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7 or 14 days Japan Pass 2019/5/7 17:28
Hi, I am planning to travel to Japan for 18 days next year. Am wondering whether I should get the 7 or 14 days Japan Pass so would like to get some opinions here. My rough itinerary is:
Day 1: Arrive in Narita airport and travel to Kyoto.
Day 2: Travel around Kyoto, visiting places like Kinkakuji, Fushimi Inari Taisha Shrine
Day 3: Day trip to Osaka
Day 4: Day trip to Hiroshima and Miyajima Island
Day 5: Day trip to Yoshino
Day 6: Visit Arashiyama and travel from Kyoto to Takayama
Day 7: Around Takayama, visiting places like Yoshijima Heritage House, Hida no Sato (Hida Minzoku Mura Folk Village)
Day 8: Day trip to Shinhotaka
Day 9: Trip to Shirakawa and to Kanazawa
Day 10: Visit around Kanazawa and travel to Yudanaka
Day 11: Visit Snow Monkey Park, travel to Nagano to visit Zenkoji and then to Shin Omachi
Day 12: Tateyama Alpine route, overnight stay on Murodo
Day 13: Back to Shin Omachi
Day 14: Shin Omachi to Matsumoto to Tokyo
Day 15: Around Tokyo, visit Kameido Tenjin Shrine, Kinshicho
Day 16: Day trip to Ashikaga
Day 17: Free and easy in Tokyo
Day 18: Leave Tokyo (taking Narita Express)

One other question: Is it possible to do day 15 and 16 in a day?

Thanks in advance for your responses!
by Wlgdoremon (guest)  

Re: 7 or 14 days Japan Pass 2019/5/8 11:27
Many of these questions relating whether something can or cannot be done in a day depend a lot on the subject. Are you someone who will get up at the crack of dawn and take the first train out of town to get to your destination as early as possible (or when the doors open)? Are you the type of person who will just hit the "highlights" of a particular place without spending too much time in each place? If so, then day 15 and 16 can be done in one day.

When I was younger and my body was able to take the hit, I would take the first shinkansen out of town for a day trip and return very late in the evening. I cannot do that any longer because I am not as able to withstand the physical toils of being up and about all day. But if you can, then I cannot see why not.

By Ashikaga, I understand you to mean Ashikaga Flower Park. I don't know much else about the area. The park in it of itself can be seen, photographed and enjoyed in about 2-3 hours. Getting there and back with take you about that much, so that leaves about 6 hours to do everything else you wish to do in Tokyo.
by John B digs Japan rate this post as useful

Re: 7 or 14 days Japan Pass 2019/5/8 12:31
One thing to consider is it might make sense to fly from Narita to Itami and then take the shuttle bus to Kyoto Station (or use trains/monorail to reach your destination in Kyoto vs. taking the train. Last year, I used a rail pass to get from Narita to Osaka, and while I did stop to eat in Tokyo Station, I didn't reach my hotel until close to 22:00. This year, I'm trying flying from Narita to Itami and then taking the shuttle bus to Kyoto. I'm expecting to arrive in Kyoto around 19:30.

I might also move some things around. It is easier to get to Kanazawa from Kyoto than Takayama. You could technically do: Kyoto to Kanazawa, Kanazawa to Toyama to start the Alpine Route, do the complete route, go from Shinano-Omachi to Matsumoto. Do a discounted roundtrip bus trip between Matsumoto and Takayama and fit in Shirakawa Go then, and then get from Matsumoto to the monkeys before returning from Nagano to Tokyo. There is still some backtracking with this route, but I think you end up doing shorter amounts of travel per day.

Good luck!
by rkold rate this post as useful

Re: 7 or 14 days Japan Pass - 2019/5/8 15:07
Thanks all for the responses so far. We are definitely early bird who likes to start early and spend much quality time at a place if possible. As I am not familiar with the transport system in Japan, I am not clear whether it is worthwhile me buying the 14 day Japan Pass. I used Hyperdia to try and get some indication of the transport costs but understand for some parts of the travel I cannot use the JR pass. In this case, based on my calculation, I would not really fully utilise the value of the 14 day pass. It may be that it is better off for me to get the 7 day pass?
by Wlgdoremon (guest) rate this post as useful

