What is a Japan Rail Pass?
When travelling to a new country one of the first things that comes to mind is transportation.
With many ways to get around Japan, it can be hard to choose just one. The Japan Rail Pass is the most popular way for tourists to travel like a local. The pass allows you to ride most trains run by the JR company throughout all of Japan, while only paying a one-time cost.
The passes are offered in Green or Ordinary Class, with a 7, 14, or 21 day limit. The Green Class Passes are similar to first class, offering larger seats and more leg room. The days are counted consecutively, so it is perfect for those 1, 2 or 3 week trips.
When purchasing the pass be sure to purchase from authorized sales agents… like us! After purchasing you will be sent a Japan Rail Pass voucher. This voucher is what you will exchange in Japan for the pass. Make sure you are not ordering too far in advance, the rail voucher must be exchanged in Japan 90 days (3 months) after being printed, otherwise it expires and cannot be used.
When placing your order make sure to double check that your name is correct! This is the most important thing, as Japan is quite strict on this, and you will not be able to exchange if the name is wrong. Although the middle name is not needed, your first and last names must be exactly like they are on your passport.
Once you’ve received your voucher you’re ready to exchange it in Japan! To exchange the pass all you have to do is make sure to get the Temporary Visitor stamp when leaving the airport. Then you can head to any JR office, fill out a small form and get your pass.
You are now free to ride the JR lines like a local!
Should I purchase a Regional Pass instead?
Regional Passes are very similar to Nationwide Passes (JR Passes). The only difference being, regional passes have more variations, are good for certain regions in Japan, and must be exchanged at certain JR Offices. If you plan on staying within one region of Japan, then it is better to purchase a regional pass. Each region offers a different variation of passes, allowing you to chose the best for your trip!
Is the JR Pass best for my trip?
Many times, the JR Pass is not what you will need on your trip. If, for example, you are only using the train to travel from one major city to another, then there is no need to purchase the pass.
The pass is best for those who plan to travel throughout one city, and go to another city and travel that area. Or those planning a trip throughout all of Japan.
The best thing to do is check Hyperdia. This is a website that allows you to map your route through Japan, while giving you the price of each train. You can then compare that to the price of the pass and see which is best for you.