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Japan Rail Pass – Best Way To Explore Japan

Japan Rail Pass is by far the best way of traveling across Japan and exploring this wonderful country.

As you all know, Japan is perfectly connected with its dense rail network, which contains everything from small local trains to futuristic Shinkansen bullet trains that crisscross the country.

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Railway In Japan

Planning Your Trip With a Japan Rail Pass

As you all know, Japan is perfectly connected with its dense rail network, which contains everything from small local trains to futuristic Shinkansen bullet trains that crisscross the country.

If you want to visit many of the places in Japan, the cost of transport can add up quickly because, after all, Japan is a modern country with a modern rail system, which costs money to operate and maintain.

However, what if I told you there was a way to cut those costs down to a minimum and save huge amounts of money during your trip across Japan? Well, that way exists, and it’s called a Japan Rail Pass. I’m going to tell you all about the Japan rail pass and how I use mine to travel across Japan practically for free.

Train Station In Osaka

First of all, I started working on a detailed plan of all the places I wanted to visit during my trip across the country. These were scattered throughout Japan, so I needed to come up with a detailed transport plan on how to get from one place to another. And most often, I found that the best way is to use rail. So after I had my itinerary, I knew that Japan Rail Pass was the best option for me.

I checked the prices of each of my planned trips and found out that, indeed, getting a Japan Rail Pass would save me a lot of money.

My next step was to find a Japan Rail Pass official vendor who is reliable and has affordable prices. After a long and detailed research process, I’ve settled on my choice japan-rail-pass.com by Japan Experience. They had great reviews, and I loved what they offered.

Train Arriving At Station In Osaka

Japan Rail Pass price

Next up was to decide how long I would spend traveling by train and which Japan Rail Pass I need. Since this was a big trip, I decided to go for the three-week pass. The price of the Japan Rail Pass depends on which type of pass you select.

If you go for the nationwide Japan Rail Pass, you have three options. One-week pass, two-week pass, or three weeks pass. One-week Japan Rail Pass costs about $210, a two-week JR pass costs about $330, while a three-week Japan Rail Pass costs around $430 dollars. I chose the last one since this was a big trip after all.

Other than the national Japan Rail Pass. They’re also regional Japan Rail Passes. These cover smaller regions of Japan but are cheaper. They’re ideal if you want to explore only a certain part of Japan. For example, Kyushu, Shikoku, or Kansai area.

Train In Rural Japan

What's the cheapest Japan JR Pass?

The cheapest Japan JR pass you can buy is the regional Kansai area pass which costs $17 for one day of unlimited travel. And when it comes to the national passes, the cheapest Japan Rail Pass you can get is the seven-day pass which costs about 210 US dollars.

Shinkansen Train At Kagoshima Station

Where To Buy a Japan Rail Pass?

The best place to buy a Japan Rail bus is online, like I did. This gives you the most flexibility when it comes to comparing prices and finding the ideal tickets. The most important thing is that you look for official vendors.

For me, the best site to buy a Japan Rail Pass is japan-rail-pass.com by Japan Experience. They have a nice clean site, offer competitive prices and have great support to help you with any issues that may arise. I highly recommend them, and they have been really helpful during the planning and execution of my Japan trip. 

Train Handles In Tokyo

What does the JR Pass cover?

R Pass is an amazing option to have as a traveler as it covers the entire country and enables you to travel by train to almost every corner of Japan without any additional payments.

But many of you probably don’t know that not only the regular trains are covered by the Japan Rail Pass but also many city lines and Shinkansen bullet train lines. The only exceptions are the Nozomi and Mizuho shinkansen trains, so make sure not to board one by mistake.

In addition to this, some JR buses are also covered, and many people overlook this. Often you may find that if there is not a train line leading to your desired destination, there will be a JR bus that can take you all the way or at least part of the way there. 

And finally, there is a ferry that operates from Honshu to Miyajima island, located near Hiroshima. This is one of the most popular tourist destinations. So there is a ferry there operated by JR, which you can also use for free with this JR Pass.

The View Of Miyajima Ferry

Is Japan Rail Pass worth it?

The Japan Rail Pass is definitely worth it. When you compare what you get with it and how much it would cost without a pass. For example, if you arrive in Tokyo and plan on visiting Kyoto or Osaka, you would probably want to use the Shinkansen to arrive there quickly and for the experience of the bullet train as well. You see, the Shinkansen ticket costs almost the same as an airplane ticket, but it’s much less of a hassle to go to the airport and city and back again.

