I hope you have a better idea on JR West Rail Passes after reading my previous blog post. ^^
So now, sample itinerary time!
The first pass I’ll be introducing is Sanyo-San’in Area Pass. This pass is valid for 7 days, here’s a sample itinerary that brings you across 6 prefectures in 7D7N (or 7D6N) with minimum change of hotels so that you won’t have to haul your luggage everywhere with you! You will be staying 2 nights in Hiroshima, 3 nights in Okayama and 1 or 2 night(s) in Osaka. ^^
What I did to maximize the prefectures to cover (if you are as crazy as me to want to join my #47PrefectureMission) was to fly in to Fukuoka and exit from Osaka.
Here’s a sample itinerary for your reference:
Fly in: Fukuoka Airport
Day 1: Yamaguchi
Day 2: Hiroshima
Day 3: Hiroshima
Day 4: Okayama (Kurashiki)
Day 5: Kagawa (Takamatsu)
Day 6: Shiga
Day 7: Kyoto
Fly out: Kansai International Airport
DAY 0: FUKUOKA
I flew in to Hakata via Fukuoka Airport. Hakata Station is just a 5-min train ride from the airport so it’s extremely convenient. Air Asia will be flying directly to Fukuoka starting 28 Feb 2019 from Kuala Lumpur so it may be a good option to consider for this itinerary! (I was insistent to stay loyal with JAL to accumulate all my mileage points so I actually transited in Haneda, spent a short afternoon in Tokyo before catching the domestic flight to Fukuoka in the evening! Actually that’s not a bad option too ^^)
Exchange JR West Rail Pass
You may exchange your JR West Pass at the JR Ticket Center in Hakata Station. Don’t forget to bring along your exchange order (which you can purchase prior to your trip to Japan!) and passport for identification!
The start of my #CheesieConquersWestJapan journey, yay!
Hello Kitty Shinkansen Cafe
Did you know? There’s not only a Hello Kitty Shinkansen, but also a Hello Kitty Shinkansen cafe!
It’s located inside the shinkansen station, so you will have to use your pass to enter the station first. What an adorable, super kawaii meal to start your day with!
DAY 1: YAMAGUCHI
From Hakata Station, I took shinkansen Kodama 854 bound for Shin-Shimonoseki, it takes about 25 minutes. Yamaguchi is my 43rd prefecture!
Maru Maru No Hanashi
I kept my luggage in the locker at Shin-Shimonoseki, and waited for the themed train – Maru Maru No Hanashi (◯◯のはなし). Like I mentioned in my previous post, the train was supposed to come at 9:59am. It came at 9:59am.
The view is really stunning when it’s crossing the sea from Kyushu over to the main island of Japan. Get your camera ready! Love how spacious and exclusive the interior is too.
After about an hour’s ride on Maru Maru no Hanashi, I have arrived at Kawatana Onsen to hunt for their famous Kawara Soba for lunch! It was totally worth the ride just to visit the Kawara Soba restaurant “Takase”, absolutely delicious. Do check them out!
Karato Fish Market
After lunch, it is post-lunch time! Haha, it was totally a gourmet day. I took the local train from Kawatana Onsen to Shimonoseki, and then a short cab ride to Karato Ichiba (fish market) to enjoy all the fresh sushi …
by the seaside! 😀
If you have some spare time (I did!), visit the aquarium just a short walk from the fish market.
If you travel with kids they are gonna love it!!! Sooooo many adorable penguins!
Hotel Granvia Hiroshima
After that, I returned to Shin-Shimonoseki, retrieved my luggage from the coin locker and took Kodama 756 bound for Hiroshima.
Day 1 accommodation: Hotel Granvia Hiroshima.
Hotel Granvia is a chain-hotel run by JR West group, and you can be assured that it will be at the best, most convenient location as they are mostly connected with the main station!
How crazy is this OMG???? They have a miniature Itsukushima Shrine in the hotel lobby!!😱
There are lots of shopping in the area, check in to your hotel and spend your evening eating Okonomiyaki and grilled oysters (there are a few famous restaurant located within the train station itself!).
DAY 2: HIROSHIMA
Hiroshima has too many great places to visit! On day 2, you can choose to either do a city tour, or visit Miyajima Island, or even both if you like!
Shishi Iwa Observatory in Miyajima Island. This was a trip back in 2017!
You can view this link for all my blog posts on Hiroshima.
Day 2 accommodation: Hotel Granvia Hiroshima.
Return to Hotel Granvia and spend another night.
Please pop by their main bar – May Flower just for… ikemen. Haha. I think I was slightly tipsy, I mean, how often do you get served delicious cocktails by not one, but TWO ikemen bartender? When I posted videos of these gentlemen on IG Story, I got loooooooots of DM, some even asked if they have Instagram account so they can stalk them lolol. One also said they look like beautiful vampires HAHA.
