From the whimsical, deer-packed parks of Nara to the handsome, sakura-lined streets of Kyoto, Japan’s Kansai region boasts some of the country’s most beloved sites. And now, overseas visitors can take advantage of a new travel offer, the Kansai Area Pass, which makes it easier than ever to tour the area’s most famous and celebrated tourist attractions.
The pass enables holders to enjoy unlimited travel for routes that include the conventional line, Kyoto City Subway and Keihan Railway lines (one-day tickets can be exchanged for unlimited rides on Keihan Railway lines and Kyoto City Subway). The passes are available to travellers with a foreign passport and a visa status equivalent to a short-term stay, meaning visitors can hop on a train from Osaka (perhaps after diving into the city’s mouth-watering gastronomic scene) before travelling to Kyoto to explore the city centre and its surrounding sites such as Ujigami Shrine and Byodoin Temple in Uji, and the historic Nijō Castle.
“This pass covers a wide area that includes cities such as Osaka, Kyoto, Kobe, Himeji and Nara, and makes it very easy to visit world-famous cities and the main Kyoto tourist attractions. The new pass will enable visitors who currently move between Kyoto Station and tourist spots via city bus to use the subway, Keihan and JR, thereby avoiding congestion in central Kyoto so that they can enjoy a smooth sightseeing experience,” West Japan Railway Company told Lonely Planet.
The passes are available for one to four days and are valid from Kansai Airport to Kyoto, Osaka on the HARUKA limited express, and for unlimited travel on West Japan JR buses.
A one-day pass costs 2,300 Yen ($21) when purchased outside Japan, while a four-day pass costs 6,600 Yen ($60) when purchased outside Japan.
Reservations can be made in advance using the JR West Online Reservation Service, or purchased from overseas travel agencies. Once in Japan, passes can be purchased at approximately 30 locations including major stations and the Kansai Tourist Information Center.
More information on the Kansai Area Pass and how it works is available at the JR West website.
This article was produced in collaboration with West Japan Railway Company and written to reflect Lonely Planet's policy of editorial independence and impartiality.