I wrote this post in last two years. Right after I published this post in two years ago, the huge earthquake occurred. The east coast of Tohoku area was damaged seriously by earthquake and tsunami. Nobody could not travel when this pass was sold. JR East started to sell same type of pass, JR East Pass Special, again in last year. And this year, same pass come back to motivate to travel east part of Japan, especially Tohoku area! JR East is very aggressive. Because they sold same pass at 13,000 yen in two yeas ago. They sold it at only 10,000 yen for unlimited ride for any 3 days in 10 days. Unfortunately it will be 15,000 yen for 3 days in 10 days. But the price is still very attractive.
So I have just revised this original post and explain about this pass. Before you decide to buy, make sure what the difference between Japan Rail Pass, this JR East Pass and also JR East Kanto Area Pass.
JR East has flexible 5 day pass too. Please check the price and conditions on the JR East Pass website.
JR East is one of Japan Railway Group companies. Their area is all part of Tohoku (Aomori, Akita, Iwate, Miyagi, Yamagata and Fukushima), all part of Kanto (Tokyo, Kanagawa, Chiba, Saitama, Ibaraki, Tochigi and Gunma), some part of Nagano and some part of Niigata. So you can travel in these above area only by JR East Pass. Please make sure where you go in Japan. You cannot go to Kyoto, Osaka, Hokkaido, Kyushu and even Nagoya by JR East Pass. You cannot take any trains on Tokaido Shinkansen. Even though 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 owned by the different Japan Railway company, JR Central. But you can take Tohoku, Joetsu, Nagano, Akita and Yamagata Shinkansen.
So if you plan to travel throughout Japan or travel Tokyo, Osaka and Kyoto, Japan Rail Pass is suitable for you.
JR East Pass Special is the type of flexible 3 days pass. It is valid for 10 days. So you can choose any 3 days in 10 days. So if you stay in Tokyo and you want to go as long day trips, you can have three times of this trip. If you travel 4 days or more, think about Japan Rail Pass or JR East Pass 5 day or more.
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 think this chapter is most noteworthy. I show you the difference between Japan Rail Pass and JR East Pass.
|Trains||JR East Pass Special||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|
|Tokaido Shinkansen (Tokyo-Kyoto/Osaka)||N||Y||N|
|Sanyo Shinkansen (Shin Osaka-Hakata)||N||Y||N|
|Kyushu Shinkansen (Shin Osaka-Hakata)||N||Y||N|
|Tokyo Monorail (Haneda-Hamamatsucho)||Y||Y||Y|
|Izu Kyuko line (Ito-Shimoda)||Y||N||Y|
|Tobu line (Shinjuku to Nikko/Kinugawa-Onsen)||Y||N||N|
|Fuji Kyuko line (to Kawaguchiko)||N||N||Y|
|Hokuetsu Kyuko line (Echigo Yuzawa-Naoetsu)||Y||N||N|
|JR Bus to Lake Towada||N||Y||N|
|Loop bus in Morioka city||Y||N||N|
|Loop bus in Hiraizumi||Y||N||N|
I think the strongest point of JR East Pass Special is covering for Shinjuku-Nikko limited express train. If you take limited express Nikko from Shinjuku to Nikko, the round trip fare is about 8000 yen. So if you have a plan to go to Nikko, this pass is considerable. But this pass and Japan Rail Pass do not cover Fuji Kyuko Railway that take you to Lake Kawaguchi in Mt. Fuji area. This is the strongest point of JR East Kanto area pass. You can go to Nikko by JR East Kanto area pass. But you cannot take this direct limited express train from Shinjuku by Kanto area pass. You need to take Shinkansen and local train from Utunomiya. Please see the detail of this pass at JR East Kanto Area Pass. Perfect choice for tourist who want to go to Fuji, Izu, Nikko from Tokyo..
So if you go both Fuji and Nikko, Kanto area pass may be better than JR East Pass Special. But if you go to some area in Tokyo and Tohoku, JR East Pass Special is obviously better. And don’t forget that JR East Pass Special is flex pass. You don’t need to use this pass in three consecutive days. Kanto area pass do not cover any trains in Tohoku and this pass have to be used in three consecutive days.
JR East Pass Special gives you some bonuses. This pass cover loop bus in Hiraizumi and Morioka. Especially Hiraizumi is the newest UNESCO World Heritage site in Japan. This bonuses are only for JR East Pass Special. And also this pass do not cover Takayama area. But the bus between Matsumoto and Takayama can be ridden at half price by JR East pass holder. Please see the details at Hida Takayama official website.
If you are pretty sure to travel in Tokyo and Tohoku, I strongly recommend you to purchase this pass. If you travel in Tokyo and surrounding area only, JR East Kanto area pass may be suitable for you. At last, compare the price again.
JR East Pass Special – 10,000 yen for flex 3 days, unlimited ride in Tokyo, surrounding area of Tokyo and Tohoku
JR Kanto Area Pass – 8,000 yen for 3 consecutive days, unlimited ride in Tokyo and surrounding area
Japan Rail Pass 7 days ordinary – 28,300 yen for 7 consecutive days, unlimited ride throughout Japan
If you travel in Tohoku area by this pass, that is a great support to the areas where are seriously damaged by Tsunami and earthquake. I really appreciate it!