Sample itinerary Tokyo, Alpine Route, Takayama, Shirakawago, Kanazawa, Kyoto and Osaka 9 days by Japan Rail Pass 7 days

Snow Walls is very very popular on Tateyama Kurobe Alpine Route. (C) Tateyama Kurobe Kanto / JTOA

Northern central part of Japan offers many “Must-See” places, such as Shirakawago, Takayama, Tateyama Kurobe alpine route. How do you combine these places, Tokyo, Kyoto and Osaka.

In this post, I will show you the sample itinerary which includes these places from Tokyo to Tokyo in 10 days by 7 days JR Pass.

Day 1 Narita airport to Tokyo or Haneda airport to Tokyo

Limousine Bus at Narita Airport South Wing (C) Rsa
Limousine Bus at Narita Airport South Wing (C) Rsa

Do NOT start using JR pass until you leave Tokyo for Nagano on day 3. There are many deals available for both airport arriving passengers. Many deals includes airport access fare and subway unlimited ride pass. But most of deals are available for only arriving passengers only. Therefore you may use these deals before you start to use JR pass and you can use JR pass until you get the airport. Please see the links below to get the detailed information about the deals of airport access and Tokyo subway pass:

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In this sample itinerary, I use Limousine bus one way and 24 hours subway pass deal from Narita airport at 3,400 yen.

Staying in Tokyo

Day 2 Sightseeing in Tokyo

Cinderella castle is the icon of Tokyo Disneyland.

Tokyo subway covers most part of Tokyo. You can access to most of places in Tokyo by subway.

If you do not want to choose Narita or Haneda airport access + subway pass combo deal, you may buy subway pass separately. Otherwise you can add JR local deal, “Tokyo Tokunai Pass”. But both pass covers downtown Tokyo which is basically inside Tokyo 23 wards. Some places in Tokyo is not in this area, such as Ghibli Museum, Showa Kinen Park. Tokyo Disneyland/DisneySea is not in this area either. Actually this place is not in Tokyo by Chiba. Please see the link below to learn more about train network in Tokyo:

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You can extend your stay in Tokyo as many as you can

You can start using JR pass after you stay in Tokyo. So you can add the day of subway pass to extend your stay in Tokyo. Especially if you want to visit Tokyo Disneyland or/and DisneySea, you spend one full day easily. You need to stay in Tokyo more than 3 nights.

You can visit outside Tokyo if you add other deals. I have several posts to show you how to visit surrounding area of Tokyo, such as Mt. Fuji (Lake Kawaguchi), Hakone, Nikko, Yokohama and Kamakura.

If you intend to have a day trip to Yokohama and/or Kamakura from Tokyo, please see the link below:

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If you have a plan to visit Hakone or/and Lake Kawaguchi in Mt. Fuji area, you can find more information in the links below:

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If you want to visit Nikko, please see the link below:

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Staying in Tokyo

Day 3 Tokyo to Kanazawa via Tateyama Kurobe Alpine Route (Day 1 by JR pass 7 days)

Kurobe dam is one of the highlight on Tateyama Kurobe Alpine Route. (C) Nagano Prefecture/JNTO

On this day, you start using 7 days JR pass. But you need to add Tateyama Kurobe option ticket at 9,000 yen for Nagano to Toyama via Alpine route. The trips of Tokyo to Nagano and Toyama to Kanazawa by Hokuriku Shinkansen are covered by JR Pass.

Sample itinerary
Tokyo 06:26 (Hokuriku Shinkansen Hakutaka 551) 08:06 Nagano
Nagano 08:15 (Alpico express bus) 10:00 Ogizawa
Ogizawa 10:30 (Trolley bus) 10:46 Kurobe Dam
*Walking on Kurobe Dam to Kurobeko for 20 minutes
Kurobeko 11:10 (Cablecar) 11:15 Kurobedaira
Kurobedaira 11:30 (Ropeway) 11:37 Daikabo
Daikanbo 11:45 (Trolley bus) 11:55 Murodo
*Mikurigaike one hour walk and lunch time at Murodo
Murodo 14:20 (Bus) 14:35 Midagahara
*Short walk to Midagahara loop trail or Tateyama caldera view point (one hour)
Midagahara 15:55 (Bus) 16:30 Bijodaira
Bijodaira 16:40 (Cablecar) 16:47 Tateyama
Tateyama 17:24 (Toyama Chiho Railway local train) 18:28 Dentetsu Toyama
Toyama 18:35 (Hokuriku Shinkansen Kagayaki 511) 18:54 Kanazawa

This above sample schedule is based on 2017 summer season timetable. Please check most updated timetable in the link below:

Hokuriku Shinkansen timetable (JR East official site)
Tateyama Kurobe Alpine Route timetable (Official site)

You may find the timetable in Hyperdia too. Please see the link below to learn how to use this site:

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I include two short hikes in the sample at Murodo and Midagahra. There are many more trails available. But these are pretty easy and suitable for all ages. Please see the link below to find more information about trails:

