How to buy JR Pass and use Japan Rail Pass to its maximum. JR Pass user guide.

New look of JR Pass (Year 2018) (C) JR Rail

Japan Rail Pass (a.k.a. JR Pass) covers all JR lines throughout Japan. This is only rail pass that covers throughout Japan. If you travel even a round trip to Osaka from Tokyo, the price of 7-day pass almost equal to normal fare. I think this pass gives the greatest deal to the travellers who wants to travel in Japan.

Japan Rail Pass Official site is very informative. But some points are not clear. And it does not show you how to get the worth of this pass.

In this post, I tell you about this pass as simple as possible. I compare a regular fare and JR pass, how to choose the retailer, additional charge and many more.

How to buy JR Pass

Basically only the authorized agents are allowed to sell JR Pass. You can find the agent list at this page of Japan Rail Pass official site. These following companies are major distributors:

  • JAL (Japan Airlines / National flagship)
  • ANA (All Nippon Airways / one of two major airlines)
  • JTB (the biggest travel agency in Japan)
  • NTA (Nippon Travel Agency / third biggest and the oldest travel agency in Japan)
  • KNT (Kintetsu International / same group as Kintetsu Railways. Second biggest travel agency)
  • Top Tour (Same group as Tobu Railway)
  • JALPAK (Same group as Japan Airlines)

JAL and ANA sell the pass to the passenger who take their flight. You cannot purchase only the pass from them.

JR Pass online purchasing

In these days, many companies have a contract with these above distributors. And they sell the pass online as a retailer. If you find the name on the list at the above link, it is an authorized retailer. If you cannot find it, you should check that company before you buy.

ACP Rail is one of the reliable online retailer because they have a contract with JR East. This company is the official retailer of JR East. Their online purchasing site is connected with JR East official site.

Japan Rail Pass online purchasing at ACP Rail

On December 18th, 2019, JR Group has announced that they will launch new official website sometime in spring 2020. You will be able to buy JR pass in this official site. And you will be able to book a seat there too. The detailed information will be announced later. But I summarized all information as I know at this point in the movie below.

On February 17th, 2020, JR Group has announced that they will launch new official website on June 1st, 2020. You will be able to buy JR pass in this official site. And you will be able to book a seat through this site too.

Purchaing JR pass in Japan

Currently you can purchase JR pass in Japan until the end of March, 2021. Please see the link below to find the details:

Official announcement about JR pass by JR group (PDF)

Types and prices

There are two types, Green and Ordinary, and three duration, 7, 14 and 21-day.

Ordinary29,650 yen47,250 yen60,450 yen
Green39,600 yen64,120 yen83,390 yen

*Child (6yrs to 11yrs) rate is 50% off.

When you purchase it, the rates are adjusted by your country’s currency.

Tokaido Shinkansen
If you have a round trip to Kyoto from Narita airport by the Tokaido Shinkansen and Narita Express, you can get the worth of 7 days JR pass.

This pass is eligible for a train, a few JR bus and a ferry services which are provided by Japan Railways Group with a few exceptions. I will explain these exceptions later.

In my opinion, JR Pass is most unbeatable deal if you travel in some of regions of Japan. There are many kinds of the rail passes in Japan, such as JR East Pass, JR Hokkaido Pass, JR Kyushu Pass and many more. But JR Pass is only rail pass that covers throughout Japan. And of course it covers both Tokyo and Kyoto. But if you need the detail information about other passes, please access to the list of the train pass. I wrote about many other rail passes in the posts.

How to find that you can get the worth of JR pass. Tips for using JR pass efficiently.

Once you decide the first day of use, you have to complete your trip in the fixed day. If you intend to use 7-day JR pass and stay in Japan for 7 days or less, you can start using it right after you arrive in Japan. However if you stay in Japan for the longer period than Japan Rail Pass duration, you have to find which JR pass you should buy and which day you should start using it.

Airport access

You can take JR trains at Narita airport, Kansai airport and New Chitose airport. These airports are covered by JR pass. And Haneda airport is connected to downtown Tokyo by Tokyo Monorail. This is covered by JR pass too. Please see the table below how much the fare of these airport access:

Shinagawa, Shinjuku
2,820 yen
3,190 yen
4,290 yen
Hamamatsucho500 yen
KansaiLimited Express
2,230 yen
2,850 yen
3,370 yen
Rapid AirportSapporo
1,590 yen
2,300 yen

*All fare include the base fare and the reserved seat fee.

Other airports, such as Chubu (Nagoya), Fukuoka are not covered by JR pass. You cannot start using JR pass right after arrival in these airports and the additional fare is required to take the other transportation to get to the nearest JR station first.

Using JR pass in Tokyo, Osaka, Kyoto, Sapporo

If you start using JR pass after arrival in Narita, Haneda, Kansai or New Chitose, you will stay in Tokyo, Osaka, Kyoto or Sapporo. You can use JR Pass to take the JR local trains in these cities. But it is not very efficient to use JR pass for sightseeing inside these cities. Because the train fare is not big enough to help getting the worth.

Please see the one way fare for the major segments in these cities in the table below:

SegmentOne way base fare
Tokyo to Shinjuku200 yen
Tokyo to Yokohama470 yen
Osaka to JR-Namba190 yen
Osaka to Kyoto560 yen
Osaka to Nara800 yen
Osaka to Sannomiya (Kobe)410 yen
Kyoto to Saga-Arashiyama240 yen
Kyoto to Inari (Fushii Inari)140 yen
Sapporo to Otaru640 yen

As you see the table above, the train fare in these cities are inexpensive. It does not help to get the worth of JR pass. If you can get the worth by the other trip(s), you can use JR pass in these cities. But it is not recommended to use it in the cities.

If you intend to start using JR Pass right after arrival in the airport but you will stay in one of these cities, please think again when you should start using JR Pass.

