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Need help with Rail Passes


I will be travelling to Japan with my family and would appreciate help in recommending rail passes.

Here are our itineraries:

March 14 : arriving Kansai Airport staying 4 nights in Osaka
March 15 : Day trip to Nara
March 16 : day trip to Kyoto
March 17 : Himeji and the area
March 18 : Osaka to Nagoya, Nakasendo trail from Magome to Tsumago (overnight in Tsumago)
March 19 : Nojiri to Narai-juku, Narai back to Nagoya (overnight near Nagoya Station)
March 20 : Husband and daughter departing from Nagoya Airport;
I will take a bullet train to Tokyo
March 20-23 : Tokyo and the area
March 23: bullet train back to Osaka
March 24: departing from Kansai airport

Many thanks!


  • Hi,
    For you, you can make a 7 day pass pay off and get some savings, used Mar 17-23.
    I can't see any way your spouse and child can make a rail pass pay off, however. They could get a one day Kansai Area Pass and save some money going to Himeji, but that prohibits the bullet train, which is how you'd likely want to get there fast - so traveling separately really makes no sense.
    Of course, if you haven't bought your air ticket yet, you might explore an open-jaw ticket where you return home from Tokyo and not return to Osaka. It would save you some time. It would also kill the savings from getting a rail pass, unfortunately.
    For Himeji, you can see the highlights of the city - the castle and beautiful Kokoen Garden nearby in half a day. I suggest you take half a day and add it to Kyoto - one day simply does not do the city justice. Or if not what you want, you could also go see Kobe for half a day. For Himeji, get the combo ticket for the castle and garden, and one is virtually free to see.

    For Nara, you could see the best of the city in half a day as well if you wish, at Nara Park. There are several good places all close together, including feeding the hungry deer.

    For Tokyo, you are likely near cherry blossom season, so be sure to take advantage of it. There are many places, though in the big city they can be jammed with people.
    Tokyo has around a dozen beautiful traditional gardens, some with a history going back centuries, so go and see a few.
    Nearly everyone goes to see the Sensoji Temple, but your timing there is also perfect to see the "secret" Denboin garden there also, which is open only for a couple months in the year.
    The other big place is Meiji Shrine, and don't miss its inner garden as well.

    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.
  • Thanks so much for your advice. Unfortunately I already purchased ticket to come back to Osaka so I will get 7 Day JR pass using from March 17 to 23.

    On Day 2, can we add half day in Kyoto after Nara; and Day 4, we can stop in Kobe for half a day in Kobe? Any highlights in Kobe you recommend? And if so, shall we get 3 Day Kansai Area Pass for my husband and daughter?

    Many thanks!
  • OK, if you want to do a half day in Himeji and half in Kobe, that is fine. It is a charming yet international city. If you want to see what there is, you could look at
    It has one of Japan's best Chinatowns, there are excellent views from the Port Tower in Meriken Park, Mt Maya, and Mt Rokko, plus sake breweries, the Sorakuen Garden, and more.
    A one day Kansai Area Pass would pay off for your family, but you really have to go long distance to make it work, so a 3 day might not pay off. You can check on a site like Hyperdia - you can see regular fares, routes, and schedules.
    Under "More Options", for your full JR pass be sure to uncheck the Nozomi box since you can't ride that train using the pass. For the Kansai Area Pass you can only take local, rapid, and express trains, not limited express (except the Haruka) nor bullet trains.
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