Thanks for reading my previous blog post on

  1. JR West Rail Passes
  2.  Sanyo-San’in Area Pass

Today I’d like to introduce the second JR West Rail Pass:

Kansai WIDE Area Pass


It is a 5-day pass and is significant a lot more affordable, and it covers a wider area than the regular Kansai Area Pass, as it includes also Okayama, Takamatsu (Kagawa Prefecture), Kinosaki Onsen (Hyogo Prefecture), Amanohashidate (Kyoto), Shirahama Kishi & Kii-Katsuura (Wakayama Prefecture)!


This is the area it covers.

Here’s a sample itinerary:

Fly in: Kansai International Airport

Day 1: Wakayama
Day 2: Kagawa 
Day 3: Shiga, Kyoto 
Day 4: Hyogo, Kyoto 
Day 5: Osaka

Fly out: Kansai International Airport

 

Day 0: OSAKA

Fly in to Kansai International Airport!

Once you have arrived at the airport, you will spot the JR Office right in front of the JR Station entrance. You can exchange/purchase your JR WEST Rail Pass here!

#(insertyourname)ConquersWestJapan, start!!!

Depending whether your flight is night time or morning, you can choose to stay a night in Osaka or head straight to the first destination.

 

DAY 1: WAKAYAMA

I can’t believe Wakayama was my 45th prefecture. Mostly because I was told by many people that there isn’t much to see or do compared to other cities in Kansai (think Kyoto, Kobe, Nara…).

Let me say it out loud: I LOVE WAKAYAMA!!!

Tama Densha(たま電車)

It’s worth going to Wakayama even just for this – I arrived at Wakayama Station, getting ready for my long-awaited cat train – Tamaden.

Tamaden is run by Wakayama Electric Railway, but guess what? Your JR West Kansai WIDE Area Pass is valid for this ride!

It’s a legit cat train, with a legit feline as the super train master!! If you haven’t heard of this famous super cat train master, do google the story of it, it’s super worth a ride!

Kishi Station 貴志駅

You will arrive at Kishi Station and if you are lucky, you get to meet the Ekicho (train master), Nitama, a sleepy feline who mostly yawns her afternoon away. You can check her working schedule here! to make sure you will go back happily having met the world-famous cat.

On the way back, you may be able to catch another themed train from the 4 variation (Tamaden, Toy Train, Ume, Ichigo, you can ride ALL of them with your JR West Kansai WIDE Area pass).

This is the Omocha Densha – Toy Train! You will head back to Wakayama station, and board Kuroshio Train to the famous namesake fish market.

You can read my blog post on these themed trains here!

 

Kuroshio Fish Market (黒潮市場)

The station to get off at is Kainan Station!(海南駅)

It’s a little bit of a distance from the station to the fish market (about 5 minutes’ drive), so your best bet here is to catch a short ride by cab. It won’t be more than 1000 yen!

This gentleman was my taxi driver! He was so intrigued by me being able to speak Japanese and he said he wants to learn English too but his brain is too rusty for anything new haha. Such a cute man! Requested for a photo together and he happily agreed!^^

Here we are!!

The ambiance is kind of similar to Karato Fish Market in my previous post in Shimonoseki, Yamaguchi Prefecture, just slightly smaller. Check out the tuna show (usually comes in a long queue) and try some of the freshest maguro you can get!

Sushi by the seaside! Please order the gigantic crabstick with mayo it was SO GOOD!

And then we will go to Europe from Wakayama!!!

A quiet, quaint little town called Porto Europa right opposite Kuroshio Market. Get some nice photos taken here before you head back. It is supposed to be a theme park, do explore some of the attractions there. ^^

Nakano BC Sake Brewery

Your Wakayama tour will not be complete without Umeshu (plum wine), as Wakayama Prefecture contributes more than 90% of plum supply in Japan! All your favorite umeboshi and plum wine are most likely made of Wakayama plums. ^^

Nakano BC holds workshops for foreign visitors so if you are interested in making your own Umeshu, please check them out! You can apply for a tour/workshop with this link. And it’s foreign language-friendly! 😀 I made my own, brought it back home here and I’m waiting to taste it 6 months later ^^

Also they have a kickass gorgeous Japanese Garden!

Can you believe it?? It’s INSIDE the compound of the factory, absolutely amazing. Watch out for emo swans!

Day 1 accommodation: Hotel Granvia Wakayama

The Granvia hotel chain is really your best bet to put up for the night in Kansai as they are mostly connected to the major train stations with lots of dining options and utmost convenience for lifestyle needs.

