JR Kansai Wide Area pass help

Feb 8th, 2015, 08:15 AM
  #1  
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JR Kansai Wide Area pass help

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.
JannaG is offline  
Feb 8th, 2015, 09:29 AM
  #2  
 
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I always do a spreadsheet to figure out it a pass is worth it for my itinerary.
You can check schedules and fares on hyperdia.com to make your calculations.
I am not familiar with that particular pass but it looks for sure that a roundtrip from Osaka to Kinosaki Onsen which is over ¥10,000 makes it worthwhile.
I went to Kinosaki Onsen last year - it was very enjoyable.
Mara is offline  
Feb 8th, 2015, 11:29 AM
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>>With the pass, does this mean I could just walk onto the trains that I want without prior reservations?

Yes, that is most definitely what it means.
3) Unlimited use of unreserved seats on the following JR limited express trains ...

In fact, bullet 4) says that if you wanted a reserved seat then you would have to pay the limited express surcharge as well as the seat fee. That's prohibitive, punitive, hard to believe.

The only trains that you would use on your itin that would have reserved seats would be the limited express trains for Kinosaki Onsen. There are limited express trains between Osaka and Kyoto, and I think they are covered by the pass, but you are more likely to take the Special Rapid Service trains with no reserved seats. Nara is Rapid Service trains, no reserved seats.

The pass also covers unreserved seats on the Sanyo shinkansen between Shin Osaka and Okayama. Himeji is on that line. Consider stopping in Himeji to see the castle on the way to or from Kinosaki Onsen. Shinkansen between Shin Osaka and Himeji and Hamakaze Limited Express between Himeji and Kinosaki.

For Yoshino, use YOSHINO(NARA) when you do a search at www.hyperdia.com That trip is mostly on Kintetsu Railway which is not covered by the JR KWAP.
mrwunrfl is offline  
Feb 8th, 2015, 12:14 PM
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>>Frankly, I'm quite confused with all the different rail lines (JR, limited express, rapid express).

Shinkansen, limited express, rapid, and local are types of trains. Japan Rail (JR) operates all of those kinds.

The shinkansen and limited express trains have some cars with reserved seats and other cars without reserved seats.

The rapid and local trains don't have reserved seats. They are kind of like subway trains where the seating is on the sides of the car and facing each other. And there is standing room. The rapid ones are locals with fewer stops.

The limited express trains and shinkansen have better seating, cushioned and facing forward on either side of an aisle. Like on an airplane. If it is busy then people stand in the aisles or in space at the end of the unreserved cars near the exit. You can take any seat available in an unreserved car.

Limited Express Kinosaki, Konotori, and Hamakaze are the names of the limited express trains that you could use for Kinosaki Onsen.
mrwunrfl is offline  
Feb 8th, 2015, 10:42 PM
  #5  
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Thank you, both.

I should have no problems getting onto the Limited Express Kinosaki without a reserved seat right? Or would reserving a seat be a must? How does one do that, if so -- go to the JR ticket counter a day prior?

Thanks for the Himeji heads up. I may just do that.
JannaG is offline  
Feb 9th, 2015, 07:14 AM
  #6  
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Also, I have a Saturday, Sunday and Monday available for day trips - would a weekend or weekday be better for Kyoto or Nara or vice versa or is there no difference at all?

Am wondering about crowds/festivities/atmosphere/hassle...etc.
JannaG is offline  
Feb 9th, 2015, 07:34 AM
  #7  
 
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It appears from mrwunrfl's post as well as the info about the pass that you really would have to pay a lot for a reserved seat, not the usual couple of hundred yen.

You can inquire further when you buy your pass.

Assuming this info is correct, you should just go for the unreserved seat and get to the station early and line up....

During cherry blossom time, the usual popular venues will all be crowded, probably more so during the weekends.
Mara is offline  
Feb 10th, 2015, 10:01 PM
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>>weekend or weekday

City on weekends, country on weekdays.

That is my general approach to planning. Theory being that city people want to get out to the country on weekends. At the same time, cities plan special events on weekends to attract people to the cities.

Nara counts as city. I would prefer to go to Kinosaki on a weekday (Mon-Thu) to spend the night.
mrwunrfl is offline  
Feb 10th, 2015, 10:13 PM
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A reserved seat is not a must.

A reserved seat should cost around ¥500 to a max of about ¥700. You can get a reserved seat days in advance at a JR ticket office. Look for this staffed counter that has this sign: http://www.tabi22.com/grouptour/imag..._madoguchi.jpg

If they want you to pay more than ~ ¥700 then don't pay it. It is not worth it. Just go unreserved.
mrwunrfl is offline  
Feb 11th, 2015, 01:14 AM
  #10  
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Thank you both once again, good points for me.

This is my itinerary. Except for Kinosaki, the rest can be moved around.

Mon April 6 - Arrival Osaka (late night)
Tue April 7 - Osaka
Wed April 8 - Yoshino
Thu April 9 - Kinosaki Onsen (overnight)
Fri April 10 - Himeji/Osaka
Sat April 11 - Kyoto
Sun April 12 - Nara
Mon April 13 - (Go back to Kyoto again? Or give Kobe a go? Note: I've been to Kyoto before, just not cherry blossom season.)
Tue April 14 - Depart Osaka

Any comments - specific (e.g. which choice spots to hit at each city) or general - would be welcome.
JannaG is offline  
Feb 12th, 2015, 09:42 PM
  #11  
 
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How late is your arrival at Osaka (Kansai Airport, I assume). The last Haruka L'ex is as at 10:16 PM.http://www.hyperdia.com/cgi/en/inter...chday=20150406
mrwunrfl is offline  
Feb 12th, 2015, 10:10 PM
  #12  
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My flight touches down at 22.24pm and I'm hoping I can make one of the late airport limo buses to Osaka Station. There's a bus at 11.45pm, 12.45pm and 1.45am (last bus).

http://www.kate.co.jp/pc/e_time_tabl...a_tt.html#from

Do you reckon that's a safe enough buffer of time for me at that time of the night?

Also, is it possible to take a taxi from Osaka Station? My hotel is apparently within 10 minutes walking distance from where the Airport Limo stops (outside New Hankyu Hotel) but at that time of the night, I may not have my bearings...
JannaG is offline  
Feb 13th, 2015, 11:17 PM
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My question was really about when to start the WAP. It won't be on the 6th, obviously. You won't need it on the 7th or 8th. So the 9th would be the day to start your 5-day WAP to include whatever you decide to do on the 13th.

Not that I have done it, but sure you can get a taxi from Osaka station late at night. It is a major station, a transportation hub, in a big city. What I might do is just get off at the New Hankyu Hotel and (if I didn't have my bearings) take a waiting taxi or go into the hotel and ask them to call a taxi. If I had my bearings and decided to walk it then I would be committed and sure of my route (or at least remember how to get back to the New Hankyu Hotel to get a taxi). I reckon you have sufficient buffer and are savvy enough to work out your arrival day.

I have read that the park that contains Osaka castle is a great spot for cherry blossoms. The castle itself is a reconstruction but it played a major role (in its original destruction) in Japanese history, and I suggest you read up on it.
mrwunrfl is offline  
Feb 14th, 2015, 02:56 AM
  #14  
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Yes, the KWAP does seem to fit in well with my itinerary. I guess I'm all set. Thanks once again for your thoughtful comments
JannaG is offline  
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