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Best jr pass

We are travelling with a family of five adults and two children arriving Tokyo 28th December for 5 nights, then Osaka for 3 nights, Hiroshima for 1 night, Kyoto for 2 nights then back to Tokyo for 2 nights then to Hakuba for 7 nights leaving Tokyo on the 17th January. Is it worthwhile buying a 14 day pass for travel from first leaving Tokyo on 2nd December and then buying ticket from Hakuba to Tokyo or would a 21 day pass be better. Also is it worth buying a green class seeing as we are travelling at a time which would seem to be very busy.
Cheers Kylie


  • Hi,
    You only get real value from a JR Pass if you are traveling long distance. So if you get a 14 day pass and leave for Osaka on your first day, and return to Tokyo after Hakuba within 14 days, you would get the most value. If you need to, you can cut your time in Tokyo after Kansai by 1-2 days, since it is really not necessary with you spending 5 days there as soon as you land in Japan.
    If you just don't want to do that, then get the 21 day pass.
    Note that there are different ways to get to Hakuba. The faster way requires you to pay for a bus partway.

    There are fewer people using the Green Seats, but there are also far fewer Green Seats - it is kind of a chick and egg question, so getting a Green Pass is not necessarily a solution. You will be traveling during a peak season as you mentioned, but you can make seat reservations for free with the JR pass, and I strongly advise you to do so. You can make them in any JR station, one by one or all at once if you know what trains you will take. The latter makes your schedule a lot stricter, but it beats having to stand on the train.
    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.

    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 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.

    For the end/start of the year, you should check every single place you plan to go first - many stores etc will be closed from around Dec 28-Jan 3rd or 4th. Many restaurants will also be closed, but convenience stores will not. You may have to eat some meals from there. It is a chance though to experience New Year's in Japan.

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

    There are also loads of other tips on

    Hope that helps.

  • Thanks so much that is so helpful. We were not planning on starting the pass until leaving Tokyo on the 2nd January unless there are things you can travel to see around there on the jr rail pass. The big dilemma is whether we pay for a 14 day pass which takes us to the 16 th dec but leave hakuba on the 17th dec so whether cheaper to get a 21 day pass or pay one way from hakuba to Tokyo on 17th. Am kind of getting your drift though and maybe cheaper to pay one way from Tokyo to Osaka then activate pass from 3rd dec for 14 days. We have 3 nights Osaka and 2 nights Kyoto. Do you think Osaka for longer and just day trips and/ or stay in Nara?
  • Hi,
    Well first, you may not be understanding the 14 days of the pass. In short, it is valid for 14 consecutive days, and a day starts and ends at midnight. So if you start using your pass on Jan 1, the last day of use would be the end of the 14th. Therefore if you started your pass on Jan 2nd, your final day would be the end of the 15th, *not* the 16th.

    To keep things brief and simple, the regular fare from Tokyo to Osaka by bullet train is ¥13620 (adult seat, unreserved). The fare from Tokyo to Hakuba is about ¥8000 one way, so ¥16000 yen round trip. The difference between the 14 and 21 day pass is only ¥12960 - so as I said, if you are not willing to change your dates and schedule, then the 21 day pass is the way to go.

    Regarding your other issue of more uses, there certainly are some. I would say that seeing Tokyo for 3-4 days is quite enough. There are many good places for day trips in the area - like Nikko, Izu, Hakone, the Fuji 5 Lakes, Takao, Kusatsu, Karuizawa, etc.
    For the Fuji area though the JR passes can only get you partway there.

    Or, you could squeeze things down as I mentioned to complete going to Kansai, Hiroshima and Hakuba within 14 days, then have more time in Tokyo and use some regional rail passes (like the Tokyo Wide Pass) to see some Tokyo area sights. Doing that would be slightly cheaper than the cost of the 21 day pass. The question is up to you - if you are OK with squeezing things into 14 days, then get the 14 day pass and get the most value. But if you think 14 days is rushing things too much, then the 21 day pass would be better for you. If you choose the 21 day pass, you can use it to see the Tokyo area sights you want.

    I hope this clarifies things.
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