The hotel staff showed me around and I was very impressed with their Washiki room with tatami!

Also, it may be a seasonal menu but check out their Lobster Burger!!! *drools*

This set meal cost only 2,800 yen, you get a whole lobster patty served with lobster soup and side salad. Itadakimasu. ^^

 

DAY 2: KAGAWA

For day 2, for those of you who have been to Okayama before, you may want to do a day trip to Kagawa Prefecture. It’s a slightly long journey so make sure you start early!

Here’s the recommended route:

Wakayama -> Shin-Osaka(1hour by Limited express train’Kuroshio’)

Shin-Osaka -> Okayama (45mins by Shinkansen Nozomi or Mizuho. Isn’t that crazy?? Only 45 minutes! I LOVE my Nozomi!! Only JR West Passes allows you to ride on these two speed babies!)

Okayama -> Takamatsu (1hour by Marine liner)

You can refer to my previous post on day trip itinerary. 🙂

Day 2 accommodation: Hotel Vischio Amagasaki

Today let’s end our day at Amagasaki, Hyogo Prefecture.

Hotel Vischio Amagasaki is connected to Agamasaki Station, which again is under JR West Group and as usual, is super convenient.

My room! Even the bed for single room is bigger than usual, and there’s ample space for luggage opening! Very love!

The best thing about this hotel is that it’s also connected directly to a shopping mall! 😀

This is where I bought all my cheap outfits! So crazy cheap!!

 

DAY 3: SHIGA

If you are in Kansai during winter time, it would be a pity to miss out some snow fun. So head to Biwako Valley in Shiga prefecture for ski, snowboarding or just see, touch and smell some snow.

You can spend either a whole day or half a day in Biwako Valley, and on the way back to hotel in Amagasaki you will pass by Kyoto, so you can also stop by Kyoto Railway Museum mentioned in my previous blog post.

Day 3 accommodation: Hotel Vischio Amagasaki

See the covered walkway? No worries even when it rains!

Yes, I totally bought my top for 1,000 yen the night before at the shopping mall😆!

 

DAY 4: HYOGO/KYOTO

Himeji 

Let’s head to Amanohashidate today! On the way please make a stop at Himeji Station for a small surprise.

Here!

If you have time, do visit Himeji Castle (voted the most beautiful castle in the whole Japan – and Japan has thousands of castles!!!). If you don’t, you can take a peek of it from the Himeji Station platform while you wait for your transit! Need to zoom your eyes to see though haha. But it’s really a perfect spot for an unblocked view of the beautiful white castle.

Happening (?!)

Well, I pray that this won’t be part of your itinerary, but it totally did to mine and let me digress a little to talk about the small incident that happened during my journey.

After I departed Himeji to my next destination on Hamakaze No.3, me being the usual scatterbrain, I realized that I left my pocket wifi in my previous train, still charging at the port near the ground. With my luggage and all that, I guess I have missed out checking all my belongings properly before alighting.

You know what was my first thought?

“Ah crap.”

Haha that was my first thought. Second thought?

“Oh well, looks like I’ll have to do roaming for now.”

I contacted the JR West Hamakaze train master and told him about what happened. Honestly I wasn’t even panicking because I was so confident that I could have it back, just maybe not immediately because the previous train has already left for another direction. I was just slightly annoyed at myself that I have to pay extra for roaming because of my careless mistake. The only problem was how to pick it up as I would be moving to different locations in the following days. Worst scenario, I was thinking to have it sent to Kansai Airport so I could return it back at the counter.

I have forgotten so many things in Japan, including wallet, pocket wifi (a few times already!!!), scarves, hats, etc etc etc. Once I left my pocket wifi (also still charging) in a cafe and I only realized when I was doing my nail in a nail salon nearby.

I thought, oh well, I’ll go back to pick it up later.(I can’t move anyway in the middle of having my fingers held hostage by the LED light machine and nails freshly painted with gel polish).

Haha. Overly optimistic me. I did. And the pocket wifi was sitting right where it was.

Very helpful train master. So after a few phone calls with JR West, I was told that my pocket wifi was found.

And you know what? They have arranged it for me to pick it up at Shin-Osaka Station, which was on my itinerary the next day.

WHAT IS THIS CRAZY AMAZING SERVICE???

The next day, I arrived at the Lost & Found counter in Shin-Osaka station, filled in a couple of forms, and my pocket wifi was tucked nicely into a clear plastic bag.

AND THAT’S NOT ALL?????

It was fully charged (92%).

