What Is the Japan Rail Pass?

Japan Rail Pass
Japan Rail Pass vouchers and passes for unlimited train travel in Japan

The Japan Rail Pass is a brilliant offer from the Japan Rail group of companies that gives travelers to Japan the option of unlimited train travel for seven, fourteen, or 21 days for a fraction of the usual price.

You can save a lot of money by purchasing a Japan  Rail pass especially if you plan to travel outside Tokyo and to some of the other regions. Japanese trains are some of the best in the world with a vast network of train lines crisscrossing the whole archipelago.

How Much Does The JR Pass Cost?



7 Days: 29,650 Yen
14 Days: 47,250
21 days: 60,450 yen

7 Days: 29,650 Yen
14 Days: 47,250
21 days: 60,450 yen


Which trains can I use with my Rail Pass?

Japan shinkansen
Travel around Japan by Shinkansen bullet trains with you Japan Rail Pass

Japan Railway Pass is available on all JR restricted express rapid trains and local trains. Further use of the train is possible for JR Shinkansen — “bullet trains,” excluding the Mizuho and Nozomi trains.

Though most useful for long trips, the JR passes are also useful in Osaka on the Loop Line as well as in Tokyo on the Five Metropolitan Lines (the Yamanote – Chuo line is excellent for traveling).

The Japan rail pass includes travel with several JR local bus routes, and airport services on the Tokyo Monorail (Haneda Airport) and the Narita Express (Nerita Airport). You can also use the JR pass on the ferry to get to the island Miyajima.

With a JR Pass you, have access to most trains operated by the Japanese Railway. You may visit the same place many times during your validity period.

In addition, there is the highspeed bullet train which allows for very quick travel to A. Except for Nozomico and Mizuo-Shinkansen, exceptions exist. These are particularly fast trains and they have fewer intermediate stoppages than usual Shinkansen.

This route also has a normal Shinkansen train that you can buy using the Tokyo Rail Pass. Tip: Alternatively you can travel to Tokyo from Narita Airport via Narita Express using the Japan Rail Pass.

Which Trains Can’t I Use My JR Rail Pass On?

  • Nozomi and mizuho trains
  • Subways And Metro Lines
  • Private Railway Lines

Japan Rail Pass Guide- Tips for Buying and Using the JR Pass

Japan RailPass is an excellent option for those who plan their trip extensively throughout Japan and can visit several different regions within a short period of time.

It’s cheaper to purchase tickets individually than to get tickets for each train journey a little cheaper. It reduces your waiting times.

The Japan railway passes were very simple to get used to. Here’s an explanation of the common question and we provide our review and firsthand information on how to purchase and use the Japan Rail Pass.

This Japan rail pass guide is intended for travelers wishing for the best experience possible.

How do I use the Japan Rail Pass?

The entrances to and exits in Japan are manned by automatic ticket gates that close immediately when you open up the card reader.

Jr pass holders used to have to use the separate manned ticket gate and flash the pass on the way through. But now your Japan rail pass can be entered directly into the ticket gate like a standard ticket.

How To buy a Japan Rail Pass?

When you order a ticket you receive a currency exchange voucher that you exchange with a JR Rail Pass after arriving in Japan.

All exchange orders are due three months after purchase. Exchange order processing can be done at any of the major train stations. (see this page to see the list).

As the JR Pass is limited to foreign tourists, a passport must be displayed before your voucher can be swapped for your Japan rail pass.

Will Japan Rail Pass save me money?

The amount of money that you will save with the Japan Rail Pass varies from trip to trip and depends on the train journeys you intend to take.

It requires careful research and preparation to make sure the Japan Railway ticket actually saves you money.

Using Hyperdia you can see the exact ticket prices on the route. The Japanese Rail Pass Calculator will give you a free estimate.

Once you know how much each ticket would be and how much it costs compared to the Japanese Rail passes that you want.

We had no savings from the Japan Rail Pass. The 14-day pass cost us $160 more than our free ticket a month earlier.

How does Japan Rail Pass work?

Obviously, the time of travel is the first thing. You may have up to 7 days with a Japan Rail Pass.

You should not that in the past the Japan rail pass could only be purchased outside of Japan before your travel, either online or through an authorized travel company.

