The Japan Rail Pass is the ideal travel solution and the best way to discover Japan by train. Economical and simple to use, the Japan Rail Pass gives you access to the JR network nationwide and is a lot cheaper than buying individual train tickets to visit Tokyo, Osaka, Kyoto and many more great destinations throughout this fascinating country. The extensive rail network, 20 000 km in full length, is internationally known for its punctuality, speed and safety. Choose between a 7, 14 or 21-day pass depending on how long you want to spend exploring Japan.
Travelling in First Class:
The first class pass gives access to the Green Cars, located on most long distance trains. Advantages include large, 40° reclining seats with ample leg room. You won’t have to jostle for seats at busy times as the Green Cars are always uncrowded and quiet. Your personal crew even hand you wet towels and snacks on some lines. It’s especially great for those travelling with families or in peak season.
Travelling in Second Class:
Second class, also called "Ordinary" is of a very high standard - trains are clean and seats are generously sized, with plenty of leg room, especially on the Shinkansen bullet trains. Should you desire a little more luxury, then why not purchase a first class pass, giving access to the so-called Green Cars.
The pass includes unlimited, all-year-round and 24/7 travel for 7, 14 or 21 consecutive days (depending on the pass) on train lines operated by Japan Railways (JR) throughout Japan, including the famous bullet train, commonly known as Shinkansen.
Besides train travel in JR's rail network, the Japan Rail Pass is valid on
- local JR buses on a large number of lines
- JR Miyajima Ferry in Hiroshima
- the Tokyo Monorail connecting Haneda Airport to Hamamatsucho Station
- some lines of Aoimori Railways.
The Japan Rail Pass is NOT valid
- on high-speed "Nozomi" trains. If you use a "Nozomi", you must pay a surcharge before boarding the train.
- on the Tokyo Metro
- on private (non-JR) railway lines such as: Hakone-Tozan, Nankai Koya, Fujikyu, Kitakinki-Tango. Some JR trains do travel over non-JR tracks and Japan Rail Pass holders are required to pay a supplement for this part of the journey (either on board or at the station).
There are many different train types operating on the Japan Railways network, including:
- Local: Stops at every station
- Rapid: Trains skip some stations
- Express: Trains stop at even fewer stations than Rapid trains
- Limited Express: Trains stop only at major stations
- Shinkansen: Running at speeds of up to 300 km/h, the Shinkansen is known for its punctuality, comfort, safety and efficiency. The cars are relatively silent and have spacious forward-facing seats.
- Japan Rail Pass can only be purchased outside Japan.
- The pass can be purchased earliest 3 months prior to the departure.
- The pass is NOT valid for Japanese nationals.
- Once in Japan, you will need your passport to exchange your voucher for the Japan Rail Pass.
- After exchanging your voucher, you will need to start using your pass within 30 days.
- The activation date of the pass (which should be within 90 days from the date of issue), can no longer be changed once the pass has been exchanged.
- Children under the age of 6 years old can travel for free as long as they travel with a pass holder.
- Children between the age of 6 and 11 years old are eligible for children's Japan Rail Pass. From 12 years onwards children will have to travel with an adult Japan Rail Pass.
When do I need to activate my Japan Rail Pass?
- The Japan Rail Pass should be activated within 90 days from the date of issue. In other words, you should only purchase your pass 3 months prior to the departure at the earliest.
How do I activate my Japan Rail Pass once in Japan?
- In order to activate your Japan Rail Pass you will have to exchange your voucher at a JR office. These offices can be found at the airport or at the main train stations.
Should I start using my Japan Rail Pass as soon as I exchange my voucher?
- You don’t need to start using your Japan Rail Pass on the day of the exchange. When exchanging your voucher, you will have to decide the date you want to start using your pass. This date has to be within 30 days of the exchange. Please note, however, that your Japan Rail Pass is only valid for the chosen period of consecutive days (7, 14 or 21 days) even if you don't use your pass every day.
Where and to whom do I need to show my Japan Rail Pass before boarding my train?
- As the Japan Rail Pass is not a traditional ticket, you cannot go through the automatic gates. To access the platforms, show your pass and/or your ticket to the JR staff located at the gate to the platform. The pass is strictly personal! Always carry your passport along with the pass, as the station staff may check it.
Do I need to reserve a seat in advance?
- If you are not catching your Shinkansen during peak hours (between 7am-9am and 6pm-8pm) or during bank holidays, you do not need to book a seat, as you can use any non-reserved seat by showing your Japan Rail Pass. If you anyhow want to book a seat in advance, you can do so without additional charges before you catch your train by going into a booking office at the train station and simply showing your Japan Rail Pass.
Can the Japan Rail Pass be used on other means of transportation?
-Yes. In addition to the extensive Japan Railways train network, you will have access to local JR bus lines, JR ferry (JR Miyajima ferry in Hiroshima) as well as Tokyo Monorail connecting Haneda Airport to Hamamatsucho Station. Please note, however, that the JR Hakata-Pusan ferry to Korea is not included.