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7-day or 14 day JR pass

Hello! I'm going to Japan for 12 days in November and my itinerary is below. Should I get a 14-day JR Pass or a 7-day pass in combination with the local subway discount passes? Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated as it is our first time in Japan! Also, is my itinerary ok or too much? If it's too much, where should we stay longer and which should we cut out?

Day 1 - arrive in Narita airport and either stay 1 night in Tokyo (near Tokyo Station) or head straight down to Kyoto.

Days 2-3 Kyoto

Day 4 - head to Kinosaki Onsen

Day 5 - head to Hiroshima/Miyajima Island

Day 6 - head to Osaka

Day 7 - head to Mt Koya

Day 8 - head to Tokyo

Days 9-11 - Tokyo

Day 12 - head home

Thank you!


  • Hi,
    Well obviously a 7 day pass is not going to work for you since your long distance travels are much longer than that. Fortunately you do make a 14 day pass pay off. And if you are flying through Narita, then you can also use the JR Pass for the Narita Express train, and increase your savings even more.

    There are several issues with your plans. You don't appear to know the travel times of your trip. You didn't give any arrival time in Japan, but going from Narita Airport to Kyoto will be about 4 hours. About 3½ hours if you're using Haneda Airport.
    For you Day 4, going to Kinosaki as a day trip is impossible. From Kyoto it's about 2 hours and going to Hiroshima takes 5 hours. You should overnight there, but if you do that, there is no way you can also see Hiroshima/Miyajima in a day. I suggest you move Osaka for an evening after Kyoto. 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.

    The JR Pass can't help you for Koyasan. But you can save money with a Koyasan World Heritage Ticket.
    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 using the pass.

    You can see previews of some of the best places to see on:

    Hope that helps.
  • Hi Tenjin!

    Thank you so much for your thoughtful response. Yes, all of your suggestions help! We do plan to overnight at Kinosaki and then head down to Miyajima the following day. We will spend a night at Miyajima. Do you suggest now spending 2 nights in Miyajima and then heading to Mt Koya from there (or a night in Hiroshima) or should we keep our hotel stay in Osaka? Our plan was to get to Miyajima before the ferry closed at 4pm, have dinner and relax, hike the next morning, check out of the hotel and explore Hiroshima for a bit before heading out to Osaka for the night. Osaka was pretty much just a night stop over before the next leg of the trip to Mt Koya. But of course, we are open to suggestions!

    Also, we arrive around 2 pm Narita airport and planned on taking the train to Kyoto the same day. Is that doable or should we spend a night in Tokyo and head down to Kyoto the following early morning?
  • Hi again,
    Well, as I mentioned, going from Kinosaki to Hiroshima would be quite long, but if you are willing to put in 1½ days for Hiroshima/Miyajima, you can do pretty well. You could even fit in Iwakuni which is a bit past Miyajima, and see the Mitakidera Temple on the west side of Hiroshima City, which most people sadly never hear about and never see.
    If you do spend that amount of time on Miyajima, 2 nights there are not worth it unless you really want to take it easy. With a full day, you can still see the area in the early morning and evening when it gets a lot less hectic and more relaxing when the day trippers are not there.

    You should be able to enjoy both low tide to go on the beach to see the giant torii gate as well as high tide when the shrine is much more enjoyable.
    Be sure not to miss the Daishoin Temple also - in many ways, it's even better than Itsukushima.

    If you are going to go to Koyasan though, an overnight is much more rewarding than trying to make it a day trip.

    It's up to you if you want to go straight from Narita to Kyoto. Most people arrive as red eyed zombies and a light first day would do you good. But if you have the energy, then go ahead - you'll be seeing Tokyo when you return anyway. Keep some eye drops and aspirin on you during the flight - you'll likely need them.
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