7 days JR Pass price is almost same as round trip fare between Tokyo and Osaka by Shinkansen. That means if you have one way trip from Tokyo to Osaka or reverse, JR Pass is not worthwhile using. However if you add some trips when you stay in Osaka and Tokyo, you may use JR pass 7 days.
Day 1 Narita airport to Tokyo
You can take Narita Express to Tokyo, Shinagawa, Shinjuku or Ikebukuro. Narita Express runs very frequently. Please see the link below to find the timetable.
Of course you can take any JR trains in downtown Tokyo as well. After you get off Narita Express, you can take JR local trains, such as Yamanote line to get the nearest station to your hotel.
Please remember that subway and other Non JR trains are not covered by JR pass.
In this sample itinerary, Ueno is the place to stay. Ueno is four stations away from Tokyo. You need to take local train on Yamanote line. But average hotel rate is quite reasonable. You can take Tohoku Shinkansen directly. Asakusa is very close. Ueno is a good place to stay.
Day 2 Tokyo
You can use JR pass to visit many places in Tokyo. Please see the link below to find the coverage of JR pass in downtown Tokyo.
Some of the places in Tokyo cannot be reached by JR pass, such as Asakusa, Odaiba. You may need to add single fare or Tokyo Subway Ticket. If you need to take subway four times or more, think about using Tokyo Subway Ticket. You may find the information about Tokyo Subway Ticket in the link above.
Day 3 Day trip to Hakone from Tokyo
Odakyu Railway is the primary way to get Hakone. This railway connects Shinjuku and Hakone-Yumoto directly. But if you stay in east side of downtown Tokyo, such as Ueno, Akihabara, Tokyo, Ginza, Shinagawa, you have to take local train to get Shinjuku.
Meanwhile you can catch Tokaido Shinkansen at Tokyo or Shinagawa. You cannot get Hakone-Yumoto but you can get Odawara that is the gateway to Hakone. And you have JR pass. Why not take Shinkansen?
But after Odawara, JR pass does not cover any transportation. If you want to see whole part of Hakone, Hakone Free Pass is recommended. It is available from two days. This two days pass at 4,000 yen is a good deal for even one day tour.
The following sample itinerary covers most of popular sites in Hakone, such as Open Air Museum, Owakudani, Gotemba, Lake Ashi Cruise.
Ueno (10 minutes ride on Yamanote line or other local train) Tokyo
Train runs very very frequently. But in morning peak hour, train is very busy. If you want to avoid the peak hour, start your trip after 9:00 am.
Tokyo 06:56 (Tokaido Shinkansen Kodama 633) 07:36 Odawara
You need to change trains and purchase Hakone Free Pass at Odawara. If you have 30 minutes there, you do not need to rush.
*Hakone Free Pass 2 days at 4,000 yen is extra.
Odawara 08:06 (Odakyu railway local train) 08:21 Hakone-Yumoto 08:24 (Hakone Tozan Railway) 08:58 Chokokunomori
3 minutes in Hakone-Yumoto is enough to change trains. It is same platform. You can change trains in even 30 seconds.
One hour for visiting Open Air Museum near Chokokunomori station. Museum opens at 09:00 am.
Chokokunomori 10:13 (Hakone Tozan Railway) 10:16 Gora 10:27 (Hakone Tozan Bus) 11:37 Gotemba Premium Outlet
You will have 2 hours for shopping and lunch at Gotemba Premium Outlet. If you want to stay more in outlet, cut Open Air Museum or later sightseeing.
Gotemba Premium Outlet 14:00 (Hakone Tozan Bus) 14:22 Sengoku 14:35 (Odakyu Hakone Highway Bus) 14:48 Togendai (16 minutes by Hakone Ropeway) Owakudani
Enjoy walking in Owakudani
Owakudani 15:30-40 (16 minutes by Hakone Ropeway) 16:00 Togendai 16:20 (Hakone Sightseeing Cruise) 17:00
You can enjoy the view of Mt. Fuji on Lake Ashi.
