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Japan Rail Pass

Japan flag. Japan Rail Pass

Should I buy a Japan Rail Pass? | Japan Rail Pass Validity | Types of Japan Rail Pass | Eligibility for the Japan Rail Pass | Exceptions to the Japan Rail Pass | Bus with Japan Rail Pass | Where to buy the Japan Rail Pass | How to Exchange an Exchange Order for a Japan Rail Pass | Japan Rail Pass Refunds | Other JR Passes | Some Japan Rail Pass Reservation Offices | 15 Useful Tips for Train Travel in Japan

Japan Rail Pass

Shinkansen Bullet Train Japan

The Japan Rail Pass cannot be purchased inside Japan, so the Japan Rail Pass must be purchased overseas and reserved within 3 months of intended use.

  • Valid for all JR Group local & regional trains except the 'Nozomi' (the fastest shinkansen bullet train).
  • JR run local and highway bus services
  • Miyajima to Miyajimaguchi ferry (Hiroshima Prefecture)
  • To qualify for this, before coming to Japan, you must show you will be a temporary visitor to Japan. show your passport, containing a Temporary Visitor visa stamp.

    Before traveling, buy an Exchange Order online, or at a JR licensed travel agent, and once you get to Japan exchange it for a pass at any Japan Rail Pass Exchange Office in Japan, including at Narita International Airport.

    Prices in Japanese yen.

    The Japan Rail Pass also entitles the bearer to a 10% discount at JR Group hotels.

    Purchase a Japan Rail Pass.

    Period Green Car (Adult) Ordinary (Adult) Green Car (Child 6-11 yrs) Ordinary (Child)
    7 day 37,800 28,300 18,900 14,150
    14 day 61,200 45,100 30,600 22,550
    21 day 79,600 57,700 39,800 28,850
    Shinkansen bullet train at Nagoya Station

    Shinkansen bullet train at Nagoya Station



    JR Ticket Office. JR Ticket machines.

    Ordinary shinkansen travelers buy their tickets at the JR ticket office or from a machine

    The Japan Rail Pass is also valid on these JR buses: local lines of JR bus companies (JR Hokkaido Bus, JR Tohoku Bus, JR Kanto Bus, JR Tokai Bus, West Japan JR Bus, JR Chugoku Bus, JR Shikoku Bus, JR Kyushu Bus) and some JR highway bus services (Sapporo-Otaru; Morioka-Hirosaki; Tokyo-Nagoya, Kyoto, Osaka, Tsukuba Center; Nagoya-Kyoto, Osaka; Osaka-Tsuyama, Kasai Flower Center).

    Should I buy a Japan Rail Pass?

    Purchase of a Japan Rail Pass is highly recommended if you are planning to visit Japan on a Temporary Visitor (typically 90 days) visa, and if you are planning to travel considerable distances within Japan.

    The Japan Rail Pass gives you almost unlimited use of the lines of the six regional companies that make up the the Japan Rail (JR) Group: JR Kyushu, JR Shikoku, JR West, JR Central, JR East, and JR Hokkaido - covering the whole of Japan, as well as many JR buses, and even a JR ferry (Hiroshima to Miyajima Island.)

    The Japan Rail Pass allows you travel around Japan, as you like, at a fraction of the price it would cost to buy a ticket for every leg of your travels. For example, even the most expensive Japan Rail Pass option: the 21-day Green (1st class reserved) pass at 79,600 yen is still much cheaper than if you were to buy the cheapest unreserved shinkansen (bullet train) seats for Tokyo-Sapporo-Kyoto-Fukuoka and back to Tokyo (which comes to over 100,000 yen.) So for even a short stay in Japan, buying a Japan Rail Pass before you come is sure to work out cheaper, not to mention more convenient, if you are intending to travel around the country.

    Japan Rail Pass.

    Japan Rail Pass

    Validity of the Japan Rail Pass

    The Japan Rail Pass can be used on all Japan Rail lines and many JR buses, except for two classes of high-speed shinkansen (bullet trains): the Nozomi express (on the Tokaido and Sanyo shinkansen lines) and the Mizuho express (on the Kyushu shinkansen line). Apart from the Nozomi and Mizuho shinkansen, all other classes of shinkansen (of which there are many) can be used, and, of course, all regular limited express, ordinary express, rapid, and local trains on JR lines across Japan.

