Ultimate Japan Budget Itinerary travelling to 9 cities with the Kansai-Hiroshima JR Pass.

After realising we were able to explore Osaka, Kyoto and Nara for under S$70 a day (including flights and accommodation), we were back this time with the help of our JR Pass (Japan Rail) to explore beyond the Kansai region for under US$1.1k! Detailed budget breakdown can be found below.

JR Pass Japan Budget Itinerary-Map

Since our flights were from Singapore to Osaka, and there were several attractions we wanted to visit west of Kansai — including Kobe, Okunoshima (Rabbit Island), Naoshima (Yellow Pumpkin), Miyajima (floating Torii gate) as well as Hiroshima — we narrowed down to the 5-Day Kansai-Hiroshima JR Pass.

Read this comprehensive JR Pass Guide to find out more about the different JR Passes offered and how to get the most value.

Miyajima Torii gate - Kansai Hiroshima JR Pass - JR Pass Japan Budget Itinerary

JR Pass Savings

Apart from getting all our rides covered on JR Trains between cities (which can cost as much as ¥8000/trip), the pass also had other perks such as free bicycle rental and rides on the ferry to Miyajima. In fact, with the 5-Day Kansai-Hiroshima pass JR Pass, we managed to save a total of ¥20,880 (~S$270). Here’s the breakdown:

Japan-JR-Budget-Itinerary-Breakdown - JR Pass Japan Budget Itinerary

*Note that the duration may vary as some trains will miss stops while some will stop at every station.

*Pro-tip: Use this handy tool to find out the exact train timings while planning your route.
For an idea of whether it’s worth getting a JR Pass for your Japan Itinerary, check out this other train cost estimation tool.

Purchasing JR Pass (Japan Rail) in Singapore

Klook sells a range of passes from the Whole Japan Rail Pass to the region specific passes. Since the passes usually last for 3-7 days, you can really save a lot if you’re able to plan and narrow down on the places you want to visit.

Shinkansen - JR Pass Japan Budget Itinerary

I’ve previously travelled with the JR East Pass exploring the Niigata and Nagano region and remembered having to spend quite a bit of time at the JR Travel Service centre to fill up forms, have our passports validated before being able to receive the pass. This process still applies to passes like the Whole Japan Rail Pass so we were pleasantly surprised how fuss-free the Kansai-Hiroshima JR Pass was.

We ordered our JR pass online through Klook, collected the exact pass from the HIS counter at Kansai International Airport (Osaka) and were good to go! No need to make additional trips to collect the exchange voucher in Singapore, before exchanging, filling up more forms, and validating the actual pass at a JR Stations. Super convenient!

*Pro-tip: Book the passes and be eligible to use the promo <JRWIFI> for 3 days of FREE WIFI Device Rental in Japan! Cheers to staying connected with your loved ones. (Valid from 14 June – 15 July 2017)

Day 1: Osaka — Kobe — Himeiji

Arrive in Osaka (KIX):

WiFi/4G Connectivity: If you’ve also purchased the 8-Day Unlimited 4G SIM Card, you can collect the SIM Card from the Airport counter on level 1 (opens at 8:30am) by showing the QR code on the app. Alternatively, you could get the WiFi router from Singapore before leaving for your trip. Depending on your group size, it might make more sense to purchase the latter since it connects up to 10 devices and lasts for up to 10 hours.

Osaka Amazing Pass - Kansai-Hiroshima JR Pass Japan Budget ItineraryOsaka Amazing Pass: We also got the 2-day Osaka Amazing Pass which gave us free access to 35 different attractions on top of free transport on most subway lines in Osaka. Since the pass only gets activated on the day you first use it, we decided to leave exploring Osaka towards the end of our trip.

5 Day Kansai-Hiroshima JR Pass: The 5 day pass begins when you take the first JR line out so we used this to get out of the airport, saving on the cost of the Nankai Express which we used on the way back.

With the JR Pass, you will be entering through the gantry closest to the window. The station officers will stamp the start and expiry date on your card the first time but on subsequent trips, just show the card to the officer (for entry & exit). We noticed the officers get a lot more lenient about checking once you’re out of the main cities like Osaka and Kyoto.

Since the pass gave us free access to bicycle rental in most of the places we covered, that saved us transport costs within the cities!

