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Need help/tips for my trip and how to get around

We are 5 persons going to Japan for 17 days. ( 2 adults, 3 youths age 17,19 and 21)

Arriving at Narita Airport, we are going to spend the first 4 nights in Tokyo. Then we are going til Osaka, and spend 6 nights here. During our stay in Osaka- we have planned to take daytrips to Kyoto and Nara.

Is the Japan Rail Pass Shinkansen ( 7 days) the best option for us to take? Or will this no cover our plans? Or is there another option maybe?

Thanks for you reply.

Kind Regards


  • Options
    You do have some different options. It depends on how fast you want to get to some places versus how much money you want to save.
    Firstly though, regarding your plans, If you are already seeing Tokyo, you can mostly ignore Osaka during the day. Every place has something to see, but there is a big variety of places in the Kansai area you could go to if you wish. Osaka really comes to life in the evening though, and there are some great places like Dotonbori and Shinsekai, as well as some great city views you can enjoy from just before sunset.

    Kyoto is definitely worth a lot of your attention, as is Nara. You could make Nara a full day, or stick with the highlights for half a day in the Nara Park area - the Todaiji Temple is a must.

    If you wish to expand your experience, you could add half a day or a full day and see Himeji, which has the country's finest old original castle (all but 12 in Japan are reconstructed fakes) and the Kokoen Garden near it is also exquisite.
    If you choose half a day, then seeing Kobe for half a day becomes an option as well.

    The other big option some people take is a day trip or overnight to see Hiroshima & Miyajima. You could do the highlights in a full day with an early morning start, or see more things leisurely if you take 1½ to 2 days. Some stay at a Japanese inn (ryokan) for a night and I recommend it somewhere at least for a night for the experience, but some are expensive while others are less so. Many people who simply don't know, only think about the A-bombing when you mention Hiroshima, but the city has much more.

    At any rate, the JR Pass is one option, yet a japanican ticket is another.
    It is way cheaper than the JR Pass, and you can take the Nozomi bullet train with it, getting you there about 30 minutes sooner. If you just do the Tokyo-Kansai round trip, that would likely be the better buy. Even if you buy regular tickets for the cities in the Kansai area, they are not much and you'd still likely come out ahead. If you choose the japanican ticket and go to see Himeji, you could get a one day Kansai Area Pass and still come out ahead.
    Unless you take such long distance trips though, it is tough to make any Kansai regional pass pay off.
    The big difference is that with the japanican ticket, you cannot stop off in between your ticketed points, nor go beyond them. If you want to see Himeji and want to get there faster by bullet train, then the 7 day JR Pass becomes a better choice. And if you add the side trip to Hiroshima, with a 7-day pass you rack up some massive savings.
    For just going around locally, using an IC card is very convenient. A JR Pass in the big cities is of very limited benefit, if any. (You can use it on the Loop Bus in Hiroshima though). The IC cards give little actual savings, but they are convenient and save your pockets from a lot of holes.

    I also suggest you go to a hot spring (onsen) at least once. Every first-timer should try it out - there are expensive ones at pricey ryokan or others that are next to nothing. They are all over this volcanic country.

    So there is no way to give a definitive answer - you need to choose according to your plans. You may be fixed already on your plans, or still willing to expand them. You also say you are in Japan for 17 days, but you only list plans for 10-11 days. If you go to some other places in Japan like Kanazawa, Sendai, Takayama, Nagano, etc, a 14-day pass might make better sense. Or if you stick to the Tokyo area, there is the Tokyo Wide Pass which can save you a fortune if you go to the furthest places you can on it.
    Or if not as far, there is also the (non-JR) Greater Tokyo Pass.
    Either one plus a 7 day JR Pass comes up cheaper than the 14-day JR Pass. There is no shortage of Tokyo day trips you could take - including Nikko, Hakone, the Fuji 5 Lakes area, Karuizawa, Kusatsu, Izu, Kamamura/Enoshima, Kawagoe, Takao, Okutama, Yokohama, the Ushiku Great Buddha, Nokogiriyama, Minakami, Showa Kinen Park, and more. When you travel in the year also matters.
    So I suggest you do some more research. A few comprehensive places you could start with are the JNTO site and Japan-Guide.
    Once you have your plans fixed, then you can decide the best way to get there.
    BTW if not using any rail pass from Narita, the cheapest way into the city is the Access Narita Bus.

    You can see train schedules, times, fares, connections etc at
    If using the JR Pass, under "More Options", be sure to uncheck the Nozomi box since you can't ride that train using the pass.

    Also, you can look at some previews of some of the best places to see in Japan on:

    There are also loads of other tips on

    Best regards.
  • Options
    Hi Tenjin

    Thank you very much for your answer.
    We are arriving in Tokyo 30/6 . After our stay in Osaka, we are planning on staying the rest of the period back in Tokyo, before we departure on the 17/7.

    This is the first time in Japan, so we want to see as much as possible , so we are open for every suggestions, as we have no clue at all !

    Thank you for many nice tips - i would surely look them up.

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