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  1. Hello, Takeshi
    This is my first time visiting Japan and also by myself. I’m planning to visit Osaka, Kyoto, Nara, and Yoshinoya.

    itinerary 1

    Day 1- Arrived at Osaka in the morning and head to Kyoto.
    Day 2- Visiting Mount Yoshino and Nara Park
    Day 3- Visiting Arashiyama Bamboo Grove in the morning and Gion at night.
    Day 4- visiting Kiyomizu-dera Temple in the morning and then go Fushimi Inari Taisha Shrine and then take a train to Osaka.
    Day 5- Visiting Osaka Castle and around the city.
    Day 6- Leaving Japan. I will depart very morning at 9:50 AM. Then what transportation should I take from Osaka Castle area to Kansai airport?

    itinerary 2 :
    Day 1- Arrive at Osaka Kansai airport in the morning and then wandering around or visit Osaka Castle
    Day 2- Going around Osaka city like Minami and Umeda.
    Day 3- Heading to Kyoto in the morning and stay near Downtown Kyoto. I am planning to visit Kiyomizu-dera Temple and then to Fushimi Inari Taisha Shrine.
    Day 4- Visiting Mount Yoshino and Nara Park
    Day 5- Visiting Arashiyama Bamboo Grove in the morning and Gion at night
    Day 6- Leaving Japan.
    The same question that if I have to depart early, what airport should I go? From Kyoto to kansai airport or Itami airport?
    Can you give me advice on any pass would suit each of my itineraries I list? Also, any advice on what sightseeing destination I should change to make the plan more smoother.
    Best regard,
    Kun

    1. Hi Kun,

      You can take limousine bus for either Itami or Kansai from Kyoto.
      http://www.kate.co.jp/en/timetable/detail/KY
      https://www.okkbus.co.jp/en/timetable/K/

      From Osaka, you can take either Nankai railway or JR. If you take Nankai, you can take subway to get Namba. If you take JR, you can take JR train to get Kansai via Tennoji. There are lots of stations of both JR and subway around Osaka castle. It depends on which area you will be.
      https://www.japan-guide.com/e/e4000.html

      Please see the links below to find the deal for Osaka, Kyoto and Kansai to Osaka/Kyoto.
      https://jprail.com/travel-informations/other-rail-passes/rail-pass-for-residents/how-to-choose-the-best-train-pass-for-sightseeing-in-osaka.html
      https://jprail.com/sample-itineraries/airport-access/kansai-kix/how-to-choose-the-deals-for-access-tofrom-kansai-airport.html

      Kansai thru pass may be the best choice for Osaka to Kyoto sightseeing, Nara and Yoshino, and one day in Kyoto.
      https://jprail.com/travel-informations/other-rail-passes/rail-pass-for-residents/how-to-use-kansai-thru-pass-compare-pass-and-single-fare.html

      But Yoshino is a bit away from the coverage area. And regular fare may be cheaper than Kansai thru pass for these 3 days.

      Cheers,

      Takeshi / JPRail.com

  2. Konichiwa, Shimomura San!

    I’ve been to your beautiful country many times, and will be taking another trip with my family in two weeks. It will span between March 18 to 29, by train. I was hoping that I could buy some JR passes to cut down on the cost but somehow the total train fare is almost the same as if I buy the passes. By my own calculation, that is. I’m wondering if you have any words of wisdom to share by looking at my itinerary. It’ll be MUCH appreciated.

    3/18 – Haneda to Omiya;
    3/19 – Omiya – Takasaki – Shibukawa – Ikaho Onsen;
    3/20 – Ikaho Onsen – Shibukawa – Takasaki – Nagano (for snow monkeys) – Shibu Onsen;
    3.21 – Shibu Onsen – Nagano – Matsumoto (castle and miso factory) – Takayama;
    3/22 – Takayama/Hida;
    3/23 – Takayama – Kanazawa;
    3/24 – Kanazawa;
    3/25 – Kanazawa – Kyoto;
    3/26 – Kyoto;
    3/27 – Kyoto – Tokyo;
    3/28, 3/29 – Tokyo – Haneda

    I calculated 42,560 yen total for train fare alone if bought individually. A 14-day nation-wide JR pass is 46,390.

    Many thanks.

    Susan Tam
    Vancouver, Canada

    1. Hi Susan san,

      I think your calculation is correct. In my rough calculation, total fare is not much different from yours.

