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Need travel pass advice

I am asking for advice based on my specific plans. Having read all the topics, I am not sure what would work easiest (and cheapest) for us. Group of 3 adults traveling at end September/early October.

  • Landing in Narita, 3 nights in Tokyo;
    -travel to Kyoto for 4 nights with day trips to Osaka and Nara from there;
    -travel to Nagoya for 2 nights;
    -back to Tokyo for 7 nights;
  • day trip to Mt Fuji from Tokyo(might do this on the way to or from Kyoto);
  • possibly a couple other day trips from Tokyo.
    I am thinking just to buy a regular ticket for the airport to the city, same when we return. Get a 7 day JR pass and activate on day 1 when we go to Kyoto, which would last us until we get back to Tokyo. Would a pass be better than just getting regular tickets? Don’t think I need to get a 14 day JR pass do I? I can just get a Suica or Pasmo to use when in Tokyo, and purchase the short Tokyo day trip tickets separately? And the Suica or Pasmo can be used to get around in Kyoto, Osaka, and Nagoya? Which one to get, the Suica or Pasmo? Can we purchase one and use it for all 3 of us? Thanks so much!!!

If you are talking about the Japan Rail Pass, then yes, it will save you money since you are taking the bullet train several times. A 7 day pass should be enough - a general rule of thumb is that one bullet train ticket round trip costs around 26,000 yen, so if you use the bullet train on just one round trip then the pass pretty much pays for itself. If you aren’t traveling by bullet train again after you return to Tokyo, it’s not worth extending that for another 7 days.

Remember that the Japan Rail pass can be used not only to buy bullet train tickets, but also regular local tickets on all JR lines, including Kyoto/Osaka/Nara. However, it is likely you will also take trains other than JR trains, so the Suica or Pasmo will be handy. They are basically the same thing; the only difference is where you buy them (Pasmo is JR; Suica is subway/other). It’s not important which one you buy, since both work on all train lines.

However, you will need one for each family member. You can’t share one. One important point here is that children’s tickets are cheaper. If your child is under 11, their ticket is half price; and if the child is under 6 their tickets are free. You can get special Suica/Pasmo for them. You will need to ask for it at the ticket office, I think. I haven’t bought one so don’t know if they are available at the ticket machine.

If you want to test out how much it will cost to go from one place to another, the Hyperdia trip planning website is very helpful. You just input the to/from stations, and calculate the route as well as the cost.