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Individual train/bus tickets vs Japan Rail Pass. Suica.

Hello -

We are planning a 3 week trip to Japan in May.

When we arrive in Tokyo, we will stay 3 nights before heading to Kanazawa for 2 nights, then Takayama for 3 nights. After this we will head to Nagoya for 5 nights, return to Tokyo for 4 nights before going to Nikko for 2 nights. We will then return to Tokyo for our return flight. (Nikko accommodations only available towards the end of our trip).

What would be the best way to travel? A national or regional rail pass did not appear to be worth the cost.

So, we were thinking of purchasing individual tickets for each trip. A bullet train from Tokyo to Kanazawa. A bus from Kanazawa to Takayama. Then Limited Express train from Takayama to Nagoya. Bullet train from Nagoya to Tokyo and finally a round trip bullet train and Nikko rail to Nikko.

Do you have any other suggestions?

Also, is the Suica card the best card to use for the Tokyo and Nagoya subways?

Thank you,


  • Hi,
    Given the length of your trip and the shortness of your distances, I can't see any full JR pass paying off for you.
    A number of regional passes might be able to help you, if even just a little. For Nikko, there is the Tobu Nikko Free Pass.

    I was thinking the JR East Nagano Niigata Area Pass might be able to help you, if you are willing to rearrange your plans somewhat and add a bit to cover the rest. It gives a discount on the bus to Takayama, and gets you most of the way by bullet train to Kanazawa. It's good for any 5 days (your choice) in 14.

    You won't catch the cherry blossoms this year, since they are starting in about 10 days or so, but if you like, you could go see the shibazakura near Mt Fuji.

    It's unclear why you'd go to Nagoya for 5 days. Among the big cities, it is the least interesting. Everywhere has someplace to see of course, but you might find going to nearby Inuyama more interesting. Its small castle is one of the 12 surviving originals (not concrete reconstructed fake) and Meiji Mura is quite a trip back in time.

    If you wanted to save a little more money, you could get a Kodama Platt ticket from Nagoya to Tokyo. You'd need to buy the ticket in Tokyo and of course not be late for it in Nagoya. It saves some money but you'd be taking the Kodama bullet train which stops at every single bullet train station, hence taking an extra 70 minutes compared with the Nozomi.

    Within Tokyo, a Suica card is convenient in that you don't need to carry a lot of change everywhere, but offers next to no savings. If you want to save money, you might consider a 2-3 day subway day pass.

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

    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!

    Another question re Nikko.

    We were thinking of purchasing the 4 day Nikko all day pass but can't find a timetable for the trains leaving Asakusa station or for the return trip from the Nikko area. Where do we find this timetable?

    Also, do you know how long the train trip is from Asakusa to Nikko?
    We do not plan on purchasing tickets for the quicker limited express trains.

  • Hi,
    Well the timetable is not hard at all. You can use Hyperdia listed above to quickly find it. You didn't specify where in Tokyo you'd be leaving from. But the Tobu trains typically leave from Kita-Senju or Asakusa. So you may need to pay for the subway there.
    Just input the stations you plan to use, then under "More Options", uncheck the box for JR, so the Tobu train results are the only ones that show up.
    You can see in this example from Tokyo Station.
    Just change your departure station and the date/time.
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