Here are small details on the JR Rail Pass. If you come to Japan for sightseeing, you definitively should consider this pass, which can render your trip much cheaper. Have a look at the link on the bottom of this message for more details.
The JR Rail Pass is a pass valid for 7, 14 or 21 days which allows you to travel on almost any JR train. This pass is available only to foreigners visiting Japan and Japanese citizen living abroad.
The JR Rail Pass can be used on the following transportations.
: All JR Railways, except the Nozomi Shinkansen train, which is the fastest trains on the Tokyo-Kyoto-Osaka-Hiroshima-Hakata line (on this line, only the Hikari and Kodama train can be used). Sleeping trains can be used, but the sleeping surcharge has to be paid (and is usually expensive). All trains from other companies are not covered by this pass!
: Local lines of JR bus companies and some JR highway buses.
: Only the JR Miyajima ferry is covered.
Who can buy it?
- Foreign tourists visiting Japan under the entry status of "temporary visitor" (those persons have to present their passport, which will hold a temporary visitor stamp)
- Japanese citizen living permanently in a foreign country
- Japanese citizen married to a non-Japanese who is residing in another country than Japan
Two different Japan Rail Pass are available: Ordinary for normal sitting and Green for the green class seats (1st class). They can be bought for a 7, 14 or 21-days period. The price for those passes is as follow (children are 6 to 11 years old):
Who should buy it?
|7 days||28’300 yens||14’150 yens||37’800 yens||18’900 yens|
|14 days||45’100 yens||22’550 yens||61’200 yens||30’600 yens|
|21 days||57’700 yens||28'850 yens ||79’600 yens||39’800 yens|
This pass is not necessary worth its price. It of course depends on your planned schedule. Usually, if you plan to do a Tokyo-Kyoto return trip in 1 week, the pass is probably a good deal. For example, here are the prices for a one-way trip between:
- Tokyo – Kyoto : 13'020 yens
- Tokyo – Osaka : 13'550 yens
However, if you do not plan to travel long journey by shinkansen, or if you only expect a one-way trip during 7 days, then the pass is probably not for you. Especially if you stay around the Tokyo area or the Kansai one, your train expenses will not reach the price of the JR Rail Pass. Furthermore, in some areas, it can be more convenient to use other railroad companies than JR (for example in Nara-ken in Kansai), as their trains are faster or more frequent.
Where and when to buy?
The Japan Rail Pass has to be bought outside Japan, before your trip. It can be found in numerous offices, typically in airlines agencies (JAL, ANA, JALPAK) and some travel agencies (JTB, Nippon Travel Agency, Kintetsu International).
To find the closest office to your home, check the following link: http://www.japanrailpass.net/eng/en005.html.
The pass can be bought up to three months before it is validated in Japan. You do not need to select the beginning date of the pass when you buy it.
How to validate the pass in Japan?
You do not get the pass itself abroad, but an exchange voucher that you can exchange in specific areas in Japan. Be aware that there are not so many places where the exchange can be done – convenient locations are airports, usually open 7 days per week. See this link for a list of all exchange offices : http://www.japanrailpass.net/eng/en009.html
To get the pass, you have to present the voucher and your passport bearing the required type of entry stamp ("temporary visitor"), and fill an application form. Japanese citizen living abroad have also to show documents testifying their status.
An unused pass can be turned back to the office it was purchased (you will get your money back, less 10% for fees). The pass can not be refunded, even if lost or stolen.
: Most information were taken from that web site. Comprehensive and available in several languages.