How to choose Rail Pass to travel Japan. Summary of most of rail passes in Japan


When I started this website, most of you use Japan Rail Pass to travel in Japan. But I have received so many comments. Many travellers do not travel throughout Japan. And some readers could not find which pass they should purchase. Now I understand there are too many deals to pick up. You are overwhelmed.

In this post, I would like to show you major rail passes in Japan.

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

All part of Japan

Japan Rail Pass (a.k.a. JR Pass)

This is most well known rail pass for travelling Japan. This pass cover most of areas throughout Japan. Only Okinawa cannot be accessed by this pass because Japan Railway do not have any line in Okinawa. Even if you have a round trip between Tokyo and Osaka, Japan Rail Pass is worth buying. Please get the details at the post, Japan Rail Pass user guide. How to use JR Pass to its maximum.


Hokkaido Rail Pass

This pass is valid in Hokkaido only. If you enter Japan at New Chitose or other airport in Hokkaido and travel in Hokkaido only, this pass is suitable for you. If you stay in Tokyo and travel to Hokkaido by air, this pass may be suitable for you.
The price of this pass is starting from 15,000 yen for 3 days. However Hokkaido rail pass 7 days is sold at 22,000 yen. Japan Rail Pass 7 days is sold at 28,300 yen. If you pay another 6,300 yen, you can travel almost anywhere in Japan. Please see the details about Hokkaido Rail Pass at Hokkaido Rail Pass. The best deal for rail trip in Hokkaido for oversea visitors.

JR East-South Hokkaido Rail Pass

This is new deal to cover Tokyo, surrounding Tokyo, Tohoku and southern Hokkaido area. It is slightly cheaper than JR pass. If you are sure to travel only these regions, this deal is better choice than JR Pass. Please see the link below to get the detail of this deal:

JR East-South Hokkaido Rail Pass user guide. Perfect deal for the travelers who visit Tokyo and Sapporo by train.

Sapporo subway, street car and bus deal

Common one day pass is sold at 1,000 yen. There are some more deals for subway and/or street car. Please find the detail at City of Sapporo official website:

City of Sapporo, City transportation fare and ticket information

Tohoku (Aomori, Sendai, Akita) and Kanto (Tokyo and surrounding) area

JR East Pass

There are two types of JR East Pass. Those are JR East Pass Tohoku area and JR East Pass Naganom Niigata area. Both passes are flex type pass. You can pick any 5 days in 14 days period. Please see the links below to find the detailed information.

JR East Pass Tohoku. Flex 5 days pass in 14 days period to cover Tokyo, surrounding area of Tokyo and Tohoku region.

Tokyo Wide Pass

This is valid in Tokyo and surrounding area only. But the price is very affordable. It is only 10,000 yen for consecutive 3 days.

This pass is very convenient to travel Mt. Fuji, Nikko, Gala Yuzawa and Izu peninsula. Please refer

N’EX TOKYO Round Trip Ticket

It was sold as Suica and N’ex, and then it was sold as N’ex Tokyo direct ticket for one way Narita Express ticket only at 1,500 yen. It is very attractive deal. But N’ex Tokyo direct ticket will be end on March 13, 2015 and then N’ex Tokyo Round trip ticket is sold at 4000 yen for round trip by Narita Express. One way deal for Narita Express is no longer available. I show you all deals for Narita airport to downtown Tokyo at the link below:

The list of deals for access to downtown Tokyo from Narita airport

Tokyo Tokunai Pass (Tokyo Metropolitan District Pass)

It is one day pass to cover JR trains in downtown Tokyo. Please find more information at the following link:

Tokyo Metropolitan District Pass (Tokyo Tokunai Pass), good choice for sightseeing in Tokyo.

Tokyo Metro and Toei Subway deals

Subway is most convenient way to explore in Tokyo. Subway pass may be suitable for your trip in downtown Tokyo. Please find more information at the following posts, Guide to take trains in Tokyo. How to choose the best deal and the best route by train to get the major spots?

Mt.Fuji and Hakone

You may use Tokyo Wide Pass or other JR deals to visit Mt. Fuji or Hakone. But there are more attractive deals of Odakyu Railway.