Re: 7 or 14 days Japan Pass 2019/5/8 15:44
Do not only think in terms of JR Passes (the nation-wide) one. Each JR company offers many different passes that may better work for you in terms of area of effect, duration and/or price. I have been to Japan at least 7 times since I've last bought a 7, 14 or 21 day JR Pass. I am currently here, last day though, and I bought a 3 day All-Kyushu Pass and a 7-day Sanyo-San'In Area Pass for the times I've needed rail transport. I usually fly domestically to the point furthest from Tokyo (my arrival and departure point) and work my way back with passes and flights. You can check each of the JR companies' pages to see what they have available. My two passes, which allowed use of the Nozomi reserved seats as well, for 10 days worth of rides cost me less than 5,000yen more than the 7 day JR Pass and I was able to use, like I mentioned before, any train I wanted. Obviously, they only worked for specific areas of West Japan and Kyushu, but I know JR East offers passes that may suit part of your needs for much less and with more flexibility (over a period of time and not only consecutive days). I would read the transport/passes section of this website to get an idea of what is available.
by John B digs Japan rate this post as useful

Re: 7 or 14 days Japan Pass 2019/5/8 18:18
Thanks a lot for this information. Looks like my planning is not done yet! More homework to do!
by Wlgdoremon rate this post as useful

Re: 7 or 14 days Japan Pass 2019/5/8 23:48

If you fly from Tokyo to Itami, you could do a JR Hiroshima Pass (which would allow Nozomi which REALLY helps when visiting Hiroshima, when I went to Miyajima in June 2017, there was no availability for reserved seats from Hiroshima to Shin-Osaka until after 19:00, and yes I tried to book 4 or 5 days ahead of time. We happened to take an early Hikari from Kyoto to Hiroshima at 8:00 am.) If you've not bought your airfare yet just look into an open jaw arrive in Kansai depart from Tokyo. My closest major airport doesn't have a direct flight to Kansai, but the price to fly JFK to Itami, Tokyo to JFK was the same as a round trip to Tokyo.

With the JR Hiroshima Pass you can get as far as Tsuruga going to Kanazawa and would then just need to pay an additional 4620 yen when you get to Kanazwa. The trip by limited express takes about 2 hours from Kyoto Station. Or you should be able to do a combo of the JR Hiroshima Pass for 15,000 yen and JR Hokuriku Pass for 5000 yen. (for a total of 20000 yen.) And would get you to Hiroshima, as well as to Kanazawa and to Toyama to do the Alpine route.

So for your itinerary I would:

Keep Day 1 as in just fly vs. the train
Day 2 Still travel around Kyoto
Day 3 Make this your Yoshino day since I don't think a Kintetsu Day Pass Pays off, but you can see if it does
Day 4 Start your Hiroshima Pass and use it to just go Osaka (day 4+5 can be swapped easily)
Day 5 Visit Hiroshima
Day 6 visit Arashiyama and then go to Kanazawa using a combo of the two passes (since you will be in non-reserved seats it should work fine and it means you're traveling ~1.5-2 hours less this day)
Day 7 Depending on what you want to do in Kanazawa do Kanazawa.
Day 8 Alpine Route (you can either overnight in Murodo or even do the complete route and end in Matsumoto)
Day 9 Matsumoto
Day 10 Bus to Takayama (if you're traveling light or there are lockers you can even stop off in Kamikochi or go to Shin Hokata this day)
Day 11 Takayama
Day 12 Takayama
Day 13 bus back to Matsumoto go to Yudanaka
Day 14 Snow monkeys and then return to Tokyo
Day 15 Tokyo stuff
Day 16 Tokyo stuff
Day 17 Tokyo stuff
Day 18 leave and Tokyo stuff

It's possible a JR Nagano-Niigata train pass will pay off, you'd need to do the math, but I suspect not, it's only 8200 yen from Nagano to Tokyo with reserved seat and 2320 yen for a non-reserved seat on the Limited Express between Nagano and Matsumoto. I took this train several times last June and it was just not that full. though a reserved seat will only set you back 2840 yen The Hiroshima Pass and Hokuriku Pass *WILL* pay off since Kyoto or Osaka to Hiroshima round trip is more than 13,000 yen and it's close to 5000 yen just from Tsuruga to Kanazawa, and the pass will also cover the shinkansen to Toyama. You could get this pass: which would cover all the bus travel you want to do around the Alps. You could possible do the Alpine Route back to Nagano and do Yudanaka before going to Matsumoto. Even with a JR Pass, you'd be paying out of pocket for transport to Shirakawa Go, Shin-Hotaka, and actually doing the ropeway. But make sure the pass pays off, there are a lot of different bus specials for the alps region. Personally, I would pick more time in Okuhida or Kamikochi over Shirakawa Go. I loved the Hida Folk Village, I thought it was incredibly well presented and super interesting and my child loved it too. I went to Shirakawa Go in 2010 and it just felt like a huge tourist trap, it's not somewhere I've had an interest in returning.