I explain about how to use JR Pass in Tokyo, Osaka and Kyoto in these following posts:

The nearest place to get the worth of JR pass 7-day from Tokyo, Nagoya and Osaka

You may have heard that you can get the worth of 7-day JR Pass by Tokyo to Osaka round trip. It is true. The round trip fare and the Shinkansen seat fee are slightly less than 7-day JR Pass price. If you use JR Pass for the airport to Tokyo (or Osaka), and/or making some local train trips in the city, you can get the worth of it.

You have to use JR pass for a long train ride as much as you can, such as Tokyo to Osaka round trip. I would like to show you not only Tokyo to Osaka round trip but also more trips to get the worth of 7-day JR Pass. You can find the nearest place to get the worth of 7-day JR Pass from Tokyo, Nagoya and Osaka.

7-day pass is sold at 29,110 yen. If one way base fare and the reserved seat fee are more than 14,560 yen or more, you can get the worth of 7-day pass by only one round trip.

From Tokyo

As the map above, these following round trips fares are higher than the price of 7-day JR pass.

  • The round trip to Shin-Kobe
  • The round trip to Morioka
  • The round trip to Komatsu
  • The round trip to Takayama

Shin-Kobe is one station away from Shin-Osaka on the Shinkansen. As I mentioned above, if you use JR Pass to make a few local train trips, you can get the worth by the round trip to Shin-Osaka.

Komatsu is a bit away from Kanazawa. It is same thing as the round trip to Shin-Kobe. You can get the worth of 7-day pass by the round trip to Kanazawa and some local train trips.

You also can find some more information in my Youtube movie:

From Osaka

As the map above, these following round trips are enough to get the worth of 7-day JR pass.

  • The round trip to Omiya
  • The round trip to Ueda (via Kanazawa)
  • The round trip to Hakata
  • The round trip to Tsuwano

If you go east from Osaka, Omiya is the nearest destination to get the worth of 7-day JR pass. Omiya is just outside Tokyo. But as I mentioned above from Tokyo to Shin-Kobe, you can get the worth of it by Osaka to/from Tokyo round trip and some local trips.

Ueda is one station away from Nagano by Hokuriku Shinkansen. You also can get the worth of 7-day JR pass by round trip to Nagano and some local train trip.

If you go west, the round trip to Hakata (Fukuoka) is okay to get the worth. You also can get the worth of it by the round trip to Tsuwano too.

You also can find some more information in my Youtube movie:

From Nagoya

As the map above, these following round trips are enough to get the worth of 7-day JR pass.

  • The round trip to Utsunomiya
  • The round trip to Tokuyama

If you go east from Nagoya, the round trip to Tokyo is not enough to get the worth. Utsunomiya is the nearest destination to get the worth of it. Utsunomiya is the gateway to Nikko. If you intend to visit there, you can get the worth of it easily.

If you go west, the round trip to Tokuyama is the nearest destination to get the worth of 7-day JR pass. Tokuyama is two stations away from Hiroshima on the Sanyo Shinkansen line. If you make a round trip to Miyajima from Hiroshima by the local train and take the ferry to Miyajima, the total fare is very close to JR Pass 7-day price.

Tokyo to Osaka (or versa) one way trip is not enough to get the worth of even 7-day JR Pass.

If you will have only one way trip between Tokyo and Osaka, the regular fare ticket is your choice. I wrote about using single ticket at the post, For non JR pass travellers. Guide to use JR single ticket, basic rules, validity and stopover.

You also can find some sample itineraries in the links below:

Tokyo – Osaka one way trip sample itinerary

Osaka, Kyoto and Tokyo one way sample itinerary

Tokyo, Kyoto and Osaka one way sample itinerary

The faretable of the major segments

I would like to show you the fares for your convenience. If you have a multi-city travel, the fare may be cheaper. But you can use this faretable to find that you can get the worth of JR Pass or not. These following fares are based on the Shinkansen and/or daytime limited express train reserved seat fee, and the base fare.

Sapporo26,820 yen37,100 yen34,350 yen
Hakodate23,420 yen33,700 yen31,060 yen
Aomori17,350 yen27,370 yen25,210 yen
Akita17,800 yen27,820 yen25,440 yen
Sendai11,200 yen22,620 yen20,240 yen
Niigata10,570 yen22,310 yen19,930 yen
Nikko5,580 yen18,530 yen16,030 yen
Echigo-Yuzawa6,670 yen19,500yen17,110 yen
Nagano8,200 yen11,790 yen7,330 yen
Odawara3,470 yen12,620 yen8,940 yen
Nagoya10,880 yen6,930 yen
Takayama14,710 yen10,600 yen6,030 yen
Toyama12,730 yen9,430 yen11,350 yen
Kanazawa14,120 yen7,650 yen8,020 yen
Osaka14,140 yen6,350 yen
Kinosaki Onsen16,340 yen5,600 yen9,520 yen
Okayama16,820 yen6,600 yen10,870 yen
Hiroshima18,560 yen10,810 yen13,810 yen
Fukuoka (Hakata)22,330 yen15,580 yen18,020 yen
Kumamoto26,500 yen18,540 yen22,080 yen
Kagoshima29,860 yen21,900 yen25450 yen

Please use hyperdia to find the fare for other segments.

Hyperdia perfect guide

How to choose Green seat pass or Ordinary seat pass

Green seat on Super Ozora by 283 series (C) Sonic Rail Garden
Green seat on Super Ozora by 283 series in Hokkaido (C) Sonic Rail Garden

Green seat is like business class seat. It was the first class in all Japan Railway’s trains. But since Tohoku Shinkansen introduced Gran class, Green seat is no longer the first class seat.

If you take Gran Class by JR Pass, both Ordinary pass and Green pass cover only a basic fare. You have to pay Limited Express surcharge and Gran Class fee. Please see the post, Japan Rail Pass can be used for Hayabusa to get details.

