Another new thing on this tour is the use of trains and busses other than Japan Rail. Koyasan and Asuka are accessable by Kintestsu. The bus to Shirakawa is operated by Niho. Eihei-ji and Inuyama and Amanohashidate are also not connected by JR. Kusatsu Onsen not to mention.
Therefore there is the valid question: Do I need a JRP or what kind of JRP is suitable. There are eight different types I could use. The “Seishun 18” for example. Looks like I lost the overview.
And then there is all this tiny printed exceptions. The Seishun 18 is only valid on Locals and Rapid Trains but Kanazawa is only connected by Limited Express. The JRP Kansai is outside of the Kansai Pass area. And there is a gap between the Kansai and the Kanto area with Kiso valley right inside it. The bus to Kusatsu is not included in the Kanto bus but in the overall JRP. On the other side the Tobu-Line is part of the Kanto pass.
This goes on and on. I try to write it down. Then I tried a big table and a map. At the end I am down to use Excel. How low can I sink? I try to find a good combination of the several different tickets that are available. Just to save some bucks.
I swap day trips to optimize the usage of the tickets. Putting expensive routes into the time frame of a ticket and pay the cheap trips. But there are still some variables like Kobe and Wakamatsu, Inuyama and Matsumoto. A hotel in Kusatsu or in Narita. All this can have a big influence on the overall price tag.
The first result is shocking: If I buy single tickets and skip the one or other Limited Express or seat reservation, I can save 1200 yen. Single tickets can be cheaper than the JRP. This is basically because I am not using the shinkansen between the hotels. To put it the other way: for $16 I can buy the benefits on speed, seats and comfort.
This is surprising. On the last trip the JRP saved me $65. This time there are many non-JR-routes involved. And this trip is really compact: Kanto, Chubu and Kansai. The first trip in 2004 covered alle reagions of Honshu and a lot of shinkansen rides. Then I saved hundred of dollars.
And another surprising finding: If I sum up all the bus and train fares, they have the same price than the flight ticket: $800. This also means, I spend more than $1500 without a hotel, food or entrance fees; only transportation. Japan is expensive. If I add 7000 yen for a night in a hotel this will add $2000 to the tab. Still no food, entrance fees and fun included but $3500 down the drain.
That’s it for today. The big JRP plan is fixed. Now I have to get rid of the variables in my hotel plan; starting with the onsen problem.