AsiaJapanTravel Tips

Maximize Your JR Pass: 5 Cities with the 7-Day Pass

Make the most of your Japan trip by exploring the country with its world class, Shinkansen Bullet train system. Check out our detailed 9-Day Japan Rail Itinerary that explores five cities, and hits both top attractions and hidden gems in this beautiful country. Find out how much you can save with your JR Pass, how to book and purchase it online, and how to get it at an exclusive discount.

Purchasing your JR Pass

The JR Pass is only to foreigners traveling to Japan under ‘Temporary Visitor’ status. The best way to purchase your JR Pass to to book it online with authorized sellers. Book through KKday, and get your pass at an exclusive, discounted rate. Check out our guide on everything you need to know about your JR Pass prior to purchasing (READ: A Guide to Purchasing Your JR Pass)

Day 1: Arrive in Tokyo

How to Get from Narita Airport to Tokyo

Japan Rail Pass Itinerary
Japan Rail Pass Itinerary: Narita Airport
  • Keisei Skyliner: This airport tram is one of the easiest and most cost efficient ways of getting to Tokyo. There are connections every 20-40 minutes, and it will take you to either Nippori Station or Ueno Station. The train ride is roughly 40 minutes.
  • Tokyo Metro Unlimited Pass: Apart from the JR Pass, purchase this Tokyo subway pass to save time and money getting around the city.

*Note: You can activate your JR Pass as soon as you arrive at the airport, but be sure your starting date isn’t until you transfer from Tokyo to Osaka. You’ll see later on why it pays off to wait.

Itinerary: 

Japan Rail Pass Itinerary: Tokyo
Japan Rail Pass Itinerary: Meiji Shrine, Tokyo

Day 2: Day Trip to see Mt. Fuji

Get an early start the next day, with this easy day trip to see Mt. Fuji, Japan’s most iconic symbol. Often called the ‘border between heaven and earth,’ the shy volcano has long been a source of cultural and spiritual significance to the Japanese.

Japan Rail Pass Itinerary: Tokyo
Japan Rail Pass Itinerary: Mt. Fuji Day Tour from Tokyo

Meet-up at the Shinjuku Subaru Building by 8:00am, and look for the special KKday bus for an easy, yet exciting day tour.

Itinerary: 

  • See Lake Kawaguchi, the most famous of the Fuji Five Lakes. This stunning lake offers a fantastic view of Mt. Fuji, with its beautiful reflection in the lake waters.
  • Mt. Fuji Caves: Your next stop will be to Mt. Fuji’s hidden gems: the caves, formed by centuries of eruptions. See the Narusawa Ice Cave, which is something out of a winter fairy tale, and the mysterious Fugaku Wind Cave.
  • Oshino Hakkai: Take a leisurely stroll around the ponds of Oshino Hakkai, formed by Mt. Fuji’s fresh snow melt. Depart from Mt. Fuji and head back down to Tokyo. You’ll arrive back in Shinjuku at 7:00pm

Day 3: Explore Tokyo City

Spend a whole day in Tokyo doing what the locals do.

Suggested Itinerary 1: Do as the locals do

Japan Rail Pass Itinerary: Tokyo
Japan Rail Pass Itinerary: Shibuya, Tokyo
  • Getup before dawn, and have freshest sushi imaginable at Tokyo’s Tsukiji Market.
  • Walk through Shibuya Crossing, the world’s busiest pedestrian intersection, and browse through the shops, stalls, and restaurants.
  • Drink in a stunning panoramic view of Tokyo from over 2,000 feet high at the Tokyo Skytree.

Suggested Itinerary 2: Tokyo Disneyland

Japan Rail Pass Itinerary: Tokyo
Japan Rail Pass Itinerary: Tokyo Disneyland
  • Relive your childhood and  experience thrilling rides, or watch incredible live shows featuring your favorite Disney characters. Choose from Tokyo Disneyland or DisneySea

Suggested Itinerary 3: World Heritage Sites in Nikko 

Japan Rail Pass Itinerary: Nikko, Tokyo
Japan Rail Pass Itinerary: Nikko World Heritage Day Tour from Tokyo
  • You can visit the hilly woodlands of Nikko, and see some of Japan’s lesser known World Heritage Sites: the grand Toshogu Shrine, and the scenic Kegon Waterfalls which drain into Lake Chuzenji.

