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ICOCA, JR WEST PASS, OSAKA AMAZING PASS, and KANSAI THRU PASS ? WHAT ’ S THE DIFFERENCE ? Which is the best for you ? In this post, we break down all these options to help you figure out which is the one that you need for your travel ! If I tally all the inquiries we get about traveling approximately Japan ’ s Kansai Region, I ’ thousand positive that one interrogate will be getting the highest score : What should I get : Kansai Thru Pass, JR Pass, Osaka Amazing Pass, or ICOCA card ?
I hate answering questions with “ It depends, ” but in this subject, the answer very is, well, it depends. seriously, it depends on your itinerary.

The great thing about taking the public department of transportation in Japan is that you have A LOT of options to make your travel comfortable. The badly thing about it : there are A LOT of options that it ’ south easy to get lost and confused. Ever hear of option overload ? Well, let us break it down for you then you ’ ll be confused no more .
again, it depends on your travel guidebook. The key is to understand where you can use these options, and what each can do and can not do for you. But before that, let ’ s define some terms so we know we ’ re on the same page .

  • Osaka. This may refer to Osaka City or Osaka Prefecture. A prefecture is an administrative division. Think of it as a “province.”
  • Kansai. The name of the region. A region is a cluster of prefectures. Kansai Region is composed of seven prefectures: Osaka, Kyoto, Nara, Wakayama, Mie, Shiga, and Hyogo (where Kobe is located).
  • JR West. JR stands for Japan Railways, which is composed of seven companies that operate many train systems all around Japan. One of them is JR West, which controls the JR lines in Kansai region and Chugoku region (Hiroshima and friends).
  • Non-JR Trains. Not all train lines in Kansai are operated by the JR Group. Some are operated by Hankyu Railway/Hanshin Railway, Keihan Railway, Kintetsu, and Nankai Railway.
  • Metro. Osaka’s subways are not JR-operated either. They are connected to the JR lines as part of a greater railway system, but they’re owned and managed by a separate company.
  • Pass. For the purpose of this article, let’s define “pass” as a ticket that would give you unlimited use of certain transportation lines within a specific period of time and specific area. The keyword there is UNLIMITED. Some passes can also be used to score discounts for some attractions.
  • IC Card. These are stored-value, rechargeable cards that you can use to conveniently pass through the gates. ICOCA, PASMO and SUICA are all IC cards. They’re NOT unlimited. You’re still charged every time you use it, but you just bypass falling in line or purchasing tickets each time. It’s similar to Hong Kong’s Octopus card, Singapore’s EZ Card, and to some extent Manila’s Beep card. Some IC cards are also accepted at convenience stores and designated establishments.

I ’ ll provide a detail description of each choice, but before that, hera ’ s a brief drumhead so you easily see the remainder :

You can use a combination of these cards and passes. For example, you can use Osaka Amazing Pass + JR West Kansai Rail Pass. You can besides use JR West Kansai Rail Pass ( for JR lines ) + ICOCA ( for non-JR lines ) .

OSAKA AMAZING PASS

Best for: Traveling around Osaka City
I strongly recommend this!

The ultimate across-the-board Osaka sightsee pass, available in 1-day and 2-day versions ! The 2-day random variable must be used consecutively. It gives the holder unlimited use of the subway, tramway, and bus systems in Osaka. It besides gives exempt access to certain attractions including the follow :

  • Osaka Castle Main Tower
  • Umeda Building’s Floating Garden Observatory
  • HEP FIVE Ferris Wheel
  • Natural Hot Spring Naniwa no Yu
  • Tombori River Cruise
  • Dotombori Tour

You can reserve one via Klook. however, know that there are two types on Klook, depending on where you wish to pick it up. Make indisputable you book the matchless that is more convenient for you .
If you want to pick up the pass at Kansai Airport, RESERVE HERE.
If you want to pick it up at Kuromon Market in Namba, RESERVE HERE.

JR WEST KANSAI RAIL PASS

Best for you if: You will be visiting multiple destinations in Kansai Region on consecutive days .

This passing offers unlimited rail and bus rides to and in many cities in Kansai Region including Osaka, Kyoto, Kobe, and Nara. You can besides use this to travel from Kansai Airport to Osaka or Kyoto and back. available in 1-, 2-, 3- and 4-day robustness variants .
note that this exceed is alone accepted on JR Trains. This won ’ triiodothyronine work on Nankai lines or metro lines .
Do you need this pass?

  • If you plan on staying within Osaka and not visiting other cities, this is not for you. Get the Amazing Osaka Pass instead.
  • If you plan to visit Kyoto, Nara, Kobe or other cities in Kansai, this could be great for you.