The next morning I had a great breakfast spread too. I don’t know why but even if you don’t like greens, do try the salad in Japan. Japan has extra delicious salad haha.
DAY 3: OKUNOSHIMA
It’s worth spending at least 2 days in Hiroshima. This time around I visited the super adorable Rabbit Island – Okunoshima!
Hello Kitty Shinkansen
Before that, we gotta take the Hello Kitty Shinkansen!
It is an elusive Kodama 730 and it runs only once a day – From Hakata to Shin-Osaka and then back from Shin-Osaka to Hakata. So be sure to take note of its schedule so that you can plan your itinerary accordingly! For more details, you can read my blog post on Hello Kitty Shinkansen here.
A transit at Mihara Station, I have arrived at Tadanoumi Station, and from here you will take a short walk to the “Gateway to Rabbit Island”, a small shop where you can purchase the ferry ticket and some bunny snacks. Take the ferry to Okunoshima – the Rabbit Island!
And have lots of fun with your furry pals.
Aohata Jam Deck
If you are already in the area, I’d recommend you to also visit Aohata Jam Deck, one of Japan’s top jam maker. Take the ferry back, and this factory is near the “Gateway to Rabbit Island” store. The factory itself is super chic, pop by for some Instagenic photos and buy some of the best jams for souvenirs!
Return back to Mihara Station, and take Kodama 748 bound for Okayama.
Hotel Granvia Okayama
Day 3 accommodation: Hotel Granvia Okayama
The stay of the night! It is the best hotel in Okayama – directly connected to the train station, lots of shopping around the area, and top-notch facilities!
First of all, they have options for really spacious rooms so if you are tired of Japan’s confined spaces, you can be sure that you will have a relaxing time unwinding your night here.
And… heated pool omg???
Are you loving the itinerary so far? Not only it brings you to visit Instagenic, off-the-beaten path attractions, you also get to have your dose of city convenience by the end of the day in case you miss shopping!
DAY 4: OKAYAMA
I have written FIVE posts on Okayama yet I’m not even done with it yet.
You can pick an itinerary from one of these blog posts on Okayama – Kurashiki, Kojima, Yubara Onsen, Okayama City (which I have yet to blog about haha).
If I must pick one, I’d recommend you to visit Kurashiki city in Okayama as I really enjoyed the scenic walk and there are lots of cultural experiences to explore in the area!
Day 4 accommodation: Hotel Granvia Okayama
Return to the very gorgeous Hotel Granvia Okayama from your day trip.
Please do enjoy dinner here at one of their restaurants! This is the super unique “Hidden Sushi” box, the original creation from Hotel Granvia Okayama!
Such a special meal! Do try it out. ^^
DAY 5: KAGAWA
I mentioned earlier in my blog posts on Kojima that I was sooooo close to conquering Kagawa Prefecture when I was on the cruise touring around Seto Ohashi Bridge.
Kagawa prefecture is in Shikoku Region, but it’s accessible via Marine Liner from Okayama Station, and it’s less than an hour away!!! The view from the train ride is also super scenic as you will be crossing the Seto Grand Bridge over to Shikoku 🙂
My 44th prefecture conquered – Kagawa!! Takamatsu is Kagawa’s capital city.
Just like Korakuen of Okayama, Ritsurin Garden is Takamatsu’s main attraction. It’s not very well-known outside of Kagawa prefecture, but it was one of the most beautiful Japanese garden I’ve been!! I have been to Korakuen of Okayama and Kenrokuen of Ishikawa, and I think Ritsurin Garden is just as spectacular! Please do take the 20-min boat ride cruise so that you can get to enjoy some of the hidden views of the garden, I recommend it!
Udon-Making by Nakano Udon School
If you follow my IG, you will see me dancing to PPAP while making my own udon for lunch lol. I can’t wait to blog about all these! The udon-making experience was 1500 yen INCLUSIVE of lunch (the one you make lol). Is that not too cheap???? I kept telling the shop manager it is too cheap and they should raise the price so quickly go there before they do lol.
Wasanbon-Making by Mamehana
To make your time in Kagawa extra sweet, let’s go to Mamehana for some fine sugar! This Japanese sweet makign experience is super fun and easy, I think it’s very suitable for even young kids too!
Omg all these Japanese cultural experience is really way too cheap. You pay just 1000 yen and you get to enjoy them on the spot served along with hot tea, and also bring back ALL the sweets that you make! Super recommended!