Day 4: Transfer to Osaka & Explore Osaka

JR Train Sanyo Shinkansen Line: Hikari Bullet Train

Japan Rail Pass Itinerary
Japan Rail Pass Itinerary: Activating Your JR Pass
  • Activating your JR Pass: Present your MCO Voucher along with your passport at the JR-CENTRAL Ticket Office at Tokyo Station.
  • Train Station: Tokyo Station to Shin-Osaka Station.
  • How long: 3 to 3.5 hours. Trains run every 30 minutes, but its stops can vary from train to train. Be sure to check the schedules and timetables.
  • Non-JR Pass Cost: 13,500 yen (or 128 USD)

In this itinerary, most of your train travel will be around the Kansai region, and one of your most expensive trips will be from Tokyo to Osaka, and back. You can’t change the start day of your JR Pass;  that’s why we recommend activating your JR Pass only when you transfer to Osaka.

Accommodation:
Osaka is an prime place to stay if you plan to explore Japan’s Kansai area because of its relatively cheaper rates and easy access to Kyoto, Nara, and Miyajima Island. Check out sites like Airbnb and Hotelscombined for the accommodations that work for you.

Itinerary: 

Japan Rail Pass Itinerary: Osaka
Japan Rail Pass Itinerary: Osaka Castle, Osaka
  • Visit Osaka Castle: See one of Japan’s grandest castles with its citadels, turrets, and moats. Osaka Castle has survived military coups, a lightning storm, and the Second World War.
  • Browse through Hozenji Yokocho: With its antique shops and traditional restaurants, the Hozenji Yokocho is a look at a vintage Osaka. Visit the famous image of Mizu-kake Fudo a Buddhist deity; For luck, pedestrians splash water on the statue, and over time a coat of moss has grown all over.
  • Umeda Sky Building: Take the glassed-in escalator all the way to the observation gallery for a stunning view from the top just as the sun sets over the city.

Day 5: Day Trip to Kyoto

Without having to book another hotel, take a convenient day tour from Osaka to Kyoto and see some of Japan’s most iconic temples. 

Japan Rail Itinerary: Kyoto and Osaka
Japan Rail Itinerary: Kyoto Temple Hopping

Itinerary: 

Meet up at Umeda Sky Building at 8:30am and look for the KKday bus. Enjoy the scenic and comfortable bus ride that lets you drink in the beautiful country you may have missed as you zipped by on the train,

  • Fushimi Inari Taisha Shrine: With dozens of stone foxes and thousands of red torii lining the 4km pathway, this is Kyoto’s most captured temple.
  • Kiyomizu-dera Temple: This temple sits on the site of the Otowa Waterfall (literally “Pure Water”) and houses a shrine to the deity of love and matchmaking. Head down to the three streams of the waterfalls and choose to drink: for long life, for career success, and for love.
  • Kinakaku-ji Temple: Sometimes called the ‘Golden Pavilion,’ Kinakaku-ji is a magnificent temple with lush gardens and a dazzling pond. Legend goes that the pond will never dry, so toss a few coins in for good luck.
  • Arashiyama: Another icon of Japan; Wander through this scenic bamboo grove and stop by the famous Togetsu Bridge.

After a day of temple hopping, head back on the bus to Osaka, which will drop you off back at Umeda. Book this easy Day Tour from Osaka: Kyoto’s Temples with KKday!

Read more about the temples of Kyoto on our blog (READ: Exploring the Ancient Capital).

Day 6: Kansai Region Cherry Blossom Sights

Kyoto is definitely worth at least two days of your trip, and a ride on the JR train will bring you to and from the city in less than 30 minutes.

Japan Rail Itinerary: Kyoto and Osaka
Japan Rail Itinerary: Kansai Region Cherry Blossom Sighs

JR Train Sanyo Shinkansen Line: Hikari Bullet Train

  • Train Station: Shin-Osaka Station to Kyoto Station
  • How Long: 30 minutes
  • Non-JR Pass Cost (Round-trip): 1,000 yen

Meet up at the Torroko Saga Station at 8:30 am, and look for the KKday bus.

Itinerary: 

  • Sagano Romantic Train: Board this vintage train and drink in the charming Kyoto landscapes as it winds through the rocky peaks and hills. of the Hozugawa Ravine
  • Kyobashi Carriage Ride: Take a leisurely ride in a  traditional horse-drawn carriage, and get an up-close look at the fields.
  • Hozugawa Riverboat: Cruise along the Hozugawa River in a traditional, flat-bottomed boat, which cuts through the scenic and dramatic Hozugawa Ravine. The view is especially beautiful spring, when the cherry blossoms are in full bloom.

