Seishun Juhachi Kippu Rail Pass

Japan Rail Travel: Seishun Juhachi Kippu Rail Pass

The Seishun Juhachi Kippu 青春十八

Local JR Train.
Local JR 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 11,850 yen you get a single ticket entitling you - plus any companions -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.

The ticket is stamped by railway staff for each day of use, i.e., up to five times.

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.

When it comes to numbers of people, the Seishun Juhachi is very flexible. If there is more than one of you traveling, you can use the one ticket as long as there are enough unused days of the ticket remaining. Thus, on the one ticket, one person can travel for five days, 2 people can travel together for 2 days with one day left over, and so on, up to 5 people traveling together just for 1 day.

You can buy the Seishun Juhachi Kippu at any JR station. The major disadvantage is that this ticket is seasonal: valid for only about a month at certain times of the year: spring, summer and winter, as shown below.

Period On Sale Valid
Spring February 20 - March 31 March 1 - April 10
Summer July 1 - August 31 July 20 - September 10
Winter December 1 - December 31 December 10 - January 10
Seishun Juhachi Kippu.
Seishun Juhachi Kippu (Note the five numbered spaces for stamps per person or day)

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.

    Of Japan's night trains, only the the "Moonlight" series of night trains can be ridden using the Seishun Juhachi Ticket.

    Night train tickets need to be reserved at a cost of 520 yen per person in addition to one day (or two days: see "N.B." below) 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 the more popular routes (marked "*" below) sell out quickly, often within minutes of going on sale. You are therefore advised to line up in front of the ticket office before it opens as early as possible. (People are known to camp out from hours beforehand.) 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, if you are starting out on your travels using a night train (which leaves only an hour or so before midnight) you need to do one of two things:
    1. Buy a regular train ticket for as far as the first station where the train stops after midnight; (this is the cheaper option)
    2. Use up two of your Seishun Juhachi tickets: one for the brief time between boarding the train and arriving at the first after-midnight station, the other for the rest of the new post-midnight day.

    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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