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  1. Hi Takeshi,My family of four,(2 daughters age 8 and 11),are coming to Japan on the 12th of April and departing again on the 28th.(Just miss Golden Week).We arrive at and depart from Narita airport.
    The main problems I am facing with this holiday is train travel,in particular the bullet train services from city to city.
    Our itinerary is;
    12th to 17th April Tokyo.Train from airport to Keisei Ueno Station,(near our hotel) I’ve worked out.
    17th to 20th April Nagoya.I’ve worked out that by catching the train (“clockwise”),using the Yamanote Line at Ueno Station we can get to Tokyo Station.From there on I am lost.Where to go in Tokyo station,what train to catch.
    20th to 24th April Kyoto.
    24th to 26th April Osaka.
    26th to 28th April Tokyo.We will catch the same express train,(Keisei Skyliner),we used coming into Tokyo to return to the airport.

    Although the JR Rail Pass is tempting due to its simplicity of use and ease of seat reservation,online passes for a family of four on a 21 day fixture as required costs over 180,000 yen,whilst buying single trip tickets to each city online via JR West Rail will cost just over 100,000 yen,which is a massive difference.However the ticket collection for an online purchase from JR West does look limited to certain machines in certain stations,which when a district,let alone a train station is unknown,may be hard to locate.Are these JR West machines easily located/numerous in the stations named by them?
    Of other concern is when you try and book online using Shinkansen Ticket website,the same Nozomi type train from Tokyo to Nagoya costs 3,000 yen more per ticket?Do you know if there is a reason for the price difference and who would you recommend I book through in terms of ease of transaction and ticket collection?
    I am also concerned about reserving a ticket say at 11am from Tokyo Station,arriving there well before time,but because of the scale of the station and numerous people it might take “10” hours to finally arrive at the departure platform and we miss the train.The map of Tokyo station online is far too confusing.
    In short are you able to:
    1)Provide clear instructions on who I should book bullet train tickets through?
    2)The method of ticket collection used by them,(delivery to Hotel preferred),the ticket office location,(if required)and the departure platform directions for suggested train/network,at Tokyo Station to Nagoya.
    3)How much time we should allow to navigate our way around Tokyo Station as 1st timers?(Particularly important if we reserve seats at a specific time on day of departure to Nagoya).
    4)How far in advance of our trip should I reserve bullet train seats?
    5)Are Kyoto,Nagoya and Osaka stations/train catching and ticket collection navigation as intimidating as Tokyo?
    Thankyou for any help you can give me Takeshi.
    Kind regards,Andrew.

    1. Hi Andrew ,

      1,2. If Smart EX is available in your country, you can use it.
      https://smart-ex.jp/en/index.html

      If not, don’t worry. You can book a ticket after you arrive in Japan. You can book a ticket at most JR station. You can do it in Ueno station. Please see the movie below.
      https://youtu.be/KthaJop2-zU

      The Shinkansen runs actually every 5-10 minutes between Tokyo, Nagoya, Kyoto and Shin-Osaka. It’s not hard to book a seat other than peak season, such as Golden Week. You will be find

      3. 20 minutes is enough. I will go to Japan and I will make some more movies about Tokyo station in my YouTube channel.

      4. You can do it after you arrive in Ueno unless Smart EX is not available.

      5. You can book all trains ticket at Ueno station if you like.

      Cheers,

      Takeshi / JPRail.com

  2. Hi Takeshi-san, I’m in the midst of planning my honeymoon trip to Japan (Our FIRST time to Japan) and i am overwhelmed by the wide variety of passes that are available and require some assistance to help facilitate my planning. Any useful input will be greatly appreciated! Thank you in advance!!