Collection for both the 2-day Osaka Amazing Pass and 5-Day Kansai-Hiroshima pass JR Pass is at:

Osaka Kansai International Airport Terminal 1 – HIS counter (1/F) next to the Northern Exit in the Arrival Hall / Opening hours: 8:30am-10:00pm

Kobe

JR TRAINS:
Kansai Airport Station (Haruka Express Towards Kyoto) — Shin-Osaka Station
Shin-Osaka Station (Tokaido-Sanyo Line towards Aboshi)  Sannomiya Station (Kobe)

Ekirin bicycle rental in Kobe - Kansai Hiroshima JR Pass Japan Budget Itinerary

We dropped off our luggage at the station’s locker, picked up our bicycle rental from Ekirin Kun (free when you show your JR Pass) and went to explore.

Most people stop in Kobe just to try the famous marbled Kobe beef but there are a couple of nice residential areas to cycle through before stopping for lunch.

Kobe - Kansai-Hiroshima-JR Pass Japan Budget ItineraryA 1.2km ride from the Sannomiya Station brought us to the Kitanocho area — a charming historical district famous for western designed house because of the foreign residences who came in during the late Meiji period.

Starbucks in Kobe - Kansai-Hiroshima JR Pass Japan Budget Itinerary
Photo credit: Dreamofacity

Grab a drink from one of the prettiest Starbucks along the way before hoping back on the bike.

Kobe Beef cut - Kansai-Hiroshima JR Pass Japan Budget ItineraryThere are many options for Kobe Beef around the Sannomiya JR Station but we ended up at Steakland, known for its affordable cuts.

Kobe Steakland - Kansai Hiroshima JR Pass Japan Budget ItineraryThe queues can be really long during lunch but starts to clear up around 1:30pm.

After lunch, we returned our bikes, collected our luggage from the lockers and left for Himeiji.

Himeiji

JR TRAINS:
Sannomiya Station
(Tokaido-Sanyo Line towards Himeji) — Himeji Station

There isn’t much to do in Himeji but it’s castle is so popular in Japan (probably one of the prettiest in fact), people usually travel just to visit the Himeji Castle.

Himeji castle from the hill - Kansai Hiroshima JR Pass Japan Budget Itinerary

There’s also an Ekirin available at Himeji station although most of the spots here can be covered by foot. We rented one anyway to get to our accommodation for the night at the 588 Himeji Guesthouse — a small and homely traditional townhouse with 1 tatami-styled private room and about 10 dorm beds.

Cherie in front of Himeji Castle - Japan JR Pass Japan Budget Itinerary

Cats at Himeji Castle - Japan JR Pass Japan Budget ItineraryThe location is perfect being only a 6 minute walk to the famous Himeji Castle (¥1000) — a charming white castle that survived through earthquakes, surrounding air raids and village fires. Walk through all 6 floors to the top while discovering mini fun facts from the info boards (available in English) on each floor.

Fun fact: The castle was once painted black so it could not be seen during air raids. I guess that worked pretty well!

*Himeji castle closes at 5pm but make sure to arrive before last entry at 4pm.

Matsuya - Kansai Hiroshima JR Pass Japan Budget Itinerary

You will find most shops in Himeji closed by 8pm. Luckily we found our favourite 24-hour Salaryman set meal place, Matsuya (松屋 姫路店). You can get a full udon and a mini Gyudon for well under ¥1,000.

Another popular favourite in this city is Oden — various ingredients such as daikon (raddish), toufu, potato, fish cake etc. stewed in a rich Dashi broth and a tinge of ginger. Makes for a great post dinner snack to have with an ice cold beer.

Himeji 588 Guesthouse - Japan JR Pass Japan Budget ItineraryAccommodation: 588 Himeiji Guesthouse (1.2km from Himeji Station)

Day 2 : Himeiji – Hiroshima – Miyajima — Hiroshima

JR TRAINS:
Himeji Station (Tokaido-Sanyo Shinkasen) — Hiroshima

The Shinkasen ride from Himeji to Hiroshima is pretty straightforward. We grabbed breakfast from one of the convenient stores and arrived in Hiroshima slightly under an hour.

First stop was to drop our bags at the J-Hoppers Hiroshima Hostel which was about 3km away from Hiroshima station. Since we travelled with backpacks, we could make use of the free Ekirin bicycles to get to our hostel (which takes around the same time if you take the local trains).

