have many things to mention actually.

      Your itinerary is good. It may be busy especially from day 8 to 14. But it’s feasible.

      Skyliner+subway deal is good choice. Actually Keisei railway official site does not mention 14 days period any more. I’m not 100% sure at this point. But you may use round trip deal for your stay.

      You can use skyline deal but limousine bus + subway deal is considerable. The price is higher but you can get Shibuya by limousine bus directly.
      https://www.limousinebus.co.jp/en/information/visitor_tickets/subwaypass/

      This one also does not mention 14 days restriction. It used to be shown.

      Tokyo wide pass is recommended especially if you visit Lake Kawaguchi. The last 3 days are completely covered by this pass.

      Cheers,

      Takeshi / JPRail.com

    2. Hi Takeshi,

      Thank you for your tips. Do you reckon i should go with JR pass 14 days instead? Because I have a 5 years old son who doesnt mind hiking on rocky road but still takes times. Furthermore we want to travel Japan without rushing and more relaxing and enjoying the journey.
      If I purchase 14 days JR pass then I can start using from day 4 in tokyo.
      Day 1- day 7 Tokyo only
      Day 8: tokyo- takayama (stay overnight at takayama)
      Day 9: takayama- shinkagawa-go (2470 yen by bus)
      Shinkagawa-go to Kanazawa (1850 yen by bus)
      Stay overnight at Kanazawa.
      Does my son need a ticket as well?
      Day 10: kanazawa- Kyoto
      Day 11: Kyoto- Nara -kyoto
      Day 12: Kyoto
      Day 13: Kyoto- Osaka
      Day 14: Hiroshima & Miajama and back to Osaka
      Day 15: Osaka
      Day 16: Osaka- Tokyo
      Day 17: Tokyo- nikko – tokyo
      Trip to Nikko covered by Jr Pass but how about the fee going around Nikko? I want to go to Kegon waterfall, Hangetsuyama and Ruyzu waterfall.
      Day 18: fly back Aus

      Thanks and best regards

      Jessie

      1. Hi Jessie,

        Yes. You can use 14 days pass and it works too.
        I recommend you to have a pass for your son too. 5 year old is basically free of charge if you share the seat with one of you. 5 years old is not a baby and he needs own seat. When I had a trip with my daughter a few years ago, she was 5 years old. I purchased child rate JR pass.

        In Nikko, you cannot take any bus. You have to pay extra.

        Tateyama Kurobe alpine route is not recommended in November. It’s still open but it’s completely winter condition. It’s not surprised if it’s closed due to severe weather in November.

        Cheers,

        Takeshi / JPRail.com

  3. Hello,

    I am debating which pass(es) to purchase. I will be in Japan for 16 days. Here is my plan so far:

    Tokyo – 2 days
    Hakone – 1 day
    Kyoto and Uji – 2 days
    Osaka – 1 day
    Okayama & Kurashiki – 1 day
    Hiroshima & Miyajima – 2 days
    Back to Tokyo – 3 days

    I’ve gotten 12 days planned out but I’m not too sure what I can fill 4 days between Hiroshima and going back to Tokyo. What other cities would you recommend? And what pass do you recommend?

    Thank you in advance!

  4. Hi Takeshi-san,

    My starting point & ending point will be from Yokohama as I will be staying around there for a month.
    I have been to Kyoto & Osaka before so I was wondering whether if there are any optional places to stop by on the way to Miyajima? Also, preferably to skip Hiroshima too (no overnight).

    Following your itinerary with just slight amendment to Nagoya :
    Day 1 – Shin Yokohama to Nagoya using Shinkansen Hikari.
    Explore nagoya + overnight
    Day 2 – Nagoya to Takayama using Wide View Hida 5.
    Day 3 – Checkout & depart to Shirakawa-go via Nohi Bus.
    Then from Shirakawa-go, depart to Kanazawa + overnight
    Day 4 – Kanazawa to ?
    Day 5 – Miyajimaguchi?
    Day 6 – ?
    Day 7 – Back to Shin Yokohama

    Appreciate your kind advice & knowledge on this 🙂

    1. Hi May san,

      I recommend Himeji and Kurashiki. Both are located on the way to Miyajima and easy to access.
      http://www.japan-guide.com/e/e3500.html
      http://www.japan-guide.com/e/e5750.html

      And also if you want to stay in some other places, I recommend you take the following routes:

