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
(6-11 years old)
(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:

NaraHimehjiJR Namba
JR Namba1902108901030

*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.

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

  1. Hi,

    Thanks for your information it really helps a lot when planning the Japan trip. Here’s my short itinerary:

    DAY 1: Domestic landed at Nagoya then to Kyoto
    DAY 2: Kyoto
    DAY 3: Kyoto to Osaka
    DAY 4: Domestic flight leaving from Osaka (Kansai airport)

    My questions simply are about the transportation from Nagoya to Kyoto on Day 1 and Kyoto to Osaka on Day 3. I read your previous post and thinking about the Platt Kodama but then it will be the same day travel since I arrive on 2/13/2019 and will be going to Kyoto on that same day. Is it allowing me to still purchase the Platt Kodama or I just need to simply purchase the Shinkansen Tokaido from Nagoya to Kyoto. I also considered Kintetsu rail pass 5 days but it seems like a long trip from Nagoya to Kyoto. which option would you recommend. the second question is from Kyoto to Osaka, it looks like the Kansai Thru Pass will not be selling during my travel period (2/13/2019-2/17/2019) should I consider JR West pass from Kyoto to Osaka? thanks !

    1. Hi Tony,

      Platt Kodama is not available on travel day. You have to purchase a regular ticket as you think. Kintetsu Rail Pass and Kansai area pass do not work either because you cannot get the worth of it.

      You may be able to use Kansai thru pass 3 days. It is sold all season for overseas travelers. But If you use Kansai thru pass, you have to do the following things:
      1. Take subway or train in Kyoto on day 2 as much as you can. It covers city bus too. Try to visit the places as many as you can.
      2. Make lots of trips by train or subway before/after Kyoto to Osaka. It covers subway and private railways and city bus in both Osaka and Kyoto.
      3. Try to make lots of train trips before going to Kansai.

      You cannot get the worth of 2 days pass. You should go for 3 days but you have to make 1700 yen value everyday. Regular fare ticket may be cheaper.


      Takeshi /

  2. Hello!
    I will be visiting Japan in two weeks time! Hope to get some advice regarding the purchase of passes 🙂

    This is my rough itinerary:

    Day 1: Kansai Airport to Esaka (where our hotel is at)
    Day 2: Day trip to Nara Park > Dotonburi > Shinsaibashi
    Day 3: Osaka Castle > Umeda > Asahi Beer Museum > Pokemon Centre
    Day 4: Day trip to Kyoto (Fushimi Inari Shrine > Kinkakuji > Arashiyama Bamboo Forest) > Back to Osaka
    Day 5: Nissin Museum > Kuromon Market > Shitennoji Temple
    Day 6 – 9: Off to Kanazawa
    Day 10: Kanazawa > Osaka > Kansai Airport

    Is it recommended to get the Osaka/Kyoto Amazing Pass in this case? Should I put my day trip to Nara and Kyoto on two consecutive days (so I can get the pass)?
    Thanks in advance! & Happy New Year!

    1. Hi Jenn,

      You can use Kansai Hokuriku area pass 7 days for day 4 to 10.

      And please switch day 2 and 5. You should include Nara in the 7 days coverage of Kansai Hokuriku area pass.

      You can use Nankai railway and subway deal for day 1.

      For day 2 and 3, you will stay in osaka because you will visit Nara on day 5. For this stay in Osaka, I don’t think you need a pass because all deals for Osaka, such as Osaka amazing pass do not cover Asahi museum and noodle museum. You may use Kansai one pass instead of using a regular fare.


      Takeshi /

      1. Hi Takeshi,

        Thank you for the recommendation! 🙂
        Just to clarify, the Kansai Hokuriku area pass covers from Osaka to Kanazawa, as well as Nara and Kyoto altogether right?

        Is it possible if I just purchase off the JR pass (one way – 7130 yen) at Osaka Station to Kanazawa on Day 6 itself?

        Thanks =)

        1. Hi Jenn,

          It covers Kyoto, Nara and Osaka-Kanazawa-Osaka.
          I think you meant a regular ticket for Osaka to Kanazawa. It’s not a pass. You can purchase it at Osaka station or other major JR stations.


          Takeshi /

  3. Hi, my itinerary is as below;

    day 1- staying in hotel in KIX
    day 2 – to kyoto, exploring gion
    day 3 – arashiyama bamboo forest, fushimi inari
    day 4 – mount hiei (if weather permits), alternatives would be Nara then head to next hotel in
    day 5 – USJ
    day 6 – osaka castle, umeda skybuilding, tempozan ferris wheel etc ( I bought 2 day Osaka
    amazing pass)
    day 7 – cruise, dotonbori, exploring osaka
    day 8 – return home

    what pass would you recommend for my trip? I’ve already reserved ICOCA & HARUKA as i’ll be using it to go to kyoto from airport. After reading through all the blog post I’m considering to buy the JR kansai area pass or kansai thru pass. Would it be worth it?

