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Best rail pass strategy from Osaka -> Kyoto -> Tokyo?


Hello, I will be travelling to Japan for the first time and have decided to fly into KIX at the start of my trip. My itinerary is the following:

KIX -> Osaka (stay for 2 days), visiting Himeji Castle on the second day

Osaka -> Kyoto (stay for 5 days in Nishikyo), local attractions like Kinkakuji, kyomizu-dera, Nara, Fushimi Inari

Kyoto -> Tokyo (stay for 5.5 days), local visiting (Shinjuku, Akihabara, Asakusa, Harajuku, Nikko) and one day trip to Ito.

I don’t have a tourist visa (or don’t think I can get one before my trip in two weeks) and would prefer to take the shinkansen for longer trips. I am wondering if (based on this itinerary) there are any type of rail passes that I would benefit from? Or otherwise, any tips for saving money while travelling (by bus and rail) in this way?

Thank you.


Hi there,

What do you mean you’re coming here without a tourist visa? If you’re from a visa exempt country, you’ll receive a temporary visitor’s permit on arrival. If you’re from a non-exempt country then you’ll need a pre-arranged visa to enter the country. If you’re a temporary visitor, then you can apply for the JR pass etc.

However, given your itinerary, the regular rail pass is unlikely to be worth it as your major intercity travel is limited to a single trip from Kyoto to Tokyo. The side trips to HImeji, Nikko and Ito are too spread out over time to make a 7 day JR pass viable. I would suggest buying tickets and maybe getting a Tokyo Wide Pass for getting to Nikko and Ito.

For the rest, just buy tickets or get an Icoca/Pasmo/Suica card (all interchangeable).


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