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JR Kansai Wide Area pass help

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Hi Japan experts,

I made last minute plans to Japan for the cherry blossom season in early April and would be based out of Osaka due to limited hotels in the high season.

I would be making trips to: Nara, Kyoto (maybe multiple day trips), Kinosaki Onsen (overnight) and Yoshino mountain.

Frankly, I'm quite confused with all the different rail lines (JR, limited express, rapid express). My question is, given my day-tripping itinerary, would the JR Kansai Wide Area Pass be a good buy? http://www.japan-guide.com/e/e2361_08.html

With the pass, does this mean I could just walk onto the trains that I want without prior reservations?

Could anyone point me to an English site that I could check JR train schedules for my itinerary?

Thank you, I appreciate any input you could give me.

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