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Frequently Asked Questions About the JR Pass

Planning a trip to Japan and wondering about train travel? The Japan Rail Pass (JR Pass) is a super popular option for tourists, and for good reason.  It can help you save money and explore the country efficiently. Read on to get the answers to all your questions about the JR Pass, so you can decide if it's the right fit for your trip.

JR Pass Tickets FAQs

Q: What is a JR Pass?

A: A JR Pass is a multi-day pass that gives tourists visiting Japan unlimited travel on many Japan Railways (JR) Group companies' trains and buses.

Q: What does a JR Pass cover?

A: A JR Pass covers travel on most JR trains, including Shinkansen bullet trains (except Nozomi and Mizuho), limited express trains, rapid trains, and local trains. It can also cover some JR buses, the Miyajima ferry, and certain airport express trains like the Narita Express. There are a few exceptions, so be sure to check the full details before your trip.

Q: Is a JR Pass worth it for my trip?

A: Whether a JR Pass is worth it depends on your travel plans. If you're planning on doing a lot of long-distance train travel within multiple cities in Japan, then a JR Pass can be a cost-effective option. You can use a JR fare calculator to estimate the cost of your planned trips and compare it to the price of the JR Pass.

Q: What are the benefits of using a JR Pass?

A: Using a JR Pass offers several benefits for tourists traveling around Japan. First, with a JR Pass, you can enjoy unlimited travel on all covered JR lines for the duration of your pass. This eliminates the need to purchase individual tickets for each train journey, saving you time and money. JR Passes also allow you to make free seat reservations on JR trains, ensuring you have a comfortable seat for your trip. In addition, some attractions and services in Japan may offer discounts to JR Pass holders.

Q: When is the best time to buy a JR Pass?

A: You can only purchase a JR Pass outside of Japan. It’s recommended that you book your pass over 2 weeks before you depart from your residence to Japan. This allows ample time for the delivery of your physical exchange order to your doorstep.

Q: How much does a JR Pass cost in general?

A: The cost of a JR Pass depends on the type of pass (Standard or green class) and the duration (7, 14, or 21 days). Generally, Whole of Japan passes start from ¥50,000, and regional passes start as low as ¥2,800.

Q: How many types of JR passes are there?

A: There are several types of Japan Rail Passes (JR Passes) available to suit different travel needs:
• Ordinary Pass: This is the standard JR Pass that offers unlimited travel on JR-operated trains across Japan for 7, 14, or 21 days.
• Green Pass: Also known as the "First Class" or "Superior" Pass, this offers the same benefits as the Ordinary Pass but allows travel in the Green Car (first class) on applicable trains.
• Regional Passes: These passes offer unlimited travel within specific regions of Japan. Examples include the JR Hokkaido Pass, JR East Pass, JR West Pass, JR Kyushu Pass, and JR Shikoku Pass.

Researching and choosing the JR Pass that best fits your itinerary and travel preferences is essential. Additionally, be aware of any eligibility criteria and purchase requirements associated with each pass.

Q: Between JR passes & individual tickets which is cheaper?

A: JR Passes are generally cheaper if you plan on doing a lot of train travel. If you are only planning a few short train journeys, then buying individual tickets might be more economical. Use a JR fare calculator to compare costs for your specific itinerary.

Q: Can I use a JR Pass for local trains?

A: Yes, your JR Pass is valid for local JR trains.

Q: Does the JR Pass cover airport transportation?

A: The JR Pass covers some airport express trains, such as the Narita Express and the Haruka Express. However, it does not cover all airport transportation options. Check if your specific airport connection is included.

Q: What if I lose my JR Pass?

A: Unfortunately, lost JR Passes cannot be replaced.

Q: How do I use the JR Pass for the Shinkansen?

A: While your JR Pass covers most Shinkansen trains (except Nozomi and Mizuho), you will need to make a separate reservation for a seat on the Shinkansen. This reservation can be made for free with your JR Pass.

Q: What does a JR pass not cover?

A: The JR Pass does not cover Nozomi and Mizuho Shinkansen trains, some private railway lines, local transportation within cities (buses, subways, taxis), or airplane tickets. Also, the JR Pass is available for consecutive use over 7, 14, or 21 days. If you plan to use it on non-consecutive days, it won't cover the days in between.

Q: Does the JR pass have unlimited rides?

A: Yes, within the covered JR lines and trains (with the exceptions mentioned previously), you can enjoy unlimited rides for the duration of your JR Pass.

Whole of Japan JR Pass FAQs

Q: What does the Whole of Japan JR Pass cover?

A: The Whole of Japan JR Pass covers travel on most Japan Railways (JR) Group services throughout Japan. This includes most JR trains, including: Limited express trains, rapid trains, local trains, some JR buses, the Miyajima ferry, and certain airport express trains (check details for your specific airport).

Q: How much does a Whole of Japan JR Pass cost?

