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perkinsclan Jan 13th, 2006 05:36 PM

navigating japan rail pass
 
Is the best way of determining the cost benefit of the rail pass to go onto the west japan railway website and plug in the departure and arrival locations then add up all these costs or is there a better method? This is our expected plan:

Day 1: Arrive late in Kansai airport, travel to Kyoto hotel
Day 2: Kyoto
Day 3: Kyoto
Day 4: Kyoto
Day 5: day trip Himeji
Day 6: day trip Nara
Day 7: travel to Tokyo
Day 8: Tokyo
Day 9: travel to Osaka
Day 10: late departure from Kansai

Is the rail pass beneficial for moving within Kyoto and Tokyo?

Thanks!!

KimJapan Jan 13th, 2006 05:43 PM

You can use grace.hyperdia.com to get prices and fares. The fare you would pay on any train in Japan is the base fare which covers the distance, PLUS the charge which covers the supplement for the faster and nicer trains. The base fare is used only on the most local of local trains. So, on hyperdia, you can simply use the total fare they display and ignore the breakdown of it. Seat reservations are around 500 yen +/- when you purchase a ticket, but are free with a JR pass.

http://www.japanrailpass.net/ should answer any questions you might have about pass validity.

mrwunrfl Jan 13th, 2006 06:24 PM

The JR Pass is useful in Tokyo but not in Kyoto. You could use a 7-day JR Pass starting on Day 5. It will save you money on that itinerary vs buying tickets.

The best way to determine the cost is, as KimJapan said, to use hyperdia.com and add up the different trips. There is not a better way. You will see that Kyoto to Tokyo is over 13000 yen. Tokyo to Osaka is at least 14000. The Himeji trip must cost at least 2000, probably that much each way. Nara is probably around 1500 roundtrip. So the individual tix would be over 30,000 altogether. The 7-day pass is 28,300. You def. dont need a 14-day pass.

moxie Jan 16th, 2006 12:01 AM

Is it worthwhile to get the 'green car' JR pass?

The JR site says that Shin. other than nozomi do not have green cars...

KimJapan Jan 16th, 2006 02:09 AM

I don't think so. In trains that have green cars, the regular cars are great, too. Local trains, that don't have luxe cars don't have green cars either. In the green car you get a slightly bigger seat, but the seats in the usual cars are plenty big...bigger than an airline seat.

mrwunrfl Jan 16th, 2006 09:23 AM

Riding in the green car is not necessary. Might be good if you were travelling during a holiday. I rode in a green car once and it was empty, so the regular car is more interesting. Basically, I don't think it is worth it.

I am pretty sure that there are green cars on Hikari shinkansen, at least on the Tokaido line (Tokyo to Osaka). I've seen green cars on limited express trains all over.

I see that japanrail.com says the following:

"In Japan, the coach and first class cars are called "Ordinary Cars" and “Green Cars” respectively. Most Shinkansen, LEX and a few local trains have Green Cars. Some Shinkansen trains have double-decked cars and on such trains, the first class seats are located on the upper level, where you can enjoy panoramic views as well as spacious seats."

emd Jan 16th, 2006 09:39 AM

I see your screen name is "perkinsclan" - how many of you are traveling? The reason I ask is that I learned something on the shinkansen last year that helps if you are traveling in groups of 3 or 4. The seats (at least some of them) have levers on foot level which, when stepped on, make the entire seat rotate so that it is facing the seat behind it. This way, you can face each other during the ride if you have reservations for seats that are back to back. I saw this done on the shinkansen from Kyoto to Tokyo.

(Does that make sense?)

mrwunrfl Jan 16th, 2006 11:07 AM

If you are a group then you would be more likely to get seats together in the green car. BUT, on Day 4 you could validate your pass and get reserved seats for all of your shinkansen travel in advance. Actually, I would expect that you could get your seat reservations as soon as Day 1 without validating your pass. Like how it worked on eki-net you might be able to pay for the reserved seat in advance and get a refund when you validate the pass.

perkinsclan Jan 19th, 2006 02:27 PM

Hi and thanks for the info, especially the web site link. It has helped in pricing as well as timing. There are just 2 of us going and I think we are going to do the 7 day pass beginning day 4 or 5 whichever will take us to the end of our trip. We thought it might provide a smoother trip, not having to buy individual tickets. After pricing out the different trips (we added one more day trip), the difference was within $100. We are planning on taking our 2 boys on the next trip to japan so I will remember the tip on the seats.
Thanks again!


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