      As you think, JR pass is higher than total cost but JR pass is only choice to cover your trip. There is no other better options. If you use JR pass to take local trains in Kyoto and Tokyo, your total fare will be a bit closer to 14-day pass cost. When you stay in Takayama and make a round trip to Hida-Furukawa by limited express train, it helps you to get the worth of 14-day pass.

      That’s all I can say. If you purchase a ticket for each segments, it may be cheaper but it’s so troublesome. Even if JR pass is a bit higher, I recommend you to use JR pass.

      Cheers,

      Takeshi / JPRail.com
      P.S. I’m a Vancouverite too!

      1. Many thanks, Shimomura San!
        JR Pass it is then. I’m sure there are benefits besides being a convenient ticket, such as discounts on some sights, etc. Looking forward to seeing some cherry blossoms while we’re there. Have a wonderful Spring – I hope it’ll get warmer soon, from one Vancouverite to another!

        Cheers,
        Susan

  3. Dear Takeshi-san,

    Thank you for your hard work and generosity in sharing your guidance to travellers like myself! Your site is a wealth of information and has been a valuable tool as I plan my travels in Japan. ありがとうございます。
    May I ask for your opinion on my upcoming 2-week April itinerary? The first week of our trip we plan to use the Hokuriku Arch Pass.
    Day 1: Arrive Haneda. Exchange for Hokuriku Arch Pass at JREast Office at
    Haneda. Take monorail and find our way to Tokyo station. Take Shinkansen
    to Kanazawa.
    Day 2 & 3: Kanazawa
    Day 4 & 5: Toyama (with possible side trip to Gokayama)
    Day 6: Toyama to Joetsu Myoko ( to see the Takada Castle Cherry Blossoms)
    Day 7: Joetsu Myoko to Tokyo with brief stop in Karuizawa

    Do you advise us making seat reservations online before we arrive in Japan, as it is peak season for travel? Is it even possible to do it online with only the exchange order?

    On our second week, we will stay in Tokyo (Nihombashi area) and we plan 2 side trips… one to Kawaguchiko, staying overnight, and catching the Fujizakura Festival on the following morning before heading back to Tokyo, and second, a day trip to Kamakura. Lastly, we will depart from Narita and are thinking to take the Airport Narita Rapid train direct from Shin-Nihombashi station where our hotel is located. Would any of the Tokyo train passes be worth considering?

    Thank you so much!
    Kind regards,
    Selena

    1. Hi Selena san,

      Hokuriku arch pass is the right choice for the first 7 days.
      For last 7 days, you can use Tokyo Subway Ticket for sightseeing in Tokyo. Tokyo Metro station, “Mitsukoshimae” is almost same location as JR Shin-Nihombashi station.

      I recommend you to take an express bus by a regular fare to get Kawaguchiko area. Please find more info in the link below:
      https://jprail.com/sample-itineraries/1to3-days/how-to-build-the-trip-plan-to-fuji-area-various-sample-itineraries-of-fuji-five-lakes-and-5th-station.html

      For trip to Kamakura, there are a few options:
      https://jprail.com/destinations/kanto-area/yokohama-and-kamakura-access-guide-find-the-right-deal-and-route-from-your-place-to-stay.html

      There is no deals available for trip to Narita unfortunately.

      Cheers,

      Takeshi / JPRail.com

  4. Hi there,

    We’re a 34/35 yr old couple travelling to Japan (first timers) in April/May 2019 for 23 days. We love a mixture of big cities and great food, mixed with nature and history.

    We would love input from experienced Japan travelers.

    Itinerary:

    Tokyo – 6 nights

    Nikko – 2 nights

    Fujikawaguchiko – 3 nights (we want to go to Fuji-Q Highland + explore the lakes/Mt Fuji)

    Matsumoto – 1 night

    Takayama – 1 night

    Kanazawa – 2 nights

    Kyoto – 4 nights

    Hiroshima – 2 nights (including Miyajima)

    Osaka – 3 nights (day trip to Nara)

    Our largest questions/concerns lies in the Alps and the ease of travel between destinations vs seeing towns very similar to eachother that we could best use our days elsewhere or save daily hopping (Nikko, Fuji 5 Lakes, Matsumoto, Takayama etc.)

    All advice/guidance is MUCH appreciated.

    Thank you in advance.

    1. Hi Josh,

      I recommend you a few places on your trip.

