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Japan itinerary and which pass is recommended

Hi, I’m planning a 14D13N trip to japan ard end Nov.. arriving at Kansai airport in the morning and depart from Haneda/Narita airport.

My itinerary is as follows:

D1-6. Based either at Osaka or Kyoto, do day trips

D7-8. Kanazawa- Takayama - Shirakawago

D9-10. Kawaguichiko

D11-13. Tokyo

D14 Depart Haneda/ Narita

please advise which rail pass should I get? Thanks


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    There is simply no pass that can cover all the areas you plan to go to on a one way itinerary. At best you can cover part of it. You might consider getting a Takayama-Hokuriku Area Tourist Pass.

    You can then pay for a regular ticket from Nagoya to Tokyo.
    You could do the Fuji 5 Lakes as a trip from Tokyo. The cheapest way is by highway bus.

    I highly suggest you take at least half a day and see Nara from Kyoto or Osaka.

    Another day trip could be Himeji - a Kansai Area Pass could work for you.

    For a cheap bus to Narita, there is the Access Narita bus.

    You can check on train info on Hyperdia - you can see regular fares, routes, and schedules.

    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.
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    Thanks @Tenjin for the recommendation. I also googled n saw the Takayama-Hokuriku area tourist pass. There’s another Kansei-Hokuriku area pass which I wonder if it’s better.

    Actually we’ve yet to book air tickets and are playing ard with the arrival n departure airports 😬

    our initial itinerary is:

    D1. arrive tokyo

    D2-3. Hakone/ Kawaguichiko (Mt Fuji)

    D4-D5. Takayama, Shirakawago

    D7-D9. Kyoto, Osaka area (day trips)

    D10. Return to Tokyo from osaka/Kyoto

    D10-D13. Tokyo

    D14. Depart from Haneda/ Narita

    For this itinerary, we plan to get the 7 days JR pass and activate on D4 when we go to Takayama ..

    It’s our first time going to japan (2 adults 2 kids aged 13 & 10). I have searched online for info as well as reading others blogs on their japan travel. So trying to see which will be a better way. Hope I’m not too ambitious 😅

    So looking at both itineraries, which one would you recommend?

    Thank you 🙏

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    The Kansai Hokuriku Area Pass makes absolutely no sense for you - you have no plans to go to western Kansai or the Chugoku Region, and the pass doesn't cover Takayama or Shirakawago at all.
    You can see both the Fuji 5 Lakes and Hakone over 2 days (seeing the Lakes first would make a lot more sense logistically). Shirakawago only take a few hours to see - be sure to go up to the village overlook as well. But you'd be cheating yourself if you totally skipped Kanazawa. At the very least, between Days 5-7, go to the Kenrokuen Garden before going to Kansai - it is widely regarded as the finest tradtional garden in Japan.

    And as mentioned, fitting in half a day at least to see Nara is also very worthwhile. You can see Osaka in the evening, when it is the best time to see the city, after a day of sightseeing in Kyoto. It's only 30 minutes away by train.

    If you use a 7-day rail pass for Days 4-10, you would get some modest savings. You'd still need to pay for the bus to/from Shirakawago, however.

    Best regards.
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    thanks @Tenjin. I’ve decided to go with option one: Arrive Osaka and depart from Tokyo. With reference to your suggestions, I have made some changes.

    D1. Arrive Kansai airport in the morning. D1-5. Explore Kyoto, Osaka, Nara, Himeji (stay 4 nights in Kyoto)

    D5. Kyoto --> Kanazawa (Stay one night)

    D6 Day trip to Shirakawago ----> Takayama (stay one night)

    D7. Explore Takayama --> Nagoya

    D8. Nagoya ->Kawaguchiko

    D9-10. Fuji 5 lakes, Gotemba outlet

    D10-13. Explore Tokyo city

    D14. Depart from Narita airport [take Access Narita bus]

    Some questions for the above plan:

    1) I am not very sure about D7-D9. On D7, should I stay at nagoya for one night or go straight to Kawaguchiko from Takayama? I read that one can take train from Nagoya to Mishima station and take express bus to Kawaguchiko.

    2) Can the Takayama-Hokuriku area pass be used for D1-D7?

    Any recommendation/suggestions are welcome as I am still exploring places to visit at these areas.

    Thank you.

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    Takayama to Nagoya is about 2½ hours by limited express train.
    Nagoya to Mishima is about 1 hour 45 minutes by bullet train. The bus from Mishima to the Fuji 5 Lakes is another 90 minutes or so.
    If you could cult that down by staying in Nagoya, it would be to your benefit, I think.
    For the Takayama-Hokuriku Area Tourist Pass, it is only good for 5 consecutive days, which is why I said there is no pass that covers your whole trip.
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    oh I got the number of days mixed up for the Takayama-Hokuriku pass 😅😅.. yes it’s only 5 days

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    We are interested to go to Rabbit island (Okunoshima island). Can I fit in this trip to my itinerary on days when we are in Kyoto area?

