Compare Japan Rail Pass and regular fare. Which one has a greater value or cheap?

Tokaido Shinkansen
Most common fleet of Tokaido-Sanyo Shinkansen N700 sereis, a.k.a. Bullet train.

When you think about buying Japan Rail Pass, you may compare the price of Japan Rail Pass and a single fare. But it is very hard to get an exact fare because the fare rule of Japan Railway is so complicated. So I will give you some examples and consider which way has greater value.

Narita airport to Kyoto for round trip

Base Fare: 18060yen
Surcharge: 3220yen (Narita Airport-Tokyo), 10480yen (Tokyo-Kyoto)

Total Cost: 31760yen

As long as you travel within 7 days, Ordinary 7 days pass (28300yen) is cheaper than a regular fare.

Narita airport to Sendai for round trip

Base Fare: 13660yen
Surcharge: 3220yen (Narita Airport-Tokyo), 9620yen (Tokyo-Sendai)
Total Cost: 26500yen

Ordinary 7 days pass (28300yen) is more expensive, but I go for the pass. Because the pass can be used during staying in Tokyo and Sendai. And also there are some popular sightseeing spots, such as Matsushima or Yamadera, around Sendai. You can use your pass to travel to these spots.

Yamakasa Festival in Hakata
Yamakasa Festival in Hakata

Narita airport to Hakata (Fukuoka) for round trip

Base Fare: 25320yen
Surcharge: 3220yen (Narita Airport-Tokyo), 16560yen (Tokyo-Hakata)
Total Cost: 45100yen

It is exactly same price as Ordinary 14 days pass. If your trip is in 7 days, of course 7 days pass is a great deal!
Even if you travel more than 8 days, the pass is much easier to handle. And also you may have an extra trip.
Anyway if you go to Kyushu island, the pass recover your cost easily.

Narita airport to Sapporo for round trip

Base Fare: 25880yen
Surcharge: 3220yen (Narita Airport-Tokyo), 12000yen (Tokyo-Hachinohe), 2400yen (Hachinohe-Hakodate), 3030yen (Hakodate-Sapporo)
Total Cost: 46530yen

Ordinary 14 days pass is much better choice obviously. If you have an itinerary that includes Hokkaido island, choose the pass.

Fare table of major sections

I show you some base fares. Please use these fares to compare to the price of Japan Rail Pass. But this is just standard fare. If you have Multi-city travel, the fare may be cheaper. These following fares are based on Shinkansen and daytime limited express trains. (As of April 2012)

station Tokyo Osaka Nagoya
Sapporo 23270 32400 30180
Aomori 16870 26110 26250
Akita 16810 26250 24030
Sendai 10390 21390 19170
Yamagata 11030 21830 19930
Niigata 10720 21390 19170
Nagoya 10580 6180
Takayama 13300 10310 5870
Kanazawa 14120 7440 8280
Osaka 13750 6180
Hiroshima 18050 9950 13430
Fukuoka (Hakata) 21720 14590 17530
Kumamoto 24750 18320 20450
Kagoshima 28030 21600 23730
station Hakodate Kushiro Abashiri Asahikawa
Sapporo 8590 9120 9640 4520
station Nagasaki Yufuin Beppu/Oita Kumamoto Miyazaki Kagoshima-Chuo
Fukuoka 4580 4430 5420 4990 9140 10170

238 thoughts on “Compare Japan Rail Pass and regular fare. Which one has a greater value or cheap?”

  1. Hello Takeshi,
    4 of us inclusive 2 students (16yrs and 13 yrs) will stay 8 nights in Osaka. We wish to travel places inclusive Kyoto, Nara, Kobe. A day trip to Tokyo maybe. We will go back Tsuruhashi station daily which is the nearest station to the place we stay in Higashinari-ku.

    What is the best rail pass for us?

    Many thanks.
    Aileen

    1. Hi Aileen,

      If you don’t go to Tokyo, you can follow my sample in the link below:
      https://jprail.com/sample-itineraries/7days/how-to-build-the-itinerary-and-choose-the-deals-for-osaka-stay-5-to-7-days.html

      If you go to Tokyo, you need JR pass.
      https://jprail.com/travel-informations/other-rail-passes/rail-pass-for-visitors/japan-rail-pass-user-guide-how-to-use-jr-pass-to-its-maximum.html

      There is no students discount. Adult fare applies to 12 year or older.

      Cheers,

      Takeshi / JPRail.com

  2. Hello,
    I am Shruti from India. We are booked to visit Japan from 24th Nov to 2nd Dec. Your site has been rather helpful in getting some info on JR Pass but I am still unsure. Kindly provide guidance if we should buy the JR Pass for the limited days and itinerary

    24th Nov – Arrive at Narita Airport by noon. Spend night in Tokyo
    25th Nov – 27th Nov – Tokyo to Kyoto
    27th Nov – 2nd Dec – Tokyo
    We plan to take one day trip to Hakone around 29th Nov and Nikko on 1st Dec.

    I am not sure if we should buy the JR pass for such a short time. Would buying Individual tickets to Kyoto / Hakone / Nikko be cheaper ?
    Would JR pass cover local bus / ferry / bicycle travel in Kyoto ?
    Can we use JR pass to travel to Hakone and Nikko ?