Bring it along when you’ll be here in Japan. If yours isn’t, you can exchange it at any JR office located at any major railway station. When your epic Tokyo Rail Pass arrives, your options are endless.

Travel wherever your heart desires If you want to book a seat, you have to visit JR’s counter to reserve a spot for your next trip.

Where can I buy Japan Rail Pass?

Japan RailPass is an offer made by Japanese Railways and targeted entirely at foreign visitors. You can not use a Japan Rail Pass unless your home country does.

The cheapest way is to buy your JR Pass online via several companies. These prices will be determined by Japan Railway and will be identical across each company. Your ticket will be redeemed from the agencies and re-deemed for the real ticket at the local station when you reach Japan. It’s somewhat complex but is actually fairly straightforward.

Receive your ticket voucher in the mail

Japan Rail Pass Exchange Voucher
Japan Rail Pass Exchange Voucher

When you purchase via the website, the ticket will be shipped with a tracking number. JRrail ships within two days of the order. Plan accordingly. With the tickets in your bag, it’s time to get out of Tokyo to Japan. Alternatively, you can send the vouchers directly from Japan to your hotel. This is a preferred choice for some travelers and Japanese hoteliers know it well.

Who Can Use The Japan Rail Pass?

You are eligible to use the Japan Rail Pass only if you are a temporary visitor to Japan. Generally, this will mean anyone who takes a trip to Japan on a tourist visa.

Unfortunately, non-japanese nationals who are residents of Japan are unable to use a Japan rail pass, however, they are able to use some of the Japan railways area rail passes such as the jR East and JR west pass.

Note: Japan Rail Pass holders can only travel Nozomi (in the Tokad Shinkansen) and Mizuho bullet trains (in the SanY and Kyishen Shinkan). Bullet trains are very slow and will take longer than usual to travel.

Is Japan Rail Pass worth it?

In short, if you plan to take a round trip between Tokyo and Kyoto within a week then you will almost certainly save money by purchasing a Japan Rail Pass.

One way from Tokyo to Kyoto via shinkansen will cost 14,170 yen and a round trip between Tokyo and Kyoto If you buy shinkansen tickets directly will cost you 28,340.

If you purchase your Japan rail pass online it will cost you 29,650 yen. When you take into account day trips, regional trains, and train travel from Narita Airport you will always end up saving money.

A good quick way to tell if a Japan rail pass is worth it is to use a daily ticket cost.

JR passes have become an amazing resource for travelers who want to travel to and around Japan cheaply and easily.

Japan Rail passes are economically useful to the majority of Japanese travelers.

Here is a simple way to determine the cost.

It gives you an overview of what the most common routes cost without the Rail Pass. It is easy to see the right pass for you: Long-distance with the Shinkansen – Price for the single journey: Tokyo – Kyoto = 13.000 Yen, Tokyo – Osaka = 14340 yen, Japan.

It may also not be the best option for everybody. What are some good answers?

Do I need To Reserve A Seat?

Japan Rail Passes allow you to reserve seats for free
Japan Rail Passes allow you to reserve seats for free

On our last trip, it was never crowded enough to make seat reservations necessary.

Seat reservations can be made at the train station just before departure, you can always make seat reservations several days in advance. Reservations will only be accepted on national railways like Shinkansen trains or Express.

For most regional trains and limited express, train reservations are unnecessary

Once you have your JR Pass you can easily make free seat reservations.

Go to a JR ticket office and ask the staff for a reserved seat on the train you intend to catch and present your JR rail pass at the counter.

You will receive your JR Pass back along with your reserved seat ticket which will have your car and seat number printed on it.

Pro Tip: Put your JR pass into the automatic ticket gate not the actual

Not that trains in Japan are extremely punctual so make sure to get to the platform before the departure time printed on your ticket.

Seat reservation is optional in most train services in Japan. However, for a few trains, you will have to reserve seats such as the Narita Express (Toyo- Narita Airport).

It’s easy to tell when trains are available to book by looking on Hyperdia’s website. The dropdown menu under-seat fees shows no option to reserve seats, indicating the reservation option.

Pro Tip: When making reservations for the Tokaido Shinkenkansen from Tokyo, request a seat on the right-hand side so that you can get a great view of Mount Fuji from your shinkansen seat.

What’s The Best Way To Book Seats?

