How to use JR West Kansai Area Pass. Compare pass and single fare.

Limited Express Haruka from KIX is covered by this pass.
Limited Express Haruka from KIX is covered by this pass.

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.

In this post, I would like to share the information about JR West Kansai Area Pass with you. And I will compare the price of pass and single fare.

Coverage area

Please refer the map in JR West Kansai Area Pass official site.

The pass cover most of points of interest, such as Osaka (Umeda), Namba, Universal Studio Japan, Kobe, Kyoto, Nara, Kansai airport, Himeji

Major spots that are not covered by this pass are Wakayama and Mt. Koya. But if you want to go to Mt. Koya, Nankai Railway is the best way. Nankai Railway is not covered by JR West Kansai Area Pass anyway. Nankai Railway’s Koyasan World Heritage Ticket or Kansai Thru Pass is a right choice for trip to Mt. Koya.

Nankai Railway Koyasan World Heritage Ticket
How to use Kansai Thru Pass. Compare pass and single fare.

In March, 2015, the coverage area was bigger but price is higher. The coverage are map is below:
Kansai Area pass map

Wakayama, Iga, Tsuruga, Hikone, Ako and some more places were added in the coverage area after March 1, 2015.

Who is eligible

Visitors who land as “Temporary Visitor” status can purchase this pass. If you live in Japan, you cannot purchase it. Kansai Thru Pass may be your choice.

Types and prices

Purchase outside Japan or onlinePurchase inside Japan
DurationAdultChild
(6-11 years old)
AdultChild
(6-11 years old)
1 day2,200 yen1,100 yen2,300 yen1,150 yen
2 days4,300 yen2,150 yen4,500 yen2,250 yen
3 days5,300 yen2,650 yen5,500 yen2,750 yen
4 days6,300 yen3,150 yen6,500 yen3,250 yen

*5 year old or younger child is free. Maximum 2 children per one adult.

The pass must be used in consecutive days. The validity of a rail pass starts from 12 O’clock at night (midnight to midnight).

ex) If you start to use 3 days pass on May 1, the pass is expired at 23:59 on May 3.

Valid trains and bus lines

This pass covers all JR local trains and non reserved seat of Limited Express Haruka. You CANNOT ride any other express trains, such as Tokaido Shinkansen, Limited Express Thunderbird. But as long as you travel in Kansai area, you don’t need to ride Limited Express trains. Rapid Services Network is very convenient. It is fast and frequent. The following list shows you trains that you can ride by JR West Kansai Area Pass.

Of course, you can ride any local trains that are not shown on above list.

On the other hand, which trains you cannot ride by this pass? JR West Kansai Area Pass does not cover any private railway lines, subway lines and bus lines. Most of major private railway companies and subway lines are shown on the following list:

Kiyomizudera is one of most popular temple in Kyoto Higashiyama area. But you cannot get there by JR trains only. ©Sue Ann Simon/©JNTO
  • Osaka Municipal Transportation (Subway)
  • Kyoto Municipal Transportation (Subway and city bus)
  • Nankai Railway (Namba-Kansai airport, Namba-Mt.Koya)
  • Kintetsu Railway (Namba-Nara, Kyoto-Nara)
  • Hankyu Railway (Sannomiya-Umeda-Kawaramachi)
  • Keihan Railway (Yodoyabashi-Kyobashi-Shijo-Sanjo)
  • Hanshin Railway (Namba-Sannomiya, Umeda-Sannomiya-Himeji)
  • Sanyo Railway (Umeda-Sannomiya-Akashi-Himeji)

These above railways and bus lines are NOT covered. When you are in Osaka or Kyoto, subway trains and city bus services are very convenient. So you may have pay a single fare or purchase day pass. I think this is the biggest disadvantage of JR West Kansai Area Pass. I wrote about JR trains and Kyoto subways/buses in Kyoto at this post, Japan Rail Pass is the best way to explore Kyoto? How to use Japan Rail Pass in Kyoto. The rules of JR West Kansai Area Pass is almost same as Japan Rail Pass. Kansai Area Pass covers JR Bus in Kyoto too. You can get Takao area by bus which is covered by this pass.

Compare cost between pass and single fare. Best way to use.

