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 online Purchase inside Japan
Duration Adult Child
(6-11 years old)
Adult Child
(6-11 years old)
1 day 2,200 yen 1,100 yen 2,300 yen 1,150 yen
2 days 4,300 yen 2,150 yen 4,500 yen 2,250 yen
3 days 5,300 yen 2,650 yen 5,500 yen 2,750 yen
4 days 6,300 yen 3,150 yen 6,500 yen 3,250 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:

Stations Osaka Shin
Osaka
Kyoto Kansai
airport
Sannomiya
(Kobe)
Nara Himehji JR Namba
Osaka 160 540 1160
1150
390 780 1450 190
Shin
Osaka
160 540 1330
1150
540 890 1450 210
Kyoto 540 540 1830
1150
1050 690 2210 890
Kansai
airport
1160
1150
1330
1150
1830
1150
1660
1150
1660
730
2730
1150
1030
730
Sannomiya
(Kobe)
390 540 1050 1660
1150
1210 950 690
Nara 780 890 690 1660
730
1210 2210 540
Himeji 1450 1450 2210 2730
1150
950 2210 1620
JR Namba 190 210 890 1030
730
690 540 1620

*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.

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

  1. Hi Takeshi San,

    I am planning a trip to the kansai region in november and am not sure if I should get the kansai area pass. Can you help me on this?

    My itinerary is as follows:
    20/11- Kobe

    21/11-Kobe – Himeiji – Kobe

    22/11-Kobe – Kyoto (Sumiya Ryokan)

    23/11- Sumiya – Kyoto
    Kyoto Yamasaki Distillery
    Kiyomizu-dera temple
    Gion (walk)

    24/11- Kyoto – Uji – Kyoto
    Arashiyama Bamboo Forest
    Fushimi inari shrine
    Uji

    25/11- Kyoto- Nara – Osaka
    Nishiki market
    Nara deer park
    Dotonbori

    26/11- Osaka castle, Namba area

    27/11-Osaka Universal Studios Japan

    28/11- Osaka (Umeda)

    Thank you in Advance!

    Cheers,
    Gwen

  2. Hi Takeshi San,

    I am staying in Namba near JR Namba station. I would like to have a day trip to Kobe, Himeji and Osaka Castle.

    I would appreciate your suggestion on the best transport method to use.

    Also the next day I will go to Nara for a day trip from Namba and return to Namba, Your suggestion for the best transport is also appreciated.

    Thank you
    Alex

      1. Thank you so much Takeshi san.
        This is my final plan:
        June 25 Arrive Kansai airport at 6:15 pm. Will take limousin bus to OCAT where our Airbnb is 5 minutes away.
        June 26 Go around Namba, Dotonbori, Crab Lunch at Kanidouraku Dotombori-Honten, Shinshaibasi-suji, Kuromon Ichiba Market, Umeda
        June 27 Nara with private guide for 8 hours
        June 28 Check out from Airbnb then Kobe, Kobe Beef Lunch at Steak Aoyama Kobe, Himeji Castle. We will then go to Kyoto
        June 29 1 day Kyoto private guided tour
        June 30 Gion, Nijo Castle then take Shinkansen to Tokyo Shinjuku in the PM
        What pass would be best for the entire trip?

        1. Hi Alex,

          The following deals are recommended:

          Kansai area pass one day for June 28th
          https://jprail.com/travel-informations/other-rail-passes/rail-pass-for-visitors/how-to-use-jr-west-kansai-area-pass-compare-pass-and-single-fare.html

          Platt Kodama (or single ticket) for June 29th for Kyoto to Tokyo
          https://jprail.com/travel-informations/other-rail-passes/rail-pass-for-residents/platt-kodama-one-way-deal-among-tokyo-nagoya-kyoto-and-shin-osaka-by-shinkansen.html

          Regular ticket is okay for the rest of your trip.

          Cheers,

          Takeshi / JPRail.com

  3. Hi Takeshi San,

    Me & my family (adult + 1 child) will visiting Kyoto & Shiga and Osaka on December 2017. I’m not sure if it worth it to buy Kansai West JR pass, Kansai Thru pass or Iccoca card .We Will be staying in one place only which is near at Namba Station.

    Our itinerary as follow :
    Day 1 KIX to Kyoto (Nishiki Market ,Fushimi Inari, Kiyomizu-
    Dera) Kyoto to Namba.
    Day 2 Namba to Shiga (Half day Biwako Valley) Osaka Castle,
    Umeda Building.
    Day 3 Namba to Nara Park
    Day 4 Namba to Universal Studio
    Day 5 Namba to KIX.

