JR Pass Guide — 9 Things You Need To Know Before Getting Your First Japan Rail Pass


Travelling to Japan? A JR Pass won’t be what you’re on the lookout for, learn on to search out out!

Whole Japan JR Pass - JR Pass Guide

Train journey is without doubt one of the quintessential experiences when travelling in Japan so it’s no shock a JR Pass is likely to be the very first thing you look to get.

Travelling through Japan rail may be actually dear — a single 2.5hr journey from Tokyo to Osaka through the Shinkansen will set you again ¥14,720 (~S$150). But that additionally means if deliberate out nicely, you will get much more worth than what you pay for a JR Pass.

Train Conductor at Shinkansen South Tohoku - JR Pass Guide

Other than Whole Japan JR Passes, there are regional passes which may be half the worth of the Whole Japan JR Pass.

During an eight-day journey exploring the Kansai area, we travelled with the 5 Day Kansai-Hiroshima JR Pass (~S$148) and managed to cowl 9 cities whereas saving a complete of ¥20,880 (~S$206) — as in comparison with travelling on single-trip tickets.

Unlimited rides on the Shinkansen apart, some JR passes additionally cowl limitless transport on the native JR Trains, JR ferries in addition to JR buses.

The largest downside although is planning your route and deciding which of the 20 over completely different JR passes it is best to get. Follow these 9 steps and also you’ll by no means need to google elsewhere for solutions to your JR Pass.

JR Pass Itineraries:

Kansai-Hiroshima JR-Pass - Travelling Around Japan

5 Day Kansai Hiroshima Pass: 8-Day Japan Itinerary: 9 Cities in Kansai for below S$900 — Osaka, Kobe, Himeji, Hiroshima, Miyajima, Okunoshima, Naoshima, Kyoto, Nara
7 Day Whole Japan JR Pass: 10-Day Japan Rail Itinerary For First Timers Under S$900 — Tokyo, Hakone, Kamakura, Yokohama, Nagoya, Osaka, Kyoto
7 Day Whole Japan JR Pass: 8-Day Japan Winter Itinerary For Less Than S$1.2k — Tokyo, Fox Village, Kawaguchi, Nagano Snow Monkey Park, Takayama, Shirakawago, Osaka.

1) Plan Your Route

Map of Shinkansen Lines - JR Pass Guide

Photo credit score: Japan-guide

Which cities would you want to go to? If two or extra fall below Shinkansen traces that aren’t adjoining to one another, likelihood is, you’ll require a Whole Japan JR Pass.

The commonest route for this cross is a spherical journey from Tokyo to Osaka as a result of that alone will exceed the fee you pay for the JR Pass.

2) Decide on Your JR Pass

Kansai Hiroshima JR Pass - Travelling Around Japan

Whole Japan VS Regional JR Passes

There are over 20 completely different JR Passes — with various days, time flexibility and areas lined. Most folks gravitate in direction of the Whole Japan JR Pass — you get limitless rides on many of the JR trains and free seat reservations. But it additionally comes with a hefty price ticket of ¥30,000–60,000 (~S$292–596).

Whole Japan JR Passes: 7 days, 14 days, 21 days (all Whole Japan JR Passes are for consecutive days solely)

If you’re planning to cowl cities throughout completely different areas e.g. Tokyo within the Kanto area and Osaka within the Kansai area, the Whole Japan JR Pass is the one cross that covers this journey.

Read additionally: 10-Day Japan Itinerary — Tokyo to Osaka With The JR Pass for $1.1k

Tokyo Tower - Travelling Around Japan

Japan is large and maybe one of the simplest ways to essentially get probably the most out of your journey is to discover in areas. If you propose your route nicely and know the particular areas you’d prefer to cowl, the regional passes are undoubtedly less expensive.

Here are a number of the key regional passes you will get:

Bihoro Pass Observatory - Budget Hokkaido Itinerary

Read More

3) Purchase Your JR cross in Singapore

JR Kyushu Rail Pass - JR Pass Guide

Plan per week forward earlier than your journey and order your passes on-line through Klook — they’re undoubtedly cheaper than getting from Japan.

