JR Rail Passes

JR Rail Passes

NaN Passengers

What is the JR Pass?

The Japan Rail Pass (commonly referred to as the JR Pass) is a special ticket designed for foreign tourists visiting Japan. JR Pass offers unlimited travel on most of the Japan Railways (JR) network, including Shinkansen (Japanese high-speed bullet trains), limited express trains, and local JR lines.

The JR Pass entitles you to unlimited travel for a specific period of time, usually for 7, 14, and 21 days, and has different prices for adults and children. However, shorter-term options are also available for some passes, starting with a one-day pass. The JR pass also allows you to use local JR buses and the Miyajima Ferry. If you plan to leave Tokyo at least two times, this pass is worth it. Transportation in Japan is costly, so purchasing this ticket will help you save money.

Types of Rail Passes

  1. National JR Pass (also known as Whole Japan Rail Pass): This pass allows unlimited travel on JR trains throughout Japan for a specific duration (7, 14, or 21 consecutive days). It covers most JR-operated trains, including the Shinkansen (bullet trains), limited express trains, and local JR lines.
  2. Regional Passes: JR also offers several regional area passes, such as the JR Hokkaido Pass, JR East Pass (covering Tokyo and surrounding regions, including Tokyo Monorail), JR West Pass (covering Kansai, Chugoku, and parts of Shikoku), JR Kyushu Pass, and more. These passes provide unlimited rides within their designated regions for a set number of days.
  3. Private Railways passes: For example, Keihan Railways covers the Kyoto to Osaka area.
  4. City Passes: For example, Tokyo Subway and Osaka Subway passes.

Japan Rail Pass Prices

The price of a Japan Rail Pass may change depending on when you buy the tickets. Prices can vary due to exchange rates and promotions. Here are some options:

Ordinary Car JR Pass

7 days 14 days 21 days
Child 230 USD Child 362 USD Child 463 USD
Adult 331 USD Adult 527 USD Adult 660 USD

Green Car JR Pass

7 days 14 days 21 days
Child 231 USD Child 362 USD Child 463 USD
Adult 461 USD Adult 725 USD Adult 923 USD

Children aged 0 to 5 can use the JR transportation system without purchasing a Japan Rail Pass. The only caveat is that they are not allowed to occupy a seat and must remain on an adult's lap unless there are empty seats, non-reserved and reserved carriages. Of course, there are no restrictions on the number of seats if a pass is purchased for them.

What is the Difference Between Ordinary Cars and Green Cars?

The Shinkansen (also known as the high-speed bullet train in Japan) is divided into two categories: Ordinary Cars and Green Cars. These two classes differ greatly regarding comfort, space, and service provision.

Ordinary Cars are the standard class on the Shinkansen. They have cozy seats arranged in 3+2 configurations, which are enough for most people. These cars are well-maintained and provide a more enjoyable travel experience at a lower cost. Non-reserved ordinary car train tickets allow travelers to hop on any train without a seat number, which is good for those with an unpredictable timetable.

However, Green Cars can be likened to first-class service. In them, seats are put up in 2+2 formation, providing much more elbow room as well as leg room, which makes it seem like a flight business class. All seats in Green Cars are reserved so that passengers can have a guaranteed place, enabling them to enjoy quieter and more exclusive cars. Moreover, these seats have extra amenities, such as electric reclining seats with built-in reading lamps. This is why green car passes cost more than ordinary ones since they offer additional luxuries.

Summing up, it is possible to state that, during the classes, the service level is comparatively high; nevertheless, Green Cars provide the passengers with extra comfort and high-level commodity service, thus equipping people with everything necessary for a luxurious trip.