Hakone-machi 17:38 (Hakone Tozan Bus) 18:00 Hakone-Yumoto 18:11 (Odakyu railway local train) 18:25 Odawara 18:42 (Tokaido Shinkansen Kodama 668) 19:17 Tokyo (10 minutes local train ride) Ueno
You do not need to go back to Tokyo quickly. The last Shinkansen train from Odawara to Tokyo is 22:42. You may enjoy onsen bath at Hakone-Yumoto. There are some day use Onsen bath near Hakone-Yumoto station.
You may find the timetable at the links below:
Shinkansen westbound (from Tokyo)
Shinkansen eastbound (to Tokyo)
Hyperdia (to check the timetable for Hakone Tozan Railway and Odakyu Railway)
Hakone Tozan Bus
Day 4 Tokyo to Takayama and day trip to Shirakawago
You can take Hokuriku Shinkansen to get Toyama and take limited express Wide View Hida from Toyama to Takayama. Most of Wide View Hida run between Nagoya and Takayama only. But there are a few trips running between Nagoya and Toyama. So you can get Takayama from Tokyo via Nagoya. But if you can catch Wide Veiw Hida at Toyama. Tokyo-Toyama-Takayama route is faster. I would like to show you sample itinerary by this route.
Ueno 07:26 (Hokuriku Shinkansen Kagayaki 503) 09:31 Toyama 09:52 (Limited Wide View Hida 8) 11:23 Takayama
Leave your luggage at your hotel in Takayama. Hotel can hold your luggage even before check in. After that, have lunch in Takayama and take Nohi bus to Shirakawago.
Takayama 12:50 (Nohi bus) 13:40 Shirakawago 16:15 (Nohi bus) 17:20 Takayama
*Nohi bus is not covered by JR pass. Round trip fare at 4,420 yen is extra. Reservation is strongly recommended for taking Nohi bus. Reservation information and timetable can be found in Nohi Bus official site in the link below:
Nohi Bus official site
Day 5 Takayama to Osaka
You can take limtied express Wide View Hida from Takayama to Nagoya, and Tokaido Shinkansen Hikari from Nagoya to Shin-Osaka. There is one trip of Wide View Hida running from Takayama to Osaka directly. But this train departs from Takayama at 15:36 and arrive at Osaka at 19:51. I think this is too late to arrive in Osaka. My sample schedule is the following:
Takayama 12:33 (Limited Wide View Hida 10) 15:02 Nagoya 15:11 (Tokaido Shinkansen Hikari 473) 16:03 Shin-Osaka
You can stay anywhere in Osaka. But Shin-Osaka is recommended. It is Shinkansen station. It is very accessible to Umeda, Namba, Kyoto and Kansai airport. You can get these places directly. And hotel rate is more affordable than downtown core, such as Umeda and Namba.
If you arrive in Shin-Osaka around 16:00, you still have some time to shop and eat in Osaka. Trains in Osaka run until midnight. If you take a flight in the morning on day 7, this is only chance to see Osaka.
Day 6 Day trip to Kyoto from Osaka
You can take JR trains to Kyoto. Please see JR train network in Osaka, Kyoto and Kobe in the link below:
You can visit Arashiyama, Nijo, Fushimi Inari shrine and Uji by JR pass. But you need to pay extra fare or buy day pass to get other places, such as Gion by bus and subway. Please see the links below to find the detailed information in the following links:
I show you one day sample itinerary to Kyoto from Osaka. That includes Arashiyama, Fushimi Inari, Kiyomizu-dera and Gion.
Shin-Osaka 08:16 (Tokaido Shinkansen Hikari 512) 08:31 Kyoto
You can take ordinary train, such as Special Rapid. Most of travelers do not take Shinkansen for Shin-Osaka to Kyoto because it is a short ride and very expensive. But you have JR pass and it covers Shinkansen trips as many as you want. Shinkansen is 15 minutes faster than Special Rapid train.