    However, with both the Green or Ordinary Japan Rail Pass, surcharges apply if you want a sleeping car, a private compartment, or the "GranClass" (airplane-style business class). More about exceptions to the Japan Rail Pass.

    Types of Japan Rail Pass

    A Japan Rail Pass is available in either "Green" (1st class reserved cars) or "Ordinary," for an adult or a child (half-price), and for 7, 14, or 21 days. Children aged 6 or under travel free.

    Eligibility for the Japan Rail Pass

    You must have Temporary Visitor immigration status in order to be given a Japan Rail Pass. The Temporary Visitor visa is called tanki-taizai (短期滞在) ("tan-key tie-zye") in Japanese. Please ensure that this is the status by which you will be entering Japan. The Temporary Visitor visa is typically for 90 days, but may be for 15 or 30 days. Other short-term visas, such as "Trainee" or "Entertainer" are not eligible for the Japan Rail Pass; neither is a Re-Entry Permit.

    Japanese citizens are eligible to purchase the Japan Rail Pass only if they have the right to reside permanently in a country other than Japan, or if married to a non-Japanese citizen who resides outside of Japan. Documentary evidence of current residential status is required.

    On arrival in Japan, the bearer of an Exchange Order must present a passport bearing the Temporary Visitor immigration stamp in order to receive the Japan Rail Pass. A photocopy of a passport will not do. It must be an actual passport bearing an actual immigration stamp.

    Exceptions to the Japan Rail Pass

    The Japan Rail Pass (Green and Ordinary) cannot be used for:

    -the Nozomi express (the fastest train on the Tokaido and Sanyo shinkansen lines) and the Mizuho express (the fastest train on the Kyushu shinkansen line).

    -an ordinary private compartment or a Green private compartment on a shinkansen or limited express train, but an ordinary private compartment or a Green private compartment can be reserved upon the payment of a surcharge and the necessary limited express charge.

    -the GranClass, but GranClass seats can be reserved upon the payment of a surcharge and the necessary limited or ordinary express charge.

    -a limited express or ordinary express sleeping car berth, but a berth on a sleeping car can be reserved upon the payment of a surcharge and the necessary limited express charge.

    -a so-called "Home Liner" train. There are few such trains, but they are basically commuter trains designed to ensure that people on long commutes can get a seat, so unlikely to be of much use when touring Japan.

    -the JR ferry from Hakata to Pusan (Korea).

    The Aoimori Railway Line between Aomori and Hachinohe, being a non-JR line, involves some restrictions. The Japan Rail Pass is only good between Aomori and Hachinohe stations:
    -if the passenger stays on the train the whole way between Aomori and Hachinohe stations, or
    -if the passenger changes at Noheji Station (on the Aoimori Railway Line) to the JR Ominato Line.
    In other words, the Japan Rail Pass is good for non-stop transit only between Aomori and Hachinohe. However, the Japan Rail Pass cannot be used at all for sleeper cars on the Aoimori Railway Line.
    See Cassiopeia and Hokutosei with a JR Pass for more detailed information about using the JR Rail Pass with sleeper cars.

    Using the Bus with a Japan Rail Pass

    Some JR highway bus services can be used with the Japan Rail Pass. They are:
    -Sapporo to Otaru, on the Sasson Line of JR Hokkaido Bus Co.
    -Morioka to Hirosaki, on the Yodel-go Line, served by four different bus companies: Konan Bus, JR Tohoku Bus, Iwate Kenpoku Bus, Iwate-ken Kotsu Bus.
    -Tokyo to Nagoya, JR Tomei Highway Bus
    -Tokyo to Kyoto, JR Dream Kyoto-go Bus
    -Tokyo to Osaka, JR Dream Osaka-go Bus
    -Tokyo to Tsukuba Center, JR Tsukuba-go Bus
    -Nagoya to Kyoto, JR Meishin Highway Bus
    -Nagoya to Osaka, JR Meishin Highway Bus
    -Osaka to Tsuyama, JR Chugoku Highway Bus
    -Osaka to Kasai Flower Center, JR Chugoku Highway Bus

    Where to buy the Japan Rail Pass

    The Japan Rail Pass cannot be purchased once you arrive in Japan, but only beforehand, outside of Japan, in the form of what is called an Exchange Order. A Japan Rail Pass is obtained in Japan by presenting the pre-purchased Exchange Order.

