Japan Rail Pass Guide: Everything You Need to Know About JR Pass in 2023
Japan Rail Pass is a huge money-saver if you are traveling in Japan. Bookmark this Japan Rail Pass Guide so you have a quick guide on how to use it and everything you need to know.
When in Japan, you can’t just stay in Tokyo. There is a lot to see across the country beyond the capital. If you think traveling across Japan is hard, let us introduce you to Japan Rail Pass, commonly known as JR Pass.
What Is Japan Rail Pass or JR Pass?
The JR Pass is a cost-effective ticket used for long-distance travel throughout Japan. Created by Japan Rail Group (JR Group), the JR Pass gives passengers, especially tourists, access to all forms of transportation under JR Group, which is a group of 6 companies, with a few exceptions.
Say you are planning to go to Tokyo, Kyoto, Osaka, and Hiroshima for 1 whole week. Getting to Central Tokyo from Narita International Airport via Narita Express could cost you much. With JR Pass, you will be able to save about 3,500 JPY one way.
If you are planning to do inter-prefecture travels, from Tokyo to Kyoto to Osaka to Hiroshima for example, taking the Shinkansen (bullet train) from place to place would cost you more than 35,000 JPY. With JR Pass, you will be able to save a ton of money.
Different Options for JR Pass
The JR Pass is available in different options based on the duration of validity:
Ordinary Pass: This pass allows unlimited travel on JR trains, including the Shinkansen, limited express trains, and local trains in designated areas. It is available in three durations: 7 days, 14 days, and 21 days.
Green Pass: This pass provides access to the same trains as the Ordinary Pass but offers a higher level of comfort in the Green Car, which is the equivalent of a first-class compartment. The Green Pass is available for the same durations as the Ordinary Pass: 7 days, 14 days, and 21 days.
Note that most JR trains only have Ordinary Cars. Most long-distance trains offer Green Cars. It's important to note that the Japan Rail Pass is not valid on all trains. The pass covers most JR-operated trains, but there are a few exceptions, such as the Nozomi and Mizuho Shinkansen services. However, you can still use other Shinkansen services, such as the Hikari and Sakura trains.
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Can Foreign Tourists Use JR Pass?
Yes, the JR Pass is designed for foreign tourists and provides a cost-effective way to explore Japan by train. You will need to show the actual Temporary Visitor sticker you got upon landing at the airport.
Where to Buy JR Pass
There are two steps to buying a JR Pass. First, get an ‘Exchange Order’ through travel agencies or online. If you buy online, your voucher will be delivered to you.
Second, you need to exchange your voucher for the actual ticket within three months of purchase. Exchange Orders can be swapped for the real pass at major train stations at airports. Check the list of JR Pass exchange and sales offices.
Reminder, your name on your passport should be the same as your name on the pass. Bring your passport when exchanging your Exchange Order for the pass.
Can I Buy JR Pass in Japan?
It is more expensive to buy a JR Pass in Japan. But you can still buy it from certain train stations and airports for a limited time. As of June 3, 2023, the availability of the JR Pass in Japan is until March 31, 2024 only.
Buying online is cheaper and more convenient. You can have the Exchange Order shipped to your home address or to an address of your choosing in Japan. You can only buy the JR Pass in Japan from the following places:
New Chitose Airport
How Much Is JR Pass?
Here’s the latest price list of JR Pass for adults:
7 days - ¥29,650 or $219
14 days - ¥47,250 or $348
21 days - ¥60,450 or $445
7 days - ¥39,600 or $292
14 days - ¥64,120 or $472
21 days - ¥83,390 or $613
Children under 6 are free. Children aged 6-11 get a 50% discount.
Do note that starting October 2023, the price of the JR Pass will drastically increase by as much as 77%.
Starting October 2023, this will be the updated price:
7 days - ¥50,000
14 days - ¥80,000
21 days - ¥100, 000
7 days - ¥70,000
14 days - ¥110,000
21 days - ¥140,000
Where Can I Use JR Pass?
The Japan Rail Pass can be used on various JR-operated trains, buses, and ferries throughout Japan. Here are some of the major services and lines where you can use the JR Pass:
Shinkansen: The JR Pass covers all seven Shinkansen lines, including the Tokaido Shinkansen (Tokyo - Osaka), the Tohoku Shinkansen (Tokyo - Aomori), the Hokkaido Shinkansen (Shin-Aomori - Hakodate), and others.
Limited Express Trains: The pass is valid on limited express trains, which provide faster and more comfortable travel on specific routes, such as the Narita Express (NEX) between Narita Airport and Tokyo, and the Thunderbird between Osaka and Kanazawa.
Local and Rapid Trains: You can use the JR Pass on local and rapid trains on the JR network, which allows you to explore various cities and regions across Japan.
JR Ferry Services: The pass covers JR-operated ferry services, such as the Miyajima Ferry to Miyajima Island near Hiroshima.
Some Non-JR Lines: In certain regions, the JR Pass can be used on select non-JR lines that have agreements with JR. For example, the pass can be used on the Tokyo Monorail between Haneda Airport and central Tokyo.
Overall, the JR Pass is a no-brainer if you want to explore the entirety of Japan throughout your stay.
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