Some passes just like the Whole Japan JR Pass would require an alternate voucher (acquired through mail in Singapore) whereas others may be collected straight in Japan by displaying an e-ticket. More on assortment in level (6).

Check out the total checklist of passes accessible on Klook right here

4) Use Japan Travel by Navitime to Plan Your Routes

Train Routes on Japan Travel App - JR Pass Guide

Some trains don’t arrive continuously so failing to plan your route can lead to a 1-2 hour wait on the station (when you can spend the time exploring as an alternative). While Google maps does a fairly good job whenever you’re on the go, it doesn’t present you which ones transport cross is legitimate for which trains.

Japan Travel Search Bar - JR Pass Guide

On the opposite hand, Japan Travel by Navitime has a Tourist Pass possibility so you possibly can plan your route accordingly to the prepare cross you’ve gotten. It additionally reveals the prepare timetable in addition to different transport choices like buses, taxis, and ferries. What’s extra, the service is free and comes as a web site and app!

*Pro-tip: Use the app as an alternative of the web site because the app will present you further particulars corresponding to which prepare platform quantity and carriage to board from.

5) Trains lined by JR Pass

Nankai Express Trains - Travelling Around Japan

When trying to find trains through Japan Travel, you’re more likely to see various kinds of Shinkansen trains with various durations corresponding to Nozomi/Mizuho, Hikari and Kodama.

Nozomi trains are the quickest as they make the least stops, adopted by Hikari and Kodama which stops at each station. JR Pass holders are solely allowed on Hikari and Kodama trains. To get an thought, listed below are the stops every prepare makes from Tokyo to Osaka.

Nozomi (2.5hrs): Tokyo, Shinagawa, Shin-Yokohama, Nagoya, Kyoto, Shin-Osaka

Hikari (3hrs): Tokyo, Shinagawa, Shin-Yokohama, Shizuoka, Hamamatsu, Nagoya, Gifu-Hashima, Maibara, Kyoto, Shin-Osaka

Kodama (4hrs): Tokyo, Shinagawa, Shin-Yokohama, Odawara, Atami, Mishima, Shinfuji, Shizuoka, Kakegawa, Hamamatsu, Toyohashi, Mikawa-Anjo, Nagoya, Gifu-Hashima, Maibara, Kyoto, Shin-Osaka

6) Collecting Your JR Pass in Japan

JR East Travel Service Center - JR Pass Guide

Whole Japan JR Pass: Prepare your passport and alternate voucher (delivered to your tackle in Singapore) and head to the closest JR Travel Service Centre. There’s normally one on the airport and main stations like Tokyo or Shin-Osaka station. You might be requested whenever you’d prefer to activate the cross so you possibly can accumulate it first and have it begin in a while the journey.

Regional JR Pass: You’ll want to substantiate when reserving however most JR West Passes don’t require any pre-trip assortment. If you’re ordering from Klook, simply head to the gathering counter on the airport together with your QR code (from the app) prepared in hand. You’ll be handed the cross you need to use immediately. These passes solely activate in your first journey out.

Redeem JR Passes at Green Ticketing Machine - JR Pass Guide

*Pro-tip: For a fuss-free technique, you too can use the green-ticketing machines at sure prepare stations to redeem your regional JR Passes by scanning the QR code.

7) Making Seat Reservations

Narita Express to Narita Airport - JR Pass Guide

Seat reservations can solely be made when you’ve gotten collected your JR cross and are free for Whole Japan JR cross holders. Regional JR cross holders may must pay a top-up price for reservations, relying on the kind of cross.

To reserve, simply head to any “Travel Services”, “Train Reservation”, or inexperienced ticketing machines at any main JR station together with your begin/finish station and time.

If you’ve gotten a change of plans, modifications/cancellations to the reservation are free for Whole Japan JR cross holders.

8) Entering The Station With Your JR Pass

Train Tickets at the Station - Travelling Around Japan

Look out for gantries the place you possibly can insert the ticket into the machine as you gained’t be capable to simply “tap and go”.

Note that JR Stations are separate from the native metros so in case you’re travelling on a metro, you’ll must exit and find a separate JR Station gantry.

