In this post, I would like to share the itinerary which covers Tokyo, Osaka, Kyoto and Hokkaido. It is 10 days trip plan but you can make this trip by JR pass 7-day. Some local deals are added at the beginning and the end of the trip to shrink the total cost. But JR pass covers all long distance trips. Actually JR Pass 7-day gives you huge saving. Please find the itinerary below.
- Day 1 Narita or Haneda to Tokyo
- Day 2 Tokyo
- Day 3 Tokyo – Kyoto
- Day 4 Kyoto – Osaka
- Day 5 Osaka – Tokyo
- Day 6 Tokyo – Lake Toya
- Day 7 Lake Toya – Noboribetsu – Otaru – Sapporo
- Day 8 Sapporo – Hakodate
- Day 9 Hakodate – Tokyo
- Day 10 Tokyo to Narita or Haneda
- How much you can save
- If you want to make the trip be longer
Day 1 Narita or Haneda to Tokyo
There are many kinds of deals available. Before you choose the deal, you have to make sure which airport, Narita airport or Haneda airport, you will arrive and which place in Tokyo you will stay. The following links shows you the deals for airport to Tokyo and airport Tokyo with subway ride combo.
Ueno is very convenient if you arrive in Narita. You can access to Ueno directly by Keisei railway from Narita airport. Especially limited express “Skyliner” is the fastest way to get downtown Tokyo. Ueno is Keisei railway’s terminal station. Ueno is also accessible to Akihabara, Shinjuku, Asakusa, Tokyo Skytree. Average hotel rate is more reasonable than most of places in downtown Tokyo.
Shinagawa is most accessible place in downtown Tokyo from Haneda. You can get Shinagawa from Haneda by Keihin Kyuko railway directly. Average hotel rate is not so reasonable actually. But you can catch the Shinkansen to Kyoto at Shinagawa. This is a big asset to stay in Shinagawa. There is no subway station but you can catch JR local trains, such as Yamanote line. You can get Akihabara, Harajuku, Shibuya, Shinjuku Yurakucho (Ginza) directly by Yamanote line.
Day 2 Tokyo
You may use the airport access + subway 24 hours ride pass. In this case, you can use subway pass for sightseeing in Tokyo. You may learn the train route and system in downtown Tokyo in the link below:
If you want to stay in Tokyo more, you can extend to stay as many as you want. You start using JR pass when you leave Tokyo and use other deal before that anyway.
Day 3 Tokyo – Kyoto
This is the first day of using JR pass. JR pass can be exchanged in advance. You can exchange JR pass on day 1 when you arrive in Narita or Haneda airport if you want. There are service counters and you can exchange and book a seat. Once you turn in the actual pass, you can start booking your seat. I recommend you to exchange in advance.
You can take Hikari on the Tokaido Shinkansen. Hikari is second fastest train on Tokaido Shinkansen. Nozomi is the fastest but it is not covered by JR Pass. Please see the timetable in the link below.
If you want to spend the time in Kyoto as much as you can, please try to take the train as early as possible. It takes 3 hours to get Kyoto by Hikari. But when you take the Shinkansen, you have to get the Shinkansen terminal station which is Tokyo station or Shinagawa station. If you stay near one of these stations, you can take the Shinkansen very smoothly. But if you do not stay near these stations, you have to take a local train or subway. You might know how crazy a local train is in downtown Tokyo during the morning peak hours. Please try to avoid to take local trains between 7:30 and 9:00 if you leave Tokyo on weekday. If you leave there on Saturday, Sunday or holiday, it is not an issue.
If you stay in Ueno, you may take the Shinkansen for the short ride to get Tokyo station. It takes only 5 minutes. You have JR pass and it covers. Some commuters use the Shinkansen but it is not crazy busy. You can avoid to take a crazy packed commute train even if you depart in peak hours. However the Shinkansen platform is located at the deep underground in Ueno. Please expect to spend extra 5 minutes.