    Your advice would be deeply appreciated.

    Regards
    Shruti

    1. Hi Shruti,

      JR pass is your choice. 7 days pass is almost same cost as Tokyo-Kyoto round trip base fare with Shinkansen surcharge. You will make some more trips, so you can get the worth of it easily.

      Please see the links below to find the coverage of JR pass in Kyoto, Nikko and Hakone.
      https://jprail.com/destinations/kansai-area/guide-to-take-trains-in-kyoto-how-to-choose-the-best-route-by-train-to-get-the-major-spots.html
      https://jprail.com/travel-informations/tips-for-japan-rail-pass/how-to-get-hakone-from-tokyo-compare-japan-railway-and-odakyu-lines.html
      https://jprail.com/destinations/world-heritage-destinations/how-to-access-to-nikko-from-tokyo-there-are-three-ways-from-tokyo-shinjuku-and-asakusa.html

      JR pass basically covers only JR trains. It does not cover non JR trains, subway, city bus and any other transports.

      Cheers,

      Takeshi / JPRail.com

  3. hi sir. i m ili from malaysia. i would like to ask u regarding what type of card should i take for 10days in japan. i m still blur which card is better for my trip.
    this is my itinenary:

    16/11 from kansai airpot to namba
    17/11 namba to nara . then from nara to kyoto
    18/11 walking around kyoto
    19/11 from kyoto to kawaguchi lake
    20/11 kawaguchi lake to tokyo
    21/11 walking around tokyo
    22/11 disneysea
    23/11 asakusa , tokyo to osaka
    24/11 osaka to kobe
    25/11 6.30am -kansai airport

    thank u so much in advance sir.

    1. Hi ili,

      You may use JR pass 7 days from 19th to the end of your trip. But if you mean 6:30 is the flight departure time from KIX, you cannot take trains because it’s too early. You need to take early morning bus.
      http://www.kate.co.jp/en/timetable/detail/UM

      There is no other ways to get KIX in early morning. You have to get Umeda first to take this bus. You may need to take a taxi if you don’t stay near Umeda.

      In this case, you can start using JR Pass on 17th. Please see the link below to find the JR train network in Kansai region:
      https://jprail.com/travel-informations/tips-for-japan-rail-pass/how-to-transfer-among-kyoto-osaka-and-kobe-compare-japan-railway-and-private-lines.html

      You can find the deal on arrival day from KIX to Namba in the link below:
      https://jprail.com/sample-itineraries/airport-access/kansai-kix/how-to-choose-the-deals-for-access-tofrom-kansai-airport.html

      JR pass covers most part of your trip. But some of your trip are not covered. Please see the link below:
      https://jprail.com/travel-informations/other-rail-passes/rail-pass-for-visitors/japan-rail-pass-user-guide-how-to-use-jr-pass-to-its-maximum.html#How_to_use_JR_pass_in_major_cities_and_tourist_spots

      Cheers,

      Takeshi / JPRail.com

  4. Hello Takeshi,

    We really need your helps !
    We would like to visit Osaka – Kanazawa – Shirakawa-go and Kyoto in this 4th to 12th December, 8 days trip as below in Japan.

    4th Dec 9.40pm arrive Kansai airport ,stay at Osaka
    4 -6 Dec, Osaka -Namba
    7-Dec Kanazawa – Horikawashinmachi 2-25
    8-Dec Shirakawa-go- Nanto, Ainokura 395
    9 -12 Dec Kyoto-Shimogyo-ku Nishishichijo Minamitukiyomicho 101,
    12-Dec 10pm Depart from Kansai airport

    Need your help to advise which are the suitable pass that we should use for the above trip.

    Your helps will be much appreciated

    Best Regards,
    Lily

    1. Hi Lily,

      You may use Takayama Hokuriku area pass for 5th to 9th.
      https://jprail.com/travel-informations/other-rail-passes/rail-pass-for-visitors/takayama-hokuriku-area-pass-perfect-deal-to-get-takayama-kanazawa-toyama-shirakawago-from-nagoya-or-osaka.html

      This pass does not cover subway and city bus in Osaka. You can take JR local train but you may need to add single fare or other pass. Please see the link below:
      https://jprail.com/travel-informations/tips-for-japan-rail-pass/guide-to-take-trains-in-osaka-how-to-choose-the-best-route-by-train-to-get-the-major-spots.html
      https://jprail.com/travel-informations/other-rail-passes/rail-pass-for-residents/how-to-choose-the-best-train-pass-for-sightseeing-in-osaka.html

      Please see the link below for find the deal to get Osaka from KIX. Haruka discount ticket is the best one from Kyoto to KIX.
      https://jprail.com/sample-itineraries/airport-access/kansai-kix/how-to-choose-the-deals-for-access-tofrom-kansai-airport.html

      You will use Takayama Hokuriku area pass until you get Kyoto. After arriving Kyoto, this pass does not help anything. You need to add other deal in Kyoto. Please see the link below:
      https://jprail.com/travel-informations/other-rail-passes/rail-pass-for-residents/how-to-choose-the-best-train-pass-for-sightseeing-in-kyoto.html

      Cheers,

      Takeshi / JPRail.com

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