Advantages of Green class seat are space and atmosphere. Green class seat is much more spacious and quieter than ordinary seat. Shinkansen and most of Limited Express have this class. Even some local trains, such as Rapid trains in greater Tokyo area have Green seat too. Please read one of my post, Worthwhile buying Japan Rail Pass Green Pass?. I explained the details about Green class seat in this post. I hope it may help you to decide which pass you purchase.

If you are sensitive about your budget, the ordinary class is fine. I am sure you will be satisfied with the ordinary class seat too. It is way better than economy seat on the flight. My height is 6’1″ (184 cm). But the leg space at the ordinary class seat is totally fine for me.

How to exchange

Exchange order

You receive “Exchange Order” at the time of purchasing of JR Pass. It is not the actual pass but the voucher. You have to exchange for the actual pass after you arrive in Japan. The validity of exchange order is three months from the date of issue. The pass never be sold out.

Exchange place
English signage of JR exchange office at Tokyo station

Exchange Order can be exchanged at the designated station. Narita airport, Kansai airport, Tokyo, Shinagawa, Osaka, Kyoto and more than 40 major stations throughout Japan are on the list. Please find the list of the exchange places in the link below:

JR Pass exchange and sales office list, Japan Rail Pass official site.

When you turn in, go to the exchange place and tell the staff that you will exchange JR pass. You will receive the application form and fill in. After that, you will proceed the window and show your passport and exchange order to get the actual pass.

When you turn in the pass, you can choose the first day of use within one month from this day.

If you exchange a pass on June 1st, you can choose the starting date from June 1st to 30th.

The start and finish dates will be stamped on your pass. Once the dates are stamped, you cannot change it.

Definition of one day

It means 00:00 to 23:59.

If you start to use 7 days pass on April 1st, your pass is expired at 23:59 on April 7th.

There are an exception. If you are on board at 23:59 on the last day, you still can continue to travel by train. Your pass cover until you get off the train. After you get off the train, as long as you don’t exit the station, your pass still cover basic fare.

Day 7 Tokyo 22:53 (Limited Express Tokiwa) 00:24 Mito

Even though your arrival time is 00:24 on 8th day, this trip is covered until you get Mito by JR pass
If you do not exit Mito station, you still can take local train because the base fare is covered by JR pass until you exit the station

Day 7 Tokyo 22:53 (Limited Express Tokiwa) 00:24 Mito
Day 8 Mito 00:33 (local train) 00:39 Katsuta

You can take a local train only. You cannot take any limited express trains after you get off it at Mito.


JR Pass covers most of the railway service and the ferry service by Japan railways. You can go almost anywhere throughout Japan except Okinawa. (Any JR companies do not offer a train service in Okinawa.) Please see the Japan Railway’s route map and the Shinkansen (bullet train) route map in the links below:

Nationwide JR route map, Japan Rail Pass official site
Shinkansen (bullet train) route map, Japan Rail Pass official site

But there are a few exceptions when you use JR pass. I would like to show you which services are NOT covered by Japan Rail Pass.

Nozomi and Mizuho on the Tokaido, the Sanyo and the Kyushu Shinkansen lines

The Tokaido-Sanyo Shinkansen runs between Tokyo, Nagoya, Kyoto, Shin-Osaka, Hiroshima and Hakata.

I think this is the biggest thing that you have to know.

Nozomi is the fastest and most frequent train service on the Tokaido-Sanyo Shinkansen between Tokyo, Kyoto, Osaka, Hiroshima and Hakata. Mizuho is the fastest train between Shin-Osaka and Kagoshima-Chuo. JR Pass is NOT valid for these trains. Even a basic fare to take Nozomi and Mizuho are not covered by JR Pass at all. If you take Nozomi or Mizuho, JR Pass does not help you at all. You have to pay a full fare beside JR pass.

JR pass covers Hikari between Tokyo and Shin-Osaka, and Sakura between Shin-Osaka and Kagoshima-Chuo which are the second fastest trains. The difference between Hikari and Nozomi are the following:

Trip time between Tokyo and Shin Osaka — 3 hours by Hikari / 2.5 hours by Nozomi
Frequency — 2 trips of Hikari per hour / 5 to 6 trips of Nozomi per hour
*There are some more trips of both Hikari and Nozomi in a peak hour.

Please refer one of my post, Tokaido-Sanyo Shinkansen to get the details abut the difference between Nozomi and Hikari.

Mizuho is the fastest train on the Sanyo Shinkansen and the Kyushu Shinkansen. Sakura is the second fastest but Sakura runs more than Mizuho. You cannot take Mizuho by JR Pass but this is not an issue.

All Shinkansen trains on the Tohoku, the Hokkaido, the Akita, the Yamagata, the Joetsu and the Hokuriku Shinkansen are covered by JR Pass fully.

Gran Class of Tohoku, Hokuriku and Hokkaido Shinkansen

The seat of Gran class (C) Asacyan (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

JR Pass covers Tohoku, Hokkaido and Hokuriku Shinkansen trains fully. Gran class that is the highest class seat is available on these Shinkansen lines. This is a higher class than Green class. If you take this Gran class, both Japan Rail Pass Ordinary and even Green cover a base fare only. You need to pay all amount of surcharge beside JR Pass. This extra charge is not the difference between Green class and Gran class. You must pay Gran class full amount fee.

Delux Green on JR Kyushu trains

Some limited express trains in Kyushu have Delux Green Class. If you take this class, you have to pay both Limited Express surcharge and Delux Green surcharge. Even Green Pass does not cover both surcharge.

Green Private Compartment

Green compartment on Super View Odoriko (C) Sonic Rail Garden

These following trains have Green seat compartment.

If you use this type of seat by Japan Rail Pass, your party must be 4 persons because it is based on 4 person. If you use this by 3 persons or less, you have to pay surcharge for insufficiency.