      The first one is Kiso valley. It is located between Nagoya and Matsumoto.
      https://jprail.com/travel-informations/trip-report/2016-winter-tohoku-chubu-chugoku/trip-to-tohoku-chubu-and-chugoku-in-2016-winter-part-4-nagoya-to-matsumoto-via-magome.html
      https://www.japan-guide.com/e/e6075.html

      When you visit Takayama and Kanazawa, you may visit Shirakawago. It is very popular place but it is very crowded in these days. If you visit other smaller towns around Shirakawago such as Suganuma and Ainokura, it is quieter and very attractive:
      https://www.japan-guide.com/e/e5950.html

      When you go to Hiroshima, you can drop by Kurashiki. It is very lovely town:
      https://jprail.com/travel-informations/trip-report/2016-winter-tohoku-chubu-chugoku/trip-to-tohoku-chubu-and-chugoku-in-2016-winter-part-11-visit-kurashiki-and-go-back-to-osaka-by-500-type-eva-shinkansen.html
      https://www.japan-guide.com/e/e5750.html

      All these places can be added on your trip.

      Cheers,

      Takeshi / JPRail.com

  5. Hi, Takeshi

    Thanks for last time give comment advise for the Osaka trip. My trip is going very smooth, but this time need your advise for my Fukuoka trip which is 8D7N

    Day 1-2 : Fukuoka
    Day 3-7: We prefer to walk around Kyushu Area. any advise?

    I only find out the JR Kyushu Rail pass and Fukuoka Tourist City Pass and Fukuoka City Subway, or I better rent a car for this trip?

    we got 6 travelers together.

    Thanks

    Ms Wong

    1. Hi Apple,

      It’s hard to say about walking. I don’t have any experiences to walk in Kyushu.

      If you prefer to take trains, Kyushu rail pass is recommended but you have to decide where you go first. Otherwise you cannot find the best deal.

      I cannot say about rent-a-car either. Because I haven’t driven in Japan for more than 10 years.

      Cheers,

      Takeshi / JPRail.com

  6. I am travelling to Tokyo end of March to first week of April2019; planning to cover the below by train.

    Days 1 and 2 : Tokyo
    Days 3 to 6 Mishima – Mishima Skywalk, Odoriko Trail
    Days 7 and 8 Kyukamura Fuji
    Days 9 and 10 Gotenba – Mount Fuji 5 lakes area
    Day 11 and 12 Tokyo

    Which JR pass covers all/some of the above areas? What are the best form of transportation to get to these areas? Appreciate your suggestions.

    thanks

    1. Hi CC,

      Unfortunately there is no deals to cover whole part of your trip.

      For Tokyo
      You may find some deals for airport to Tokyo and subway ride in Tokyo in the link below:
      https://www.tokyometro.jp/en/ticket/airport_bus/index.html

      For Mishima
      There are several deals to cover bus route:
      http://www.tokaibus.jp.e.aeo.hp.transer.com/page.jsp?id=379
      Many PDF files are shown in Japanese only. There is Tokai Bus branch at Mishima station. Please ask them to find the best one for you.
      https://jprail.com/travel-informations/basic-informations/station-information/mishima-station-guide-how-to-change-the-trains-and-the-buses-to-hakone-fuji-and-shuzenji.html

      At Fuji Five Lakes
      Please see the link below:
      http://bus-en.fujikyu.co.jp/heritage-tour/

      Regular ticket is your choice for other part of your trip.

      Cheers,

      Takeshi / JPRail.com

  7. Dear Takeshi

    I plan to visit Osaka for 4 days with plan as follows:
    Day 1: Osaka city
    Day 2: Day trip to Kyoto
    Day 3: Day trip to Wakayama
    Day 4: Osaka city

    Given the limited time, I would prefer to take express or rapid trains to Kyoto and Wakayama. Can you recommend the best pass that I should buy that allows me to use for local bus/subway in Osaka/Kyoto/Wakayama? Many thanks for your help!

    Rgds…WG

  8. HI Friends ,

    I’m going to abashiri station from Asahikawa station.
    my friend will drop me at Asahikawa station on 12:30 then I have to take my luggage from locker, is it enough time to catch train to abashiri on 12:41 ?
    How far the luggage locker to platform 3 or 4 ?
    Thanks

    1. Hi Santi,

      It’s not impossible but very tight. I recommend you to ask your friend to drop you off 20 minutes before the departure time.

      There are some lockers in Asahikawa station. All lockers are located outside the ticket gate at north side walkway.

