*JR East Pass will be divided into two passes on April 1, 2016. Those are JR East Pass (Tohoku area) and JR East Pass (Nagano, Niigata area). Current JR East Pass will be discontinued on March 31, 2016. Please find more information about these two new deals at the links below:
JR East Pass Tohoku. Flex 5 days pass in 14 days period to cover Tokyo, surrounding area of Tokyo and Tohoku region.
This pass covers eastern part of Honshu island (main island) in Japan, such as Tohoku region, surrounding Tokyo, Mt. Fuji, Izu peninsula and most part of Nagano. You can take any trains in the coverage area with a few exception. If you will be a temporary visitor, you are eligible to purchase this deal.
The biggest difference from any other JR Passes is valid periods. You don’t need to use this pass in consecutive days. You can pick any 5 days within 14 days.
Let’s see the details about this pass. I also compare with other passes, such as JR Pass and Kanto Area Pass.
This pass covers all part of JR East territory. JR East is one of Japan Railway Group companies. The area is all part of Tohoku region (Aomori, Akita, Iwate, Miyagi, Yamagata and Fukushima) and all part of Kanto region (Tokyo, Kanagawa, Chiba, Saitama, Ibaraki, Tochigi and Gunma) and some part of Niigata, Nagano, Shizuoka and Yamanashi. You can find the detailed map at the JR East official site map.
Other part of Japan, such as Hokkaido, Nagoya, Kanazawa, Takayama, Kyoto, Osaka, Hiroshima and Kyushu are not covered by JR East Pass. So if you plan to travel throughout Japan or travel Tokyo, Osaka and Kyoto, Japan Rail Pass is suitable for you.
I tell you about the border of this deal clearly.
North side (Aomori)
If you travel to the north, you can go to the end of Honshu island, Aomori prefecture. But you cannot go into Hokkaido. There are Seikan tunnel between Honshu island and Hokkaido under the sea. The border station is Nakaoguni station where is located just before Siekan tunnel. Please see the map to make sure the location.
Tsugaru line runs to Minmaya station. Nakaoguni is located on the way to Minmya. You can use the pass to go to Minmaya. Nakaoguni is just the border to Hokkaido.
West side (Nagano and Niigata)
If you travel in Niigata and Nagano, most part of these prefectures are covered. When you go to Nagano, Matsumoto, Hakuba, Shino-Omachi, Niigata, Nagaoka, Echigo-Yuzawa and Karuizawa, this pass covers your trip. On March 14, 2015, Hokuriku Shinkansen will open from Nagano to Kanazawa. JR East pass will cover the segment between Nagano and Joetsu-Myoko. After this day, conventional line between Nagano and Naetsu will be transferred to non JR companies, Shinano Railway and Echigo Tokimeki Railway. JR East pass will cover the segment between Arai and Naetsu on Echigo Tokimeki Railway only. Please see the map below to make sure the coverage area in Nagano and Niigata.
Until March 13, 2015
After March 14, 2015
On the map above, coverage lines are indicated by red bold line (conventional line), navy bold line (Shinkansen line) and green bold line (Non JR line that is covered by JR East pass). So you cannot take the train at the following segments.
- Between Minami-Otari and Itoigawa on Oito line
- From Naoetsu to the west on Hokuriku line such as Toyama and Kanazawa
- Between Nagano and Arai on Echigo Tokimeki Railway line and Shinano Railway line
- From Joetsu-Myoko to the west on Hokuriku Shinkansen line such as Toyama and Kanazawa
- From Shiojiri to the southwest on Chuo line such as Nakatsugawa and Nagoya
- From Tatsuno to the south on Iida line such as Iida, Komagane and Toyohashi
But there is NON JR railways between Echigo-Yuzawa and Naoetsu, between Arai and Naoetsu. Those are Hokuetsu Kyuko line and Echigo Tokmeki railway line. Those are some of exceptions of this pass. Hokuetsu Kyuko and Echigo Tokimeki Railway between Arai and Naoetsu are covered by this deal.
*Strictly this railway runs between Muikamachi and Saigata. But many trains do not stop at these stations and go through Naoetsu and Echigo-Yuzawa.
South side (Yamanashi and Shizuoka)
If you travel to Izu, Hakone and Mt. Fuji, it may be tricky for you. Please see the map below.
