Explore Kansai with ultimate convenience

Home to famous postcard cities like Kyoto and Osaka, the Kansai region in Japan has welcomed many first-time visitors in recent years. As with all first-timers, getting around the area can be a real problem!

 There are 5 different JR passes available for the Kansai region, as listed below
1.1 Day JR-West Kansai Rail Pass
2.2 Day JR-West Kansai Rail Pass
3.3 Day JR-West Kansai Rail Pass
4.4 Day JR-West Kansai Rail Pass
5.5 Day JR Kansai WIDE Area Pass

This is where you should know about the West Kansai Rail Pass and the Wide Kansai Rail Pass that will solve all your travelling woes! Read on to find out how you can fully maximise your trip with the JR Pass!

What’s a JR Pass exactly? Click here for the full details!

What are the cities and trains covered under the JR Pass?

Nara

Each JR Pass caters specifically to different regions in Japan and comes with varying entitlements. It is important that you carefully plan out your trip itinerary before deciding which JR Pass to purchase. It’s also useful to note that while it is possible to cancel your JR Pass a cancellation fee of 10% of the price of the purchased JR Pass applies, so do decide carefully!

For the West Kansai Rail Pass, you are entitled to these trains:

  1. Non-reserved seats on Kansai-Airport Express Haruka train
  2. Special Rapid Services
  3. Rapid Services
  4. Local trains on JR-West Conventional lines

For the Kansai Wide Rail Pass, you are entitled to these trains:

  1. Non-reserved seats Sanyo Shinkansen (Shin-Osaka ⇔ Okayama)
  2. Non-reserved seats on Express Trains Haruka, Kuroshio, Thunderbird, Kounotori, and Super Hakuto (Kyoto ⇔ Kamigori)
  3. Special Rapid Services
  4. Rapid Services
  5. Local trains on JR-West Conventional Lines

Do note that the Kansai Wide Rail Pass cannot be used for the following:

  1. Tokaido Shinkansen (Shin-Osaka ⇔ Tokyo)
  2. Sanyo Shinkansen (Okayama ⇔ Hakata)
  3. Kyushu Shinkansen (Hakata ⇔ Kagoshima-Chuo

Here are the cities covered under the West Kansai Rail Pass:

West Kansai Rail Pass

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Here are the cities covered under the Kansai Wide Rail Pass:

Wide Kansai Rail Pass

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The best thing about the Kansai Wide  Rail Pass is that you get to visit not only the top destinations but also lesser than known ones outside of Kansai!

These include Kurashiki, Shirahama, and Kinosaki Onsen where you can visit different attractions such as well-known hot springs, shores, and even amusement parks!

What is the difference between reserved and non-reserved seats?

Reserved car

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Some JR trains offer reserved seating, although you might have to purchase a separate express ticket to reserve the seats. For trains that don’t require an express ticket, you can reserve your seats upon collecting your JR Pass.

For example, if you wish to reserve seats on the Kansai-Airport Express Haruka train and other Express trains on the West Kansai Rail Pass, you are required to purchase an express ticket.

However, on Special Rapid Services, Rapid Services, and local trains on JR-West Conventional lines, you can reserve your seats upon collection of JR Pass.

Similarly, the Kansai Wide Rail Pass requires you to purchase a separate express ticket for Sanyo Shinkansen (Shin-Osaka ⇔ Okayama), Express Trains Haruka, Kuroshio, Thunderbird, Kounotori, and Super Hakuto (Kyoto ⇔ Kamigori). No express ticket is required for reservations on Special Rapid Services, Rapid Services, and local trains on JR-West Conventional Lines.

Where are the different exchange points?

Kyoto

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Once booking is confirmed, you’ll be required to collect your Exchange Order at the different pick-up locations, that include the Kansai Airport. Or if you’re in Taiwan and West Malaysia, you can opt for the delivery method. For Singapore pick-up, you can collect your Exchange Order at the following address:

Address: Klook Office, 78B Boat Quay, Singapore 049866
Pick up time slots: 10:00am-12:00pm, 2:00pm-4:00pm or 4:00pm-7:00pm
Open Monday to Friday (closed on Public Holidays)

With the Exchange Order, you can head to the different ticketing booths in Japan listed here. Do note that the JR Pass is only issued in Japan, and since the Exchange Order is linked with the personal details entered by the user, you must collect the passes in person with the original passport used when booking.

