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Should I get a JR pass for this itinerary?

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Should I get a JR pass for this itinerary?
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Planning a trip for next summer (a bit early, I know) 2022 for three 18 year-olds and a 17 year-old. Planning on a fairly ambitious itinerary- 4 nights in Tokyo, 1 night in Takayama, 4 nights in Kyoto (with a day trip to Nara), 2 nights in Osaka and cycling the Shimanami Kaido over two days. Should we get JR passes and IC cards? If not, what's the best way to go about ordering train tickets etc.? Is this plan too ambitious? Any and as much detail on the best way to travel this route would be great, thanks.

None of us speak Japanese, but some of us know a fair amount of Chinese (so can read some kanji), if that's useful information.

18 replies to this topic
Tokyo, Japan
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1. Re: Should I get a JR pass for this itinerary?
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Think about below, which won't be covered by JR pass, as an option.

https://www.nouhibus.co.jp/highwaybus/shinjuku_en/

United Kingdom
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2. Re: Should I get a JR pass for this itinerary?
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Which airports in Japan are you arriving and leaving from?

Edited: May 15, 2021, 2:30 am
Illinois
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3. Re: Should I get a JR pass for this itinerary?
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Rail Pass Calculator = https://www.japan-guide.com/railpass/

Camberley, United...
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4. Re: Should I get a JR pass for this itinerary?
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Not ambitious at all. You will have time to spare. You would just about break even on the pass by fitting your time away from Tokyo into 7 days but the bike ride makes that impossible and the 14 day pass would not be good value. You can check rail prices on hyperdia.com. I have made 48 visits and, even when I didn't have a rail pass, I never tried to book tickets in advance. You don't save money by doing so and the only trains l have found to be fully booked were Shinkansen where l could get a seat on another train within 30 minutes or so.

The bike ride sounds great. I have never heard of it but I have done three bike tours. Even though I knew how hospitable the Japanese were l was still surprised at how well l was treated, which l know was partly because l had the union flag, British not US, on my back. (Don't mention the war!) In more remote areas so many people wanted to talk and give me presents that it could be difficult to make progress. One problem is that there are often 50cm deep unprotected storm drains at the side of the road. If you went into one that would be the end of your ride and perhaps your life. Japanese ideas of health and safety can be quite different to those in Europe. I have stayed in B&Bs with steep wooden stairs and no handrail. I thought that perhaps this frightened me because I was no longer young but on one return flight l sat near a twenty year old travelling with a nurse who had fallen down a similar staircase and would never walk again. Medical care is excellent but very expensive so make sure you have good insurance.

My poor health means that I haven't been to Japan for about 10 years so l am envious that you will not only be visiting but riding bikes in what l believe to be the world's most civilised country.

There is a lot of expertise on TA, not least my old friend Shot, so do ask if you have further questions.

Tokyo and California
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for Tokyo, Kyoto, Osaka, Shinjuku, Japan
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5. Re: Should I get a JR pass for this itinerary?
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Where do you go after Shimanami Kaido and how long is your entire trip?

Tokyo, Japan
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6. Re: Should I get a JR pass for this itinerary?
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Yeah, we can only comment after you make the whole rough itinerary.

There are also partial JR pass.

https://japanrailpass.net/en/

Hong Kong, China
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7. Re: Should I get a JR pass for this itinerary?
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If you could issue open-jaw air tickets, ie. land in Tokyo but depart from Osaka/KIX, then you could save both travel time and money by,

1. take highway bus b/w Tokyo > Takayama > Kyoto direct. (Travel time is not much slower than by train but wud be much cheaper).

2. use this 5-day JR West Kansai-Hiroshima Pass when departing to Onomichi (for Shimanami Kaido) and return to Osaka, plus a one-way JR Haruka express train to Osaka/KIX (before expiry). This would more than payoff.

https://www.westjr.co.jp/global/en/ticket/pass/kansai_hiroshima/

3. indeed use prepaid IC card such as SUICA/PASMO for daily commutes in large cities like Tokyo, Kyoto etc. JR Pass does NOT cover any city subways in Japan.

NOt knowing Japanese is not an issue. There are English signs in most places. Most concierge staffs in hotels (4-star+) would be able to converse in English. Speak simple English slowly.

Happy planning.

Edited: May 16, 2021, 7:01 pm
Tokyo, Japan
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8. Re: Should I get a JR pass for this itinerary?
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Some hostels' staff will also speak English with hosptitality.

Tokyo, Japan
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9. Re: Should I get a JR pass for this itinerary?
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Some hostels' staff will also speak English with hosptitality.

There are Information Center where you can find multilingual staff, who would be happy to help you, near sightseeing spots.

10. Re: Should I get a JR pass for this itinerary?

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