By Carole Goldsmith Copyright ©2009 -2011 All Rights Reserved
Most tourists whom I meet while traveling Japan, have a two or three week Japan Rail Pass (JR Pass) that they use to speed around the country on the Shinkansen, or bullet train, as widely known. The traditional JR Pass, that enables you to travel across Japan on all JR lines (except on the Nozomi Shinkansen) is really handy and economical if you are travelling from say Osaka to Tokyo and then up north to Hokkaido. A day or so there and you are off again on the Shinkansen, to travel back to Osaka, Kyoto and then down to Kyushu. It is really great value if you are travelling long distances every day, as the JR Pass covers consecutive days of travel.
But do tourists really need to start their JR Pass when they fly into Kansai International Airport (KIX) in Osaka and plan to spend a few days in the Kansai region, including Kyoto? No they don't.
I usually fly into KIX when traveling to Japan and explore the Kansai region for a few days before scooting off to the West or East of Japan. The real secret of traveling on a budget in the Kansai region is to use the Kansai Thru Pass, a special ticket for tourists visiting Japan. From the Kansai Thru Pass website http://www.surutto.com/conts/ticket/3dayeng/
This Pass excludes JR lines. You can travel ‘from Kyoto to Osaka, Kobe, Mt. Hiei and Himeji. Get on and off the train or bus bound for Wakayama, Nara and Koyasan as you like during the period of validity.http://www.surutto.com/conts/ticket/3dayeng/map.html and find out where and how far you can travel plus on which rail lines and buses you can use the Kansai pass.
There are two types of tickets - Adult: 3day ticket - 5000 yen, Children (Ages 7 to 12) 2day ticket - 2,500 yen and 2day ticket 3,800 yen (Adults) 1,900 yen (Children)
You can buy the ticket at Kansai International Airport KAA Travel Desk (1st Floor / 07:00 – 22:00) and many other places in Kansai as listed here. http://www.surutto.com/conts/ticket/3dayeng/map.html Make sure that you ask the staff who sell you the ticket when the Pass will expire.
For budget accommodation in the Kansai region, check out Seek Japan’s excellent budget accommodation website http://www.seekjapan.jp/budget-accommodation. Also Hotel Chuo Oasis close to the centre of Osaka is a great economical place to stay. See my blog http://japan-on-a-budget.blogspot.com/2010/10/hotel-chuo-oasis-great-place-to-stay.html
So if you are going to spend a few days in Osaka, Kyoto, Osaka, Kobe, Mt. Hiei and Himeji and explore Wakayama, Nara and Koyasan, invest in a Kansai thru pass and get moving on your discoveries. With the Pass, you receive a map that lists all the transport routes where you can travel and a little booklet with complimentary discount promotions that you can use at 350 listed major tourist facilities.
Have fun traveling and keep smiling.