Kyoto

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Upon collection, you will be asked to choose a date for which you want to activate your JR Pass as well. This means that if your chosen starting date is 28th March and you start using the pass at 11:59 pm, your first day will end at midnight that day.

Additionally, the Exchange Order is valid for 90 days from the date booking is confirmed. When booking, you would also have to pick the date in which you intend to exchange for the JR Pass.

Kansai Region Highlights

Osaka

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When talking about Kansai, the first city that comes to mind would have to be Osaka. There is actually so much that you can do in Osaka, almost too much to fit everything in this article! Instead, you can look at our Osaka article here, for an idea on how to plan your itinerary!

However, besides Osaka, the other cities in the Kansai region has so much to offer, and here are some quick highlights:

Kyoto

1. Himeji-jō

Himeji Castle

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Boasting an elegant white exterior, the Himeji Castle is situated in Kyoto and has been around since the 1400s! It’s no wonder why this UNESCO World Heritage Site is included in this list. This massive castle also referred to as White Heron Castle and one of the country’s 12 original castles, has never been destroyed, be it by war or natural disasters.

The best time to visit the Himeji Castle would have to be during the Hanami season, where gorgeous pink blooms surround the castle, creating tons of opportunities for that picture perfect shot!

Location: 68 Honmachi, Himeji, Hyogo Prefecture 670-0012, Japan
Operating hours: 9am - 4pm daily
Nearest JR Station: Himeji Station
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2. Fushimi Inari Shrine

Inari Shrine

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Another Insta-worthy location that you can’t miss out on, the Fushimi Inari Shrine is located in Kyoto and is donned several orange torii gates that are also known as Senbon Torii. These gates each showcase names of the individuals and companies that donated them and are all perfectly lined up, making it a picture perfect spot for pretty much everything, especially wedding photos!

Visitors can also take a 2-3 hour hike to the mountain’s summit where you’ll be greeted with many smaller shrines along the way. Did we mention that these gates are surrounded by lush forests, making the location all the more tranquil!

Location: 68 Fukakusa Yabunouchicho, Fushimi Ward, Kyoto, Kyoto Prefecture 612-0882, Japan
Nearest JR station: Inari Station
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Visit the famous Fushimi Inari Shrine when you purchase your tickets with Klook today! Skip the queues and take a ton of photos at one of the most famous landmarks in Japan, all with a hassle-free booking!
Klook me to Fushimi Inari Shrine!

3. Kyoto Tower

Kyoto Tower

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Built in 1964, the Kyoto Tower is the tallest building in Kyoto, standing tall at 131 meters. What makes the Kyoto Tower stand out would probably be that fact that this skyscraper is an iconic landmark in a city known for its several temples and shrines!

Get a bird’s eye view of Kyoto’s gorgeous skyline at the tower’s 360-degree observation deck, 100 meters above ground. If you’re lucky to be there on clear days, you might even see as far as Osaka!

With a bird’s eye view of famous sites like Kiyomizu-dera Temple, Toji Temple and Chion-in Temple and more, the Kyoto Tower is a must-visit when you’re in the city! Skip the queues and book your tickets with Klook now for an ultimate, hassle-free experience!
Klook me to Kyoto Tower!

Nara

4. Tōdai-ji

Todai-ji

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Located in Nara, the Tōdai-ji temple is one of Japan’s most famous temples and is also notably very Insta-worthy. Additionally, the temple’s main hall, also known as the Big Buddha’s Hall, is named as the world’s tallest wooden building and it houses Japan’s largest Buddha bronze statues, at 15 metres tall!

With so much to boast about, a visit to this temple wouldn’t be complete without snapping a photo at its famous walkway entrance. Who knows, you might get photobombed by one of the deer roaming around the temple’s grounds!

Location: 406-1 Zoshicho, Nara, Nara Prefecture 630-8211, Japan
Nearest JR Station: Nara Station
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5. Nara Park

Nara Park

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Fancy being chased by (very friendly, don’t worry) deer in the middle of gorgeous Japan? Then make your way to Nara Park, just an hour away from Kyoto and home to some of the most adorable deer you’d ever meet! When we say some, we really mean hundreds and hundreds of wild deer. Yes, your chances of getting photobombed by a deer here is about 100%.

