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Optimizing my JR Pass - please help!

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I am traveling to Japan for a total of 22 days but I'm not sure a 21-day pass makes the most sense for my itinerary as I'm spending a good amount of time in Kyoto and Tokyo (at the beginning and end of my trip). Would it make sense to buy the 4-day Kansai pass at the beginning of my trip and something else for the end?

I'm going in late September, and it appears that the JR Central pass will be discontinued (and would have worked better with my itinerary), and I’m not sure the Hokuriku pass would be beneficial since I’m in Kyoto for 5 days.

Someone from JR Pass forum recommended that I pay as I go. Another recommended buying the 14-day pass, starting with the day we leave Kyoto to go to Kanazawa, so now I’m confused.

I am open to any suggestions, as I don't need to use the same pass for the entire trip. Please advise.

Thanks in advance!


Day 1: KIX to Nara (bus or train?)

Day 3: Nara to Kyoto with stop in Uji

Day 5: Kyoto – day trip to Suntory Yamazaki Distillery

Day 7: Kyoto to Kanazawa with stop in Hikone (or Lake Biwa)

Day 9 and 11: Kanazawa – possible day trip to Wajima; possible day trip to Yamanaka Onsen

Day 12: Kanazawa to Takayama with possible stop in Shirawago (bus)

Day 14: Takayama to Matsumoto (bus)

Day 15: Matsumoto – possible day (or overnight trip) to Tsumago

Day 16: Matsumoto (or Tsumago) to Tokyo

Day 20: Tokyo – possible side trip to Kamakura, Nikko or Hakone

Day 22: Tokyo to Narita

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