A: The cost of a Whole of Japan JR Pass depends on the type of seating class you choose and the validity period. There are two seating classes:
• Standard Class: This is the most popular and affordable option.
• Green Class: Offers more spacious seating and amenities like reclining seats and footrests.
The validity period comes in three options: 7 days, 14 days, or 21 days. Generally, the cost ranges from around  ¥50,000  for a 7-day Standard Class Pass to over  ¥70,000 for a 21-day Green Class Pass.

Q: How long is a Whole of Japan JR Pass valid for?

A: The Whole of Japan JR Pass comes in three validity periods: 7 days, 14 days, and 21 days. You choose the option that best suits your travel itinerary. The pass is activated on your chosen start date and is valid for unlimited travel for the consecutive days you selected.

Q: Can I use buses or ferries with a Whole of Japan JR Pass?

A: Your JR Pass covers some JR buses and the Miyajima ferry. However, it does not cover all buses and ferries in Japan. Public transportation within cities (buses and subways) is also not covered.

Q: When should I activate my Whole of Japan JR Pass?

A: You can activate your JR Pass any time once in Japan. JR Passes cannot be activated before you enter Japan. Keep in mind that the pass is valid for consecutive days from activation, so activate accordingly.

Q: Can I get Green Car seating with my Whole of Japan JR Pass?

A: Yes, you can upgrade to Green Car seating on most JR trains with your Whole of Japan JR Pass. There is an additional charge for Green Car seating, which you will pay when making your seat reservations.

Q: Does the Whole of Japan JR Pass cover bullet trains(Shinkansen)?

A: The Whole of Japan JR Pass covers most Shinkansen bullet trains, but there are some exceptions. It does not cover the Nozomi and Mizuho Shinkansen trains, which are the fastest Shinkansen services. While you can use your JR Pass on most other Shinkansen lines, you will still need to make a separate reservation for a seat on the Shinkansen, which can be done for free with your JR Pass.

Q: Are there any blackout dates for the Whole of Japan JR Pass?

A: No, there are no blackout dates for the Whole of Japan JR Pass. You can purchase and use the pass at any time of the year.

Q: Can I use my JR Pass on private train lines?

A: No, your JR Pass is only valid for travel on JR trains and the limited included services mentioned previously. The JR Pass does not cover private railway lines.

Regional JR Passes FAQs

Q: Are there regional JR Passes available?

A: Yes, in addition to the Whole of Japan JR Pass, there are also several regional JR Passes offered by different JR companies. These passes cover specific regions of Japan and can be a good option for travelers who are focusing their trip on a particular area.

Q: What areas do regional JR Passes cover?

A: Regional JR Passes cover specific areas of Japan, allowing unlimited travel within those regions. Regions include: Hokkaido, Tohuku, Nagano & Niigata, Kanto, Kansai, Hiroshima & San'in, Kyushu, and Shikoku.

Q: What are the benefits of using a regional JR Pass instead of a Whole of Japan JR Pass?

A: Regional JR Passes can be a more economical option if your itinerary is focused on a specific region of Japan. They can also be simpler to use, as they cover a smaller geographic area with fewer train lines to navigate.

Q: When is a regional JR Pass a better option?

A: A regional JR Pass is a better option if your trip itinerary focuses on a specific region of Japan. You plan on doing a lot of train travel within that region. You are on a budget and the cost of a regional pass is lower than what you would spend on individual tickets within the region.

Q: What is the best regional JR Pass for me?

A: The best regional JR Pass for you depends on your specific travel itinerary. Consider which region you will be visiting and compare the coverage area of the different regional passes to your planned destinations.

Q: How much do regional JR Passes cost typically?

A: Regional JR Passes typically cost less than the Whole of Japan JR Pass. Prices vary depending on the specific pass, coverage area, and validity period. Generally, they start as low as ¥2,800.

Q: Can I use a regional JR Pass on the Shinkansen?

A: The usage of regional JR Passes on Shinkansen (bullet trains) depends on the specific pass and the region it covers. Here's a general overview:
• JR East Pass (Tohoku area): This pass covers travel on certain Shinkansen lines within the Tohoku region, such as the Tohoku Shinkansen (between Tokyo and Aomori) and the Yamagata Shinkansen (between Fukushima and Shinjo). However, it does not cover travel on the Hayabusa, Hayate, or Komachi Shinkansen services.
• JR East Pass (Nagano, Niigata area): This pass includes travel on the Hokuriku Shinkansen between Tokyo and Joetsu-Myoko stations. However, it does not cover the Tokaido Shinkansen beyond Joetsu-Myoko Station.
• JR Kansai Area Pass: While this pass primarily covers local and rapid trains in the Kansai region, it does not include travel on Shinkansen lines.
• JR Hiroshima & San'in Area Pass: This pass does not include travel on Shinkansen lines.
• JR Kyushu Pass: This pass includes travel on the Kyushu Shinkansen between Hakata and Kumamoto stations. However, it does not cover travel on the Sanyo Shinkansen (which connects Hakata to Osaka and beyond).
• JR Shikoku Pass: This pass does not include travel on Shinkansen lines.

JR Green Car FAQs

Q: What is a JR Green Car?