Hakone Free Pass

It includes round trip between Shinjuku (or other Odakyu Railway’s stations) and Odawara, and most of local transportation in Hakone. If you visit many places in Hakone, you must have this one.

Odakyu railway’s official site, Hakone Free Pass

Fuji Hakone Pass

This pass includes Shinjuku – Kawaguchiko by highway bus, Shijuku – Odawara by Odakyu railway and local transportation among Kawaguchiko, Gotemba and Hakone. You cam make a circle tour from Shinjuku to Shinjuku via Lake Kawaguchi, Gotemba and Hakone in 3 days.

Odakyu Railway’s official site, Fuji Hakone Pass

Mt. Fuji Round Trip Ticket

It includes round trip fare to Otsuki by limited express reserved seat from Tokyo and unlimited travel on Fuji Kyuko line and the bus to 5th station from Lake Kawaguchi. Please see the link below to get the details:

Mt. Fuji Round Trip Ticket is back in 2015. Perfect choice for just trip to Fuji san!


It is same thing. You may use Kanto Area Pass or other JR deals. But Tobu Railway has some deals.

Nikko Pass, All Nikko Pass

These deals include return fare to Nikko from Asakusa and local transportation. Please find the details about comparison between JR deals and Tobu deals at the link below:

How to access to Nikko from Tokyo. There are three ways from Tokyo, Shinjuku and Asakusa.

Hokuriku (Kanazawa, Toyama) and Takayama Area

Tokyo-Osaka Hokuriku Arch Pass

If you travel between Tokyo and Osaka via Kanazawa or round trip to Kanazawa/Toyama from Tokyo, this is the best deal. Please find more information at the link below:

Tokyo-Osaka Hokuriku Arch Pass user guide. Clarify valid trains, coverage area and compare single fare and pass.

Kansai Hokuriku Area Pass

It covers all part of Kansai area, Okayama, Kinosaki, Shingu, Kanazawa and Toyama. If you intend to travel from Osaka to Kanazawa or Toyama, this deal will be the best choice. Please find more information at the link below:

Kansai Hokuriku Area Pass. Perfect deal for the traveller who wants travel to Kansai, Kanazawa and Toyama.

Takayama Hokuriku Area Pass

This pass is on sale until June 26, 2015. It covers Osaka, Kyoto, Kanazawa, Shirakawago, Takayama and Nagoya. This deal covers not only trains but also bus services to Shirakawago. Please find more information at the link below:

Takayama Hokuriku Area Pass. Perfet deal to get Takayama, Kanazawa, Toyama, Shirakawago from Nagoya or Osaka

Kansai Area (Kyoto, Osaka, Nara, Kobe, Wakayama, Himeji)

Kansai Area Pass

This pass is valid for conventional lines in Kansai airport, Osaka, Kobe, Kyoto and Nara. This pass include unlimited travel on Kansai airport express “Haruka” non reserved ordinary seat and local trains. This is more useful than Sanyo Area Pass.
The price of this pass is starting from 2,060 yen for 1 day. Please check the details at this post, How to use JR West Kansai Area Pass. Compare pass and single fare..

Kansai WIDE Area Pass

This pass cover not only Kansai area but also outside of Kansai, like Shingu, Shirahama, Okayama, Kinosaki. The price is 7,200 yen for 4 consecutive days. This is such a great deal. I wrote about the details about this pass. Please read my post, The newest JR West rail pass for Kansai and Okayama, Kurashiki, Kinosakai and Shingu area, Kansai WIDE Area Pass.

Kansai Thru Pass

Kansai Thru Pass may be more convenient and worthy than JR West Pass – Kansai Area Pass. This pass includes most of private and subway lines in Kansai area. Especially when you go to Kyoto, major private lines, Hankyu and Keihan are more convenient than JR lines. I compare Kansai Thru Pass and Kansai Area Pass at the post, How to use Kansai Thru Pass. Compare pass and single fare..