Tateyama Kurobe Alpine Route Highlights

In this sample, luggage may be issue. Luggage delivery service is available from Nagano to Toyama. But you need to change trains and bus at Nagano and Toyama in minimum connection time. I recommend you to ship your luggage from Tokyo to your hotel in Kanazawa directly. Your hotel in Tokyo may be able to handle it. Even if your hotel do not handle it, you can find luggage delivery service at Tokyo station and Shinjuku station. Please see the link below:

Staying in Kanazawa

Day 4 Trip to Takayama via Shirakawago (Day 2 by JR pass 7 days)

Very popular scene of Shirakawago from Tenshukaku view point

Enjoy sightseeing in Kanazawa until lunch time. After lunch in Kanazawa, leave for Takayama with sightseeing in Shirakawago on the way. The bus in Kanazawa city and to Shirakawago/Takayama are not covered by JR pass. You may add Hokutetsu bus one day pass for sightseeing in Kanazawa. It is sold at 500 yen. The one ride fare is 200 yen in Kanazawa city. You can get the worth by only three rides.

Sample itinerary
Kanazawa station 08:30 (Hokutetsu bus / using bus pass) 08:45 Kenrokuen
Sightseeing in Kanazawa castle and Kenrokuen garden

Kenrokuen 10:45 (Hokutetsu bus / using bus pass) 10:55 Musashigatsuji-Oumichoichiba
Sightseeing and lunch time at Oumicho market

Musashigatsuji-Oumichoichiba 12:30 (Hokutetsu bus / using bus pass) 12:40 Kanazawa station
Pick up your luggage before leaving from Kanazawa.

Kanazawa 13:10 (Nohi Bus / 1,850 yen extra) 14:25 Shirakawago
Sightseeing in Shirakawago village

Shirakawago 17:20 (Nohi Bus / 2,470 yen extra) 18:10 Takayama

This above sample schedule is based on 2017 summer season timetable. Please check most updated timetable in the link below:

Nohi Bus timetable

You will also find the information about reservation in this link above. Advanced reservation is required from Kanazawa to Shirakawago. Please keep it in your mind.

I visited Shirakawago in 2016 winter. Please see the link below to find my trip report.

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Day 5 Takayama to Kyoto (Day 3 by JR pass 7 days)

Preserved path in Takayama. It is very popular tourist district in Takayama.

Enjoy sightseeing in Takayama. You can visit morning market and preserved street.

You can take Limited Express Wide View Hida from Takayama. If you want the direct train to Kyoto, you can take the following train.

Sample itinerary
Takayama 15:35 (Wide View Hida 16) 19:17 Kyoto

This is only direct train to Kyoto from Takayama. If you want to leave Takayama earlier or later, you can choose other train. Wide View Hida departs from Takayama almost once an hour. You can take this train to Nagoya and change Shinkansen to Kyoto. The last train connection is the following schedule:

Sample itinerary
Takayama 18:46 (Wide View Hida 20) 21:02 Nagoya 21:09 (Tokaido Shinkansen Hikari 529) 22:01 Kyoto

You have only 7 minutes to change trains but it is not impossible. Please see the guide on Nagoya station in the link below:

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I recommend you to stay near Kyoto station. It’s most convenient location in Kyoto. Most of places in Kyoto can be accessed directly by bus or train from Kyoto station.

Staying in Kyoto

Day 6 Kyoto (Day 4 by JR pass 7 days)

Torii gates in Fushimi Inari shrine in Kyoto
Torii gates in Fushimi Inari shrine in Kyoto

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:

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I show you one day sample itinerary in Kyoto. This includes most of big names in Kyoto, such as Arashiyama, Fushimi Inari, Kiyomizu-dera and Gion.

Sample itinerary
Kyoto 08:48 (local train) 09:03 Sagaarashiyama

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, Yasaka no Tou (pagoda) 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 or start your trip earlier. 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

If you want to move to Osaka, you can move there on this day. It takes 30 minutes by Special Rapid train. If you stay in Shin-Osaka, you can take Shinkansen in 10 minutes from Kyoto to Shin-Osaka.

You can stay in Osaka only and can make day trip to Kyoto from Osaka. It is totally up to you.

Staying in Kyoto

Day 7 Kyoto to Osaka (Day 5 by JR pass 7 days)

Dotonbori(道頓堀) is most popular spot in downtown Osaka.
Dotonbori(道頓堀) is most popular spot in downtown Osaka.

Leave from Kyoto in early morning for Osaka and enjoy full day sightseeing there. I recommend you to stay near Shin-Osaka station. You can get there from Kyoto station directly. You can drop off your luggage there and start sightseeing.

Sample itinerary

Kyoto 08:00 (Shinkansen Hikari 493) 08:14 Shin-Osaka

You can take an ordinary trains but it is morning peak hour. Though it is such a short ride, you can avoid taking busy train by Shinkansen ride.

You may drop off your baggage at your hotel in Shin-Osaka.

If you do my sample itinerary below, please purchase Osaka Kaiyu ticket (2,550 yen) at subway Shin-Osaka station before starting trip. This deal includes admission for Kaiyukan aquarium and 1 day subway unlimited ride. JR Pass does not cover subway ride. You should have this deal.
Osaka Kaiyu Ticket

Shin-Osaka 09:25 (Osaka Subway Midousuji 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 Market Place.
*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 Shisaibashi, enjoy eating and shopping in Dotonbori and Namba.