First of all, please see the fare table for major sections below:

StationsOsakaShin
Osaka
KyotoKansai
airport
Sannomiya
(Kobe)
NaraHimehjiJR Namba
Osaka1605401160
1150
3907801450190
Shin
Osaka
1605401330
1150
5408901450210
Kyoto5405401830
1150
10506902210890
Kansai
airport
1160
1150
1330
1150
1830
1150
1660
1150
1660
730
2730
1150
1030
730
Sannomiya
(Kobe)
39054010501660
1150
1210950690
Nara7808906901660
730
12102210540
Himeji1450145022102730
1150
95022101620
JR Namba1902108901030
730
6905401620

*If there are two fares, basic fare is shown at the top and limited express surcharge at the bottom. For example, if you travel from Kansai airport to Shin-Osaka, basic fare is 1330 yen and surcharge is 1150 yen.

Special Rapid Service operated by JR West 223 series.
Special Rapid Service dominates Kyoto-Osaka-Kobe-Himeji transfer.

As you saw the fare table above, most of trips from Kansai airport is very efficient because of limited express Haruka. If you travel to Osaka, Kansai airport rapid may be better than Haruka because Haruka do not stop at Osaka. But if you think about getting on Haruka, Kansai Area Pass is considerable. Even one day pass is cheaper than basic fare + surcharge. If you go to Namba, you can access there by JR trains. But Nankai Railway gives you much better access to Namba. Especially if you think about transfer to subway at Namba, Nankai Railway Namba station is much easier to transfer to most of subway lines. Please see the details at the post, How to access from Kansai airport to downtown Osaka, Kyoto and Kobe.

Next, I recommend you to use this pass for the trip to Himeji. Special Rapid Service connects Osaka with Himeji in 62 minutes. This train is the fastest and most frequent service. If you think about Kansai Thru Pass, this pass do not cover JR trains. If you go to Himeji by Kansai Thru Pass, the pass cover all part of your trip to Himeji. But you will spend more than 90 minutes. Kansai Thru Pass is very efficient for the trip to Kyoto or Mt. Koya. But if you go to Himeji, I recommend you to use JR West Kansai Area Pass.

If you go to Kyoto, Nara or Kobe from Osaka, it may not be very efficient. The fare range is between 500 and 1,000 yen. The difference between 1 day pass and 2 days pass is 2,000 yen. If you will purchase 3 days or 4 days, the price difference is 1,000 yen. If you have two trips, from Kansai airport by Haruka and trip to Himeji, you will already make more than 4,000 yen worth. You can use the pass to Kyoto, Kobe or Nara. But if you use 2 days pass for trip from Kansai airport and trip to Kyoto, Nara or Kobe, you may not be able to make more than 4,000 yen worth.

JR West also sell ICOCA and Haruka. This discount ticket include trip from Kansai airport by Haruka and 1,500 yen value e-money in ICOCA prepaid card. If JR West Kansai Area Pass is too expensive for your trip, ICOCA and Haruka may be suitable for your trip. ICOCA can be used for not only JR trains but also Kyoto subway, Osaka subway and other major private railway companies. ICOCA is more flexible than JR West Kansai Area Pass. Please see the details about ICOCA at the post, ICOCA and Haruka ticket. Very flexible and good deal for tourist who stay in Kansai..

At last, if you want to explore some more places, I strongly recommend you JR West Kansai WIDE Area Pass. This pass is available in 4 days pass only. But the area where is covered is much bigger. And limited express train and Shinkansen between Shin-Osaka and Okayama are covered by this pass. And the price is only 1,000 yen higher than Kansai Area Pass 4 days. I am very happy if you are interested in other places outside of Kansai area.

653 thoughts on “How to use JR West Kansai Area Pass. Compare pass and single fare.”

  1. Hello,
    What pass/ ticket would you reccomend for me?
    Day 1 arrive 8pm kansai and want to go straight to Kyoto
    Day 2 &3 sightseeing in Kyoto
    Day 4 Himeji morning/ Kobe afternoon to take a cruise
    7 day cruise
    Day1 Kobe-Osaka-Kansai
    Many Thanks for any recommendations
    Andrea

  2. Hi Takeshi / JPRail.com,
    Please kindly advise what kind of rail pass(es) should I be getting for my literary below:
    Day 1: KIX to Osaka (hotel is near to both Nipponbashi and Tanimachikyuchome stations).
    Day 1: In the afternoon to visit Cup noodle museum and Umeda Sky Park.

