Public transportation system in Japan is convenient and efficient. Fortunately, there are many discount passes for public transportations that are only available for foreign visitors. Unfortunately though, due to the variety of the products, it can be very confusing for those who are not familiar with the area.
In this article, we will explain the differences of the two major passes in Kansai area; Kansai One Pass and JR Kansai Area Pass. Both passes are for the public transportation in Kansai area sold exclusively for foreign tourists.
We hope you will be able to choose the pass that is efficient and economical for your travel!
Kansai One Pass
Kansai One Pass is a rechargeable IC card you can use to pay the fares on trains and buses in the Kansai region. (*Not applicable for some transit lines.)
It works just the same as other IC cards that Japanese people use. The only difference and the benefit of this card are that you can receive discount services at sightseeing spots. There’s no discount on transportation fare itself.
IC cards are very convenient as once you have sufficient deposit on the card, you don’t need to buy a ticket every time you use the transportation. When you enter the ticket gate, you just need to touch the card on the reader. Most convenience stores and the kiosk on the train platform, many shops, and vending machines accept payment by IC cards as well.
It has no expiry date, so you can use it again when you come back to Japan in the future. If you are not planning to come back to Japan, you can return the card to get the deposit for the IC card(500 JPY), and the remaining amount back for a fee.
Also, if you are going to take the Kansai-Airport Express Haruka, you can purchase HARUKA discount ticket by showing the Kansai One Pass. This discount ticket is also only available for foreign passport holders visiting Japan as a “Temporary visitor” status.
JR Kansai Area Pass
JR Kansai Area Pass is a pass that allows unlimited travel on local JR trains and buses, and the Kansai-Airport Express Haruka’s limited express train in the Kansai region. The area includes Osaka, Kyoto, Nara, Wakayama, Himeji, and Kobe.
The valid trains are non-reserved seats on Kansai-airport Express HARUKA, Special Rapid Services, Rapid Services, and Local trains on JR-WEST Conventional lines. Unlike Japan Rail Pass, JR Kansai Area Pass is not valid on any Shinkansen including Tokaido Shinkansen between Shin-Osaka and Kyoto. Also, unlike Kansai One Pass, it is not valid on local buses but only on JR West buses.
The pass is available from one to four days. It is valid for consecutive calendar days.
Unlike Kansai One Pass, you need to fix the starting date of the pass when you purchase and it cannot be changed.
You will get a booklet with the coupons of sightseeing spots just as Kansai One Pass.
As for the prices, when you purchase in advance through JR-WEST website or overseas travel agency, the passes are slightly cheaper than buying at the counter in Japan.
So, what are the similarities?
– They come with coupons you can use at sightseeing spots. For the details of the benefit you get, please check the respective website.
– They are not valid for Shinkansen.
– Only sold for foreign passport holders on “Temporary visitor” status (tourists).
And what are the differences?
|Kansai One Pass||JR Kansai Area Pass|
|Ticket Type||IC Card||Paper pass|
|Valid Train||Most of the trains in Kansai region.
(To be accurate, all transportation facilities with “ICOCA”, “PiTaPa”, and “IC” signs, which means majority of transportation facilities in the Kansai area.)
|– Non-reserved seats on Kansai-airport Express HARUKA
– Special Rapid Services, Rapid Services, and Local trains on JR-WEST Conventional lines
|Valid Bus||Most of the buses in Kansai region.||JR-WEST buses only.|
|Kansai-Airport Express Haruka||Not included.||Included.|
|Payment System||Charged per ride. Rechargeable.||One-time payment for unlimited rides on the fixed date.|
|Valid Period||No expiry date.||Only the specified date you chose at the time of the purchase.|
(1500 JPY e-money + 500 JPY deposit for the IC card)
Maximum refilling amount is 20,000 yen.
|1-Day: 2300 JPY/Adult, 1150 JPY/Child
2-Day: 4500 JPY/Adult, 2250 JPY/Child
3-Day: 5500 JPY/Adult, 2750 JPY/Child
4-Day: 6500 JPY/Adult, 3250 JPY/Child
|Child fare (Under 12 year-old)||Not available.
Tip: Get the normal Children’s IC card (no tourists’ benefit).
|Available (50% of Adult fare)|
|Discount||Not available.||Discount available for advance purchases through overseas travel agents or JR-WEST website.|
What are your travel plans?
– Are you going to visit many places in one day? Or are you going to travel far by JR lines? If yes, the total sum of train fares could easily reach 2300 JPY within 1 day, which equals to the 1-Day ticket price of JR Kansai Area Pass.
– On the other hand, if you are just going to be hanging out in few places, Kansai One Pass may be good enough. You might end up paying extra if you buy JR Kansai Area Pass.
– Therefore, it depends on the places you are visiting in 1 day, wheather Kansai One Pass or JR Kansai Area Pass is more economical for your travel.
Please check the official website of the each product for the detailed and updated information!
Kansai One Pass Website: https://www.westjr.co.jp/global/en/ticket/pass/kansai/
JR Kansai Area Pass Website: https://www.westjr.co.jp/global/en/ticket/pass/kansai/