Reservation of seats for Japan Railway passes is free. To make reservations, visit a JR ticket booth or bring your ticket. Provide the driver a specific day to depart from. You’ll also receive a reservation ticket that you can use with a pass. Several JR stations are equipped with specially reserved seats where a booking can be booked by scanning a QR code on your JR rail pass. Reservation of seats is not possible on trains.

Update- My second review of the Japan Rail Pass

I decided to buy a Japan RailPass again during my third visit to Japan. The 7 day JR pass saved me a little more than I would pay for single-use travel. I generally travel very far and I made a trip by Shinkansen.

I used the free seat reservation. Travelling Tokyo primarily on JR lines (Yamanots, Chuo and Monorails).

How much money Will You Save with the JR Pass?

On the two trips, we had Japan Rail passes which saved the trip, and we were saved twice. When will the trip take place in Japan? Itinerary: Osaka > Kyoto > Tokyo > Nagani > Tokyo > Osaka.

We purchased this 7-day pass. It was quite an investment. When I lived and taught English in Seoul I thought JR Pass would cost us more than a train ticket in Korea and was very expensive.

When should you buy the Japan Rail Pass?

Once you confirm your date for Japan, you can search for the perfect Pass JR. Calculate how often and how much time is required to travel. Imagine the number of days a person should spend in Tokyo, and the distance from Tokyo to travel in the shinkansen. You should buy your JR Pass as quickly as you can, but not in a hurry. You can order a ticket online at any time up to 24 hours in advance. The tickets may be delivered to your address at Japan’s hotels.

Where can you exchange the voucher For Your Japan Rail Pass?

If you decided to purchase your Japan Rail Pass online before traveling you will receive vouchers that you can then swap from your Japan rail pass at a JR ticket counter which will be in most major train stations.

You can see a list of JR ticket offices here.

See signs for JR Pass Exchange.

Important: You need to take out a passport and change your card to avoid losing the train tickets.

JR Central Pass

JR Central pass is a regional rail pass that covers parts of Honshu from Tokyo and Kansai (though not connecting them). These passes are relatively few but they reach some major destinations.

In contrast to many regional japan rail passes, the JR Central Pass covers many important regional bus routes also.

JR Tokyo Wide Pass (formerly Kant Area Pass)

The most convenient Japanese train ticket is for those who live in Tokyo. JR Tokyowide Pass at a glance: The JR Tokyo Wide Pass lets you travel Hokkuriku Shinkansen from Tokyo up to Sakudaira through Karuizawa (in Nagano Prefecture); the Japan Express. This is really similar to JR East Nagano & Niigata Pass but has a smaller scope and fewer work days.

Which JR trains are covered by Japan Rail Pass?

We’ll get down to the tiny details now. The JR passes covers: numerous trains around Tokyo; most Shinkansen bullet trains; Narita Express (between Tokyo and Narita airport); some metro lines in cities such as Osaka and Tokyo; characterized as JR lines; some JR buses routes around the country; some ferries

Why should you buy a Japan Rail Pass?

Does it really depend on your trip? If you are just going into Nagano to visit Snow Monkey Park, you probably wouldn’t pay for Japan railway passes. However, if you plan a trip back to Kyoto, remember the train ticket costs about twice the cost of JR Pass. JR passes allow flexibility, too.

How much does Japan Rail Pass cost?


Green Pass Or Standard JR Pass: Which Is best?

There’s also the option to get a bit fancy and upgrade to the Japan Rail Green Pass. The primary benefit of purchasing a green pass is that you can travel on green cars when you catch the shinkansen.

How much Better Is The Green Car?

To be honest there is not a great deal of difference between the green car and the standard class seats on shinkansen trains in japan.

You’ll get slightly more room, a bit more cushioning on your seat, and a tray that folds up from the side rather than one that is attached to the seat in from of you.

General tips and information about train travel in Japan

Traveling on the train from Tokyo is certainly an excellent experience. The train is absolutely punctual and exceptionally fast. In just three weeks, everything has gone. Great! Definitely, we’ll have a train to take care of that. We’ve listed them for your consideration here.

How do I activate Japan Rail Pass?

If you buy Japan Rail passes you must specify an exact time for your use. You can select any date after you have purchased your card. When a confirmation occurs, the date of entry or departure will be printed and cannot be modified.