      Add Nagano
      http://www.japan-guide.com/e/e6000.html
      Yokohama-Tokyo-Nagano
      Nagano-Kanazawa
      Kanazawa-Shirakawago-Takayama
      Takayama-Nagoya

      You also can add Kiso Valley and Matsumoto if you want to have something different.
      http://www.japan-guide.com/e/e6075.html
      http://www.japan-guide.com/e/e6050.html

      Shin Yokohama-Nagoya
      Nagoya-Kiso Valley-Matsumoto
      Matsumoto-Takayama (by Nohi bus)
      Takayama-Shirakaawago-Kanazawa

      Cheers,

      Takeshi / JPRail.com

  5. Hi Takeshi san,

    My husband and I will be travelling to Japan next month, Feb 14 to 25.

    Will be arriving from Haneda airport and departing from Narita airport on 25 Feb.

    I had booked 5 nights hotel in Tokyo already.

    But still not yet book our other days of stay in Japan.

    After Tokyo, we plan to go to Kyoto, Nikko, Nara, Nagano (for skiing), Shirakawa-go, Hiroshima, Miyajima.

    Can you recommend an itinerary for us covering these places?

    Also which area is the best place we need stay to easily travel these places.

    Greatly appreciate your kind reply.
    Thank you so much.

  6. Dear Takeshi / JP Rail,

    I’ll be traveling to Osaka from 6th – 14th Feb 2016.
    I have few places in mind that I wanna visit. But I have no idea on how to arrange my trip.

    Osaka. Kyoto. Takayama. Shirakawa. Kanazawa. Kinosaki Onsen.

    Any day pass that is suit for these places?
    Really need your advise.

    Many thanks,
    Ean

    1. Hi Ean,

      I think you need to have two rail passes.

      1. Kansai Wide Area Pass for Kinosaki, Osaka and Kyoto
      https://jprail.com/travel-informations/other-rail-passes/rail-pass-for-visitors/the-newest-jr-west-rail-pass-for-kansai-and-okayama-kurashiki-kinosakai-and-shingu-area-kansai-wide-area-pass.html

      2. Takayama Hokuriku Area Pass for Takayama, Kanazawa and Shirakawago
      https://jprail.com/travel-informations/other-rail-passes/rail-pass-for-visitors/takayama-hokuriku-area-pass-perfect-deal-to-get-takayama-kanazawa-toyama-shirakawago-from-nagoya-or-osaka.html

      Takayama Hokuriku Area Pass covers Kyoto and Osaka but very limited. It covers also KIX-Osaka/Kyoto. So you may need to use this pass for either arrival or departure day from/to KIX.

      Cheers,

      Takeshi / JPRail.com

      1. Hi Takeshi/JPRail,

        Thanks much for your fast response. 🙂

        If I’m planning to only use Kansai Wide Area Pass for Kinosaki, Osaka and Kyoto.

        How can I fully utilise the Pass in the 5 days? Besides Osaka, kyoto & kinosaki… any other places tht I shouldn’t miss during February winter time?

        Really need your recommendations.. thanks. 🙂

  7. Hi Takeshi San

    I will travel 14 days, will use JR pass in 29 june 2016 – 12 July 2016.
    I will be landing in Fukuoka, dan will be take off from Tokyo.
    I don’t want to move to much from city to another city, because I will be travelling my my mom which 68years old.
    My bucket list is alpine route and shirakawago and miyajima.
    but I will visit: nagasaki, hiroshima + miyajima, osaka, kyoto, nara, nagoya alpine route, shirakawago, mt Fuji and tokyo and nearby which can go on the sameday.
    do you think I have enough time for that, maybe you have another suggestion.
    thank you
    Josephine
    I will visit USJ but will skip Disneyland and disneysea.

    1. Hi Josephine san,

      Yes, you can. The time is enough to cover these places.
      You may do some day trips. You can visit Kyoto and Nara from Osaka. And you will visit USJ, so you can stay in Osaka for 4 to 5 nights. It’s much easier to visit these places without luggage.

      Shirakawago can be accessed from Takayama or Kanazawa. So you may add one of these cities. Both are very lovely and highly recommended.

      Fuji can be visited as day trip from Tokyo if you want.

      If you stay in many cities, you can feel many different atmosphere. But if you make many day trips and stay in one place, your trip is easier.

