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 temple7 to 9 days
Light-up at Kiyomizu-dera temple
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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.

Do not 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 when you leave from Tokyo. There are lots of deals available for Narita to Tokyo.

The list of deals for Tokyo to/from Narita airport

Day 1 Tokyo – Nagoya – Takayama

Tanabata festival decoration in Takayama ©Y.Shimizu/©JNTO

07:33 Depart from Tokyo by Tokaido Shinakansen “Hikari 503”
09:17 Arrive at Nagoya
09:39 Depart from Nagoya by “Wide View Hida 5
12:23 Arrive at Takayama
After arriving at Takayama, enjoy sightseeing in very traditional Japanese town.
(Overnight in Takayama)

Day 2 Takayama – Shirakawa-go – Kanazawa

Doburoku Matsuri (Matsuri means festival) in Shirakawa-go.

Doburoku Matsuri (Matsuri means festival) in Shirakawa-go.

08:50 Depart from Takayama for Shirakawa-go by Nohi Bus.
*This bus is not covered by Japan Rail Pass. The bus fare 2,470 yen. Reservation is not required.
09:40 Arrive at Shirakawa-go
Enjoy sightseeing UNESCO world heritage site Shirakawa-go.
12:20 Depart from Shirakawa-go for Kanazawa by Nohi Bus
*Reservation is required to take Shirakawago to Kanazawa bus. Don’t forget to make a reservation. This bus is not covered by Japan Rail Pass. The bus fare 1,850 yen.
13:35 Arrive in Kanazawa

After arrival in Kanazawa, enjoy exploring in Kanazawa city

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 gardens in Japan.

(Overnight in Kanazawa)

Day 3 Kanazawa – Osaka

You can depart for Osaka anytime. In this sample, I pick an early departure train because I try to maximize the time in Osaka.

Enjoy exploring downtown Kanazawa in the morning.
08:05 Depart from Kanazawa for Kyoto by Limited Express “Thunderbird 26”.
10:35 Arrive at Shin-Osaka

Enjoy sightseeing in Osaka after arrival.

(Overnight in Shin-Osaka)

Day 4 Shin-Osaka – Hiroshima – Miyajima-guchi – Miyajima – Hiroshima

Itsukushima Shrine in Miyajima

08:04 Depart from Shin-Osaka for Hiroshima by Sanyo Shinkansen Sakura 547
*Don’t forget to reserve a seat for Sakura. It has some non reserved seat. But the reserved seat is much more spacious than non reserved seat. Please see the link below to learn more:

Kyushu Shinkansen N700 series for Mizuho, Sakura and Tsubame image gallery

09:33 Arrive at Hiroshima
09:50 Depart from Hiroshima for Miyajima-guchi by local train
10:18 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 the link below to learn more.

How to access to Miyajima from Hiroshima by local train. No extra charge for Japan Rail Pass user.

The ferry takes you to Miyajima in 10 minutes. This ferry is fully covered by JR Pass.
After arriving at Miyajima, enjoy sightseeing in Miyajima until dusk.

Take ferry and local train to go back to Hiroshima.

(Overnight in Hiroshima)

Day 5 Hiroshima – Shin-Osaka – Kyoto

A-Bomb dome

A-Bomb dome

JR pass covers sightseeing bus, “Meipuru-pu”. You can visit most of places in Hiroshima by this bus.

Meipuru-pu official site – Chugoku JR Bus

14:22 Depart from Hiroshima for Shin-Osaka by Sanyo Shinkansen Sakura 544
15:48 Arrive at Shin-Osaka and transfer to another Hikari for Kyoto
15:33 Depart from Shin-Osaka for Tokyo by Tokaido Shinkansen Kodama 670
16:07 Arrive at Kyoto

You can depart of Kyoto anytime you want. You can even skip a free time in Hiroshima if you want to have more time in Kyoto.

Day 6 Kyoto

Togetsukyo bridge is the highlight in Arashiyama. ©Akira Okada/©JNTO

You may explore Kyoto until taking the last Shinkansen to Tokyo.

20:53 Depart from Kyoto to Tokyo by Tokaido Shinkansen Hikari 538
23:26 Arrive at Tokyo

*You may stay in Kyoto and move to Narita airport on day 7 if your flight departure time is late afternoon or evening.

Day 7 Tokyo – Narita airport

Take Narita Express to Narita Airport.

Comments

  1. Kare says:

    Dear Takeshi,

    we will be arriving in Haneda airport on 10 October 2015 and leaving Narita 24 October morning would like your kind input into our itinerary, places thinking of

    Tokyo-Kyoto-Miyajma,Takayama and Kurobe Gorge

    and how best can we save on train transportation, will it be cheaper to buy a JR pass Tokyo to Miyajma and Takayama-Hokuriku pass?

    • Hi Kare,

      Takayama Hokuriku Tourist Pass will be sold until June. You cannot use this deal for your trip.

