Kansai Wide Area Pass
The Kansai Wide Area JR Pass is the perfect pass for exploring everything Kansai has to offer. Valid for five straight days, this pass is ideal for those who want to immerse themselves in history, culture, sights, and local cuisine.
Let’s see how the Kansai Wide Area JR Pass can help you enjoy the Kansai Region.
Tourists with temporary visitor visas can use the Kansai Wide Area JR Pass. Those with Japanese passports cannot purchase the pass; only foreign passport holders are eligible.
Before obtaining your pass, you must buy a voucher from a local travel agent or the JR West Online Train Reservation site. And until the 30th of September 2023, tourists are also able to purchase the pass from any JR West Station Ticket Counter.
The voucher, also known as a “Miscellaneous Charges Order” or MCO, must be exchanged at a JR Exchange office in Kansai. Remember to bring your passport, or you won’t get your pass.
Passes for children aged 6-11 are discounted, while kids under five can travel on trains for free with an adult.
The table below highlights the price difference between different vendors. Please note that prices change on the 1st of October, 2023. Sales of passes at Japanese train stations also cease on the same day.
Prices after 1 October 2023
|Outside Japan (Travel Agent)||A$128 (12,000 yen)||A$64 (6,000 yen)|
|JR West Online Website|
How to Exchange the Voucher
Before exchanging your voucher for a Kansai Wide Area JR pass, there are some pointers you must remember:
- Your MCO is valid for three months from the date of purchase.
- Be absolutely sure when you want to exchange your voucher. Once you obtain your pass, the 5-day timer starts, and you cannot change the activation date.
- Travellers aged six or older must have a voucher and a valid foreign passport. You cannot get a pass without a foreign passport.
- Any unused vouchers are refundable minus a 15 per cent cancellation fee. The voucher must be within a year of its purchase date and has yet to be exchanged for a pass in Japan. There are no refunds for a lost or stolen voucher.
With those pointers in mind, here’s a list of JR Exchange Offices in Kansai and their operating hours:
- Kyoto Station – Ticket Office near the Central exit – 5:30 a.m. to 11 p.m. daily
- Shin-Osaka Station – Ticket office near the East exit – 5:30 a.m. to 11:30 p.m. daily
- Osaka Station – Ticket Office near the East exit – 5:30 a.m. to 11 p.m. daily
- Kansai Airport Station – Ticket Office – 5:30 a.m. to 11 p.m. daily
- Sannomiya Station in Kobe – Ticket Office near the Central Exit – 5:30 a.m. to 11 p.m. daily
- Nara Station – Ticket Office – 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. daily
- Wakayama Station – Ticket Office – 4.50 a.m. to midnight daily
- Okayama Station – Ticket Office – 5 a.m. to 11:30 p.m. daily
- Tottori Station – Ticket Office – 5:45 a.m. to 11 p.m. daily
- Fukuchiyama Station – Ticket Office – 4:30 a.m. to 11 p.m. daily
- Takamatsu Station – Ticket Office – 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday to Friday; 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on weekends and holidays.
How to Use the Pass
Your Kansai Wide Area JR Pass is valid for use on the following:
- Sanyo Shinkansen between Shin-Osaka and Okayama
- Kansai Airport Express (Haruka)
- The following Express trains:
- Chizukyu Express line
- Kyoto Tango Railway
- Wakayama Railway
- Any local, rapid, and express trains on the following JR West lines:
- JR Ako line
- JR Bantan line
- JR Biwako line
- JR Fukuchiyama line
- JR Gakkentoshi line
- JR Hanwa line
- JR Hokuriku line
- JR Kakogawa line
- JR Kisei (Kinokuni) line
- JR Kobe line
- JR Kosei line
- JR Kyoto line
- JR Maizuru line
- JR Manyo-Mahoroba (Sakurai) line
- JR Nara line
- JR Obama line
- JR Osaka Higashi line
- JR Osaka Loop Line
- JR Sagano Line
- JR Tozai line
- JR Uno line
- JR Wakayama line
- JR Yamatoji line
- JR Yumesaki line
- Any JR Buses between the following areas:
- Kyoto Station
Remember to carry your Kansai Wide Area JR Pass and passport when travelling. Show your pass to a JR West staff to reach the platforms. Station staff are typically located at one end of the ticket barriers, sometimes inside a windowed booth.
