JR Pass Explained: Is It Worth It?

“Is the JR Pass worth it?” is a question travellers often ask before going on that dream trip to Japan. Let’s admit it, Japan has this reputation of being an expensive country to travel in and having to spend a hefty portion of your travel budget on a train ticket before you even get there isn’t that appealing either. I had the same question and after thorough consultation with The Travelling Feet, I finally decided to invest in a 7-day JR Pass for my 10-day Japan trip

So to answer your questions about whether or not you should invest on the JR Pass, I’ll try my by best to make your decision a little easier by the end of this article.

 

What is a JR Pass?

JR(Japan Rail) Pass is a rail pass in Japan that grants the holder unlimited use of JR trains for 7, 14 or 21 consecutive days.

 

How much does a JR Pass cost?

7 days – 29,110 Yen or 236 US Dollars
14 days – 46,390 Yen or 376 US Dollars
21 days – 59,350 Yen or 481 US Dollars

*Children aged 6-11 get 50% off from the original price
*Prices are exclusive of shipping fees

 

Who can avail of the JR Pass?

Only foreign tourists can avail of the JR Pass. Residents of Japan are not eligible.

 

Can I buy the JR Pass when I arrive in Japan?

No. The JR Pass must be purchase outside Japan.

 

Where can I order the JR Pass?

There are numerous sites where you can order the JR Pass. I got mine from www.japan-rail-pass.com. But you don’t need to worry because most, if not all sites offer the pass at the same price so don’t waste your time looking for a cheaper rate.

Other Sites:
www.myjrpass.com
www.japanrailpass.net
www.japan-experience.com

 

How long is the delivery time after I make the order?

Allow about 1 week for delivery although mine only took 2 days for express delivery via FedEx for an additional cost of $13. Note that all JR Passes are shipped from Paris and not from Japan

 

What items can I expect during delivery?

JR Pass Package Small

Upon delivery you will receive the following items:
1. JR Pass Exchange Order(You will not receive the pass itself but an exchange order which you will present at the ticket office upon arrival in Japan)
2. Japan by Train Travel Guide
3. JR Railway Map and Timetables

 

Now that I have my JR Pass Exchange Order, what’s next?

You’re almost there and you have every right to get excited. There’s only 1 thing left to do. Take with you your Exchange Order and when you get to Japan, exchange it for the “Real” JR Pass in any of the JR Ticket offices or service centers. You will need to present your passport upon the exchange and fill out the “Real” JR Pass with your Name, Nationality and Passport number.

*Note that the validity of your JR Pass is counted in days(not hours) from the date of exchange. The date will be stamped at the back of your JR Pass. So let’s say you started using your JR Pass at 11:55pm on September 7, that already counts as 1 day and by the time the clock hits midnight, it counts as another day. Make sure you plan your trip ahead to make the most out of your JR Pass.

Step-by-step instructions of what to do when you get to Japan

Take this….

JR Pass Exchange Order

Exchange Order(Not the JR Pass)

…to any of these

JR Ticket Offices

JR Ticket Offices and Service Centers

…and exchange it for this

My JR Pass

The Real JR Pass

…and Voila! You’re all set to take explore Japan all the way to its farthest edges in one of the most efficient mass public transport systems in the world.

Additional Information:

    • The JR Pass is valid in almost all JR serviced lines all over Japan, the Tokyo Monorail to and from Haneda Airport, JR Ferry to Miyajima, local JR-operated buses and a few non-JR trains.
    • The JR Pass is NOT VALID for use in the Nozomi and Mizuho Shinkansen(Bullet) Trains.
    • You don’t need to purchase additional tickets to board the JR serviced lines and you don’t have to line up to go through the turnstiles, there’s a special lane for JR Pass holders and you just have to show flash your pass to the officer.
    • Although they rarely check(they never checked mine), it is always a good idea to always bring your passport with you for identification purposes.
    • If you’re planning to take the Shinkansen(Bullet) Train, you may reserve your seat at any of the JR Ticket Offices although the non-reserved seats seldom get fully booked. In this case, you can just go straight to the platform and fall in line.

      Shinkansen Reserved Seat

      Shinkansen Reserved Seat Ticket

    • The JR Line and JR Yamanote Line in Tokyo stops at Shinjuku, Shibuya, Harajuku, Roppongi, Yoyoyi and Tokyo Stations. These stations are your access to the most popular attractions in Tokyo.
Tokyo Railway Map

Tokyo Railway Map

The Verdict

1 City/Area/Region = No
Long Distance Travel/Multiple Regions = Definitely!

If you plan on travelling within just one city or region in Japan, then you don’t need the JR Pass and you will not enjoy its full value. But if your itinerary involves long distance trips, especially via Shinkansen(Bullet) Trains, then I suggest you buy yourself a JR Pass.

Think of it this way. A one-way Shinkansen(Bullet) Train ticket from Kyoto to Tokyo costs about 13,000 Yen or 110 US Dollars. A round trip ticket would almost cost as much as a 7-day JR Pass and a little more if you’re travelling from Tokyo to Osaka. Clearly, the JR Pass is more feasible in this situation than booking the tickets separately.

So there…I hope you’ve made up your mind by now and if you have any more questions, please feel free to hit me up in the comment box.

ENJOY NIPPON!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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