      I think 14 days JR pass is the best choice. In my rough estimation, single fare is cheaper than 14 days pass. But the route has not been fixed yet. You may use JR pass outside the route, like day trip to Nara from Kyoto, visiting Kanazawa on the way to Takayama. If you go for 14 days pass, it’s more flexible and much easier to make your trip.

      If you stay in Tokyo after you arrive in Haneda, you can start to use the pass on next day and it will cover your trip to the end at Narita. Haneda is much closer to Tokyo than Haneda. JR Pass should be used for access to Narita.

      Cheers,

      Takeshi / JP Rail

  2. michael harunaga says:

    I have a 7day green jr railpass and would like to know how to get from Kanazawa to takamatsu in shikoku without paying any more extra. We (3adults) plan to leave Kanazawa on the 14th of March 2014 aprox 1000am and arrive shikoku around 300pm. Getting to Kanazawa was not too difficult but it gets complicated and difficult from Kanazawa to Shikoku. Need help!! Thanks in advance.

  3. See says:

    Hi,

    Need your advise on these and is there other pass that I should be looking at..I planning to get a 14 days JR pass. Is this sufficient?

    Day 1: arrive Kansai. Go straight to Kyoto ( should I get a Kansai through pass?)
    Day 2: Kyoto
    Day 3: Kyoto/Nara
    Day 4: Kyoto/Osaka
    Day 5: Kyoto
    Day 6: Kyoto to Hiroshima. Overnight in miyajima
    Day 7: Miyajima to Tokyo. What is the JR line I will be in Tokyo coming from Hiroshima? Try to minimize changing of different JR line due to heavy luggage. Should I purchase other pass in Tokyo? I noticed that JR do not go to Akasuka and Skytree.
    Day 8: Tokyo
    Day 9: Tokyo
    Day 10: Tokyo
    Day 11: Tokyo
    Day 12: Tokyo-Takayama – Shirakowago – Takayama
    Day 13: Takayama – Osaka
    Day 14: Osaka
    Day 15: flying off.

    Thanks..need your feedback about this..

  4. Vivian says:

    Hi Takeshi San,

    Thank you very much for your very informative website. It’s really helpful for clueless traveler liker me. I tried to workout my itinerary following this sample itinerary, however I will be arriving at Kansai Airport instead of Narita Airport. My itinerary as follow:-

    Day1: Arrive early AM at Kansai – Kyoto
    Day2: Kyoto (Arashiyama)
    Day3: Kyoto (Fushimi Inari)
    Day4: Kyoto – Takayama (Limited Express Wide View Hida via Gifu)*JR Pass-7 Days
    Day5: Takayama – Shirakawago – Kanazawa (Niho Bus)
    Day6: Kanazawa – Kyoto (Limited Express Thunderbird)
    Day7: Kyoto – Nara – Osaka (JR Nara Line)
    Day8: Osaka – Hiroshima – Miyajimaguchi-Miyajima-Hiroshima-Osaka (Shinkansen Hikari/ Shinkansen Sakura; Sanyo Line)
    Day9: Osaka – Kansai

    I planned to cover my trip by purchasing the following pass:
    JR Pass 7days; Haruka ICOCA (1way); Kyoto Sightseeing 2 Day Pass; Niho Bus; Kanazawa 1 Day Pass. (Hope I am fully cover with these passes as I am travelling with limited budget…)

    I really need your help to check my itinerary and recommend if there is any other better way to fully utilize the JR Pass? Or should I purchase single fare?

    Thank you so much!

    Cheers,
    Vivian

    • JPRail says:

      Hi Vivian,

      Your itinerary is pretty good. You are doing really good job! 🙂
      Basically ICOCA and JR Pass combination is okay.

      I just want to mention to you about day 2 and 3. If you stay around Kyoto station area, both Arashiyama and Fushimi can be accessed by JR train.
      https://jprail.com/destinations/kansai-area/guide-to-take-trains-in-kyoto-how-to-choose-the-best-route-by-train-to-get-the-major-spots.html

      You may not need to purchase Kyoto City Sightseeing card. Even if you need to take subway, you have ICOCA 1500 yen e-money. It covers subway in Kyoto and Osaka too.
      So you can start to use JR pass 7 days on Day 3. If you are hurry, you can complete both Arashiyama and Fushimi in one day. You can do these on day 3 by JR Pass. And you can visit other places where only subway and bus reach, like Kiyomizudera, Gion.
      Anyway try to put the place where JR Pass cover on day 3.

      Cheers,

      Takeshi / JP Rail

  5. suteeta says:

    Hi,
    I also appreciate your website. I found it’s very useful and helpful. So many thanks to you.
    I write to consult for appropriate pass I should purchase for 2 adults (+2year old son) on the following route:
    osaka (kobe, nara)–kyoto (arashiyama)–takayama–shirakawa go–nagoya
    Totally is 10 days trip.

