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Kansai's All-Access Travel Passes - A Complete Guide

Kansai's All-Access Travel Passes - A Complete Guide

Nara 2018.08.07

There are many all-access travel passes you can buy to save time and money when traveling in western Japan - Osaka, Kyoto, Nara and other areas. Maximize their potential with our comprehensive guide!

Translated by Lester Somera

Written by Kousuke DEKI

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Take Full Advantage of Kansai’s Variety of All-Access Passes!

The Kansai area is home to Osaka, Kyoto, Nara, Kobe and many other fascinating tourist destinations. Your main method of transport around Kansai will be the train.

Kansai has various railway companies, including JR, Hankyu and Keihan, and they each release their own all-access passes. Keeping track is a bit complicated - for example, JR all-access passes can’t be used on other private railway lines - but if you can take full advantage of the passes, you can cut down on your travel expenses. This article summarizes Kansai all-access passes and where they’re valid, the advantages of each pass, important points and more. Read on for tips on how to save time and money on your Kansai adventures!

Table of Contents

1. Kansai Area Passes

all-access passes

We recommend this pass for people who plan to tour Osaka, Kyoto, Kobe, Nara and other popular Kansai sightseeing destinations. However, it’s comparatively expensive if you’re not going to be riding the train a lot, so you should get this if you plan to do a lot of traveling via train.

Kansai Area Pass For Your Standard Kansai Trip

The Kansai Area Pass, issued by JR, is a Kansai area all-access pass. You can use this for your garden-variety Kansai trip, but note that you cannot use it on the Shinkansen.

Areas You Can Go SightseeingOsaka, Kyoto, Nara, Kobe, Himeji, Wakayama, Shiga, KIX and More
AdvantagesYou can go around popular Kansai destinations like Osaka, Kyoto, Kobe, Nara and more
- From KIX, you can take the Limited Express Haruka (unreserved seating) to get to Shin-Osaka, Kyoto Station and other stops
Where This Pass Is ValidThe Following JR Lines (not valid for private railways)
- Kanku Limited Express Haruka (unreserved seating)
- Regular train lines (including special rapid and rapid trains)
- West Japan JR Bus
- Free use of Ekirin-kun rental bicycles
- 10% discount on JR station car rentals
Price1-day: 2,200 yen (half-price for children)
2-day: 4,300 yen (half-price for children)
3-day: 5,300 yen (half-price for children)
4-day: 6,300 yen (half-price for children)

The above prices are for online purchases and at designated travel agents. The prices may go up about 100 to 200 yen if you purchase the pass after coming to Japan.

Important Points
- Not valid for non-JR trains (private railways, etc.)
- Not valid for the Shinkansen
- If you purchase your pass abroad, don’t forget your exchange voucher

How to Buy
There are three methods.
1. Make an online reservation then pay at a major station (Kansai Airport Station, Shin-Osaka Station, Osaka Station, Kyoto Station, etc.).
2. Buy an exchange voucher at designated sellers in your home country then exchange it at a major station in Japan.
3. Purchase it at a major JR station after arriving in Japan.

Kansai WIDE Area Pass For People Planning to Go All Around Kansai

Kurashiki

The Kansai WIDE Area Pass lets you cover a more extensive area than the regular Kansai Area Pass. It provides access to places like northern Kyoto, where Amanohashidate is located, Kurashiki in Okayama, and the Wakayama Shingu area, home to the Kumano Kodo trail, a World Heritage Site. It also lets you go to places as far off as Tottori, Shikoku and Takamatsu in Kagawa.

Areas You Can Go SightseeingOsaka, Kyoto, Nara, Himeji, Wakayama, Okayama, Kagawa, Tottori, KIX and more
Advantages- You can travel around a wide area encompassing Northern Kyoto, Okayama, Tottori, Kagawa and more
- Valid on the Shinkansen (unreserved seating) from Shin-Osaka to Okayama, also valid for other limited express trains
Where This Pass Is ValidThe following JR lines (not valid on private railways)
- Sanyo Shinkansen from Shin-Osaka to Okayama (unreserved seating)
- Haruka, Kuroshio and other limited express trains (unreserved seating)
- Regular train lines (including special rapid and rapid trains)
- West Japan JR Bus
- Free use of Ekirin-kun rental bicycles
- 10% discount on JR station car rentals
Price5-day: 9,000 yen (half-price for children)

The above prices are for online purchases and at designated travel agents. The prices will go up 1000 yen if you purchase the pass after coming to Japan.

Important Points
- Not valid for non-JR lines (private railways, etc.)
- Not valid on the Tokaido Shinkansen (Tokyo - Shin-Osaka) or stops on the Sanyo Shinkansen further west than Okayama
- If you purchase your pass abroad, don’t forget your exchange voucher

How to Buy
There are three methods.
1. Make an online reservation then pay at a major station (Kansai Airport Station, Shin-Osaka Station, Osaka Station, Kyoto Station, etc.).
2. Buy an exchange voucher at designated sellers in your home country then exchange it at a major station in Japan.
3. Purchase it at a major JR station after arriving in Japan.