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    It's possible but very time consuming to get to - around 2½-3 hours one way. And not as great as all the videos online portray it. I went there just over a year ago, and at the ferry port found some rabbits here and there. You could feed them and they were cute, but you are not going to be mobbed by a thousand bunnies. Some people broght cabbage and carrots to eat, but they seemed to prefer the rabbit food a lot more (you can buy small bags of it at the ferry port before departing).
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    Hi, finally got my air tickets and instead of flying in Kansai & out Tokyo, we are flying in & out Tokyo Narita airport for our 14d13n trip ard end November.

    Tentative itinerary is:

    Day 1: Reach Narita in the morning.

    Day 1 to Day 3: Hakone/Fuji Five Lakes

    Day 3: Hakone -> Takayama

    Day 4: Day trip to Shirakawago. Go to Kanazawa

    Day 5 Kanazawa

    Day 6 Kanazawa -> Kyoto

    Day 6 to Day 9 Explore Kyoto and day trips to Nara, Arashimaya,

    Day 10 Kyoto -> Tokyo

    Day 10-13 Explore Tokyo city

    Day 14 Depart from Narita airport

    Need help with some questions abt the above itinerary.

    Q1. Is it possible to go straight to Hakone/Fuji Five lakes on the day of arrival? Thinking of getting the Hakone Fuji Pass (3days).

    Q2. From Hakone, I am not sure if I shd use the route shown above or shd I go to Osaka & Kyoto first, then to kanazawa -> Shirakawago -> Takayama, before returning to Tokyo for the last few days.

    Q3. I have used the JR pass calculator to calculate if the JR pass will pay off for the above itinerary and it shows that it pays off for both 7-days pass as well as 14-days pass. I am not sure if I have calculated correctly. I do understand that if I use the pass, there will be some areas where it cannot be used, such as the bus to Shirakawago. So I am abit confused and wonder if the pass will really pay off for the trip.

    Thank you for any suggestions. 😋

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    1. Yes, though you might be very tired when you land, after a long international flight.
    2. It is up to you, but if you go from Takayama to Tokyo, it is 4½ hours by train, which is rather long. Hakone to Takayama is about 4 hours.
    3. Your new itinerary does not make a 14 day pass pay off. For the Fuji area I am not considering going from the Fuji Lakes area via Tokyo to Hakone by JR - it would be crazy. There are buses you can take directly, but not covered by the JR Pass.
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    Thanks for the suggestions. Still exploring my option

    Do you think a 14-day JR pass will worth this below itinerary or 7-day JR pass will do?

    Day 1 Arrive Narita in the morning. Go to Tokyo. Stay one night
    Day 2 - 6 Kyoto (Nara, Himeji, Okunoshima island, Kobe, Osaka) (stay Kyoto 4 nights)
    Day 6 - 8 Kanazawa, Shirakawago (day trip), Takayama
    Day 9 - 11 Fuji Five Lakes/Hakone (2 nights)
    Day 12-13 Tokyo
    Day 14 Narita Airport

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    Your new itinerary would make a 14 day pass pay off handsomely, although how you group things makes a difference. You are cramming in a lot for your Kyoto time, and not leaving much for Kyoto itself. If you have your heart set on all those places and you travel at a fairly brisk pace, you could see Himeji (the castle and Kokoen Garden) and Kobe (whatever you want through the evening) together as a day trip, see Osaka in the evening after a day of sightseeing in Kyoto, plus spend half a day to see Nara Park and 2½ days for Kyoto. Very busy, but doable. The hard part is Okunoshima - it will take you about 2¾-3 hours by train one way, which is pushing it.
    I have been there, and while the rabbits are cute, it was rather a letdown for me. If you really want to go, that is fine. Though I suggest you consider instead doing a day trip to see Hiroshima and Miyajima, if you have not seen them before.
    Either way, I suggest you get an early morning start on that day.
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    After using hyperdia to calculate the time travel between places, we’ve decided to skip Takayama & kanazawa area for this trip. This way we can have a more relax trip and explore each city better.

    Below is the tentative itinerary:

    Day 1: Reach Narita in the morning.
    Take train to Osaka. Stay 1night
    Day 2-7: Travel to Kyoto. Explore Kyoto
    Day trips to Nara, Arashiyama
    Day 7: Travel to Tokyo
    Day 8: Tokyo
    Day 9: Hakone
    Day 10: Lake Kawaguchiko
    Day 11-13: Tokyo
    Day 14: Depart from Narita airport

    For the above itinerary, I have some questions.
    1) We intend to go hakone/Lake Kawaguchi area from Kyoto before going back to Tokyo. So is it easy to get tickets at Odawara if we reach there ard 12+pm. Or it might be better to stay in Tokyo ard Shinjuku area for 2 nights (explore the area) n go hakone the next morning.

