We are traveling to Japan in August and have some questions which JR pass will be the best for us.
This is our itinerary:
August 13: Arrive early morning Osaka Airport / Explore Nara / Train to Hiroshima / Hotel Hiroshima
August 14: Explore Hiroshima / Hotel Hiroshima
August 15: Train to Tadanoumi / Explore Bunny Island / Train to Kyoto / Hotel Kyoto
August 16: Explore Kyoto
August 17: Explore Kyoto
August 18: Explore Kyoto / Train to Hakone / Hotel Hakone Region
August 19: Explore Hakone / Train/bus to Shibuya
August 20: Explore Tokyo / Hotel Tokyo
August 21: Explore Tokyo / Hotel Tokyo
August 22: Explore Tokyo / Hotel Tokyo
August 23: To Narite / Flight
We are thinking to buy a 5-day JR West pass and add additional train to Hakone/Hakone-Shibuya or a 7-day JR pass.
Our first option was to take the night bus from Kyoto to Five Lake District, but looks it's already fully booked.
Is this itinerary doable?
What is best option for us 5-day JR West or 7-day JR Pass?
How long will it take from Osaka Airport to Nara including taking the JR Pass?
How much time needed for visiting Nara?
Is it always possible to enter the train, also in busy season without seat reservation? If we need to stand during the trip that's the risk.
With the trip to "Bunny Island" the 5-day pass would be useful, but if you got the 7-day national pass you could activate on your arrival day (13th) and get all the way back to Tokyo on the 19th (7-days).Is the schedule doable - yes, but the first day looks really busy.
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It sounds like a very exciting trip to Japan! If you're anything like us when we travel, I think you can do everything in your itinerary, but you'll be exhausted by the end.
The JR Pass is fantastic as it allows you to travel along all of the JR network, which includes some ferries and busses. We also looked at getting the JR West for our trip, but decided on the full JR Pass just in case we decided to change anything last minute, like a day trip to Osaka. And, the JR Pass meant that some trains within Tokyo were also covered.
I've written quite a bit on our two week trip to Japan, including a little about the JR pass and what we would change in our two week itinerary here:
Unfortunately, we never made it to Nara, so I can't give any advice on that aspect of your trip.
However, I have blog posts about what to do in Tokyo, Kyoto and Hiroshima, as well as what food to try and some other bits here:
In regards to the trains getting busy and having to stand - on some routes yes this is a real risk. Kyoto to Hiroshima is a well-used commuter route was so booked and busy that it didn't matter that we had the Green JR Pass (1st class tickets). And, because we didn't book ahead, we had to line up on the platform and fight to get a seat. Our friends had to stand for about 30 minutes until seats became available.
However, most of the other routes were fine and we just walked on. (Sometimes it was just us in the 1st class carriage!). I would recommend to book a seat on a train a day or two in advance with your Pass when you arrive at the train station. It will make it less stressful to line up and get one on the day.
I hope you enjoy your trip! Japan is my favourite country and I'm desperate to go back soon.