*Pro-tip: To locate Ekirin shops from the train station, look out for car rental signs since most of the Ekirin shops are right next to a car rental parking lot.

Hiroshima

Known as the first city in the world to be attacked by a nuclear bomb back in 1945, most people visit Hiroshima to delve into the stories of this city’s dark past. A good place to begin is at the Peace Memorial Museum (¥200).

Read about the stories behind the owners of old uniforms and other belongings left behind as well as survivors like Sadako (paper crane girl) who only suffered the consequences some 10 years later. I’m sure the world knows of how horrific this was on the residents of Hiroshima but you don’t really get a true sense of the gravity until you walk through this museum — how stones boiled and glass shattered at such force it lodged itself into cement walls.

A-bomb dome in Hiroshima - Kansai Hiroshima JR Pass

One of the only remains left of the damage is the A-bomb dome, a former convention centre built by a Czech architect in 1915. At less than 200m away from the hypocenter of the bomb, it’s quite amazing how much of the building still stands.

Okonomura Okonomiyaki - Kansai Hiroshima JR Pass Japan Budget Itinerary

Apart from its tragic past, Hiroshima today is also known as a food haven and home to some of the best Okonomiyaki — a Japanese pancake made out of egg, cabbage, noodles. We arrive at Okonomi-mura for lunch, a 2 storey building housing 20 over restaurants that only specializes in serving Okonomiyaki; each one with a slightly different style and set of ingredients.

Okonomimura shop - Japan JR Pass Japan Budget ItineraryWe end up at the very first store on the second floor which happened to be the only store with a full house apart from 2 seats; the Singaporean in us just couldn’t help falling prey to social Proof 😛

Okonomi-mura Kimchi okonomiyaki - Kansai Hiroshima JR Pass Japan Budget ItineraryThe standard set here costs ¥810 with a choice of Udon or Soba and options to add-on such as cheese, prawns, squid or even kimchi for a top-up of ¥100-200.

Servings here were huge and could probably feed 2 with space for appetisers and desserts but unfortunately the rule here is, every guest must have their own plate of Okonomiyaki. We none the less enjoyed it until we felt way too full.

Polar bear gelato in Hiroshima - Kansai Hiroshima JR Pass Japan Budget ItineraryThough, our advice is try not to stuff yourself to the brim because just a 5 minute walk away is one of the best gelato find in Hiroshima — Polar Bear (¥310 for single scoop with cone). The ice cream was so incredibly soft, smooth and fluffy you can understand why the shop has a constant flow of local customers streaming in just to get a cone despite the chilly weather outside. The popular flavours here are Matcha and Sakura.

After lunch, we drop our Ekirin bikes off and head for Miyajima — island with the floating Torii gate (and lots of cheeky deers).

Miyajima

JR TRANSPORT:
Hiroshima Station (San-yo Line towards Iwakuni) — Miyajimaguchi Station
JR Miyajima Ferry — Miyajima Island
Miyajimaguchi
(San-yo Line towards Itozaki) — Hiroshima Station

We were so grateful the Kansai-Hiroshima pass included the ferry to Miyajima because the ferry happened to be about to leave just as we arrived. The officers quickly ushered us into the ferry seeing that we had our JR Pass peeking out of our hands.

Check this timetable to plan your departure.

Miyajima tori gate standing on water - Kansai Hiroshima JR Pass Japan Budget Itinerary

If you arrive during low tide, you can walk up to the gate and watch some of the local obasans digging the ground around for mussels. If you look closely, stuffed within the cracks of the wooden gate are coins and tiny trinkets left by visitors. Many come by during low tide to make a wish before leaving a small token on (or wedged into) the Torii gate.

Deers in Miyajima - Kansai Hiroshima JR Pass Japan Budget Itinerary

The next thing you’ll probably notice here are the deers! There are thousands of them on the island and all pretty hungry for paper (or any kind of food probably) so be careful of your JR Pass ($100+ worth of deer food)! Apart from being a little insistent when they know you have paper or food accessible on you, these deers are actually a lot tamer than the ones found in Nara. You’ll find most of them lazing under a tree and are more than happy to stay still while you snap a selfie or two.