    An Exchange Order for a Japan Rail Pass can be purchased only from outside Japan, from a number of Japan-related or Japanese travel agencies worldwide. The Exchange Order for a Japan Rail Pass must be purchased 3 months or less before you plan to start using the Japan Rail Pass.

    Vendors of an Exchange Order for the Japan Rail Pass (by definition, outside of Japan):
    -JAL offices (however sale of the Japan Rail Pass is limited to passengers on a JAL flight).
    -ANA offices (however sale of the Japan Rail Pass is limited to passengers on an ANA flight).
    -JTB Corporation authorized travel agents
    -KNT (Kintetsu International) authorized travel agents
    -Nippon Travel Agency authorized travel agents
    -Toptour Corporation authorized travel agents
    -JALPAK Group authorized travel agents

    How to Exchange an Exchange Order for a Japan Rail Pass

    Once you are in Japan, to receive a Japan Rail Pass you must present your Exchange Order, pre-purchased overseas, within three months of the purchase date, to a Japan Rail Pass Exchange Office. At this time, you must show your passport, containing a Temporary Visitor visa stamp. Japan Rail Pass Exchange Offices are typically within a railway station, but also available at several airports. See a list of main Japan Rail Pass Exchange Offices.

    Japan Rail Pass Refunds

    No refunds are available for the Japan Rail Pass. For example, if you have a Green Japan Rail Pass (a Japan Rail Pass for the first class section or Green Car) and choose to travel in a non-reserved seat, you cannot get a refund for the price difference. If you try to reserve a seat with Green Japan Rail Pass but no reserved seats are available, you may not get a refund for having to travel in a non-reserved seat.


    Other JR Passes

    If you plan to limit your touring of Japan to a certain area, or to just a few days, consider one of the following.

    JR East Area Pass | JR West Sanyo Area Pass | Youth 18 Tickets

    JR East Area Pass

    The JR East Area Pass is for the following areas and trains including the cities of Tokyo, Sendai, Niigata, Echigo-Yuzawa, Karuizawa, Fukushima, Morioka, Akita, Hachinohe and Aomori.

  • Nagano, Tohoku, Joetsu, Yamagata and Akita Shinkansen (bullet train) services
  • Local and regional JR trains
    In other words, it is for travel in Eastern Japan only (Tokyo and areas to the north and east). The JR East Area Pass is available as a 5-day Consecutive, 10-day Consecutive, or 4-Day Flexi Pass.
  • The abovementioned JR East 4-Day Flexi Pass entitles you to unlimited travel on any four days (consecutive or non-consecutive) during the 30 days after the pass was issued. Which four days you use do not have to be specified in advance. You can use the 4-Day Flexi Pass as you like.

    Prices in Japanese yen.

    Period Green Car [1st class] Adult [26+] Youth[12-25] Child [6-11]
    5 day 28,000 20,000 16,000 10,000
    10 day 44,800 32,000 25,000 16,000
    4 day flex 28,000 20,000 16,000 10,000

    Read more about the JR East Pass.

    Shinkansen bullet train 700 series

    JR Tokaido Shinkansen bullet train 700 Series



    JR Shinkansen Entrance.JR Ticket machine.

    Entrance to the shinkansen at Nagoya Station and a JR ticket machine which can be used in both Japanese and English

    JR West Sanyo Area Pass

    The JR West Sanyo Area Pass gives you unlimited use of the following services throughout the Sanyo region (Osaka, Okayama, Hiroshima and Hakata/Fukuoka area).