The overnight train and sleeper car

There are only two scheduled overnight trains in Japan now. Those are Sunrise Seto and Sunrise Izumo. If you use a compartment on these trains, JR pass covers only a base fare. However this train has the ordinary class which is called, “Nobi Nobi seat”. This ordinary class seat is covered by JR pass fully. Please see the links below to find more information:
Sunrise Izumo (Tokyo – Izumoshi)
Sunrise Seto (Tokyo – Takamatsu)

Trains run through Non JR lines

Some of limited express trains go through Non JR lines. You have to pay some extra for the section where your train goes on Non JR line. Because Japan Rail Pass cover only JR lines. The following list shows you the trains which go through Non JR lines. Please refer each train’s page to get the details about the extra charge.

Bus services

There are 8 bus companies in JR Bus Group. But these bus companies are different from train service companies now. These eight companies operate local bus service and highway bus service. But Japan Rail Pass covers a few local bus services only.

JR’s local bus services are a sort of commute service. I pick up some lines for the tourist.

Japan Rail Pass may cover some more bus services. But even official site does not provide any detailed information. As far as I know, I can confirm that JR Pass covers only these bus services at this point.

Ferry Service

Miyajima ferry service is operated between Miyajimaguchi and Miyajima. Japan Rail Pass is valid for this route. Miyajima is UNESCO world heritage site and one of the most popular destination for foreign travellers. This ferry cruise is very short trip. It takes only 10 minutes. Please refer one of my post, How to get Miyajima to get the details about Miyajima.

JR Kyushu operates the international ferry service between Hakata and Busan (Korea) But this is NOT valid for Japan Rail Pass.

Other train services

Japan Rail Pass does not cover any NON JR train services, such as the subways (Tokyo, Kyoto, Osaka, Nagoya, Sapporo, Yokohama, Sendai, Fukuoka), other train services by private companies, city bus services, local bus services and ferry services. The following list shows you major train services that Japan Rail Pass does not cover.

  • Sapporo Subway
  • Sendai Subway
  • Tokyo Subway
  • Yokohama Subway
  • Keihin Kyuko Railway (a.k.a. Keikyu, Shinagawa-Haneda-Yokohama)
  • Keisei Railway (Narita airport-Chiba-Ueno)
  • Tobu Railway (Asakusa-Nikko/Knugawa Onsen)
  • Odakyu Railway (Shinjuku-Hakone/Enoshima)
  • Izu Kyuko Railway (Ito-Shimoda)
  • Fuji Kyuko Railway (Otsuki-Kawaguchiko)
  • Nagoya Railway (a.k.a. Meitetsu, Chubu airport-Nagoya-Gifu)
  • Nagoya Subway
  • Kyoto Subway
  • Osaka Subway
  • Nankai Railway (Namba-Kansai airport/Koyasan/Wakayama)
  • Kintetsu Railway (Namba-Nara/Kyoto/Ise/Nagoya)
  • Hankyu Railway (Kobe-Umeda-Kawaramachi,Kyoto)
  • Keihan Railway (Yodoyabashi-Sanjo,Kyoto)
  • Hanshin Railway, Sanyo Railway (Umeda/Namba-Kobe-Himeji)
  • Fukuoka Subway
  • Nishitetsu Railway (Tenjin-Dazaifu)

Tokyo Monorail between Hamamatsucho (Tokyo) and Haneda airport is not JR train but this is owned by JR East and it is covered by Japan Rail Pass.

The following trains and segments are non JR lines. But those are covered by JR Pass.

  • Local and rapid trains on Aoimori Railway between Hachinohe and Aomori. But you cannot make a stopover except Hachinohe, Noheji and Aomori
  • Local and rapid trains on Ainokaze Toyama Railway between Toyama and Takaoka. But you cannot make a stopover except Toyama and Takaoka (after March 14, 2015)
  • Any trains on IR Ishikawa Railway between Kanazawa and Tsubata. But you cannot make a stopover except Kanazawa and Tsubata. There are direct trains from Kanazawa or Osaka to Wakura Onsen. These trains are go through this segment and then go on JR Nanao line. If you take these trains, extra charge is not required on top of JR Pass.

How to use JR pass in major cities and tourist spots

You can get most places in Japan by JR pass. JR pass covers most of JR trains which include Shinkansen, limited express trains, and other rapid commute trains and local trains in the cities.

But as I explained above, JR pass does not cover Non JR trains, subways and city bus. I also would like to explain the coverage by major places and you can find the detailed coverage of JR pass.


Subway, tram (street car) and city bus are not covered.
Subway and tram route map

You can walk to get Odori Park or Clock tower from Sapporo station if you want. But subway is better way.


Tram and city bus are not covered. You need to pay extra to get some tourist spots, such as Hakodate mountain.


You can take Tohoku Shinkansen to get Utsunomiya and take Nikko line local train to Nikko. All trips to Nikko is covered. Please see the link below to find more information:

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

But JR pass does not cover any local transportation, such as a local bus in Nikko area.


You can take any local trains in Tokyo to access to many places. But some of places cannot be accessed by JR pass, such as Asakusa, Tsukiji market, Tokyo Skytree. Please see the post below to find the detailed information:

You also can access to/from both Narita airport and Haneda airport. JR pass covers Narita Express and Airport Rapid train to/from Narita. Tokyo Monorail is covered by JR pass to/from Haneda airport.

Lake Kawaguchi

You can use JR pass to get Otsuki but you have to pay extra for taking Fuji Kyuko railway from Otsuki to Kawaguchiko station. Please see the link below to find more information:

Japan Railways is the best way to access Mt. Fuji? How much can we use Japan Rail Pass to go to Mt. Fuji?


You can get Odawara by Shinkansen but after arrival Odawara, JR pass does not help you. Please see the link below to find more information:

How to access Hakone from Tokyo. Compare Japan Railway and Odakyu lines


Subway and other Non JR trains, such as Meitetsu railway is not covered. You need to pay for access to/from Chubu airport (Centrair).

