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Compare Japan Rail Pass and regular fare. Which one has a greater value or cheap?


Enkoji Temple in Kyoto

Enkoji Temple in Kyoto

When you think about buying Japan Rail Pass, you may compare the price of Japan Rail Pass and a single fare. But it is very hard to get an exact fare because the fare rule of Japan Railway is so complicated. So I will give you some examples and consider which way has greater value.

Narita airport to Kyoto for round trip

Base Fare: 18060yen
Surcharge: 3220yen (Narita Airport-Tokyo), 10480yen (Tokyo-Kyoto)

Total Cost: 31760yen

As long as you travel within 7 days, Ordinary 7 days pass (28300yen) is cheaper than a regular fare.

Narita airport to Sendai for round trip

Base Fare: 13660yen
Surcharge: 3220yen (Narita Airport-Tokyo), 9620yen (Tokyo-Sendai)
Total Cost: 26500yen

Ordinary 7 days pass (28300yen) is more expensive, but I go for the pass. Because the pass can be used during staying in Tokyo and Sendai. And also there are some popular sightseeing spots, such as Matsushima or Yamadera, around Sendai. You can use your pass to travel to these spots.

Yamakasa Festival in Hakata

Yamakasa Festival in Hakata

Narita airport to Hakata (Fukuoka) for round trip

Base Fare: 25320yen
Surcharge: 3220yen (Narita Airport-Tokyo), 16560yen (Tokyo-Hakata)
Total Cost: 45100yen

It is exactly same price as Ordinary 14 days pass. If your trip is in 7 days, of course 7 days pass is a great deal!
Even if you travel more than 8 days, the pass is much easier to handle. And also you may have an extra trip.
Anyway if you go to Kyushu island, the pass recover your cost easily.

Narita airport to Sapporo for round trip

Base Fare: 25880yen
Surcharge: 3220yen (Narita Airport-Tokyo), 12000yen (Tokyo-Hachinohe), 2400yen (Hachinohe-Hakodate), 3030yen (Hakodate-Sapporo)
Total Cost: 46530yen

Ordinary 14 days pass is much better choice obviously. If you have an itinerary that includes Hokkaido island, choose the pass.

Fare standard of major sections

I show you some base fares. Please use these fares to compare to the price of Japan Rail Pass. But this is just standard fare. If you have Multi-city travel, the fare may be cheaper. These following fares are based on Shinkansen and daytime limited express trains. (As of April 2012)

station Tokyo Osaka Nagoya
Sapporo 23270 32400 30180
Aomori 16870 26110 26250
Akita 16810 26250 24030
Sendai 10390 21390 19170
Yamagata 11030 21830 19930
Niigata 10720 21390 19170
Nagoya 10580 6180 -
Takayama 13300 10310 5870
Kanazawa 12710 7440 8280
Osaka 13750 - 6180
Hiroshima 18050 9950 13430
Fukuoka (Hakata) 21720 14590 17530
Kumamoto 24750 18320 20450
Kagoshima 28030 21600 23730
station Hakodate Kushiro Abashiri Asahikawa
Sapporo 8590 9120 9640 4520
station Nagasaki Yufuin Beppu/Oita Kumamoto Miyazaki Kagoshima-Chuo
Fukuoka 4580 4430 5420 4990 9140 10170

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82 Comments to “Compare Japan Rail Pass and regular fare. Which one has a greater value or cheap?”

  1. Zrey says:

    Hi, I intend to move around Kyushu for 15 days but Kyushu pass only comes in 3 Days and 5 Days.
    Can a 14 JR pass be used in Kyushu?

  2. YHS says:

    Hi Takeshi,

    I plan to travel to Japan in the coming December. Below is my itinerary

    Day 1 – arrived Kansai – Osaka
    Day 2 – Osaka
    Day 3 – Osaka
    Day 4 – Kyoto
    Day 5 – Kyoto
    Day 6 – Takayama
    Day 7 – Takayama
    Day 8 – Tokyo
    Day 9 – Tokyo
    Day 10 – Hakone
    Day 11 – Hakone
    Day 12 – Tokyo
    Day 13 – Tokyo
    Day 14 – Tokyo- Narita Airport

    I plan to buy 7 days JR Pass to use from day 6 to day 12. Is this worthy to do so?

  3. James says:

    Hello,

    You seem very knowledgeable on the difference between the JR rail pass and the single tickets. Unfortunately I have missed the opportunity to receive the jr rail pass in time before my departure. Could you please describe the expected cost of my trip taking public transportation:
    1) 10/3/2014: NRT to Shibuya
    2) 10/5/2014: Shibuya to Mt. Fuji
    3) 10/5/2014: Mt. Fuji to Kyoto
    4) 10/6/14: Kyoto to Hiroshima
    5) 10/6/14: Hiroshima to Tokyo

    Thank you very much.

    Best,

    J

  4. Veron says:

    Hello Takeshi,

    Thank you for all the informative posts! I read through most of the reviews but is still confused if I should get a JR pass. Did a rough calculations using HyperDia for this coming Christmas/New Year period and it doesn’t seem like a big saving. Would love to hear your kind opinion on my itinerary below.

    Day 1: Arriving Kansai (Osaka) airport at 6:00 am. Stay a night at Umeda area
    Day 2: Kyoto and stay a night
    Day 3: Nagano/Yudanaka to see snow monkeys
    Day 4: Hakuba
    Day 5: Hakuba
    Day 6: Hakuba
    Day 7: Tokyo (Ueno area)
    Day 8: Depart from Narita airport

    Thank you!

  5. Meora Feinmesser says:

    Dear Mr. Takeshi,

    I am travelling to Kobe on the 14th of October, but most of my travelling will be during the week, starting on the 18th as follows-
    18- travelling to Kyoto from Kobe
    21- travelling back to kobe from Kyoto
    23- travelling from Kobe to Hiroshima and back again to Kobe (round trip)
    24- travelling from Kobe to Tokyo (one way)

    My question is whether you would recommend that I purchase the JR rail pass for 7 nights (ordinary) or whether I should purchase each ticket separately. I admit that I am confused by all the information,

    Many thanks,

    Meora

  6. YL says:

    Hi Mr Takeshi,

    I am planning to travel to Japan from 20 – 28 Dec. My itinerary as follow:

    Day 1: Arrive in Tokyo Narita
    Day 2: Nagano – Asama 513
    Day 3: Matsumoto – Ltd Exp (Wide View) Shinano 8
    Day 4-5: Takayama (Shirakawago and Takayama Old town) Matsumto – Takayama Express Bus
    Day 6: Tokyo
    Day 7-8: Mt Nokogiriyama (JR Uchibo Line)

    My main aim is Takayama but I thought Matusomoto is along the way so we are thinking of heading there as a base to Takayama. I am thinking of taking JR Pass for 7 days. Do you think it is appropriate and is Matusomoto a good base for exploring Takayama? Thanks

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