Enjoy this unique Kyoto Day Tour, which includes everything from your tour guide to your lunch. Book this experience with KKday!

Day 7:  Day Trip to Hiroshima and Miyajima

To really maximize your JR Pass, squeeze in a trip of two cities in one day. Visit peaceful and scenic Hiroshima, then catch a ferry to  Miyajima Island.

Hiroshima
JR Sanyo Shinkansen Line: Hikari Train

  • Train Station: Shin Osaka Station to Hiroshima Station
  • How long: 80 minutes
  • Non-JR Pass Cost (Round-trip): 20,000 yen

Itinerary: 

Japan Rail Itinerary: Osaka, Hiroshima, and Miyajima Island
Japan Rail Itinerary: Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park
  • Peace Memorial Park: Hiroshima is a much smaller city compared to the likes of Tokyo, Kyoto, and Osaka. But the Peace Memorial Park, built in honor of the victims of the atomic bomb, is a beautiful and somber attraction that you should definitely visit if you have the chance.
  • Afterwards, make your may to the tranquil Shukkei-en Garden; This sprawling, historic garden dates back to the 16th century and is fill with koi ponds, flowering trees, and a quaint tea shop.

Miyajima Island
JR Sanyo Shinkansen Line: Hikari Train + JR Ferry

  • Train Station: Hiroshima Station to Miyajimaguchi Station, then walk over to the JR Ferry Pier
  • How long: 50 minutes (20 minutes train ride, 30 minute ferry ride)
  • Non-JR Pass Cost (Round-trip train and ferry): 1,560 yen or 14.78 USD

Itinerary: 

Japan Rail Itinerary: Osaka, Hiroshima, and Miyajima Island
Japan Rail Itinerary: Itsukushima Shrine, Miyajima Island

Apart from the trains, your Japan Rail Pass also gives you access to the JR Ferry. Not far from Hiroshima is Miyajima Island, another scenic detour you can try to squeeze in. Its name literally translates to ‘shrine island,’  because of its long history as a sacred site for the Shinto. Spend the afternoon trekking up Mt. Misen then catch the sunset at high tide to witness the ‘floating’ torii gate.

Day 8: Universal Studios Japan

On your last full day in Japan, spend it at one of the grandest theme parks in the world: Universal Studios Japan!

Itinerary: 

  • Relive the magic at the Wizarding World of Harry Potter, where you can sip authentic Butterbeer from the Three Broomsticks and soar over Hogwarts at the Flight of the Hippogriff ride.
  • Universal Cool Japan: This summer, explore USJ’s latest addition to the park and fall back into the world of Final Fantasy, Detective Conan, Monster Hunter, and Sailor Moon!

Don’t waste time lining up; book your Universal Studios Japan: Studio Pass & Universal Express Pass ahead with KKday!

  • Dotonbori: No trip to Osaka is complete without visiting Dotonbori. The colourful entertainment district is lined with some of Osaka’s most notable homegrown restaurants. Go shopping and sample the very best—and cheapest—Japanese street food.

Day 9: Back to the Airport

Squeeze in one last ride on your JR Pass with an easy and convenient ride back to the airport. Depending on your airline, you can either travel back up to Tokyo at the Narita International Airport or the much closer Kansai International Airport in Osaka.

Japan Rail Itinerary: Airportt
Japan Rail Itinerary: Airport

To the Narita Airport, Tokyo:
JR Sanyo Shinkansen Line: Hikari Bullet Train

  • Train Station: Shin-Osaka Station to Narita Airport
  • How long: 4.5 hours ; Trains depart every 30 minutes
  • Non-JR Pass Cost: 14,140 yen

To the Kansai International Airport, Osaka:
JR Limited Express: Haruka Train

  • Train Station: Shin-Osaka Station to Kansai International Airport
  • How long: 50 minutes; Trains depart every 30 minutes
  • Non-JR Pass Cost: 1,000 yen

How much do you really save?

Japan Rail Itinerary: Price Breakdown
Japan Rail Itinerary: Price Breakdown

That’s it! The JR Pass can really save you a lot of money, especially when you book with KKday and avail of an exclusive discount price (BOOK: JR Passes) Where do you plan to go on your Japan trip?

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