Icoca is fine for JR West trains, for Osaka/Kyoto/Kobe subways and private railways they are accepted anywhere Pitapa cards are accepted (same for buses), which pretty much includes all the major private railways/subways in the area.
There is no 3 week Kansai Thru Pass, but honestly I don't think a 3 week pass would be cost effective if offered. You have to plan a bit for the 2-3 day ones to pay themselves off. Most of the trips you would take between Osaka-Kyoto-Kobe are likely to be cheaper if you just paid as you went.
tokyosubway sums it up.
Yet one other thing for you to note is, ICOCA is not usable for the buses in Kyoto.
For Kyoto, if you plan on riding the bus more than 2 times, then a Kyoto City Buss pass for 500yen usually pays itself off. (each ride is 220yen on the bus in the fixed fare zone).
If you will be riding the Kyoto buses for more than three times in a day, get the Kyoto bus pass. The cost is 500 Yen. A single ride costs 220 Yen already.
let me summarize from what i understand. that icoca card can be used in all jr west, subways and private railways, and some city buses. But in kyoto, icoca card can't be used. if i want to use bus in Kyoto then i have to buy the pass for bus, which costs 500yen per day. Am I right?
Thank guys for all the answers. the infos are very helpful indeed.
In Kyoto, ICOCA cannot be used on Kyoto city buses, but it can be used to ride the subway.
You don't have to buy the Kyoto bus pass. However, if you take at least 3 bus rides on the same day, the pass will save you money.
Hi, I am heading to Osaka, Kobe and Kyoto in Feb 2012. Just to confirm, I can get ICOCA at the Kansai International airport (near to JR vending machine tickets) right? Also ICOCA can be used on JR trains, Osaka City buses and Subway + Kyoto subway. Can it be used on Hankyu railway to Kobe (from sanomiya to Mount Rokko)? From what I know not all private railway can use ICOCA.
Yes, you can get ICOCA at Kansai Airport.
And it can be used on the various transport you included in your post.
Hi Christyc.. Since we have the same places to go to in the same month, I suggest for Osaka you take subway. Subway in Osaka are well-dominate compared to Kyoto and Kobe where in latter 2 regions private railways and JR are dominant. Here is a website for you to look, it is a pass for 1 or 2 days in osaka with free admission to some travel places, it also have example courses that you can refer for your journey in Osaka: