How to Use JR Pass in Japan?

Discovering Japan has never been easier! If you’re wondering how to use JR Pass for seamless exploration, you’re in the right place.

From tranquil mountains to vibrant cities, this country offers an enchanting blend of tradition and modernity.

Budget constraints shouldn’t deter you, especially with the ultimate travel hack – the Japan Rail Pass. This pass is your golden ticket to the iconic Shinkansen bullet trains, connecting the nation’s highlights like Tokyo, Kyoto, and Osaka.

Join me as we delve into the details, costs, and benefits of the Japan Rail Pass. Let’s unlock Japan’s wonders affordably and effortlessly.

What Is the Japan Rail (JR) Pass?

If the question of how to use the Japan Rail Pass is on your mind, rest assured – I’ve got the answers you need! Before we start on that, let’s get to know the Japan Rail Pass.

The Japan Rail Group takes care of the country’s trains, and they made the Japan Rail. This pass is like magic because it lets you use lots of train lines, including the super-fast Shinkansen. If you plan to use the Shinkansen a lot, this pass is your ultimate rail travel buddy.

The JR Pass is made for visitors like us. It has two types – one for all of Japan and the other for specific regions. You can use it on trains, buses, ferries, and even monorails. And guess what? You can travel anytime you want. No stress!

Imagine having a ticket that’s budget-friendly and easy to use 24/7. That’s the JR Pass for you. With it, you can go around big cities and chill places without spending too much.

wedding at meiji temple tokyo

Can I Buy a Japan Rail Pass?

The JR Pass is a special thing for people who are visiting Japan for a short time, like less than 3 months.

Basically, if you’re going to Japan for a holiday for 15 or 90 days, you can get the JR Pass and learn how to use it.

You must buy your Japan Rail Pass before traveling to Japan. The company send you the voucher for your tickets at home. It’s a dossier with information about how to use the JR Pass, a map with the most important cities and places to visit in Japan and more.

To get the JR Pass tickets, show your holiday visa or passport stamp at the JR Exchange Office. They’ll give it to you there. Remember, if you use a gate machine at the airport, ask a worker to stamp your passport – it’s important for JR Pass use.

Japan Rail Pass Ticket Office Fer

What Are the Different Types of Japan Rail Passes Available?

Looking for Japan Rail Pass information? Having explored Japan myself, I understand the importance of finding the right pass. Let’s dive into the different types of JR Passes available to make your journey smoother.

If you’re aiming to explore the entire nation, the National Japan Rail Pass is your ticket. It grants access to all JR lines throughout Japan. Available for 7, 14, or 21 days, this pass allows unlimited travel within your chosen validity period.

Whether you’re riding the Ordinary Reserved or Non-Reserved Car, or indulging in luxury with the Green Car on the Shinkansen, this pass has you covered.

However, if your adventures are city-focused, a Regional Japan Rail Pass might suit you better. These passes provide unlimited travel within specific regions like Kansai or Tohoku.

Which Japan Rail Pass Should I Purchase for My Trip?

Looking for advice on the Japan Rail Pass? Start by thinking about where you want to travel. If it’s mainly a single city like Kyushu, consider the JR Kyushu Rail Pass. Planning a two-week Tokyo trip with side trips? The 14-day Whole Japan Rail Pass could be your choice.

There are 7, 14, and 21-day options. Remember, longer passes mean bigger savings. Just pick the pass that matches your plans and get ready for an exciting journey!

If you are curious about the passes we bought, well, we bought the 7-day Green Car Japan Rail Pass. It’s a little more expensive, but you can reserve your seat on the Shinkansen, given the fact that we’re traveling during the Golden Week, it was a necessary inversion.

How Much Does a Japan Rail Pass Cost?

Before diving into our how-to use a JR Rail Pass guide, get to know how much each Japan Rail Pass ticket costs. *Prices and fees may change, we’ll try to keep the prices up to date.

DaysRegular Pass (Adult)Green Pass (First Class)Kids 6 to 11 Years Old (Discounted Price)
7 Days210 USD281 USD141 USD
14 Days332 USD456 USD228 USD
21 Days429 USD592 USD296 USD
By October 2023, expect a 70% increase in the prices. Read more about the news.

Let’s talk about some awesome regional JR Passes! If you’re heading to places like Takayama, Kanazawa, and Kyoto, the Central Pass starts at just 40 USD.

For exploring Kyoto, Osaka, and Nara, the Kansai Pass is a steal starting at 22 USD. Looking to venture into Hakone, Tokyo, and Nagano? The East Pass has got you covered, starting at 52 USD.

If Hokkaido’s your destination – with Sapporo, Hakodate, and Kushiro in mind – the Hokkaido Pass starts at 210 USD. Exploring Fukuoka, Kumamoto, and Nagasaki? The Kyushu Pass comes in at 88 USD.

Planning to discover Hiroshima, Himeji, and Okayama? The West Pass starts at 210 USD. And if you’re exploring the beauty of Takamatsu, Tokushima, and Kochi, the Shikoku Pass begins at 78 USD.

The usage period varies by region. For instance, the Hokkaido Regional Pass offers 5 and 7-day options, while the JR East Regional Pass, which covers central Honshu and Tohoku, comes in a 5-day version.

With these passes, you’ve got a budget-friendly ticket to some incredible Japanese destinations.


Where Can I Purchase a Japan Rail Pass?

There are many websites that sell JR Pass to tourists and locals. You can visit their Japanese website and be updated on the latest price changes and promotions only if you understand the language.