After arriving Kyoto, you can take JR trains in Kyoto by JR pass. Please see the link below to get the coverage information in Kyoto at the link below:
Please remember that JR pass does not cover subway, city bus and non JR trains in Kyoto. You can get Arashiyama, Nijo, Fushimi and Uji. by JR pass. But you have to take city bus, subway and/or non JR trains to get other places in Kyoto such as Gion, Kiyomizu-dera temple, Kinkaku-ji temple (Golden Pavilion), Kurama. Please see the link below to find the information about local deal in Kyoto.
Ueno 08:31 (Yamabiko 204) 08:36 Tokyo 09:03 (Tokaido Shinkansen Hikari 465) 11:49 Kyoto
Shinagawa 09:10 (Tokaido Shinkansen Hikari 465) 11:49 Kyoto
Hikari between Tokyo and Kyoto runs every 30 minutes in daytime.
After arrival at Kyoto station, drop off your baggage at your hotel and eat lunch. And then you can start to explore Kyoto. I recommend you to stay near Kyoto station.
Kyoto 13:37 (JR Nara line local train) 13:42 Inari
Inari station is located just in front of Fushimi Inari shrine.
Fushimiinari 15:08 (Keihan Railway / 210 yen extra) 15:14 Kiyomizu-Gojo (Walk 1.7 km / 20 minutes) Kiyomizu-dera temple
Even if you take a bus from Kiyomizu-Gojo station, you need to walk about 1 km. There is no buses to get Kiyomizu-dera directly. If you do not walk or travel with senior, do not hesitate to take a taxi. It costs less than 1,000 yen.
Kiyomizu-dera temple (walk about 2km) Gion
There are sightseeing spots, like Sanneizaka, Ninenzaka between Kiyomizu-dera and Gion. I highly recommend you to walk to Gion. It is very scenic and lots of shops along this route. You may have dinner at Gion area. Gion is one of the biggest downtown core in Kyoto. Enjoy the atmosphere of Kyoto in Gion!
Gion (city bus 15 to 20 minutes ride / 230 yen extra) Kyoto
Day 4 Kyoto – Osaka
You can enjoy sightseeing in Kyoto until late afternoon. After sightseeing in Kyoto, proceed to Osaka. It is very short trip from Kyoto to Osaka. Even if you take the commute rapid train, “Special Rapid Service”, it takes only 30 minutes. You can catch even Shinkansen for this short trip. It takes only 10 minutes from Kyoto to Shin-Osaka.
Shin-Osaka is most recommended place to stay in Osaka in my opinion. It is only one station away from Osaka (Umeda) by JR train.
You can catch subway to get Namba directly. But subway is not covered by JR pass. Please see the link below to find the coverage of JR pass in Osaka:
I show you the sample itinerary that include Arashiyama, Kinaku-ji temple (Golden Pavilion) and Umeda.
Kyoto 09:03 (JR Sagano line local train) 09:12 Enmachi 09：21 (city bus #204 / 230 yen extra) 09:30 Kinkakujimichi (walk 5 minutes) Kinaku-ji temple
You have one hour to view Golden Pavilion.
*Leave your baggage at your hotel and pick up when you leave Kyoto later.
Kinkaku-ji temple (walk 5 minutes) Kinakujimichi 10:59 (city bus #204 / 230 yen extra) 11:08 Enmachi 11:15 (JR Sagano line local train) 11:19 Saga-Arashiyama
You have 4.5 hours in Arashiyama for sightseeing and lunch time. If you want, you can squeeze Sagano Scenic Train (Torokko train). Sagano Scenic Train is not covered by JR Pass.
Saga-Arashiyama 15:48 (JR Sagano line local train) 16:04 Kyoto
Pick up your luggage before you take Shinkansen train when you leave Kyoto.
Kyoto 16:49 (Tokaido Shinkansen Hikari 475) 17:03 Shin-Osaka
You can take earlier or later train. Even if you take Special Rapid train (commute rapid service train), it takes less than 30 minutes to get Shin-Osaka from Kyoto and it runs every 15 minutes. Of course you can take this train by JR pass. However Special Rapid is always busy.
After you arrive in Shin-Osaka, drop off your baggage at your hotel and go to Umeda. Umeda is same location as JR Osaka station. It is only one station away from Shin-Osaka and it takes 5 minutes. Train runs almost every 5 minutes until midnight.