Kansai - Hiroshima Area Pass For People Who Want to Head Down to Hiroshima

Hiroshima

Picture courtesy of Hiroshima

The Kansai - Hiroshima Area Pass has an even greater range than the Kansai WIDE Area Pass, allowing holders to travel all the way to Hiroshima. We recommend that people who want to travel to both Kansai and Hiroshima get this pass.

Areas You Can Go SightseeingOsaka, Kyoto, Nara, Himeji, Wakayama, Okayama, Kagawa, Tottori, Hiroshima, KIX and more
AdvantagesYou can go around Hiroshima and the Kansai area using the Shin-Osaka - Hiroshima Shinkansen (unreserved seating), as well as other limited express trains
Where This Pass Is ValidThe following JR lines(not valid on private railways)
- Sanyo Shinkansen from Shin-Osaka to Okayama (unreserved seating)
- Haruka, Kuroshio and other limited express trains (unreserved seating)
- Regular train lines (including special rapid and rapid trains)
- JR West Japan Miyajima Ferry
- West Japan JR Bus, Chugoku JR Bus
- Free use of Ekirin-kun rental bicycles
- 10% discount on JR Station car rentals
Price5-day: 13,500 yen (half-price for children)

The above prices are for online purchases and at designated travel agents. The prices will go up 1000 yen if you purchase the pass after coming to Japan.

Important Points
- Not valid for non-JR lines (private railways, etc.).
- Not valid on the Tokaido Shinkansen (Tokyo - Shin-Osaka) or stops on the Sanyo Shinkansen further west than Hiroshima.
- If you purchase your pass abroad, don’t forget your exchange voucher.

How to Buy
There are three methods.
1. Make an online reservation then pay at a major station (Kansai Airport Station, Shin-Osaka Station, Osaka Station, Kyoto Station, etc.).
2. Buy an exchange voucher at designated sellers in your home country then exchange it at a major station in Japan.
3. Purchase it at a major JR Station after arriving in Japan.

You can also get a Kansai - Hokuriku Area Pass (7-day: 15,000 yen) that includes access to Kanazawa and Hokuriku, as well as a Sanyo - San'in Area Pass (7-day: 19,000 yen) which lets you go all the way to Hakata, so buy the right pass for your travel needs.

JR West Japan All-Access Passes: Homepage

KANSAI THRU PASS Private Railway All-Access Pass

We’ve explained the all-access passes sold by JR, but the KANSAI THRU PASS is an all-access pass that you can use on private railways in Kansai. Private railway networks stretch all around Kansai, so depending on your situation, this pass might be best for you.

* For example, when going to central Kyoto, going via Hankyu Kawaramachi is more convenient than going via JR Kyoto Station.

Areas You Can Go SightseeingOsaka, Kyoto, Nara, Hyogo (Kobe, Himeji), Mt. Koya, KIX and more
AdvantagesUnlimited rides on Kansai’s many private railways, and the pass includes over 350 discounts and other privileges at certain tourist destinations
Where This Pass Is ValidKansai area private railways (not valid on JR)
Price2-day: 4,000 yen
3-day: 5,200 yen

Important Points
- Not valid on JR lines or the Shinkansen
- There is an additional surcharge when riding the Limited Express Rapi:t train from KIX.
How to Buy
- Purchase a voucher on the homepage, then exchange it for the pass when you get to Japan.
- You can buy it in Japan at KIX, at the tourist information counter in JR Osaka Station, and other locations. There is a map available here).

Kyoto-Osaka Sightseeing Pass - Move Around the Osaka/Kyoto Area on the Cheap

The Kyoto-Osaka Sightseeing Pass is issued by the Keihan Railway company, whose network connects Osaka and Kyoto. We recommend this pass for people who want to be able to efficiently go around Kyoto spots such as Gion, Kiyomizu-dera, Fushimi Inari and Uji.

Areas You Can Go SightseeingOsaka: Osaka Castle (Temmangu Station) and more
Kyoto: Gion (Gion-Shijo Station), Kiyomizudera Temple (Kiyomizu Gojo Station), Fushimi Inari Shrine (Fushimi Inari Station), Uji (Uji Station) and more
Advantages- The pass is cheap
- You can go around Kyoto’s various sightseeing spots
Where This Pass Is ValidKeihan Railway trains only
Price1-day: 700 yen
2-day: 1,000 yen

Important Points:
Only valid on Keihan Railway trains (not valid on JR or other private railways)

How to Buy:
Buy a voucher on the homepage and exchange it at the Nankai Kansai Airport Station ticket office

KANSAI ONE PASS - A Rechargeable Card That Lets You Get Discounts

The KANSAI ONE PASS is a rechargeable card with an IC chip. It’s not necessarily any cheaper, but by using this card, you won’t have to buy a ticket every time you ride the train.

