Japan Rail Travel
The Seishun Juhachi Kippu
The Seishun Juhachi Kippu, literally, "Youth 18 Ticket," is one of Japan's best-kept rail pass secrets.
In spite of its name, there are no age restrictions on its use.
The Seishun Juhachi Kippu is perhaps the most interesting, and certainly the best value, way to travel on Japan's extensive rail network.
The Seishun Juhachi ticket is valid on JR trains except the Shinkansen (top right) and Ltd Express trains
Seishun Juhachi Kippu Details
For 11,500 yen you get a ticket entitling you to 5 days of unlimited travel on all JR services including night trains but excluding limited express and shinkansen (bullet train) services. That's five separate 24-hour periods of travel on all local trains throughout Japan.
You don't have to book when you want to travel, you just have to turn up to any JR station and get your ticket stamped with the date at the barrier. If there is more than one of you traveling, you can use one ticket as long as there are enough unused portions of the ticket remaining. Thus, on one ticket, one person can travel for five days and 2 people could five travel for 2 days with one day left over. You can buy the Seishun Juhachi Kippu at any JR station. The major disadvantage is that this ticket is only valid during certain times of the year, as shown below.
|Spring||February 20 - March 31||March 1 - April 10|
|Summer||July 1 - August 31||July 20 - September 10|
|Winter||December 10 - January 10||December 20 - January 20|
JR East Infoline
To plan your trip call the JR East Infoline (03 0423 0111). They have all the timetables at their fingertips and speak excellent English. They will be able to give you a number of alternatives to help you minimize your transfer time.
Of course, tourists are also eligible for the Japan Rail Pass which already entitles you to unrestricted use of nearly all JR services, including most shinkansen. The catch is that a 7-day Japan Rail Pass is more than twice the price, making the Seishun Juhachi Kippu an option well worth considering for the budget traveler.
Why it's worth using the Seishun Juhachi Kippu
Apart from saving you money on your transportation costs, there are other good reasons to travel with the Seishun Juhachi Kippu.
Night trains are a great way to cover long distances when you are traveling on the Seishun Juhachi Ticket, with the added advantage that they leave you with the following day to explore your destination or continue your journey even further.
Night train tickets need to be reserved at a cost of 500 yen per person in addition to one day of your Seishun Juhachi ticket. Tickets go on sale at 10am, one month before the day the train departs. You can reserve seats at the ticket offices of any major JR railway station. Reservations for more popular routes (*) tickets sell out quickly, sometimes within hours of going on sale. For more details call the JR East Infoline on 03 3423 0111.
The Japanese train network is one of the most efficient in the world
Tokyo - Nagoya - Ogaki
Now a seasonal train running at busy periods of the year
Tokyo - Nigata - Murakami
Midnight* Hakodate - Sapporo
Kyoto - Osaka - Hakata (Fukuoka)
Kyoto - Osaka - Hiroshima
Kyoto - Osaka - Kochi
Was discontinued by 2010
Kyoto - Osaka - Matsuyama
Was discontinued in 2008
Kyoto - Osaka - Matsue - Izumo
NB. Because the Seishun Juhachi Ticket is valid from midnight to midnight, to use a night train you need to do one of two things:
1. Buy a ticket for as far as the first station where the train stops after midnight,
2. Use up two days on your Seishun Juhachi Ticket.
The Japanese rail system is second to none in the world for efficiency, as is attested to by what in any other country is the impossible feat of running the trains on time, all the time.
15 Useful Tips for Train Travel in Japan
Go here for 15 useful tips for train travel in Japan.