I don’t get it. I totally expected that I have to roam another day because the battery would have run out by now. But…?! The kind people who picked it up and safe-kept it must have switched it off or even charged it for me so that I can use it immediately once it is returned to me. What is this level of omoiyari?!?

Very touched ok.

I love you Japan. I love you JR West.

Moral of the story is:

1. Don’t panic if something unexpected happens. You are in Japan, there’s nothing that can’t be solved with some good patience, smiles and gratitude. Incidents can be frustrating, but if you think about it from another angle, it may be a blessing in disguise. For me, this slightly inconvenient incident had only deepened my love for Japan, even moreeeeeeeee.

2. Charging ports in Shinkansen is awesome. But please, please bring your device with you when you leave the train.😅

 

Kyoto Tango Railway

Ok back to where I left off.

So! Amanohashidate! To get there, you will transit at Toyooka.

Look for Kyoto Tango Railway! Even though it is run by a different railway company, you are still able to ride it with your JR West Kansai WIDE Area Pass! How awesome is that! 😀

Classic, slightly retro interior. Don’t miss out the scenic landscape along the journey! I love this train ride!

And we are here at Amanohashidate! It’s also dubbed “Kyoto by the Sea”, as when you imagine Kyoto you don’t always picture it with the ocean, so here’s a rather unique attraction of Kyoto which is also one of the Best 3 Scenic Views in the whole Japan!

Amanohashidate

There you go! One of the 3 Best Scenic Views in Japan, along with Itsukushima in Hiroshima and Matsushima in Miyagi.

Day 4 accommodation: Marintopia Hoshino Oto

Private in-room onsen (not one but TWO!), a stunning view of the sea of Japan, luxurious crab feast for dinner… This villa-style ryokan deserves a separate post. Please wait for it. Haha.

This lodging is English-friendly, do make your reservation via their website or email them directly. 🙂

 

White Ichigo Picking

Fancy some white ichigo? You can pick and savour it at its freshest if it’s in season! Please let the Hoshi No Oto staff know that you would like to visit the farm, they will be happy to assist.

 

DAY 5: OSAKA

For some reason Malaysians and Singaporeans seem to love shopping in Osaka the most! So here’s the last day dedicate to a whole day of shopping in Osaka.

 

Water Clock, Osaka Station

Do you believe that water can tell time?

Yes! Have you checked out the “fountain clock” at JR Osaka Station South Gate Building? Osaka is a super huge station (bigger than KL Sentral!), but it is not just big, but extremely spacious too. Even with the crazy crowd it still feels comfortable.

Osaka’s “Water Clock” was chosen as one of the 12 most beautiful clocks in the world by CNN!

I love it so much. It’s so calming and healing and I can just stare at it on and on. (Don’t forget the time to catch the next train, if any!)

Other than time, it also displays messages and artworks with a technology called Space Printing, using water droplets.

Snowflakes made of water. (Snowflakes are made of water, right?🤔)

“Osaka”.

Prayer Room, Osaka Station

I knew about this because I had been here before many years before! For Muslim travelers who are looking for a prayer room, here’s one right at Osaka Station, South Gate building!

Ekidonki

Look no further, everyone’s favorite Donki is right at Osaka Station too!

Souvenirs

Fill your luggage with everything you, your family and friends love before leaving Japan! This is a souvenir store in the station and I found lots of Hello Kitty Shinkansen goods! 😀

Grocery Shopping

If you are like me. If not, kindly ignore this part. Haha.

Before I head home, I will get my supply of daikon, negi, plain toast, ichigo, mikan, apples, cabbages, broccoli, and if possible the entire supermarket and pack into my luggage so that I can bring a part of Japan back with me.

Ending this post with gorgeous daikon. With leaves.

 

End of trip:

Fly out from Kansai International Airport

Thank you so much for reading this blog post! Actually I have 4000 photos sitting in my phone waiting to be shared. I’ll be on other work trips but when I have time, I would like to introduce each of these sightseeing spots in details. Stay tuned. ^^

 

Where to purchase JR WEST Rail Pass?

Purchasing Abroad:

You can purchase an exchange order with travel agencies or travel portal such as Klook, and then exchange the exchange order for an actual pass at a JR West desginated station.

You can make a booking directly from JR West website 27 days in advance. And then make payment at JR West station when you arrive in Japan.

 

Purchasing in Japan

If you couldn’t make up your mind and you want to get it last minute after arriving in Japan, you can purchase it directly from any major station within the JR West Rail Pass station too!

Enjoy West Japan! ^^

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