The JR West Kansai Rail Pass can be used for the postdate :

  • Non-reserved seats on Kansai Airport Express HARUKA
  • Local trains, rapid service trains, and special rapid service trains on JR-WEST regular lines

This CAN NOT be used for the follow :

  • Reserved seats on Kansai Airport Express HARUKA
  • Reserved and Non-reserved seats on EXPRESS Trains excluding Kansai-airport Express HARUKA
  • Shinkansen (Bullet Trains)

IMPORTANT! Best to purchase this pass ONLINE. This evanesce is meant for foreign nationals traveling as a irregular visitor ( tourist ) in Japan. thankfully, there ’ mho Klook. You can book below :
1-Day Pass. RESERVE HERE!
2-Day Pass. RESERVE HERE!
3-Day Pass. RESERVE HERE!
4-Day Pass. RESERVE HERE!
How does it work ? How do you use it ? Oh, comfortable, easy .

  1. Book a ticket with Klook.
  2. When the transaction is complete, you will be emailed a mobile voucher. You can print it out or save it on your phone.
  3. On the day of your trip, upon arrival at Kansai Airport, find the HIS Counter at the Arrival Hall. There is usually a small KLOOK logo displayed in front of the counter. Show your mobile voucher to the staff. You will be given a physical voucher.
  4. You don’t have to use it immediately. The count will begin on the day you first use it. For example, if you purchase a 2-day pass and you claim it on Monday, it doesn’t mean that you have to use it on Monday and Tuesday. You may choose to use it any day before expiration. If you use it for the first time on Thursday, you can use it on that day and Friday.
  5. When you use it for the first time, approach the staff at the counter at any of the station and he will stamp the final date you may use the pass.
  6. For succeeding uses, simply show the stamp on the pass at the staff at every JR station.

You can use it together with Osaka Amazing Pass besides ! On my survive trip, I used an Osaka Amazing Pass when roaming within the city and then used my JR Kansai Pass on days when I traveled to Kyoto and Kobe .

KANSAI THRU PASS

Best for you if: You will be exploring multiple destinations in Kansai Region but your inter-city travels are scheduled on non-consecutive days .

Offers inexhaustible rail and busbar rides in many cities in Kansai Region including Osaka, Kyoto, Kobe, and Nara. You can besides use this to travel from Kansai Airport to Osaka or Kyoto. JR Lines are not covered, though .
available in 2- and 3-day robustness variants. Unlike the JR West Kansai Pass, the Kansai Thru Pass doesn ’ thyroxine require straight days, making it much more flexible .
then which is better : Kansai Thru Pass or JR West Kansai Pass ? lone you can answer that because it depends on your path. If most of your stops are along JR lines, then the latter makes more sense. But if your destinations are army for the liberation of rwanda aside and closer to non-JR lines, then get the Kansai Thru Pass. besides consider your schedule. Kansai Thru Pass ’ s “ non-consecutive ” have will allow you to maximize it better .
RESERVE KANSAI THRU PASS HERE

HANSHIN TOURIST PASS

Best for you if: You ’ ra exploring Kobe .

The Hanshin Tourist Pass will give you outright access to the Hanshin Main Line, which connects Osaka and Kobe, and all early Hanshin and Kobe Kosoku lines. The card is valid for one day. It is operated by Hanshin Electric Railway Co., Ltd., normally referred to as merely Hanshin .
The base on balls normally costs ¥700. But is an ongoing promo and you can avail of it for only ¥500. imagine : unlimited access for entirely ¥500 !
You can besides book in progress on-line via Klook !
GET THIS PASS HERE!

HANKYU TOURIST PASS

Best for you if: Your hotel is in Osaka and you want to explore Kyoto ( including Arashiyama ) and Kobe .
This travel by will allow you to freely board trains on any Hankyu Railway line, which connects Osaka to Kyoto and Kobe among others. This does not apply to Kobe Kosoku Line .

function of the Hankyu network is Kyoto, which means you can easily travel to and around Kyoto using this spend. What sets this apart from other individual railway passes is that it can take you to Arashiyama because Hankyu has a station there. It can besides take you to Gion District and, if you don ’ deoxythymidine monophosphate mind walk-to, Kiyomizu-dera Temple.

If you ’ ra plan on doing a day go of Kyoto from Osaka and Arashiyama is part of your path, we recommend this sink .
The pass comes in two variants : 1-Day, which normally costs ¥800, and 2-Day, which costs ¥1400. But presently, there is a promo that cuts the monetary value of the 1-Day or 2-Day pass for entirely ¥700 and ¥1200 respectively .
That ’ s a big deal ! typically, a roundtrip ticket to Kyoto alone costs ¥800. The Hankyu Tourist Pass covers that already, which means the cost of all the other rides you make become part of your savings !
But you can besides purchase on-line via Klook !
GET YOUR HANKYU TOURIST PASS HERE!

