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Travel to Tokyo, Kyoto, Kanazawa, Shirakawago, Takayama, Matsumoto and back to Tokyo.

Hello all, we're going to Japan on April 5-19, me my husband, 13 and 12 year's old boys. I need help to plan itinerary arrive Tokyo April 5 @ 4pm and leaving on April 19 morning. This is our first time to Japan and do wish to discover as many places as we can. I had plan a route Tokyo, Fuji Hakone, Kyoto, Kanazawa, Shirakawago, Takayama, Matsumoto and back to Tokyo or vise Versa? It's worth to purchase 14Days JR pass? With 4 of us cost USD $ 1200. Any great place we shouldn't miss on this trip ? Thank you in advance.


  • edited February 2017
    Dear Elaines,

    Thank you very much for contacting us.

    Since you will be travelling in-between several regions, the only pass that will cover your entire journey is the National Japan Rail Pass. You cannot generally go from one region to another with two regional passes.
    The Japan Rail Pass will also allow you to take the Shinkansen bullet train (except for the Nozomi and Mizuho).

    You can purchase this pass for 7, 14, or 21 consecutive days via our website :

    Hyperdia is very convenient to calculate if a Japan Rail Pass is worth buying in your case and to know which length is most cost-effective for your travel.

    Please visit hyperdia.com:

    - In search conditions, write the departure and arrival location (day and time does not really matter)
    - The search will provide you the fare for this travel (check "total price" under "take time")
    - Do the same for all your trips by train.
    - Just compare with the price of a Japan Rail Pass 7, 14 or 21 days by checking the price here : http://www.japan-rail-pass.com/jr-pass

    You want to be sure you can access to the trains for free with a Japan Rail Pass :
    - In “search details”, unclick “Nozomi, Mizuho, Hayabusa Shinkansen” and “private railway”.
    - The search result will show you all the trains you can access with a Japan Rail Pass.

    For places you should not miss, we would recommend having a look at www.japan-guide.com.

    Best regards,

    Japan Experience
  • edited February 2017
    For the purposes of your destinations, the full JR Pass comes out better over all. You easily make a 7 day pass pay off with flying colors, but your destinations might be too many for 7 days. You'd come up slight short for a 14 day pass, but a day trip to Himeji would be well worth it and push you over the top. You should not skip Nara either - it has some of Japan's best sights.

    The Pass can't get you all the way to Hakone though. Take the bullet train from Kyoto and get off at Mishima Stn., then to save money, buy a Hakone Free Pass.
    After seeing the area, return but go to Odawara Stn., then catch the next bullet train into Tokyo. The Hakone Loop Course
    is a common way to see the area.

    Also there is no rail access to Shirakawago - you will need to take a bus.

    Don't forget that the Tokyo (Kanto) area has some good day trips too. There is Nikko, Kamakura/Enoshima, Izu, Kusatsu, Karuizawa, Takao, Kawagoe, and more. Your kids might like the Edo Wonderland near Nikko.

    You can see regular fares, routes and schedules on Hyperdia.
    Under "More Options", be sure to uncheck the Nozomi box since you can't ride that train using the pass.
  • Thank you all for the helpful information. I'll need to work on more research :), can't wait to visit this beautiful Country.
  • You still have lots of time. You will also be in Japan during the cherry blossom season, so by all means go to see some of it.
  • Thanks Tenjin! It's alot to work on , do you think 14 days JR pass well worth on itinerary so far?

    Apr 5: Narita evening
    Apr 6 - 8: Tokyo (Day trips to Nikko)
    Apr 9: Mt Fuji, Hakone
    Apr 10-12: Takayama, Shirakawago, Kanazawa
    Apr 13-17: Kyoto (Osaka, Nara, Himeji,Hiroshima, Miyajima)
    Apr 18- Back to Tokyo
    Apr 19-Depart Tokyo 10am

    Thanks !

  • With your itinerary above, a 14 day pass will serve you very well.

    You can see previews of some of the best places to see on:
  • Hi Tenjin, I start to draft out my itinerary as below:

    Apr 5: Tokyo stay Shinjuku
    Apr 6: Asakusa/Ueno/Akihabara/Harajuku
    Apr 7: Kusatsu Onsen
    Apr 8: Nikko
    Apr 9: Tsukiji Fish Market,Hakone ( Buy Hakone 2Days pass at Odawara )
    Apr10: Five Lake Lake Kawaguchi ( Hakone 2Day pass)
    Apr11: To Osaka stay near Shin-Osaka Station
    Apr11: Osaka
    Apr12: Day Trip Nara
    Apr13: Day Trip Himeji/Kobe
    Apr14: Day Trip Hiroshima and Miyajima
    Apr 15-16: Kamazawa/Shirakawago/Takayama Spring Festival (haven't book)
    Apr 16-18: Kyoto stay near Kyoto Station ( Kiyomizu-Dera, Arashiyama, Fushimi Inari-Taisha,Sannenzaka -Ninenzaka)

    Will get 14Days JR pass, do I still need to purchase any tokyo/Osaka/Kyoto Citi subway/Metro pass? Too confuse !?

    Hope you can help. Thanks.
  • Hi,
    Well, a few things. For the Mt Fuji area, Hakone and the 5 Lakes are on opposite sides of the mountain. To see both, you'd need to get the Fuji Hakone Pass.
    Get the Fuji Hakone Pass (non-round trip type) at Shinjuku Stn and use your JR Pass to take a JR train to Otsuki Stn. From there you could start seeing the 5 Lakes area. It would save time to see the 5 Lakes first, then go to Hakone, and when done go to Osaka. It is far easier to go to Osaka from Hakone, and if you start from Hakone, you'd have to backtrack there after seeing the Lakes.

    In Tokyo, you could use the JR Pass on the Yamanote line which goes to several popular tourist places. In Osaka you can take JR trains such as on the Loop Line. Non-JR trains and city subways are not covered. If you do a search on Hyperdia, non-JR transport shows up in purple.
    Miyajima can be seen easily in a day. Aside from the Itsukushima Shrine with the giant "floating" torii, the Daishoin Temple is also a must-see place. There are several other pagodas and temples, and climbing Mt. Misen offers a fantastic view over the island and whole area. If you have time, just a bit past Miyajima is Iwakuni with its iconic historical bridge and mountaintop castle. You can also use the JR Pass for the Loop Bus in Hiroshima City and the JR ferry to Miyajima.
    For Himeji, don't miss the Kokoen Garden next to the castle - it is also very good. If you want to make a full day of it, you can also go up to Mt. Shosha.

    For Kyoto especially, try to see the places in part of the city on one day, and another part of the city on another day to make things more efficient. The Fushimi Inari Shrine is open 24/7 so you could see it in the early morning or evening to fit more in your day as well as avoid a lot of the crowds. The Honganji Temples near Kyoto Stn also open near the crack of dawn and have some of the most impressive buildings you will ever see. You can use the JR Pass in Kyoto to go from Kyoto Stn to Arashiyama, as well as from the station on the Nara Line to see the Fushimi Inari Shrine, Uji, and of course Nara. Otherwise there is a 500 yen bus pass which is good except for rush hour, a limited pricey subway going to a few places, and if you like, rental bicycles.
    If there are 4 of you, a taxi also might be a good option when time is short. They are the speediest way around the city, and while pricey, if there are 4 of you it can be a good choice.

  • In this case JR pass will most likely make it all, maybe just few single ticket to purchase depends on my trip.

    It's possible to visit Lake Kawaguchi (Not into Shopping Outlet)/ Hakone at the same day? and from Hakone straight to Osaka? I only see 2 type of Fuji Hakone Pass: Departing from Shinjuku 8,000 yen ,Departing from Odawara 5,650 yen. Where can I find (Non Round Trip type)? Cheaper?
  • In the info above, it shows there are 2 - one with just seeing the Fuji area, and another that includes the round trip transport to/from Tokyo. You can see a small part of each within a day if you wish. But you'd be missing a lot of good places at each, and you mentioned previously that you wanted to do an overnight there.
    Although it seems to be you could start at either end with the pass for just seeing the area (if not for the R/T as well), it does not specify that, so I will send them an e-mail and ask. Like a lot of sites, the English site has no e-mail form, but the Japanese language page does. We'll see that they say.
  • Hi,
    I got a response, and they said no problem about starting from the Lakes and moving south. They referred me to their model course:

    Hope this helps.
  • Tenji,

    Really appreciate you taking time doing research for me. I do have something in head as below:

    We know we will be back to Tokyo within a year period for transit back to Malaysia, and we can always stay 4 days for stop over.In this case we are not rush to discover Tokyo as much but maybe to other places as we may not be able to visit anytime soon. So. I'm thinking to change my itinerary as below:

    Apr 5: Tokyo stay Shinjuku ( 7pm)
    Apr 6: Discover Tokyo Asakusa/Ueno/Akihabara/Harajuku
    Apr 7: Day Trip Nikko
    Apr 8: Tokyo - Nagoya mainly for Nabana-No-Sato)
    Apr 9: Nagoya - Kyoto
    Apr10: Kyoto
    Apr11: Kyoto/Osaka
    Apr12: Day Trip Nara
    Apr13: Day Trip Himeji/Kobe
    Apr14: Day Trip Hiroshima and Miyajima
    Apr 15- Kanazawa/Takayama/Shirakawago - Back Tokyo last train
    Apr 16- Day Trip from Tokyo to Fuji Hakone Pass ( 2Days? )
    Apr 17 - Day Trip From Tokyo to Fuji Five Lake -Fuji Shibazakura Matsuri ( Cover by Fuji Hakone pass 2 Day?)
    Apr 18: Tokyo - Catch last Train back Narita.

    This seems rush and impossible, my question:

    1) Do you think it's worthy to travel to Nagoya? Any must see at Nagoya?
    2) Can I used Fuji Hakone Pass as I mention above doing 2 separate day trip?
    3) Kanazawa/Takayama/Shirakawago possible as Day Trip and catch head back to Tokyo?
    4) Our flight back US are Apr 19 @ 10am, possible we stay at Narita Terminal on 18 ? To save budget of Hotel and get used of the 14 Day JR.

    I know it's alot to digest, really hoping you can help us.

    Thank you.

  • Hi,
    Well, every place has something to see, but among the big cities Nagoya is one of the most boring. If you're already going to see Tokyo & Osaka you can safely skip it. But if you want, you could see Inuyama which has one of the few surviving original castles (nearly all of them are reconstructed fakes). Or about 50 minutes outside the city you can see Meiji Mura which is a rare taste of 19th century Japan after it opened to the world. All the buildings are authentic and concentrated from various parts of Japan.

    The pass days must be consecutive.
    Pretty unrealistic. Shirakawago just takes a few hours (and an overnight at a farmhouse is the *best*) but Takayama would take a day and Kanazawa 1-2 days (at any rate seeing the Kenrokuen Garden in Kanazawa is a *must*).
    Do you mean stay up all night at the airport? I pulled an all nighter in Tokyo before my flight once and I wouldn't inflict that on anyone. It's up to you of course, but there are many inexpensive hotels near the airport.
    Or there are dirt cheap (yet clean) places in Tokyo. See:
    and there is a cheap 1000 bus to Narita.
    It's up to you.
  • @Tenjin, you are so awesome and knowledgeable. I'll reconsider all your suggest and info.

    Thanks again !

  • @Tenjin, may I ask how far away Nex station to Terminal 2 International Departure hall? Walking distance? Our flight back to US @ 10:40am on April 19, and I double check the timetable show the earliest from Shinjuku @ 5:55am - Narita 7:17am. We have to check in 3 hours before departure, do we have enough time?
  • Checking in 3 hours prior is plenty of time.
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