In that case it would be:
Day 8 either overnight in Murodo or continue to Nagano
Day 9 continue Alpine route and end in Nagano or visit Nagano or see the monkeys
Day 10 Matsumoto (you could do days 10-13 with the 4 day Alpine Pass. I would just make sure you are starting off nice and early from Matsumoto and return as late as possible on the 13th.

If you move it around like that you will be going back to Tokyo from Matsumoto, which is 6500 yen with a reserved seat.

Sometimes getting non-nationwide passes might not necessarily even save you money but can save you time. I've been going back and forth on my next trip whether to get a nationwaide pass or pay out of pocket for the shinkansen from Nagoya to Tokyo and do a JR East Pass. I've decided to go with the latter, because then I don't need to overnight in Nagoya for the 7 days work and can immediately head to Tokyo from Nagoya. This gives me a full extra day in Tokyo, which makes my schedule easier.

Good luck!

by rkold rate this post as useful

Re: 7 or 14 days Japan Pass 2019/5/9 09:44
For that schedule the 14-day pass will provide a small saving.
by JapanCustomTours rate this post as useful

Re: 7 or 14 days Japan Pass 2019/5/9 14:10
Rkold, you are a legend! Thanks for the details. I will certainly check them out.
by Wlgdoremon rate this post as useful

Re: 7 or 14 days Japan Pass 2019/5/9 23:03

Glad I could help.

Honestly, moving things around a bit, you have either more time than originally in certain destinations so you could either take those days there or move them elsewhere. It really depends on what your plans are. But I think by doing Kanazawa first, and then leaving from there for the Alpine route you just are spending less time in transit. Moving things around you have more time in Takayama, Kanazawa and Matsumoto. So if you feel like you need more time in Tokyo, you can move things around a bit. I think unless you are timing for something specific, I would probably go to Nagano directly from the Alpine route. If you overnight in Murodo, then spend the next night in Yudanaka (if that is what you want!) or spend one or both nights in Nagano itself. I stayed in the Metropolitan last year for ~9000 yen a night. It's attached to Nagano Station so makes transport from the Alpine Route, to the snow monkeys, to Matsumoto quite convenient. If you're not staying near Yudanaka, I am pretty sure there are bus tours out of Nagano that go specifically to see the monkeys.

If your home country has direct flights to Osaka, they will come into KIX vs. Itami, but its quite easy to take the Limited Express Haruka from KIX to Kyoto Station. JR West currently offers a discounted one way+ICOCA Card or just a discounted one way if you don't need the card.

In my case, there are no direct flights from JFK to KIX, so since I am transferring in Japan (vs. the US West Coast) I'm going to Itami. I don't know about flights from your starting point.

Good luck, I think your trip looks quite fun. :)
by rkold rate this post as useful

Re: 7 or 14 days Japan Pass 2019/5/10 16:37
Actually one thing I forgot to mention is that I was timing to be around Takayama on the 14/15th April for the Sanno Festival. That is why my schedule seems a bit eawkwardf :) Is it worthwhile attending this festival?
by Wlgdoremon rate this post as useful

Re: 7 or 14 days Japan Pass 2019/5/10 21:33
I've not personally been. But two things to be aware of in regards to the festival

1) It is insanely crowded. Takayama is just not all that big and with the crowds the festival gets I can see it being overwhelming. I think if you're in town for the festival you're going to have a hard time getting anything done outside of the festival, just because of crowds.

2) If there is a weather issue, things can be delayed. See 2018. Again, I've not personally gone, but I follow Hida Takayama on FaceBook and saw them posting about all the delays, where the festival got moved several days. I don't think it happens often, but it can happen so it is something to think about. This year there also wasn't sakura during the festival. The sakura wasn't at peak until the 20th.