    Travel date: 27 Mar – 09 Apr 2020 (14D 13N)

    *Nagoya 27-29 Mar 2020 (2N)

    Stay at Kintetsu/Meitetsu station
    Places to go:
    Day 1 (Transport Pass: No)- Nabana No Sato
    Day 2 (Transport Pass: No)- Esca Underground Shopping Centre | Noritake Garden | Sky Promenade

    *Kyoto 29-01 Apr 2020 (3N)

    Stay at Shijo / Kyoto-Kawaramachi Station
    Places to go:
    Day 3 (Transport Pass: No)- Travel from Nagoya to Kyoto (Free Half day. Any recommendation?)
    Day 4 (Transport Pass: Kansai One Pass / Kyoto Sightseeing Card) – Yasaka Shrine | Kodai-ji Temple | Fushimi Inari Shrine
    Day 5 (Transport Pass: Kansai One Pass / Kyoto Sightseeing Card) – Arashiyama Bamboo Forest | Hozugawa River

    *Osaka 01-09 Apr 2020 (8N)

    Stay at Osaka-Umeda Station
    Day 6 – Travel from Kyoto to Osaka (Free Half day. Any recommendation?) / Momofuku Ando Musuem
    Day 7 (Transport Pass: Icoca) – Universal Studio Japan
    Day 8 (Transport Pass: Kansai Thru Pass – 2days / Osaka Amazing Pass – 1day) – Todai-ji Temple | Nara Park | Kasuga-Taisha Shrine
    Day 9 (Transport Pass: Kansai Thru Pass – 2days / Osaka Amazing Pass – 1day) – Rokkosan Cable Car | **Kobe Harbourland | **Meriken Park
    (**Is there enough time for Kobe Animal Kingdom after Rokkosan Cable Car?)

    Stay at Shinsaibashi Station/ 10Mins Walk to Namba Station
    Day 10 – Free Day (Any recommendation?)
    Day 11 (Transport Pass: Kansai Thru Pass – 2days / Osaka Amazing Pass – 1day) – Shitennoji Temple | Tsutenkaku Observatory
    Day 12 (Transport Pass: Kansai Thru Pass – 2days / Osaka Amazing Pass – 1day) – Osaka Castle | Osaka Aquarium Kaiyukan
    Day 13 (Transport Pass: Icoca) – Cherry Blossom Viewing at Japan Mint
    Day 14 (Transport Pass: Icoca) – Travel from Osaka to Kansai Airport

    1. Hi Christine san,

      You can get the info about the tourist spots in the link below:
      https://www.japan-guide.com/list/e1105.html

      You don’t need any passes in Nagoya.

      Platt Kodama is available to take the Shinkansen from Nagoya to Kyoto:
      https://jprail.com/travel-informations/other-rail-passes/rail-pass-for-residents/platt-kodama-one-way-deal-among-tokyo-nagoya-kyoto-and-shin-osaka-by-shinkansen.html

      I don’t think you need Kyoto sightseeing card. Kansai One Pass is okay as long as I saw your wish list in Kyoto. If you visit more places, Kyoto sightseeing card is still not required. Just add one day bus pass.

      You may use Kansai thru pass 3-day for Kyoto to Osaka, trip to Nara and trip to Kobe. For other trips, Kansai thru pass is not required.

      I recommend you to switch your trip plan.

      1. You may visit Universal Studio after April 6th. Because most of public school is spring break until 5th (Sunday). After April 6th, it will be less crowded.

      2. You may visit Nara from Namba because it is closer. You can take Kintetsu railway from Osaka-Namba and get Nara directly.

      So you may do sightseeing by Osaka amazing pass when you are in Umeda.

      Though I don’t think you have enough time, Yoshino is recommended in cherry blossom season. It may be too early to see it. If you have a chance to see it, you should go.
      https://www.japan-guide.com/e/e4152.html

      Cheers,

      Takeshi / JPRail.com

  3. Hi,

    I am a backpacker who is planning to visit Japan in March. I start in Osaka and plan to follow this rough schedule:

    4-6 Osaka (consider JR Kansai Rail pass or Kansai west rail pass)
    7 Inabe
    8-10 Kyoto
    11-12 Nara
    13-14 Free
    15-24 Tokyo (When traveling to tokyo consider the JR Flexi Rail instead of normal rail as it might be cheaper

    May I know if anyone has any recommendations on what passes I should get, for example maybe a combination of regional passes/single thttps://www.jrpass.com/forum/itinerary-check/posts/new#ickets? I know the schedule might be a bit all over the place but its because there are two festivals in Inabe and Nara respectively that I want to catch on those days. Please do give me any advice you have!