Chubu (Nagoya) airport transportation guide. Find info about airport station and access to Nagoya
Transportation Bureau, City of Nagoya

Snow Monkey Park in Nagano

You can get Nagano by JR pass but you have to pay for bus and/or train to get Snow Monkey Park. Please see the link below to find more information:

Trip to Tohoku, Chubu and Chugoku in 2016 winter – Part 9, Visit Snow Monkey Park in Nagano


You can get Kanazawa, Takayama, Toyama and Takaoka by JR pass. But you have to take a bus from one of these stations and need to pay for the bus. Please see the link below to find more information:

How to access to Shirakawago from Takayama, Kanazawa, Takaoka and Toyama.

Tateyama Kurobe Alpine Route

You can access to Nagano, Shinano-Omachi or Toyama by JR Pass. After arrival in these cities, you need to pay for local transportation. Please see the link below to find more information:

Tateyama-Kurobe Alpine Route, one of most spectacular sightseeing route in Northern Japan Alps

If intend to go through whole part of Alpine Route, you can use Tateyama Kurobe option ticket. Please see the following link:

Tateyama Kurobe Option Ticket (one way)


You can get Arashiyama, Nijo, Fushimi Inari and Uji by JR pass. But you need to take subway, city bus and/or other Non JR railways to get the various tourist places. Please see the post below to find more information:


You can take any local trains, such as Osaka Kanjo line (Osaka loop line). You can access to Universal City (USJ) too. But JR-Namba station is not very convenient and some places in the city cannot be accessed by JR pass, such as Osaka Kaiyukan Aquarium. Please see the post below to find more information:

You also can take Limited Express Haruka and Kansai Airport Rapid Train by JR pass to/from Kansai airport. Nankai railway is not covered.


Actually many places can be accessed by JR station. You can get Kobe by JR pass easily. You may not add any additional deals. Please see the link below to find more information:

Guide to take trains in Kobe. How to choose the best route by train to get the major spots?


You can get Nara by JR trains from either Kyoto and Osaka. Most of tourist spots in Nara can be accessed by walk from JR Nara station. Please see the link below to find more information:

How to access to Nara by Japan Rail Pass. If you don’t use JR Pass, Kintetsu Railway is more convenient.

Mt. Koya (Koyasan)

You should take Nankai railway from Namba or Shin-Imamiya. Nankai railway is not JR and you need to pay extra. Please see the link below to find more information:

How to access World Heritage Mt. Koya. Japan Rail Pass can be used to get Mt. Koya?


You can access to Hiroshima by Shinkansen and it’s covered by JR pass. And also JR pass covers Hiroshima sightseeing loop bus “Meipuru-pu” fully. This bus covers most of tourist spots in Hiroshima. Please see the following link to find the detailed information:

Hiroshima sightseeing loop bus Meipuru-pu official site


You can take JR local train to Miyajimaguchi and then take ferry to Miyajima. Both train and ferry are covered by JR pass. Please see the link below to find more information:

How to access to Miyajima from Hiroshima by local train. No extra charge for Japan Rail Pass user.

Fukuoka / Hakata

JR Pass does not cover Fukuoka city subway and Nishitetsu railway. Only subway connects Fukuoka airport and Hakata. But you cannot use JR pass to get airport because subway is not covered. Some places around Fukuoka is covered by Nishitetsu railway, such as Dazaifu Tenmangu shrine. But Nishitetsu railway is not covered by JR pass either.

Who is eligible?

If you are the foreign tourist, you have to be “Temporary Visitor”. This entry status will be stamped at immigration on your passport. Other status cannot be acceptable. You have to show your passport at the station when you pass your exchange order to get actual pass.
If you are already in Japan as other status, you have to change your status first. Otherwise you cannot buy Japan Rail Pass. Please see “How to buy and exchange”.

If you are Japanese citizen who have permanently status in foreign country, or who married to a non-Japanese, you are qualified.

How to refund

You can refund within one year from issue date before you turn in for the actual pass. Simply bring or send your exchange order to the agent where you purchased it. They will subtract a handling fee and refund to you. The handling fee is usually 10% of the amount. Contact to your agent and make sure it before you refund.
You can NEVER refund after turned in the actual pass.

Lost or Stolen

Once you lost it, it’s over. Either an exchange order or an actual pass cannot be reissued.

1,678 thoughts on “How to buy JR Pass and use Japan Rail Pass to its maximum. JR Pass user guide.”

  1. Hi, I’m going to Nagoya on Mar 2020.
    May I know which JR Pass more suitable for me.
    Below is my trip plan:
    Day 1 – Chubu airport to Takayama
    Day 2 – Takayama to Kanazawa
    Day 3 – Kanazawa to shirakawago back to Takayama
    Day 4 – within Takayama
    Day 5 – Takayama to Kyoto
    Day 6 – Within Kyoto
    Day 7 – Kyoto to Osaka Round trip
    Day 8 – Kyoto to Nagoya
    Day 9 – Within Nagoya
    Day 10 – Nagoya to Chubu Airport

    1. Hi Gan,

      I recommend you to use Takayama Hokuriku Area Tourist Pass for the first 5 days:

      This pass does not cover Chubu airport to Nagoya. You have to pay separately.

      On day 5, if you take the route from Takayama-Toyama-Kanazawa-Kyoto route, it is covered fully. But if you take Takayama-Nagoya-Kyoto route, you have to pay separately for Nagoya to Kyoto.

      You may add the local deal in Kyoto and Osaka as you need but the regular ticket is your choice for Kyoto to/from Osaka:

      Platt Kodama is recommended for Kyoto to Nagoya:

      You may add subway pass in Nagoya as you need:


      Takeshi /

      1. Thank you for the information.
        Regarding the train from takayama to Kyoto, I found a direct train from takayama to Kyoto at 3.38pm. Does the takayama-hakuriku area pass includes Hida limited express Hida 36 direct train to Kyoto?

