Wednesday, 14 September 2016

Getting Around (Osaka - Kyoto - Toyooka - Wakayama)

There are of course plenty of mode of transportation to choose from when one travels in Japan.

Even for JR Pass, while it's more common to hear about the 7, 14 or 21 days JR Pass which allow foreign visitors to travel at a fraction of the cost of train travel in Japan; there are a number of other regional passes available and on sale, seasonally.  One reason is, even for the 7-days pass; it might be an expensive purchase if you are planning to travel only in a certain region. I kept reminding my friends that they do not need to purchase a JR Pass if they only go on a vacation to ONLY Tokyo or ONLY Osaka. Single tickets or day passes may be more economical.

And if one needs only travel to nearby areas, a regional pass can be the answer.

Example of some regional passes on promotion currently:
From JR Central website
From JR East website

We've used the 7 days JR Passes a few times and it worked great and such a bargain for all those Shinkansen rides and long distance trips. We even managed to travel to the 4 main islands of Japan with a single 7-days JR Pass (we included trips using sleeper trains and save cost on hotel too while at it).

Just click on this link and you can read all of our train adventures. ^^

We've also used buses to our advantage too, by taking night buses where we depart from one city at night and arrived at another the next morning, completely refreshed after a good night sleep. Read about it here. Bus rides in Japan are so smooth (sometimes annoyingly slow though especially for those used to crazy bus drivers like we have here in Malaysia) that it can be so relaxing too.

Anyhoo, for our 2015 trip we were only traveling in and around the Kansai region so we looked for what JR West had to offer.
From JR West website
After much deliberation, we purchased the JR West Kansai WIDE Area Pass.
The valid route using the Kansai WIDE Area Pass.

We booked our passes online (as there is a 500yen discount for online booking before we enter Japan), then when we arrived, we went to Shin-Osaka station; armed with a copy of our booking confirmation email and passport to get our passes. Payment were made at the train station which made it easier.

The pass is priced at 8,500yen for adults and 4,250yen for children for a 5-days pass if reserved online. Purchases made in Japan will cost 9,000yen for adults and 4,500yen for children.
500yen is a meal's worth! That's a lot of money! Can almost pay for this awesome udon dish.
More info on the Kansai WIDE Area Pass here.

The pass enabled us to travel to Toyooka where we spent two nights when I ran in the Tango Ultramarathon in September 2015. We started the use of our pass on Sep 19th and it expired on Sep 23rd, 2015.

As it was for 5 consecutive days' use, we first use it to get to Toyooka from Kyoto on the Limited Express Kinosaki.

The 2-hours trip would've cost us 2,590yen if we bought single tickets.

The reason for the travel to Tooyoka was because of the Tango Ultramarathon that I had participated in. We couldn't find hotels near to the start/finish line as most hotels were already fully booked, because of a long weekend that week but we found one near the Toyooka train station.

We later used the pass to travel to Kinosaki Onsen on Sep 21st, the day after my ultramarathon and also when we returned to Osaka the same day and our final day's use was to Wakayama where we started our hike to see Nachi waterfall.
Source : Tango Ultramarathon website
We still needed to travel to Amino and Kumihama to collect our race kit and the run itself. Travel on the Tantetsu Line from Toyooka to both Amino (race kit collection site and also the start line of 100K and finish line for both 100K and 60K) and Kumihama (start of 60K) are not covered by any of JR passes.

A single trip from Toyooka to Amino cost 640yen and took about 40minutes but we were advised by the friendly station master of the Tantetsu line to purchase a KTR day pass which was sold at half price to foreign visitors. So, a 1,800yen day pass only cost us 900yen per person and it's half price for children! All we needed to do was show our passport as proof.
A return trip to/from Amino already would've cost us 1,280yen per person.

With the day pass in hand, we made an unplanned stop to Amanohashidate to see the famous sandbar and view one of three Japan's scenic view.

We had, during previous trips visited Matsushima Bay near Sendai (6 months before the 2011 Tohoku earthquake and tsunami) and also Miyajima (way back in 2008) so with the visit to Amanohashidate, we completed the series. :-)

The half an hour trip from Amino to Amanohashidate cost 570yen but of course it was already covered by the KTR day pass.
From Amanohashidate back to Toyooka took about 80minutes and would've cost us 1,190yen per trip!

And all the trips, from Toyooka to Amino then to Amanohashidate and back to Toyooka was covered by the single 900yen day pass.

It's good to be a foreign tourist in Japan. ^^

Good also that Japanese railways staff (and everybody in general) were always so helpful to assist our trips.

The line does not have frequent service so its best to check the train arrival/departure beforehand. Especially on race morning. We don't want to be late to our race, do we?

And do note that this line is used heavily by school children. So expect a squashed trip with trains packed with them. Hahaha

It was easier for us to plan our train trips and stay farther away from the race venue as my category was flagged-off at 9.00am. For those running in the 100K and with a 4am flag-off, there probably is no choice but to stay nearer to race venue unless the hotel provides shuttle arrangement.

For our train travel around Osaka/Kyoto and later Wakayama and Shingu (and hubby made a trip to Kobe too) between Sep 19 - Sep 23rd were all covered by JR West Kansai WIDE Area pass.  


  1. Unfortunately living in Japan as a foreign resident, we do not qualify for the JR Pass or many of the regional passes available to foreign tourists. One of the best for us residents is the Seishun 18 ticket (青春18きっぷ), which is only available for purchase three times a year, but allows for five days of unlimited travel on JR Trains (not including Shinkansen).

    1. Yeah...

      Better deal to be a tourist ;)

      But the Seishun Kippu is a good deal too, right?

    2. Yeah, it is a pretty good deal if you don't mind traveling slowly. You can pretty much travel the whole country for only 5000 yen :)

    3. I wouldn't mind for a mere 5,000yen ticket! ^^

      Slow is nice, sometimes. :)

      Have you done it? Travel the whole country with it? Would love to read about it.

    4. Not yet! I've always thought about doing it, but just need the time. Maybe one day :)


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