    Dan

    1. Hi Dan,

      I think you need Kintestu rail pass to get Inabe. I have never been there and I didn’t know the location of this place. As I googled it, it is located in northern Mie prefecture. You have to take Sangi railway from Kuwana or Kintetsu-Tomida. Inabe is not in Kansai region and it is not covered by Kansai area pass and Kansai thru pass. Kintetsu Rail pass covers the trip to Kuwana or Kintetsu-Tomida from Osaka.
      https://jprail.com/travel-informations/other-rail-passes/rail-pass-for-visitors/kintetsu-rail-pass-most-affordable-deal-for-osakakyoto-nagoya-and-access-to-ise.html

      You cannot get Sangi Railway by Kintetsu Rail Pass. You have to add the fare.

      You can get Kyoto and Nara by Kintetu Rail Pass. But this pass does not cover any modes of transportation in Kyoto. You have to add other deal in Kyoto.
      https://jprail.com/travel-informations/other-rail-passes/rail-pass-for-residents/how-to-choose-the-best-train-pass-for-sightseeing-in-kyoto.html

      In Osaka, you can use other deal:
      https://jprail.com/travel-informations/other-rail-passes/rail-pass-for-residents/how-to-choose-the-best-train-pass-for-sightseeing-in-osaka.html

      If you have a long day trip from Osaka or Tokyo such as the trip to Hiroshima or Kanazawa, you may use JR pass nationewide:
      https://jprail.com/travel-informations/other-rail-passes/rail-pass-for-visitors/japan-rail-pass-user-guide-how-to-use-jr-pass-to-its-maximum.html

      But if you use it for Osaka to Tokyo one way trip and local train ride in Osaka and Tokyo, it doesn’t work. You cannot get the worth of it. You should use a regular fare or Platt Kodama. Please find more info in the link below:
      https://jprail.com/travel-informations/other-rail-passes/rail-pass-for-residents/platt-kodama-one-way-deal-among-tokyo-nagoya-kyoto-and-shin-osaka-by-shinkansen.html

      Please see the link below to get some info about the deal and train network in Tokyo:
      https://jprail.com/destinations/kanto-area/tokyo-kanto-area/guide-to-take-trains-in-tokyo-how-to-choose-the-best-deal-and-the-best-route-by-train-to-get-the-major-spots.html

      Cheers,

      Takeshi / JPRail.com

  4. Hello Takeshi,

    I am planning a trip, mainly to Hokkaido, in early March and will appreciate your advise on whether I should purchase a JR Pass or just a Hokkaido pass. My husband and myself will be arriving Narita airport at about 5.30pm on 1st March 2020. If there is no available night train to Hakodate that evening, we will travel to Tokyo, stay over a night, and catch the morning train to Hakodate. We are intending to stay overnight (or perhaps 2 nights) in Hakodate, then travel to Lake Toya for another night, then to Noboribetsu for another night. From there, we are intending to go to Abashiri and again stay for another night. Then to take train to Otaru, where we intend to stay another night. Following that to Sapporo, where we are intending to stay for 2 nights, before leaving for Niseko to spend another 4 nights. From Niseko, we are intending to catch the train back to Tokyo, and from there back to Narita airport.

    Which type of pass will be more cost effective, but still allow us some flexibility?

    Will greatly appreciate your advise.

    Thanking you in advance.

    1. Hi Teresa,

      Your choice is JR Pass. In my calculation, your trip is 13 nights 14 days trip. So you can use 14-day JR pass. Hokkaido Rail pass does not cover Tokyo to Hokkaido. So JR Pass is only choice. If 14-day pass is not enough to cover, you may use 21-day pass. You can get the worth of it too.

      Overnight train to Hokkaido is no longer available. You must stay in Tokyo on arrival day.

      Cheers,

      Takeshi / JPRail.com

  5. Hi Takeshi san,

    I will visit Kyoto and Osaka in late January. This is my itinerary, can you advise which card, train and bus passes are suitable for me for travelling from KIX to the hotel and also travelling in the city.