19:40 (Osaka Subway Midousuji line) 19:53 Shin-Osaka

Subway runs very frequently until midnight.

Staying in Shin-Osaka

Day 8 Day trip to Kobe and Himeji, and Osaka to Tokyo (Day 6 by JR pass 7 days)

There are lots of castles in Japan. But Himeji castle is one of four existing original catle buildings. (C) JNTO

I include day trip to Himeji and Kobe before move to Tokyo. However you can stay in Osaka and visit more places. You may visit Nara instead of Kobe and Himeji. Shinkansen “Hikari” runs almost every 30 minutes. The train in the sample itinerary below is the last Hikari to Tokyo. You can skip Osaka, Nara, Himeji and/or Kobe and take earlier train to get Tokyo earlier. It is totally up to you.

Sample itinerary
Leave your baggage at your hotel in Shin-Osaka.

Shin-Osaka 08:04 (Sakura 547) 08:34 Himeji

Visit World Heritage Site, Himeji Castle. You can walk to get the castle from Himeji station. Please see the link below:

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Himeji 11:57 (Special Rapid Service) 12:33 Kobe

Special Rapid Service is a sort of commute train. But it is better and faster way to get Kobe from Himeji than Shinkansen. Because Shinkansen station in Kobe is Shin-Kobe which is not located in downtown Kobe. And also Special Rapid Service runs every 15 minutes in daytime. It is very frequent and convenient train service.

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You may have a lunch time at Kobe waterfront area. After that, continue sightseeing in Kobe. Many of places in Kobe can be accessed on foot from Kobe station and Sannomiya station. Please see the link below to find more information about Kobe.

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Sannomiya (Kobe) 19:07 (Special Rapid Service) 19:34 Shin-Osaka

You can take Special Rapid Service at Kobe or Sannomiya to Shin-Osaka. Pick up your baggage before you go to Tokyo.

Shin-Osaka 20:37 (Hikari 538) 23:36 Tokyo

As I mentioned above, this Shinkansen train, “Hikari 538” is the last train to Tokyo by JR pass. Please see the links below to find Shinkansen timetable. You may find the timetable to Himeji too.

Shinkansen timetable (Westbound / to Himeji)
Shinkansen timetable (Eastbound / to Tokyo)

Staying in Tokyo

Day 9 Tokyo to Narita (Day 7 by JR pass 7 days)

You can take Narita Express to get Tokyo by JR Pass.

Cost breakdown

Limousine bus (from Narita airport) and 24 hours Tokyo Subway Pass deal – 3,400 yen
JR Pass (Japan Rail Pass) 7 days – 29,110 yen
Tateyama Kurobe Option Ticket – 9,000 yen
Hokutetsu bus one day pass (Kanazawa city bus pass) – 500 yen
Nohi bus from Kanazawa to Shirakawago – 1,850 yen
Nohi bus from Shirakawago to Takayama – 2,470 yen
Keihan railway from Fushimi-Inari to Kiyomizu-Gojo – 210 yen
Kyoto city bus from Gion to Kyoto station – 230 yen
Osaka Kaiyu Ticket – 2,550 yen
Total 49,310 yen

By the way, JR Pass 7 days covers the following trips.
Tokyo to Nagano one way trip by Hokuriku Shinkansen – 7,990 yen
Toyama to Kanazawa one way trip by Hokuriku Shinkansen – 3,330 yen
Takayama to Kyoto via Nagoya one way trip by Limited Express Wide View Hida and Tokaido Shinkansen Hikari – 9,960 yen
Kyoto to Shin-Osaka one way trip by Tokaido Shinkansen Hikari – 2,810 yen
Osaka to Himeji one way trip by Shinkansen – 3,740 yen
Himeji to Kobe one way trip by Special Rapid – 970 yen
Sannomiya to Shin-Osaka one way trip by Special Rapid – 410 yen
Shin-Osaka to Tokyo by Tokaido Shinkasnen Hikari – 14,140 yen
Tokyo to Narita airport by Narita Express – 3,020 yen

It costs 46,100 yen if you do not use JR pass. JR Pass 7 days is 29,100 yen. You can save more than 17,000 yen. The last ride of Narita Express is 3,020 yen. Even if you do not use JR pass for this ride, you still can get a big saving. If you want to spend one more day in Osaka, Kyoto, Takayama or Kanazawa, it will work. In this case, you can purchase Limousine bus and subway pass round trip deal.

This is just a sample itinerary. You can arrange or make some changes, whichever you like. I hope this sample itinerary will give you some thoughts to build your trip plan.

119 thoughts on “Sample itinerary Tokyo, Alpine Route, Takayama, Shirakawago, Kanazawa, Kyoto and Osaka 9 days by Japan Rail Pass 7 days”

  1. Hi Takeshi san,

    Thank you for your advice. I am also considering these 2 different itineraries:

    Itinerary A
    1. 9 May – Arrive Osaka morning, go Kinosaki Onsen (1 night)
    2. 10 May – Travel Kinosaki to Amanohashidate (2 nights)
    3. 12 May – Travel Amanohashidate to Ine (2 nights)
    4. 13 May – Travel Ine to Kyoto

    Itinerary B
    1. 9 May – Arrive Osaka morning, transfer to Kyoto (1 night)
    2. 10 May – Travel Kyoto to Kinosaki Onsen (1 night)
    3. 11 May – Travel Kinosaki to Ine (1 night)
    4. 12 May – Travel Ine to Amanohashidate (2 nights)
    5. 14 May – Travel Amanohashidate to Kyoto

    Is Kansai Wide Pass a good option for any of the above?

