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nmilller1950 Feb 22nd, 2010 12:25 PM

Japan rail pass for Kyoto/Osaka and day trips?
My family and I are preparing for our upcoming trip to Japan, and I have questions about whether it makes sense for us to purchase a rail pass for our itinerary. We will not be doing any really lengthy travel, but plan to do lots of day trips from our base in Kyoto (3 nights) and Osaka (6 nights). There will be some train travel back and forth between those two cities; an overnight to Mt. Koya with a stop at Himeji; and day trips to Nara, Arashiyama, Hiroshima and Miyajima, and possibly some other areas close to Osaka (suggestions are very welcome!) . Can we do all of these trips on the same type of pass, or would we have to purchase multiple passes? Does a pass cover public transportation within Kyoto and Osaka? We would like to use the fastest train to Hiroshima since that is a long day trip.

Any info will be greatly appreciated!

Lukerb Feb 22nd, 2010 01:53 PM

Hi there!

General train travel in Japan is very expensive. In other words, just buying "as you need it" tickets adds up fast. What I found while in Japan, is that I was able to take my passport to the ticket office (customer service) in the subway station and they gave me an all day pass for about $21 U.S. This allowed me to travel all day distances as far as between Kyoto and Himeji. It was very much worth it. It would have cost me hundreds of dollars otherwise. Even though you have a family to buy tickets for, this is probably still your best bet. You can ask them at the station if there is a multi-day or week pass through this method, which could be an even better value. Please keep in mind that this is NOT the same thing as buying a pass at the ticket machine. You will need to go to the office with your passports.

There is some information on that area, as well as photos on my blog at Have fun on your trip!


kja Feb 22nd, 2010 03:13 PM

You might find useful information about train passes at the following web-site:

Also check the japan-guide web pages for each of your destinations; you'll find information about which train companies serve them. Before you buy a pass, you'll want to know which of your journeys it covers!

mrwunrfl Feb 22nd, 2010 11:06 PM

A regular all-Japan JR Pass is not necessary for the travel that you describe. You can use regional passes listed on the link that kja gave.

The travel that you describe is in the Kansai (for Osaka, Kyoto, etc) and Chugoku (for Hiroshima, Miyajima) regions of Japan.

In particular, look at the JR West Sanyo Area Pass listed under Chugoku. Click on the "click here for details" link. You would use this for Himeji, Hiroshima, Miyajima, maybe Kansai Airport? and maybe other destinations shown on the map.

A lot of travel in the Kansai region can be done on non-JR trains. Take a look at the Koyasan pass.

mrwunrfl Feb 22nd, 2010 11:10 PM

You wrote: "an overnight to Mt. Koya with a stop at Himeji". I don't think you want to do it that way, they are in different directions.

Himeji is enroute between Kyoto/Osaka and Hiroshima and with the Sanyo Area Pass you can get there on the shinkansen.

nmilller1950 Feb 23rd, 2010 08:31 AM

Thank you all! I'll check out these websites. We are on a budget (accompanying my husband on a business trip) and this looks like it will save us quite a bit. If any of you have additional or alternative suggestions for day trips out of Osaka, please suggest away.

jyoung Feb 24th, 2010 03:40 PM

there is a jr west kansai pass that is good for travel on the jr lines in the kansai area (himeji, kobe, osaka, kyoto, and nara). i paid 5,000 yen for a three-day pass.

also, there is a kansai thru pass (not issued by jr) that lets you travel on the city buses/subways, and private railways in kyoto, osaka, nara, kobe and wakayama. the price for a three-day pass was also 5,000 yen. however, when i looked into travel b/n kansai airport to kyoto, i discovered that it takes almost three hours and several transfers to get from kansai airport to kyoto. whereas, on the jr west kansai pass, the trip from the airport to kyoto was 1.15 mins with no transfers.

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