    1. Hi Jieha,

      You don’t need either Kansai area pass or Kansai thru pass. You may use ICOCA and you also may add all day bus pass in Kyoto. You can take a bus by ICOCA but all day bus pass is sold at 600 yen for one day. It offers unlimited ride of the bus. You can get the worth by only 3 rides.

      When you need to take a train or a subway, use ICOCA. By the way, you may add Kansai one pass instead of ICOCA. Those are basically same but Kansai one pass offers discount at many attractions.


      Takeshi /

  4. Hi we are going to visit Japan in April of next year! Which pass will be recommend if these are the places I plan to visit? Thanks!

    Day 1: arriving Osaka

    Day 2 and 3: touring Osaka city

    Day 4: Himeji caste (Hyogo perfecture) –> traveling back to Osaka at evening

    Day 5: Nara park/deer park (Nara perfecture) —> traveling back to Osaka at evening

    Day 6: Osaka –> Kumodo Kodo (Wakayama perfecture) Kii-Tanabe station (hiking)

    Day 7: Kumodo Kodo (hiking)

    Day 8: Kumodo Kodo (end of hiking) at Kii-Katsuura (staying overnight)

    Day 9: Kii-Katsuura–> Mt. Koya (Buddhist temple lodging) still in Wakayama Perfecture

    Day 10: Mt. Koya –> Kyoto

    Day 11 to 16: Kyoto (temples, shirines, Lake Biwa, Kurama and Kibune hike, Arashiyama “bamboo forest”, SHOPPING, etc), possibly include Mt Hiei.

    Day 18: back to Osaka

    1. Hi Jessi,

      Please see the link below to find the deal for Osaka and Kyoto sightseeings in the links below:

      For the trip to Himeji, you may use Kansai area pass as you read the post above.

      Kansai thru pass 3 days is recommended for trip to Nara, Koyasan to Kyoto and one of the days in Kyoto. Especially when you go to Hieizan and Lake Biwa, Kyoto city bus and subway do not cover. Kansai thru pass covers these areas.

      There is no deals for Osaka to Kii Tanabe. Just pay as you go. You can take a bus from Kumanot to Koyasan. I think this bus will run in next season too.


      Takeshi /

      1. Thank you for the fast response! I made the following plans after researching on those helpful links. Can you give more advises going from Osaka to Kumano Kodo then to Kii-Katsuura and then Mt Koya (All within the Wakayama Perfecture)? Would the Kansai Wide area pass worth it in this case? I looked at the bus link you provided. Where can we get on that bus? Any links on alternate buses would be greatly appreciated 🙂

        Day 1: arriving Osaka
        Day 2 and 3: touring Osaka city
        Osaka Amazing Pass 1 day or 2 day pass
        Day 4: Himeji caste (Hyogo perfecture) –> traveling back to Osaka at evening
        Kansai area 2 day Pass
        Day 5: Nara park/deer park (Nara perfecture) —> traveling back to Osaka at evening
        Kansai area 2 day Pass
        Day 6: Osaka –> Kumano Kodo (Wakayama perfecture) Kii-Tanabe station (hiking) (Stay at Wakayama)
        Kansai thru pass 3 days…How to get to Kii Tanabe?
        Day 7: Kumano Kodo (hiking)
        Day 8: Kumodo Kodo (end of hiking) at Kii-Katsuura (staying overnight)
        Day 9: Kii-Katsuura–> Mt. Koya (Buddhist temple lodging, Stay there overnight)
        bus from Kumano to Koyasan??
        Day 10: Mt. Koya –> Kyoto
        Kansai thru pass 3 days
        Day 11-14: Kyoto
        Kyoto Subway, Bus One-Day (Two-Day) Pass
        Day 15: Kyoto —> Osaka
        Kansai thru pass 3 days

        1. Hi Jessi,

          Kansai thru pass does not cover Kii-Tanabe, But as you think, you can use Kansai Wide area pass for day 4, 5 and 6. You may use it for day 2 or 3 in Osaka too if you use Osaka amazing pass 1 day. Kansai wide area pass covers JR local train in Osaka. (not subway)

          As I mentioned, you can take a bus from Kumano to Koyasan. This is only direct way to get Koyasan. Otherwise you have to take a train to Koyasan via Osaka by a regular fare on day 9

          I don’t think you may need Kansai thru pass either. Because you will go to airport on day 15, right? Kansai thru pass is not recommended to use for Kyoto to Kansai airport. You have to change trains with luggage. Limousine bus is better choice and it’s not covered by Kansai thru pass.

          So just pay as you go on day 10.


          Takeshi /

  5. Hi! Do you recommend I buy the JR West Kansai Area Pass if I am on the following itinerary?

    Day 1 KIX > Himeiji
    Day 2 Himeiji
    Day 3 Himeiji > Kobe (staying around Sannomiya Hanadokeimae Subway Station)
    Day 4 Kobe
    Day 5 Kobe > Osaka (staying around Shin Osaka)
    Day 6 Osaka

    Thank you!

    1. Hi Jie En,

      I recommend you to use it for only day 1. Regular fare ticket is okay for day 3 and 5.
      You may consider to take a bus on day 1 because if you use Kansai area pass, you will take limited express train Haruka to Shin-Osaka, and then take Special Rapid train to Himeji. Special Rapid is a commute train and always busy. You may need to stand up and there is no luggage space.

