Friday, 19 June 2009

Selecting a JR Pass To Buy

If we are planning to visit several places around Japan and they are a few hundred kilometres apart, it is important for us to get a JR Pass. Last year we got ourselves a two-week JR Pass at 45,100yen each. The year before, we got a 7-days JR Pass at 28,300yen each. These passes are quite a bargain if you plan to do extensive travelling on the Shinkansens. And we do travel A LOT on Shinkansens. The super efficient train system is our favourite thing about vacationing in Japan. We can spend days just hopping on and off trains; comparing the different train features and be completely happy. Weird? Maybe.

Anyway, we got to travel from Kyushu all the way to Tokyo on JR trains with plenty of stops in between and not have to worry about additional ticket fares.

For this year's visit (if we get to go, that is) we are not planning to go all over the country and will concentrate mostly to the East side of Japan. So a JR East Pass looks like our best option.

There is a promotion for a 3-day flexible JR East Special Pass available for sale from Sep 1 - Dec 1, 2009 and can be used from Sep 1 - Dec 31, 2009. The pass is to be sold at just 10,000yen. As a comparison, a flexible 4 day pass is sold at 20,000yen which is the same rate as a 5 consecutive days pass. That is a lot of savings! The JR East Pass can be used to ride the Izu Kyuko Line (Super-View Odoriko, Odoriko), the Hokuetsu Kyuko Line (Hakutaka, between Echigoyuzawa and Naoetsu) and the Tobu-Nikko Line (Nikko, Spacia Nikko, Kinugawa and Spacia Kinugawa trains). Cool! (Zaini can be a complete nerd when it comes to trains)

Maybe this time, I get to go to Nikko.

So far, our rough plan is:
2 days at Disneyland/Disneysea to celebrate Raimie's birthday on Dec 2 which is to be towards the end of our vacation.
Hiking to Mount Iwate, Morioka
Railway Museum in Saitama
Yokohama to check out Heroes Base (and meet Ultraman) among others there
A day or two for shopping : Karuizawa & Gotemba Premium Outlet came to mind
another 7 days worth of vacation days yet to be planned. Hmm... I wonder if we can afford going to a Ryokan and soak in an onsen this time around?


  1. It's worth getting one. Thanks for sharing.

  2. Reminds me of a super TNG card. I brightened up when you mentioned Nikko, because there's a place there that I've always wanted to visit. I don't know if it's the same place you want to visit XD

    Anyway internet problem I had, so apologies for not being able to post :'(

  3. @Mei Teng,
    Definitely. A good deal for tourists who wants to travel on Japan Rail vast network.

    So internet problem OK already?

    What's the place you want to visit in Nikko?

  4. Yeah. P1 had connection blackout for the whole day yesterday X_X and it's restored today.

    I want to visit the Toshogu Shrine. It's in Nikko right? :)

  5. that must be the cheapest deal to move around Japan. thanks for the info.

    happy weekend:)

  6. wow, that sounds so great! can I come with you guys? hahahha

    having a day/week pass is more practical than paying by ride. I always watch japan channel so I get to know more about the tourism there.

    Enjoy your weekend!

  7. Happy trip. Happy and enjoyable weekend for you! thanks for sharing.

  8. @Jim,
    Yes, the lavish Toshogu Shrine is in Nikko. Definitely a must when visiting Nikko.

    I would love to go to Lake Chuzenji too, but maybe when we get there, it's a little too late for autumn leaf already. Oh well...

    @Life Ramblings,
    They are indeed cheap. Only for tourists (temporary visitor status) to Japan.

    Sure. The more the merrier. :D

  9. @Jean,
    Another 5 months to go for us. :)

    Have a great weekend too.

  10. is the pass available here or only in Japan?

  11. Wow you seem to be familiar with the place! Have you been to the shrine before? Looks really interesting. I'm told it's one of the few Shinto shrines so lavishly decorated - most shrines are simple. And yes Lake Chuzenji.

    It's definitely nice to see the cities but I think that what really makes a trip in Japan is the countryside, the onsen, the lodging houses, the Nakasendo, etc. XD

  12. Wow! So nice going to Japan! Haven't been to Japan before in my life!

    I guess getting the JR pass is worth it. I hope to be able to sit the trains there one day!

    Raimie's birthday is on Dec 2? Mine is just one day earlier. Haha!

  13. @Life Ramblings,
    JR Pass (or rather the Exchange Order which to be as the name implies, exchanged to a JR Pass when is Japan) is available for sale outside of Japan only whilst JR East Pass, JR West, JR Kyushu, etc. can be bought by tourists both outside and within Japan.
    Here, we can buy them from Japan Travel Bureau, ANA and JAL office.

    there are plenty of unique things to be in Japan, much like the rest of the world. A balance between trips to big cities and the countryside would be our ideal itinerary.

    You are quite knowledgeable about Japan yourself. Would you attempt to walk the Nakasendo if you have the chance to? :D

    you get to go to Guilin instead mar... :D

    Your birthday in Dec 1? OK, I'll take note of that. (Easy to remember). :-)

  14. Is the cost astronomical to go to Japan? How did you budget?

  15. The pass is a recommendation too! My friends used to come here and travel with those passes. Too bad you're heading East this time. West is also a good option tho.. (hard selling huh.. coz I'm in the West.. haha)

    Nikko is good too, and I suggest you really got to go for a dip in the onsen. ;)

  16. @kruel74,
    after 5 visits to Japan, we've managed to keep our expenses rather low. :D We didn't stay at 5-star hotel and eat pretty much where locals head to. Simple, fuss-free place for us.

    One beauty of Japan, unlike researching for tourist spots here in Malaysia, is that you can literally find everything online about Japan. can be a good start if you want to plan a vacation there.

    Another way, is to check out the travel books at Kinokuniya. Yes, they are in Japanese, but there are mentions of travel spots, lodgings and and stuff to buy (food, souvenirs, etc) complete with prices.

    Been to West a couple of times before, so time for us to check out the East. :-)

  17. @kruel74,
    the travel books I mentioned is not travel books at the English section. Head to the Japanese section and check out the travel books and magazines in Japanese there. There's a wealth of info available even if you don't understand a word of it, the pictures make up for that.

  18. Hmmm hi lina,

    If you ask me, I would give it a try, about walking the Nakasendo. I think much of the path is now occupied by railway tracks though, lol!

  19. Definitely Japan will be one of my next destination...Thanks for the tips

  20. Thanks for remembering my birthday! So should I be expecting a nice birthday present from you on my birthday? Haha! : )

  21. @Jim,
    I guess so, but it'd be cool to walk around and try to envision how it was and stopping at each of the 69 stations :)

    Don't mention it. :)

    expect something pink, girly and fluffy from Disneyland. LOL

  22. I have heard of the JR pass, this time it's a good deal! Wonder if I have some time to travel to Japan.

    Tks for the info, Lina.

  23. If you are going to Iwate, be sure to stop off in Sendai and go to Matsushima. And when you're at Iwate-san, go to Koiwai Farm.

  24. @ECL,
    JR East seems to have a number a promotion. There was a same kind of flexi pass promotion last year too. Why wait? Pack up your bag and go now. LOL

    Thanks for the tips! :)


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