    Thank you in advance,

    1. Hi Linda san,

      If you do plan B, you can use Kansai Wide Area Pass from 10 May to 14 May. This pass is valid for 5 days. So you cannot use it for plan A. You must use the pass for Kyoto (or Osaka) to Amanohashidate/Kinosaki return to get the worth. If you do plan A, you must pay either Osaka to Kinosaki or Amanohashidate to Kyoto. It doesn’t work.


      Takeshi /

      1. Hi Takeshi san,

        Thanks again. I’m also thinking of using Kansai-Hokuriku Area pass because it will cover Toyama and Kurobe Gorge after Kyoto by the Sea part of my trip. Please advise for below:
        1. 9 May – Arrive Osaka, transfer to Kyoto using Haruka
        2. 10 May – Start using pass with travel Kyoto to Kinosaki, stay 2 nights
        3. 12 May – Travel Kinosaki to Amanohashidate, stay 2 nights
        4. 14 May – Travel Amanohashidate to Ine, stay 2 nights
        5. 16 May – Travel Ine to Toyama, 1 night
        6. 17 May – Travel Toyama to Kurobe Gorge

        Thank you so much,

  2. Hi Takeshi san,

    I’ve had a wonderful trip to Japan last October with your advice. I’m now planning for another trip in May 2020 as follows:
    1. 9 May – Arrive Osaka, transfer to Kyoto
    2. 10-11 May – Travel Kyoto to Amanohashidate, stay 2 nights
    3. 12-13 May – Travel Amanohashidate to Ine, stay 2 nights
    4. 14 May – Travel Ine to Kinosaki Onsen, stay 1 night
    5. 15-16 May – Travel Kinosaki Onsen to Kyoto, stay 2 nights
    7. 17-18 May – Travel Kyoto to Toyama, stay 2 nights – visit Kurobe Gorge on 18 May
    8. 19 May – Travel Tateyama Alpine Route, stay Murodo
    9. 20-22 May – Travel Tateyama to Matsumoto, stay 3 nights – visit Matsumoto, Kamikochi & Narai
    10. 23 May – Travel Matsutmoto to Nakatsugawa/Magome
    11. 24 May – Travel Nakatsugawa/Magome to Tsumago, then to Nagoya
    12. 25 May – Depart Nagoya for home

    Appreciate your advice on suitable train passes or trains to travel on.

    Thank you in advance,

    1. Hi Linda san,

      I’m glad that you have another trip to Japan.

      I looked your itinerary but actually you will use a regular fare ticket on most segments. Most travel passes are designed for shorter period, like 5-day, 7-day in the limited area. You may use some local deals in some cities.

      You may use Kansai one pass and Haruka for arrival day. You can use Kansai one pass for sightseeing in Kyoto and travel from Nakatsugawa to Nagoya.

      In Amanohashidate and Ine, you may be able to use one (or more) of deals in the link below:

      I think Tateyama Kurone option ticket will be available in next season again:

      As far as I know, that’s all you can use the pass. You will take a limited express train from Kyoto to Amanohashidate, Kinosaki to Kyoto, Kyoto to Toyama, Matsumoto to Nakatsugawa. Only JR Pass covers these trips but a regualr fare ticket is cheaper. You may buy a ticket online at JR West official site:


      Takeshi /

  3. Hi Takeshi-san,

    This itinerary is most informative. We are also planning to travel through the Alpine Route in May 2020 (Golden Week) and would appreciate all your advice.

    Day 1 (May 1): Arrive Tokyo Haneda (staying in Shinjuku)
    Day 2: Sightsee Tokyo
    Day 3 (May 3): Tokyo to Alpine Route (staying in Toyama or Kanazawa)
    Day 4: Sightsee Kanazawa
    Day 5: Kanazawa, day trip to Kurobe Gorge
    Day 6: Kanazawa, day trip to Takayama and Shirakawago
    Day 7 (May 7): Kanazawa to Osaka (am)
    Day 8: Osaka to Tokyo (pm)
    Day 9: Depart from Tokyo Haneda (pm)

    Given that it is the golden week, would appreciate all advice and tips/ hints on what is best
    1) What is the best transport option for the itinerary above?
    2) Based on the passes, is it possible to replace Osaka with Nagoya if we decide to go to Nagoya instead?
    3) Are there other hiking trails around the alpine route or is it a one-day trip (I couldn’t really tell from the alpine route website)
    4) Is it possible to combine kurobe gorge, takayama and shirakawago in one day instead?
    5) What are our baggage transfer options?
    6) If May 3-6 is super peak for alpine route can we instead do Tokyo-Osaka-Kanazawa-Alpine Route (May 6 or 7) – Tokyo?

    Thank you!