Cheapest Oyster stall in Miyajima - Kansai Hiroshima JR Pass Japan Budget ItineraryOysters are a must-try in Miyajima. The famous shop here is called Kakiya and can probably be easily spotted with a long queue outside. Unfortunately it was closed that day so we ended up at a souvenir shop called Hanayashi which was connected to a small seafood grill.

Oysters in Myajima - Kansai Hiroshima JR Pass Japan Budget Itinerary

We can’t say for sure how it compares to Kakiya but ¥400 for 2 fresh as they can be oysters, we were happy customers!

Maple leaf snack - Kansai Hiroshima JR Pass Japan Budget Itinerary

Other famous snacks you can find here are the maple leaf pastries traditionally filled with red bean but can be found in other flavours such as cheese, chocolate or caramel. There’s also a melon-pan (sweet toasted bun sandwiching a scoop of ice cream — bliss) store on the way up to the Misen ropeway.

If you have time on your hands, you can take the Misen ropeway up the hill followed by a 30 minute walk to the highest part of Miyajima to enjoy a panoramic view of the island and its surroundings. Do note that the last ride down is at 5:30pm so factor in walking time to the station.

Also make sure to catch the last ferry back to Miyajimaguchi as well as the last train back to Hiroshima!

Hiroshima Bukudenya - Kansai Hiroshima JR Pass Japan Budget Itinerary

Back in Hiroshima, we missed the last local train and ended up walking in on one of the city’s most famous places for Tsukemen — cold ramen dipped in varying degrees of spicy broth, Bakudenya (1.7km away from Hiroshima Station).

Bakudenya got so famous it opened up various outlets in other cities like Tokyo, Nagoya and even one abroad in Hong Kong but this outlet in Hiroshima is where it first started out. I’ll be fondly waiting till they reach Singapore’s shores!

J-Hoppers Hiroshima - Kansai Hiroshima JR Pass Japan Budget ItineraryAccommodation: J-Hoppers Hiroshima Hostel — loved how spacious the beds were. It even had enough space at the sides for our backpacks and a small working corner. J-Hoppers has various outlets across Japan (2 in Osaka) so if you’re staying at a couple of them, be sure to grab a stamp booklet from the counter and enjoy ¥300 off every 3rd night stay.

Day 3: Hiroshima — Okunoshima (Rabbit Island) — Naoshima — Kyoto 

Ōkunoshima

JR TRANSPORT:
Hiroshima Station 
(Tokaido-Sanyo Shinkasen towards Tokyo) — Mihara Station
Mihara Station 
(Kure-Line towards Hiroshima) — Tadanoumi Station (Bunny Island!)

Okunoshima rabbit island - Japan JR Pass Japan Budget ItineraryOne of my favourite days on this trip was our visit to Ōkunoshima or better known as Rabbit Island! The island was a site for Japan’s poison-gas production during WWII but today, it’s almost synonymous to bunny paradise.

Just slightly over an hour’s ride away, Okunoshima is perfect for a day’s trip out from Hiroshima city. But since we were on the way back to Osaka, we checked out of the hostel and brought our luggage along.

Todanomi Port - Kansai Hiroshima JR Pass Japan Budget Itinerary

Tadanoumi Port: This is where you can leave your luggage (¥500 per luggage piece), buy ferry tickets (¥620 round trip via the vending machine), and load up supplies of bunny food (¥100/pack) — we recommend at least 2 packets/pax you won’t regret! Also rabbit food can’t be found on the island itself.

Ferry timings to Okunoshima Island - Kansai Hiroshima JR Pass Japan Budget Itinerary

One thing to note on trip planning is the train leaving Tadanoumi station only comes once or twice every hour, so check the ferry timings above and be sure to plan your return ferry so you don’t miss the train at Tadanoumi station!

Rabbits on Okunoshima Island - Kansai Hiroshima JR Pass Japan Budget Itinerary

Feeding rabbits on Okunoshima island - Kansai Hiroshima JR Pass Japan Budget Itinerary

A little apprehensive at first as rabbits are known to deliver pretty painful bites, these furry ones were so friendly we warmed up to each other quickly.

We were practically the only foreigners that arrived that morning so you can imagine how excited the bunnies were when we started shaking the bag of food in our hands. There was literally a hoard hopping towards us at one point!