Kyoto 08:48 (local train) 09:03 Sagaarashiyama
Change the trains at Kyoto station to Arashiyama.
Sagaarashiyama station is located in Arashiyama. It is not located in the center of Arashiyama but you can walk to most of places in Arashiyama. You have 4 hours for sightseeing and lunch in Arahsiyama.
Sagaarashiyama 13:08 (local) 13:24 Kyoto 13:37 (local) 13:42 Inari
After Arashiyama, proceed to Fushimi Inari shrine. 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.
In my estimation, you stay in Kiyomizu-dera about 1 hour (15:45 to 16:45) and spend 2 hours from Kiyomizu-dera to Gion. If you want to visit more temples from Kiyomizu-dera to Gion, I recommend you to shorten the time in Arashiyama. Some of temples are closed by 17:00. You should leave Arashiyama by 12:00 and make one extra hour after Kiyomizu-dera.
Gion (city bus 15 to 20 minutes ride / 230 yen extra) Kyoto 19:13 (Tokaido Shinkansen Hikari 521) 19:26 Shin-Osaka
You can take later train from Kyoto to Shin-Osaka. You can enjoy the dinner in Gion or Kyoto station before going back to Shin-Osaka. You can catch Shinkansen even around 23:00. Even if you miss Shinkansen, you sill can take local or rapid train. These commute trains run until midnight.
Day 7 Osaka to Kansai airport
Limited Express Haruka connects Shin-Osaka and Kansai Airport directly.
Cost break down
Ueno – Odawara round trip by Shinkansen – 3,740 yen x 2 = 7,480 yen
Ueno – Takayama via Toyama one way trip by Shinkansen and Limited Express Wide View Hida – 15,620 yen
Takayama – Shin-Osaka via Nagoya one way trip by Shinkansen and Limited Express Wide View Hida – 10,600 yen
Shin-Osaka – Sagaarashiyama one way trip base fare – 970 yen
Sagaarashiyama – Fushimi one way trip by local train – 240 yen
Kyoto – Shin-Osaka one way trip base fare – 560 yen
Shinkansen seat fee for Shin-Osaka to Kyoto round trip – 4,500 yen
Total 39,970 yen
JR Pass 7 days is 29,100 yen. You can save around 10,000 yen. Even if you do not take Shinkansen between Kyoto and Shin-Osaka, you still can save about 5,000 yen. But actually you can save more. Some of you may notice that I do not include the fare for Narita airpot to Tokyo and Osaka to Kansai airport, and also you may take local train in Osaka and Tokyo. Train trips in Osaka and Tokyo can be made at very reasonable fare. It is not a big issue. But train trips for Narita to Tokyo and Osaka to Kansai are not cheap. I will explain why I did not include it in the next chapter
If you want to make the trip be longer
As long as you make the trips in the chapter of “Cost break down” above, JR pass 7 days works. That means you still can use JR pass even if you cannot make trip for Narita to Tokyo and/or Osaka to Kansai in 7 days period. If you can include these trips in 7 days period, you can save more. The fare for these airport access trips are the following:
Narita airport – Tokyo one way trip by Narita Express – 3,020 yen
Shin Osaka – Kansai airport one way trip by Haruka – 2,850 yen(*1)
*1 – This is regular fare. Haruka discount ticket is available at 1,300 yen but this deal covers only non reserved seat. JR pass covers reserved seat fee too.
The cost is about 6,000 yen. If you include both trips in 7 days, JR pass is a huge deal. Even if you include one of those trips, you can save more!
If you want to have more time in Tokyo, Osaka or other places, extend your stay in Japan. As long as you use JR pass for Hakone, Tokyo-Takayama-Osaka and Osaka-Kyoto round trip, 7 days pass will work and offers you a big saving.