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Tokyo - Kyoto - Osaka - 14 days (one way trip)


I would like advice regarding my first trip to Japan and the best JR Pass to get. Here is my itinerary:

Tokyo: 5 days
Alps (Nagoya-Takayama and around): 3 days
Kyoto: 3 days
Osaka: 3 days

Which JR pass do you think is the best for this trip?

Should I get the 2 weeks pass for total flexibility or 1 week pass can be an option too, since I can go from Tokyo to Osaka in just one week (if I use my pass my last day in Tokyo until my first day in Osaka.

Is there a reason to have the JR pass activated already while in Tokyo if I only stay inside the city? I read the JR pass cannot be used in the subway, so I wonder if it is useful to have a 2 weeks pass starting from day 1 rather than having a 1 week pass starting only once I leave Tokyo.

Thank you for your help,



  • Your itinerary, as is, would not make either a 7 day nor 14 day pass pay off (if you're not returning to Tokyo). Since you are already seeing a big city like Tokyo, you can largely skip Osaka during the day. If you took a day and went to Himeji for example (which has Japan's finest castle), that would make a 7 day pass pay off.
    You could make a 14 day pass pay off if you also add a day trip or overnight to see Hiroshima/Miyajima on top of that. That would give you some significant savings. But if you really want to rack up some incredible value, you could take a day or two away from Tokyo (IMHO 3-4 days is quite enough) and see some excellent nearby places like Nikko, Karuizawa, or Kusatsu. You could also possibly use the pass to take you from Osaka to KIX on the Haruka train, saving you about 2500 yen more.

    Please remember also that the day you activate it for counts as Day One - which starts and ends at midnight. So if you activate it and use it at 6 PM, your first "day" is just 6 hours long. If that prohibits you from using the Narita Express into Tokyo, there is also the cheap 1000 yen bus.
    And by all means take at least a half day and go see Nara. It's also a former capital and one of the crown jewels of traditional Japan. Most of the best is in the Nara Park area.
    The JR Pass is best for long distance travel and has limited use in the cities.
    But in Tokyo you can use it on the Yamanote Line, which goes to many popular tourist spots (but yes you're correct it can't be used for subways). Within Osaka you can use it on the Loop Line (you can see Osaka at night after a day in Kyoto - that's when the city comes alive and Dotonbori is a lot of fun, with great food too). You can also use the Pass on a Loop bus in Hiroshima and the ferry to Miyajima. In Kyoto it's only good to go see the Arashiyama area, and down south on the Nara Line to see Nara, Uji City, and the Fushimi Inari Shrine area.
  • Thank you very much Tenjin for such a detailed answer and advices :)

    I still have some doubts though, probably because my question wasnt clear enough and I didnt do a good job explaining my itinerary well.

    I will land in Tokyo and 14 days later I will leave the country through Osaka. So it means that I have 2 weeks to reach Osaka from Tokyo.

    What I'm trying to understand is what is the best way (best price/freedom of moving) for me to reach Osaka from Tokyo.

    If I activate my Pass only once I leave Tokyo after 5 days, and reach Osaka (or close enough) after 11 days in the country, it means I can use a 7 days pass rather than getting a 14 days right?

    I'm just wondering if it is a good way to think about it.

    Then when I am inside the cities like Tokyo, Kyoto, Osaka, I get daily subway or bus passes rather than trying to use my JRPass which is not really made for that.

    What do you think is the best Pass regarding this approach?

    Thank you again

  • As I have explained above, if the total of regular rail fares are less than the cost of getting a rail pass, you are losing money getting a pass and it is not worth it.
    In that event, it's better to just buy regular rail tickets, if you are not open to expanding your itinerary enough to make a pass pay off.
    You can see regular fares, routes and schedules on Hyperdia

    So do what suits you best and saves you the most.
  • Thanks again Tenjin.

    Yes after checking hyperdia if I take single train tickets from one city to another one, it seems much cheaper that way than to take the JR pass.

    Although there is something I dont understand. On some train, they show the "fare" price, and also the "seat" fee. Although the seat fee is not on all the train. Does it mean we need to add fare+seat fee to get the final price?

    I have another question: Is it possible to buy train tickets online? I dont see any links on hyperdia to buy the tickets.

    Also, I see ticket prices on hyperdia, do you know if the prices change depending when you buy them? (cheaper when early purchase) Or are the prices fixed (same price if you buy them last minute) ?

    Thank you


  • Hi,
    Yes, you need to add together the base fare with the seat fee.
    As far as I know, you cannot buy the tickets online. As for the prices, I don't follow them day by day, but I believe they change in peak seasons. Not a huge difference, but times like in August etc get higher.
    Good luck.

    Would require your assistance for your 14 days itinerary in Japan. I am also going from Tokyo and leaving Osaka. Thank you.
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