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)

Fukuoka (Hakata)217201459017530

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

  1. Hye Takeshi,

    I wanna ask your opinion on my planned route and also the availability of using the JR Pass on those routes:

    Day 1. Haneda to Shinjuku
    Day 2. Shinjuku to Odawara to Hakone to Nagoya
    Day 3. Nagoya to Takayama/ Shirakawa
    Day 4. Shirakawa to Kanazawa
    Day5. Kanazawa to Tonami to Tateyama
    Day 6. Tateyama to Nagano
    Day 7. Nagano to Tokyo ( Shibuya, Asakusa, Harajuku)
    Day 8. Depart from Tokyo at night

    Is it possible? And is it worth it to buy the JR Pass? Or better buy passes according to where we are going?

  2. Hi Takeshi,

    We will be traveling to Japan for 10 days in April 2018. This is our itinerary:

    Day 1 – Arrival in Kansai Airport in the morning, go around Osaka in the afternoon
    Day 2 – Go around Osaka
    Day 3 – Day trip to Hiroshima from Osaka
    Day 4 – Day trip to Nara from Osaka
    Day 5 – Day trip to Kyoto
    Day 6 – Day trip to Kyoto
    Day 7 – Osaka to Tokyo
    Day 8 – Go around Tokyo
    Day 9 – Day trip to Mt. Fuji
    Day 10 – Tokyo to Narita Ariport

    I would very much appreciate your advise for the pass that we need to purchase. Thank you very much.

    1. Hi Sharon,

      Please switch day 3 and 4, so you go to Hiroshima on day 4 and Nara on day 3.

      On day 1 and 2, you can choose the deal in the link below:

      Single ticket is okay for day 3.

      For day 4 to the end of your trip, you can use JR pass 7 days. But JR pass does not cover all because it does not cover city bus, subway and non JR trains. Please see the link below to find more info:


      Takeshi /

  3. Hello
    We would like to seek your advise for buying JR pass in Japan
    1) 24th Feb Arrival to 28th Feb – Tokyo Only
    2) 28th Feb -Tokyo to Toyama – via Shinkasen(
    3) 02nd Mar – Toyama to Sapporo (Flying via ANA Nippon)
    4) 02nd Mar- to 07th Mar – Sapporo

    For the seven day pass my last day for the pass will be 02nd Mar . Can the JR Pass be use for Train journey from Toyama Station to KitoKito Airport .

    Also please advise if buying JR Pass is the best way for us as we will only be using it for one long journey only which is from Tokyo to Toyama.


    1. Hi Josephine,

      JR pass does not work. Only regular fare is available for Tokyo to Toyama. Any other passes will not be cheaper than regular fare.

      You can use local deals in Tokyo. Please see the link below:

      If you travel somewhere outside Sapporo, like Asahikawa, Noboribetsu, Hakodate, you may consider using Hokkaido Rail Pass. But if you visit inside Sapporo and Otaru, Hokkaido rail pass is too expensive:


      Takeshi /

  4. 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.

    1. Hi Aileen,

      If you don’t go to Tokyo, you can follow my sample in the link below:

      If you go to Tokyo, you need JR pass.

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


      Takeshi /

  5. 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.


    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.

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


      Takeshi /

  6. 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.

      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:

      You can find the deal on arrival day from KIX to Namba in the link below:

      JR pass covers most part of your trip. But some of your trip are not covered. Please see the link below:


      Takeshi /

  7. 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,

    1. Hi Lily,

      You may use Takayama Hokuriku area pass for 5th to 9th.

      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:

      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.

      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:


      Takeshi /

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