Old Power house on Okunoshima Island - Kansai Hiroshima JR Pass Japan Budget ItineraryThe island also has a poison gas museum where you can find more info on the island’s sneaky history in WWII as well as other abandoned structures such as this power plant on the right side of the port. Yes the rabbits are everywhere and can even be found hopping in and out of the buildings.

Rabbit on Japan Rabbit Island - JR Pass Japan Budget ItineraryIt was really heartening to see that there were locals bringing basket loads of fresh lettuce and other vegetables for the rabbits to feast on. After about 1.5 hours, unwilling as we were, we left to catch out train out of Tadanoumi on to our next island visit!

Naoshima

JR TRANSPORT:
Tadanoumi Station (Kure-Line towards Itozaki) — Mihara Station
Mihara Station (Takaido-Sanyo Shinkasen towards Tokyo) — Okayama Station
Okayama Station (Uno Line towards Uno) — Uno Station (Naoshima)

Uno Station (Shikoku Ferry) — Naoshima (¥520 round trip; Not covered by JR Pass)

Naoshima yellow pumpkin - Kansai Hiroshima JR Pass Japan Budget Itinerary

Naoshima is known for many contemporary art museums as well as outdoor exhibits and installations spaced out around the island. Probably the most famous one here is the yellow pumpkin by Yayoi Kasuma.

Naoshima Map - Kansai-Hiroshima JR Pass Japan Budget Itinerary

You can rent a bicycle (not covered by the JR Pass) to get around the island but between the Tsutsujiso bus stop and the art museums, bicycles are not allowed. You can hop on the free shuttle bus that runs twice every hour or just go on foot while exploring all the interesting outdoor installations along the way.

Tori gate on Naoshima island - Kansai Hiroshima JR Pass Japan Budget Itinerary

There’s also 2 different ports so if you’re short on time, you can enter the island through Miyanoura port and exit via Honmura port. Note that the last ferry out from Honmura port is at 6:10pm so check the ferry schedules to plan how long you can spend on the island.

Kyoto

JR TRANSPORT:
Uno Station 
(Uno Line towards Okayama) — Okayama Station
Okayama Station (Tokaido-Sanyo Shinkasen) — Kyoto

Arrive in Kyoto for the night and be prepared to wake up early for the next day’s adventures!

Taikoya Bettei Guesthouse - Japan JR Pass Japan Budget Itinerary

Accommodation: Taikoya Bettei Guesthouse OR Len Kyoto (Both in the Gion area)
Kyoto Station (Karasuma Line towards Kokusaikaikan) — Karasuma Oike Station ¥210

Day 4: Kyoto

As a former capital of Japan, Kyoto has no shortage of instagrammable spots with many charming temples and shrines preserved in the most tip-top conditions.

Arashiyama Bamboo Forest - Japan JR Pass Japan Budget Itinerary

But one of the most iconic sights of Kyoto is the Arashiyama Bamboo forest (25 mins by local train from the Gion area). The Bamboo forest really is best experienced first thing in the morning when you practically have the whole place to yourself. Tour buses start streaming in around 8:30am so brace yourself if you’re arriving later than that.

Fushimi Inari Shrine - Japan JR Pass Japan Budget Itinerary

The Fushimi Inari Shrine is another must-visit in Kyoto famous for its never ending line of torii gates donated by individuals around the world. This is also the gateway to several hiking tracks that take about 2-3 hours to complete.

Cats at Philosopher's Path - Kyoto Budget
Philosopher’s Path

Back to Kyoto station area, pick up an Ekirin bicycle to explore the next few areas. Check out the Old Gion district — known as Kyoto’s Geisha district and cycle through the Philosopher’s Path — a canal path lined with cherry trees (especially famous in April during Hanami period). Just don’t get distracted by the cats along the way if you’re looking to visit some of the shrines in the area as most of them close at 4pm.

Kiyomizu dera - Japan JR Pass Budget Guide

If there’s only one temple you plan to visit in Kyoto, Kiyomizu-dera (¥400) is the one. The 13m tall wooden platform jutting over the hillside offers an extravagant view of greenery in front. Really gives you a sense of calm despite the crowd you can probably expect throughout the day.

Nishiki Market - Kyoto Budget

When you’re ready to look for food, the best place in Kyoto is the Nishiki market. Some of our favourites here were the Soy Milk Donut from Konnamonjya, Oysters from Daiyasu, the matcha soft serve from Sawawa (so incredibly rich in flavor!) as well as the fluffy and toasty manju-buns.

