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Should I purchase JR Pass?

HI, I will be travelling to Japan in march and was wondering if it would be cost effective to purchase JR pass ( I will be in Japan for a total of 14 nights and splitting the time between Tokyo and Kyoto)

1. arrive in Narita airport on 3/21 and stay in tokyo for 7 nights until 3/28
2. Take shinkansen on 3/28 to Kyoto and stay for 7 nights in Kyoto until 4/4
3. take shinkansen on 4/4 from kyoto back to tokyo then directly transfer via NEX to narita to take our international flight back home

Would JR pass pay off for the above itinerary? thanks so much


  • Hi,
    For a 14 day pass it would be a terrible waste of money. For a 7 day pass, you are traveling for 8 days so that would not work either. If you started using your pass on Mar 28, you could only use it to the end of Apr 3.
    If you used the pass for 7 days from Tokyo to Kyoto and back, plus the one way trip on the Narita Express back to Narita, you would barely break even on the 7 day pass. But you could save a lot more money on a japanican ticket:
    and using the 1000 yen bus back to Narita.

    Within Tokyo, you could save money on a 2-3 day subway pass.
    And if you take some day trips from Tokyo, a Tokyo Wide Pass can often be a great money saver too.

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

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

    There are also loads of other tips on

    Best wishes.
  • thank you so much for your detailed explanation.
    i was wondering though, first of all, for the japanican ticket, it says that it is for nonreserve seats. Would that be a problem for four of us traveling from tokyo to kyoto on 3/28 and back on 4/4/18 from kyoto to tokyo.Should we get reserved seats. Also, it says only good for 7 days, we will be there for 8 days, does that mean I cannot purchase the japanican tickets?

    Also, when we come back from kyoto on 4/4/18 we will be leaving narita at 5 pm. we plan to take shinkansen from kyoto station then transferring to the N'EX to narita. Should we transfer at Shinjuku station or Shinagawa? would we have enough time to catch our flight if we leave kyoto that same day? thanks so much!
  • Hi,
    Getting seats is usually not a problem - and rail pass holders can't use the Nozomi trains, but you can with the japanican ticket. Nozomi departures are every 10-15 minutes or so. It is likely you can all get seats.
    Your travel duration is a problem though - you'd need to cut back a day to make it fit in 7 days, or else just buy regular fare tickets.
    If you want to go from Kansai all the way to Narita, then it makes sense to go to Shinagawa or Tokyo Station and then get the N'Ex. Shinagawa is smaller and easier to get through though. The bullet trains don't go to Shinjuku.
    I'd be leaving Kyoto Stn for the airport about 11:00 AM or earlier. You should be at the airport a couple hours before your departure time.
  • thank you for the helpful information!
  • when you mentioned that getting unreserved seats on shinkansen from tokyo to kyoto would not be a problem, does it refer to getting on from tokyo station only? If i plan to board from Shinagawa station with my husband and two kids should i make reservations? ( plan to take shinkansen on 3/28 which is during cherry blossom season)
    Also, I read that kids are free. Does that mean they do not need tickets or do i still need to go to ticket booth to get " kids ticket" to ensure they can pass through the gate?
    and lastly, at what age do kids need to start paying?
    thank you
  • Hi,
    It should not be a problem at all, from Shinagawa as well. Japanese people don't go racing all over the country because it is cherry blossoms season. There is an uptick in tourists (mostly from China and East Asia) but that is not a peak season in Japan like New Year's or Golden Week at the end of April when the Japanese themselves go to travel.
    If you get the japanican tickets, there are no seat reservations with them. You'd sit it the unreserved seat cars. If you have kids, they can sit in an open seat. If there are no open seats, they can sit on your lap.
    As for free, if the kids are 0-5 years, they are free - no fare. If 6-11 they would need a child ticket. If 12 or over they are ticketed as adults.
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