The price of a return Shinkansen ticket from Kyoto to Tokyo, from Tokyo to Kyoto and back is already higher than the price of a seven-day JR pass. So if you plan on visiting any area that’s further away from Tokyo, Japan Rail Pass is definitely worth it.

Here is the breakdown of my recent trip and the estimated cost if I hadn’t used the Japan Rail Pass. 

– Shinkansen Tokyo-Kyoto – $100
– Shinkansen Osaka-Fukuoka – $120
– Shinkansen Fukuoka-Yamaguchi – $40 
– Shinkansen Yamaguchi-Hiroshima – $40
– Shinkansen Hiroshima-Osaka – $80
– Shinkansen Kyoto-Nagoya – $50
– Shinkansen Nagoya-Kyoto – $50
– Shinkansen Kanazawa-Ueda – $90
– Shinkansen Ueda-Tokyo – $60
– 14 additional local train rides – $290

TOTAL: $920

And I have been traveling for three weeks. A 3-week Japan Rail Pass would cost around $420. Which means I saved over $500! And not to mention the peace of mind I had knowing that I could board any train I wanted without booking a ticket in advance.

Shinkansen Bullet Train Staff

How to Buy a JR pass?

As I said before, you can buy a JR pass online from a Japan Rail Pass official vendor, such as Japan experience. That’s the way I usually buy it, and I have had only the best experiences so far.

Can I buy a JR pass in Japan?

Yes, it is possible to buy a JR. Pass while you are in Japan. However, keep in mind that it may take some time for it to be delivered to your desired address in Japan. Some vendors offer the possibility of picking up your JR pass in one of their offices.

Such is the case with Japan Experience, which has an office in Tokyo. You can go there and pick up the JR pass when you order it if you do not have an address available for delivery.

Shinkansen In Japan

How long is the Japan Rail Pass good for?

Japan Rail Pass is good for at most 21 days. But as I said, it depends on which pass you buy. There’s the 7-day pass, the 14-day pass, and the 21-day pass.

How much is a JR pass for a week?

The price of a one-week JR Pass is slightly over $200. And in my opinion, it is definitely worth the price.

Where to activate the JR pass in Tokyo?

You can activate a JR pass in Tokyo at most Japanese Airports and every major JR station such as Ikebukuro, Shinagawa, Tokyo Station, etc. All you have to do is bring your voucher to the central JR office in the station, and you will see a counter which indicates a place to exchange your voucher for a JR pass.

You will need to set a date of activation. It can be any date within a month of your exchange. And just be careful because when you set the date and activate your JR pass, you will not be able to change the date again. When you exchange your voucher for a Japan Rail Pass, you will get the pass in the form of a small green ticket. I suggest you find a safe spot to place it in your wallet. 

Tokyo Station In Tokyo

How to use a Japan Rail Pass?

Whenever you are about to enter or exit a JR Line, you will slip your JR pass into the machine, which will open the gate for you to enter the station. Occasionally you might need to show your JR Pass to some of the train conductors or the staff at the train station.

Does the Japan Rail Pass cover subway?

Yes, technically, some of Tokyo’s subway lines are actually JR lines, such as the Yamanote line, and you will be able to use your JR pass there as well. However, remember that not all Tokyo subway metro lines are covered by the Japan Rail Pass, only those operated by JR.

How to use a JR pass in Tokyo?

You can use the JR pass in Tokyo on all the JR lines in the city and in the metropolitan area. So whenever you plan on visiting some part of Tokyo or going on a day trip outside of Tokyo, make sure to check if there is an option to use a JR line to save your money.

Local Train Station In Mie

JR Pass benefits

There are many benefits you get when you buy a Japan Rail Pass. These include coverage of many methods of transportation, including some ferries, buses, and of course, trains.

You get the capability to travel to every part of the country without worrying about how much each individual ticket costs and without the need to buy tickets for each trip. You simply slip your pass and enter the train without worry.

I love that feeling of freedom to board almost any train at any time. It really simplifies your planning of the trip as well and gives you more flexibility to change your plan on the go if you miss a train or have any unforeseen issues.


You need to get a Japan Rail Pass if you plan on traveling anywhere outside the Tokyo area. It is definitely worth it since it enables you to save so much money and, at the same time, makes your planning easier and your schedule more flexible.

If you decide to get a Japan Rail Pass, I highly recommend you check out japan-rail-pass.com by Japan Experience. I use their service all the time, and I am sure you will be very satisfied.

Mate Mikulandra
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