Only 15,000 yen for unlimited ride in Tokyo and Tohoku area!!! JR East Pass Special

Narita Express is covered by both Japan Rail Pass and JR East Pass (C) Sonic Rail GardenRail pass for visitors
Narita Express is covered by both Japan Rail Pass and JR East Pass (C) Sonic Rail Garden
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Narita Express is covered by both Japan Rail Pass and JR East Pass (C) Sonic Rail Garden

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.

Area

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.

Valid period

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.

Validity

I think this chapter is most noteworthy. I show you the difference between Japan Rail Pass and JR East Pass.

Valid trains

TrainsJR East Pass SpecialJapan Rail PassKanto Area Pass
Local trainsYYY
Green classNY (Green pass)N
Limited expressYYY
Tohoku ShinkansenYYTokyo-Kuroiso
Tohoku Shinkansen HayabusaYYAdd fare
Tohoku Shinkansen Hayabusa Gran classAdd fareAdd fareAdd fare
Joetsu ShinkansenYYTokyo-Jomo Kogen
Nagano ShinkansenYYTokyo-Sakudaira
Tokaido Shinkansen (Tokyo-Kyoto/Osaka)NYN
Sanyo Shinkansen (Shin Osaka-Hakata)NYN
Kyushu Shinkansen (Shin Osaka-Hakata)NYN
Tokyo Monorail (Haneda-Hamamatsucho)YYY
Izu Kyuko line (Ito-Shimoda)YNY
Tobu line (Shinjuku to Nikko/Kinugawa-Onsen)YNN
Fuji Kyuko line (to Kawaguchiko)NNY
Hokuetsu Kyuko line (Echigo Yuzawa-Naoetsu)YNN
JR Bus to Lake TowadaNYN
Loop bus in Morioka cityYNN
Loop bus in HiraizumiYNN

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.

Conclusion

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!

Comments

  1. Kate says:

    Hi, We will be in Tokyo during Spring, please advise whether we should purchase JR East pass 5 day flexi or 7 days JR Rail pass:-

    Arrive on 13 apr planning to purchase theNex Narita to Tokyo round trip Yen5,500

    using the 5 day flexi to travel from 15 april to Nagano then take a bus to Hakuba (2 nites)

    Does JR East pass cover this route from Hakuba to Toyama Alpine route? (2 nites)

    Then Toyama to Hakone, Mt Fuji (3 nites) and back to Tokyo (1 nite) departing to Narita airport
    on 23 Apr Total 11 days stay

    appreciate your suggestions, thanks in advance

    Kindly advise

  2. Elaine says:

    Hi,
    I plan to purchase the regular JR East Pass (flexible five-day pass) for my trip in September. Can I use the pass for the following itinerary:

    1. Narita airport/JR Narita station to Nagano (Yudanaka station to be exact).
    2. After staying two nights in Nagano, we plan to head back to Tokyo (our hotel is in Shinjuku) and spend the rest of the time there (3 days to be exact). Use the pass to see sights in Shibuya, Akihabara, Asakusa, Ginza, and etc.

    Or are there better passes or cheaper alternative passes for this itinerary?

    • Takeshi Shimomura, Author of JPRail.com
      JPRail says:

      Hi Elaine,

      Round trip fare between Narita airport and Nagano is almost same as JR East pass price. So if you use more when you stay in Tokyo, JR East Pass is your choice. There is no options anyway for you other than single fares.

      The segment between Nagano and Yudanaka is not JR lines. So you have to add single fare (about 1100 yen one way) for that section.

      Cheers,

      Takeshi / JP Rail

  3. igor says:

    Hi! I will be in Japan from dec 28th till jan 21st. I wantto know if it’s possible to but the east pass for 3 non consecutive pass.

  4. Matth says:

    Following up on the first connect/question posted, we will be visiting Tokyo area for 6 total days (this includes transportation to/from narita). since the regular JR east pass is only good for 5 days @ Y20,000, can each of us buy 2 of these special passes (at the same time upon arrival at narita) since it will cover 6 days at the same price? Thanks.

    • Takeshi Shimomura, Author of JPRail.com
      JPRail says:

      Hi Matth,

      Unfortunately the valid period for the JR East Pass Special ended on June 30, 2012. Your choice is only regular JR East pass.
      Cheers,

      Takeshi / JP Rail

  5. Bai Xin says:

    Dear Sir/Madam,

    We are a group of 20 volunteers going to Tohoku areas from 21 – 25 May 2012.

    We will be there for 4 nights 5 days. On 21 May, we will travel from Tokyo to Tohoku.

    On 25 May, we will travel from Tohoku to Tokiyo Narita Airport.

    Does that mean that each of us have to get 2 JR East Pass Special in order to cover 4 nights 5 days in Tohoku?

    Thank you for advising.

    Bai Xin

    • Takeshi Shimomura, Author of JPRail.com
      JPRail says:

      Hi Bai Xin,

      First of all, I would like to thank you for your support to Japan.

      If you want to get on the train when you stay in Tohoku, you need to buy 2 passes. Or you can buy 5 days pass at 20,000 yen. It is same price as 2 X special pass. It will one day shorter. But you will stay for 5 days anyway. You don’t need to have 2 passes.

      I am wondering how much you will get on the train when you stay in Tohoku. Are you going to visit multiple places in Tohoku? If you will stay in one location and will ride local train only, you don’t need to have 2 passes. As you probably know, this pass is flex pass. You don’t need to use the pass 3 consecutive days. You can use 2 days for Narita-Tohoku round trip. And you can spend the last one day for the day when you ride the train most.

      Please make sure how much you will ride and spend more than 10,000 yen for local transfer when you stay in Tohoku.

      Regards,

      Takeshi / JP Rail

  6. About the JR East Pass Special – Flexible 3 Days, this website (https://jprail.com/travel-informations/jr-east-pass-special.html) says it covers JR Bus to lake Towada.

    1) So it covers the “Oriase” between Hachinohe – Towadako, and the “Mizumi” betwwen Aomori staion – Towadako. Is that right?
    2) How come the website: “http://www.jreast.co.jp/e/eastpass_sp/validity.html” says ” … the JR East Pass Special is not valid for JR bus rides.”

    This confused me. Could you please clarify. Thanks.

    Atchalee

    • Takeshi Shimomura, Author of JPRail.com
      JPRail says:

      Hi Atchalee,
      Sorry. That is my mistake. I just corrected my post.
      JR East pass special do not cover any JR bus. So Lake Towada bus id not covered by pass.
      Takeshi / JP Rail

  7. Andy says:

    For popular trains is it possible to just book the reservation (get a friend in Japan to do so) and then use the rail pass as the ticket when I arrive in Japan?

  8. Is there a limit on the luggage being taken on the Shikansen between Sendai and Tokyo? If yes, what is the limitation? Thank you!

    • Takeshi Shimomura, Author of JPRail.com
      JPRail says:

      Hi Jean,
      You can take two pieces of baggage. W+H+D must be less than 250cm per bag and must be less than 30kg per bag.
      Takeshi / JP Rail

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