Who can buy Japan Rail Pass?

The Japan Railpass is only available to foreign travelers visiting Japan on tourist visas. You’ll receive a Temporary Visitors sticker on your passport, you must have this to receive and display the Japan Rail Pass.

How can I get my Japan Rail (JR) tickets online before I go? This pass is very affordable, but if you plan on visiting multiple large cities a few days in one month, you can expect to make an extra savings.

Is the JR Pass right for you? Should you buy the Japan Rail Pass?

The Japan Railpass makes traveling easier for you in Japan, but you may be saving money on the trip you take. Rail passes are good for people in Japan.

How much does it cost to buy a Japan Rail Pass?

It is very pricey but if one uses Shinkansen often it will be very worthwhile. I use it in Nagano, I’m going to Kyoto. I’m going to Kyoto again.

Visit a JR station to exchange your order for your REAL Japan Rail Pass!

Now your ticket voucher and the visa for tourism are ready for Japan. Oh my! Go to a nearby JR exchange. They can be found in most railway stations, particularly large ones. List some of JRs office hours. Here, you can exchange the vouchers for a Japan-style 7-, 14- or 21-day ticket. You can also specify when and where your ticket will be received. There can’t be fewer than 30 days. After completing the exchange and receiving the physical pass, it’s easy to explore Japan. Dont leave JR offices now……

Purchase Japan Rail Pass online

Just like booking an airplane, fill in the name of each traveler, the length and number of days (single or green pass in the 1st class), estimated arrival dates in Japan and the delivery address of the voucher. Send payment information to us. Please provide a valid credit card number for payment once you have completed the order. I guess that was all I had to say. So, we’ll be going to Tokyo! Is there any better way to get your tickets when you click the “buy now” button? Oh, very enjoyable.

Steps for buying your JR Pass

Purchase your JR pass by e-mail. Your Passpack is shipped within 2 days to your home (and sent to your hotel when you want). Get this card for boarding your first train! Okay, this is trimmed down, but for those looking at how to exchange orders for a REAL Pass then read on…

JR East passe

When traveling with a group of JR East Passes to Tokyo and Nagano, you will be based in Tokyo, Nagano Niigata, and Tohoku. It is not generally possible for JR east passes. Instead, there are four regional choices of passes for JR East: a JR east Tohoku pass; an east Nagano & Niigata pass. JR East Passes at once.

The JR East pass is another option if you not traveling down to Osaka and Kyoto.

JR West passes

JR West covers western portions of Honshu from Kansai until Shimonoseki. Several destinations are mentioned, including Kyoto, Osaka Nara, Kobe Himeji, and Hiroshima.

Basically, if you’d rather spend time during your Japan trip in the northwestern corner of the country, JR West is the best choice for you.

Definitely. 10 possibilities. Unlike the countrywide JR Pass, the JR West Pass is available for use with the most efficient Nozomi or Mizuho trains on the Sanya Shinkansen. It is available for use on the JR West and the JR Chugoku buses.

JR Hokkaido Passes

JR Hokkaido Pass provides transportation for train passengers in Japan’s northernmost island on all JR line trains and busses Hokkaido. This doesn’t cover the Hokuaid Shinkansen that connects Hokkaido to Honshu. Rather, the plan covers travel on trains that link the cities in Hokkaido as well as New Chitose airport.

What Jr Lines and services Are covered

The JR pass works on all of the following services:

  • Jr Yamanote Line (The main loop line in Tokyo)
  • Osaka loop line
  • All JR Limited express trains
  • JR Miyajima ferry


Tokyo Trip Checklist

  • To make sure you have all the important things covered see my first-time-in-Tokyo guide
  • Get your 1,2 or 3-day Tokyo Unlimited Subway Pass to easily get around Tokyo
  • If you want to travel on bullet trains you can save big with a Japan Rail Pass. Here’s why is worth it.
  • You’ll need a prepaid sim or Portable WIFI to stay connected in Tokyo.
  • Check out my detailed Tokyo packing list to make sure you’re prepared.
  • The best site to book hotels in Tokyo is almost always Booking.com. And remember to book early, especially during busy times.
  • For travel insurance (which you need) Word Nomads offer great coverage in Japan and are highly recommended.