Day 5 Osaka – Tokyo
You enjoy full day sightseeing in Osaka. You have to leave Osaka for Tokyo because Hokkaido is very far to access from Osaka. But you can stay in Osaka until dinner time. I show you the sample itinerary that includes Kaiyukan Aquarium, Osaka Castle, Dotonbori and Namba. But you can build your own day plan.
Before starting trip, purchase Osaka Kaiyu ticket (2,550 yen) at subway Shin-Osaka station. This deal includes admission of Kaiyukan aquarium and 1 day subway unlimited ride.
Shin-Osaka 09:25 (Osaka Subway Midosuji line) 09:36 Hommachi 09:42 (Osaka Subway Chuo line) 09:53 Osakako (walk 10 minutes) Osaka Kaiyukan Aquarium
Enjoy Aquarium and eat lunch at Tenpozan Marketplace.
*Leave your baggage at your hotel before you leave for Tokyo.
Osakako 13:26 (Osaka Subway Chuo line) 13:41 Tanimachiyonchome
Tanimachiyonchome station is located beside Osaka Castle Park. But this park is quite big. You have to walk around 20 minutes to get the castle.
Osaka Business Park 15:41 (Osaka Subway Nagano/Tsurumiryokuchi line) 15:51 Shinsaibashi
Osaka Business Park station is also located beside Osaka castle park. You can get Shinsaibashi directly. After arrival at Shinsaibashi, enjoy eat and shop in Dotonbori and Namba.
19:40 (Osaka Subway Midosuji line) 19:53 Shin-Osaka 20:37 (Tokaido Shinkansen Hikari 482) 23:36 Tokyo
Pick up your baggage before you go to Tokyo.
*Hikari runs almost every 30 minutes. This above train is the last Hikari to Tokyo. You can take earlier train if you want to get Tokyo earlier. I just maximize to stay in Osaka. You stay in Tokyo on day 5 but you just stay there and prepare to take early train to Hokkaido next morning.
Overnight train option from Osaka to Tokyo
JR pass covers “Nobi Nobi seat” of the overnight train Sunrise Izumo and Sunrise Seto fully. If you use this train, you can save the cost of hotel in Tokyo and you also can maximize your time in Osaka. Because this train departs from Osaka after midnight. Please find the timetable and the information of Sunrize Izumo and Seto in the link below:
As I mentioned in the post above, it is not easy to book a space on Sunrise Izumo or Seto. You must book it after you arrive in Japan. All spaces may be booked out. You must have a back up plan if you plan to take this train. For example, you book a hotel which you can cancel in 3 days without any cancellation charge. You may try to book a space when you arrive in Japan. If you can make it, cancel a hotel. If you cannot make it, just hold the space at the hotel in Tokyo. It is not hard to find the hotel which allows you to cancel without any charges in 3 days.
Day 6 Tokyo – Lake Toya
It is such a long trip by train. You spend 6 hours on board. After arriving Toyako Onsen (Lake Toya), enjoy lake cruise or walk along the lake shore. Lake Toya is one of the popular hot spring resorts. There are lots of hotels along the lake shore.
You can skip Lake Toya and stay in Noboribetsu if you want. You make a stop at Noboribetsu next day. But if you stay in Noboribetsu, you can leave Noboribetsu earlier and make some extra time in Otaru or Sapporo.
I do not recommend you to stop at Lake Toya and then move to Noboribetsu on day 6. There are express bus running between Lake Toya and Noboribetsu. But no bus is available after 15:00. If you use train from Lake Toya to Noboribetsu, you have to take local bus to Toya station and then take train. And then you need to take local bus to Noboribetsu. You need to spend extra minutes and waste your time.