    2. hello takeshi. can the kansai wide area pass be used in rapid trains from osaka to tottori? and trains from tottori to yonago? thank you.

  2. Hi Takeshi, This is a really wonderful website! Very helpful and informative. I am planning a solo 3 week Trip to Japan next May and was wondering if the 3 week JR pass is worth it. I already have a Suica card that I know I will need to use for parts of my trip. I plan to station myself in Kyoto and Tokyo with many day trips from there; I do not mind the frequent train rides as I expect on my days to be very long since I will be traveling by myself. My Itinerary:

    Day 1: Arrive in Tokyo: Haneda
    Day 2: Tokyo -> Kyoto
    Day 3: Kyoto -> Osaka -> Kyoto
    Day 4: Kyoto -> Arashiyama -> Kyoto
    Day 5: Kyoto
    Day 6: Kyoto -> Nagoya -> Kyoto
    Day 7: Kyoto -> Osaka -> Kyoto
    Day 8: Kyoto
    Day 9: Kyoto -> Nara -> Kyoto
    Day 10: Kyoto -> Hiroshima
    Day 11: Hiroshima -> Miyajima -> Kyoto
    Day 12: Kyoto -> Hakone -> Tokyo
    Days 13- 15: Tokyo
    Day 16: Tokyo -> Kamakura/Enoshima – > Tokyo
    Day 17: Tokyo
    Day 18: Tokyo -> Nikko -> Tokyo
    Day 19: Tokyo -> Mt. Nokogiri -> Tokyo
    Day 20: Tokyo
    Day 21: Depart Tokyo: Haneda

    1. Hi Steven,

      I think 14-day pass is okay for your trip. But you have to switch some parts of your travel plan. I recommend you to visit Enoshima/Kamakura, Nikko and Mt.Nokogiri on day 13, 14 and 15. You can start using JR Pass on Day 2.

      The rest of your trip is in Tokyo only. You can use subway pass or Suica.

      This option is much cheaper than using 21-day pass.


      Takeshi /

  3. Dear Takeshi,
    I absolutely LOVE the information on your website. My wife and I are planning a 14 day trip to Japan. I analyzed and found that JR Pass is not worth it for this itinerary but I wanted to check with the expert Mr. Takeshi. Please let me know what you think! Thank you Thank you!

    Day 1: Narita Airport > Tokyo
    Day 2: Tokyo
    Day 3: Tokyo
    Day 4: Tokyo > Kamakura > Yokohama > Tokyo
    Day 5: Tokyo
    Day 6: Tokyo > Hakone
    Day 7: Hakone > Kyoto
    Day 8: Kyoto
    Day 9: Kyoto > Arishiyama > Kyoto
    Day 10: Kyoto
    Day 11: Kyoto > Osaka
    Day 12: Osaka
    Day 13: Osaka > Nara > Osaka
    Day 14: Osaka > Kobe > Osaka
    Day 15: Osaka > Kansai Airport

    1. Hi Sae,

      Thank you for your comment about my website.

      I have the sample itinerary which is very similar to your trip plan. Please see the link below:

      You may find the info about Yokohama and Kamakura in the link below:

      For the trip to Nara and Kobe, you may be okay with using a regular fare ticket. There are some deals, such as Kansai thru pass. But many places in Kobe and Nara can be accessed by walk. If you take a train to get just Kobe and Nara, regular fare may be cheaper.


      Takeshi /

      1. Thanks for your reply Takeshi! I will take a closer look at your research. Based on the 14-15 day schedule the JR Pass is not worth it. Do you think that’s correct?

        1. Hi Sae,

          That’s right. 7 days pass price is almost equal to the round trip fare of Tokyo-Osaka. You have one way trip and even if you use JR Pass when you are in Tokyo, Osaka, it’s not enough to get the worth of it.


          Takeshi /

          1. Thank you Takeshi. When we arrive into Narita Airport, we will take regular one-way Narita Express to Shinjuku Station. Do you suggest getting Suica, Pasmo, or other IC card for our itinerary?

              1. Thank you Takeshi! When we arrive in Narita, we will definitely use Suica or Welcome Suica. Do you suggest Suica will work in Hakone Tozan Train and Hakone Tozan Bus? Will Suica work in Osaka and Kyoto transportation?

                1. Hi Sae,

                  You can use Suica to take Hakone Tozan Railway and Hakone Tozan Bus. You can use it in Osaka and Kyoto as well. Please see the link below to find more info:

                  By the way, Hakone Tozan Railway is closed by the damage due to typhoon yesterday. It may be closed for a long time.


                  Takeshi /

                  1. Thank you for that information. I hope you, your family, and friends are safe from the typhoon. Our trip to Hakone is not until first week in November. We will monitor for any updates. Thank you again!

        2. Hi Takeshi San,
          I will be travelling to Kyushu Island in April 2020. Please advise which pass is the best for a 8D/7N trip.
          1. Fukuoka/Nagasaki
          2. Nagasaki/Unzen
          3. Ushibuka/Kagoshima
          4. Kasoshima
          5. Kumamoto
          6. Mount Aso/Kurakama
          7. Fukuoka
          8. Depart to airport

                1. Dear Takeshi San,

                  Intend to have a 5 days North Kyushu Pass for my coming trip in April. Can I use this pass to Shimonoseki entrance from Kokura Station?

                  Thank you

                    1. Dear Takeshi San,

                      Thank you for your prompt reply. Just to re-confirm that this pass can be used from Kyushu Island to Shimonoseki in Honshu Island. Plan to take a train and walk back via the Kanmon Pedestrian Tunnel.

