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.

*The information in this article is current at the time of writing.

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

117 thoughts on “Compare Japan Rail Pass and regular fare. Which one has a greater value or cheap?”

  1. Hi Takeshi,
    I was a little confused about the fare table charges,
    If I depart from Tokyo to Osaka and it charges me 13750yen, and then at a later date I go back from Osaka to Tokyo is that 13750yen too
    If so would that mean that all together it would be a 27500yen trip?

  2. Hai takeshi.

    I will travel to japan for 10 day 9 night. My plan is like this :

    day 1 : Arriving at kansai airport at night
    Day 2 : Osaka- kyoto ( jr west Pass 1 day)
    Day 3 : Osaka- himeji & kobe (jr Pass + arima rakko Pass)
    Day 4 : Osaka- miyajima-hiroshima (jr pass+ hiroshima street Pass 1 day)
    (day 1,2,3,4 overnight at osaka)
    Day 5 : Tokyo ( jr pass+ tokyo/ toei Pass 1 day)
    Day 6 : Tokyo-hirosaki (jr Pass)
    Day 7 : Tokyo- mt fuji ( jr pass+ fujikyu Pass 1day)
    Day 8 : Tokyo- tateyama alpine route (jr pass+ other tranportation fee)
    Day 9 : Tokyo -osaka ( jr Pass)
    Day 10 : Kansai airport in morning
    ( day 5,6,7,8 overnight at tokyo) then day 9 have to return back to osaka for tomorrow flight..
    It’s jp pass valid for this kind route? I don’t like to bring all my thing when im travelling. I like to stay at 1 place and return back to that place.

    1. Hi Mariam,

      I have a few things to make sure.

      1. What time are going to arrive in KIX? Because if you catch the train on arrival day, Kansai thru pass is better choice for day 1 and 2. JR Kansai area pass doesn’t cover any local transportation, such as subway and city bus in Kyoto but Kansai thru pass does. Kansai thru pass is minimum 2 days. So if you intend to take a train on arrival day, this deal is better choice.

      If you cannot take a train on arrival day, Kansai area pass is okay. But if you stay in Umeda, Hankyu tourist pass may be better. You can get both Gion and Arashiyama by this pass.

      2. You may not need Hiroshima Street pass. Because JR pass covers Meipuru-pu bus.
      You can get most of places in Hiroshima by this bus.

      I think you understand that trip to Hirosaki and trip to Alpine route as day trip are tight. It takes about 4 hours to get Hirosaki. It takes 3.5 hours to get Shinano-Omachi by direct train service, Azusa. And you will spend at least 8 hours from Shinano-Omachi to Toyama via Alpine route. And then it takes another 2 hours+ to get Tokyo from Toyama by Hokuriku Shinkansen. Especially it’s not impossible to do Alpine route in one day. But I recommend you to prepare completely and make the detailed itinerary before you do this trip.


      Takeshi /

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