These free roaming deer, although wild, are extremely tamed and people-friendly. You can also choose to purchase a pack of crackers and feed the deer who might actually bow to thank you for them!

Location: Nara, Nara Prefecture, Japan
Nearest JR Station: Nara Station
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Ise

6. Ise Shrine

Ise Shrine

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The Kansai region houses some of the most historical shrines in Japan and is definitely something you should set aside some time for. Affectionately referred to as Japan’s sacred shrine, all of the shrines at the Ise Shrine date all the way back to the 3rd century!

Made up of over 125 shrines centred around two main shrines – Naiku and Geku – these shrine buildings are made from solid cypress wood and are so sacred that the public is only granted access to the surrounding forest and ornamental walkways!

Location: 1 Ujitachicho, Ise, Mie Prefecture 516-0023, Japan
Nearest station: Toba Station
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Which pass should I get?

Because you aren’t sure whether to only take the West Kansai Rail Pass or to opt for the Kansai Wide Rail Pass, here’s a short guide to help you!

Scenario 1: If I’m spending most of my trip in Kansai region but am looking to visit Hiroshima for a short trip, which pass should I get?

Hiroshima

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Valid for 5 days, the Kansai Hiroshima Area Pass will give you access to the following:

  1. Non-reserved seats on Sanyo Shinkansen (Shin-Osaka ⇔ Hiroshima)
  2. Non-reserved seats on Haruka, Kuroshio, Thunderbird, Kounotori, Super Hakuto Express Trains (Kyoto ⇔ Kamigori)
  3. Special Rapid Services, Rapid Services, and local trains on the JR-West Conventional Lines
  4. JR West Miyajima Ferry (Miyajimaguchi ⇔ Miyajima)

This is perfect for exploring the best of both Kansai and Hiroshima. Although, the fact that this pass is only valid for 5 days may not be suitable for those who aren’t fans of time-crunched itineraries!

Scenario 2: If I’m only visiting Osaka but might visit the other parts of Kansai during my trip, which pass should I get?

Kobe

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Since you’re spending most of your trip in Osaka but aren’t sure if you’re visiting the other parts of Kansai yet, we recommend opting for the ICOCA IC Card instead. With a cheaper option, you have the flexibility to plan your trip on the go.

The card is preloaded with 1,500 yen credit, plus the 500 yen deposit and you’ll get access to metros, buses, trains in the major cities of the Kansai region such as Osaka, Kyoto and Kobe. The best part is that this card can also be used for your shopping transactions!

Scenario 3: Under what circumstances should I opt for the Kansai Wide Rail Pass?

Okayama

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The Kansai Wide Rail Pass is more suitable for those that want to explore the lesser than known areas of Kansai more than the major cities of Kansai such as Osaka, Kyoto and Nara. For example, if you’re landing in Osaka but spending most of your trip exploring cities like Himeji and Okayama, opt for the Kansai Wide Rail Pass!

Scenario 4: I’m making a trip to Tokyo but have planned a Kyoto day tour in my itinerary. Which pass should I take?

tokyo

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For this case, we suggest opting for the 7-day JR Hokuriku Arch Pass, which gives you the flexibility travel to cities between Osaka, Hokuriku, and Tokyo, which include Kyoto, Kobe, Nara and more! This means that you have enough time spend for travelling and all the other nitty gritty stuff, which also means your trip won’t be rushed!

However, if you’re looking to explore Japan and aren’t planning to stay in one specific region throughout your trip, we suggest the Whole Japan Rail Pass! Choose between 7, 14 or 21 day passes and you’ll enjoy the ultimate flexibility to visit the best sites in Japan! The best part is you can also choose between the Ordinary or the Green Car pass to suit your travel preferences!

To Kansai we go

Since you’ve already planned out your itinerary, all that’s left if picking out the best suited JR Pass for your trip and you’re on your way to enjoying the best sights of Kansai, without a worry for transportation. To fully optimise your trip, we suggest booking a personal airport transfer and a 4G WiFi device, because convenience, right?
Klook me a JR Pass!