9) Finding The Right Platform And Seat

Train Platform Signs - Travelling Around Japan

At the doorway gantry, look out for the massive overhanging digital board. This will inform you what platform your prepare is at.

Once you’re on the fitting platform, the digital boards right here will inform you which “cars” are for non-reserved ticket holders. Always examine the time of departure as a result of there are at all times a number of trains departing from the identical platform.

Train Car Number - Travelling Around Japan

If you’ve gotten reserved tickets, examine the Car quantity on the ground. This may very well be completely different for various trains (e.g. Hikari or Kodama).

Kodama 692 non reserved JR Train - JR Pass Guide

If you arrive early and want to queue up for non-reserved seats, there are normally not less than two separate queues. Check the sting of the platform to ensure you’re in the fitting queue.

Other continuously requested questions on JR Pass

1) Osaka Station Vs Shin-Osaka Station

You may realise a number of the stations has “Shin” in entrance corresponding to Shin-Osaka and Shin-Kobe, that are in reality completely different stations from Osaka and Kobe Station.

Local traces can carry you to the Shin-xxx stations however the Shinkansen will go away from the Shin-xxx station. When you arrive at Shin-Osaka through a neighborhood prepare, you’ll need to enter a separate gantry for the Shinkansen platform.

Dotonbori street in Osaka Japan - Travelling Around Japan

Dotonbori, Osaka – A Gastronomic’s heaven

2) Ordinary Car Vs Green Car

Green Car mainly means extra premium and spacious seats, that are normally accessible on the Shinkansen (bullet prepare) and Tokkyū (restricted specific) trains. Kind of like first-class seats on flights.

Honestly the Ordinary automobiles are already fairly spacious and comfortable however in case you’re holding on to an Ordinary Car Japan Rail Pass and want to expertise the Green Car, you possibly can pay a top-up price on the JR counters for a single improve too.

FAQs about Whole Japan JR Pass

1) I’m travelling from Tokyo – Osaka/Kyoto – Tokyo and nothing else in between. Is it nonetheless value getting a Whole Japan JR Pass?

Sunrise Izumo train from Osaka to Tokyo - JR Pass Guide

Yes! Just the spherical journey between Tokyo and Osaka/Kyoto is definitely worth the 7 Day Whole Japan JR Pass. But on prime of the 2 rides, you’ll be capable to use the cross on native JR trains or buses in every metropolis.

If you’re flying in from Tokyo and out from Osaka (or vice-versa), it’d make extra sense to buy a single Shinkansen ticket (¥14,720) and get a regional cross as an alternative. Check out our eight-day Kansai itinerary for extra concepts! 🙂

2) Does the JR Pass cowl the journey from Narita Airport to Tokyo Station/Kansai Airport to Osaka station?

Yes to each! From Narita (NRT), you possibly can take the JR Narita Express (NEX) and attain Tokyo station in 53 minutes at no cost. However, in case you plan to activate your JR cross later within the journey, a less expensive (& sooner) different is the Keisei Skyliner (41 minutes to Tokyo Main Station).

From Kansai (KIX), each the Kansai Airport Rapid Service (65 minutes to Osaka Station) and the Limited Express Haruka (50 minutes to Shin-Osaka) are lined by the JR Pass. If you’re travelling to/from the airport with out your JR cross, pre-book the Nankai Line Airport Express as an alternative. It solely takes 35 minutes from Namba station and prices ~S$11 on Klook.

3) Should I start my journey from Tokyo or Osaka?

For me, the largest deciding issue was whether or not I’m there for USJ in Osaka or the Tokyo Disney Parks. Since these parks take up a complete day and also you gained’t be utilizing the JR Pass that day, it is sensible to activate the cross later whenever you’re leaving town as a result of these prepare rides will value extra.

Butterbeer at The Wizarding World of Harry Potter - Travelling Around Japan

Can’t resolve which theme park to take a look at? Read our in depth theme park guides to search out out extra!

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We hope you discovered this JR Pass Guide helpful particularly for these residing in Singapore!

Let us know within the feedback sections under if we missed out something you’d prefer to learn about travelling with Japan Rail Passes. That approach we are able to hold the information updated! 🙂

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