    Day 2: Tour around Osaka – to visit Osaka Aquarium Kaiyukan, Osaka Museum of History, Osaka Museum of Housing and Living, Osaka Castle, Hep 5, take Cruises

    Day 3: Universal Studio Japan

    Day 4: Day trip from Osaka to Nara (and back to Osaka)

    Day 5: Day trip from Osaka to Himejii & Kobe (and back to Osaka)

    Day 6: Osaka to Kyoto (hotel is near to Kyoto station) for the next 3days
    Day 6: After check in to visit Tenryu-ji Temple & Arashiyama Bamboo Grove and Okochi Sanso Villa

    Day 7: Visit Kyoto’s Golden Pavilion & Fushimi Inari Shrine & Gion

    Day 8: Day trip from Kyoto to Uji

    Day 9: Kyoto to KIX

    Thank you in advance!
    -Ping

    1. Hi Ping,

      You may use the following passes and tickets:

      Day 1 Yokoso Osaka Ticket
      https://www.howto-osaka.com/en/ticket/ticket/yokoso.html
      But noodle museum is outside coverage area. You have to add the fare to take Hankyu railway from Umeda to Ikeda.

      Day 2 Osaka amazing pass
      https://www.osp.osaka-info.jp/en/

      Day 3 using Kansai one pass instead of purchasing regular fare ticket
      https://kansaionepass.com/en/about.html?info=1

      Day 4, 5 and 6 Kansai thru pass 3-day
      https://jprail.com/travel-informations/other-rail-passes/rail-pass-for-residents/how-to-use-kansai-thru-pass-compare-pass-and-single-fare.html

      Day 7, 8 using Kansai one pass to take train, subway and city bus

      Day 9 Haruka discount ticket to take Haruka from Kyoto to KIX
      https://jprail.com/travel-informations/other-rail-passes/rail-pass-for-visitors/icoca-and-haruka-ticket-very-flexible-and-good-deal-for-tourist-who-stay-in-kansai.html

      Cheers,

      Takeshi / JPRail.com

      1. Hi Takeshi,
        Thank you so much for your recommendations.
        On second thought, would you recommend that I stay in Osaka throughout, making Day 6, 7 and 8 as day trips from Osaka to Kyoto, Osaka to Uji (instead of staying in Kyoto). And then leave from Osaka to KIX on Day 9. Will that have any cost saving on traveling?

        By the way i also happened to read about Nankai Line Airport Express – Kansai Airport to Namba Station (KIX/Namba Pick Up). Is this a recommended ticket/pass to purchase for my Day 9 Osaka to KIX?

        Once again, thank you in advance for helping out.

        Thanks.
        -Ping

        1. Hi Ping,

          If you do so, you can use Kansai thru pass 3-day for day 6,7 and 8.

          For day 9, if you stay in Namba and take Nankai railway airport express, regular fare is 920 yen. This is most affordable way. If you stay in Osaka other than Namba, you may use subway and Nankai railway deal. Please see the link below:
          https://jprail.com/sample-itineraries/airport-access/kansai-kix/how-to-choose-the-deals-for-access-tofrom-kansai-airport.html

          Cheers,

          Takeshi / JPRail.com

          1. Hi Takeshi!
            Appreciate all your excellent tips and recommendations!
            If i will to travel to KIX from Kyoto to catch my flight home on 25Dec, would you recommend that i do my seat reservation and booking in advance (for the Haruka limited express train)? How can i go about doing so?
            Thanks!
            -Ping

            1. Hi Ping,

              Actually December 25th is not a busy day in Japan. You may use Kansai area pass to take a non reserved seat on Haruka. If you really really want to be sure to secure your seat, you can do it in advance at Kyoto station. In this case, you have to buy a regular fare ticket. And you may take the airport limousine bus too. You can get a seat on the bus because the standing passenger is not allowed:
              http://www.kate.co.jp/en/timetable/detail/KY

              Cheers,

              Takeshi / JPRail.com

  3. Hello !

    I am going to Kyoto for a few days and even if your article is very helpful, I am still a bit lost with all theses cards and passes and fares …

    Could you please advise me on which pass I should get ? Or can you tell me if I even need a pass ?

    Basically, here is my trip :
    Day 1 : Kansai Airport –> Kyoto
    Day 2 : Kyoto (need to use the JR line twice this day)
    Day 3 : Kyoto (I can use the Kyoto subway but it is not compulsory)
    Day 4 : Kyoto –> Kansai Airport

    Thank you very much !
    Have a good week !

    Regards,

    Noémie

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