KYOTO-OSAKA SIGHTSEEING PASS (KEIHAN)

Best for you if: Your hotel is in Osaka and you want to explore Kyoto including Fushimi Inari Shrine but not Arashiyama .
This pass is offered by Keihan Railways, which links Osaka to Kyoto. This will enable you outright use of the Keihan Line ( which besides connects Osaka and Kyoto and other tourist sites within the city ) and Otokyoyama Cable Line .
Like the Hankyu Line, it can besides take you to Gion District and Kiyomizu-dera. But what makes it different from Hankyu Tourist Pass ? Well, it can ’ t take you to Arashiyama because Keihan doesn ’ t have presence there. But it can take you to Fushimi-Inari Shrine and other Kyoto attractions .
There are besides limited discounts at some attractions .
here are the costs : 1-day, ¥800 ; 2-day, ¥1200 .
RESERVE THIS PASS!

KINTETSU RAIL PASS

Best for you if: You want to visit Osaka, Kyoto and Nara ( 1-Day/2-Day Pass ) or you want to besides visit Mie Prefecture or Nagoya ( 5-Day Pass ) .

The Kintetsu Rail Pass is a ticket that will give you inexhaustible access to the Kintetsu railroad track network, which spans much of the Kansai Region and reaches even american samoa far as Nagoya. There are four types :

  • KINTETSU RAIL PASS (regular), which is valid for 5 days for Kintetsu train lines. Cost: ¥3600.
  • KINTETSU RAIL PASS plus (emphasis on the plus), which is valid for 5 days for Kintetsu trains as well as buses in Nara and Mie areas. Cost: ¥4800.
  • KINTETSU RAIL PASS 1-Day, valid for Osaka, Nara, and Kyoto only. Cost: ¥1500.
  • KINTETSU RAIL PASS 2-Day, valid for Osaka, Nara, and Kyoto only. Cost: ¥2500.

The KINTETSU RAIL PASS also gives you special deals and discounts at various attractions and stores in Kansai and Nagoya including BIC Camera stores and Nabana no Sato. For the complete list of participating establishments, sojourn this foliate .
As you might have noticed, you can entirely use the 1-Day and 2-Day passes when traveling in Osaka, Nara, and Kyoto. Hence, since we ’ rhenium going to Mie, we ’ ra using the KINTETSU RAIL PASS plus so Kintetsu string lines and some bus routes are covered .
Because the KINTETSU RAIL PASS is valid for five days, the travel guidebook below is best lend to your Nagoya or Nara travel plan. This way, you can actually maximize the pass .
notice that while the Kintetsu Rail Pass is accepted at Limited Express trains, it only covers the basic fare. An extra fee for the Limited Express slate ( which guarantees a allow seat ) is required .
RESERVE THIS PASS!

ICOCA Card

The ICOCA Card international relations and security network ’ t a pass. It ’ s a postpaid IC card. It ’ second sort of Kansai ’ mho adaptation of Tokyo ’ randomness SUICA or PASMO Card .

When you use an ICOCA card, you placid pay for every trip. ( Again, it ’ s NOT a die. ) You can besides use it to snag some discounts, but the real convenience is that you don ’ t need to get a ticket each fourth dimension you ’ re using the trail. You equitable need to quickly hover the poster over the reader and you ’ re through. It functions like an MRT stored-value ticket ( because that ’ s precisely what it is, a stored-value ticket ) .
You can besides use it not just on trains but besides on buses, lockers, vending machines, and even public toilet stores. Yep, lockers. The ICOCA wag works on lockers at caravan stations !
Although ICOCA is a product of JR West and is the primary IC card for Kansai and Chugoku region, you can use it in early places in Japan that has an IC tease reader : in Tokyo, Nagoya, Fukuoka, or evening ampere far as Sapporo. however, you can ’ t use it to travel between regions. The entrance station and passing station both have to be within the lapp region. Yes, you can use it WITHIN Osaka. Yes, you can use it to travel from Osaka to Kyoto or Nara. BUT you CAN ’ T use it to travel from Osaka to Tokyo or Osaka to Nagoya, because Osaka, Tokyo, and Nagoya are not in the lapp region .
To get one, you equitable need to approach one of the ICOCA machines at the station. There ’ mho no habit for me to enumerate the steps here because it ’ s so easy. Just choose ENGLISH on the welcome blind and follow the instructions .
But if you want a discount rate, you can get an ICOCA card from Klook, which is already preloaded with ¥1500 + the deposit of ¥500. You can get the deposit when you return the poster .
RESERVE A CARD NOW

JR PASS (NATIONWIDE)

Best for you if: You will be visiting multiple destinations in Japan including cities outside Kansai Region ( exercise : Fukuoka > Osaka > Tokyo ) .
If you’re visiting Osaka, Nara and Kyoto ONLY, you don’t need a JR Pass. It ’ s only for those who will make multiple long-distance travel. If you ’ rhenium staying within the Kansai Region, get a JR KANSAI RAIL PASS INSTEAD.