    Thank you for your helped and much appreciated.

    1. Hi Ong san,

      Kansai area pass 3 days is the best choice. But it covers only JR trains. You may need to add the extra fare to take bus and/or subway in Kyoto and Osaka.
      https://jprail.com/destinations/kansai-area/guide-to-take-trains-in-kyoto-how-to-choose-the-best-route-by-train-to-get-the-major-spots.html
      https://jprail.com/destinations/kansai-area/guide-to-take-trains-in-osaka-how-to-choose-the-best-route-by-train-to-get-the-major-spots.html

      JR Namba station is a bit far from center of Namba.
      https://jprail.com/travel-informations/basic-informations/station-information/namba-stations-guide-how-to-change-the-trains-among-nankai-kintetsu-hanshin-subway-and-jr.html

      Single fare is okay for day 4 and 5. You may get Kansai one pass instead of single fare.
      http://kansaionepass.com/en/about.html?info=1

      You may use this card when you use Kansai area pass, but need to take bus and subway in Osaka and Kyoto.

      Cheers,

      Takeshi / JPRail.com

  4. Hi Takeshi san, would like to seek your recommendation on the below itinerary planned to be made on the same day.

    Day 1: Kyoto -> Osaka -> Himeiji-> Accommodation in Osaka
    Day 2: Osaka -> Nara -> Osaka

    Thank you in advance!

  5. Hello Takeshi san,

    Is it possible to do the following on the 1-day JR West Kansai Area Pass?

    We will use it for return trip from Osaka to Himeji. But we thought now to stop over for dinner on the way back to Osaka:

    Osaka > Himeji
    Himeji > Tarumi
    Tarumi > Osaka

    Is Tarumi allowed on the way back?

    Cheers.

  6. Hi Takeshi-san,

    I would like to ask for your recommendation as to which is the more economical and convenient pass to purchase. Here is our itinerary:

    Day 1 Arrive Kansai Airport late night. Stay near to Nankai Namba St. in Osaka, which is our base for the entire trip.

    Day 2 Sightseeing in Osaka- Abeno Harukas, Shi-Tennoji temple, Osaka Castle and Aqua line river cruise.

    Day 3 Shinsaibashi and Dodonburi and afternoon trip to Nara

    Day 4 Himeji Castle and Kobe

    Day 5 Trip to Inari and Kyoto (Higashiyama dist.)

    Day 6 Trip to Kyoto (Arashiyama and Uji)

    Day 7 Trip to Kyoto (Central and Downtown)

    Day 8 Depart to Kansai Airport

    Is it Kansai Wide Area Pass for intercity plus Midosuji line in Osaka? What pass do you recommend for Kyoto itinerary? Itinerary from Day 2 to Day 6 is interchangeable, since we are based in Osaka. Thank you for your advise!

  7. Hi,

    I’m grateful I stumbled upon this website with all the information about the different types of passes I can purchase for my trip in July. However, it’s so overwhelming that I’m not even sure which pass is the best one for me now. Originally I was planning to just buy the 3 Day Kansai Thru Pass for my group of 16 who’s traveling to Osaka on July 24th and leaving from Haneda on August 9th. Do you think you can let me know which pass I should get? Your help is greatly appreciated.

    Day 1, July 25th: Arrive at Kansai Airport – Take train to Shinsaibashi Station. Plan to do some light site-seeing around Dotonori and Kuromon Market. I plan to have my group buy the ICOCA cards at the airport so we can use that when we use the trains in Osaka, Kyoto and Tokyo.

    Day 2, July 26th: Visit Himeji Castle in the morning (wanted to get there by 8:30am). Then travel back to Kobe by 12pm or 1pm to have lunch. I wanted to go on the Kobe Ropeway, visit the Herb Garden, Kitano, Chinatown & Harborland.

    Day 3, July 27th: Go to Ramen Museum in the morning and Umeda Sky Buidling at dusk.

    Day 4, July 28th: Visit Osaka Castle in the morning (hoping to finish by 11am). Then take the train to Nara from Osaka Castle and spend the rest of the day in Nara.

    Day 5, July 29th: Leaving Osaka and taking train to Kyoto (want to arrive at Kyoto by 11am). Plan to visit Nijo Castle, Nishiki Market and Fushimi Inari Taisha the same day.

    Day 6, July 30th: Visit Kinkaku-ji Temple, Roan-ji Temple, Otagi Nenbutsu-ji Temple (if time permits), Bamboo Alley, Tenryu-ji Temple, Togetsukyo Bridge & Arashiyama.