If you skip Lake Toya and stay in Noboribetsu, the itinerary is the following:
Tokyo 08:20 (Hokkaido Shinkansen Hayabusa 5) 12:22 Shin-Hakodate-Hokuto 12:34 (Limited Express Super Hokuto 11) 14:50 Noboribetsu 15:20 (Donan Bus / extra 340 yen) 15:34 Noboribetsu Onsen
You will change trains at Shin-Hakodate-Hokuto. You can find some more information about this station in the link below:
I traveled Lake Toya and Noboribetsu before. You can find my trip report in the link below:
Day 7 Lake Toya – Noboribetsu – Otaru – Sapporo
Leave Lake Toya by express bus for Noboribetsu Onsen. You have a quick stop at Noboribetsu Onsen and see the valley of hell. It is just step away from the bus stop in Noboribetsu Onsen. You also spend a few hours for sightseeing in Otaru.
You stay in Sapporo and enjoy the evening there.
Toyako Onsen 09:06 (Donan Bus “Express Iburi” / extra 1,700 yen) 10:11 Noboribetsu Onsen 12:00 (Donan Bus / extra 340 yen) 12:12 Noboribetsu 12:35 (Limited Express Super Hokuto 7) 13:48 Sapporo 14:13 (Rapid Airport) 14:45 Otaru 18:30 (Rapid Airport) 19:02 Sapporo
If you skip Lake Toya and stay in Noboribetsu on day 6, you can leave Noboribetsu earlier. The itinerary is the following:
Noboribetsu Onsen 09:45 (Donan Bus / extra 340 yen) 09:57 Noboribetsu 10:09 (Limited Express Hokuto 3) 11:27 Sapporo 11:43 (Rapid Airport) 12:15 Otaru 17:30 (Rapid Airport) 18:02 Sapporo
You can skip Otaru and spend more time in Sapporo if you like.
Day 8 Sapporo – Hakodate
You spend the time in Sapporo until late afternoon. The last train to Hakodate is 20:00 departure. However night view from Hakodate mountain is marvelous. I recommend you to arrive Hakodate by 20:00 because Hakodate mountain gondola is operated until 21:00 in winter time and 22:00 in summer time.
The train in the following sample is the latest train to see the night view from Hakodate mountain. And also I recommend you to stay in the hotel near Hakodate station. You can drop off your luggage right after arrival in Hakodate. And catch the taxi to get Hakodate mountain ropeway station.
Sapporo 15:39 (Super Hokuto 18) 19:24 Hakodate
Hakodate (10 minutes by taxi / extra fare about 2,000 yen) Hakodate mountain gondola station
*You can take tram to Jujigai from Hakodate station and walk from there to gondola station. You spend 210 yen only but you spend 10 minutes for tram and 15 minutes to walk.
When I visited Hakodate, I stayed in Hotel Route Inn Hakodate.
It was not a high-end hotel but the rate is very affordable and the location is just next to Hakodate station. This hotel is highly recommended.
Day 9 Hakodate – Tokyo
Enjoy sightseeing in Hakodate and leave for Tokyo by Hokkaido.
This is the last day of JR pass. You have to get Tokyo by midnight. There is no overnight trains available either.
Hakodate 18:01 (Rapid Hakodate Liner) 18:23 Shin-Hakodate-Hokuto 18:36 (Hokkaido Shinkansen Hayabusa 38) 23:04 Tokyo
I picked the last train to Tokyo. But you can take earlier train. Please check the timetable in the link below:
You can get off the train at Ueno if you go to Narita on next day.
Day 10 Tokyo to Narita or Haneda
If you use round trip deal on arrival day, you can use the remaining portion. Otherwise single fare is your choice to get the airport.
How much you can save
The total fare during 7 days when you use JR pass is more than 90,000 yen. You can save more than 60,000 yen.
Even if you use 14-day pass, you still can save about 50,000 yen. In this sample itinerary, I use 7-day pass and I recommend you to use other deal for day 1, 2 and 10. The extra cost for these 3 days is around 5,000 yen. It is not a good idea to use JR pass 14-day.
If you want to make the trip be longer
As I mentioned, even if you use JR pass 14-day, you have already to get the worth of that by this trip. So you can use 14-day JR pass and add any places. But if you just want to extend your stay in Tokyo, simply add subway ticket on this trip plan. 14-day JR pass is not very efficient in Tokyo and just wasting money.
I hope you have got some idea from this post.