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Is there another alternative to Japan Rail Pass for my itinerary?

Hey guys,

It's our first time going to Japan for a holiday. We are considering getting the 14 day Japan Rail Pass for our holiday on 21 Nov - 3 Dec. Just want to check if it is worth it to get the Rail Pass or are there other alternatives. Your advice will be greatly appreciated! :)

Wilson & Fiona's Japan 2017 Itinerary

21 Nov (Tue) - Haneda Airport to Kyoto
22 Nov (Wed) - Kyoto
23 Nov (Thu) - Kyoto
24 Nov (Fri) - Kyoto to Osaka
25 Nov (Sat)- Osaka
26 Nov (Sun) - Osaka
27 Nov (Mon) - Osaka
28 Nov (Tue) - Osaka to Kawaguchiko
29 Nov (Wed) - Kawaguchiko to Shinjuku
30 Nov (Thu) - Tokyo
1 Dec (Fri) - Tokyo
2 Dec (Sat) - Tokyo
3 Dec (Sun) - Narita Airport


  • Hi,
    The short answer is that you are far, far from making a 14 day pass pay off.
    You'd barely make a 7 day pass pay off, and that is assuming you went down to Kansai, back up to Kawaguchiko, and then to Tokyo within 7 days.
    So your choice is either getting regular fare tickets, or expanding your itinerary.
    Actually is it very strange why you'd be spending 3-4 days in Osaka, which is just a clone of Tokyo.
    Since you are already seeing Tokyo, you can largely skip Osaka during the day. After the temples of Kyoto close down around 5 PM, you can zip over to Osaka for the evening. At night the city comes alive and has some great places to see, such as Dotonbori, plus the night views from the Umeda Sky Bldg and Abeno Harukas Bldg are wonderful.
    On another evening, you could also go and see Kobe.

    Instead, I suggest you take a day and see Nara - it was also a former capital and has some of Japan's best sights. Nara is often neglected by some tourists, which is a shame. Missing the Todaiji Great Buddha would be a tragedy. Nara Park has a lot of other great places, such as Kasuga Shrine, Kofukuji Temple, and feeding the many deer in the area.
    Seeing Himeji nearby, with Japan's grandest castle and Kokoen Garden next door, is also worthwhile. A one day Kansai Area Pass can save you some money.

    By the way, going from Osaka to Lake Kawaguchi will take you nearly 5 hours, or maybe 20-30 minutes less if you ride the Nozomi bullet train on regular fare tickets. You can take the JR trains only up to Otsuki Stn, and from there you need to pay for a Fujikyu train the rest of the way. There are some discount tickets to see the area:

    You can see regular fares, routes and schedules on Hyperdia.
    Under "More Options", be sure to uncheck the Nozomi box since you can't ride that train if you are using the full JR pass.

    Within Tokyo, a 3 day subway pass is a good way to save money.

    To go to Narita Airport, you need to choose between the orange limousine bus, the Keisei train, the Narita Express, and the 1000 yen bus. The limousine bus (3100 yen) is the priciest but if you're staying at or near one of the big tourist hotels it stops at, can be the most convenient. The Keisei is the fastest but you need to go to Ueno Stn or Nippori Stn to catch it. The N'Ex (3000 yen) only takes about 55 minutes and is quite convenient from Tokyo Stn or from Tokyo's west side.
    The cheapest way though is the 1000 yen bus.

  • Hi Tenjin,

    Thanks for the advice. I've taken them into consideration and added more details to our itinerary. Unfortunately, I'm unable to amend the accommodations that I've booked already.

    Do you still recommend getting regular fare tickets or 14-day Japan Rail Pass? Or are there any other travel passes that is suitable for our itinerary?

    21 Nov (Tue) - Haneda Airport to Kyoto (Based in Kyoto)
    Arashiyama (Afternoon)
    Downtown Kyoto + Gion (Evening)

    22 Nov (Wed) - Kyoto
    Southern Higashiyama (Pre-Wedding Photoshoot Morning + Afternoon)
    Southern Higashiyama Temple Illuminations (Evening, Chion-in Temple, Shoren-in Temple)

    23 Nov (Thu) - Kyoto
    Northern Higashiyama (Morning + Afternoon)
    Southern Higashiyama Temple Illuminations (Evening, Kodai-ji Temple, Kiyomizu-dera Temple)

    24 Nov (Fri) - Kyoto to Osaka (Based in Osaka)
    Kita and Umeda Area (Afternoon)
    Minami Area + Tennoji (Afternoon + Evening)

    25 Nov (Sat)- Osaka
    Day trip to Himeji (Morning + Afternoon)
    Kobe (Evening)

    26 Nov (Sun) - Osaka
    Day trip to Nara (Whole day)

    27 Nov (Mon) - Osaka
    Universal Studios Japan (Whole day)

    28 Nov (Tue) - Osaka to Kawaguchiko (Based in Kawaguchiko)
    Kawaguchiko (Whole day)

    29 Nov (Wed) - Kawaguchiko to Tokyo (Based in Tokyo)
    Kawaguchiko (Morning)
    Harajuku + Shibuya + Roppongi (Afternoon + Evening)

    30 Nov (Thu) - Tokyo
    DisneySea (Whole day)

    1 Dec (Fri) - Tokyo
    Asakusa + Tokyo Station (Morning + Afternoon)
    Akihabara, Kanda And Jimbocho (Evening)

    2 Dec (Sat) - Tokyo
    Tsukiji Fish Market + Imperial Palace Area (Morning + Afternoon)
    Shinjuku (Evening)

    3 Dec (Sun) - Tokyo
    Narita Airport (Depart in afternoon)
  • Well, as I mentioned, without more long distance travel, the pass does not pay off. So just regular fare tickets are fine.

    But for Himeji, you could get the JR Kansai Area Pass.
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