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Seishun Juhachi Kippu Rail Pass

Japan flag. Seishun Juhachi Kippu Rail Pass

Japan Rail Travel

Seishun Juhachi Kippu | Night Trains | 15 Travel Tips

The Seishun Juhachi Kippu

Shinkansen Bullet Train

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.

Sonic Express at Kitsuki Station, Kunisaki, Japan.

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.

On Sale
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
Seishun Juhachi Kippu.

Seishun Juhachi Kippu

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.

  • You tend to meet more people, mainly Japanese students and foreign residents of Japan, doing exactly the same as you. This is especially true if you stay at youth hostels along the way.
  • It encourages you to be more adventurous when planning your itinerary. Since you can't use the shinkansen, it is as easy to get to non-shinkansen destinations such as Kanazawa as it is to destinations served by the shinkansen, such as Kyoto, thereby giving you the perfect opportunity to get off the beaten track.
  • Slow can be interesting! Many local trains take scenic routes through the countryside and along the coast. From Tokyo to Osaka, local trains give you a lot longer to see Mt. Fuji than the shinkansen!
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    Night trains

    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.

    Kiso Fukushima Station, Nagano, Japan.

    The Japanese train network is one of the most efficient in the world

    Moonlight Nagara*
    Tokyo - Nagoya - Ogaki
    Now a seasonal train running at busy periods of the year

    Moonlight Echigo*
    Tokyo - Nigata - Murakami

    Midnight* Hakodate - Sapporo

    Moonlight Kyushu
    Kyoto - Osaka - Hakata (Fukuoka)

    Moonlight Sanyo
    Kyoto - Osaka - Hiroshima

    Moonlight Kochi
    Kyoto - Osaka - Kochi
    Was discontinued by 2010

    Moonlight Matsuyama
    Kyoto - Osaka - Matsuyama
    Was discontinued in 2008

    Moonlight Yaegaki
    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.

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