Read 16 foods you must try in Osaka and Kyoto for more details!

Entrance of Funaoka Onsen - Kyoto Budget Guide

One of the best ways to end the day is a dip in an Onsen. We ended up at Funaoka Onsen (¥430), about 30 minutes away from Kyoto Station. Our favourite was the electric pool and the jet massage jacuzzi corner.

Read Also: Kyoto Budget Guide for more things to see, do and eat.

Len Hostel - JR Pass Japan Budget Itinerary
Photo credit: Beacon-Kyoto

Accommodation: Taikoya Bettei Guesthouse OR Len Kyoto (Both in the Gion area)

Day 5: Kyoto — Nara — Osaka

JR TRAINS:
Kyoto Station (Nara Line towards Nara) — Nara Station
Nara Station (Yamatoji Line towards Osaka) — Osaka Station

Nara things to do - Japan Budget GuideCheck out early and head for Nara — under an hour’s train ride from Kyoto. Leave your luggage at the station’s lockers and grab an Ekirin bicycle. You can grab breakfast around the station but be sure to eat it before looking for the deers. These are not as chilled as the ones at Miyajima.

todaiji temple - nara budget guide

First stop, start riding towards the Todaiji temple (¥500) — one of the world’s largest wooden building and houses a massive 15m tall bronze buddha statue. When you’re done with the main complex, explore around and visit the other halls like the Nigatsudo hall, the Hokkedo hall as well as the Todaiji Museum.

cherie surrounded by deers nara deer park - nara budget guide*Pro-tip: Don’t be distracted by the deers and miss the opening hours of the other attractions as they can be found everywhere!

Of course, one of the things you must do is feed the deers in Nara Park.
You can purchase a stack of biscuits for the deers at ¥150 from a couple of vendors around the park. A lot of the deers will even bow in front of you before expecting a biscuit from your hand. Do be careful though as they can get quite playful some times.

Read also: Nara Budget Guide if you’re intending to stay the night or look for food in the area.

Osaka

JR Train:
Nara Station (Yamatoji Line towards — Tennoji Station (Osaka Loop Line) — Nishijuko Station (Sakurajima Line towards Sakurajima) — Ajikawaguchi Station

Before the sun sets, make your way towards J-Hoppers Osaka Universal for the night. Thankfully, there were JR lines that got us right to the accommodation so we could still make use of the JR Pass for the last time that day.

View from Harukas300 - Kansai-Hiroshima JR Pass Japan Budget ItineraryIf you purchased the USJ VIP Wristband (allows you to enter the park 15-30mins earlier than everyone else) remember to collect them from Harukas300 (closes at 10pm). The pass also includes entrance fees to the Observatory of the tallest building in Japan.

Fun fact: Although the Harukas300 is marketed as the tallest building in Japan (300m), the Tokyo Skytree is in fact taller at 634m but is not considered a building ~ sneaky.

J-Hoppers Osaka Universal - Kansai-Hiroshima JR Pass Japan Budget ItineraryAccommodation: J-Hoppers Universal Osaka — at just 1 stop away from Universal-City Station, this is one of the best budget accommodation options if you’re planning to visit Universal Studio Japan the next morning.

Day 6: Osaka (USJ)

We suggest buying your USJ tickets online so you can skip the queues and head straight into the park. The price is the same, and first time users can use the promo <KLOOKTTI>, for an additional S$5 discount!

If you purchased the USJ VIP Wristband, you can find out the unofficial opening hours of USJ and enter 30minutes earlier than the rest through an exclusive password that lasts for 24 hours. This is especially helpful if you did not buy the USJ Express pass so you’ll be able to grab timed-tickets for the Harry Potter World before anyone else.

USJ Hogwarts Castle at night - JR Pass Japan Budget ItineraryHowever, if would really like to try all the exciting rides, an express pass is definitely essential.

USJ Minion Park Minion Water Bottle - JR Pass Japan Budget Itinerary

Some of the must-try rides are the Minion Hachamecha, The Wizarding World of Harry Potter, Hollywood Backdrop, The Flying Dinosaur, and Jurassic Park (although you can get really wet from this one!)