How to buy a JR Pass

The process of obtaining the National JR Pass consists of the following steps:

  1. Book the desired JR Pass (you can do it on this page):
    • Select the specific Rail Pass, its type (Adult or Child), class, and the duration;
    • During checkout, ensure that you enter the correct personal information, including the passenger names as they appear on their passports and the address to which the rail pass voucher will be sent.
  2. Receive the printed Rail Pass voucher:
    • After purchasing the JR Pass, we will print and send the Rail Pass voucher to the physical address you provided by regular mail (usually by EMS of RedEx).
  3. (Optional) reserve specific seats on the desired trains if needed:
    • In most cases, you can do this online. Just choose a specific JR operator on whose station you plan to start your journey and reserve the seats on its website.
  4. Exchange the voucher for the actual Rail Pass:
    • In Japan, visit a JR Pass exchange office at major airports, railway stations, or designated tourist centers. Present your exchange voucher, along with your passport, to receive the actual JR Pass. Another way is to use a ticketing machine at every major JR station.

If you plan to buy a regional Rail Pass, things get easier. In this case, you don’t have to receive the printed voucher: after making the purchase, you will receive the QR code that you can use at the ticketing machine at the station to get your rail pass.

How to Make Shinkansen Seat Reservations for JR Pass

Shinkansen bullet trains are an extremely convenient way to travel, but it can be pretty crowded, especially during rush times or public holidays. That's why it can be helpful to reserve your seats in advance. There is no additional charge for making seat reservations. JR Pass holders can make free seat reservations at JR ticket offices and selected ticket machines all across Japanese train stations.

The best thing about ticketing machines is the time savings. You can exchange the Rail Pass voucher or reserve seats without waiting in line at the ticket office, which can sometimes be very crowded.

You can also use an online reservation, but you still need to pick up a physical seat reservation ticket from the ticket machine before boarding the train.

Please keep in mind that you cannot make online reservations for JR Central operator routes (Tokyo-Kyoto-Osaka). Seat reservations are also unavailable on urban and short-distance trains.

Seat reservations are mandatory on a few trains, such as the Narita Express, certain Shinkansen trains, and Limited Express trains from Osaka and Kyoto to Amanohashidate, Kinosaki Onsen, and Kumano.

How to Use a Ticket Machine to Issue a Rail Pass Ticket

  1. Scan the QR code on your JR Pass with the reader on the reserved seat ticket machine, or input the reservation number written on the pass and enter your passport number.
  2. Input the travel section, date, and time, and select the train and facilities. If you have already booked reserved seats online, select the itinerary for which the ticket should be issued.
  3. Check the inputs, and if everything is correct, issue the ticket.
  4. You can also obtain your reserved seat ticket by showing your JR Pass at any Travel Service Center at a JR station or at the sales office of a JR-associated travel agency.

Eligibility and Requirements for Getting the Japan Rail Pass

The JR Pass is primarily intended for foreign tourists visiting Japan under the "Temporary Visitor" status, which typically includes travelers entering Japan with a tourist visa or visa waiver, for example, visa-exempt countries.

Step-by-step instructions:

  1. The JR Pass can usually only be purchased outside of Japan and must be obtained before arrival. The exchange order typically has a certain validity period (usually three months) from the issue date.
  2. To purchase the National JR Pass exchange order, travelers must present a valid passport with the "Temporary Visitor" stamp or visa upon entry to Japan. The name on the passport must match the name on the exchange order.
  3. Upon arrival in Japan, you must exchange a JR Pass voucher (or produce a QR code) for the actual pass at designated JR Pass exchange offices or ticketing machines, typically in major airports, railway stations, or specific tourist centers.
  4. You must fill out a form with personal information and passport details. Then, depending on your preference and the terms of the pass, you can use the JR Pass immediately or later.

To use the JR Pass, you must present the pass at JR ticket gates before boarding trains.

How to Cancel JR Pass Reservation

To cancel your JR Pass reservation, you will usually need to visit a JR Pass exchange office in Japan. You may be asked to provide your JR Pass exchange order and any relevant documentation. Cancellation fees or procedures may apply depending on the circumstances. It is recommended that you check the cancellation policy of your specific pass and any associated fees in advance.

But you also have another way: if the voucher is not used, it can be refunded without any cancellation charge if you request a refund on our system within one year after the issued date. Just contact our support and include your booking number.