      Cheers,

      Takeshi / JPRail.com

  9. Dear friend,
    You have helped me a great deal in the past and I am heading back to Japan soon! This time we will spend time in Kyushu and then on the Kii peninsula. We want to travel by train from Hakata to Wakayama stopping in Okayama on the way. The plan is Hakata to Okayama 26th March and then Okayama to Wakayama 28th March. While we are staying in Okayama we would want to visit places around there, probably Kurashiki and out to Bitchu Takahashi, or over to Naoshima and maybe Takamatsu…
    Would it be best to buy a JR Sanyo San’in area pass or just buy tickets as we need them? We would of course like to travel on Shinkansen wherever possible.
    Would we be able to use JR pass for the trips out of Okayama too?
    Your advice would be great for us again!
    regards Kathy

    1. Hi Kathy,

      You can use Sanyo Sanin Area Pass for your trip. It covers Kurashiki, Bitchu Takahashi, Takamatsu. And when you go to Naoshima, you can get Uno. After Uno, you will take a ferry but this is not covered.

      You can take the Shinkansen all the way to Shin-Osaka from Hakata via Okayama. For the trip to Okayama, you can take the Limited Express Kuroshio.
      https://jprail.com/trains/sort-by-type/limited-express/kuroshio-ocean-arrow.html

      Cheers,

      Takeshi / JPRail.com

  10. Hi Takeshi san!

    I am travelling to Tokyo this mid-April for 8 days.
    This is my first time using the JR east pass (Tohoku). I understand that I can use this pass on any 5 days within the 14 day period. I will be based in Tokyo and am planning to use them on:

    1. Narita to city
    2. City to Aizu-wakamatsu & Ouchijuku (2way)
    3. City to Nikko (2way)
    4. City to Takasaki & Kawagoe (2way)
    5. City to Narita

    Are these day-trips feasible? Is the JR east pass worthwhile? Should I put in more day trips? Will be glad to hear any input/suggestions you might have for me!

    Cheers! (:

    Ting

    1. Hi Ting san,

      You may use JR East Pass Tohoku. But I recommend you to use other deal.
      For Narita to/from, there are several deals which includes Tokyo-Narita round trip + Tokyo subway pass. Please see the link below:
      https://jprail.com/sample-itineraries/airport-access/narita/the-list-of-deals-for-access-to-downtown-tokyo-from-narita-airport.html

      You can use Tokyo Wide Pass for 3 days.
      https://jprail.com/sample-itineraries/airport-access/narita/the-list-of-deals-for-access-to-downtown-tokyo-from-narita-airport.html
      https://www.jreast.co.jp/e/tokyowidepass/index.html

      Aizu Wakamatsu and Yunokami Onsen (Ouchijuku) are not in the coverage area. But even if you use JR East Pass, you have to pay for Aizu-Wakamatsu to Yunokami Onsen. You can get Kinugawa onsen by Tokyo Wide Pass. You may add the fare for Kinugawa Onsen – Yunokami Onsen – Aizu Wakamatsu.

      I had very similar trip before. Please see the link below to find more info:
      https://jprail.com/travel-informations/trip-report/2014-winter-aizu-nikko-hakone-tip/trip-to-tohoku-and-nagano-in-2014-winter-part-1-from-narita-airport-to-tokyo.html

      Cheers,

      Takeshi / JPRail.com

      1. Thanks for the advice! I went through the other option you provided and worked out my itinerary:

        Day 1 to 3 NIKKO ALL AREA PASS
        Narita/Kinugawaonsen/Ouchijuku/Aizuwakamatsu/Nikko/Tokyo

        Day 4 to 6 TOKYO WIDE PASS
        Kawaguchiko/Takasaki/Kamakura/Odaiba

        Day 7 to 8
        Relax in the city

        Since I need to go to Asakusa from Narita for the ride up to Kinugawaonsen, I don’t think I can make use of Narita Express or Keisei Liner.

        These are not necessarily the cheapest options to get to the airport, right?

        Would love to hear any comments you might have. Thanks.

        1. Hi Ting,

          You don’t need any passes and just pay as you go from Narita to Asakusa. Some of Keisei trains go directly to Asakusa from Narita.
          http://www.keisei.co.jp/keisei/tetudou/skyliner/us/nrt_access/index.php

          For Nikko, Ouchijuku, Kinugawa onsen and Aizu Wakamatsu, you can use Yuttari Aizu Tobu Free Pass. This is valid for 5 days and it covers all places from day 1 to 3. The price is 7,260 yen. It does not include limited express surcharge. Please add if you take it. This deal is not shown in Tobu Railway English site. I put Japanese link. Please use some translation service to see this page.
          http://tabi.tobu.co.jp/ticket/honsen/c01_k.html

          You can purchase this at Tobu Railway Asakusa station.

          Cheers,

          Takeshi / JPRail.com

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