USJ Flying Dinosaur - JR Pass Japan Budget Itinerary
Flying Dinosaur

Get the summer special frozen butter beers from Three Broomsticks! Our personal favourite out of the 3 options (hot, cold and frozen).

USJ Butterbear Hogwarts Castle - JR Pass Japan Budget Itinerary

Read Also: Ultimate USJ Guide to planning a magical experience

Accommodation: J-Hoppers Universal Osaka

Day 7-8: Osaka (2 Day Osaka Amazing Pass)

Osaka Amazing Pass - JR Pass Japan Budget ItineraryThe Osaka amazing pass gives you free entry to around 33 different attractions, discounts at restaurants and shops as well as free rides on all the buses and local trains (except JR lines).

*Pro-tip: Pick 2 weekdays to activate the pass as some free admissions are not applicable on weekends.

Although most of the sights that were of interest could be covered in a single day, the savings actually exceeded the cost of the 2-day pass on the first day. On the second day we made use of the pass to get around as well as enjoy the Onsens (one on each day!). Some of the interesting free attractions include:

1) Osaka Castle (usually ¥600 to enter the castle and the observatory at the top)

Osaka Castle - Kansai-Hiroshima JR Pass Japan Budget Itinerary The queue to take the lift up can get quite long so save the time and take the stairs up. You can start from enjoying the views at the Observatory on the 8th floor before making your way down each level while going through interactive story-telling features of Toyotomi Hideyoshi. Last entry at 4:30pm.

2) Osaka-jo Gozabune Boat (usually ¥1,500 to ride)
Osaka Jo boat ride - Kansai-Hiroshima JR Pass Japan Budget Itinerary 20-minute ride around the Osaka Castle Inner moat in a gold-leaf decorated boat. Last ride at 4:30pm.

3) Tempozan Giant Ferris Wheel (usually ¥800 to ride)

Tempozan Ferris Wheel - JR Pass Japan Budget Itinerary
Photo credit: thousandwonders

One of the World’s biggest Ferris Wheel measuring 112.5m in height. If you’re lucky, you could score a ride on the see-through gondolas with a transparent floor. Last ticket sold at 9:30pm.

4) Umeda Sky Building Floating Garden Observatory (usually ¥1,000)

Umeda Sky Building - JR Pass Japan Budget Itinerary
Photo credit: Kansai.gr

Famous for the 45m high see-through escalator that brings you through to the floating garden observatory. Last entry at 10pm.

5) HEP FIVE Ferris Wheel (usually ¥500)
Hep Five Ferris Wheel - Kansai-Hiroshima JR Pass Japan Budget Itinerary

HEP FIVE Ferris Wheel - JR Pass Japan Budget Itinerary Located at the top of a shopping mall, this red wheel can be seen from far away. What probably added to the experience was that they had personal speakers in each gondola where you could plug in your own music during the ride ~neat.

6) Tsutenkaku Tower (usually ¥600)

Tsutenkaku tower - Kansai-Hiroshima JR Pass Guide
Photo credit: Expedia

Rubbing the foot of the Billiken statue is believed to bring good luck. There’s also a hot spring under the tower for ¥440. Remember to bring your own towel!

7) Naniwanoyu Hot Spring (usually ¥800)
Naniwa Noyu hot spring - Kansai-Hiroshima JR Pass Japan Budget Itinerary You can buy a small towel for ¥150 or bring your own. Especially enjoyed the individual outdoor tubs. Last entry 12mn.

8) Suminoe Hot Spring (usually ¥750 ) — Towels can be rented for ¥200. Last entry 1am.

Food in Osaka:

The 2 main places to try a variety of food is Dotonbori and Ichiba Kuromon market

Dotonbori - Kansai-Hiroshima JR Pass Japan Budget Itinerary

Melon Pan in Dotonbori - JR Pass Japan Budget Itinerary

Dotonbori — Probably the best place in Osaka to get your fill of street food, you can find mouth watering snacks here for really affordable prices. Some of the must-tries are the Creo-ru Takoyaki (order the one with the onsen egg and spring onions!), the Melon Pan (a sweet crispy bread served with ice cream in the middle), as well as the Golden Dragon Ramen (a rich pork broth with free flow kimchi for spiciness and leek).

