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.

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

  1. Hi Takeshi,
    My family of 5, with an 76 old elderly, will be visiting Kyoto and Osaka in May18. Following is the itinerary:

    Day 0: Flight to Osaka
    Day 1: Kansai Airport (6am) -> Kyoto Ayashirama
    Day 2: Ayashirama -> Kyoto Kawaramachi (noon)
    Day 3: Kawaramachi -> Osaka Namba (evening)
    Day 4: Namba -> Nara -> Namba
    Day 5: Osaka n Surroundings
    Day 6: Namba -> Kansai Airport (7.30am)

    Would be very much appreciated if you could advice if we should purchase the Kansai Area Pass, or/and any JR rail passes?

    In addition, is there any additional cost for reserving of seats?


  2. Hi Takeshi,

    Thanks for the very informative post. I must admit, there are so many choices(JR/Haruka/ICOCA) that I really still do not know the best value for such a short trip this coming April. Can you please advise what to get since there are a lot of inconsistencies between the suggested transportation from other blogs.

    Day 1: Kansai Airport to Higashiyodogawa Ward, Osaka
    Day 2: Kyoto day trip only
    Day 3: Universal Studios
    Day 4: Half day Osaka tour then back to Kansai airport in the afternoon

    Looking forward to share your ideas on this. Thanks!

    1. Hi Princess,

      I think ICOCA and Haruka is the best deal for you. You can add Kansai one pass instead of ICOCA. Please see the link below:

      Kansai one pass is a sort of ICOCA but it offers discount at many attractions. You may use Kansai one pass to get Kyoto and USJ but you can add Kyoto city bus to save your budget in your Kansai one pass.


      Takeshi /

  3. Hi Takeshi, i need your advice for my first trip to Osaka, Kyoto
    Is it enough just purchase Kansai Area Pass if my itin like this:
    Day one : Osaka Dotonburi
    Day two: Universal Studio Osaka
    Day three : Kyoto full day (Fushimi Inari, Kiyomizudera, Kinkakuji, Arashiyama)
    Day four : Himeji Castle, Nara and Osaka Castle if possible when return again to Osaka

    Many thanks

  4. Hi Takeshi,

    Which pass do you think I should get? JR Pass? Kansai area pass or Kansai thru pass?

    Day 1: NRT to KIX (I will do a one way flight to KIX, or should I buy a 7 day JR Pass? I would like to save as much as I can and I think right now the one way flight seems to be the best option)
    Day 2: Osaka
    Day 3: Himeji and Kobe (these are day trips I will do when I am still staying in Osaka)
    Day 4-8: Kyoto
    Day 9: Nagoya
    Day 10-11: Mt. Fuji
    Day 12-13: Tokyo to NRT

    Thank you so much!

  5. Dear Mr Takeshi,
    I am travelling to Osaka, Kyoto and Nara for 3 days and a half and want to do one day osaka, one day kyoto and one day Nara, below is my itineraries. Please let me know which pass i should get, I’m thinking to get Kansai Thru Pass 3 days unlimited. Please give me your suggestion. Thank you so much.
    Day 1: From Kansai airport to Osaka , Osaka Castle, Umeda Sky, Dotombori
    Day 2: From Osaka-Kyoto
    -Arashiyama, Tenryu-ji Temple, Nishiki Market, Yasaka Shrine, Maruyama Park then back to Osaka
    Day 3: From Osaka- Nara
    Nara Park and Todaji Temple and then back to Osaka airport
    I am wondering if the Kansai Thru Pass will cover the above locations and if its cheaper if i get the Osaka 1 day Pass, Kyoto one day pass and Nara one day pass rather than Kansai Thru Pass. Much appreciate for your help. Thank you.

  6. Hi,

    I’m planning a 7 days trip to Osaka, Nara, Himeji. What is the best pass to use and how should I travel for the 3 destinations?


  7. Hi Takeshi,
    Which pass should i buy? I will be in Osaka in end May for 6 days staying around Dotonbor.
    1. Plan to take a Day Trip Tour to Kyoto & Nara each.
    2. Left 4 days to roam around Osaka. Wish to visit these attraction.
    – Universal Studio (1 day)
    – Ramen Museum in Ikeda
    – Osaka Castle
    – Shinsekai
    – Osaka Aquarium
    – Umeda.
    Do you think I can squeeze in an Onsen?

    Greatly appreciated your advice.

  8. Hi, I would like to get your advice on which pass to purchase for a really short Kansai area trip:

    Day 1 – Kansai Airport to Osaka Dotonbori area (evening arrival)
    Day 2 – Osaka Dotonbori Area to Kyoto Sanjo Station
    Day 3 – Kyoto (will probably get a day bus pass)
    Day 4 – Kyoto Sanjo station to Nara (in the AM) and back to Kyoto Sanjo
    Day 5 – Kyoto Sanjo station to Osaka Umeda area
    Day 6 – Osaka Umeda area to Kobe and back to Osaka Umeda
    Day 7 – Osaka Umeda area to Kansai Airport

  9. Hi I’m wondering if you can advise the best ticket option for my trip:

    Day one: Kansai Airport to Kyoto
    Day two: Explore Kyoto (may include a trip to Arashiyama)
    Day three:Explore Kyoto then travel to Nara
    Day four: Explore Nara then travel to Osaka
    Day five: explore Osaka then travel to Kansai Airport

    Any advise would be great thanks!

  10. Pls advice if getting the ICOCA & Haruka pass is the cheapest way of getting around for my itinerary below:

    Day 1: Kansai Airport to Kyoto
    Day 2-5: Kyoto
    Day 5: Kyoto to Osaka Namba area
    Day 6: Universal Studio
    Day 7: Osaka
    Day 8: Nara
    Day 9-11: Osaka

    Many thanks,

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