<p>On the train you can also get good views of the more quiet parts of Kansai.</p>
On the train you can also get good views of the more quiet parts of Kansai. (Photo: Allie Tan)

Using the Kintetsu Rail Pass

Save time and money travelling in the Kansai region

On the train you can also get good views of the more quiet parts of Kansai. (Photo: Allie Tan)
Allie Tan   - 5 min read

If you are heading down to Osaka, Kyoto, Nara, Mie or Aichi Prefecture, the Kintetsu Rail Pass can save you a lot of precious money and time.

The Kintetsu Rail Pass lasts for five consecutive days and costs ¥3,800. It comes with three coupons for rides on the limited express trains, and is valid for all trips between Kintetsu stations and Iga railway stations, which covers an impressive area. Children below 6 travel for free, while the tickets for children between 6 and 11 are half the price at ¥1,900.

An alternative to this is the Kintetsu Rail Wide, which costs ¥5,860 but does not have special prices for children. In addition to the same benefits as the standard Kintetsu Rail Pass, this ticket allows includes a round trip railway ticket from Kansai International Airport to Nankai Namba Station, a round-trip ticket on the Meitetsu railway from the Central Japan International Airport to Meitestu Nagoya Station. It also allows unlimited rides on Mie Kotsu Buses, and Toba 'Kamome' (Sea gull) Bus services in the Ise-Shima area. This will save you a pretty penny, as even short bus journeys cost at least ¥200.

I chose the standard 5-day Kintetsu rail pass while travelling between Aichi, Mie and Nara, as it suited my needs best. I was staying in HMI Suzukaji in Mie and HMI Yamatoji in Nara, and it was a natural choice for travelling around those areas. If you are in the area for a shorter period of time, you can also opt for the 1 or 2-day pass which allows travel within designated zones within Kyoto, Nara and Osaka.

Where to Buy

You can purchase the passes at various travel agencies, airport counters or at the Bic Camera at Nagoya and Kyoto Station. Certain places will sell different passes. I purchased my rail pass at Bic Camera in Nagoya, which is just a short distance from Nagoya Station. The staff were familiar with the pass and I had no trouble purchasing it.

You will need to show your passport to prove that you are a tourist in Japan. Japanese citizens who have permanent residency in another country or are married to a non-Japanese and living outside of Japan can also buy this pass, but will need to show some form of proof.

How to use

The 5-day pass validity will only start from when you first start using it, so you can buy it in advance. Simply insert it into the machine at the ticket gate and they will put a time stamp on it. Alternatively, you can just show the pass to the station master and be let through.

For the limited express tickets, you can fill in the details on your trip beforehand and get the station master to sign off on it, or you can let the ticket attendant in the train itself fill it in for you and stamp it. If you are riding on a limited express train without the coupon, you will be asked to pay an extra few hundred yen, depending on how far you are going. Limited express trains give you comfortable seating, but are not much faster than the regular express trains which do not cost extra.

Depending on the time you are travelling and if you don’t mind standing, you can take the regular trains without using the coupons. Naturally if you are planning to make longer journeys, it is more worthwhile saving the coupons for then.

Sample journey

Below are the journeys I took over the five days using the Kintetsu Rail Pass, and the amount that I have saved. All fare amounts are estimated using Google Maps and may not be completely accurate.

Nagoya station to Yunoyama-Onsen station (regular fare: ¥850)

Yunoyama-Onsen station to Uenoshi station (regular fare: ¥1,880)

Uenoshi station to Sakurai station (regular fare: ¥980)

Sakurai station to Kintetsu-Nara station (regular fare: ¥490)

Kintetsu-Nara station to Sakurai station (regular fare: ¥490)

Sakurai station to Kintetsu-Nara station (regular fare: ¥490)

Kintetsu-Nara station to Yamato Saidaiji station (regular fare: ¥150)

Yamato Saidaiji station to Kintetsu-Nara station (regular fare: ¥150)

Kintetsu-Nara station to Shin-Hosono station (regular fare: ¥300)

With the use of two Kintetsu limited-express vouchers, which I would have paid ¥510 each trip for, I saved an estimated ¥3,100. As you can see, I did not make a large effort to make the best use of the pass, but even just with regular travel, I saved quite a bit very easily. With the money saved you can indulge in more of the delicious regional food and products of the Kansai region that you can’t find anywhere else in Japan. Happy travels!

Allie Tan

Allie Tan @allie.tan