Skip to Content

Japan Rail Pass: How to Easily Travel throughout Japan

(Last Updated On: )

Traveling in Japan is indeed a magical experience as you explore the breathtaking landscapes and encounter the unique culture of the country. As you will be riding Japanese trains quite often because of the extensive network and usage of the rail system, it will help you to understand the Japanese railway system and be well prepared in advance.

japanese train japan rail pass

Japan Rail Pass (JR Pass) Makes Travel Easy and Cost Effective

In Japan, billions of passengers use the railroads as the primary mode of transportation, and some of the busiest railway stations across the world are located in Japan. As most Japanese rail lines carry a unique name based on the region or the city, it is easy to navigate the Japanese transportation system. For example, the Hokuriku Arch Pass allows train travel in the Hokuriku region, while the Tokaido Shinkansen train runs between Tokaido and Shinkansen.

JR green train Japan
Image by Sharon Ang from Pixabay

Japan Rail Pass, also referred to as the JR Pass, is a very useful tool for passengers to figure out the Japanese transportation system and explore the country both efficiently and cost-effectively. Browse this guide to learn all about the JR Pass and how to maximize your train travel experience in the country.

About the Japan Rail Pass

The Japan Rail Pass is like a multi-use ticket that is valid for journeys on all major JR national trains. It is specifically designed for foreign travelers. The Pass can be valid for 7, 14, or 21 days, and one can purchase the Standard Rail Pass or the Green Rail Pass if they want to travel in first class.

Having a JR pass means that one can enjoy unlimited access to not just trains but also buses and ferries throughout the country. It means that you can look forward to complete flexibility and freedom to explore the country.

The Pass is completely valid on JR express, express, and local trains within the JR network of trains,  buses, ferries, and airport transfer trains. You can get on any train with a Pass, except for some high-speed trains such as the ‘Nozomi’ Shinkansen.

Buying the Japan Rail Pass

One can buy the JR Pass online, where you will be given an Exchange Order, which can be switched to the JR Pass when you arrive in Japan. However, just keep in mind to buy the Pass from an authorized vendor. Just place the order for the JRPass to get the Exchange Order, which you can activate in Japan to get the JR Pass.

If you want, you can buy the Japan Rail Pass on arrival in the country, but you may have to pay a slightly higher price at several stations and airports. However, there is a 50% discount for children under the age of 11.

Activating the JR Pass

Once you arrive in Japan, you need to visit a designated JR Pass exchange office to activate the JR Pass. The exchange offices are easy to find as they are located in major airports, travel agencies, and train stations. Just make sure to have your exchange order ready along with the passport, and the activation date will initiate the first day of the Pass’s validity.

 Benefits of Japan Rail Pass

Japan Rail Pass is easy to buy and easy to use and allows hassle-free travel anywhere in Japan. With unlimited access to all JR trains, the Pass certainly makes your travel easier as you can access trains wherever and whenever and without reservations. Additionally, you save money on multiple train tickets and train trips.

Likewise,  the pass holders can enjoy discounts when staying at JR Group Hotels as well as have access to hundreds of free amenities and attractive discounts across Japan. One can make reservations in four different languages, such as Simplified Chinese, Traditional Chinese, English, and Korean, when using the Pass.

 Here are some of the most popular tours and trips you can plan in Japan with the help of the JR pass.

  • Explore the highlights of Tokyo such as its most spectacular towers, the  great Buddha of Nara, wonderful Kyoto, and historic Kamakura in just seven days.
  • Travel to Osaka and discover some amazing sights and locations such as the Japanese Alps, Kyoto, the Dotonbori neon lights  and Nara, which will take about ten days.
  • Customize your trip to cover Japan in-depth and travel to Kyoto, Osaka, Nara, Takayama Okayama, Hiroshima with the JR pass.
nara train japan
Image by darkness_s from Pixabay

Now that you know all about the Japan Rail Pass and how to purchase it and make bookings, why not plan your itinerary in the country? Pay attention to the types of trains available on the route and the travel time. JR Pass will allow you to board most train categories, and all you need to do is to book your seats in advance.

Use the Pass to Plan the Perfect Trip

Take advantage of the extensive rail network within Japan and use the Pass to explore different cities, visit the iconic landmarks, and discover the most picturesque views of the countryside. Just make a detailed travel plan based on the destinations you would like to visit and plan your itinerary carefully.

Tips for Trip Success

Book Your Flight
Find an inexpensive flight by using Kayak, a favorite of ours because it regularly returns less expensive flight options from a variety of airlines.

Book Your Hotel or Special Accommodation
We are big fans of We like their review system and photos. If we want to see more reviews and additional booking options, we go to Expedia.

You Need Travel Insurance!
Good travel insurance means having total peace of mind. Travel insurance protects you when your medical insurance often will not and better than what you get from your credit card. It will provide comprehensive coverage should you need medical treatment or return to the United States, compensation for trip interruption, baggage loss, and other situations.Find the Perfect Insurance Plan for Your Tripimage 9133145 14418597

PassingThru is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.

To view PassingThru’s privacy policy, click here.

+ posts

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.