    1. Hi Su san,

      1. JR Pass is the best option. You may be able to use new JR pass official site to reserve a seat:

      2. Yes, you can.

      3. Please see the link below:

      4. No. It’s too much. You should separate Takayama/Shirakawago and Kurobe.

      5. You may ship your luggage to Kanazawa (or Toyama) from Tokyo. Please ask your hotel. Most hotels have connection with the delivery company. Usually it costs around 2000 to 3000 yen per luggage.

      6. May 3 to 6 are holidays. If you can do Alpine route on 7th, that is a prefect choice.


      Takeshi /

      1. Hi Takeshi-san,

        Thank you for your help above. We have changed our itinerary slightly based on your advice:

        Day 1 (May 1): Arrive Tokyo Haneda (staying in Shinjuku)
        Day 2: Sightsee Tokyo
        Day 3 (May 3): Tokyo to Kanazawa
        Day 4: Kanazawa, day trip to Takayama and Shirakawago
        Day 5: Kanazawa, day trip to Kurobe Gorge
        Day 6: Kanazawa to Alpine route (hike from Tateyama to Murodo, stay 1 night in Murodo)
        Day 7 (May 7): Continue Alpine route then to Tokyo
        Day 8: Tokyo
        Day 9: Depart from Tokyo Haneda (pm)

        1) As we want to focus on the alpine route area, is Kanazawa a good base option or advisable to stay in other areas?
        2) Which pass to get for transport to cover the itinerary (do we still need JR pass or single tickets/ other pass is ok)? If i’m using pass, when should I activate it
        3) How far in advance can i book the day-trip bus tickets to Takayama, Shirakawago and Kurobe Gorge?
        4) Can you advise how do we buy the bus ticket for the Alpine route since we are breaking it up and doing it in 2-days?
        5) On the baggage transfer, is there an option to transfer Kanazawa-Murodo-Ogizawa or Kanazawa to Tokyo direct?
        6) Also just wondering if the hiking trails are accessible, clearly marked and we can do on our own without a guide?

        Thank you very much!!!


        1. Hi Su san,

          1. If you want to see Kanazawa as well, Kanazawa is okay. Kanazawa is very attractive place. But Toyama is more convenient to go to Kurobe. You can get Unazuki Onsen from Toyama by Toyama Chiho Railway directly. If you go there from Kanazawa, you have to change the trains at Toyama. When you start the sightseeing on Alpine route, it’s same. You have to change trains at Toyama again if you come from Kanazawa. For the sightseeing to Shirakawago and Takayama, it’s same. You can get the bu from either Toyama or Kanazawa.
          Again, if you don’t mind change trains at Kanazawa. Kanazawa is more attractive than Toyama. Kanazawa has more places to see than Toyama, such as Oumicho market, Kenrokuen garden, Kanazawa castle.

          2. Hokuriku Arch Pass is more recommend than JR Pass.

          You can start using this from day 3. For the first two days, you may use other deal. Please find the deal in the link below:

          You have to pay for Toyama Chiho railway and Kurobe Gorge railway for Kurobe on top of the pass. You have to add the bus fare to Shirakawago and Takayama. These are not covered by JR pass as either.

          3. Please see the link below:
          Kurobe gorge

          (Online reservation is still closed now.)


          4. You may purchase Tateyama Kurobe option ticket after you arrive in Japan:

          I believe this will be on sale again in next season.

          5. Kanazawa-Tokyo direct is easier. Even if you stay in Toyama, Toyama-Tokyo direct is easier. Please consult your hotel how to ship it.
          Just pack small for one night trip to Alpine route.

          6. Yes. It is well maintained. But you have to bring the winter cloth and winter boots. Espeicially in Murodo, it is still winter condition. The following photo in the link was taken in early May:

          In Midagahara, Kurobe dam area, you may not see lots of snow. But the temperature will be less than 10 degrees.


          Takeshi /

  4. Hi Mr Takeshi,
    We will be going arriving Narita in 22nd May 2020 immediately we will go to Nagano for 1 night.
    Day 2 Tateyama Alpine route then to Takayama for 2 nights.
    Day 3 Takayama
    Day 4 travel to Kanazawa via Shirakawago by bus
    Day 4 Kanazawa
    Day 5 back to Tokyo via Toyama
    Day 6 Mount Fuji
    Day 7 Flying back to Malaysia.
    Is this arrangement a good idea and should I activate the JR pass immediate when I arrive?
    My biggest concern is our luggage. I understand there are services that can travel our luggage from one hotel to another But so far none of the company reply me.

    1. Hi May,

      You may activate JR pass right after you arrive in Narita. But are you arriving there before early afternoon. You will spend about 2 hours to complete immigration, custom, baggage pick up, exchange JR pass and reserve your seat. And then take Narita Express to get Tokyo for one hour. You will change trains at Tokyo and take the Hokuriku Shinkansen from Tokyo to Nagano for 1.5 to 2 hours. If your arrival time is late, it may be hard to get Nagano.

      I recommend you to send your baggage from Narita airport to your hotel in Takayama. There are lots of baggage shipping service in Narita airport arrival level. It costs about 2,000 to 3,000 yen per baggage. So you may pack small for one night trip in Nagano-Alpine route-Takayama before you come to Japan. And send a big luggage to Takayama from Narita.