      But if you take a bus, you have to pay more but it’s direct and you can secure your seat.

      You may get Kansai one pass for your trip after day 2.


      Takeshi /

  6. Hi, I have question regarding to kansai days pass (1 day pass), i’m wondering which is better ICOCA Haruka ticket or buying 1 day Kansai day pass. The reason for this is we will be staying at hotel aroung tennoji area, and since my JR Pass expired a day before we leave Japan. I am considering to ride Haruka direct from Tennoji Station. I checked and it cost around 2000 yen for one way to KIX and for unreserved seat. So i’m wondring for the 1 day Kansai pass, if i get this pass, what seat will we get for booking Haruka’s. Thanks

    1. Hi Fong,

      If you need a ride for Haruka from Tennoji to Kansai, a regular fare is cheaper than Kansai area pass. If you buy a regular fare ticket, base fare is 1,060 yen and non reserved seat ticket is 650 yen. You can purchase a regular fare ticket at any major JR stations.


      Takeshi /

      1. thanks for the info, base on your information, regular price 1060 yen + 650 yen unreserved ticket, total for 1710 yen ? and what is unreserved seats ? thanks

  7. Hi,

    I will be traveling with my family of 8 to Osaka at the end of Nov. I have an elderly on wheelchair.

    Please advise on my itinerary below:

    Day 1: Kansai Airport to Namba / Shop at Dontonbori & Shinsaibashi Area
    Day 2: Namba to Nara Park
    Day 3: Namba to Kyoto  Nijo Castle / Toei Uzumasa Eigamura / Kyoto Sagano Romantic Train / Nishik Food Market
    Day 4: Namba to Osaka Castle
    Day 5: Namba to Umeda  Umeda Sky Building / HEP Five / Tenjibashisuji Shopping Arcade
    Day 6: Namba to Bay Area  Universal Studio / Tempozan Harbor Vllage
    Day 7: Namba to Kuromon Iciba Market / Shisekai
    Day 8: Namba to Kansai Airport (Might consider airport transfer)

    Which rail passes would you recommend?


    Warmest regards

  8. Hi Takeshi-san,

    May i have your advice on my below schedule?
    Which rail passes that you would recommend?
    Day 1: Kansai Airport at 2100hrs to Nagahoribashi Station for stay
    Day 2: Wondering around in Namba & Shinsaibashi
    Day 3: Wondering around in Osaka Castle & Umeda area
    Day 4 : visit Himeji Castle day trip back to Nagahoribashi Station for stay
    Day 5: Universal Studio Osaka
    Day 6: Kyoto day trip back to Nagahoribashi Station for stay
    Day 7: Kyoto or Nara day trip back to Nagahoribashi Station for stay
    Day 8 Osaka to Fujikawaguchiko for a stay
    Day 9 Fujikawaguchiko to Tokyo Ougioohashi Station for stay
    Day 10: Chilling around in tokyo
    Day 11: Chilling around in tokyo
    Day 12: Tokyo Disneyland
    Day 13: Noon ahead to Narita Airport for end of the trip

    1. Hi Steven san,

      Please refer the following:

      Nankai railway and subway combo deal for arrival day:

      Kansai thru pass 3 days or Kansai thru pass 2 days + Kansai area pass 1 day for Kyoto, Nara and Himeji

      Kansai thru pass 3 days covers all these trips but Kansai area pass offers faster movement to Himeji.

      Osaka subway pass may be your choice for day 3:

      Tokyo subway ticket for day 10 and 11.

      For other part of your trip, there is no deals available. Please use a regular fare ticket.


      Takeshi /

  9. Hi,
    My itinerary is as follow:
    Day 1: Land at Nagoya–>Osaka
    Day 2: Osaka
    Day 3: Osaka–>Kyoto
    Day 4: Kyoto
    Day 5: Kyoto
    Day 6: Kyoto–>Nagoya
    Day 7: Nagoya

    Which rail passes would you recommend while travelling to these cities and within the city itself? Thanks!

Before you leave your comment, please see the conditions below.
  • Your comment will not be shown until I approve. When you submit your comment, the page will be reloaded but nothing happens. Your comment will be shown when I approve. Please click submit only once and wait for my approval.
  • Please do not ask me to make your itinerary. Because I am not your personal travel agent. I am very happy to check your itinerary. But please try to make the plan by yourself. In this website, there are lots of resources to make your plan.
  • Please do not ask me about the access to your hotel. You can google your hotel and find it at hotel website or google map easily.
  • I cannot recommend any hotels other than which I have stayed. Basically I cannot talk about hotels in this site. The number of hotels are too many to talk about by my experience.
  • If you want to ask me which pass suits your plan, please tell me your detailed itinerary and location to stay. I cannot choose any deals without the detailed itinerary because I have to compare the total single fare and deals.
  • Please do not ask me to reply to your inquiry by email. In this website, I would like to share all information with any readers. I do not communicate with you directly.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *