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Confused by train options!

Hi, I am hoping to buy our Japan Rail passes for our holiday but am not sure which of the JR passes will be the best value for us: just buying individual tickets or the JR pass and/ or the JR east pass. We are a family of five: 2 adults and three children aged 3, 8 and 11.

Our itinerary is:

December 14-land in Narita and travel to Sheraton Grande Disney hotel
-December 15-17 Disneyland
-December 17-21- tour around Tokyo
-December 21 travel to Hilton in Odawara City (not sure which train is best)
-December 22-Enjoy the lakes area
-December 23-travel from Odawara City to Nozowa Onsen (Train from Tokyo to Iiyma Station)
-December 23- 30 in Nozawa Onsen
-December 30 travel from Iiyma station to Kyoto (Higashiyama Subway Station)
-December 31-Kyoto
-January 1- day trip to Nara
-January 2-Train from Kyoto to Osaka
-January 3-Osaka or short day trip
January 4- Stay in Osaka and visit Universal Studios
January 5-fly out of Osaka airport.

I was thinking of buying the the JR East Pass for the days we go from Toyoko to the lakes area and up to Iiyma (December 21-23). I would then buy a 7 day national JR pass for the December 30 to January 5th part of the holiday to travel from Iiyma to Kyoto/Osaka/Nara and possibly Hiroshima. Does this make sense?

I have been told we will have trouble getting trains from the mountains to Kyoto due to crowding but I don't think this can be avoided.

I would be so grateful if I can have some advice on the best way to proceed. Many thanks in advance for your assistance and time.


  • Hi,
    A few observations:
    You would not make a JR East Nagano Niigata Area Pass pay off with your plans. The 7 day JR Pass from Iiyama would pay off only if you included the side trip down to Hiroshima.

    It's also unclear why you'd be going to Odawara. If you want to visit Hakone it'd make sense, but if you only want to see the Fuji 5 Lakes area, which is on the other side of Mt Fuji, it would make more sense to take a JR train from Tokyo to Otsuki, then a Fujikyu train the rest of the way (or a direct bus from Tokyo, Shibuya or Shinjuku Stn).

    If you have the JR pass, seat reservations are a free perk thrown in, and you can make them from any JR office. So making sure you get a seat on a particular train is not a hit or miss throw of the dart.

    Please be aware also that near the end and start of the year, many places are closed, so be sure to check your destination's website to make sure you are not wasting your time - and have a back up plan ready just in case.

    You can see many previews of the best places to see on:
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