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A Must-Read If You’re Traveling To Kansai! 5 Affordable Unlimited-Ride Rail Passes

Travel costs can easily add up during a holiday. As much as we want to keep our costs down, there are still so many places we want to visit! In this article, we'll introduce some travel passes that will help save you money as you travel through the popular Kansai region.

What Is the Kansai Region?

Kansai is the name of an area of Japan that includes the Osaka, Kyoto, Hyogo, Shiga, Nara, and Wakayama Prefectures, and in some cases refers to Mie Prefecture as well. The biggest city in the region, Osaka, is located around 500 km from Tokyo, and is 70 minutes from Tokyo by plane (Haneda Airport to Itami Airport) or 2.5-3 hours from Tokyo Station to Shin-Osaka Station by bullet train.
The Kansai region is an attractive area with plenty of highlights, including the former capitals Nara and Kyoto, once the center of Japan's politics, economy, and culture, and Wakayama Prefecture, where the sacred Buddhist area Mount Koya is located. Read on for information about travel passes that will help you get around this charming area without breaking the bank.

1. Japan Rail Pass

The Japan Rail Pass is a ticket sold by the Japan Rail group aimed at foreign visitors to Japan. This pass allows for unlimited travel on JR railways and bus lines during its period of validity, which makes it particularly useful if you're looking to visit a lot of different areas during your stay. A new service due to be launched in the spring of 2020 will allow customers to buy tickets and reserve seats online via a multilingual website. The pass will also be able to be used in automatic ticket gates, which is sure to help improve its users' travel experience.
* Details of price and sale dates to be announced.

1. Japan Rail Pass

2. Kansai Area Pass

This affordable pass allows holders to travel widely through Kansai, including in Osaka, Kyoto, and Himeji, by combining one-day tickets for the Kyoto Municipal Subway and Keihan Railway with a pass that allows unlimited use of JR local trains and buses in the Kansai area. The pass is available from 1- to 4-day periods, which makes it a good choice if your trip is focused in the Kansai area or if you only have a few days to spend here.

Sale Period: October 1st, 2019 - September 30th, 2020
Price: From 2,300 JPY (Adult ticket purchased outside Japan)
* The price of this pass differs when purchased outside Japan, within Japan, and online.

UNESCO World Heritage Site Himeji Castle

2. Kansai Area Pass

3. Kintetsu Rail Pass Plus

This pass is sold by Kintetsu Railway for international visitors to Japan, and offers unlimited travel on all Kintetsu Railway and Iga Railway lines for a period of five days. It can also be used on selected Nara Kotsu Bus, Mie Kotsu Bus, and Toba Kamome Bus routes, which is particularly useful if you are planning to travel in the Nara area. However, keep in mind that you will need to also buy an additional special-express ticket if you want to take limited express trains using this pass.

Price: 4,900 JPY (Adult ticket purchased outside Japan)
* The price of this pass differs when purchased inside and outside Japan.

Houryu-ji Temple, famous for housing the world's oldest wooden building

3. Kintetsu Rail Pass Plus

4. Kansai-Hokuriku Area Pass

The Kansai-Hokuriku Area Pass was first offered for sale in 2015 to coincide with the opening of the Hokuriku Shinkansen (bullet train). This pass offers unlimited travel for seven consecutive days on the Hokuriku Shinkansen between Kanazawa and Joetsumyoko Station and existing JR lines in the Hokuriku and Kansai areas. Pass-holders can also ride in non-reserved seats on limited-express trains in the area. This pass also covers travel on the Kyoto Tango Railway, so holders can visit Amanohashidate, one of the Three Views of Japan. This pass is best for those flying in and out of Kansai International Airport who also want to explore the area west of Kansai and the Hokuriku region.

Price: 15,000 JPY (Adult ticket purchased outside Japan)
* The price of this pass differs when purchased outside Japan, within Japan, and online.

Kanazawa's Kenrokuen Garden, one of the Three Great Gardens of Japan

4. Kansai-Hokuriku Area Pass

5. Kansai-Hiroshima Area Pass

This pass is great for those who want to travel through a wider area, from Kansai Airport to areas west of Kansai like Okayama, Hiroshima, and Takamatsu. This five-day pass covers the Sanyo Shinkansen between Shin-Osaka Station and Hiroshima, including the Nozomi and Mizuho express trains. It also covers unlimited use of regular train lines in the area, non-reserved seats on limited express trains, and JR West Miyajima Ferry. Another great feature of this pass is that it covers popular sightseeing destinations like Kurashiki and Onomichi in the Seto Inland Sea area. Pass holders can also take the ferry to visit Hiroshima's most famous attraction, Itsukushima Shrine.

Price: 13,700 JPY (Adult ticket purchased outside Japan)
* The price of this pass differs when purchased outside Japan, within Japan, and online.

The famous torii (shrine) gate that appears to float on the ocean at Itsukushima Shrine

5. Kansai-Hiroshima Area Pass

There are a range of travel passes available in the Kansai region, which means you can pick one that best suits your length of trip and travel plans. We hope this article helps you take advantage of these passes to enjoy a wonderful trip to Japan!

*Please note that the information in this article is from the time of writing or publication and may differ from the latest information.

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