For an easier option, you can also buy it here. You can choose your preferred number of days and the number of people who will be using it.

Step 1: Choose the number of people, including kids.

Step 2: Choose between the regular JR pass and a Green Pass.

Step 3: Pick a region. If you want to stay longer and visit more places, choose the national Japan Rail Pass option.

Step 4: Next, pick the duration of your stay. As discussed above, you can choose between 7, 14, and 21 days.

Once you hit check out, it’s time to know how to use JR Pass while in the country.

How to Use Japan Rail Pass in Japan?

Most Japan Rail instructions and signs are written in English and Japanese, especially in the popular regions frequented by tourists.

Step 1 – Purchase the Pass: Before your Japan trip, order your JR Pass online.

Step 2 – Exchange Voucher: After arriving in Japan, head to a JR Exchange Office. Show your JR Pass voucher and passport, and they’ll give you the real pass.

Step 3 – Activate the Pass: Hand over your Exchange Order at a JR Exchange Counter. Pick a start date for your pass activation. You’ll find these counters at major JR Rail stations and airports.

Step 4 – Hop On Any JR Transport: With your JR Pass, you’re ready to use JR trains, buses, ferries, and even the Shinkansen!

Step 5 – Show and Go: Simply show your pass to the station staff at the ticket gate. No need for separate tickets.

Tokyo temple

What Other Transportation Can I Ride with Japan Rail Pass?

When it comes to how to use a Japan Rail Pass, it’s not just about trains. With the pass, you can also access a variety of other transportation options for a comprehensive travel experience.

Beyond Shinkansen and trains, the JR Pass grants you entry to local buses in places like Hakone, Hiroshima and Sapporo, JR-operated ferries (like the one to Miyajima), and even JR lines within bustling metropolitan areas such as Tokyo and Osaka.

The benefits don’t stop there. You’ll enjoy free seat reservations, which can otherwise cost around 330-930 JPY.

Keep in mind, though, that the JR Pass doesn’t cover the Nozomi and Mizuho shinkansen lines and isn’t valid for Japanese citizens or residents working in Japan.

So, whether you’re boarding JR trains across various regions, taking the Tokyo Monorail to/from Haneda Airport, hopping on JR Ferries to Miyajima, or exploring with local JR Buses, your JR Pass opens up a world of convenient and seamless travel possibilities.

Plan Your Trip to Japan

Notes to Remember with Japan Rail Pass

Here are some important notes and tips to help you make the most of your Japan Rail Pass:

Ordering Online:

  • Payments can be made only with a credit card in the purchaser’s name. Children without credit cards must share the same travel itinerary.
  • You can buy a JAPAN RAIL PASS for up to 6 people traveling with you.
  • When purchasing, provide your name, email, and passport number.

Pick-Up Process:

  • Confirm eligibility by presenting your passport and those of your travel companions.
  • Collect your JAPAN RAIL PASS before the start date or during the valid period.
  • You can pick up your Exchange Order at JR-designated sales offices or agents before arriving in Japan.

Exchange and Activation:

  • Present your Exchange Order and activate your JAPAN RAIL PASS at a Japan Rail Exchange Counter.
  • Choose a start date for activation.
  • Exchange must be done within three months of the Order date but can be from one month before the use date.
  • If you buy a JR Pass with a seat reservation included, you can make a reservation for your Shinkansen trip the day you pick up your tickets.
  • The JR Pass will be active the first day you use it, not the day you pick it up, unless you use your pass on the same day you pick it up.

Important Reminders:

  • Your passport’s “Temporary Visitor” stamp/sticker is required for pick-up/exchange.
  • Name on the Exchange Order and passport must match.
  • Ensure you have the original passport; photocopies aren’t accepted.
  • Trusted Traveler Program card holders must show cards to confirm “Temporary Visitor” status.

Pick-Up Offices:

  • Business hours are 4:30 a.m. to 11:30 p.m. (Japan local time UTC+9:00).
  • Be aware of pick-up/exchange/purchase office hours and non-working days.
Shinkansen-green-card wagon

J-Rail Pass Frequently Asked Questions

Can 2 People Use 1 Japan Rail Pass?

No, a JR Pass is a very personal thing and can only be used by the person whom it was issued for.

Can You Go Anywhere with a Japan Rail Pass?

With a JR Pass, you can go to many places, including major cities, the countryside, and even islands. Refer to the regional passes and know the places to pass by.

You can check our itinerary around Japan using the JRPass.

Can You Activate the Japan Rail Pass Anytime?

You can activate your JR Pass within three months of its issue date. Plan ahead and activate it before your travel starts but can be from one month before the use date.

Is Japan Rail Pass a Physical Card?

The Japan Rail Pass comes as a special voucher that you exchange for a physical pass in Japan.

Plan Your Trip to Japan

How to Use JR Pass in Japan Pinterest Pin Cover

Last Updated on 29 January, 2024 by Veronica

Disclosure: Some of the links on this post are affiliate links, meaning at no additional cost to you, I may earn a small commission if you click through and make a purchase.

Author: Veronica

Vero, a seasoned traveler, has explored 25 countries and lived in five, gaining a rich perspective and fostering an infectious passion for travel. With a heart full of wanderlust, Vero uncovers the world’s hidden gems and shares insights, tips, and planning advice to inspire and assist fellow adventurers. Join Vero and let the shared passion for travel create unforgettable memories.


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