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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 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.

Rakuten
Rakuten

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

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.

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

This pass is valid in JR East area and covers eastern part of mainland, 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. You can use any 5 days in 14 days at 22,000 yen. You do not need to use in consecutive days.

Please find the details at the post, JR East Pass. Flex 5 days unlimited travel within 14 days in Eastern Japan.

Kanto Area Pass

This is valid in Tokyo and surrounding area only. But the price is very affordable. It is only 8,300 yen for consecutive 3 days.

This pass is very convenient to travel Mt. Fuji, Nikko and Izu peninsula. Please refer JR East Kanto Area Pass. Perfect choice for tourist who want to go to Fuji, Izu, Nikko from Tokyo.

N’ex discount 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 end on March 13, 2015 and then N’ex Tokyo Round trip ticket at 4000 yen for round trip by Narita Express. There will not be any one way deal for Narita Express after March 14, 2015. 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, Fast, economical and convenient for sightseeing in Tokyo. Learn about Tokyo Subways.

Mt. Fuji and Hakone

You may use Kanto Area 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

Nikko

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

Kansai Hokuriku Area Pass

It will be available on March 14, 2015.

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 Tourist 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 Tourist Pass. Perfect deal to get Takayama, Kanazawa, 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

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:

Nankai railway’s Kansai airport deals

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

*This pass will be available on March 1, 2015.

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 pass will be available on March 1, 2015.

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 pass will be available on March 1, 2015.

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.

Sanyo Area Pass

*This pass will be on sale until March 31, 2015.

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. Please find the details at the post, Sanyo Area Pass. Good deal for the tourist who visits Kansai, Hiroshima and 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 (PDF brochure)

JR Sanyo Shikoku Kyushu Rail Pass

*This pass will be on sale until March 31, 2015.

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

  1. joy says:

    Hi,

    This is our itinerary, kindly suggest which pass to buy. Kansai Thru Pass (3days) or Hankyu Tourist Pass (2days) + Osaka Amazing Pass (2days):

    Day 1 – arrived in Osaka (night time) will stay in Umeda area. will take the airport limousine bus.
    Day 2 – Osaka (floating garden, hep five ferris wheel, tombori river cruise)
    Day 3 – Kyoto (visit Kinkaku-ji, fushimi-inari-taisha, arashimaya)
    Day 4 – Osaka (osaka castle, Tsutenkaku tower,
    Day 5 – Kobe (will join city loop)
    Day 6 – Osaka (shopping) or might go to Nara?
    Day 7 – fly back home in the morning

  2. Andrew says:

    Hi!

    First of all, wonderful site you have here and awesome of you to keep everything updated!

    My question is in regards to the viability of the JRPass with our itinerary for our trip in February. We’re hopping from one city to another BUT they aren’t as far as the Tokyo – Osaka so we were wondering of the value of getting a JRPass. This is where it gets tricky since this site is basically confirming that main city subways are NOT included, correct? Basically:

    Day1: Nagoya arrival (airport transfers are also not included correct?)
    Day 2: Shirakawa-go tours
    Day 3: Nagoya – Osaka – Okayama – Osaka (this is where the heavy transferring occurs, and for the life of me could not figure out the cost)
    Day 4-5: Osaka touring
    Day 6: Osaka to Nagoya

    So after all this transfers and hopping, is the JRPass of value to us? I’ve always thought it was a done deal but now that I know internal city subways aren’t included (so city touring and quick business tour to Okayama lines we aren’t saving much.)

    Would it be cheaper to buy those city transfers individually and spend “city” passes on the specific cities?

    Sorry for the complicated question! Hoping for your response!

  3. Zelesli says:

    Hello Takeshi,

    We are a group of 3 travelling to Tokyo on Oct 22 arrival in Narita. We will be staying in APA hotel in Shibuya. We leave for Osaka on the 24th till the 27th.

    Our itinerary is as follows( please suggest if there is a better one & more convenient)

    22 – arrival at narita 1pm. Free day in tokyo. ( shibuya, ginza etc)
    23- day tour in mt fuji & gotemba outlet
    24- hotel check out & prepare for osaka via bullet train. ARRIVE IN SWISSOTEL NAmba
    25- osaka
    26- kyoto/narra daytour
    27- early morning flight to KIX

    My 2 friends purchased a JR pass 7 day unlimited. They will be travelling back to Narita airport in the evening of 27th. Whereas, I will be departing via KIX airport.

    Given our itinerary, do you suggest I should also purchase a JR pass 7day? Will the pass give me a savings since we will go to mt fuji, kyoto & osaka even if i will not return to tokyo from osaka?

    And my worry is since my 2 friends have alraedy got passes, this will take us a time for them for me to purchase ticket everytime we take a train. Or is it easy?

    Please please can you suggest what tickets I get every time we ride a train so that I already know what station i will buy from the machine, given their pass of a JR pass line.

    Thank you very much!

    Zelesli

  4. Lucky says:

    Hi Takeshi

    I have plan to go Japan soon I want to you help me about JR rail pass

  5. Chin says:

    Good day to you!

    I have doubts on all the Japan Railway Pass and not too sure which is good and suit my schedule. Should I get Kintetshu Rail Pass, Kyoto Day Pass, SHORYUDO Nagoya Subway&Bus 1 Day Pass (did this pass cover the Chubu Airport railway to Nagoya area?), Kokuriku Area Pass, Hakone Free Pass, Tokyo Pass (any suggestion?) and etc.

    Here’s my itinerary:

    Itinerary 1 – 10days:
    Day 1 – arrive Chubu Airport at 8am, Nagoya sightseeing and will overnight at Sakai, Nagoya
    Day 2 – head to Kyoto (overnight) and Kyoto sightseeing (Arashiyama, Southern and Southeast Higashiyama)
    Day 3 – head to Nara, Kobe and Osaka (overnight at Kyoto)
    Day 4 – head to Takayama (overnight) – Hokuriku Area Pass
    Day 5-6 – head to Nagoya (Bus tour (overnight) – round trip to Tokyo Disneyland) and overnight at Shinjuku
    Day 7 – head to Hakone (overnight) – Hakone Free Pass (Shinjuku station 2days pass – round trip)
    Day 8-10 – head to Tokyo (2 days overnight at Angasaku area) and travel Tokyo sightseeing
    Day 10 – head to Nagoya – Chubu Airport at 5pm

    Itinerary 2 – 7days:
    Day 1 – arrive Chubu Airport at 8am and will overnight at Sakai, Nagoya
    Day 2 – head to Kyoto (overnight) and Kyoto sightseeing (Arashiyama, Southern and Southeast Higashiyama)
    Day 3 – head to Nara, Kobe and Osaka (overnight at Kyoto)
    Day 4 – head to Takayama (overnight) – Hokuriku Area Pass
    Day 5-6 – head to Nagoya (Bus tour (overnight) – round trip to Tokyo Disneyland)
    Day 7 – Nagoya – Chubu Airport at 5pm

    Many thanks
    Chin

  6. 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!

  7. 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

  8. 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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  • 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.

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This website is unofficial website about Japan Rail Pass, other rail passes and rail travel in Japan. It explains you how to use Japan Rail Pass and assists you to use Japan Rail Pass to its maximum! And also this site explain about many more rail passes, gives you tips and supports you to enjoy rail trip in Japan.

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