ICOCA and Haruka, Haruka discount ticket

If you go to Shin-Osaka or Kyoto from Kansai airport, ICOCA and Haruka gives you transfer from Kansai airport by Limited Express Haruka with preload ICOCA e-money 1,500 yen. You can use ICOCA for taking not only JR trains but also Osaka subways, Kyoto subways and other private railway trains, such as Hankyu, Kintetsu, Hanshin.

Please see the details about this deal at the post, ICOCA and Haruka ticket. Very flexible and good deal for tourist who stay in Kansai.

Nankai Railway’s Kansai airport access deal

Nankai Railway is one of major private railway companies in Japan. There are lots of trains between Kansai airport and Namba. Please find more information about the deals at the link below:

How to choose the deals for access to/from Kansai Airport

Koyasan World Heritage Ticket

It is also Nankai Railway’s deal. Nankai Railway connects Namba and Koyasan by direct train services. This deal or Kansai Thru Pass is the best choice for trip to Mt. Koya. Please find more information at the link belwo:

Nankai Railway’s official site, Koyasan World Heritage Ticket

Kyoto city subway and bus deal

In Kyoto, you cannot visit most of places without city subway and bus. Please find the deals at the link below:

Inside Kyoto, Special Kyoto Bus, Train and Subway Passes

Osaka subway deals

One day pass (Eco card) and Osaka Amazing Pass that includes attractions and transportation. Please find the details at the links below:

Osaka Amazing Pass
Osaka Municipal Transportation Bureau

Sanyo (Hiroshima, Okayama, Yamaguchi) and Sanin (Izumo, Matsue, Tottori) Area

Kansai Hiroshima Area Pass

It gives you unlimited ride in Kansai and Hiroshima area. This is a perfect deal for the travellers who make a trip to Hiroshima, Miyajiam, Kansai area and outside Kansai, like Kinosaki and Shirahama. Please find the information at the link below:

Kansai Hiroshima Area Pass. Perfect deal for the traveller who wants travel both Kansai and Hiroshima.

Sanyo Sanin Area Pass

This deals covers most part of western area in mainland, such as Okayama, Hiroshima, Yamaguchi, Tottori and Shimane. This deal will replace Sanyo Area Pass.

Sanyo Sanin Area Pass. It is much better deal than Sanyo Area Pass.

Hiroshima Yamaguchi Area Pass

This is also new deal from JR West. It includes Yamaguchi and Hiroshima area. It is suitable for the tourist who wants to visit Hiroshima and Yamaguchi from Kyushu. Please fine more info at the link below:

Hiroshima Yamaguchi Area Pass. Designed for the tourists who travel to Hiroshima from Hakata.\

Kyushu and Shikoku

JR Kyushu Pass

If you travel in Kyushu only, this pass gives you a great deal. There are two kind of passes, all Kyushu and northern Kyushu. Northern Kyushu Pass include the northern part of Kyushu, such as Hakata, Kumammoto, Oita, Beppu, Nagasaki, Yufuin. Northern Kyushu Pass do not include Miyazaki, Kirishima, Kagoshima and most of are in Southern part of Kyushu.
This pass include unlimited travel on Kyushu Shinkansen (Hakata-Kumamoto-Kagoshima), all limited express trains and local trains.
The price of these passes are starting from 7,000 yen for Northern 3 days. The price is very proper. If you fly in Japan at Kyushu, I strongly recommend you to use this pass. If you need more information about Kyushu Rail Pass, please read the post, Kyushu Rail Pass. The best deal for rail trip in Kyushu for oversea visitors. or How to choose Rail Pass for trip in Kyushu. Many choices for both visitors and residents in Japan.

