Our JR Kansai Wide Area Pass was a difficult one to understand initially but it became easier once we took our first ride. The website in this link already listed down the lines in which the pass was valid for – but it remained confusing until we actually took the train from Kyoto to Osaka. It was cheaper to order online first than to get it at the station itself.
We activated the pass on the 5th day of the trip at the Kyoto station (very easy to locate, directions were provided in the pass package) and it was a blur of preparation for me. I simply decided to do that as we were heading from Kyoto to Osaka that day and it seemed a fine idea. It technically was, until I realised it wasn’t valid for the shinkansen, but the normal rapid trains instead. It was an alright journey but lugging our baggage in the semi-crowded trains was not that easy. For those who prefer comfort – the shinkansen would have been much better (but also pricier).
After activation, we realised the only shinkansen that this pass was valid for was the line from Shin-Osaka to Okayama. So with that, we were naturally inclined to make a trip there. The shinkansen’s significantly more comfortable than the other trains so it was worth the trip. We paid $108+ for our KWA pass and each ride to Okayama from Shin-Osaka was easily $36+ already. If it was just for that, it would have been enough.
But Okayama turned out fruitful (we really just expected a comfortable train ride) as there was a very pretty garden there: The Korakuen.
There was also a castle but we skipped it. The garden was sufficient to captivate us.
Upon reaching the station, we found a bus to get us there.
Please indulge us tropical city-dwellers who don’t get to see this often. Everywhere we turned in the garden was just too beautiful and filled with colours and shapes that are uncommon to us. I snapped so many photos that I don’t know what to do with them. Actually, I don’t know what to do with many photos that I’ve taken over the years.
After the garden, we got hungry we did a quick TripAdvisor search and saw that there was an Ippudo conveniently located on the walk back to the JR Okayama station.
It was a fruitful time in Okayama – somewhere we only thought of going to utilize our KWA pass.