18 FAQs on Using the Japan Rail Pass

    If you’re planning a trip to Japan, chances are you’ve heard of buying a “JR Pass” to get around. I read article after article trying to figure out everything I needed to know about getting around Japan. Luckily, the JR Pass made things really easy, and I wanted to make a guide for you! What is the JR Pass? Do you need it? Will it save you money on transportation? It’s all up to you, so let’s get started!

    What is the JR Pass?

    The JR Pass (Japan Rail) is basically a pass that you carry on your person to travel around Japan. The Japan Railway Company created the Japan Rail Pass to make getting around the country quick and easy. You buy it for the duration of your trip and have access to unlimited JR transport. It is extremely cost-effective for travelers who travel long distances (for example, a round trip from Tokyo to Osaka).

    What are the conditions for obtaining the JR Pass?

    Luckily, the eligibility requirements aren’t too bad. It is enough to be a foreign tourist visiting Japan for a stay of less than 90 days with the status of “temporary visitor”.

    How much does the JR Pass cost?

    The price depends on the duration of the pass and the type of pass (regular or green). The pass is sold in increments of 7 days, 14 days and 21 days.

    How much does a 7 day pass cost?

    The price of a regular 7-day JR pass is $279, while the green class pass is $373 (2021 price). You can buy your pass here.

    What is the difference between regular JR pass and JR green car pass?
    The green card is valid for first class green cars. These cars are more luxurious and spacious than regular cars. Otherwise, these passes are identical and available on the same trains.

    When is the JR Pass NOT worth it?

    If you are staying in one major city or doing short day trips in or around that city, the JR Pass is not worth it. You can get a local subscription which is more cost effective. If you’re flying in one city and out of another and only doing one long-distance trip, it’s not worth it. If you are visiting smaller and shorter regions, the local pass is also more advantageous.

    Can I use the Japan Rail Pass from Narita Airport to Tokyo?

    Yes ! It was one of the main selling points for us. You can use the JR Pass on Narita Express trains to travel from Narita Airport to central Tokyo. The trip takes about 45 minutes.

    Can I use the Japan Rail Pass from Haneda Airport in Tokyo?
    Yes, you just need to go to the JR Bourse at the airport and take the JR East to Tokyo.

    How to buy a Japan Rail Pass?

    Before traveling to Japan, you must purchase a JR Pass from their website. A voucher will be sent to your home address. You will need to exchange it in Japan for the JR Pass.

    Be sure to order the pass a few weeks (1-3) before to ensure the voucher will be delivered to your address on time. You can only redeem the voucher three months after it is issued. So do NOT buy the pass less than three months before you arrive in Japan.

    How do I exchange my voucher for the Japan Rail Pass?

    Once you arrive in Japan, you can redeem your voucher at the JR Information Desk. You will be asked when you want to activate the pass (i.e. the first day you want to use it – it doesn’t have to be the day you enter Japan). This can be any day within a month from the date of issue of the pass. It is important to know this date, as it cannot be changed.

    How to use the JR Rail Pass?

    Once you have redeemed the voucher, all you need to do is show the Pass at the station gate. There is no need to scan it, just check that you have one.

    Can I use the Japan Rail Pass on the subway?

    The Japan Rail Pass is a pass that gives travelers unlimited access to Japan’s rail network, including the subway. However, it is important to note that the pass can only be used for the trains of the Japan Railways company and that the subway lines are not included.

    In general, no. In Tokyo, you can use it on the Yamanote line and on the Loop line in Osaka, but generally not on the subway. If you stay in one city and plan to use the subway often, take a subway card, not the JR Pass.

    Can I use the JR Pass on local trains?

    Yes, the JR Pass is valid on local JR trains. You can use it to travel around the country on JR trains.

    In general, no. If you plan to do a lot of local train journeys, you may need a local train pass to use on the metro lines. The two nationally recognized passes are Suica and Pasmo. In any station there are ticket machines for one of these two titles. Most offer an English option and the ability to purchase a new card. A new card costs 500 yen, and you will need to top it up with a minimum of 1000 yen.

    Which lines are covered by the Japan Rail Pass?

    The only JR lines that are NOT included in the JR Pass are the “Nozomi” and “Mizuho” lines. You can find out if a stop is covered by the name of the line. If the line has a JR in front, it is covered and all stops are JR stations. If you want to use these lines, there is an additional charge. Go to one of the exchange offices a few days before your trip.

    Can I use the JR Pass on Shinkansen (or bullet train) trains?

    Yes ! That’s why it’s a good deal if you’re on long trips. Driving from Tokyo to Kyoto can take more than 5 hours but in a Shinkansen it can take 2 hours! (Plus, you don’t have to worry about driving in another country!) It’s a great way to save money and time in Japan. You can use the JR Rail Pass for unlimited travel on all Japan Railways (JR) lines! You can use the JR pass to go on some of these amazing day trips from Tokyo!

    How can I reserve a seat on the train with my JR Pass?

    Depending on the type of train, there may be reserved and unreserved seats. For non-reserved seats, just show the JR Pass when entering the station, and queue for the cabin you want to sit in. To reserve a seat, go to the JR ticket office (signs guide you at almost all stations). Let them know which train and what time you want to be seated. You can also request a certain side of the train (to see Mount Fuji if you pass it). There is no additional cost for the pass and you will receive a paper ticket with the reservation.

    If you accidentally sit in the seat of someone who has reserved their seat, don’t worry. Just apologize and go somewhere else.

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