Can’t seem to find exactly what I am looking for. Please forgive me if this post is redundant. We are a group of 7 first timers to Japan (all are 18 and over) arriving in Tokyo for a four day stay, then plan to travel to Osaka, Kyoto, Hiroshima, and Fukuoka in the 7 days that we have left. We will fly out of Fukuoka. We don’t want to buy too many types of transportation and we will have luggages that will weigh more then 10 kg. Can someone please advise on the most efficient and economical mode of transportation? Can we even use the seishun 18 kippu instead of the JR pass? Do we also need to buy the Kansai Thru Pass when we are in the Kyoto area? Also, please advise on places to stay in all of the above cities. We are currently looking at AirBnb and Hostels.
A 7-day national JR Pass is probably the best bet for each of you:
If you have a lot of luggage, I would suggest storing it or porting it to the airport while traveling around:
For accommodation, you might find these guides handy:
I agree with Frances, the 7d JR pass would work for you if you activate it on your last day in Tokyo.
The seishun 18 kippu only works on normal trains in some times during the year and require a lot of time and transfers, not recommended it for a first timer to Japan. With the JR pass, you won’t need any other pass, besides for the first few days in Tokyo (maybe use 2/3d Tokyo subway pass (doesn’t work on JR trains) or just a SUICA card and pay as you go).
Kyoto- staying within 10min walking distance to JR kyoto station is convenient
Hiroshima- either near Hiroshima station, or the peace museum, or alternatively you could spend a night on the island of Miyajima
Osaka- near a JR station eg Namba could be convenient if you use the JR pass
Tokyo- many many options, but some might like to stay near Shinjuku, Shinagawa, Tokyo, Asakusa, or Ueno,
I wouldn’t recommend trying to find accommodation near a major station, as it will be more expensive. For example, instead of Namba station, try Shin-Osaka, and instead of Kyoto station, try Shijo or Karasuma Oike. In Tokyo, the cheapest places to stay are around Koto-ku, Adachi-ku, or closer to Yokohama, like Kawasaki. You can easily take trains from those places for sightseeing and it’s really not all that far.
Particularly in Kyoto - from Shijo, you can walk to Nijo Castle, the Imperial Gardens, Gion, and Yasaka. It’s quite central. And FYI, I’d avoid the bus as much as possible. These days it is so crowded it’s miserable. Generally speaking, if you are willing to walk a lot, you can get to a station from almost any of the shines and temples. Good exercise, you see more, and you can avoid the tourist throngs on the bus. The only time you really need the bus is when you go outside the city center.
In addition, you don’t need to take a shinkansen from Kyoto-Osaka. It’s only 30 minutes on a regular JR express train from Shin-Osaka station. You don’t need to book like you do with shinkansen.
The bus you mentioned would be cheaper than the JR pass, but it also takes WAY too long (overnight) and is uncomfortable. The seats don’t really recline that much, and it’s either too hot (summer) or too cold (winter). In contrast, the shinkansen takes only a few hours and you can rest easy while having snacks and beer.
Thank you so much, this was very helpful.