                      Warmest Regards

  4. Hi Takeshi, I am planning to go to japan on November. I was just wondering if JR rail pass would be worth it? We would mostly be spending a few days in one city.
    Day 1: arrive in Kansai Osaka (9pm)
    Day 2: Osaka
    Day 3: Osaka
    Day 4: Osaka
    Day 5: Osaka
    Day 6: Kyoto
    Day 7: Kyoto
    Day 8: Mt Fuji
    Day 9: Tokyo
    Day 10: Tokyo
    Day 11: Tokyo
    Day 12: Tokyo
    Day 13: Tokyo (Flight to go home, 10:00pm)

    Would it be worth to get a 7 day JR pass just to use mainly in Tokyo? Or would you recommend any other deals? Any help would be much appreciated.

    1. Hi Colin,

      JR Pass does not work. 7-day pass price is almost equal to the round trip fare between Tokyo and Osaka. Please see the link below to find the sample itinerary:

      This does not include Fuji. But you may use this trip plan. When you go to Fuji, you can get off the train at Mishima and take the bus to Kawaguchiko. So you will use the regular fare ticket for Kyoto to Mishima. About the access to Kawaguchiko from Mishima, please see the link below:

      You may take the express bus to get Tokyo after Kawaguchiko.

      All other part of your trip, you can refer the sample itinerary.


      Takeshi /

  5. Hi. I am planning my upcoming trip to Japan in November. Would really appreciate if you could advise on the type of pass I should get.

    Day 1 – Arrive at Narita. Take a bullet train to Osaka on the same day.
    Day 2/3 – Osaka
    Day 4 – Nara
    Day 5 – Kobe/Himeji
    Day 6 – Lake Biwa
    Day 7/8/9 – Kyoto
    Day 10 – Nagoya
    Day 11/12/13/14 – Tokyo
    Day 15 – Depart Tokyo

    I am considering the below:
    (1) Buy bullet train tickets for Tokyo-Osaka and Nagoya-Tokyo as well as Kansai thru pass. Does Kansai thru pass cover all my trips to Nara,Kobe/Himeji,Lake Biwa and Kyoto?
    (2) JR pass 14 days pass

    Looking forward to your advice.


    1. Hi Ann,

      You cannot get the worth of 14-day JR pass. But if you add one more big trip, you can make it. I mean the big trips like a day trip to Hiroshima from Osaka, Kanazawa from either Osaka or Tokyo, Nikko from Tokyo. If you are interested, please see the links below:

      If you don’t want to add any trips, you may use a regular fare ticket to take Narita Express and Shinkansen from Narita to Osaka, and take the Shinkansen from Osaka to Tokyo via Nagoya. You can use one base fare ticket for Osaka to Tokyo via Nagoya. Please see the links below to find the info about the trains and tickets:

      You may use Kansai thru pass for Nara and Kyoto. Kansai area pass is recommended for the trip to Lake Biwa and Kobe/Himeji:

      In Tokyo, you may use the deals in the links below:


      Takeshi /

  6. Hi Takeshi,
    Could you please help, for my upcoming trip this November. The plan is to use Tokyo wide pass for the first 3 days and JR 7 days.
    Need to ensure its the best deal.

    The itinerary as per following:
    First day – landed almost midnight in Haneda – will use tokyo monorail for 1 trip to reach the hotel in Hamamatsuho Area.

    Tokyo Wide pass will be used starting in the next day.
    Day 1 – Kawaguchiko Lake
    Day 2 – Hitachi seaside
    Day 3 – Kawagoe

    Day 4 – from Tokyo to Nikko
    Day 5 – exploring Nikko
    Day 6 – from Nikko to Toyama
    Day 7 – exploring Takayama
    Day 8 – from Toyama to Nagoya
    Day 9 – to Obara Shikizakura
    Day 10 – from Nagoya to Kyoto
    Day 11 – exploring Kyoto
    Day 12 – exploring Kyoto
    Day 13 – Kyoto to Osaka
    Day 14 – depart from Kansai airport.

    The queries:
    1. Based on the itinerary, is it the best choice to use Tokyo wide pass & JRpass 7 days?
    Well, I will need another pass to cover just Kyoto and Osaka for the last 2 days.
    Or is there any recommendation?

    2. When I make the transaction to get JRPass, the website ask about the arrival date in Japan. Based on my itinerary which date should I put? Since the arrival date in Japan ia not the date to start using the JR pass.

    Thanks in advance.

    1. Hi Tinkerbell,

      You may use Tokyo Wide Pass and JR pass 7-day. You have picked the right deals.
      Regarding the arrival day, it doesn’t matter actually. When you exchange the pass, you will pick the date when you want to start using it. You can put the date of either day 1 or 2.


      Takeshi /

  7. Hi Takeshi, could you please advise me about the best rail pass to buy.
    30th October Narita airport to Takamatsu
    4th November Takamatsu to Koyasan
    6th November Koyasan to Tanabe
    10th November Shingu to Tokyo
    12th November Tokyo to Narita Airport
    Many thanks, Jane

    1. Hi Jane,

      14-day JR pass suits your trip plan. However you have to add the fare to get Koyasan. Nankai railway is the best way to get Koyasan but Nankai railway is not covered.

      There is a deal to get Koyasan but it’s only 2 days ticket. You may use other deal to cover this 2N3D trip to Koyasan. I recommend you to use Kansai thru pass 2-day and Rinkan Bus one day ticket:

      You may use Kansai thru pass for Shin-Imamiya to Koyasan, Koyasan to Shin-Imamiya and taking the bus at Koyasan on 4th and 6th. And you may Rinkan bus one day ticket for 5th as you need.

      Shin-Imamiya is the train change station of JR and Nankai railway:


      Takeshi /

  8. Hi,

    I have another trip to Japan coming up. I’m planning to travel up the Tōkaidō from Osaka.
    I’ll arrive at Kansai Airport on October 25th and will reach Yokohama on November 1.
    Would a 7 day pass, starting on Oct 25, last until the 31st or the 1st?

    After checking hotel prices and availability, it looks like it would be better to stay in Osaka on the days I had planned to move up to Kyoto, so I’d be taking day trips to Kyoto and Nara from Osaka.

