This is a product review of Japan Rail Pass on the travelandjapan.com website.
Company Product Overview
The Japan Rail Pass (JR Pass) is a multi-use ticket which offers incredible value for the money. It’s valid for journeys on all JR national trains including the Shinkansen (bullet train) and Narita Express (Airport train). A JR Rail Pass purchase is a smart way to save money.
Types of Passes
Passengers can select a pass which is valid for 7, 14, or 21 days. Standard passes and green passes are available. The standard pass is normal service and the green pass is first class.
The pass cannot be used on the Nozomi and Mizuho trains on the Tokaido, Sanyo, and Kyushu Shinkansen lines. Don’t make a mistake and get on one of these trains because you will pay for the ride.
Who can Purchase
A JR Rail Pass cannot be purchased in Japan. It can only be purchased outside of Japan. Purchase websites are blocked within Japan.
Only a temporary visitor can use the pass. Temporary Visitor entry status is 15 or 90 days. You’ll receive a temporary visitor sticker in your passport when you arrive in Japan. If you don’t receive this you’ll need to ask someone at immigration for help.
Product: JR Rail Pass
Price: Depends on your needs, click here for full up-to-date prices.
My Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
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I took two two-week vacations in Japan before moving here. I purchased a JR rail pass both times. The pass is a great way to save money if you’re going to travel a lot in Japan. Especially if you take the bullet train.
When I purchased my rail pass I received a voucher. I knew I was going to use the train pass so I fully planned my visit to Japan including every route I would take. I made sure that wherever I went the destination was covered by the JR Pass.
Plan your Japan trip with my full guide here.
After I arrived in Japan I traded my voucher for a JR Train Pass. This is done at the JR office at the airport. Your passport stamp will be checked to ensure you are a tourist before you receive your train pass.
Before 2020 I vacationed in Japan and needed to walk through the customer service line at each train gate and hand my pass to the customer service person to scan. After 2020 the JR Pass can be used at the automatic gates. This is fantastic news for visitors and saves time since some train connections allow only 2 minutes to get to another train.
I had no issues using the pass throughout my vacation. I had to run to a few gates to make my train but I didn’t mind because I was saving money.
The JR ticket I bought was the 14 day Green ticket (First Class) for ¥64,120 or around $611 depending on the exchange rate. I chose the green ticket because it offered larger seats and more legroom. There were also fewer people in the Green cars. I was the only passenger in my Green Pass train car on several of my trains. There also is usually a person selling items off a cart like food, drink, and Japanese trinkets. This is usually on the bullet train.
I figured up how much my travel expenses would be without a rail pass and the figure surpassed $1000. I even saved money when I used a JR bus in a couple of areas and stayed at a JR Affiliated Hotel.
A round trip from Tokyo to Kyoto without the pass is ¥26,640 ($250). Kyoto is full of temples and shrines. The famous bamboo grove and Ine no Funaya boat houses. Kyoto is one of the most visited cities in Japan.
A round trip from Tokyo to Nagoya without the pass is ¥21,120 ($200). You can see Mount Fuji on this trip. Book D or E seats on the way to Nagoya and A or B on the return trip. Nagoya is Japan’s 4th largest city and home of Nagoya Castle.
A round trip from Tokyo to Hokuto without the pass is ¥24,000 ($230). This is the bullet train to northern Japan. Tourists visit the popular Doryuno Falls, Ojiragawa Valley, and the Suntory Hakushu Distillery.
There are several bullet train routes each costing hundreds of dollars and this is the reason a pass saves you money. After all the Shinkansen (bullet trains) (super express), limited express, express, rapid, local, and special train fees are added up you can save a large amount of money by buying the JR Train Pass.
If you’re not going to take a Shinkansen (bullet trains) on your vacation then you most likely won’t need a JR Train Pass. Although, I have also seen people take a month vacation in Japan and buy the pass because they spent the whole month traveling on regular trains and the bill without the pass was more than the price of the JR Train Pass.
Another reason to buy the JR Train Pass is convenience, instead of standing in line at each transfer station to look up train ticket cost and then buying a ticket you can just use your train pass to walk right through the gate. With most trains leaving the station within 5 minutes of each other a JR Train Pass can save a huge amount of time since the alternative is to wait on the next train and possibly miss your tour.
I saved about $500 on each of my vacations because I planned my vacations to maximize the use of my JR Train Pass. If you plan your vacation around the train pass then you can save. If you show up in Japan with nothing planned then your vacation will cost more than it needed to.
I highly recommend a fully planned vacation which includes a rail pass before coming to Japan because you might only come here once in your lifetime. As they say in America “get the most bang for your buck” (get the most out of your vacation with a little money as possible).
Get your Japan Train Pass (JR Pass) here.
Did you use the Japan Rail Pass on your vacation? Let me know how it worked for you in the comment section below.
Have questions? Please post in the comment section below so I can help you.