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Railway passes and Narita Express

Milan, Italy
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Railway passes and Narita Express

Hello all,

I've just started organising a short trip (8 full days) to Japan, in mid-April 2012, which ideally will cover Kyoto, Nara and Tokyo.

One of the first things I'm trying to figure out is how to master train transport, amidst thehuge offer of railway passes.

I'm now looking specifically into the 'JR Kanto Area Pass', by JR East (www.jreast.co.jp/e/kantoareapass/index.html): what is unclear to me is whether this pass also includes Narita Express or not, as the webpage seems a bit ambiguous on this point.

I've quite clearly understood that the Narita Express would be included in the 'JR East Pass' and in the 'JR Pass', but I'm not sure about the Kanto area pass. Does anybody know?

Thanks

tokyo
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1. Re: Railway passes and Narita Express

Yes it is including in the Kanto area pass. As mentioned because some trains like the NEX are all reserved you need to make a reservation to ride as well, reservations are free with the JR pass.

Looking at your intinerary you don't need aKanto area pass.

A full day 7 day JR Pass is more idea for your trip, because the full 7 day JR pass covers Tokyo-Kyoto-Nara and return.

The Kanto area and JREast pass do not cover Kyoto/Nara.

You still have one day which you can pay as you go. Depends on how exactly you plan those 7 days. What airport will you arrive and depart from?

Milan, Italy
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2. Re: Railway passes and Narita Express

Hi tokyosubway,

thanks for your prompt reply! It's 4 of us travelling together (young adults) and for the moment we have booked flights and are still considering how to distribute the days. We are landing at Kansai airport on 15th April (late afternoon) and will depart from Narita airport on 23rd April (at 10 PM), so it is a 'linear' itinerary not involving a round trip between Kyoto and Tokyo.

Our dates span over 9 days: a little bit of the 15th April when we arrive, plus the following 8 full days.

The prevailing idea is to buy a 7-day JR pass (28,300 YEN) and activate it on arrival for the trip from Kansai airport to Kyoto; we'll stay in the area for 4 or 5 nights (visiting also Nara), then move to Tokyo for the last 4 or 3 nights.

With a JR pass we'll be on a 'pay as you go' regime for the last 2 days - which means we will have for sure have to pay separately at least for the transfer to Narita airport; this may be fine if we don't do any trips out of Tokyo in the last 2 days.

As an alternative I was considering using a 4-days JR West 'Kansai Area Pass' (6,000 YEN) for the first part of the trip, pay separately for the Shinkansen from Kyoto to Tokyo on the 5th day (about 13,000 YEN) and then use a 3-days 'Kanto area pass' in Tokyo (8,000 YEN), for the last 3 days, which would cover us for the transfer to Narita and would enable us to throw in a side trip outside Tokyo (e.g. a day in Nikko): this would give us more or less the same services as the JR pass, but covering one day more, for about the same price.

Of course we are still evaluating this, because the whole thing wouldn't work if in the end we decided to spend 5 nights in Kyoto.

I understand that all these passes are only for rail services, so are of no use for urban public transport (e.g. subway,urban buses, etc), which is another story.

Edited: 05 January 2012, 19:38
tokyo
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3. Re: Railway passes and Narita Express

In your case you do not want to buy a 7 day JR pass.

When you arrive in Kansai, all you need is a "ONE DAY" JR West Kansai Area pass which costs 2000yen, this will allow you to ride the Haruka Limited Express train from Kansai direct to Kyoto.

If you are simply traveling around the Kyoto-Osaka-Nara areas before going to Tokyo, pay as you go (500yen bus pass for Kyoto) makes sense.

Pay one way fare to Tokyo from Kyoto.

For you to maximize on the Kanto area pass, schedule the Kanto area pass to cover the days that you go to Nikko from Tokyo and your return trip out of Narita Airport. The days it doesn't cover, pay as you go.

Edited: 05 January 2012, 20:45
Milan, Italy
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4. Re: Railway passes and Narita Express

Thank you!

So, if I understand correctly, you also don't recommend to buy, in my case, the 4-days JR West 'Kansai Area Pass', because it would be cheaper to buy train tickets to Nara and/or Osaka 'as I go'.

Is the 500-yen bus pass you mention for urban transport inside Kyoto?

(I haven't started exploring urban transport yet).

You've been extremely helpful!!

tokyo
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5. Re: Railway passes and Narita Express

Kyoto - Nara one way is only 690yen by JR trains and 610yen by Kintetsu trains. So max is 1380yen roundtrip.

Between Kyoto and Osaka is 540yen by JR trains, cheaper if you took Hanshin or Hankyu railways (but depends on your start and end location in Kyoto).

Either way you put it, it still comes out cheaper then a 4 day JR west pass (which is 6000) yen.

The one day JR west pass 2000yen yen, is still good to cover your trip from Kansai Airport to Kyoto.

As for Kyoto, yes the 500yen one day bus pass is good to get to many of the tourist hotspots in Kyoto.

Kyoto bus map is at the bottom of this page linked:

city.kyoto.jp/koho/eng/access/transport.html

Milan, Italy
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6. Re: Railway passes and Narita Express

That's great, thanks again!

canberra
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7. Re: Railway passes and Narita Express

Thank you from me too. That was extremely helpful as I'm undertaking a similar itinerary.

8. Re: Railway passes and Narita Express

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