A: A JR Green Car is the first-class seating option available on many JR trains in Japan, including Shinkansen bullet trains and some limited express trains. Green Cars offer a more comfortable and luxurious travel experience compared to Standard Cars.

Q: What is the difference between a JR Green Car and a Standard Car?

A: JR Green Cars offer a premium travel experience compared to Standard Cars. Passengers will enjoy wider, more comfortable seats with significantly more legroom and recline. This allows for more comfortable traveling, especially on long journeys. Green Cars also have a more spacious feel due to fewer seats per row, typically 2 on each side of the aisle, compared to Standard Cars (typically 4 per row). In addition, some Green Cars offer extra amenities like footrests, personal reading lights, and complimentary drinks or snacks (depending on the train and route).

Q: What’s the leg space like in a JR Green Car?

A: Green Cars offer significantly more legroom than Standard Cars. This can be a major benefit for taller passengers or those who desire extra space to stretch out during long train journeys.

Q: What are the benefits of using a JR Green Car Pass?

A: Upgrading to a JR Green Car Pass offers several advantages for train travel in Japan. First, you'll enjoy more spacious seating with increased legroom, allowing you to relax and stretch out comfortably during your journey. Green Cars also tend to be quieter than Standard Cars because they have fewer passengers per carriage. Depending on the specific train, you might even have access to additional amenities like footrests and complimentary drinks or snacks, further enhancing your travel experience.

Q: How much more expensive is a JR Green Car Pass?

A: A JR Green Car Pass typically costs around 30% more than a Standard JR Pass for the same validity period. The exact price difference depends on the specific pass you choose.

Q: Is it difficult to get seats in JR Green Cars?

A: Green Car seats tend to be less crowded than Standard Cars, especially on popular routes. However, during peak travel times or on certain routes, reservations can fill up quickly. It's recommended to make seat reservations for Green Cars in advance, especially if you are traveling during peak season.

JR Pass ticket eligibility, booking & activation (Whole of Japan & Regional) FAQs

Q: Who can use a JR Pass?

A: JR Passes are available to non-Japanese passport holders entering Japan on a temporary visitor status for tourism purposes. This typically refers to a "Temporary visitor". Passport holders from 67 countries can receive this visa upon arrival in Japan for stays of 90 days or less. For other nationalities, a temporary visitor visa application may be required before arrival.

Q: Can Japanese passport holders get a JR pass?

A: No, JR Passes are not available for purchase by Japanese passport holders residing in Japan.

Q: How do I book a JR Pass?

A: Book your JR Pass online. This is the most common method.

Q: What’s the process of receiving and activating my JR Pass?

A: Once you book your JR Pass online, you will receive an exchange order at your doorstep (Whole of Japan) via email(Regional Pass). Bring it with you to Japan. Upon arrival in Japan, you will exchange your exchange order for a JR Pass voucher at a designated JR Pass exchange office. Finally, you will activate your JR Pass voucher on your chosen start date at a JR railway station.

Q: Where do I activate my JR Pass?

A: Your JR Pass cannot be activated before you enter Japan. Once you exchange your voucher for your JR Pass at a JR Pass exchange office, you will be able to choose your activation date. Your JR Pass will then be valid for unlimited travel on consecutive days from your chosen start date.

Q: How long do I have to activate my JR Pass after purchase?

A: There JR Pass exchange orders (voucher) are valid for 90 days. However, it's important to remember that your JR Pass will only be valid for travel within a specific timeframe after activation. Be sure to factor this in when making your purchase.

Q: What documents do I need to activate my JR Pass?

A: When exchanging your JR Pass order for the actual JR Pass, you will need to present your original passport and the exchange order (voucher).

Q: Can 2 people use 1 JR Pass?

A: No, a JR Pass is valid for only one person. Each traveler will need their own JR Pass.




Book your JR Pass

JR Pass: Whole Japan Access with Ordinary Seats
Extended Validity
Instant Confirmation
Mobile Ticket
10 hr. 9 min.
More details
from
¥50,000
JR Pass: Whole Japan Access with Green Class Seats
Extended Validity
Instant Confirmation
Mobile Ticket
10 hr.
More details
from
¥70,000
JR Pass: Kansai with Hiroshima or Hokuriku
Free Cancellation
Extended Validity
Instant Confirmation
Mobile Ticket
1 hr. - 168 hr.
More details
from
¥17,000
JR East Pass: Nagano & Niigata or Tohuko
Extended Validity
Instant Confirmation
Mobile Ticket
10 hr. 9 min.
More details
from
¥27,000
JR Kyushu Rail Pass
Extended Validity
Instant Confirmation
Mobile Ticket
10 hr. 9 min.
More details
from
¥10,000
JR West Kansai Area Rail Pass
Free Cancellation
Instant Confirmation
Mobile Ticket
2 hr. - 96 hr.
More details
from
¥2,800
JR Hokkaido Rail Pass
Free Cancellation
Instant Confirmation
Mobile Ticket
1 hr.
More details
from
¥20,000