Before you leave Kagawa, enjoy a stunning sunset at Takamatsu Port. You can catch a ferry to Naoshima from here! I really wished I had the time T__T (That’s why I always say, one lifetime is not enough for Japan!!!). Naoshima is where the famous pumpkin sculpture of Yayoi Kusama is located, it’s also an island of art, people who can appreciate contemporary art and architecture in resonance with the pristine nature of Seto Inland Sea.
You can visit Naoshima with JR West’s Setouchi Area Pass to access Naoshima from Takamatsu Port!
Day 5 accommodation: Hotel Granvia Okayama
Since Kagawa is just an hour’s train ride away on Marine Liner, you can return to Hotel Granvia Okayama right away after a tiring day when you alight from the train with minimum walking. I loooove the ultimate comfort and convenience of this hotel so much!
See what I did there? Lol. To show you how close Don Quijote (Donki) is from the hotel! Get allll your shopping done here!
DAY 6: SHIGA
Please make sure you start early on this day as it’s a long journey today! To access Biwako Valley from Okayama, you will get down at Shiga Station.
Do take note, the prefecture is called Shiga (滋賀), and Shiga (志賀) is a small town in Shiga prefecture. The Japanese kanji is different but romaji is the same. Don’t get mixed up!
Biwako Valley is your best bet for some winter snow fun in Kansai area. You can ski and snowboard here too!
Don’t forget to go up to the Biwako Terrace for an amazing view of Biwa Lake among sparkly white snow. 🙂
Hotel Vischio Osaka
Day 6 accommodation: Hotel Vischio Osaka
If you finish your snow activity early, depart Biwako and head to Osaka to settle down for the day. Hotel Vischio Osaka is a few minute’s walk from Osaka Station, rest assured that you can find lots of good food and shopping on this day too!
Day 7: KYOTO
No Kansai trip will be complete without Kyoto, so do visit this historical city of Japan! I’m sure you already know all the famous attractions such as Gion, Fushimi Inari Shrine, etc.
If you do have some time to spare, I strongly recommend a visit to Kyoto Railway Museum especially if you are traveling with kids! Junya loves his trains and shinkansen so I thought of coming here to buy some souvenirs for him. I planned to spend only about an hour here but I ended up spending waaaaaay longer!
Look I’m not a railway mania, I don’t even remember all the Shinkansen’s names, but I had so much fun time here!! How often do you get to kiss a real shinkansen? 😀 Hopefully I can do a separate blog post on this soon!
By the way! You have to take a 15-20 min walk to the museum from Kyoto Station, but starting march this year, there will be a new JR Station opening right outside the museum so that you can directly access it!! 😀 The station is called Umekoji Kyoto Nishi Station. (梅小路京都西駅).
There’s also an Aquarium near by Kyoto Railway Museum, do check it out if you have time. After that, enjoy a pleasant walk back to Kyoto Station.
Did you know that Isetan Kyoto is a special collaboration with JR West? Get some unique shopping done here right at Kyoto Station!
End of Trip/One More Night
If your flight is at night, you may depart from Kyoto and head straight to Kansai International Airport.
Did you know? Right outside Kyoto Station, Central Gate, there’s Crosta Kyoto, a baggage service center that allows you to temporarily store your luggage, send them to airport or your hotel! You can check out their services to make your travel more convenient and comfortable :). So if your flight is night time, do consider storing your luggage here so that you can retrieve it at the end of your trip and head straight to the airport.
If your flight is in the morning, I suggest you to stay another night at the same hotel!
Day 7 accommodation: Hotel Vischio Osaka
Since Kyoto is really just a short train ride from Osaka, you can leave your luggage in the hotel and stay another night here before flying home! It’s quite an affordable boutique hotel that looks like a mini studio apartment, feels like home. 🙂
Don’t forget to try out their breakfast featuring a lot of local Osaka specialty such as Kushiage, Takoyaki, Osaka-style pizza and more!
The buffet counter even has Kansaiben (Kansai Dialect) written on it lol. Classic Osaka humor! ^^
Fly out from Kansai International Airport
Since the JR WEST Sanyo-San’in Area Pass is only valid for 7 days, on the 8th day you will have to buy a separate ticket to go to the airport.
Did you know that buying a new JR WEST Rail Pass is more affordable than paying for even one way of regular train fare??
Regular fare from Osaka/Shin-Osaka station -JPY2,330
Regular fare from Kyoto Station to Kansai Airport – JPY2,850
1Day Kansai Area Pass – JPY2,200.
I love JR WEST Rail Passes. <3😍😍😍
That’s all for JR WEST Rail Pass Sanyo-San’in Area Pass. In my next blog post, I will be sharing another pass that covers other areas – Kansai WIDE Area Pass.
Where to purchase JR WEST Rail Pass?
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! ^^