    Planning for
    Oct 25-29 Osaka/Kyoto/Nara (I normally stay at a Chuo Group budget hotel near Shin-Imamiya Station)
    Oct 30-31 Currently unconfirmed stop, possibly around Mishima/Numazu/Fuji area
    Nov 1 Arrive Yokohama
    (Nov 3 depart via Haneda)

    Does a JR pass cover the local JR Tokai Bus routes around Mishima and Numazu? Some sites have said yes, others have said no.

    Would a 7 day JR Pass be worth it?
    Hyperdia says Kansai-ShinImamiya-Kyoto-Numazu-Yokohama would be up to 20850 yen (or 17390 yen depending on which trains are used), but that doesn’t count local JR travel or more then 1 trip between Osaka and Kyoto.


    1. Hi Amy,

      First of all, JR pass does not work. You cannot make another 8,000 yen by Osaka to/from Kyoto.

      I recommend you to take the train/the following passes:

      KIX to Shin-Imamiya
      Regular fare to take Nankai railway at 920 yen

      Kyoto and Nara
      Kansai thru pass

      Please see the link below:

      Osaka to Yokohama
      Regular fare ticket

      I cannot see how you spend your time in Yokohama. But regular fare ticket will be probably your choice.


      Takeshi /

      1. Hi,

        Looking at the time I have in my trip, would this itinerary work better with a pass?

        Oct 25 Kansai-Osaka + local travel
        Oct 26 Hiroshima day trip
        Oct 27 Kyoto day trip
        Oct 28 Nara or Kyoto day trip
        Oct 29 local travel (Osaka) or another nearby day trip (maybe Kobe)
        Oct 30 Osaka – Mishima/Numazu area
        Oct 31 local travel or day trip to Fuji
        Nov 1 Mishima-Yokohama
        Nov 1-3 local travel
        Nov 3 Yokohama-Haneda

        Staying in Osaka Oct 25-30 near ShinImamiya station
        I already have ICOCA and Suica IC cards.
        (I have done Tokyo-Toyohashi and Tokyo-Numazu return day trips before)


        1. Hi Amy,

          JR Pass 7-day is most recommended. You can use it for Oct 26 to Nov 1. Most places in this period can be accessed by JR trains and JR pass covers it. When you have to take non JR trains and/or subway, you can use your ICOCA or Suica.

          I think Suica or ICOCA is okay for the before/after using JR pass.


          Takeshi /

  9. Hi Takeshi San,

    Please kindly help me itinerary below, what is the best pass :

    3 Dec : Arrive in Hiroshima (atomic dome)
    4 Dec : Hiroshima –> Miyajima, Mt Misen
    5 Dec : Hiroshima to Osaka ( 3 nights)
    6 Dec : Universal Studio, Osaka
    7 Dec : Meseum of Housing and Living, Osaka
    8 Dec : Osaka to Nagano (3 nights)
    9 Dec : Snow Monkey Jigokudani
    10 Dec : Karuizawa Ski Resort
    11 Dec : Nagano to Tokyo
    12 Dec : Disneyland
    13 Dec : Disneysea
    14 Dec : Mt Fuji (plan to take Fuji Excursion train )
    15 Dec: Edo Wonderland
    16 Dec : Back to Jakarta

    Some trains are using Nozomi that is not covered by JR Pass, what is the best pass then? also, is it possible to take Haruka Hello Kitty Shinkansen from Hiroshima to Osaka?

    Thank you again for your help


    1. Hi Chenny san,

      You may use 14-days JR pass. This is only deals to cover most part of your trip:

      As you think, Nozomi and Mizuho are not covered but it’s not an issue. You can take Sakura, Hikari or Kodama. Especially if you want to take Hello Kitty Shinkansen, that is one of Kodama. It is covered.

      JR Pass covers JR trains and ferry to Miyajima. The trip to Snow Monkey Park is not covered because you will take Nagano railway and the local bus. You have to take the local bus to Edo Wonderland from Nikko. This bus is not covered.
      When you take Fuji Excursion, Otsuki to Kawaguchiko segment is not JR. You have to pay for this segment.

      But JR pass is the best choice and cheaper than the regular fare anyway.


      Takeshi /

      1. Thank YOU so much Takeshi San,

        How bout buy a 7 Days JR Pass from Hiroshima to Tokyo PLUS aTokyo Wide Pass for the rest days at Tokyo??


        1. Hi Cherry san,

          You are right. My choice was wrong. You may use JR Pass 7-day for Dec 5 to 11, Tokyo Wide Pass for Dec 14 to 16, and add the regular fare for the rest of your trip.

          Thank you for correcting me.


          Takeshi /

  10. Hi Takeshi,could you help me, I’m planning go to Japan this november,
    My itinerary is :
    Day 1 : Arrive in Tokyo, Narita
    Day 2 : Osaka
    Day 3 : Kyoto
    Day 4 : Kyoto
    Day 5 : Osaka
    Day 6 : Nagoya
    Day 7 : Nagoya
    Day 8 : Tokyo
    Day 9 : Tokyo Disneyland
    Day 10 : Tokyo – Fuji
    Day 11 : Tokyo
    Day 12 : Tokyo
    Day 13 : Tokyo Narita

    I’m travelling with my wife and 3 year child , My plan is using JR pass 14 days , is it worth the money? or should i combine with single airport transfer in day 1 and 5 day tokyo metro pass in day 9 ?

    1. Hi Xiung,

      JR Pass 14-day is too expensive. If you move from Tokyo to Osaka on day 2 and go back to Tokyo on day 8, use 7-day pass for day 2 to 8.
      There are some deals available which covers Narita-Tokyo and Tokyo subways. You may use it for day 1, 11, 12 and 13. Please see the link below:

      The regular fare ticket is okay for day 9. You can take the express bus to get Fuji on day 10:


      Takeshi /

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