Good luck!
by rkold rate this post as useful

Re: spring Takayama Festival 2019/5/11 02:42
the festival got moved several days

I wonder what this phrase refers to,
because I have not heard the postponement of the main festival scheduled in advance.

To my understanding,
the performances to the pubic
are canceled when the weather looks too bad,
and not postponed to a later day.
In the past maybe a different policy was adopted, though....

According to the statistics of Takayama City,
during the 12 years from 2007 to 2018,
the spring Takayama Festival attracted a turnout
of about 122 to about 231 thousand people.

When you plan to stay in the city center
for any of the three nights from April 13 to 16,
it sounds better to secure early your room.
Accommodation facilities in a good condition to see or visit the festival
may be fully booked much before.
by omotenashi rate this post as useful

Re: 7 or 14 days Japan Pass 2019/5/11 08:56
@omontenshi, I've never personally gone to the festival and I have no desire to go, it sounds unpleasantly crowded. I'd prefer Takayama when it is less busy. But from what I saw on the Hida Takayama Facebook page, yes, they did reschedule somewhat.

I quote from FaceBook:
Hida Takayama FB : It's bad news.....
Gojyunko Procession is canceled....

Person wanting to attend: What will take place on Monday? What will be cancelled on Monday?

Visit Hida Takayama (Official), Japan: If it is not rain, It will take place on Monday.

So yeah to me that sounds like a rescheduling. I have no idea if this has ever happened before or will happen again. I am just speaking of the 2019 Festival.

I think they also did something special with the floats at the start of May based on the pictures shared on the FB page, but again, I'm not there I am just going by the FB page.
by rkold rate this post as useful

Re: 7 or 14 days Japan Pass 2019/5/11 10:35
Thanks all! I will certainly have a think about when I should be at Takayama. I do like the idea of going to Kanazawa from Kyoto first and will do some homework to see which options work better for me. Ifm coming from New Zealand and may or may not be able to fly direct to Osaka as the direct flight is optional. However, I can still consider transiting since the price is still cheaper than taking the train from Narita to Kyoto.
by Wlgdoremon rate this post as useful

Re: spring Takayama Festival 2019/5/11 11:35
they did reschedule somewhat.
to me that sounds like a rescheduling.

That is not a rescheduling.

Gojyunko Procession is expected to be on the both festival days,
for the way from Hie Shrine on the first day
and for the way back on the second day.
In the 2019 festival,
the procession for the first day (Sunday, April 14) was canceled
and the procession for the second day (Monday, April 15) took place.

- Japan Meteorological Agency:
Daily forecasts for Gifu Prefecture
: Check Takayama in Hida Chiho.

by omotenashi rate this post as useful

Re: 7 or 14 days Japan Pass 2019/5/11 12:36
Ah OK, thank you. I thought it was a rescheduling. I was not paying close attention to the actual dates at the time and just glancing through my FB feed where I kept seeing posts about things being canceled and lots of disappointed people.

I still standby the fact that based on this year, even if you plan for the festival it can have issues if the weather is bad and then you are stuck in Takayama with huge crowds of people, which to me, doesn't sound all that fun. It's not a place I would want to be with 100,000 or more other people.

If you can't fly into KIX from New Zealand see if you can book a flight to Itami with a transfer in Tokyo, like I am. I could have booked a Tokyo round trip but it was actually $50 less to fly JFK to NRT to Itami, coming back from Haneda to JFK. So for me, it worked out. I saved $50 over a round trip's price and I wanted to start in Kyoto.

I guess technically if you want to try to go to the festival, you could move a few things around so that you have the possibility from Kanazawa to travel to the festival by adding some time to Kanazawa. Someone who was posting here this year planned to do that. I don't know if it worked out because of the bad weather. It might make your trip more expensive, (but it might not because Takayama is going to be MUCH more expensive to stay in during the festival) but you would technically have that option by either taking the train from Toyama to Takayama (round trip) or taking a direct bus from Kanazawa round trip. you'd have the Hokuriku Pass to cover the shinkansen from Toyama to Kanazawa. Heck, it's not as interesting, but since you have the pass and are eventually doing the Alpine Route, you could technically stay in Toyama rather than Kanazawa.

Good luck!
by rkold rate this post as useful

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