Japan Rail Pass

Japan runs the world’s most efficient and convenient rail service. This speedy and punctual train service is one the most popular ways of seeing Japan. High speed and safety are features of the Japan railway network where 300 km/h Shinkansens (bullet trains) connect Tokyo with Japan’s major cities at intervals of approximately 15 minutes. Long distance trains provide convenient access to all parts of Japan.

Japan Rail Pass (JR Pass) 

The Japan Rail Pass offers excellent value for money, especially if you are planning to visit several destinations during your stay, as it is valid for travel on the entire Japan Railways network, including the famous Shinkansen bullet trains (except for the Nozomi and Mizuho trains) and a selection of buses and ferries too!

Available only to visitors to Japan, with a “temporary visitor” status in their passports, it must be pre-booked before departure from the UK. Durations of 7, 14 and 21 days, which can be bought in Ordinary (economy) class or the upgraded Green (first) class, make it ideal for any holiday to this wonderful country.

The process is simple; you will be issued with an Exchange Order in the UK to exchange for your Rail Pass once you arrive in Japan. Once you have received it, the Pass makes it possible for you to make seat reservations locally at no extra charge.

In Detail

Ordinary Car and Green Car

Ordinary Car relates to the regular seats found on all Shinkansen trains. Although the size and foot space varies between trains, the seats are comfortable with a decent amount of foot space.

Green Car has reserved seat only and tends to be quieter with larger seats that can recline 40°. footrest, wider aisle, more space between the seats, bigger table (with power point plus light) , integrated radio set, travel magazine and space for your luggage. Green Car seats are usually set in rows of 2 x 2 and you will need to make seat reservations for each trip you take. This can usually be done just before you board, except during crowded periods like cherry blossom season and the August Obon travel season, as well as around New Year’s.

Booking and Obtaining your JR Pass

The cost of your JR Pass will be included in your tour price and shown under “Price Includes”. We will send you an Exchange Order along with your travel documents. You will take this and your passport to a Japan Rail Pass Exchange office in Japan to receive your JR Pass. It is important to remember that only those who receive the entry status “temporary visitor” stamped in their passports are eligible to obtain the Japan Rail Pass.

Validation

The validity period of a Japan Rail Pass is the consecutive 7, 14, or 21 days beginning on the date the Pass is first used. You must exchange your Exchange Order within 3 months from the date it was issued to obtain your Japan Rail Pass. At that time, you have to specify the date that you want to start using the Pass. It can be any date within one month from the date the PASS is received. Once the Pass has a starting date entered on it, the date cannot be changed.

Can I Make a Seat Reservation?

Once you have exchanged your JR Pass in Japan it is possible to make a seat reservation. There is no charge for this. To make a reservation, apply at any Travel Service Centre (View Plaza) or a reservation office (Midori-no- madoguchi) at a JR station. There, show your PASS, and obtain your reserved-seat ticket before boarding.

Luggage Allowance

There is no restriction on taking luggage on board the Shinkansen (Bullet train). If you only have one suitcase you shouldn’t have too much of a problem. If it’s not much bigger than aircraft “hand-luggage” size, it should fit on the storage rack above the seats. If you can get a seat at the end of the carriage, there is a little space behind the last row of seats where a suitcase will fit. If you have a reserved seat, it’s quite possible that the carriage won’t be too full, and you can fit your suitcase on a spare seat next to you or nearby. If you travel in Green car (First class), there should be space between you and the seat in front for your suitcase to stand on the floor.

The JR Pass offers endless possibilities for travelling around Japan in any season and there are also various regional passes available. Below are some sample itineraries for making the most of your travel experiences with a JR Pass.

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Example Itineraries

Highlights of Honshu

Explore Japan’s main island of Honshu by rail, visiting many of the country’s major cities and cultural sites, from Tokyo to Osaka. With wonderful memories made along the way!

Day 1 Tokyo
Day 2 Tokyo – Nikko – Tokyo
Day 3 Tokyo – Kamakura – Tokyo
Day 4 Tokyo – Hakone
Day 5 Hakone – Nagano
Day 6 Nagano – Takayama
Day 7 Takayama
Day 8 Takayama – Kanazawa
Day 9 Kanazawa – Kyoto
Day 9 Kyoto
Day 10 Kyoto – Nara – Kyoto
Day 11 Kyoto – Hiroshima
Day 12 Hiroshima – Miyajima – Hiroshima
Day 13 Hiroshima – Osaka
Day 14 Depart

Hokkaido Trail

Japan’s northern island of Hokkaido is vast, but many of the main cities can effectively be explored by train. This round trip from Sapporo, visits the fascinating towns of Asahikawa, Abashiri and Kushiro.

Day 1 Hakodate – Sapporo
Day 2 Sapporo
Day 3 Sapporo – Asahikawa
Day 4 Asahikawa
Day 5 Asahikawa – Abashiri
Day 6 Abashiri
Day 7 Abashiri – Kushiro
Day 8 Kushiro
Day 9 Kushiro – Sapporo
Day 10 Depart

Kyushu Explored

Kyushu is Japan’s third largest island, it is located southwest of the main island of Honshu and has a superb network of Limited Express trains allowing for exploration of most of the main cities on the island.

Day 1 Fukuoka
Day 2 Fukuoka
Day 3 Fukuoka – Nagasaki
Day 4 Nagasaki
Day 5 Nagasaki – Kumamoto
Day 6 Kumamoto
Day 7 Kumamoto – Kagoshima
Day 8 Kagoshima
Day 9 Kagoshima – Oita
Day 10 Oita
Day 11 Oita – Fukuoka
Day 12 Depart