What is JR Pass?

JR Pass is a rail pass that can be used at the nation wide network of 6 Japan Railway (JR) companies. With this JR Pass, you can use almost all the JR trains including shinkansen (bullet trains) and JR local buses in Japan. Only foreigners can afford this cost effective pass. This is truly what Japanese dream for. This page introduces how to get and use JR pass.

Official:http://www.japanrailpass.net/sphone/en/index.html

 

 

Validity

1.All trains operated by JR group

*Shinkansen (Bullet trains) except Nozomi and Mizuho bullet trains.
*JR pass holders can also use Tokyo Monorail trains.
*JR pass holders can also use Aomori Railway between Aomori and Hachinohe.
*JR pass holders can also use Ishikawa Railway between Kanazawa and Tsubata
*JR pass holders can also use Ainokaze Toyama Railway between Toyama and Takaoka

JR route map
Official:http://japanrailpass.net/img/about_jrp/file/rosen_ja.pdf

JR Shinkansen route map
Official:http://japanrailpass.net/img/about_jrp/file/shinkansen_ja.pdf

 

2.Local buses operated by JR group

*The pass is not valid for express buses.

 

3.JR WEST Miyajima Ferry (in Hiroshima prefecture)

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You can see how JR pass is convenient. However, there are some regulations. As written above, you can’t get on the fastest bullet trains, Nozomi and Mizuho.

Then, what are Nozomi and Mizuho? Bullet trains have some types such as Nozomi, Hikari, and Kodama. They are divided into roughly 3 types on each line based on the number of stations they stop at.

For your reference, below are the time difference among the train types between Tokyo station and Shin-Osaka station, and between Shin-Osaka station and Hiroshima station.

Tokyo 〜 Shin-Osaka

  • Nozomi (Fastest): 2.5 hours *Not valid for JR pass.
  • Hikari: 2 hours and 50 minutes
  • Kodama: About 4 hours

Shin-Osaka 〜 Hiroshima

  • Nozomi and Mizuho (Fastest): 1 hour and 20 minutes *Not valid for JR pass.
  • Sakura: 1 hour and 25 minutes
  • Hikari: About 2 hours (depends on the trains so please ask the fastest one when you book Hikari)
  • Kodama: 2 hours and 30 minutes

 

 

How to get and use JR Pass

There are two types of JR pass, pass for Green class (It is First class. Some trains have Gran class seats which are even superior to Green class) seats and for Ordinary class seats. You can choose the duration from 7 days, 14 days, and 21days.

1.Prices of Exchange Orders (As of October 2019)

Duration/Type Green Ordinary
7-day   Adult (Child) 39,600 YEN (19,800 YEN) 29,650 YEN (14,820 YEN)
14-day Adult (Child) 64,120 YEN (32,060 YEN) 47,250 YEN (23,620 YEN)
21-day Adult (Child) 83,390 YEN (41,690 YEN) 60,450 YEN (30,220 YEN)

 

2.How to get your JR pass

  • JR pass needs to be bought before arriving Japan at designated office or agents. It cannot be bought in Japan. You will receive exchange orders at this moment. Exchange orders need to be exchanged within 3 months from the day you purchased.
  • After arriving Japan, you need to turn in the exchange orders and get the JR pass at the JR pass exchange office in major JR stations. Passport and the exchange order (Be careful not to lose it. It is very strict.) is required at this moment. Passport copies are not accepted and if the name is different you cannot exchange. At the exchange office, you cannot change the types or durations. You can only exchange what you bought in your country.

JR pass exchange offices:http://japanrailpass.net/en/exchange.html
*Major airports, Narita Airport and Haneda Airport have exchange offices. You can exchange right after arriving Japan. Please note the offices at airports are very crowded that the queue is usually about 30 minutes to 1 hour.

 

 

How to use JR pass

1.Local trains and buses

  • You can get on the trains and buses by showing the JR pass to station employee at the ticketing gates or bus drivers.

 

2.Shinkansen (Bullet trains)

  • As for the non-reserved seats, you just need to show the pass to station employee at the ticketing gates. Get on the unreserved seats car and find your seats.
  • As for the reserved seats, you need to reserve in advance at JR ticketing offices or designated travel agents offices near stations. Other than Nozomi and Mizuho (fastest bullet trains), there will be no extra costs for reserved seats. If you would like to use Nozomi or Mizuho, you will be asked to pay extra fee.

 

 

Cautions

Below dates are very crowded that it is even hard for Japanese to get JR reserved tickets. Non reserved seats can be over crowded and some people need to stand all the way.

  • Golden Week (Long holiday in Japan)
    :From April 27th to May 6th
  • Obon Holiday (Holiday for family gathering)
    :From August 10th to August 19th
  • New Year’s Holiday
    :From December 27th to January 6th

*In Japan, JR reserved tickets can be booked from 1 month before the date. Japanese book from 1 month before so be noted that reserved seats may be fully booked already on above dates when you arrive and book by JR pass.
*For the tickets on above dates, it may be better to buy through online or travel agents in advance without using JR pass so it can be booked 1 month before the date.

 

 

Summary

JR pass is really cost effective pass to travel through Japan. It is very convenient and best way to lower the cost using in Japan. Many Japanese wish that we can use this pass! Please note that strict rules are applied for JR pass since it is unbelievably exceptional price. Follow the rules so you won’t be in a trouble. Please also note that JR pass cannot be used for metro lines and other company lines. With this JR pass your journey in Japan would be very economical!