      Cheers,

      Takeshi / JPRail.com

  8. Dear Takeshi,

    we ara planing a short retreat from Nagoya in February 2016.
    Our itinerary is as follows:
    Day 1: Nagoya – Takayama
    Day 2: Takayama
    Day 3:Takayama – Shirakawago – Kanazawa
    Day 4: Kanazawa – Nagoya
    Day 5: Nagoya
    Plse advise teh better option if JR pass is available for the whole journey.
    Thank you

  9. Dear Takeshi-San,

    Thank you, I guess this itinerary will maximise benefit of JR pass.
    May I ask for your help to review the following itinerary for my coming family trip (22-30 Nov 2015):

    Day 1 : Arrival at Haneda Airport at 10.30pm
    Day 2 : Tokyo – Hakone – Tokyo
    Day 3 : Tokyo – Nagoya – Takayama
    Day 4 : Takayame – Shirakawago – Kanazawa
    Day 5 : Kanazawa – Kyoto
    Day 6 : Kyoto
    Day 7 : Kyoto – Nara – Osaka
    Day 8 : Osaka – Hiroshima – Miyajima – Osaka
    Day 9 : Osaka – Tokyo (Depart from Haneda Airport at 11pm)

    Is it possible to add in Himeji in Day 7 or 8?
    As luggage might cause us problem, would u recommend going back to overnight in Kyoto on Day 7?

    Thanks in advance for your assistance.

    1. Hi YJun1212 san,

      You can use JR pass from day 3 to the end. Hakone Free Pass is the best choice for day 2.
      http://www.odakyu.jp/english/deels/freepass/hakone/

      I understand you have luggage issue if you go to Osaka from Kyoto via Nara. However if you don’t reach Osaka, you have same issue on day 8. I think Osaka is better choice to stay on day 8.

      Himeji is not impossible to squeeze on day 8, but it’s very tight. And time management is very difficult. If you go to Himeji, you have to drop by HImeji first, Otherwiese you cannot visit HImeji in daytime. But in this case, you will reach Hiroshima in late afternoon. Please see the day trip itinerary at the link below:
      https://jprail.com/sample-itineraries/1-day/day-trip-to-hiroshima-and-miyajima-from-osakakyoto.html

      If you really want to visit Himeji, day 9 is better if you are okay with no time in Tokyo.

      Cheers,

      Takeshi / JP Rail

  10. Dear Takeshi-San

    Thank you for your advise I have added some destinations in between hope the 14 days pass work for the below:-

    Day 1 & 2 :- Tokyo
    Day 3:- Tokyo to Hiroshima
    Day 4:- Hiroshima to Miyajima
    Day 5:- Miyajima to Kyoto
    Day 6: Kyoto to Arashiyama
    Day 7: Kyoto to Nara
    Day 8: Kyoto to Kanazawa (stopover, is there coin locker to put luggage?) before staying overnight in Takayama
    Day 9:- Takayama to Shirawago
    Day 10:- Takayama to Kamikochi
    Day 11:- Takayama to Uozu
    Day 12:- Uozu to Kurobe Gorge
    Day 13:- Uozu to Tokyo
    Day 14:- Tokyo to Nikko
    Day 15:- Tokyo ( can we still use the JR pass to Ueno )
    Day 16:- Tokyo to Narita

    thank you

    1. Hi Kareline,

      14 days pass will work. You can start to use it on day 3 and it will cover until end of your trip at Narita. This is the best way to use it. You may use some deal for day 1 and 2.
      https://jprail.com/sample-itineraries/airport-access/narita/the-list-of-deals-for-access-to-downtown-tokyo-from-narita-airport.html
      https://jprail.com/sample-itineraries/airport-access/narita/the-list-of-deals-for-access-to-downtown-tokyo-from-narita-airport.html

      Any major JR stations have coin lockers. Of course Kanazawa does. But if you intend to use large size locker, usually it’s very limited and sometimes very hard to find empty one.

      I think you can stay in Kanazawa on day 8 and drop by Shirakawago from Kanazawa to Takayama. There are lockers and luggage storage service in Shirakawago. As you probably know, Shirakawago is located between Kanazawa and Takayama. Even if you just drop by Kanazawa on day 8, Kanazawa-Takayama via Shirakawago bus is the best way.

      http://www.nouhibus.co.jp/english/shirakawago_kanazawa.html

      Cheers,

      Takeshi / JP Rail

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