      When you go to Kanazawa and Shirakawago, you can store your baggage at Shirakawago information center. So you don’t need to ship.

      If you really want to send your luggage from Kanazawa to Tokyo, ask your hotel in Kanazawa. Most hotels take care of it.


      Takeshi /

      And you will move to Tokyo from Kanazawa. You can take a luggage as well. It’s not an issue.

  5. Hi Takeshi san
    My family and I are arriving in Narita airport at night on 7 December and staying in Ueno area. Our current plans are:
    7Dec-12Dec: Tokyo area
    12Dec-14 Dec: Kawaguchiko
    14Dec- 18Dec: Kyoto
    18Dec-20Dec: Osaka and fly out from Kansai Airport
    I was planning to get Keisei liner and 72 hour pass for tokyo and then take a bus to Kawaguchiko. From Kawaguchiko we are likely to head to Mishima to connect to a shinkansen to kyoto. What passes do you recommend that we get for our trip? This is our first trip there. Thanks for your help

    1. Hi TK san,

      You can add some local deals at Kawaguchiko, Kyoto and Osaka. Please see the links below:

      However there is no deals cover bus to Kawaguchiko, bus from Kawaguchiko to Mishima, Shinkansen from Mishima to Kyoto, the local train from Kyoto to Osaka. You have to pay the regular fare for these.


      Takeshi /

  6. Hi Takeshi san,

    This site is wonderful and very practical, thank you! We go for 2 weeks to Japan at the end of June
    -arrive in tokyo 22nd, stay 23
    – 24 day trip to Hakone (thx for the itinerary)
    – 25 to Matsumoto, stay and walk 26
    – 27 to takayama, stay and visit old cities 28
    – 29 to Kyoto, stay 30
    – 1st July to Hiroshima, stay and Miyamija on 2nd
    – 3 to Koyasan
    – 4 to osaka, 5 stay Osaka
    – 6 back home

    What I am struggling about is the last days: although I can look up the itineraries, to me it is not clear how to combine Kyoto-osaka-hiroshima-nara and Koyasan in the easiest way. I did buy the JR pass and I am using HyperDia. Since Nara and Koyasan do not seem far apart I would like to combine them. Or would that cost me too much time and do I rather do Nara from Kyoto in a day trip and Koyasan apart?
    thank you for your kind reply!

    1. Hi Els san,

      You cannot combine Nara and Koyasan. Because there is no direct ways from Nara to Koyasan. There are several ways from Nara to/from Koyasan. But the fastest way to Nara and to Koyasan is from Namba in Osaka. So you have to go back to Namba anyway after Nara or Koyasan. And you should spend one whole day in Koyasan. This place is very amazing. You can find my trip report in the link below:

      I recommend you to visit Nara from either Kyoto or Osaka. If you visit major places only in Nara, you can spend half day to make it. You can spend more time in Osaka or Kyoto

      For other part of the trip, your trip plan looks good.


      Takeshi /

      1. Hi Takeshi san
        Thanks for the reply, I changed my trip. Would this one be more feasible?
        – arrive in tokyo 22-23 June
        – 24 day trip to Hakone
        – 25 to Matsumoto, stay 26
        – 27 to takayama, stay 28
        – 29 to Kyoto, stay 30, 1 July day trip to Nara
        – 2nd July to Hiroshima/Miyamija
        – 3thd to Koyasan
        – 4 afternoon to osaka, 5 stay Osaka
        – 6 back home airport Osaka

        Hiroshima Miyamiya seems tight to me but I understood, the shrine is covered for renovation anyway. Should I focus on Hiroshima alone?

        Would it be the best to activate my JRP (14days) on arrival and use it to go to Tokyo? that would give me a JRP the whole trip except for the last day, is that correct? than I can take a ticket to Osaka airport.
        thanks again!


        1. Hi Els san,

          If you can stay more in Hiroshima and Miyajima, that is more comfortable. But you have no choices anyway.

          If you want to save your cost, I recommend you to switch Nara and Hiroshima/Miyajima.

          1 July trip to Hiroshima/Miyajima
          2 July trip to Nara

          If you do so, you can use 7-day JR pass for 25 (to Matsumoto) to 1 (to Hiroshima). Even if you have 14-day pass, you must purchase Hakone Free Pass from Odawara:

          And Koyasan is not covered by JR Pass. If you use 7-day JR pass, you can use the following deals:


          Nara and Koyasan


          These deals offer better coverage than JR Pass.


          Takeshi /

          1. Dear Takeshi wish I had found your site earlier, it would have saved me money… Unfortunately, I did buy already a JRP of 14 days. I realize we have to buy extra hakone free pass 2 days (worthwhile even if staying 1 day), and also kansai thru pass for koyasan. Nara can be reached with JRP but you have to walk longer, is that correct? if we buy kansai pass, can we use it for nara and next a couple of days later for koyasan both days?
            I know Hirsohima is now very short, but maybe we can see a bit more the morning before we leave. And as you suggested we booked a hotel very close to the station.
            Thank youfor your help!

