Everything you need to know about using a Japan Rail Pass

Using a Rail Pass in Japan can help travelers navigate its many train lines, but is it worth investing in one while on vacation?

Every year, millions of people flock to Japan to admire its wondrous and most iconic attractions, including Mount Fuji, Imperial Tokyo, Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park, historic Kyoto, the island shrine of Itsukushima and much more. They can use the Shinkansen from Tokyo to Kyoto when heading to Mount Fuji or take the subway to a specific place of interest. Just experiencing the country’s state-of-the-art rail system is just a unique and essential part of a trip to Japan.

However, those who want to save a lot of money using Japan’s transportation system can spend some time learning about the convenient and special Japan Rail Pass. This applies to tourists who plan to save a lot of money by exploring a lot in Japan.


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Here’s what you need to know about the Japan Rail Pass and its validity

The JR Pass or Japan Rail Pass is the perfect option for opting for long-distance travel within the country. It is very profitable and is offered only to foreign tourists. When purchasing a JR Pass, people will have the option of unlimited rides on Japan Railways trains for one, two or three weeks. What is so unique about this pass is that it offers tourist fares that residents inside the country can only dream of. There are two types of JR Pass: they are ordinary and green cars. The latter offers more spacious seats than the former.


The JR Pass can be used on Japan Railways or JR nationwide. These include Shinkansen, express, limited express and local trains. Additionally, the pass is valid on the Tokyo Monorail to and from Haneda Airport. The JR Pass can also be used as a ticket on the JR Ferry to Miyajima. It can also be used on some non-JR trains to access isolated lines on JR. These include the Aoimori Railway, the IR Ishikawa Railway, and the Ainokaze Toyama Railway. The JR Pass is also valid on some local JR buses, such as those going to Lake Towada, the loop tour bus to Hiroshima, city buses around Sapporo, etc.


The JR Pass is not valid for several transportation options, such as JR trains that use non-JR tracks, special compartments, and platform trains that require line tickets, highway buses, etc.

Here’s how to buy a Japan Rail Pass

There are many ways to purchase a Japan Rail Pass. For example, people can buy the pass online through an authorized website which is authorized to sell JR Passes. When purchasing the pass on any of these websites, the voucher must be redeemed for an actual pass inside the country no later than three months after the original purchase date.

  • Recommended: Although costs are higher when purchasing a JR Pass from the official JR website, people will be able to make seat reservations online and only need their passport to collect their pass. inside the country.


Another way to buy a JR pass in Japan is through a travel agency outside the country. When people adopt this method, they will need to exchange the voucher receipt from the agent with a genuine pass inside Japan no more than three months after the initial purchase.

The last option to buy a JR Pass is to do so at some major train stations in the country. However, the costs to do so will be higher than the other options. Major stations include Haneda Airport, Narita Airport, Kansai Airport, etc.

  • Who can use it: The JR Pass can only be used by temporary visitors who come to Japan for a short period. As for Japanese nationals, they must prove that they have resided outside the country for more than ten years to be able to use the JR Pass.


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Is the Japan Rail Pass worth it?

The Japan Rail Pass is only worth the money for people who want to see a lot of things in this beautiful country. For example, if one wants to experience Japan’s most famous sights and attractions, one will have to travel from Tokyo to Osaka, then to Kyoto, Hiroshima and back to Tokyo. If one buys separate Shinkansen tickets for such a journey, he will pay about 40% more than if he had bought a one-week Japan Rail Pass. We must not forget about the high fees that will be paid for transportation in cities, airport transfers or a trip to Miyajima.

However, people on a very tight budget may not even be able to afford the Japan Rail Pass. This is where it is advisable to opt for discounted tickets, buses or slower trains. Also, those who wish to visit the beautiful villages of Gokamaya or Shirakawa-go might be better off without the JR Pass as these places are not accessible by JR trains only, which means the JR Pass will not be valid for these trips. . Also, people staying at the same place in Japan will not benefit from purchasing a JR Pass. This is because most urban network transfers in cities do not use JR railways.

The best option for the above cases might be to buy a regional Japan Rail Pass instead of a national one.

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