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

Limited Express Haruka from KIX is covered by this pass.
The limited express Haruka from KIX is covered by this pass.

JR West Kansai Area Pass is one of the choices for the traveler who stays in Osaka and make some day trips to the surrounding places, such as Kyoto, Kobe, Nara, Himeji and Wakayama.

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 the pass and the regular fare. You can find that you can get the worth by your trip or not.

Coverage area

Kansai Area pass map
Only major stations are shown in the map.

Please refer the map in JR West Kansai Area Pass official site as well to get the detailed map.

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

Expansion of the coverage area in Kyoto

And also Kansai Area Pass includes the following exchange vouchers:

  • Keihan Railways Kyoto Sightseeing Pass 1-day
  • Kyoto City Subway 1-day pass

These passes expand the coverage in Kyoto so much:

Green line (subway) and red line (Keihan railway) are additional coverage. (click to view large)

Kansai Area Pass did not cover Keihan and subway in Kyoto. These lines cover eastern part of Kyoto, such as Gion, Kiyomizudera.

You may exchange the vouchers in the designated stations. Please find the detailed information in the official press release:

JR West official press release

You can use these passes separately.

e.g.
You have Kansai Area Pass 2-day
Day 1 trip to Kyoto and exchange Kyoto city subway pass only
Day 2 trio to Kyoto and exchange Keihan Railway Kyoto sightseeing pass

But in my opinion, you should use these two passes in same day. If you use only JR line and Kyoto city subway line, the coverage are limited.

The places where you cannot go by Kansai Area Pass

Major spots that are not covered by this pass is 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.

Who is eligible

Visitors who land as “Temporary Visitor” status can purchase this pass.

Types and prices

Purchasing from
the travel agent
overseas
(Before arrival)
Purchasing from
JR West online
(Before arrival)
Purchasing from
JR West station
(After arrival)
1-day2,300 yen2,350 yen2,400 yen
2-day4,600 yen4,750 yen4,800 yen
3-day5,600 yen5,750 yen5,800 yen
4-day6,600 yen6,750 yen6,800 yen

*Child rate is half of the adult prices above.
*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).

e.g.
If you start to use 3 days pass on May 1, the pass is expired at 23:59 on May 3. The time when you start using does not matter.

If you want to purchase this at the lower price, you can purchase it at authorized travel agents. You can find the dealers list and exchange location at the link below:

JR West Rail Pass Dealer’s list

You also can purchase this pass online through JR West official site. But the price is not much cheaper than the price which is sold at the station.

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 the Tokaido Shinkansen the Sanyo Shinkansen, the limited express Thunderbird. But as long as you travel in Kansai area, Rapid Services Network is enough to cover your trip. It is actually crowded because these trains are the commuters one. But these are 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.

Find your hotels in 400 cities throughout Japan!!!

Hotels and Ryokans in Nara
Hotels in Himeji
Hotels in Kobe
Hotels in Himeji
Hotels in Kansai Airport

On the other hand, JR West Kansai Area Pass does not cover any private railway lines, subway lines and the bus lines. Most of major private railway companies and subway lines are shown on the following list:

  • Osaka Metro (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 to pay a single fare or purchase other pass. This is the biggest disadvantage of JR West Kansai Area Pass. You can find the coverage of this pass in these posts:

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.

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.

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

  1. Hi Takeshi-san,

    I need your advice if I should get the JR 7-day pass or the 2-day Kansai Thru Pass + Single fare

    Day1: Arrive Osaka
    Day 2-3: Tour Osaka with Osaka Amazing 2-day Pass
    Activate JR pass for Day 4 – 10
    Day 4: Day trip from Shin-Osaka to Shin-Kobe
    Day 5: Day trip from Shin-Osaka to Himeji (Hello Kitty Shinkansen to Himeji)
    Day 6: Day trip from Shin-Osaka to Kyoto (Fushimi Inari Shine/Gion)
    Day 7: Day trip from Shin-Osaka to Kyoto: Arashiyama/Downtown Tokyo
    Day 8: Day trip from Shin-Osaka to Nara
    Day 9: Shin-Osaka to Odawara
    Day 10: Odawara to Tokyo
    Day 11 onward: Tokyo

    Thank you!

    Jeslyn

    1. Hi Jeslyn san,

      It depends on how you want to travel. If you want the convenience, JR Pass is your choice. If you want to save your cost as much as you can, Kansai Area Pass + regular fare ticket is better.

      For example, you can take the Shinkansen for the round trip to Himeji. JR Pass covers it and Kansai area pass does not. But even if you take the Shinkansen for both ways, you cannot get the worth of JR Pass. You have to take the Shinkansen to get Shin-Kobe and Kyoto. If you take the Shinkansen on day 4, 5 , 6 and 7, you can get the worht of it.

      On the other hand, you can get Kyoto, Shin-Kobe and Himeji by other than Shinkansen. If you use Kansai area pass, you can get other trains, such as Special Rapid to get Kyoto, Kobe and Himeji. But Special Rapid is a sort of commute train. Shinkansen is much more comfortable.
      https://jprail.com/trains/sort-by-type/rapid-service/special-rapid-service.html

      Roughly if you don’t use JR Pass, your cost is about 25,000 yen for day 4 to 10. So it is about 4,000 yen cheaper.

      The choice is yours.

      Cheers,

      Takeshi / JPRail.com

  2. Hi Takeshi-san,

    Great insights you have here and your website is really helpful for anyone who is going to Japan. As I am not certain should I purchase a JR West Kansai Rail pass (with 50% discount) and if I do, how may day pass should I purchase. Appreciate your advise with my itinerary below:-

    Day 1 – arriving at KIX airport (9pm) – Shinsaibashi hotel
    Day 2 – Nara Park + Todaiji + Umeda Sky Building + Osaka Castle + America mura
    Day 3 – Kuromon market + shinsekai + Sumiyoshi Tasha + Dotonbori
    Day 4 – Depart to Kyoto + Kiyomizu Dera + Hokanji Temple + Gion
    Day 5 – Arashiyama + Tenryuji Temple + Fushimi Inari Tasha + Nishiki Market
    Day 6 – Depart to Takayama (Nohi bus)

    Thank you and I look forward to your kind guidance

    1. Hi Karen san,

      I don’t recommend you to use Kansai area pass becuase you will stay in Shisaibashi. There is no JR stations in Shisaibashi. I will recommend you to use the following deal:

      For day 1
      Nankai railway and subway deal:
      https://www.howto-osaka.com/en/ticket/ticket/chikatoku.html

      For day 2, 4 and 5
      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

      But you may not be able to get the worth. But this pass covers all places on day 2, 4 and 5.

      For day 3, regular ticket is okay.

      Cheers,

      Takeshi / JPRail.com

      Cheers,

      Takeshi / JPRail.com

  3. Dear Takeshi san,

    My friends and I are planning to visit Kinosaki on 20 Feb and to kyoto from 21-22 Feb using 3 days West Kansai JR pass. We are aware the JR pass does not cover most of our transport inside Kyoto, but we consider this pass as we are staying in Osaka throughout our trip in Japan, and we want to be able using Haruka train from/to the airport without needing to purchase additional ticket.

    1. What I understand, when we purchase the kansai pass, we will also receive Keihan Railways Kyoto Sightseeing Pass 1-day and Kyoto City Subway 1-day pass. This means we don’t have to buy any addition pass for using subway inside Kyoto area, no?
    2. Would the west kansai pass cover our trip to Kinosaki? If not, is there any other option we could use?

    Thank you,
    Niken

    1. Hi Niken san,

      You need Kansai Wide Area Pass because of Kinosaki. Kansai Area Pass does not cover Kinosaki.
      https://jprail.com/travel-informations/other-rail-passes/rail-pass-for-visitors/the-newest-jr-west-rail-pass-for-kansai-and-okayama-kurashiki-kinosakai-and-shingu-area-kansai-wide-area-pass.html

      But Kansai Wide Area Pass does not include Keihan Railway and subway 1-day pass. Kansai Wide Area Pass covers several spots. Please see the link below:
      https://jprail.com/travel-informations/tips-for-japan-rail-pass/how-to-use-japan-rail-pass-in-kyoto.html

      You may add one day bus pass on top of the pass. You can take Raku bus in Kyoto by city bus pass. It covers most part of Kyoto.
      https://jprail.com/travel-informations/other-rail-passes/rail-pass-for-residents/how-to-choose-the-best-train-pass-for-sightseeing-in-kyoto.html
      https://www2.city.kyoto.lg.jp/kotsu/webguide/en/bus/rakubus.html

      Cheers,

      Takeshi / JPRail.com

      Cheers,

      Takeshi / JPRail.com

      1. Dear Takeshi San,

        Thanks for your reply. We decided to drop the trip tp Kinosaki for now, and choosing other cities that is included in West Kansai pass. Does this mean we still need to add the bus pass to the plan?

  4. Hi Takeshi-san,

    Thank you for your valuable time in getting back to me.