              1. Hi Takeshi SAN
                I am doing my trip and it is wonderful! Tomorrow i go from hiroshima to Koyasan and this is the first time i am confused how to get there. I know i have to buy the kansai Pass but do i have to go to osaka first and toen take the Express to Namba?
                Thank you for your reply

                  1. Hi Els san,

                    You can take the following route:
                    Hiroshima (Shinkansen) Shin-Osaka (Osaka Metro Midosuji line) Namba (Nankai Railway) Koyasan

                    You can purchase Koyasan World Heritage Ticket at Nankai Railway Namba station.


                    Takeshi /

  7. Hi Mr Takeshi,
    I will go to Japan on March 13 ‘2019 for 9nights.
    Here is my planning
    *13 March : arrive at Narita 18.00 so i will stay at Tokyo.
    *14 March : Osaka
    *15 March : Kyoto for 2 nights
    *17 March : Kanazawa and Shirakawago
    *18 March : Nagano
    *19 March : Tokyo 3nights
    *22 March : Narita
    Should i use 7days JR pass? And is it correct i need to active it the 1st day i arrived.
    So the rest 3 days in Tokyo i just use pasmo
    How about the last day from Tokyo to Narita, what pass should i use so it will be cheaper. Thank you so much

    1. Hi Verawati,

      You may use JR pass from 13th to 19th. Pasmo is okay but Tokyo Subway Ticket may give you a big saving. Pasmo does not offer unlimited ride but Tokyo Subway Ticket does.

      Access bus is most affordable choice to get Narita.


      Takeshi /

  8. Hi Takeshi

    We will travelling to Japan mid of Apr, 5 people including 1 elderly and 1 child 7 years. Arrive 5.30am at Haneda airport and back home from Osaka 10am flight.

    Places to visit

    Day 1 Arrive Haneda airport and straight to Mt Fuji area and stay 2 nights
    Day 2 Explore Mt Fuji area, Hakone, Lake Kawaguchi
    Day 3 Mt Fuji to Kusatsu Onsen via Tokyo and overnight at Kusatsu
    Day 4 – 6 Kusatsu to Tokyo, stay 3 nights
    Day 7 Tateyama Alpine Route – overnight Kanazawa or Takayama?
    Day 8 Kanazawa, Shirakawago, Takayama, Kyoto – overnight Kyoto
    Day 9-10 Kyoto
    Day 11-12 Osaka
    Day 13 Flight back 10am

    After Mt Fuji, should I explore Tokyo 3 night first then Kusatsu. Then from Kusatsu go to Nagano – Alpine Route.
    Instead of Kusatsu – back to Tokyo – Nagano – Alpine route. ( from the map seems that Kusatsu to Nagano not far)

    I am trying to reach Nagano station early and catch Ogizawa bus 8.15. Which way do you think more accessible? Both depart Tokyo or Kusatsu requires early start?

    After Alpine Route long day where is the best to stay overnight? Kanazawa or Takayama?

    Is 7 JR pass worth for our trip and what other pass we need?

    Thank you in advance.

    1. Hi Shelly,

      You should go to Kusatsu after Fuji and then stay in Tokyo. As you thought, Kusatsu is closer to Nagano than Tokyo by distance. However the trip time from Tokyo is shorter than from Kusatsu because you can get Nagano by Hokuriku Shinkansen from Tokyo directly. You have to change trains and buses a few times if you travel from Kusatsu to Nagano. And you cannot get Nagano from Kusatsu by 8:15.

      Please see the link below to find the timetable. This is current one, so it may be changed in next April but I don’t think it will be almost same.

      You have to take 6:16 departure to get Nagano by 8:15. Next train arrive in Nagano at 8:08 but this is too late to move to bus stop and purchase a ticket. 6:16 departure is only choice. Try to book a hotel Tokyo or Ueno station. If you start from Kusatsu, you cannot get Nagano by 8:15.

      Kanazawa is better than Takayama after Alpine route. You can get Kanazawa from Toyama by Shinkansen. It runs very frequently. You can find the timetable in the link above too. But if you go to Takayama, you may need to take a local train and need to change trains on the way. It is slow and inconvenient.

      But if you intend to see all three places, Kanazawa, Shirakawago and Takayama in one day, it is too tight. You have to give up one of those three. You may be able to see Kanazawa after Alpine route. But you will be very tired. And also mid April is super super busy on Alpine route. You may spend many more hours than average trip time. So don’t try to see all three places in one day. If you want to see all three places, I recommend you to stay in Takayama after Kanazawa and Shirakawago. If you give up Takayama, you can make a round trip to Shirakawago from Takayama. Train to Kyoto from Kanazawa runs more frequently than train from Takayama. If you go to Kyoto from Takayama, you have to change trains at Nagoya. There is one trip to Kyoto from Takayama. But it is only one trip a day.

      JR pass is recommended for day 3 to 9. You can take a bus to Fuji from Haneda.

      On day 3, you have to pay a regular fare to take Fuji Kyuko railway from Kawaguchiko to Otsuki. After Otsuki, you can use JR pass.

      You must exchange JR pass before you leave Haneda. You cannot exchange the pass at Fuji area or Otsuki station. You can exchange it at Haneda in advance.