    DAY 1 – KIX to Nijo Station, Kyoto (Hotel)
    Arashiyama Bamboo Grove, Togetsukyo Bridge and Gion
    DAY 2 – Kinkakuji temple, Kiyomizu dera temple, Fushimi Inari Shrine, Nishiki market
    DAY 3 – Nijo Station,Kyoto to Tengachaya Station, Osaka (Hotel)
    DAY 4 – Explore Osaka: Osaka Castle, Osaka Aquarium, Dotonbori, Shinsaibashi,
    Kuromon Ichiba Market, Sumiyoshi Taisha, Instant Ramen Museum, Hozenji
    Temple, Minoo Park and Nakanoshima Park
    DAY 5 – Osaka to Nara(day trip)
    DAY 6 – Tengachaya Station to KIX

    Thank you.

    Best regards,
    Linda

    1. Hi Linda san,

      You may use Kansai area pass 3-day for the first 3 days.
      https://jprail.com/travel-informations/other-rail-passes/rail-pass-for-visitors/how-to-use-jr-west-kansai-area-pass-compare-pass-and-single-fare.html

      All places are covered by this pass except the bus fare from Nijo to Kinkakuji and Kiyomizu-Gojo to Kiyomizu-dera, and train fare from Shin-Imamiya to Tengachaya by Nankai railway.

      You can take Haruka from Kansai to Kyoto, local train from Kyoto to Nijo. You also can take this train from Kyoto to Tennoji on day 3. You can take a local train from Tennoji to Shin-Imamiya. And add the fare to take Nankai railway from Shin-Imamiya to Tengachaya.
      https://jprail.com/trains/sort-by-type/limited-express/kansai-airport-limited-express-haruka.html
      https://jprail.com/travel-informations/tips-for-japan-rail-pass/guide-to-take-trains-in-osaka-how-to-choose-the-best-route-by-train-to-get-the-major-spots.html
      https://jprail.com/travel-informations/basic-informations/station-information/shin-imamiya-station-guide-how-to-trasnsfer-jr-nankai-railway-and-subway-line.html

      If you can switch day 4 and 5, you can use Kansai area pass 4-day for the trip to Nara as well. Otherwise a regular fare is your choice to get Nara.

      For sightseeing in Osaka, you can use Osaka amazing pass:
      https://www.osp.osaka-info.jp/en/

      But Ramem Museum and Minoo park are outside coverage area. Actually I think it is too many places in Osaka to see in one day. I don’t think you can make all places in one day.

      For Tengachaya to KIX, you can take Nankai railway. If you want to take luxury train “Rapi:t”, you can buy the deal in the link below:
      https://www.howto-osaka.com/en/ticket/ticket/webtoku.html

      Otherwise pay a regular fare 930 yen to take airport express train.

      Cheers,

      Takeshi / JPRail.com

  6. Dear Takeshi,

    We are planning to visit Hakone and Fuji five lakes from 28 Jan to 1 Feb and would like to know what pass should we purchase. We will depart from Shinjuku and end at Narita International Airport. Shall we buy Hakone pass, or Hakone Fuji Pass or JR Tokyo Wide Pass. Please advise.

    Thanks and regards
    Alice

    1. Hi Alice,

      Fuji Hakone Pass covers both but you will stay in Hakone and Fuji for 5 days. Fuji Hakone Pass covers only 3 days. I don’t think it works. Probably these tickets will be considerable:
      Hakone Free Pass
      https://www.odakyu.jp/english/passes/hakone/
      Mt. Fuji Pass
      http://bus-en.fujikyu.co.jp/mtpass/

      And please add a regular ticket from Shinjuku to Hakone or Lake Kawaguchi by a bus or a train. You also add a regular ticket to get Narita Airport. If you leave from Lake Kawaguchi, there is a direct bus.
      http://bus-en.fujikyu.co.jp/highway/detail/id/39/

      Cheers,

      Takeshi / JPRail.com

      1. Dear Takeshi,

        Could you please advice me how to go Lake Kawaguchi from Hakone and what buses or train I should take? Is Hakone or Fuji pass cover the bus or train on this journey?

        Regards
        Alice

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