Please check their website for specific dates and details but the gist of the program is you pay about ¥12,000 (in 2015) for a ticket that gets you 5 days of free travel on ANY local JR train or bus in Japan. The downside is that it doesn’t include Shinkansen or Limited Express capabilities so be careful when planning your routes.
The 5 days of free travel have to be used during a certain period of time, but do not have to be consecutive. You can also use the pass for 5 people on the same day, two people for two days and an extra day for either of you or another friend to use, etc. The possibilities are endless, but there is only one ticket so if you and a friend use it together you must be travelling to the same place.
This is probably the most cost-effective way to travel in Japan, so if money is tight go for it and have fun! I am just cheap and wanted to try it out. There are the downsides of always being on local trains not having as much freedom for sleep and I didn’t want to carry around a lot of baggage, but now I can say that I’ve seen a lot more places between Tokyo and Kyoto than I had before. This ticket would be really cool to use while actually having 5 days to just ride the trains and get off wherever I liked!
The coolest part of this was seeing the difference in this area between when I visited in the heat of August and in the cool of April. It is still a really awesome place I think.
After the two temples, a trip to the Kyoto Botanical Gardens was suggested to me by a friend, so of course I headed there! I was pleasantly surprised by a dance competition of sorts when I got there and got to see lots of beautiful flowers!
After that was ¥100/plate 回転寿司(kaiten-zushi; conveyor-belt sushi) restaurant, a dip in one of the most popular ‘onsens’ in Kyoto (in quotations because it is actually a sento, or bathhouse), and stumbling upon a festival at a shrine in Gion where I bought myself a cheap kimono!