To all my readers who love Japan and have travelled to Japan before, I’m sure by now you already know you can make good use of your status as a foreign tourist to purchase rail passes that will allow you to travel conveniently while saving a great deal.
But indeed, there are many types of rail passes and it could take some time to take in all the info. I have written 3 blog posts on traveling to Kansai with JR-WEST Rail Passes, covering two passes which are the Sanyo-San’in Area Pass and Kansai WIDE Area Pass. You can read my blog posts below. ^^
This time around, I traveled with yet another JR-WEST Rail Pass, the most basic, but very powerful rail pass, which – *good news!!* – has just gone through an upgrade to cover more places!! And the rail pass is:
In this blog post, I will be explaining the benefits of this affordable but mighty rail pass that’s suitable for travellers who are looking to travel the golden route in Kansai covering iconic attractions in Osaka, Kobe, Kyoto and Nara. And of course many other areas too.
I will also be explaining step-by-step on purchasing the rail pass online so that you can enjoy fuss-free travel when you arrive in Japan!
First of all, what is Kansai Area Pass?
Kansai Area Pass is the most basic and affordable rail pass provided by JR-WEST ranging from 1 day up to 4 days. Here’s the pricing list for it:
Get unlimited rides on JR Lines in Kansai area including Osaka, Kobe, Kyoto, Nara, Himeji, Wakayama, Tsuruga, and Iga-Ueno.
AND AND AND!
This October Kansai Area Pass has just been upgraded to include a part of Keihan Line (within Kyoto Area) and all of Kyoto City Subway!!
Now you can visit even more places and ride for free to major sightseeing spots in Kyoto!
Benefits of Kansai Area Pass
Here are more reasons why you should definitely get your Kansai Area Pass when you decided to make Kansai your next travel destination:
Kansai-Airport Express Hello Kitty Haruka
This reason alone, is more than enough to warrant a purchase.
If you fly in from Kansai International Airport, you will have to take the express train into the city (either Kyoto or Osaka). Just for your information, a one-way ride on non-reserve seat costs JPY2380 to Osaka and JPY2900 to Kyoto without the JR-WEST Rail Pass. And the 1-Day Kansai Area Pass costs only JPY2350. That alone is already worth the purchase!!!
Do note that you can use the pass on only non-reserved seats so if you want to secure a seat, please buy a separate ticket from the ticket machine. But anyway Haruka runs really frequently (every 30 mins) so even if the seats are full you can wait in line for the next train. ^^
Free Rent-A-Cycle: Ekirin Kun
Did you know that you can also rent a bicycle for free at Ekirin-Kun, a ren-a-cycle store at certain train stations? Sometimes biking is the best way to see a city, so do look out for free rental services at your destinations! I rented mine at Nara station, and saved JPY700, which is what you pay if you don’t own a JR-WEST Rail Pass.
Of course, there are more than that to your awesome passes. Do check out JR-WEST’s website for more benefits and info!
How do I purchase JR-WEST Rail Pass online?
Well here’s the very important question everyone is asking! You can actually purchase the passes directly from JR-WEST’s website and it’s really quite simple!
First of all, choose the type of pass you want to purchase and click “Reserve Now!”
Key in the amount of passenger, date of traveling and validity period. Don’t worry! You can actually change the dates up until the day you redeem your ticket, but do take note that once it is passed your selected day, your reservation will be cancelled.
You will then fill up your personal information AND a 4-digit “identification no”, which is a pin number to use as verification when you arrive in Japan, so make sure you remember the pin and keep it safe.
Confirm the information, and you can either reserve the ticket and pay when you arrive in Japan or pay for the ticket by credit card. I chose to pay by credit card because it will be one step less when I arrive in Japan!!
That’s all!! After payment, you will receive a confirmation email that you reservation has been accepted. And that’s all you need to do prior to your Japan trip!! Simple right? ^^
How do I redeem JR-WEST Rail Pass in Japan?
Well now, you are all ready for your very exciting West Japan journey! First, you will need your JR-WEST Pass!!
So here’s how you can obtain the pass that you have reserved online earlier. There are two ways to do this.
1. Go to a major station and find the Japan Rail Pass counter to speak to a staff for redemption
During peak travel seasons, sometimes you may find yourself stuck in a long queue among foreign tourists who are also waiting to exchange for a pass. At time like this, the second method is a life saver!
