Q: Is JR pass worth it for a 1 week (7 days visit). I will be flying in and out of Tokyo, and are still in the midst of planning. I would definitely be visiting Kyoto and Nara. I am also thinking if I should visit Osaka and Himeji. – Bree
A: In my experience, JR pass is rarely worth it unless you plan to travel to many places that are far from one another in a short time. In your case, a 1 week visit between Tokyo and Kyoto / Nara are particularly long and the places would probably be just worth it but not much. The advantage of getting a JR pass is that you can take a JR train anytime you like without worries but the downside is that it is only valid on JR trains. On the other hand, it is also really quick and easy to get a ticket on the spot itself for all train travels in Japan, and in this case, you will have more options (although not necessarily cheaper).
I have always used Google maps to help me with my transport planning in Japan, it shows you everything from the time schedule, all the possible connections and their prices. I really recommend to use it for your transport planning in Japan.
Here’s an example of some of the train travel connections that you might take (via google maps):
Tokyo to Kyoto train – around 14,000 JPY
Kyoto to Nara train – around 800 – 1300 JPY
Nara to Tokyo train – around 14,000 – 15,000 JPY
Rough total of individual train travel price – 36,000 JPY (353 USD)
JR Pass for 1 week or 7 days is priced at 29,110 JPY (285 USD).
From here, we can see that JR Pass will be worth it if you plan to travel both ways from Tokyo to a destination far off, and also with one or more side destinations in between. That is also if you are thinking to only take the train. There are also other transport options in Japan like domestic budget flights and bus travels.
My advice though if you only have 1 week and you want to cover both Tokyo and Kansai area (Kyoto, Nara, Osaka etc), then trains would still be the fastest and best option for you, hence a JR Pass would be worth it.
Should I get a 14 days JR Pass for travel in Kanto and Kansai?