      You can use other local deals in Kyoto and Osaka. Please see the link below:

      Please use a regular ticket for Kyoto to Osaka.


      Takeshi /

      1. Thank you so much for your detailed information.
        I will decide to stay at Kanazawa after long day at Alpine route.

        If I give up Takayama, after Shirakawago I still need to go back Kanazawa to catch train to Kyoto?

        If I want to explore Takayama, an extra night is recommend then I need to back Kanazawa to catch train to Kyoto as it’s more frequent and faster?

        All these transport cover by JR pass? No extra fees required?

        I notice that I need to make a booking for Noshi bus to Shirakawago, can it book online? Or I have to call?

        Thank you, Takeshi

        1. Hi Shelly,

          You have to go back to Kanazawa after Shirakawago. Please see the links below to find the route and the train information:

          Please use hyperdia to find the train timetable:

          You can book a seat for Nohi bus either online or phone:

          You cannot book a seat for train online or phone. You have to make it at any major JR stations after you arrive in Japan.


          Takeshi /

  9. Hi Takeshi

    My family will be travelling to Japan this November for 11 days.
    We have 3 plans:
    1) Arrive at Narita Airport at 8am
    Travel to Nagano (stay one night) then to Takayama (1night at Takayama)- day travel to Shirakawago
    back to Tokyo
    – Places to go – day trips to Yokohama, Kawasaki, Mt Fuji, Hakone, Asakusa,kamkura. Rest of the trip in Tokyo (shijuku, etc)

    or plan 2:
    Spend first 3 days in tokyo , then Visit the neigbouring cities of tokyo, then do Shirakawago /Nagano n takayama during the last few days. back in tokyo on last day, then to Narita Airport.

    or same as Plan 1, but go via Nagoya to shirakawago instead

    but our concern is- how to maximise the JR pass. n which pass to buy. Also, the airport deals (for passengers arriving at the airport). it’s still very confusing to work out the types of passes to use to save cost. We are travelling with a 70-year old lady, a child.

    I hope you can help. Thank you.

    1. Hi San,

      As long as you go to Shirakawago and Takayama, you need JR pass anyway. I recommend you to use JR pass 7 days in the last 7 days of your trip. And try to include Nagano (or Nagoya), Takayama in this last 7 days. It will cover until you go back to the airport.

      And you can add some other deal for airport to Tokyo and sightseeing in Tokyo.

      You may use JR pass for outside Tokyo. But it does not help so much for the trip to Fuji and Hakone.


      Takeshi /

  10. hi Takeshi san,
    Your itinerary is really clear, systematic and helpful. Thank you for sharing it.

    I will visit my first time in Japan on October with elders and I would like you to check my itinerary so I can use JR pass effectively.

    day 1 ; 05.25 am arrive at Haneda. Explore shinjuku, ginza, harajuku, shibuya. (stay in Tokyo)
    day 2 : tsukiji Market (is it still at tsukiji on Oct 15?)

    explore tokyo (stay in Tokyo)

    day 3 : Hitachi seaside park and Ueno area (stay in Tokyo)
    day 4 : Fuji day trip to Hakone Gotemba (stay in Tokyo)
    does it better I stay in Hakone then go to kanawaza/takayama?
    day 5 : Tokyo to Nagano (Alpine Route) – Toyama – Kanazawa (stay at Kanazawa)
    day 6 : Explore Kanazawa – Shirakawago (Stay at Takayama)
    day 7: Explore Takayama (stay at Kyoto)
    day 8: Inari, arashiyama, Hozu Valley Sagano romantic train
    day 9 : Kyoto Jidai Matsuri, Nishimarket, gion walk a long Sanjo Ohasi bridge, Maruyama Park
    Higashiyama , Sannezaka, Ninnenzaka (stay at Kyoto)

    is it possible to explore Kyoto when Matsuri? I read there are lots of traffic restriction and bus may be not available.

    day 10 : Fushimi Inari, kodai ji, shoren in, philosopher’s path
    silver pavillion, then leave to Osaka (stay at Osaka)
    day 11 : Osaka : shintenoji Temple – UMEDA SKY BUILDING – NAMBA WALK – SHINSABASHI SUJI – DOTONBURI (stay at Osaka)
    day 12 : Leave Osaka at 11 am to Haneda, flight 4.25 PM

    1. Hi Trinity san,

      You should use 7 days JR pass because 14 days pass is pricy. But you need to start using it on day 5 when you leave Tokyo and it is expired at the end of day 11. You cannot use it on day 12. If you keep this itinerary, JR pass does not work. You have to use regular fare ticket for city to city. If you want to use JR pass, you have to catch the last Shinkansen to Tokyo from Osaka on day 11.

      You may use Tokyo Wide Pass for trip to Hitachi Seaside Park. And also you can use it for access to Odawara on the way to Hakone. You can add Hakone Free Pass at Odawara.

      You don’t need to stay in Hakone. Even if you stay in Hakone, you need to move to Tokyo before access to Nagano.

      When Kyoto holds festival, as you think, traffic is terrible. But on day 9, all places are within walking distance from Gion. You will be okay.

      Tsukiji will move on Oct 11. You cannot get there unfortunately.


      Takeshi /

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