If you ask someone who has traveled through Japan how he or she traveled, the answer is probably: by shinkansen. The Shinkansen is Japan’s high-speed train, also called the bullet train because of its speed. Would you like to travel around Japan by train? Then it can often work out to travel with the Japan Rail Pass. This is a rail pass, especially for tourists, which allows you to travel unlimitedly in a certain period with most trains in Japan. Read on quickly to find out exactly what this JR Railpass is and if it can work out when traveling by train through Japan.
Travel by train in Japan: the Japan Rail Pass
The Japan Rail Pass is available for 7, 14 or 21 days of travel. Prices for this rail pass are:
- 7 day pass € 236
- 14 day pass € 375
- 21 day pass € 480
Prices from 2022,. Always check the latest JR Pass prices through the official website of Japan Railpass.
The JR pass can also be used on other JR (Japan Rail) routes such as the JR buses, subway and even a real JR boat. One of these boats is from the city of Hiroshima to Miyajima Island. This means that you can also use the JRpass in the Tokyo subway, as long as it is a JR subway.
Nowhere in the world did I find train travel as enjoyable as in Japan.
Can the JR Railpass be taken out?
The Japan Rail Pass is quite pricey. It can often go out if you compare it to single train tickets. But this is not true for everyone. For example, it depends on how long you stay at destinations and how far you travel
If you stay at a Japanese destination for a week, it obviously doesn’t make much sense to buy a 7-day JR Rail Pass. The rail pass will expire while you’ve only been to one destination. So it pays to calculate how much you will spend on single tickets and what the JR Pass will cost you.
Hyperdia: calculate your train travel costs
Calculate the cost of the Japan Rail Pass for your trip. Map out your route in advance and enter your destinations on the Hyperdia website
On the Hyperdia website you can easily determine whether a JR Railpass is cheaper than a single ticket or not. Hyperdia is also available in an app for Android or for your itunes.
The Japan Rail Pass calculation of our route
For convenience, I calculated for our route whether the Japan Rail Pass would work out
We paid €355.76 per person for the Japan Rail Pass (21 days). The pass was slightly cheaper because we bought it at an official Japan Rail Pass outlet in Bangkok (during our world trip).
Our route with the Japan Rail Pass. We rode to the following destinations:
- Tokyo → Odawara ¥1,490 +/- €11
- Odawara → Takayama ¥12,760 +/- €97
- Takayama→ Kanazawa ¥6,650 +/- €50
- Kanazawa→ Kyoto ¥7,590 +/- €58
- Kyoto→ Hiroshima ¥11,090 +/- €85
- Hiroshima→ Miyajima island (return subway and boat) ¥4,140 €30.00
- Hiroshima→ Kobe ¥9,470 +/- €72
- Kobe → Himeji ¥ 1940 +/- € 14
- Himeji → Osaka ¥ 820 +/- € 6
Total single tickets € 423, saved € 67
→ Must read itinerary for 4 weeks of travel through Japan.
Where to buy the Japan Rail pass?
Previously you could buy the pass in Japan, unfortunately, you can now only buy the Japan Rail Pass online or through a physical travel agency. The Japan Rail Pass pass can be purchased for 7, 14 or 21 days. You can also buy the pass at japan-rail-pass.co.uk
How do I use the Japan Rail Pass?
When in Japan you can activate the JR Pass at special JR offices at railway stations and airports. You will be given a booklet with your name and the dates your pass is valid.
If you want to go through a gate at the station, you can show the JR Pass to the railroad employees at the ticket office. Note: You don’t have to push the ticket into the automatic gates. That’s for paper tickets only.
Occasionally, there may not be an employee at the ticket office. Then you can communicate with an employee through an intercom to be allowed through the gates. From experience, I can tell you that they respond quickly ;-)
Useful facts about traveling by train through Japan
- Be on time – on the ground on the platform you will find the number of the compartment you are in. There you can get in line. Be on time because the trains run on time. For example, one time we had to run from train compartment 21 to 12 because we hadn’t looked properly and we really did get in just in time!
- Don’t push – Japanese people always line up nicely and don’t push (really!). Therefore, it is not nice if you do push yourself.