Japan Rail Pass

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Traveling in Japan is fast, safe, efficient, and overall very pleasant. Is it also expensive? Sooner or later, you will find out that it is more on the expensive side.

As tourists, you don’t want to explore just Tokyo in Japan, which is the starting point for the vast majority of visitors due to air connections. Japan is a vast country of thousands of islands, and fortunately, all the most famous locations are located on the largest one, Honshu, but you still need to get around it. Japan has an extensive and precisely functioning public transportation network – subways, trains, buses, and/or boats will take you to even the most remote areas. Sure, you can also go by car, but renting a car in a country where shinkansens run? Who would make such a mistake?!

During the preparation of your trip to Japan, sooner or later, you will encounter the question of how you will get around and how much it will cost. The answer that will save you time and money is the Japan Rail Pass.

What is it?

The best ticket ever! Japan Rail Pass (JR Pass) is a multi-purpose ticket for shinkansens (Japanese bullet trains), local trains, buses, and some ferries operated by the JR company.

Where/when/how long/how much to buy it for?

You have to order the JR Pass before your departure to Japan, preferably on authorized websites (https://www.jrpass.com/) and several weeks in advance, so that you receive the voucher by mail, which you then exchange for your personal JR Pass in Japan.

Depending on the length of your stay, you choose between these options of JR Pass: for 7, 14, or 21 days. The price depends on that. You also choose between the regular JR Pass or the fancy variant JR Green Pass First Class.

Prices of JR Pass/JR Green Pass for the year 2024 (approximate, according to the Euro exchange rate): 7 days – €321 / €449 14 days – €513 / €705 21 days – €641 / €897 (before changes in October 2023, the prices were much lower, we still had a 14-day variant for roughly the price of this year’s 7-day one)

So, just click from the comfort of your home, choose the number of days, fill in personal information, pay by card, and wait for a surprise in your mailbox. The voucher that arrives in a few days must be taken with you to Japan, where you exchange it for a real JR Pass and activate it. You do this at one of the many JR offices, the list of which is provided on the voucher. Best done immediately at the airport.

At the counter of the office, you present your passport with the stamp “Temporary Visitor” (stamped by immigration upon arrival) and indicate the start date of the JR Pass’s validity. Now it’s fully available to you.

How to make the most of JR Pass?

You can find a complete list of JR company lines again on authorized websites, but for the sake of imagination, you will probably appreciate it most on the Yamanote line in the Tokyo metro, when transporting by boat to Miyajima Island, and of course, for traveling by shinkansens (all except Nozomi and Mizuho). In the metro, you show the JR Pass to the staff at the turnstiles, reserve tickets for shinkansens at stations, and travel with them for free with the JR Pass.

Are there other/cheaper options for JR Pass?

If you know that you will only be moving in specific regions, you can get Limited-Area Passes. These are divided into the following: JR Hokkaido JR East JR Central JR West JR Shikoku JR Kyushu Prices vary by region.

All in all?

Go for it! 😊 Prices are not low, but considering what the JR Pass offers, it’s really worth it. Plan your travels in Japan so that you use the JR Pass daily, and above all, fall in love with riding shinkansens, as we did.

-endy-

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