First of all, I have to mention to you about Shinkansen. You cannot take any trains on Tokaido Shinkansen. Even though Tokyo, Shinagawa, Shin-Yokohama, Odawara and Atami stations are located in JR East area, you cannot take any trains on Tokaido Shinkansen. Because Tokaido Shinkansen is not owned by JR East but JR Central. Those companies are same JR group, however strictly it is a different company. Therefore when you travel to Izu and Hakone, you have to take trains on Tokaido line. You can get on Limited Express Odoriko, Limited Express Super Odoriko and Tokaido Rapid train.
Regarding Shinkansen, JR East owns different Shinkansen, such as Tohoku, Joetsu, Nagano, Akita and Yamagata Shinkansen. Those are covered by JR East Pass
Please look at the map above again. Let’s see around Mt. Fuji. You can get Odawara by this pass as I mentioned. But if you go to Hakone, you have to pay extra because that is not JR line but Odakyu and Hakone Tozan Railway. On the other hand, there is another NON JR railways at north side of Mt. Fuji. That is Fuji Kyuko Railway between Otsuki and Lake Kawaguchi. This railway is covered by Kanto Area Pass that is other JR East’s deal. But JR East Pass does not cover this railway.
Around Mt. Fuji, there are two JR lines. Those are Minobu line (Kofu-Fuji) and Gotemba line. These lines belong to JR Central. Therefore JR East Pass does not cover these lines either.
At last, if you go to Izu, you can use this pass to get Atami, Ito, Shimoda and most of places at east side of Izu peninsula. the segment between Ito and Izukyu-Shimoda is not JR line but Izu Kyuko line. But this is one of exceptions of this deal. This railway is covered by JR East Pass.
Direct service to Nikko and Kinugawa Onsen
Both JR and Tobu Railway operate direct train service, Limited Express Nikko and Limited Express Kinugawa, between Shinjuku and Nikko / Kinugawa-Onsen. This train runs on Tobu Railways line partially. Therefore Japan Rail Pass and Kanto Area Pass do not cover fully for this train. But JR East Pass covers this train trip fully. So if you go to Nikko, this may be a big asset.
If you don’t take this train, you can get Tohoku Shinkansen and transfer to local train at Utsunomiya. Otherwise take Tobu Railways train from Asakusa. In this case, you have to pay single fare or purchase Tobu Railway’s deal.
Discount bus fare to Takayama
JR East Pass holder can get special deal for access to Takayama. You can purchase the bus ticket between Matsumoto and Takayama at half price. Please see Hida Takayama website. If you may visit just Takayama in outside of coverage area, you may be able to use this deal.
Price, eligibility and how to purchase
We used to choose form 5 day, 10 day, and flexible 4 day pass. But JR East changed and now only flex 5 days is available. It is sold at 22000 yen and child (6-11 years) are half price at 11000 yen. This pass is available for temporary visitor only. If you are resident, you can’t purchase it. Please check the price and conditions on the JR East Pass website.
You can purchase this pass at authorized travel agents or online. But it is very hard to find the authorized agent. Even travel agent who sells Japan Rail Pass sometimes sells only Japan Rail Pass. Procedure to issue JR East Pass is more complicated than Japan Rail Pass. So online and purchasing at the stations will be the way to purchase. If you want to purchase it on the spot, you can purchase it at the major stations. You can find the the list of sales location at the official site of JR East Pass.
Compare to single fares
Base fare and surcharge for the major segments are the following. Please compare the price of JR East Pass and these fares. If you use JR East Pass, these following fare (base fare and surcharge) are covered.
*All surcharges in the following table are regular season rate. In peak season, another 200 yen is added on regular surcharge. In shoulder season, 200 yen is subtracted from regular surcharge. Base fare is same in all season.
|Tokyo – Shinjuku||190 yen||–|
|Tokyo – Yokohama||450 yen||–|
|Tokyo – Odawara||1450 yen||1410 yen (*2)|
|Tokyo – Narita airport||1280 yen||1660 yen|
|Shinjuku – Matsumoto||3980 yen||2820 yen|
|Ueno – Naganohara-Kusatsuguchi||2940 yen||2190 yen (*3)|
|Tokyo – Nagano||3890 yen||4080 yen|
|Tokyo – Niigata||5460 yen||4810 yen|
|Tokyo – Sendai||5780 yen||4810 yen (*1)|
|Tokyo – Akita||9560 yen||7250 yen (*4)|
|Tokyo – Yamagata||5780 yen||5250 yen|
|Tokyo – Aomori||9870 yen||6500 yen (*1)|
*1 This rate is applied for Hayate, Yamabiko and Nasuno. Another 300 to 500 yen is added on this surcharge for getting on newer and faster train, Hayabusa.
*2 This rate is for Limited Express Odoriko because JR East Pass does not cover Shinkansen for this segment.
*3 This rate is for Limited Express Kusatsu between Ueno and Naganohara-Kusatsuguchi directly. If you take Joetsu Shinkansen from Ueno to Takasaki, surcharge will be about 500 yen higher than this rate.
*4 This rate is applied for Komachi. Another 500 yen is added on this surcharge for getting on newer and faster train, Super Komachi.
As you see above, if you have round trip to Sendai from Tokyo, it will be almost same value of JR East Pass at 22,000 yen. It is not difficult to spend more than 22,000 yen.
You can choose any 5 days within 14 days. One day means 0:00 to 23:59. So try to start in the morning. It does not make sense to start to use in the evening.
If you travel 6 days or more, you can purchase another pass on the spot. But anyone cannot have two or more passes at same time. You have to finish your current pass and then you can purchase next one. However Japan Rail Pass 7 days is sold at 28300 yen and 14 days pass is sold at 45100 yen. And also Green pass is not available for JR East Pass. If you think about 6 day or more or taking Green car, you should compare with Japan Rail Pass.
JR East Pass Special are sold from March 1 to June 14, 2012 at overseas and sold from April 1 to June 21, 2012 in Japan. Exchange Orders purchased overseas must be redeemed by June 21, 2012.
I have already mentioned several things at “Area” above. In this chapter, I compare JR East Pass, Japan Rail Pass and Kanto Area Pass.
|Trains||JR East Pass||Japan Rail Pass||Kanto Area Pass|
|Green class||N||Y (Green pass)||N|
|Tohoku Shinkansen Hayabusa||Y||Y||Add fare|
|Tohoku Shinkansen Hayabusa Gran class||Add fare||Add fare||Add fare|
|Joetsu Shinkansen||Y||Y||Tokyo-Jomo Kogen|
|Hokuriku (Nagano Shinkansen)||Tokyo-Joetsu Myoko||Y||Tokyo-Sakudaira|
|Tokaido Shinkansen (Tokyo-Kyoto/Osaka)||N||Y|
|Sanyo Shinkansen (Shin Osaka-Hakata)||N||Y|
*except Nozomi and Mizuho
|Kyushu Shinkansen (Shin Osaka-Hakata)||N||Y|
|Tokyo Monorail (Haneda-Hamamatsucho)||Y||Y||Y|
|JR-Tobu direct train (Shinjuku-Nikko/Kinugawa-Onsen)||Y||N||N|
|Izu Kyuko Railway (Ito-Shimoda)||Y||N||Y|
|Fuji Kyuko Railway (Otsukki-Kawaguchiko)||N||N||Y|
|Hokuetsu Kyuko Railway (Echigo Yuzawa-Naoetsu)|
after March 14, 2015
|Echigo Tokimeki Railway (Myoko Kogen-Naoetsu)||Arai-Naoetsu||N||N|
|Aoimori Railway (Aomori-Metoki)||Y||N||N|
|IGR Iwate Galaxy Railway (Morioka-Metoki)||Y||N||N|
|Sendai Airport Transit (Sendai-Sendai Airport)||Y||N||N|
|Tokyo Waterfront Area Rapid Transit Rinkai Line (Osaki-Shinkiba)||Y||N||N|
|JR Bus to Lake Towada||N||Y||N|
If you are pretty sure to travel in Tokyo, Shinshu or/and Tohoku, I strongly recommend you to purchase this pass. Especially you don’t need to use this deal in consecutive days. It is much more flexible than other JR deals. But if you travel in Tokyo and surrounding area only, JR East Kanto area pass is more suitable for you. But don’t forget about direct service to Nikko and Kinugawa from Shinjuku. Only JR East Pass offers this special deal.
In the past several years, JR East sold Spring Special JR East pass at 15000 yen for 3 flex days from March to June. I wrote about this deal at Only 15,000 yen for unlimited ride in Tokyo and Tohoku area!!! JR East Pass Special. I will update when I get new information about this seasonal deal.
If you travel in Tohoku area by this pass, that will be a great support to the areas where are seriously damaged by Tsunami and earthquake. I am really happy if you visit even one place in that area.