Areas You Can Go SightseeingOsaka, Kyoto, Kobe, Nara, Shiga, Mie, Wakayama and more
Advantages- Usable on any JR or private railway train
- No need to buy train tickets
- Offers discounts and special privileges at approximately 200 locations in Kansai, including roughly 60 inside KIX
Where This Pass Is ValidMajor Kansai transport networks, including JR and private railway lines
Price3,000 yen

Important Points
The card does not provide a fare discount.

Where to Buy
You can buy the card at Kansai Airport Station, JR Kyoto Station, JR Shin-Osaka Station and other places. Check the homepage for details.

2. Osaka Area Passes

Osaka

These all-access passes are only usable in Osaka. Many of them come with discount tickets that you can use at various tourist spots in Osaka, so use them to get good deals!

OSAKA AMAZING PASS - Convenient for People Only Traveling Around Osaka!

The OSAKA AMAZING PASS allows unlimited travel on the subways and buses that connect major Osaka tourist hotspots. It also lets you get in free at certain places, so we recommend this pass for people traveling around Central Osaka.

Areas You Can Go SightseeingTourist spots within Osaka (Osaka Castle, Tsutenkaku, Namba and more)
Advantages- Allows unlimited travel on almost all subways and buses within Osaka
- Free admission to almost 50 tourist spots, such as Osaka Castle’s main keep and Tsutenkaku
Where This Pass Is Valid- All Osaka subway lines and Osaka City Bus lines (with some exceptions)
- Certain Hankyu/Hanshin/Keihan/Kintentsu/Nankai trains
Price1-day: 2,500 yen
2-day: 3,300 yen

Important Points
Not valid on JR Trains

Where to Buy
The pass is available at JR Osaka Station’s tourist information counter and Namba Station’s tourist information counter and more. Check the homepage for a more detailed list.

YOKOSO OSAKA TICKET - A Bargain for Travelers Coming From KIX

The YOKOSO OSAKA TICKET is notable for including a reserved seating ticket for the Limited Express Rapi:t train which connects KIX with Namba in central Osaka (40 minutes).

Areas You Can Go SightseeingNamba, Tsutenkaku (Dobutsuen-mae Station), Osaka Castle (Tanimachi 4-chome Station), Umeda Sky Building (Umeda Station) and more
Advantages- Comes with a Limited Express Rapi:t reserved seating ticket
- One-day unlimited travel on Osaka subways and buses
- Discounted admission at places like Tsutenkaku, Osaka Castle and more
Where This Pass Is ValidLimited Express Rapi:t Train from KIX to Namba (one-way)
Osaka subway and bus lines
Price1,500 yen (1,650 yen at ticket offices)

Important Points:
Not valid on JR.

Where to buy:
You can reserve a voucher on the homepage, then exchange it at the Nankai Kansai Airport Station ticket office.

Homepage* YOKOSO OSAKA TICKET

You can also buy a KANKU-WEBTOKU TICKET, which saves you a few hundred yen on the rapi:t fare.

3. Kyoto Area Passes

Kyoto

Subway/Bus One-Day Pass - For People Going Around Kyoto

The Subway/Bus One-Day Pass is an all-access pass for the Kyoto area. You can use this to cover your travel to most major tourist areas within central Kyoto. Because there can be traffic jams on the roads due to the recent increase in tourists, take advantage of the subway lines to get around Kyoto efficiently.

Areas You Can Go SightseeingMajor Kyoto Tourist Spots (Kinkakuji, Kiyomizu-dera, Fushimi Inari, Arashiyama and more)
Advantages・Access to almost all areas within Kyoto City
・Discounts and other special privileges at roughly 60 places within Kyoto City
Where This Pass Is ValidKyoto City Subway
City buses, Kyoto Bus (with the exception of some lines), Keihan Bus (with the exception of some lines)
Price1-day: 900 yen
2-day: 1,700 yen

Important Points
・ Buses are often crowded, so try to use the subway as much as possible.
・The following tourist spots are not accessible using this pass: the Ohara area (Sanzenin Temple and Jyakkoin Temple), the Takao area (Jingoji Temple), the Kibune/ Kurama area (Kibune Shrine and Kurama Temple), some others

Where to Buy
JR Kyoto Station bus information counter in front of the central gate, other locations

Homepage: Kyoto One-Day Pass

You can also get a separate Subway One-Day Pass (600 yen) or a Bus One-Day Pass (600 yen), so use these if you plan on only taking one mode of transportation.

In Closing

The all-access passes issued in Kansai all have their own merits. Be smart and use the passes that suit your travel needs!

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