    I understood on the subway fares required which are not covered by Kansai Area Pass, so will make decision accordingly.

    I will also find out the usage of Kansai Area Pass in Osaka, and feasibility of using Keihan and Subway ticket in Kyoto on different days, if I have answers I will let you know too 🙂

    Noted on the Kansai One Pass, seems like I have to get it at KIX itself as I cannot find any authorized 3rd party vendor which sells this pass online.

    Thank you again!

      1. Hi Takeshi-san,

        I’ve received response from official website by submitting a question. Below is the response.

        You can get vouchers for 1 “Kyoto City Subway One-Day Pass” and 1 “Keihan KYOTO SIGHTSEEING PASS 1-day (Keihan Electric Railway)” per 1 Kansai Area Pass.

        However, the vouchers for “Kyoto City Subway One-Day Pass” and the “Keihan KYOTO SIGHTSEEING PASS 1-day (Keihan Electric Railway)” have to be exchanged to the 1-day passes at an exchange location of each railway company within the validity period of the Kansai Area Pass. In addition those 1-day passes are valid on the day when those voucher was redeemed.

        Therefore, “Kyoto City Subway One-Day Pass” and “Keihan KYOTO SIGHTSEEING PASS 1-day (Keihan Electric Railway)” cannot be used after the Kansai Area Pass expires.

  5. Hi Takeshi-san,

    Good day to you! I came across your site and I’m very grateful for it. It will be my first time to Kyoto and Osaka this coming May and I am quite uncertain on the travel passes I should be getting, could you please advise?

    My itinerary is as follows:

    (Stay in Osaka – 5 nights) 
    16th May – Arrival in KIX around 6am -> plan is to take Haruka to Shin Osaka station > get to hotel near Shinsaibashi station on Midosuji line > Dotonburi + Shinsaibashi + Namba area

    17th May – Kuromon Market + Hozenji Temple + Osaka Castle+ Shitennoji temple+ Harukas 300 (evening) + Tsutenkaku Tower (optional) + Shinseikai area

    18th May – Day trip to Himeji (including Kokoen Garden) and Kobe + Umeda Sky Building night visit (optional)

    19th May – Full day in Universal Studio Japan (hopefully to avoid the crowd on Tuesday)

    20th May – Sumiyoshi Taisha + Instant Ramen Museum + Osaka station area

    (Stay in Kyoto – 5 nights)   
    21st May – Shinsaibashi suji shopping street nearby hotel in walking distance > Shin Osaka station to Kyoto station in late afternoon > drop off luggage in hotel + rest > spend the evening/ night nearby or at Kyoto station

    22nd May – Kiyomizu-dera Temple + Yasaka Jinja Shrine + Gion area + Nijo Castle

    23rd May – Fushimi Inari Taisha Shrine + Uji station + Byodoin Temple

    24th May – Day trip to Nara: deer park, Naramachi Koshi-no-ie House, Kasuga Taisha Shrine, Todaiji Temple

    25th May – Arashiyama + Ryoanji temple + Kinkakuji + The Philosopher’s Path + Ginkakuji (optional) + Nanzenji Temple + Kifune Shrine (optional)

    26th May – Departure from Kyoto station to KIX at around 6am (no sightseeing at all)

    My questions are as follows: 
    1. Do I need the Kansai WIDE Area Pass? I feel that I don’t need this pass, would you agree?

    2. Can I then purchase 2 tickets of 4-day Kansai Area Pass, but use them on different periods (16th – 19th May consecutively and 21st to 24th May consecutively)? 

    3. Seems like I may have to rely on buses to majority of the places in Kyoto, or is this incorrect? Would Kansai Area Pass be worth using in Kyoto, or is there a more suitable pass to be used in Kyoto?

    4. My itinerary routes may not make sense since I’m still very lost on the “nearest station to different attractions” part. If you think itinerary on certain days can be adjusted or exchanged to make full use of the pass you would suggest to get, please advise. I would really appreciate it. 

    5. How would you suggest to travel on 20th and 25th May based on my proposed itinerary? 

    6. Plan is to get the Haruka express ticket on 26th May to KIX (https://www.klook.com/en-MY/activity/18400-jr-haruka-airport-express-train-tickets-osaka/), ok? 

    Thank you so much in advance for your advice!!

