Shin-Kobe is Shinkansen station in Kobe. It is a step away from downtown Kobe. There is subway station in Shin-Kobe too. This subway line connects Shin-Kobe and Sannomiya which is downtown core of Kobe.
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.
This is a collaboration of Shinkansen and very popular Japanese Anime “New Generation Evangelion (link to Wikipedia)” as Sanyo Shinkansen 40 years anniversary special project. This unique Shinkansen fleet has very different exterior that is painted by Evangelion color. And also it has Evangerion exhibition in car #1. There are many more Evangerion characters and designs in the trains. If you know this anime, you must be excited. Even if you are not familiar with this anime, you will be impressed by these decorations.
This brand new pass will be released in April, 2016. This pass covers Narita airport, Tokyo, Nagano, Toyama, Kanazawa, Kyoto, Nara, Osaka, Kobe and Kansai airport. It does not cover Tokyo – Osaka/Kyoto via Nagoya direct route by Shinkansen. It is valid for consecutive 7 days. Valid period is same as Japan Rail Pass (a.k.a. JR Pass) 7 days. Price is cheaper than JR Pass 7 days but coverage area is much smaller. Is this a good deal and worth using for Tokyo-Kanazawa-Kyoto-Osaka trip?
If you make a trip to Kobe, you may disembark a train at Sannomiya station. Sannomiya is downtown core of Kobe and you may access to many places from this station. There are three major railway’s stations, JR, Hankyu Railway and Hanshin Railway. And there are three more stations, two of Kobe subway and one of Port Liner. Each station is not a big station and structure is quite simple. But there are many stations and it may be complicated for you. And you may be overwhelmed.
You may be overwhelmed by train services in Kobe. Actually it is much easier to handle than Osaka and Kyoto. Most of places to see are located in downtown Kobe. Many of them can be accessed on foot from major stations directly. However understanding train system is a key to save your time. Kobe can be combined with Himeji easily. You may spend half day in Kobe and enjoy in Osaka rest of the day.
For travelling in Kansai area, there are many types of deals, such as ICOCA, Kansai Thru Pass, JR Pass, Kansai Area Pass and many more. Each pass has different conditions. You have to understand which train system is covered by your pass. And also Kobe is very closed to Osaka. You may not have many chances to take a train and that means single fare may be the best option for you.
Kansai Hokuriku Area Pass will be released after three JR West’s new passes, Sanyo Sanin Area Pass, Kansai Hiroshima Area Pass and Hiroshima Yamaguchi Area Pass. It will be on sale on 14th March, 2015. This is the first ever deal that covers Kansai area (Kyoto, Osaka, Nara, Kobe) and Hokuriku area (Kanazawa, Toyama). JR West has been selling Kansai Wide Area Pass and Hokuriku Area Pass. This pass is the deal that these passes are combined. It is much more convenient than combination of two passes and much easier to purchase.
I have received inquiries about the trip to Kansai area many times. So I make a basic itinerary that includes Kansai area, such as Kyoto, Osaka, Kobe and Nara only. This is 7 days itinerary. But you can shorten or extend as you can.
*This deal will be sold until February 28, 2015 and can be exchanged until May 31, 2015. On March 1, 2015, this deal, Sanyo Area Pass will be replaced by Sanyo Sanin Area Pass, Kansai Hiroshima Area Pass and Hiroshima Yamaguchi Area Pass.
This pass covers Kyoto, Osaka, Kobe, Himeji, Hiroshima, Miyajima and Hakata. You can take any trains in the coverage area with a few exception. If you will be a temporary visitor, you are eligible to purchase this deal.
If you have round trip from Osaka to Hakata, this pass is much cheaper than single fares. But if you travel outside of Kansai area or just go to Hiroshima, you may consider other deals.
Limited Express Hamakaze (はまかぜ) connects Osaka (大阪) with Tottori (鳥取) Kasumi (香住) and Hamasaka (浜坂). Even though there is only one round trip, Hakamaze is only train that connects Osaka with Tottori directly by Japan Rail Pass or other JR rail passes without any extra charge. Actually the primary train goes to Tottori from Osaka is Limited Express Super Hakuto. This train is much more frequent and much faster than Hamakaze. But this train goes through Non JR line, Chizu Kyuko Railway. Therefore you have to pay extra charge if you want to take this train by Japan Rail Pass or other JR passes. Please check the post, The fastest access to Tottori from Osaka, Shin-Osaka and Kyoto, Limited Express Super Hakuto to get the details.
The post, How to choose discount railway ticket and pass in Kansai (Kyoto, Osaka, Kobe, Nara) area is one of most popular one in this site. Since I published this post, I have received many comments and questions. I have written about Kansai Thru Pass in the previous post. This pass covers most of private railway companies, subway trains and some bus services. It may give you the great value if you use it. But JR West Kansai Area Pass is more suitable for some travellers. Especially if you go to Kyoto or Shin-Osaka from Kansai Airport, this pass gives you very good deal.
Nara is the former capital city in Japan and it is older than Kyoto. Many shrines, temples and districts are listed on UNESCO World Heritage, National Heritage and/or National Treasure. When you travel in Kansai region, you may think about visiting or staying in Nara. If you go to Osaka or Kyoto from other cities, such as Tokyo, you can get there by Shinkansen. But when you go to Nara, there are several routes and options. The trip route to Nara is varied by your trip plan and/or the deal which you intend to use.
As you probably have already known, train system in Japan is very complicated. Especially in urban area, there are lots of railways. You might not understand the difference between Japan Railways (JR), subways and private railways.
Especially in Kansai area, such as Osaka, Kyoto, Kobe, Nara, Himeji and Wakayama, many trains runs among these cities. You may be overwhelmed. But it is very important to understand the train system. You will make a trip much smoothly and save your trip time.
Kanazawa is one of the big names in Japan. It has lovely preserved town and Kenrokuen garden that is one of three well known gardens with Kairakuen (Mito) and Korakuen (Okayama). Kanazawa is located in Hokuriku region. In this region, Toyama is well known as the gateway to Tateyama-Kurobe Alpine Route.
Special Rapid Service is the fastest local train that is operated between Tsuruga (=敦賀) and Kamigori (=上郡) via Kyoto (=京都), Shin-Osaka (=新大阪), Osaka (=大阪), Sannomiya (=三ノ宮), Kobe (=神戸) and Himeji (=姫路). Especially JR West compete with Hankyu (=阪急) and Keihan (=京阪) between Kyoto and Osaka, with Hankyu and Hanshin (=阪神) between Osaka and Kobe. So JR West have to offer fast and good quality of services. As a result, the time required by this train is faster than Shinkansen between Osaka and Kyoto. Since Shinkansen do not have a station in downtown Kobe, this trains is faster than Shinkansen between Osaka and Kobe too. Of course this train is fully covered by Japan Rail Pass. Let’s see the details.
JR West operates many commute trains, rapid and local between 5:30 am and midnight. But when you travel in Kansai area by JR trains, special rapid service trains are the best way to travel among cities, like Osaka, Kyoto, Kobe, Nara, Wakayama and Kansai airport. These “Special” rapid service skips many stations and much faster than rapid and local trains. If you use JR pass, you may take limited express trains. But these rapid service trains are sometimes faster than express trains and run much more frequently. That means you do not check the timetable. These are commute trains and mostly very busy in even daytime and late night, but it is convenient. It is a key to understand this rapid train system to travel among cities in Kansai area.