11 days in Japan, JR pass question

Apr 14th, 2013, 05:37 AM
  #1  
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11 days in Japan, JR pass question

This October, my husband and I are stopping off Narita for 11 days on our way back to USA from Taipei. The whole trip is on AA and its oneworld partners.

This will be our 4th visit to Japan. Previously we visited Tokyo and Kyoto, and places in between them.

This time we'd like to visit Miyajima, Nagasaki, Kumamoto and Osaka using a JR pass, and minimizing our time in Tokyo.
If we were to purchase a 7-day JR pass, the schedule seemed a bit rush as below:

Day 1 - Train from NRT to Shinagawa. (Spend night in Shinagawa)
Day 2 - First day of JR Pass. Train from Shinagawa to Hiroshima. See Miyajima.
Day 3 - train from Hiroshima to Nagasaki.
Day 4 - Nagasaki
Day 5 - train from Nagasaki to Kumamoto. See castle.
Day 6 - train from Kumamoto to Osaka.
Day 7 - Osaka.
Day 8 - train from Osaka to Tokyo, because this is the 7th day of the rail pass.
Day 9 - Tokyo
Day10 - Tokyo
Day11 - fly off Narita at 6:45pm.

If we were to purchase a 14-day JR pass instead, it will allow us 2 more days to spread among our destinations before heading back to Tokyo on Day 10.

My question to you all is, can a JR pass be used to ride the Narita Express between NRT and Tokyo? How about using it to ride JR Metro line in Tokyo?

If it can be, then we could justify purchasing a 14-day rail pass and start using it on Day 1, utilizing it to the fullest, or as much as our time allows.

Thank you in advance.
Reading54 is offline  
Apr 14th, 2013, 05:56 AM
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That sounds like spending a lot of time riding the train all the way in just a few days. Since you're flying from Taiwan to Tokyo on Day 1, you should be able to get there fairly early. I would suggest flying direct from HND to NGS on that day. Spend Day 2 in Nagasaki, then start using your pass on Day 3.

Get back to Tokyo on Day 9. That gives you a lot more time in the cities you really want to visit.
rkkwan is offline  
Apr 14th, 2013, 09:45 AM
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Yes, a JR Pass can be used for the Narita Express. A ticket would cost about 3000 JPY each way between the airport and Shinagawa or Tokyo. You would be able to use a pass on JR trains in Tokyo, but only JR and not the subway or other rail lines, and the savings won't be substantial. So, a JR Pass would cover 6000 yen in airport transfers and maybe 1000 yen in intra-Tokyo travel. The flexibility with your itinerary that the 14-day pass would give would cost about 10,000 yen.

Flying, as rkkwan suggests, would make the itinerary more reasonable. Your day 2 would involve over 6 hours of travel just to get to Miyajima.
mrwunrfl is offline  
Apr 15th, 2013, 05:38 AM
  #4  
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Thanks to you both. Flying one way does makes sense.
I'll look into using AA miles on JAL for that segment, or purchasing it on Oneworld Yokoso fare.
Reading54 is offline  
Apr 16th, 2013, 05:46 PM
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Looks like there are decent 1-stop options from NRT taking 3h 5 min, for example, via ITM. That vs 1 hr 55 min from HND.

If you have some United miles laying then it would be only 6,000 pp. And ANA has an equivalent to the Yokoso Fare. Not many miles to be earned on the flight, if any.
mrwunrfl is offline  
Apr 17th, 2013, 03:32 AM
  #6  
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Only have about 3000 miles on United, but plenty of FF miles on AA and Delta.

Neither ANA nor JAL has posted their domestic flight schedules for October yet. Any idea on how far out they start posting their domestic flight schedule? 60 days? 3 months?

Thanks.
Reading54 is offline  
May 16th, 2013, 05:04 AM
  #7  
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JAL has published their domestic flight schedule for October. We plan to use 7500 AA miles (+ $25 fee) per person for the domestic flight from Tokyo Haneda to Nagasaki.

Below is my updated plan. Your comments about the itinerary or about the hotel choices are welcome.

Day 1 - Train from NRT to Shinagawa.
Probably will spend the evening in Shinjuku for dinner but will sleep in Shinagawa.
Day 2 - flight from Haneda airport to Nagasaki.
Will try to book Dormy Inn in Nagasaki, which is, of course, influenced by Hawaiiantraveler's wonderful Kyushu trip report.
Day 3 - Nagasaki
Day 4 - Nagasaki
Day 5 - First day of a 7-day JR Pass. Train from Nagasaki to Kumamoto. See castle.
Day 6 - train from Kumamoto to Hiroshima, see Miyajima.
But if we find out we like to have more time in Kumamoto, then we'll skip Hiroshima/Miyajima and spend this day in Kumamoto.
Day 7 - train to Osaka.
Plan to book ANA Crown Plaza for 2 nights using points. I hope this is not one of those huge hotels which require miles just to walk from street to room.
Day 8 - Osaka
Day 9 - train from Osaka to Nagoya.
The inclusion of Nagoya was inspired by sue_xx_yy's recent trip report. Plan to use points to book 2 nights at Nagoya Marriott Associa Hotel on top of the Nagoya JR station.
Day10 - Nagoya
Day11 - noon train from Nagoya to NRT Terminal2 for the 6:45pm flight to USA. This is the 7th day of the rail pass.
Reading54 is offline  
May 21st, 2013, 06:54 AM
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Days 5 & 6 either do Kumamoto or Hiroshima. Do not try to do both.

Day 7 will require walking in Osaka but all over Japan is a walking cultural experience we have found. The Japanese walk everywhere.....

Aloha!
hawaiiantraveler is offline  
May 22nd, 2013, 02:17 PM
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Depending on how much value you place on your miles you may want to pay for the air Haneda - Nagasaki. Domestic sales start 2 months out and one way is ¥13,000 - ¥14,000. If you have multiple flights there are air pass deals for international visitors that are slightly cheeper still.
KimJapan is offline  
May 23rd, 2013, 04:29 AM
  #10  
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Very true KimJapan. I can purchase the same flight on ANA's "Experience Japan" fare for Y10,000 + Y500 tax (thus ~ USD$105) online from ANA website without any fees, therefore I have been wondering if it is worthwhile to part with 7500 miles for $80's worth (because I have to pay $25 ticketing fee for using miles through AA agent).

But miles are useful only if you need them to book tickets. Miles can lay around if they are overflow. Hard to determine its future value to me if I save it.
Reading54 is offline  
May 27th, 2013, 09:59 AM
  #11  
 
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Oh yeah, the phone fee. At that rate I would consider it a push. However, money in the bank earns interest and miles depreciate in value. But, I'd probably pay the $105 and maybe earn the 593 miles for the flight.
mrwunrfl is offline  
May 27th, 2013, 04:40 PM
  #12  
 
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However, money in the bank earns interest and miles depreciate in value.

Almost a wash too nowadays

Aloha!
hawaiiantraveler is offline  

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