    2) I am planning to add a day trip to seaside Kyoto (Amanohashidate & Ine no funaya & Miyama) when we are in Kyoto as my husband prefer this to seeing temples & shrines. With more days added in Kyoto, we would also like to add in Rabbit island as a half day trip. Is this doable? I’m still researching on how to access to these places.

    3) With this itinerary, shd I get the 7day rail pass instead of 14days? If getting the 7days pass and the Suica card, do we need extra passes for travel in osaka or Kyoto?

    Thank you.
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    If you go to Hakone, getting there from Kyoto around noon or afterwards leaves you with very little time to see or do anything - especially at the end of November which has some of the shortest daylight hours of the year. It would be better to go there from Tokyo as a full day trip with a very early morning start.
    It is possible to see Amanohashidate & Ine no Funaya as a day trip, but Amanohashidate & Miyama is very tough if not impossible, unless perhaps if you are renting a car. It's about 2 hours from Kyoto by train/bus to Miyama, and another 2 hours or so from Miyama to Amanohashidate, and about 2 hours from Kyoto to Amanohashidate.
    For Okunoshima, you can take a bullet train to Mihara Stn (you'll likely need to transfer once along the way) and switch to a local train to Tadanoumi Station - from there it's a short walk to the ferry port. Use Hyperdia as I mentioned above.
    As an example, see here:
    As you can see though, as I previously mentioned, it is very time consuming to get to, and afterwards you may be waiting 30-60 minutes for the ferry.
    If you do go to Amanohashidate or Okunoshima or both, then the 7 day pass would pay off well for you. If not, just get regular tickets and ride the Nozomi train, getting you there 30 minutes sooner. You really don't need any local pass for Kansai - they are tough to make worthwhile. A 14-day pass would be very unlikely to pay off.
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    Thanks for the reply. I think we will skip Okunoshima, and go to Amanohashidate and Ine on one day and another day to Miyama. After visiting these places during the day, we can then spend the later afternoon or evening exploring Kyoto.

    Initially we plan to get the 14-days pass n used it till the last day to take N’EX train to Narita airport. So if we are getting the 7-days pass, what’s the best recommended route to Narita Airport? Our departure flight is ard 11.45am. We have yet to book our accomodation for the last night.


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    That all depends on how much you want to spend. As I mentioned earlier, from Tokyo Station or Ginza there is the Access Narita bus. From Ueno there is the Keisei Skyliner - pricey, but very fast.
    Or from the west side, you can just pay for the N'Ex or the orange limousine bus.
    You might consider going to a hotel close to Narita Airport the night before - it would give you more breathing space the morning of your departure.
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    We are planning for a 2 week visit to Japan next summer. We will hit several cities and below is our tentative itinerary:
    Day 1: Arrive Narita early PM and take Narita Express to Shijuku AirBnB (our lodging base in Tokyo for 4 nights). Visit Meiji Jingu Shrine & Harajuku afterwards.
    Day 2: Shibuya Crossing -> Shinjuku Gyoen National Garden -> Imperial Palace -> Yasukuni Shrine -> Ginza District -> Shinjuku AirBnB
    Day 3: TeamLab Borderless -> Tsukiji Market -> Sensoji Temple -> Tokyo National Museum -> Akihabara -> Shinjuku AirBnB
    Day 4: Day trip to Nikko
    Day 5: Tokyo tower -> Yokohama side visit -> Owadara AirBnB (plan to get Hakone pass)
    Day 6: Day trip to Hakone
    Day 7: Owadara -> Kamakura quick visit -> Kyoto AirBnb
    Day 8: Southern Kyoto -> Central Kyoto sightseeing
    Day 9: Western Kyoto -> Northern Kyoto sightseeing
    Day 10: Eastern Kyoto sightseeing
    Day 11: Nara quick visit -> Osaka (visit Aquarium & Dotonbori)
    Day 12: Osaka -> Hiroshima -> Miyajima
    Day 13: Hiroshima -> Himeji quick stop -> Osaka (visit castle & Umeda Sky Bldg)
    Day 14: Museum of housing & living -> Depart from KIX airport in late PM
    1. For 4 aldults, will the be saving for us to get the 14 day JR Pass?
    2. Is there day pass in Nikko that can save us money in transportation/entry fee?
    3. There is 1day or 2 day pass available in Osaka, should we get either one?
    Thanks in advance for your help.
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    First, it's better to start a new thread and not piggyback your question on someone else's.
    All of you could do much better than a 14-day pass. The smart thing to do would be to use a 7-day pass and go to Kansai, see Hiroshima, and return to Kansai within 7 days.
    You could get to Tokyo cheaply by the Access Narita bus.
    If you are going to Harajuku, the best day to go is on a Sunday. You can also go see Yoyogi Park and the rockabilly dancers. Takeshita St is also nearby (its crepes are famous) and weekends are jammed with people, but that is life in Tokyo. If you see Meiji Shrine, don't miss the Gyoen garden along the way - most people don't even know it's there, and it is very nice and uncrowded.

    Shinjuku Gyoen is not bad, but there are better places you could pick (Shinjuku Gyoen has 3 distinct gardens - the Japanese garden is excellent, the French Rose garden is nice but you'll be out of season, and the English "garden" is a total joke). You might consider others, like Koishikawa Korakuen, Rikugien, Kiyosumi, Hama Rikyu, etc.

    Sensoji is good, but better in the morning or evening with fewer mobs there.

    Yasukuni is infamous for its politics, but otherwise is one of the most lackluster, ho-hum places in Tokyo. It's up to you, but there really are many better places.

    I recently went to both TeamLab Borderless and TeamLab Planets. The former is the better of the two, though Planets only runs til next autumn. You could spend several hours at TLB, whereas at Planets you'll be through it in 60-90 minutes.
    I recommend you try both though. For Planets you are walking through water part of the way - it is interesting to see fish projected into the pool as you walk through it.
    For TLB, there are extremely few times you can just "walk right in". Get your tickets online and choose a less busy time, like a weekday when they first open. Try to see the Lantern Room and the "Floating Nest" ASAP or you could be waiting 40 minutes in line. The restroom lines can get very bad too - don't drink too much before going in. Some areas have mirrored floors - for women, I don't recommend wearing a skirt, particularly a short one. The Tsukiji Market is now closed. There are only a few shops/restaurants remaining. The new fish market is at Toyosu.

    For Hakone, you can save some money if you use a Hakone Free Pass from Odawara and go on the Loop Course. The ropeway is still closed, but it may be open by next year.
    For Nikko, you could use a Nikko Pass.
    For Kamakura, the Top 3 places are Kotokuin (Great Buddha), the Hasedera Temple, and the Tsurugaoka Shrine. If you have time, you can also see the Megetsuin Temple, as well as the Hokokuji Temple. Hokokuji is famous for its bamboo grove, and both Megetsuin & Hasedera are famous for their hydrangea, which explode into color from June to early July, and can get crowded. Kotokuin does not take long at all.

    Osaka does have the Osaka Amazing Pass, but unless you are going to the places it gives discounts to, you probably wouldn't break even with one.

    If you are seeing Himeji, then there is no real reason to see Osaka Castle as well. Himeji is a real, original surviving castle - most of the rest in Japan are reconstructed fakes. The Kokoen Garden near Himeji Castle is also wonderful - get the combo ticket and save a little money.

    Osaka "Castle" isn't even that - it's a square museum with a castle facade, and guards on every floor waving signs and saying, "NO photos! Stop taking video!!". The ramparts that remain definitely say long ago it must have been a tremendous castle. But now, it's a mirage. Dotonbori is excellent, but really at its best in the evening, like the rest of the city. You can see it after a day in Kyoto. The city views are best from just before sunset, and watching the city turn from day to night.
    Shinsekai is also fun, plus the Cosmo Tower & Abeno Harukas Bldg.

    Nara though is very worthwhile.

    You can see both Hiroshima & Miyajima as a day trip with an early morning start, but for Hiroshima City, don't cheat yourself like so many do by just seeing the Peace Park and then leaving the city. The Shukkeien Garden and Mitakidera Temple there also are just extraordinary, and not mobbed like so many other places.

    Which by the way, with the Olympics, Japan is going to be overwhelmingly crowded in some places. Plus summer can get extremely humid and sticky, so be ready for it. Lots of rain as well, so have some back up plans.
    Good luck.
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    edited November 2019
    If you ever would like to work out which pass is best for your trip.

    Hyperdia is very convenient to calculate if a Japan Rail Pass is worth buying for your planned itinerary, and to work out which length of pass would be most cost-effective for your travel.

    Please visit www.hyperdia.com/en :

    In the search conditions, enter your departure and arrival train stations and choose a date and time.
    The search results will show you the fare for this travel (see "total price" under "take time")
    Take note of the fare and do the same for all your planned trips by train.
    Just compare the total cost with the price of a 7, 14 or 21 day Japan Rail Pass.

    You want to be sure you can use the trains you need with a Japan Rail Pass :
    - In “search details”, untick “Nozomi, Mizuho, Hayabusa Shinkansen” and “Private railway”. Please note that the Hayabusa Shinkansen to Hokkaido is covered by the JR Pass, so if you are travelling to Hokkaido you will need to tick this box.
    - The search result will show you all the trains you can access with a Japan Rail Pass.

    If you are unsure or have any questions you can always email us at contact@japan-experience.com.
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