Dear visitor, if you know the answer to this question, please post it. Thank you!

Itinerary Check: Rail pass vs buying tickets 2018/3/5 21:23
Hello Mina-San

Wifey and I will be visiting Japan for the 2nd time, for 19 days in March/April 2018. We have already worked out an itinerary and I am now working out whether it is economical to buy the 14 day JR pass. I have done the maths on point-to-point tickets using Hyperdia.

My itinerary is:

From To Date Yen, pp
Tokyo Nozawa 24/03/2018 4,400
Nozawa Yudanaka 26/03/2018 1,690
Yudanaka Kyoto 27/03/2018 7,640
Kyoto Okayama 31/03/2018 3,670
Okayama Takayama 02/04/2018 8,750
Takayama Ueno 04/04/2018 7,880

The JR pass works out to be $125 AUD (10,200 JPY) more expensive than point-to-point, but is it worth the extra cost in convenience? I cannot gather from my googling how you can actually go about buying tickets particularly for regional ?non-JR? trains (Ltd. Exp. (Wide View) Shinano, Ltd Exp Snow Monkey, Hida Wide View express, etc). For example: Yudanaka to Kyoto requires 3 trains: Ltd Exp Snow Monkey from Yudanaka to Nagano, Ltd Exp Shinano 12 Nagano to Nagoya and Hikari Shinkansen from Nagoya to Kyoto. Do I have to buy each of the train tickets at each station as I transfer? Can I pre buy the tickets in Tokyo before I leave for the Nagano area?

P.S. I am aware that some of these transfers are quite long and may be peppering them with hop-offs e.g. hop off at Nagoya, on the way from Yudanaka to Kyoto, etc.

Thank you for your assistance.
by Kanishka (guest)  

Re: Itinerary Check: Rail pass vs buying tickets 2018/3/6 12:42
You would have to buy non JR train tickets anyway. AS they are not covered by said passes.

You can buy any JR tickets at the JR ticket windows or service counters. If there is a transfer between you destinations, then they will just give you two tickets if you need to ride two trains etc.

And yes a 7 day pass wont work for your trip, and a 14 day pass is more expensive than tickets.

by hakata14 rate this post as useful

Re: Itinerary Check: Rail pass vs buying tickets 2018/3/6 13:28
Thanks Hakata. Can you buy tickets for non-JR sections of a journey at a JR ticket counter? For example going from Nozawaonsen (Iiyama sta.) to Yudanaka sta. - the journey will be Iiyama - Nagano (JR) and then Nagano - Yudanaka (non-JR, I think).
Will I be able to buy the tickets for both of these journeys at a JR counter? I'm worried about the language barrier if I am trying to buy tickets at regional stations.
by Kanishka (guest) rate this post as useful

Re: Itinerary Check: Rail pass vs buying tickets 2018/3/6 13:35
The Nagano Electric Railway caters for many non Japanese visitors. I doubt you'll have language barrier issues.
by hakata14 rate this post as useful

Re: Itinerary Check: Rail pass vs buying tickets 2018/3/6 14:01
Tokyo Nozawa 24/03/2018 4,400

Tokyo to Iiyama costs 8830 yen if you take the reserved seat. 4400 yen is the "base fare" and with that fare only you can not take Shinkansen trains.

http://www.hyperdia.com/en/cgi/en/search.html?dep_node=TOKYO&arv_node=...

I think also for other part of your itinerary you didn't add the "limited express fee" which is mandatory to get on the limited express trains including Shinkansen.
by frog1954 rate this post as useful

Re: Itinerary Check: Rail pass vs buying tickets 2018/3/6 14:07
Good grief, frog, you are right! I was taking the number in the "Fare" column, not looking at the "Total" cost. I'll need to revisit my costings. I understand that you don't have to pay a "Seat Fee" or "Reservation Fee" when you have a JR pass so I think this changes the maths a bit.
by Kanishka (guest) rate this post as useful

Re: Itinerary Check: Rail pass vs buying tickets 2018/3/7 02:10
Be careful with Hyperdia. They use some interesting wording that is a little confusing and can cause you to grossly underestimate train fares.

The little box that shows the "reserved seat fare" actually shows the express fare and the seat reservation fee. National Rail Pass holders as well as some of the regional passes can reserve seats for free, but if you're trying to figure out what the train fare would be, you need to specifically move the fare to unreserved seat. That gives you the total of what the train fare would be if you are paying out of pocket for something. Most of the time reserved seat fees are around 500 yen, if paying out of pocket.

So Tokyo to Nozawa is going to actually be 8110 yen not 4400 yen. If you wanted a reserved seat it will be 9820 yen.

So your actual fares without reserved seats except for the Kagayaki which requires them are:
Tokyo to Nozawa 8110 yen
Nozawa to Yudanaka is 2620 (plus 1160 yen on a private line)
Yudanaka to Kyoto (again 1160 for the private line, and then depending on if you take a shinkansen to Kanazawa and a Thunderbird down you're looking at 13590 yen or 11310 yen if you take a Shinano Limited Express to Nagoya and then a Hikari to Kyoto)
Kyoto to Okayama 7010 yen
Okayama to Takayama 13,920
Takayama to Ueno 13,930

If you can get all your travel in within 14 days unless you are planning to change your itinerary I find it hard to imagine a 14 day pass isn't worth it. I'm getting 56900 yen in train fares without reserved seats and using the cheaper Shinano to Nagoya to the Hikari vs the more expensive Kagayaki to Kanazawa. Which is faster depends on when you leave Nagano and if you would rather stop off in Nagoya or Kanazawa. Technically, since you need to go through Nagoya to get to/from Takayama, if you have the time, going through Kanazawa might be nicer.

Nagano has a really friendly and helpful tourist office. If you have any questions about getting to the snow monkeys they will be able to help. Nagano and the snow monkeys have one of the best English websites I've seen for a Japanese destination.

Good luck!

by rkold rate this post as useful

Re: Itinerary Check: Rail pass vs buying tickets 2018/3/7 04:10
Hyperdia: just look at the total cost column. You might overestimate by the cost of a seat reservation, but thatfs only a few have noted yen do in the grand scheme it wonft sway your decision.
Re booking individual tickets- again, use hyperdia and save or print the details. You can then take this info (train numbers are what you need) to the ticket office and even in places where therefs no English spoken you will get your tickets.
by Winter Visitor rate this post as useful

Re: Itinerary Check: Rail pass vs buying tickets 2018/3/7 06:43
gHundredh, not ghave notedh
by Winter Visitor rate this post as useful

Re: Itinerary Check: Rail pass vs buying tickets 2018/3/7 08:33
Winter Visitor, Rkold, thank you both very much. It's much clearer in my head now - I've spreadsheeted it and yes the rail pass is definitely worth it. My calcs gave me a total of 67,950 JPY point to point vs ~44,000 JPY for the 14 day rail pass ($540 AUD from JTB travel Australia).

Really grateful for your detailed replies guys. And good point on going through Kanazawa on the way to Kyoto and returning via Nagoya. We had already been to Kanazawa on our last trip but it would be nice to hop off the train and have a quick wander around Kenrokuen again (presumably they have left luggage service at the station).
by Kanishka (guest) rate this post as useful

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