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14 Day Pass or Not?

Hi There,

We are a family of four 2 Adults and 2 Children for a 18 Day/17 Night trip in Japan.

Our Itinerary is as follows at present:

Arrive into Osaka from Australia
26/3/17 - 30/3/17 - Osaka 4 Nights
30/3/17 - 3/4/17 - Kyoto 4 Nights
3/4/17 - 6/4/17 - TBD (Hakone area) 3 Nights
6/4/17 - 12/4/17 - Tokyo 6 Nights
Depart Narita to Australia

Does it make sense to buy a 14 day rail pass and activate it from Kyoto to Hakone/Tokyo? or does it make better sense to just buy individual shinkansen tickets instead?

Deciding whether we should go to Hiroshima or Fukoka for 3 days instead of Hakone. That might make the JR Pass worth it.

Suggestions or ideas are welcome.


  • Hi,
    As it stands, your plans make neither a 14 day nor a 7 day pass worth it. If you did a day trip or overnight to Hiroshima/Miyajima, then a 7 day pass would pay off. If you did a trip to Fukuoka, you'd be close to making a 14 day pass pay off. It's actually a frequently ignored city unfortunately - the Nanzoin Temple there is one of Japan's finest yet virtually unknown to the outside world.

    It's up to your interests of course but I wouldn't structure your plans the way you have at all. Since you are already seeing Tokyo, you can largely skip Osaka during the day, since the city is mostly a clone.
    Perhaps use a day for Osaka's daytime sights, but use the other days for other places. 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.
    Instead, I suggest you take at least half a day and see Nara - it was also a former capital and has some of Japan's best sights. 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.
    You could also take a day and go see Himeji, with Japan's grandest surviving castle, and on another day you could go see the sights of Kobe.

    For Tokyo, again, it's up to your interests but for most people 3-4 days are quite enough. There are some great places for day trips though, like Nikko, Kamakura/Enoshima, Karuizawa, Izu, the Hitachi Seaside Park, Takao, and the Fuji 5 Lakes area. In fact if it gets warm a bit earlier as it has been these years, you might catch the shibazakura which are wonderful.
    You could in fact combine Hakone and the 5 Lakes area into a couple days side trip. A Fuji Hakone pass can help. Hakone can be seen in a full day.
    The Loop Course is a common way to see all the sights.

    It's probably no accident you chose your dates - you will be in Japan during the height of the cherry blossoms, and they are very beautiful to see. But it also makes a lot of places in Kyoto and Tokyo even more congested. Book your hotel as soon as you can. If you can't find a place in Kyoto for your budget, pick outside the city like Osaka or Otsu.

    Within Tokyo, a 2-3 subway pass is a good way to save money.
    And if your JR Pass expires, the cheapest way to Narita is the 1000 yen bus.

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

    Hope that helps.

  • Hi Tenjin,

    Thanks for your feedback. We plan to spend 1 day at Universal and at Disney land/sea in both cities for the kids. Or even might take them to the aquarium in Osaka.

    Whilst we are in Osaka we will probably do the trip to Nara to feed the deer, as well as try the local style Ramen which I hear is good down there as well. We will also take a side trip to Himeji Castle as well..

    I am thinking that we will probably go to see Hiroshima and Miyajima Island as well after discussing it with some people, that will probably fill in some of the time we have between Kyoto and Tokyo.

    A day trip to the Fuji area might make more sense from Tokyo instead??

    We are holding bookings in most areas, but have some flexibility to change..


  • Hi again,
    For the Fuji area, there are 2 main areas (aside from the mountain itself, which you can climb in summer but otherwise has nothing on it).
    Hakone is on the south side, and the Fuji 5 Lakes are on the north side. Both have some good sights to see. Hakone can be seen in a full day, and pretty much the same for the lakes, depending on your interests. If you want to spend 2 days in the area, you can see both, and the Fuji-Hakone pass is one good money saving way you can.
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