    I ‘ve followed your link and try to figure it out on my own for several days, and come up with a decision to get kansai thru pass+one day pass in osaka/kyoto during 7 days stay in kansai areas. the last three days I plan to stay in takayama and travelling around. but from kansai to chubu area and ending up at international airport in nagoya, I couldn’t come up with proper pass than single tickets.

    Could you please suggest.
    Lots of thanks
    Suteeta

  6. Jacqui L says:

    Hi Takeshi,

    I’ve been trying to work on my itinerary for ages but I am still confused whether or not to get the 7 day JR pass (to be used from Day 5 of my current itinerary). I am leaving in a few weeks. Using Hyperdia, I think if anything, it should be about the same if not cheaper purchasing single tickets. I’d appreciate your opinion and even suggestions if you think my itinerary should be re-arranged.

    Day 1: arrive Kansai pm – overnight Osaka (booked)
    Day 2: Osaka/Kyoto/Arashiyama – overnight Kyoto (booked)
    Day 3: Kyoto/Nara – overnight Kyoto (booked)
    Day 4: Kyoto – overnight Kyoto
    Day 5: Shirakawa-go – overnight Takayama
    Day 6: Takayama/Osaka – overnight Osaka
    Day 7: Koyasan – overnight Koyasan
    Day 8: Osaka/Kyoto – overnight Osaka/Kyoto
    Day 9: Myajima – overnight Miyajima (booked)
    Day 10: Osaka/Kyoto – overnight Osaka/Kyoto
    Day 11: Leave from Kansai early pm

    I would think the Kansai Thru Pass and Koyasan World Heritage Ticket should be purchased before I use the 7 day JR pass, if I were to get.

    Thanks in advance!

    • JPRail says:

      Hi Jacqui,

      I checked your itinerary. Japan Rail Pass 7 days will be cheaper than total single fares. JR Pass is the right choice.
      I don’t know which part of Osaka you will stay. But if you take Haruka from KIX, ICOCA and Haruka may be your choice.
      http://www.westjr.co.jp/global/en/travel-information/pass/icoca-haruka/

      You can use ICOCA e-money for using not only JR trains but also Osaka subway, Kyoto subway, private railways, like Hankyu, Nanakai.
      Koyasan World Heritage ticket is the best choice to visit Koyasan. But you can use ICOCA to get Nara, sightseeing in Kyoto or Osaka-Kyoto transfer.

      You have already booked hotel for first 3 days. If you can cancel or rebook, you can switch Koyasan and Nara. Because Koysan is not covered by JR Pass, but Nara can be covered by JR Pass. It doesn’t make sense to visit Koyasan in JR Pass 7 days.

      At last, Even though it is very hard to squeeze in your itinerary, Kanazawa is worth visiting on the way to Shirakawago.

      Cheers,

      Takeshi / JP Rail

  7. Lakshmi says:

    We plan to do the above itinerary without overnight at Kanazawa starting in Kyoto and ending in Tokyo via Hakone sightseeing (no stay ) if possible with 7 day JR pass.Can you help plan the itinerary for us.Thanks in advance.

  8. Dennis says:

    You should also consider to use Kintetsu or Hanshin (for example). JR is not the only only.

    I am just planning my trip thru Kansai and I found the “Kansai Thru Pass”. This is a 2day or 3day pass for an area that covers Kobe, Osaka, Kyoto, Wakayama, Koyasan, Himeji, Nara and … the Kansai airport. The only disadvantage: You cannot use the ticket for JR.

    There are also diffrent Japan Rail Passes available. In the end, it is a lot of work to match your travel plan with the different train tickets.

    And JR has something called “JR Seishun 18 Kippu”. The ticket is not available the whole year. But if it is available it quite a deal: 5days for 11500yen. The five days do not need to be consecutive days. Disadvantage: No Express, Ltd.Express or Shinkasen.

    Here is a side with a list of the major train passes: http://www.japan-guide.com/e/e2357.html

    Dennis

  9. Benjamin Chew says:

    Hi,

    after reading every comment and some of your articles, I’m still not sure if I should get a JR pass.

    My plan is to go from Osaka -> Kanazawa -> Shirakawago -> Takayama -> Kyoto -> Osaka. My whole trip is 15 days.

    These places are overlapping JR West and JR Central. Should I just get a JR pass instead? I’m still not sure which is cheaper… Any ideas?

    Thank you!

  10. A. Ong says:

    Hello. First of all thank you so much for your help.

    As with many travelers I am confused if i should get a Japan Rail Pass or not.

    This is our planned itinerary.

    Day 1 Arrive Narita then go straight to Kyoto

    Days 2, 3, 4 explore Kyoto (i will still have to research if it’s possible to go to Nara)

    Day 5 Go Back to Tokyo

    Days 6 – 9 in Tokyo

    Day 10 Depart Tokyo

    Thank you very much!

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