JR Pass Coverage

The Japan Rail Pass provides extensive coverage throughout Japan, allowing unlimited travel on most JR trains, buses, and ferries. These include Shinkansen (bullet trains), limited express trains, rapid and local trains, and buses and ferries operated by JR Group.

The Japan Rail Pass covers a wide range of zones across Japan. Here are the primary zones:

JR East

  • Tohoku region (north of Tokyo);
  • Kanto region (including Tokyo);
  • Niigata and Nagano areas;
  • Includes the Joetsu, Hokuriku, and Tohoku Shinkansen lines;
  • More details on JR East Rail Passes

JR Central

JR West

  • Kansai region (including Osaka, Kyoto, and Hiroshima);
  • Hokuriku region (including Kanazawa);
  • Sanyo Shinkansen from Shin-Osaka to Hakata;
  • Limited Express services such as Thunderbird, Haruka, and others;
  • More details on JR West Rail Passes

JR Kyushu

JR Hokkaido

JR Shikoku

  • Covers the four prefectures on the island of Shikoku: Kagawa, Tokushima, Ehime, and Kochi;
  • Major lines include the Yosan Line, Dosan Line, Kōtoku Line, and the Seto-Ōhashi Line;
  • Connects major cities such as Takamatsu, Matsuyama, Kochi, and Tokushima;
  • More details on JR Shikoku Rail Passes

Shinkansen Trains Covered by JR Pass

  • Tokaido Shinkansen
  • Sanyo Shinkansen
  • Hokuriku / Nagano Shinkansen
  • Hokkaido Shinkansen
  • Tohoku Shinkansen
  • Yamagata Shinkansen
  • Akita Shinkansen
  • Kyushu Shinkansen
  • Nishi-Kyushu Shinkansen
  • Linear Chuo Shinkansen

Train Lines Covered by JR Pass (Tokyo - Kyoto - Osaka)

  • Yamanote line (Tokyo)
  • Chuo-Sobu line (Tokyo)
  • Keihin-Tohoku line (Tokyo)
  • JR Nara line (Kyoto)
  • JR Sagano line (Kyoto)
  • Osaka Loop line (Osaka)
  • Tozai line (Osaka)

Popular Routes Covered by the Japan Rail Pass

From Tokyo

From Osaka

From Nagoya

From Kyoto

What the JR Pass Does Not Cover

While the JR Pass covers most Shinkansen bullet trains, exceptions exist, such as the Nozomi and Mizuho trains on the Tokaido and Sanyo Shinkansen lines. The JR Pass does not apply to trains not operated by Japan Railways, such as the Odakyu Line, part of the Tokyo Subway Line (only covers the ring and suburban lines), and the Keio Line.

Some JR Pass services may entail additional charges collected on trains or as adjustment fares at destination stations, including:

  • Fuji Excursion services;
  • Mt. Fuji services;
  • Nanki/Mie services;
  • Odoriko and JR Ito line services;
  • Shirayuki services.

Additionally, Hashidate/Tango relay services, Shimanto/Ashizuri services, Spacia/Kinugawa services, Super Hakuto/Super Inaba services, and Super Odoriko services may also incur extra fees.

The JR Rail Pass Benefits

  • Cost savings: The JR Pass offers significant savings, particularly for long-distance or multi-region travel within Japan. It covers unlimited travel on JR trains, including the expensive Shinkansen.
  • Convenience: With the JR Pass, travelers can enjoy unlimited rides without the hassle of purchasing individual train tickets for each journey, eliminating the need to wait in line at ticket counters.
  • Flexibility: The JR Pass allows for flexible travel plans, enabling travelers to explore different regions of Japan at their own pace without being restricted to specific departure times or dates.
  • Spontaneous adventures: This flexibility is ideal for travelers who prefer spontaneous or unplanned adventures during their trip, as they can hop on and off trains as they wish.
  • Perks: Some JR Passes include additional perks, such as free seat reservations on applicable trains, which enhance the travel experience, especially during peak seasons.