    Regards,
    Jacquelyn

    1. Hi Jacquelyn,

      1. No. I agree.

      2. Kansai area pass is wrong choice. You cannot get the worth of it. On day 1, you should take Nankai Railway from KIX to Namba. Shinsaibashi is just one station away from Namba by Osaka Metro Midosuji line. If you go to Shin-Osaka, you waste lots of time. You may find the deal for taking Nankai railway in the link below:
      https://www.howto-osaka.com/en/ticket/ticket/

      You need Kansai area pass one day for trip to Kobe and Himeji only.
      You may buy Kansai one pass instead using a regular ticket. You can use it for 19th to 21st, 23rd and 24th.
      https://kansaionepass.com/en/about.html?info=1

      And you cna use Osaka amazing pass on 17th.
      https://www.osp.osaka-info.jp/en/

      3. You can use city bus pass for 22nd and 25th.
      https://jprail.com/travel-informations/other-rail-passes/rail-pass-for-residents/how-to-choose-the-best-train-pass-for-sightseeing-in-kyoto.html

      4. Your itineray is very packed but you can keep this.

      5. 20th is okay but 25th may be too much. You may not get all places in one day. You can spend half day easily in Arashiyama only. Kifune shrine is quite far from Arashiyama. I think you can visit The Philosopher’s Path + Ginkakuji (optional) + Nanzenji Temple on 22nd after Gion. And you can visit Nijo before Arashiyama. Because Nijo is located on the way to Arashiyama from Kyoto station.

      6. Ok.

      Cheers,

      Takeshi / JPRail.com

      1. Good afternoon Takeshi-san,

        Thank you for your reply. They were very informative!

        Based on your reply, I would like to ask the following:

        1. There’s a possibility for me to purchase 3-day Kansai Area Pass at a cheaper rate (e.g. 50% discount). Assuming time is not a concern for us to get to hotel from KIX, can we still get the 3-day Kansai Area Pass to be used on 16th – 18th?

        I read about the Osaka Amazing Pass but I think I will not benefit much as I would be visiting 3 – 4 places from attractions list which are included. And among these 3 – 4 places, only Osaka Castle is confirmed. (Harukas 300 entrance fee is already included in another ticket I plan to purchase together with USJ package). So I thought perhaps getting the 3-day Kansai Area Pass so I could use on 17th too and I can pay for the entrance fees only if I actually visited the planned places on my list. What do you think? 🙂

        2. If you agree I could get the 3-day Kansai Area Pass for 16th to 18th May usage, which day would be more suitable to activate both the Keihan Line Exchange Ticket and Kyoto City Subway Pass? Can it be on 17th?

        3. Kansai One Pass is similar to ICOCA right? I search for Kansai One Pass in an authorized third party booking page and the customer service agent provided me the link to ICOCA card page.

        4. Based on your suggestion, I revised the routes as below, did I understand you correctly?
        – 22nd: Kiyomizu-dera Temple + Yasaka Jinja Shrine + Gion area + The Philosopher’s Path + Ginkakuji (optional) + Nanzenji Temple
        – 25th: Nijo Castle + Arashiyama + Ryoanji temple + Kinkakuji

        Looking forward to you guidance, thanks!

        1. Hi Jacquelyn san,

          1. You can buy it. But when you go to Shinsaibashi, you have to take a subway anyway. You cannot go to Shinsaibashi by JR trains. Kansai Area Pass does not cover subway. Please see the link below:
          https://jprail.com/travel-informations/tips-for-japan-rail-pass/guide-to-take-trains-in-osaka-how-to-choose-the-best-route-by-train-to-get-the-major-spots.html

          You may change JR to subway at Tennoji. Kansai area pass covers KIX to Tennoji only on arrival day. JR Namba station is quite far from subway Namba station.
          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

          After arrival in hotel, you can drop off your luggage and you can walk from Shinsaibashi to Namba. The distance does not matter.

          So if you use Kansai area pass, please keep this inconvenice between Namba and Shinsaibashi in your mind. Otherwise just pay to take subway from Shinsaibashi to Tennoji. It is much easier to change trains at Tennoji:
          https://jprail.com/travel-informations/basic-informations/station-information/tennoji-station-guide-how-to-transfer-jr-kintetsu-railway-and-subway-lines.html

          2. As far as I know, if you use Kansai area pass from 16th to 18th, unfortunately you have no chances to use Keihan and subway ticket. I have heard that Keihan and subway portion must be used in same duration as Kansai area pass. But you don’t go to Kyoto until 21st. But JR West official site does not mention anything. The condition may be changed.

          3. Both are basically same. Kansai One Pass is designed for oversea tourist. It is ICOCA but you can get discount at many attractions by Kansai One Pass. ICOCA does not offer it.

          4. Yes.

          Cheers,

          Takeshi / JPRail.com

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