    Day 7, July 31st: Visit Kurama-dera Temple, Kifune Jinja Shrine & then head back in town to visit local places near our hotel.

    Day 8, Aug 1st: Visit Uji’s Byodo-in Temple, have lunch, buy tea and then head back to Kiyomizu-dera Temple, Hokan-ji Temple Yasaka Pagoda, Shoren-in Temple (if time permits) & Gion.

    Day 9, Aug 2nd: Leaving Kyoto…want to take the Shinkansen back to Tokyo’s Ikebukuro area.

    Day 11, Aug 4th: Day trip to Hakone

    Rest of the days in Japan will be visiting Tourist Spots in Tokyo.

    We will leave for Taiwan on Wed, Aug 9th.

    Any advice or suggestions is greatly appreciated.

    Thank again.

    1. Hi Karen,

      ICOCA is okay for arrival day, day 3 and day 8.

      You can use Kansai thru pass 3 days for day 2, 4 and 5.

      Kyoto sightseeing pass 2 days for 6 and 7.
      https://jprail.com/travel-informations/other-rail-passes/rail-pass-for-residents/how-to-choose-the-best-train-pass-for-sightseeing-in-kyoto.html

      Single ticket is most common choice to get Tokyo from Kyoto. But you can choose Platt Kodama if you want save the time and okay with spending extra time.
      https://jprail.com/travel-informations/other-rail-passes/rail-pass-for-residents/platt-kodama-one-way-deal-among-tokyo-nagoya-kyoto-and-shin-osaka-by-shinkansen.html

      You may use ICOCA in Tokyo but Tokyo Subway Ticket is a good deal:
      https://jprail.com/destinations/kanto-area/tokyo-kanto-area/guide-to-take-trains-in-tokyo-how-to-choose-the-best-deal-and-the-best-route-by-train-to-get-the-major-spots.html

      Single ticket is okay for Haneda.

      Cheers,

      Takeshi / JPRail.com

      1. Thanks for the quick response and feedback Takeshi!! It’s greatly appreciated.

        Do you think we need to buy the Hakone Free Pass when we go visit that on Day 11?

  8. Dear Takeshi San,

    Thank you so much for your helpful advice on the various webpages on this site.

    My friends and I are planning a trip to Kyoto and Osaka. Would it be possible to advise us on whether we should get train passes for our trip, and if so, which passes? Also, we previously went to Tokyo last year and have the Pasmo card. Can it be used in Kyoto and Osaka?

    Our itinerary is as follows:

    Day 1: Arrive at Kansai airport. Travel to Kyoto. Explore Kyoto (Kawaramachi area and Nishiki market)

    Day 2: Visit Arashimaya area (Tenryuji Temple+ Togetsukyo Bridge + Bamboo Grove). Visit other temples in Kyoto and Inari Shrine.

    Day 3: Explore Kyoto. Travel to Osaka. Osaka Namba area.

    Day 4: Himeiji Temple half day. Nara half day.

    Day 5: Kobe.

    Day 6: Sightseeing in Osaka (Osaka castle, Shinsekai area).

    Day 7: Shopping in Osaka. Depart Osaka.

    Thank you so much for your help! 🙂

  9. Hi Takeshi.

    Regarding the Purchasing of Day Pass

    can i avail only once … what if i just want to buy a day pass for my arrival and then another day pass for when i return…
    since the Child Ticket is much cheaper buying a Single Pass than buying a Haruka Ticket.

    Looking forward for the Help

    Casper

  10. Hi Takeshi san, i would like to ask for your recommendation as to whether we should avail of jr westkansai area pass or kansai thru pass, here is our itinerary:

    Day 1: kix to shin osaka (hankyu hotel) we plan to get the limousine bus/kate bus round trip ticket valid for 7 days).

    Day 2: usj, dotonbori tour around osaka

    Day 3: tour around kyoto

    Day 4: tour around nara

    Day 5: hotel new hankyu to kix

    Thank you in advance!

    1. Hi Ren,

      Kansai thru pass is more recommended because it covers more than Kansai area pass in Kyoto.
      https://jprail.com/destinations/kansai-area/guide-to-take-trains-in-kyoto-how-to-choose-the-best-route-by-train-to-get-the-major-spots.html

      You can use Kansai thru pass 2 days for day 3 and 4. You can use other deal for day 2. Please see the link below:
      https://jprail.com/travel-informations/other-rail-passes/rail-pass-for-residents/how-to-choose-the-best-train-pass-for-sightseeing-in-osaka.html

      Cheers,

      Takeshi / JPRail.com

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