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

Tokaido Shinkansen

Most common fleet of Tokaido-Sanyo Shinkansen N700 sereis, a.k.a. Bullet train.

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 table 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 14120 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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114 Comments to “Compare Japan Rail Pass and regular fare. Which one has a greater value or cheap?”

  1. siane says:

    Hi Takeshi,
    we ( me, husband, son and daughter ) plan to visit Japan, we arrive at 12 of July in Osaka,
    stay 3 night in Osaka and go to Kyoto for 3 night, Takayama for 2 night and go to kawaguchi lake for 2 night and go to Tokyo for 6 night and back to my country from Narita, is this cheaper buy 14 JR pass or singgle fare ? thank you

  2. michael dubov says:

    We, me and my wife, come to Narita on Sept 12, around 8:00AM.
    We plan:
    1.To transfer NRT-Tokyo on 12/09
    1.To stay in Tokyo 12-18/09
    2.To stay in Kyoto 19-29/09
    3.To stay in Tokyo 30-04/10
    4.To transfer Tokyo-NRT on 04/10
    We intend to see of japan as much as possible.
    We have been thinking to use 21-day JR Pass starting from 14/09.
    Do not know is it good enough or there are other solutions.

  3. Yuvi says:

    Hi Takeshi,

    It will be my first visit to Japan in February 2016.My rough itinerary is :

    Day 1 : Arriving morning at new chitose & sight seeing in sapporo
    Day 2 :Sapporo – Hakodate (day trip by train)
    Day 3 :Sapporo – Tokyo (by air plane) & sight seeing in Tokyo
    Day 4 :Tokyo – Hakone (day trip by train)
    Day 5 : Tokyo
    Day 6 : Tokyo – Osaka (by train) sight seeing in Osaka
    Day 7 : Osaka – Kyoto (day trip by train)
    Day 8 : Leaving Osaka (KIX)

    Would like your recommendation on which pass is most suitable.


  4. Joseph says:

    Hello Takeshi,

    We are a family of 4 coming from Vancouver Canada. We are 2 adults and 2 children (7 and 13 years old). We will arrive in Tokyo on July 7 and have the following schedule:

    July 7 – 12 Tokyo
    July 12 – 14 Tokyo to Takayama
    July 14 – 17 Takayama to Kyoto
    July 17 – 20 Kyoto to Kamakura
    July 20 – 23 Kamakura back to Tokyo

    I would like to know if it is cheaper to buy a 7 day JP Rail Pass and start using it on July 12 or just buy single fares as we need them ?

    Thank you very much for your response.

  5. Aaron says:

    Thank you very much for your reply Takeshi. I really appreciate the extra information about the other passes too, very helpful!
    I don’t think I will be able to complete my travel from Osaka to Fujigoko and Fujigoko to Tokyo, as well as travelling from Tokyo to Shiroishi and back in 7 days let alone including Hakone.
    If I activate my JR Pass to travel from Osaka to Fujigoko on the 20th, then I it will expire at 23:59 on 26th. Is this correct?
    If I can only use it to travel from Osaka to Fujigoko and Fujigoko to Tokyo will it still be better than single fares?

    • Hi Aaron,

      Yes. The pass is valid for midnight to midnight (0:00 to 23:59).
      Single fare is cheaper for Osaka to Fujigoko and Fujigoko to Tokyo. It’s almost half amount of JR pass 7 days price.


      Takeshi / JP Rail

  6. Aaron says:

    Hi, I was hoping you could advise me if the 14 Day JR Pass would be beneficial to me?
    I tried using HyperDia and I think that I will be able to use the JR Pass for most of my travel. I also plan on buying the Osaka Amazing Pass for the first couple of days in Osaka.
    This is my itinerary:

    July 11th: Arrive in Osaka
    12th/13th: Use Osaka Amazing Pass
    Start JR PASS
    14th: Osaka to Kyoto
    18th: Kyoto to Osaka
    20th: Osaka to Fujigoko, Mt.Fuji
    24th: Fujigoko to Tokyo
    27th: Tokyo to Shiroishi (Zao Fox Village) and back
    28th: Tokyo to Hakone and back

  7. Juanv says:

    Hi, I arrive at Tokyo Narita on 25th May. I intend to go directly to Kanazawa on the hokuriku shinkansen and return on 28th to Tokyo City. Then, I will return to Narita Airport on 31st May.

    Is it worth to buy a JR Pass?

    Thank you in advance and congratulations for this website!!!


  8. Brigitte says:

    Hi, I will visit to Japan but a bit confuse about the transportation which should I buy JR pass or not.
    13 May Landing to Chitose then go to hostel close to Odori Park. After check in I will go to Odori Park to enjoy Cherry blossom, hopefully still bloming. To Maerutama park.
    14 May Roaming to Clock Tower, Sapporo Sta, Susukino
    15 May enjoy last day in Sapporo for shopping.
    16 May Fly to Tokyo Narita Airport.
    From Narita Airport to Iriya Sta to hostel. Which train should i catch?
    17 May To Toyama – Kurobe Alpine Route this is very confusing me to decide which transportation by bus, by train or shinkansen.
    18 May To Kawaguchiko -Fuji Shibazakura which train or bus?
    19 May To Kawasaki Doraemon museum.
    20 May Happy day to Tokyo Dysneyland.
    21 May leave for Osaka. I have no idea which transportation to pick. By shinkansen or flight. I need help for transportation more effective on my journey. Looking forward your response.
    Thanks in advance.

  9. Jane says:

    Hi, I plan my trip as per following:

    Day 1- Tokyo (Asakusa area)
    Day 2- Tokyo (Disneyland)
    Day 3 to Day 7- Hokkaido
    Day 8 – yokohama
    Day 9 – Mt Fuji

    Which pass should I buy in term of value of money?


  10. Tong Khek Ming says:

    Hi ! I already book to Tokyo 20-27/4 .My main plan to visit Tateyama alpine route, Mount Fuji and Aomori for Sakura.(Any nearer place to view Sakura in late April?).

    To buy 7days JR rail pass or JR east which is cheaper.

    Can you advice what is the better itenary aand which town to stay?
    My plan is Toyama 2 nights,Or Nagano 1 night, Aomori 1 night, Tokyo 2nights, Narita airport 1 night

    Please advice.

Leave a Reply

I always welcome your comment. But before you leave a comment, please remember these following:

  • This is not an official website. This website, JPRail.com is a private website. I don't sell any tickets or passes.
  • I am not a travel agent. Please do not ask me to make an itinerary. I can check your itinerary and give you suggestion. I think making an itinerary is a part of your travel. Please try to make it by yourself. Enjoy! :)
  • If you need access information to your hotel, please don't ask me but ask your hotel.
  • If you are looking for the information about timetable, please refer Japan Railway's timetables.
  • If you are looking for the information about the fare, please refer Fare Calculation.
  • If you are looking for the information about reservation, please refer, How to reserve seat.
  • If you want to post, please comment to relate to the post. I will delete any unrelative comment to the post without notice.

If you still have a question, of course I can answer your question.
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