  • All Shinkansen services (including Nozomi trains)
  • All local and regional JR trains
  • All JR run local and highway bus services
  • Miyajima to Miyajimaguchi ferry (Hiroshima Prefecture)
  • Local and regional JR trains
  • Prices in Japanese Yen.

    Period Adult Child [6-11]
    4 day 20,000 10,000
    8 day 30,000 15,000

    Kyushu Rail Pass

    The Kyushu shinkansen now connects Hakata Station with Kumamoto and Kagoshima.

    JR Kyushu offers a two rail passes specific to the southern island of Kyushu: these are the Northern Kyushu Pass and the All Kyushu Area Rail Pass.

    The All Kyushu Area Rail Pass covers the whole island while the Northern Kyushu Pass does not cover Kyushu south of Oita or Kumamoto, though it does include the main cities of Fukuoka, Oita, Beppu, Nagasaki and Kumamoto.

    Northern Kyushu Area All Kyushu Area
    Hakata - Kumamoto Hakata-Kagoshima-chuo
    3 DAY PASS 3 DAY PASS 5 DAY PASS
    7,000 Yen 14,000 Yen 17,000 Yen

    "Youth 18 Ticket"

    In spite of its name, the Seishun Juhachi Kippu (literally Youth 18 Ticket) is not limited to young people. It is available to people of all ages. The Youth 18 Ticket is an excellent alternative to the Japan Rail Pass if your travel requirements cover a five-day period. The Youth 18 Ticket includes the use of night trains. Read more about the Seishun Juhachi Kippu and night trains.


    Some Japan Rail Pass Reservation Offices

    Australia

    AWL Pitt Australia Pty Ltd
    Shop RP1.09, The Galeries Victoria, 500 George Street, Sydney NSW 2000, Australia
    TEL 02 9264 7384, FAX 02 9264 8223

    Europe

    USIT CAMPUS (LONDON) TEL 020-7730-7285
    FAX 020-7730-5739

    Kintetsu International Express (Europe) B.V. (FRANKFURT) TEL (069) 1381-0510
    FAX (069) 1381-0570

    Intia-Keskus Ltd. (HELSINKI) TEL 096803180
    FAX 09611970

    Kintetsu International Express (SPAIN) S.A. Madrid TEL (91) 559-5112
    FAX (91) 559-8713

    Asia

    Japan rail pass.

    Seoul Travel SVC (SEOUL) TEL 822-755-9696
    FAX 822-753-9076

    NTA Travel (HONG KONG) Co., Ltd. TEL 852-2721-1348
    FAX 852-2724-3271

    Diners World (SINGAPORE) TEL 65-292-5522
    FAX 65-294-1863

    JTC Thailand (BANGKOK) TEL 66-2237-7498
    FAX 66-2237-2291

    Sen Travel (TAIPEI) TEL 8862-2100-1986
    FAX 8862-2100-1820

    North America

    JTB International (Canada) Ltd. (VANCOUVER) TEL 604-688-0315
    FAX 604-688-9031

    JTB International (Canada) Ltd. (TORONTO) TEL 416-367-5824
    FAX 416-367-4859

    JTB Corp. USA Inc. (TORRANCE) TEL 310-618-0961
    FAX 310-618-1294

    JTB Corp. USA Inc. (SAN FRANCISCO) TEL 415-986-4764
    FAX 415-986-3989

    JTB Corp. USA Inc. (NEW YORK) TEL 212-698-4919
    FAX 212-586-9686

    JTB Corp. USA Inc. (NEW JERSEY) TEL 201-288-5007
    FAX 201-288-5048

    Middle East

    Bahrain International Travel (BAHRAIN) TEL 253315

    Al-Rashed International Travel Co. (KUWAIT) TEL 2461538

    Saudi Tourist & Travel Bureau (DHARAN) TEL (3) 8641792

    Saudi Tourist and Travel Bureau (JEDDAH) TEL (2) 6674405

    U.A.E. Al Futtaim Travel and Tourism (DUBAI) TEL (4) 228-5470

    U.A.E. Albadie Travel Agency (ABU DHABI) TEL (2) 632-3142


    15 Useful Tips for Train Travel in Japan

    Go here for 15 useful tips for train travel in Japan.


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