Seat reservations are free except for Express, Limited, and Shinkansen trains. Remember to make your seat reservations at any JR West ticket office before travelling; otherwise, you can sit on any unreserved seat in the Ordinary Class car.
To travel in the Green Class car (first class), you must pay extra fees as the pass does not include it.
Validity and Exclusions
The Kansai Wide Area JR Pass is valid for five straight days. The day you exchange your voucher and activate the pass counts as day 1, regardless of the time. Day 2 starts at 12:01 a.m. the next day, and the pass expires at midnight on Day 5.
This pass is not valid on the Tokaido Shinkansen between Kyoto and Shin-Osaka. You also cannot use this pass on the Kyushu Shinkansen.
Although children under five years old do not need a pass, they cannot have their own seats; they must sit on your lap. If you require a seat for your child, you must purchase a pass for them.
Kansai, the cultural heartland of Japan, is a treasure trove of rich history, vibrant city life and awe-inspiring natural beauty. This multifaceted region offers an unparalleled blend of traditional and modern Japan, making it an unforgettable destination for any traveller. From bustling cities like Osaka and Kobe to the spiritual serenity of the Kumano area, Kansai has something for everyone. The local inhabitants are known for their warm hospitality and unique dialect, Kansai-ben. This melodic regional dialect, coupled with the infectious energy of the people, forms an integral part of the Kansai experience.
Osaka: A City of Delights
Osaka, the largest city in Kansai and Japan’s third-largest city, buzzes with an irresistible energy. Known for its vibrant nightlife and indulgent street food culture, Osaka is a city that never sleeps. Here, food lovers can savour local delicacies like Okonomiyaki and Takoyaki, available at every corner. And for those seeking a day of thrills, Universal Studios Japan offers an unforgettable adventure.
Kobe: A Blend of Luxury and Elegance
When one thinks of Kobe, the image of perfectly marbled, luxurious Kobe beef instantly comes to mind. But beyond its gastronomic delights, Kobe is a city of elegance and sophistication. Its western-influenced architecture, tinged with a touch of Japanese aesthetics, lends the city a unique charm.
Kyoto: Where History Meets Modernity
Kyoto, the former imperial capital, is a living museum of Japan’s rich history. Its well-preserved temples and shrines stand in stark contrast to the modern cityscape, offering a unique blend of tradition and modernity. Must-visit spots include the Kyomizudera temple and the bustling shopping district in its vicinity.
Nara: A Unique Encounter with Nature and Culture
Nara, famous for its deer park, offers a unique experience. Here, deer roam freely and interact with visitors, often bowing for food. But there’s more to Nara than just its deer park. It’s a gastronomic paradise, home to renowned sake breweries and considered the birthplace of this iconic Japanese beverage.
Okayama: A Journey into History
Okayama, known for its rich history, offers sights and experiences similar to Kyoto. It’s home to Kibitsu Shrine and the iconic Okayama Castle. Travelling to Okayama is a breeze, with the Sanyo Shinkansen offering smooth connectivity.
Wakayama: Adventure and Beauty
Wakayama, known for its historic castle, offers a mix of adventure and natural beauty. It’s a hub for water sports enthusiasts, offering activities such as snorkelling, kayaking, and diving. The beautiful white sandy beaches here are simply irresistible.
In conclusion, Kansai is a region that offers a bit of everything – culture, history, adventure, food, and more. It’s a region that invites you to immerse yourself in its rich tapestry of experiences and promises memories that will last a lifetime. So pack your bags and get ready to explore Kansai – the cultural heartland of Japan.