Shikoku Rail Pass

It gives you unlimited travel in Shikoku by not only JR trains and also other railways in Shikoku. Please find the details at the link below:

JR Shikoku, Shikoku Rail Pass

“Saiyu Kiko” Setouchi Rail Pass

This deal covers Sanyo area and northern part of Shikoku. This deals covers also boat to Shodoshima island and Hiroshima – Kure – Matsuyama. Please see the details at the link below:

Setouchi Rail Pass

126 thoughts on “How to choose Rail Pass to travel Japan. Summary of most of rail passes in Japan”

  1. Hi Takeshi,
    I will be visiting Japan on 25th Dec’16 – 5thJan’17. My Itinerary will be as follows :
    25th Dec : Sapporo to around Otaru by JR
    26th Dec : Otaru to Kutchan by JR – Hanazono by shuttle bus
    27th Dec : Otaru to around Sapporo by JR
    28th Dec : Sapporo to asahiyama zoo by JR
    29th Dec : Sapporo to Osaka by plane
    30th – 31st Dec : Kyoto-Shirakawago-Nagoya-Osaka by private coach
    1st Jan : Nara-Osaka Universal studio by JR
    2nd Jan : Osaka to Tokyo by plane
    3rd Jan : Tokyo – Gotemba by JR
    4th Jan : Tokyo – Edo wonderland by JR
    5th Jan : Tokyo Narita to Home

    Please kindly advise which kind of JR pass is more suitable for me and my family, thank you.


    1. Hi Maina,

      You have to use two deals and single tickets.

      For the trip to Asahiyama zoo
      Asahiyama zoo ticket

      For Edo wonderland and to Narita airport
      Tokyo Wide Pass

      Tokyo Wide Pass covers trip to Getemba partially, but it’s inconvenient to use this pass for access to Gotemba. Please see the link below:

      Unfortunately single ticket is the best option for the rest of your trip.


      Takeshi /

  2. Hi Takeshi, I will be visiting Japan 19th Dec-1st Jan 2017. MY current itinerary is as follow:
    19th – 24th Dec – Arrive Narita and Tokyo (including a day trip to Fuji Five Lakes)
    24th-25th Dec – Nagano, snow monkey park (1 night)
    26th-27th Dec – Takayama, Shirakawago, Shinhokata ropeway (2 nights possibly at Takayama/Hirayu onsen)
    28th-30th Dec – Kyoto
    31st-1st Jan -Osak and depart Japan via KIX airport.

    Could you advice if a 7day JR pass would be worth it? Your help is very much appreciated.

    1. Hi Zara,

      JR pass is more expensive than regular fare. Even if you use JR pass, you will use Tokyo-Nagano-Matsumoto and Takayama-Kyoto. Total fare is around 20000 yen.
      Nohi bus connects Matsumoto and Takayama. This is the best way to get Takayama from Nagano via Matsumoto. This segment is not covered by JR pass. Hirayu is on the way to Takayama from Matsumoto.

      JR pass can be used for Fuji Five Lakes but it does not cover fully. Even if you use JR pass for the trip to Fuji, it’s still not enough to use JR pass. Express bus is better way to get Fuji.


      Takeshi /

  3. Hi Takeshi-San
    Thank you for the great information.

    i would like to travel from Shinjuku, Tokyo to Kyoto for a 4days stay and continue to Osaka for 3days before departing from Kansai Airport back home.

    Have a question for above. Is buying Japan rail pass for 7days better compared to individual tickets from Tokyo to Kyoto & Kyoto to Osaka.?


  4. Hi Takeshi,
    Your info are really helpful for tourists. I’ve been blessed as a tourists visited Japan few years ago. I’m now as a student studying language in Japan. Wonder except buying cheaper tickets from ticket pgmpp, as residents cannot use all those passe, do you have any advice what kind of passes residents also can use in order to travel around Japan? Appreciate your assistance.
    e.g. traveling from Osaka to Sapporo and Shiragawago, Nagoya and Kansai area~Kyoto, Kobe, Nara in 2 weeks time.

    1. Hi Smurfy,

      Actually as you guess, there is no deals to cover same as JR pass for the residents. There are a few deals for seniors only in Japan actually.
      You have to divide your trip into three trips. First of all, you can use Kansai thru pass for Kyoto, Nara and Kobe. (Japanese site only)

      To Shirakawago, you can use Nohi bus to get Takayama and take the bus to get Shirakawago.

      At last, I think you can find low cost flight to Sapporo. Just google Kansai sapporo LCC. You will find some flights.

      This is only way to go these places as cheap as possible.


      Takeshi /

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