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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 for travelling in Japan. But I have received so many comments. Some of you don’t know which pass you should purchase. In this post, I would like to share some information about multiple days rail passes with you.

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

Rakuten
Rakuten

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. or How to choose Rail Pass for trip in Hokkaido. Many choices for both visitors and residents in Japan.

JR East Pass

This pass is valid in JR East area, such as Kanto Area (Tokyo and surrounding area), Tohoku area and some part of Nagano Pref and Shizuoka Pref. You cannot use this pass to go to Hokkaido, Kyushu, Kyoto, and most of west part of Japan. If you have a plan to go to Osaka or Kyoto from Tokyo, do not think about this pass. This pass is suitable for the traveller who goes to Aomori, Sendai, Niigata, Nagara, Nikko, Izu and Greater Tokyo area.
The price of this pass is starting from 20,000 yen for 5 days. Once again, the difference between 5 days JR east pass and 7d days Japan Rail Pass in 8,300 yen. Make sure valid area and price before you decide the pass. Please check the details at the post, JR East Pass. Flex 5 days unlimited travel within 14 days in Eastern Japan.

JR Kanto Area Pass

This is the newest pass and valid in Tokyo and surrounding area only. But the price is only 8,000 yen for 3 days. It is very attractive. And this pass is very convenient to travel Mt. Fuji and Izu peninsula. I just wrote the post about this pass. Please check JR East Kanto Area Pass. Perfect choice for tourist who want to go to Fuji, Izu, Nikko from Tokyo.

Suica & N’ex, Suica & Monorail

If you go to Tokyo metro area from Narita or Haneda airport, Suica & N’ex / Monorail gives you transfer from the airport by Narita Express or Monoral and Suica e-money 1500 yen. You can use Suica for taking not only JR trains but also Tokyo subways and shopping too. Please see the details at the post, Suica & N’ex ticket. Very flexible and good deal for tourist who stay in Tokyo or Suica & Monorail at JR Eat official site.

Other rail pass and discount ticket in Tokyo

I show you some of multiple days and single days rail pass to travel Tokyo in the following posts:

JR West Pass – Sanyo Area Pass

This pass is valid for Shinkansen between Shin-Osaka and Hakata, and conventional lines between Kansai airport and Osaka, Osaka loop line, Kyoto, Nara, between Osaka and Shimonoseki. This pass is valid for Miyajima ferry too. This pass can be used to go to Kyoto and Nara. But you cannot take Shinkansen from Shin-Osaka to the east.
The prices of this pass are 20,000 yen for 4 days and 30,000 yen for 8 days. Japan Rail Pass is sold at 28,300 yen for 7 days. I think the price of Sanyo Area Pass is not appropriate. You can get the details at the post, Sanyo Area Pass. Good deal for the tourist who visits Kansai, Hiroshima and Hakata.

JR West Pass – 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 2,000 yen for 1 day. Please check the details at this post, How to use JR West Kansai Area Pass. Compare pass and single fare..

JR West Pass – Kansai WIDE Area Pass

This is the newest pass of JR West. The pass cover not only Kansai area but also outside of Kansai, like Shingu, Shirahama, Okayama, Kinosaki. The price is 7,000 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 and other rail pass in Osaka, Kyoto and Kobe

Kansai Thru Pass may be more convenient and worthy than JR West Pass – Kansai Area Pass. This pass include 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

If you go to Shin-Osaka or Kyoto from Kansai airport, ICOCA and Haruka gives you transfer from Kansai airport by Limited Express Haruka and ICOCA e-money. 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. In my opinion, this is the best deal for airport transfer. Please see the details at the post, ICOCA and Haruka ticket. Very flexible and good deal for tourist who stay in Kansai.

Other deals in Kansai area

Please see the post, How to choose discount railway ticket and pass in Kansai (Kyoto, Osaka, Kobe, Nara) area. I show you some more rail passes, like Kyoto subway pass and Osaka subway pass on this post too.

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.

JR Sanyo Shikoku Kyushu Rail Pass

If you have a plan to travel from Osaka to Kyushu or Shikoku, this pass may be suitable for you. This pass cover Kansai airport to Osaka, Sanyo Shinkansen from Shin-Osaka to Kyushu, all JR lines in Shikoku and Kyushu. So you can travel in Kyushu, Shikoku and any area along Sanyo Shinkansen, such as Okayama, Kurashiki, Hiroshima and Miyajima. Please get the detail at the post, The newest JR West rail pass for Sanyo, Kyushu and Shikoku, JR Sanyo Shikoku Kyushu Rail Pass.


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79 Comments to “How to choose Rail Pass to travel Japan. Summary of most of rail passes in Japan”

  1. Smurfy says:

    Hi Takeshi,

    Thank you so much for guidance. I’d like to confirm with you my understanding.

    As you mentioned I can buy 14 days JR Pass. Do you mean the pass FULLY cover my trip? Honto desu ka? I don’t need to pay extra money for getting tickets anymore? BTW, do I have to confirm a seat? How late should I have to go to Midori mado to do that? To confirm seat I need to pay for the seat chosen?

    I might change my route a bit after Sapporo. I wish to take JR train from Sapporo to Akita first before going to Tokyo. Can I still using the JR Pass if I’ve that?

    I’m exciting!

  2. Smurfy says:

    Hi, thank you for offering your help on the transportation guide.
    I’ve my itinerary for 2 weeks. I’m going on coming 21 Apr. Will be arriving at night time in Osaka.
    This is my itinerary:
    Osaka (1 nite) – Kyoto (2 nites)-Osaka (Kansai Airport)-Sapporo (Chitose Airport) stay in Sapporo for few days, probably 4-5 nites – Tokyo (going around, Downtown/Tohuku/Akita area few nites as well) – Nagoya (Need to pass thru or not?) / Fukui (1-2 nites) – Nagoya (Chubu Airport leaving on 5 May)

    Can you advise me which pass should I purchase for the maximum use with cheapest fee I could get?

    Appreciate your help.

    • JPRail says:

      Hi Smurfy,

      I think JR Pass 14 days is the best choice. This is only pass that cover your trip fully.
      There are other regional deals, like JR East Pass, Hokkaido Rail Pass, Kansai Area Pass. But you need to add single fare for Tokyo-Nagoya and Nagoya-Fukui. This is not a good way to save your cost.
      You will not be able to use the pass on last day from Nagoya to the airport. But there is no JR train to get there anyway. You will need to add the fare for Meitetsu train or bus.

      Cheers,

      Takeshi / JP Rail

  3. Nancy ng says:

    Hi, it my first trip to Japan and will be traveling with my husband and baby. Would like to seek your advise if we should purchase the JP rail pass during our stay for a week. We will be staying at the swissotel Osaka through out our stay in Japan but would like to visit nearby cities like Kyoto, Kobe and Nara, are these destinations using the jr line?

    Thanks and your advise would be very much appreciated as we will not be traveling with any tour

    Regards
    Nancy

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  • 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! :)
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  • If you are looking for the information about timetable, please refer Japan Railway's timetables.
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  • If you are looking for the information about reservation, please refer, How to reserve seat.
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