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.


  1. Jessie says:

    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.



  2. Jessie says:

    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)
    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.



    • 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.

      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.


      Takeshi /

    • Jessie says:

      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


      • 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.


        Takeshi /

  3. JC says:


    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. May says:

    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 🙂

  5. Elizabeth says:

    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. Ean says:

    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,

  7. Josephine says:

    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
    I will visit USJ but will skip Disneyland and disneysea.

    • 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.


      Takeshi /

  8. john yap says:

    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. YJun1212 says:

    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.

  10. Kareline says:

    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

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