2. Go to a major station and find the Green Ticket Vending Machine and redeem it via the machine.
Green Ticket Vending Machine
So today I’ll be sharing with you how to get your JR-WEST Rail Pass tickets from the machine.
1. First of all, find the green ticket machine with the blue globe mark that says “PASSPORT”.
Make sure you have two things with you on hand: your passport and the credit card you used to pay for the ticket online (if you have not made payment, make sure you have cash or a credit card to pay for it at the ticket machine.)
2.Press JR-WEST Online Train Reservation
3. Press “Receive Reserved Ticket(s)”
4. Insert the credit card you used to pay for the reservation online.
There’s a credit card slot so just place it in.
5. Once the machine verifies your card, your reservations will be displayed at the monitor. Press “Select”.
6. It will further shows the details of your reserved pass.
7. Now you will need to enter the 4-digit identification number I have mentioned earlier so please don’t forget it!
8. Once pin is verified, you will scan your passport at the passport reader
Like this! Just hold it till it is read.
9. Once passport is verified, you can remove your passport.
10. If you need a receipt, press the receipt button.
11. Receive your tickets (passes)!! Yay!!! 😀
You will actually receive 6 tickets from the machines!
Wow okay. That’s a lot. What are these tickets???
Ok relax. Let me explain one by one! 🙂
Kansai Area Pass – 6 tickets
- Kansai Area Pass Ticket
- Keihan Line Exchange Ticket
- Kyoto City Subway Exchange Ticket
- Information sheet regarding JR-WEST Rail Passes
- Credit card statement
It is very important that you keep 1~3 with you all the time. You can put away 4~6 for now.
1 is the ticket you use to ride the trains on JR-WEST lines. Unlike Japan Rail Pass where you show it to the staff at the counter at the station gate, you actually can insert the pass just like a normal ticket into the ticket gate like any other usual passengers.
2 & 3 are the exchange ticket you can later use to redeem an actual Kyoto Sight Seeing Pass and Kyoto City Subway Pass. I’ll elaborate more in the below section.
How to redeem Kyoto Sightseeing Pass
A Kyoto Sightseeing Pass is a one-day pass offered by Keihan Line for Kansai Area Pass holders. You can redeem it at Sanjo Station, Tofukuji Station, Fushimi-Inari Station and Uji Station.
Here’s what I did!
1. First I took JR Line from JR Kyoto Station to JR Tofukuji Station.
2. From JR Tofukuji Station, walk towards the gate of Keihan Railway. Make sure you bring the exchange ticket with you!
3. Look for the station master at the office near the gate. Pass the Keihan Line exchange ticket to the station master.
4. And you will receive your 1-Day Kyoto Sightseeing Pass!! That’s it! Now you can use it to access Keihan Line! 😀
More places to visit now! Yay!
How to redeem Kyoto City Subway Pass
For the Kyoto City Subway Pass, you can visit any stations on all subway lines, city bus & subway information desk for redemption.
I went to Shijo Station for the redemption. Just hand over the Kyoto City Subway Exchange ticket to the station master, and you will receive your Kyoto City Subway One-Day Pass offered exclusively for JR-WEST Kansai Area Pass holders!
That’s it! Now you can ride the subways too at no additional cost! 😀
Just to sumarize how powerful these two passes are in addition to your JR-WEST Kansai Area Pass when visiting Kyoto – you can basically access all the most iconic attractions in Kyoto with all 3 passes for one price! I think it’s waaaaaay worth it!
Places you can explore seamlessly with these passes on hand: Kyoto Station, Kiyomizu-dera Temple, Gion, Heianjingu Shrine, Nijo-jo Castle, Arashiyama Bamboo Forest, Nishiki Market, Kawaramachi Shopping Area, Fushimi Inari Taisha , Byodoin Temple and more! There are soooo much you could do by just purchasing one rail pass!
I love it!! Japan is so thoughtful to tourists by always coming up with new deals that will make our travel easier, more convenient, and more cost effective omg I love you Japan.
I will also be blogging about the many many iconic attractions and sightseeing spots you can easily access using your JR-WEST Kansai Area Pass, especially on Osaka, Kobe, Kyoto and Nara, so stay tuned!
Of course, other than Kansai Area Pass, you can purchase and redeem other JR-WEST Rail Passes the same way!