Fukahiro Salmon seafood bowl - Kansai-Hiroshima JR Pass Japan Budget ItineraryIchiba Kuromon — One of the top spots for fresh seafood, you can find various stores selling freshly cut sashimi don for as low as ¥380, ramen bowls for ¥250, as well as oysters and grills on sticks. One of the more popular ones in the area is Fukahiro where sashimi bowls are made-to-order. Get a standard set for ¥1,500 (includes rice) or choose your own seafood and add a bowl of rice for ¥300. Osaka Amazing Pass holders gets a free bowl of rice or ¥300 off the standard rice sets.

Read: Osaka Budget Guide for more food options and things to do in Osaka!

The Pax Hostel Osaka - Kansai-Hiroshima JR Pass Japan Budget Itinerary
The Pax Hostel

Accommodation: The Pax Hostel (100m walk to Tsutenkaku Tower)

Ark Hostel Cafe & dinning - JR Pass Japan Budget Itinerary
Ark Hostel

On our previous trip, we’ve stayed at a the Capsule Hotel Asahi Plaza (5min walk to Dotonbori) as well as The Ark Hostel (3 stations from Namba Station) both pretty cosy and affordable.

Flights from Singapore to Osaka

Option 1: At the time of booking, MAS (Malaysian Airlines) made the most sense for us since we wanted to start the day as early as possible. The flight left at 7:15pm, we had a layover in KLIA for 2 hours before before taking a separate 10pm flight out to Osaka (KIX). We arrived at 5:40am the following day, fresh and ready to start exploring!

*Note if you’re collecting tickets from the airport counter, you will have to hang around for a bit because HIS counters only open at 8:30am.

Option 2: If arriving early isn’t a priority, Jetstar seems like a pretty good option too. You can pick the 2:20am flight which transits in Manila for 1 hour. You will arrive at 11:50am, just in time for lunch!

Budget Breakdown

Round Trip Flights from Singapore – Osaka: S$631 (Malaysian Airlines)
5 Day Kansai-Hiroshima JR Pass: S$167 from Klook*
8 Nights Accommodation: ¥21,200 or S$265
Osaka Amazing Pass: S$41 from Klook*
Food: ¥21,007 or S$262.58
Activities & Local Transport: ¥11,620 or S$145.25 (including USJ Tickets: S$94 from Klook*)

GRAND TOTAL: S$1511.83 or USD$1072.22

Please refer to this for our detailed budget breakdown.
*Do note that the prices fluctuate slightly depending on the day exchange rate.

Budget Saving Tips

1) Food

Food in Japan is surprisingly very affordable. Most of our breakfast consisted of grab and go meals from Konbinis (convenince stores such as Family Mart, 7eleven, Lawson etc.) that usually cost under ¥300. In the smaller cities where restaurants close as early as 7pm, we always had one of the 24-hour Salaryman shops like Matsuya to fall back on. You can order a Gyu-don for ¥250–350 or a set which includes a bowl of Udon or soba for ¥780 (varies across cities). And lastly, ¥100 conveyor belt outlets like Sushiro or Kura sushi were always an option for affordable sushi!

2) Transport within cities

We personally love walking between locations especially in a place like Japan on a sunny day out. Because of the number of times we had to change trains to get around, it sometimes made a lot more sense to get to our destination by foot while enjoying the sights on the way. Thankfully this time we had access to free bicycle rental from Ekirin Kun via the JR Pass but even without, ¥300 for a full day rental can surely beat what you’ll be paying for local train tickets.

3) Purchase a JR Pass in Singapore

Last but not least, get a JR pass and buy them in Singapore! Not only does Klook sell the JR Passes cheaper than if you got them in Japan or off the official JR websites, the JR pass was a huge saving in itself (as seen in the table above). Remember to use <JRWIFI> to get 3 days of FREE WIFI Device Rental in Japan after booking your JR Pass!

Time to book your JR Passes for an awesome time in Japan!

Read also: The Most Comprehensive JR Pass Guide for Singaporeans

Let us know in the comment section if you found this useful! Hopefully we’ll be able to explore with the other JR Passes covering specific areas and update you guys again in future! 😉

This post was brought to you by Klook.

ENFP and Co-founder of The Travel Intern. Fuelled by yoga, the outdoors, and anything that spells adventure, she quit her 4 year marketing job to explore yoga for 3 months in India. Back with a little more flexibility, zest for adventures and stories to tell, follow her adventures on Instagram @cheriesyw :)

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