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Japan Rail Pass/Itinerary assistance required please

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Mar 22nd, 2005, 08:03 AM
  #1
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Japan Rail Pass/Itinerary assistance required please

Hello all

I would be very grateful if you could provide some advice regarding Japan rail passes. I think we will need to purchase 21 day passes but just wanted second opinions on whether this is the most economical way of doing things.

Are all rail passes priced the same or do the prices differ depending on where you buy them from?

We will be travelling between 10 and 29 May. Will there be any great need to reserve seats in advance? Will it be OK to take the ordinary class pass as opposed to the more expensive (green?) pass?

Here is a summary of our itinerary – all comments on this are welcomed too!

Day 1 - Arrive Kansai Airport (evening). Train to Kyoto. Staying at the Granvia.
Days 2-4 - Kyoto
Day 5 - Leave Kyoto for Hiroshima. Staying in Hiroshima overnight.
Day 6 - Leave Hiroshima for Miyajima. Overnight stay in Miyajima in ryokan.
Days 7+8 – Heading for Matsuyama/Dogo Spa by hydrofoil. Staying 2 nights.
Day 9 – Leave Matsuyama for Tokyo stopping at Himeji.
Days 10-12 Tokyo
Day 13 – Side trip to Hakone – overnight stay in Hakone.
Days 14-16 Tokyo
Days 17+18 Kyoto
Day 19 - Spend morning and afternoon in Kyoto then head to Osaka for overnight stay.
Day 20 – Spend day in Osaka then catch flight home to Scotland from Kansai (11pm)

We hope to fit in a daytrip (1) from Kyoto to Nara and (2) from Tokyo to Kamakura. Not sure when the best time would be to fit these in.

Any “mustsees” we’ve missed out?

Once again thanks for you help - all your advice is most helpful!
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Mar 22nd, 2005, 03:57 PM
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That is a great itinerary.

There is no great need to get seat reservations in advance. You could get your shinkansen reservations in advance. When you arrive at a new place you could get your reserved seats for your departure before you leave the station. The ordinary pass is more than OK.

The 21-day pass would be very convenient. You could save some yen if you get a 14-day pass. You could activate it on day 3 or 4 and use it for Nara on one of those days or activate it on day 4 or 5 and visit Nara on 17 or 18.

The 14-day pass would be 9200 yen less than the 21-day pass. The only thing that wouldn't be covered would be the airport transfers. The limited express from Kansai kuko to Kyoto eki is 3490 with a reserved seat.

So a 14-day pass and 7000 for the airport two-way transfer would save 2200 per person over the 21-day pass. You could save an additional 1000, maybe 1400, each way by taking rapid or local trains to the airport instead of the limited express.
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Mar 29th, 2005, 03:43 AM
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Thanks for that. Where's the best place to get information on train prices and times?
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Mar 29th, 2005, 03:52 AM
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Try www.hyperdia.com
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Mar 29th, 2005, 09:51 PM
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hi! so it means that a 14-day pass can be activated as and when u like? For eg, first day i use, fourth day i use. this is equiavalent to only 2 days?
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Mar 30th, 2005, 04:03 AM
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The 14 days are consecutive. Starting on the first day you use it, you can use it as much as you want, but only for the next consecutive 14 days. The pass expires after 14 days. If you start using it on Day 4, the last day you can use it is Day 17. It doesn't matter how much little you use it during the 14 days. The pass will still expire.
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Mar 30th, 2005, 04:19 AM
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JoyceL described it right.

Not all JR offices can issue JR Passes and the ones that do issue them do so during certain hours. You can exchange your voucher for a pass on day 1 and tell them that you want the first valid travel day be day 4. Then you couldn't use it on days 1 to 3 but would use it for days 4 to 17.
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Mar 30th, 2005, 06:18 AM
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Pass price itself (the exchange order, to be exact) is same. You will see difference in processing fees depending on the agency you use.

Looking at your itenerary, you can get last minutes seats easyly on Haruka express to Kyoto, so there is no need to make that reservation.

The rest are few days away so there is no need to make reservation before your arrival,

HOWEVER, ticket/reservation line can get very very long in the afternoon at a major stations. This happened to me at Kyoto and Hiroshima station. Luckily I had last resort would-never-miss reservations the morning before so all I could not do was to change the reservation to an earlier train.

Do always make a reservation on Shinkansen. While there are non reserved cars, they always seemed to be full even when the reserved cars were not.

Regarding Green car vs Ordinary. The difference of the car/seat is very very slight. What it offered was a better odd at getting seats TOGETHER at the last minutes (same afternoon departure). Not a problem if you travel in 2 or 3, but gets increasingly more difficult to sit together in ordinary cars at busy time for a larger group.
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Mar 30th, 2005, 07:13 AM
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emd
 
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a quick note to nickn: your rainy day suggestions for Kyoto saved a half day for us. I had a copy of your post w/me and we went to Teramachi and on to Nishiki, all covered as you said, before we went on to another place. Thank you.
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Apr 19th, 2005, 04:58 AM
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Many thanks for the input so far. Just one wee thing... are prices of rail passes standard or should I shop around? Cheers!
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Apr 21st, 2005, 06:32 AM
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ttt
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Apr 21st, 2005, 07:00 AM
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I think (thought) that the passes are set price, but there was recently an Aussie poster who saved a fair amount by shopping around. The ordinary 14-day JR Pass costs 45,100 yen. That price is fixed. At today's exchange rate that is US $421.
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