When is it wise to purchase a JR Pass? If you ’ ra visiting multiple cities in Japan and you ’ rhenium staying for at least 7 days. If your path is more like that, purchase a passing before your trip. Klook offers the cheapest junior Passes available. If you live in the Philippines, the evanesce will be delivered to you in 7 days .
CHECK JR PASS RATES HERE

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

1. Which is the best pass?

In summary, supposing you ’ ll be taking lots of train rides, hera ’ s what you should consider .

  • If you’re sightseeing in Osaka for a day or 2, get the OSAKA AMAZING PASS.
  • If you’re staying in Osaka or Kyoto and visiting other Kansai cities over NON-CONSECUTIVE days, get a KANSAI THRU PASS.
  • If you’re staying in Osaka or Kyoto and visiting other Kansai cities over CONSECUTIVE days, get a JR WEST KANSAI RAIL PASS.
  • If you’re sightseeing in Osaka for 1 or 2 days and you’re also visiting Kobe, get an OSAKA AMAZING PASS + HANSHIN TOURIST PASS.
  • If you’re sightseeing in Osaka for 1 or 2 days and you’re also visiting Kobe and Kyoto, get an OSAKA AMAZING PASS + 2-DAY HANKYU TOURIST PASS.
  • If you’re sightseeing in Osaka for 1 or 2 days and you’re also visiting Kyoto attractions including Arashiyama, get an OSAKA AMAZING PASS + HANKYU TOURIST PASS.
  • If you’re sightseeing in Osaka for 1 or 2 days and you’re also visiting Kyoto attractions including Fushimi-inari Shrine, get an OSAKA AMAZING PASS + KYOTO-OSAKA SIGHTSEEING PASS.
  • If you’re sightseeing in Osaka for 1 or 2 days and you’re also visiting Kyoto
    and Nara
    , get an OSAKA AMAZING PASS + 2-DAY KINTETSU RAIL PASS. If Arashiyama is non-negotiable for you, get OSAKA AMAZING PASS + 1-DAY KINTETSU RAIL PASS (Nara) + 1-DAY HANKYU TOURIST PASS (Kyoto)
  • If you’re sightseeing in Osaka for 1 or 2 days and you’re also visiting Kyoto, Nara, and Mie or Nagoya, get an OSAKA AMAZING PASS + 5-DAY KINTETSU RAIL PASS.
  • If you’re sightseeing in Osaka for 1 or 2 days and you’re also visiting multiple other Kansai cities on other days, get an OSAKA AMAZING PASS + either KANSAI THRU PASS or JR WEST KANSAI RAIL PASS.
  • If you’re visiting Kansai as part of a bigger Japan trip with stops outside Kansai Region, get a JR NATIONWIDE PASS.
  • If none of the above apply to you, just get an ICOCA Card or none at all.

note that the ICOCA Card is flexible and can complement the other passes, so I constantly have it even if I have Osaka Amazing Pass or another evanesce .
If you don ’ deoxythymidine monophosphate have an travel guidebook so far, check out our sample itineraries ! We besides indicate the passes that you should get per travel guidebook .
Sample Osaka-Kyoto Itineraries for 1-6 Days
Sample Osaka-Kyoto Itineraries with Nara or Kobe Day Tours for 4-6 Days
That ’ s it ! Hope this help .

2. I’m going to A, B and C. What is the best pass for me?

ultimately, it depends on the specific attractions that you will visit. One way to figure this knocked out is by using Hyperdia. Just figure your stops one by one and take note of the fare .
once you have all the fares, add them all improving. If the total monetary value is higher than the price of the pass, then the pas is credibly worth it .
Be mindful of the JR and private railroad track eminence and tweak your search using Advanced Settings .
To know more about Hyperdia, READ : HOW TO USE HYPERDIA!

3. I’m going to multiple cities. Is the JR Pass worth it?

You can use this Japan Rail Pass Calculator hera.

good enter your stops and it will tell you if the JR Pass is worth it .
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