Sunday, 2 May 2010

Have Rail Pass, Will Travel

There are a large variety of rail passes that exists in Japan, providing unlimited travel in a given region. For us, we've always look for the rail passes by Japan Railway (JR). The Japan Rail Pass, which is issued by the JR Group offers excellent value for money for any visitors/tourists wishing to use the country's extensive network of trains. The passes are offered by six companies that service the different regions in Japan.

If you are planning to travel extensively around Japan, having a JR Pass is a great way to save money. This pass offers unlimited travel on almost all JR trains nationwide, including shinkansens (bullet trains except Nozomi), limited express trains, local trains, some JR buses and the JR ferry to Miyajima.

We bought this pass twice; in 2007 we got a 1 week pass and in 2008 we got a two-weeks pass. That's why we have no problem travelling around the lovely country despite our rather tight budget. The luxury of making impromptu stops along the way and the ease of making shinkansens seats reservations without thinking about any extra cost was great for us. We've used this pass for shinkansens, overnight trains (on Express Noto) and got on the ferry to Miyajima. We've yet to experience using the pass on a bus.

There are two types of JR Pass: Green (for superior-class Green cars) and Ordinary. Each of these pass is available as a 7-day, 14-day, or 21-day pass.

Ordinary 7-day pass is 28,300yen for adult (14,150yen for child); 14-day pass is 45,100 adult (22,550 child) and 21-day pass is 57,700yen adult (28,850yen child). The pass cannot be purchased in Japan so you have to get them before you enter the country and the pass is for those with "temporary visitor" status.

When purchasing the pass, you will receive an exchange order which has to be exchanged into an actual rail pass after your arrival in Japan and within three months of the purchase. When exchanging your pass, you have to specify the date that you want to start using it. It can be any date within one month from the date the pass is received.

Last year, we used a JR East Pass for our travel around Kanto and Tohoku region. This pass can either be purchase outside Japan or when you arrive to Japan.  The price for the passes are 20,000yen for a 5 consecutive days pass, 32,000yen for a 10 consecutive days pass and 20,000yen for a 4 flexible days pass. There's a promotion for JR-East pass holder ongoing to promote Iwate. Check it out here.

There are similar passes offered by JR Hokkaido, JR West, JR Central, JR Kyushu and JR Shikoku. Head over to Japan-Guide for a summary of passes available to help you save money while vacationing. We have yet bought and used these rail passes but all of them offer good value for money if you are planning to do an extensive travel in a certain number of days in that particular region.

Like I said, have pass will travel. And travel we are planning to do! 


  1. There is no other form of travel like it. A very unique, excellent way to travel.

  2. Travel passes is the way to go! :)

  3. Thanks for the info - will be of great help next time I plan to travel to Japan!

  4. I wish Malaysia have shinkansens!

  5. @Travel And Tourism,
    I wouldn't say it is unique because other countries have fast trains similar to Japan but yes, it is an excellent way to travel. I prefer it than flying actually. :)

  6. @foong,
    We better add more coaches to our KTM and LRT first before we have bullet trains! Just 2 & 4 coaches trains to service the KLites! How to cope?

  7. nothing beats train travel. :)

  8. very informative Lina! it's the way to go to travel in japan!

  9. @Life Ramblings,
    Yeap, esp if they are punctual - right to the last minute as in Japan. :)

  10. @Ayie,
    Absolutely! If you are planning to cover plenty of distance (plus taking the shinkansens) during your Japan trip with hubs & baby - get the pass. It does save a lot of money.

  11. hehehe- this remind me of the time when my friend and her husband was kind enough to let hubby & i used their JR rail pass while they spent two days in disneyland & wandering around tokyo.

    in two days, hubby, i, a toddler and a baby had a touch-n-go travel covering kyoto-osaka-kobe-hiroshima-miyajima. without the rail pass, it would cost a lot to buy all the shinkansen tickets, what with us being residence in japan at that time and not eligible to buy JR rail pass

  12. @A Z Haida,
    Ooooo, your trip hari tu (yg I baca dlm blog u) was using JR Pass?

    How many days' pass did your friend bought? If it was us,we'd fully utilise the pass and only visit Tokyo when the pass expired towards the end of our trip. LOL

    When I went to Kak Aini's house and met Nash for the first time - the topic about JR Pass was explained at great length to Nash and Abg Zakri. :D

    Yes, it'll cost so much more if not for the JR Pass.


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