Japan Rail Pass
A Japan rail pass is a fantastic money-saving option to consider if you are planning to cover a lot of terrain during your Japan travels.
Japan Rail Pass: What is It?
A rail pass offered by the Japan Railways (JR) Group that enables foreign travelers to travel virtually anywhere in Japan by rail at a significant discount.
Who is Eligible for the Japan Rail Pass
The rail pass may only be purchased by foreign travelers to Japan visiting the country with “Temporary Visitor” status. According to Japanese immigration law, a “Temporary Visitor” is one who is visiting Japan for a period of 15 or 90 days for the purpose of sightseeing, etc.
In other words, while you will be eligible to purchase a rail pass as a “temporary visitor,” you will not be eligible for a rail pass if you are visiting Japan under any other status, including for work or for study, so be sure to confirm your visitation status prior to purchasing a pass.
Rail passes may also be purchased by visiting Japanese nationals permanently living abroad or who are married to a non-Japanese residing in a country other than Japan.
Where to Purchase a Japan Rail Pass
JR rail passes can only be purchased through authorized sales offices outside of Japan. In other words, you cannot purchase a rail pass in Japan once you have arrived. You must purchase it before you come to Japan.
The following are some of the travel agencies and companies that sell the Japan rail pass:
JTB Corp., Nippon Travel Agency, Kintestsu International, HIS, Toptour Corporation, Japan Airlines (only when booking a flight on this airline), All Nippon Airways (ANA), JALPAK, and their associated agencies.
When you purchase your rail pass prior to traveling to Japan, you actually purchase an “exchange order” which must be exchanged for the actual rail pass at one of the JR exchange offices located throughout Japan within three months of the purchase.
Types and Prices of Japan Rail Passes
There are two types of rail passes: standard unreserved seats (jiyuu-seki) and reserved green car (shitei-seki). Each type of pass is available for 7-day, 14-day, or 21-day periods, and are priced as follows:
|Type||7 Day||14 Day||21 Day|
Rail Pass Transportation Options
JR rail passes may be used on the following JR transportation systems throughout Japan:
Bullet Trains (新幹線 Shinkansen), excluding the Nozomi (のぞみ) Super Express
Limited Express (特急, Tokkyū)
Express (急行, Kyuko)
Local (普通, Futsu), including Local Express (快速, Kaisoku)
Special Rapid Service (新快速, Shin-Kaisoku)
JR Hokkaido Bus (JR北海道バス)
JR Tohoku Bus (JRバス東北)
JR Kanto Bus (JRバス関東)
JR Tokai Bus (JR東海バス)
West Japan JR Bus (西日本JRバス)
Chugoku JR Bus (中国JRバス)
JR Shikoku Bus (JR四国バス)
JR Kyūshū Bus (JR九州バス)
Highway Bus Routes:
Sapporo (札幌) → Otaru (小樽)
Morioka (盛岡) → Hirosaki (弘前)
Tokyo (東京) → Nagoya (名古屋), Kyoto (京都), Osaka (大阪), Tsukuba Center (つくばセンター)
Nagoya (名古屋) → Kyoto (京都), Osaka (大阪)
Osaka (大阪) → Tsuyama (津山), Kasai Flower Center (加西フラワーセンター)
Miyajima (宮島) → Miyajimaguchi (宮島口)