JR Pass: the best choice for long-distance travel in Japan4 March 2021
The Japan Rail Pass or JR Pass is the most cost-effective rail pass for long-distance train travel in Japan. Moreover, foreign tourists are the only ones who can use this pass, which is convenient for all travelers around the world. Not only do the JR trains offer unlimited rides for one, two, or three weeks, but also the cost is really worth it. We will explain why it is the best option for long-trips in Japan, as well as how to choose, order, and use the Japan Rail Pass.
Is the JR Pass really worth it?
Firstly, JR Pass is a travel pass that essentially lets foreign visitors in Japan travel with JR Trains. There are three major super high-speed commuter trains: Nozomi, Mizuho, and Hayabusa. Not only the JR Pass covers the Narita Express from Narita Airport to Tokyo and vice versa, but also all local JR trains and the trains inside Tokyo. Plus, it also covers important destinations such as Kyoto, Hiroshima, and Nikko.
For people who like to discover and explore, Japan Rail Pass is cheaper than taking other trains in Japan, which is commonly extremely expensive. For example, a one-week JR Pass price is around $271, but a return ticket between Tokyo and Hiroshima costs $340. That means you can save $69! Furthermore, JR Pass also provides discount prices for children and students for using these convenient services.
How to choose your JR Pass
Japan Rail Pass is a good option for those who start or end the trip by staying in a city like Tokyo or Kyoto. The pass is good for a limited time based on the purchased JR Pass. Moreover, your pass is valid from the day you activate it at a JR office.
There are 3 JR Pass versions available to choose from:
- 7-day pass
- 14-day pass
- 21-day pass
Moreover, the tourists can choose their preferred class between Standard class and Green Car (JR Pass First Class). The latter is more expensive but provides more space and convenience to travelers.
We recommend planning a rough itinerary of your trip before purchasing the pass. If you plan to use the pass for a 10-day trip, the 7-day pass could be good enough. Or if you have an 18-day trip, then the 14-day pass would be sufficient.
How to order your Japan Rail Pass
Amazingly, Japan Rail Pass can only be purchased online from outside Japan! Therefore, travelers have to make the right decision before getting there. You can find the passes selling online via foreign third-party sellers. Thereafter, the courier will send you an exchange voucher, which is commonly delivered within 24 hours after placing your order.
After which, you will have to bring the received voucher to Japan and exchange it for a JR Pass at a JR Train Station. Now that you know how to order a JR Pass, we will show you how to activate it and how to use the pass down below.
How to activate your Japan Rail pass
As we previously mentioned above, you have to get your voucher exchanged at one of the major JR train stations in Japan. A list of those stations and a map of where they are can be found in the airport and on the official website.
Once you are at the exchange office, you will need to:
- 1. Fill in some forms.
- 2. Go to the counter with your voucher, your passport, and the forms.
- 3. Lastly, you will be issued your Japan Rail Pass and you will be ready to go.
Please take note that you can specify the first day of use for your pass on the forms that you have to fill at the train station.
How to use your JR Pass at the station
Before entering the train boarding area, you can walk through the manual ticket check counter instead of using the machine. You have to show your JR Pass to the ticket inspector. From there on out you are good to go! When you leave the gated area, your JR pass will be stamped for the first time you’re using it.
Can you take a seat reservation?
In fact, most trains in Japan do not require a seat reservation. Furthermore, some trains don’t even offer seat reservations at all. In some cases, if you are a JR Pass holder, you can get a complimentary seat reservation.
In order to get a free seat reservation, just go to the ticketing office before boarding your train. For a long-trip seat reservation, we suggest you book an earlier day before using the service to avoid the rush hour.
Now you should know all the necessary information for traveling with the JR Pass in Japan. You can now order and use your pass like a pro, on top of planning your itinerary ahead of time. This will save you a lot of money and prevent many headaches. Bon voyage!