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What is a JR Pass?

Japan Rail Pass - unlimited train travel on Japan (JR lines)
Japan Rail Pass - unlimited train travel on Japan (JR lines)

UPDATED: 12th December 2017

JR Pass (or Japan rail pass) is a fantastic asset for those travelling through Japan.

Not only is a JR Pass one of the most convenient ways to explore this beautiful, diverse country, it is also incredible value for money. This cost-effective pass offers unlimited train travel and was designed to encourage tourism in Japan.

Travelling Japan by rail is a cultural experience not to be missed. You'll be impressed with the speed, efficiency and state of the art technology and the efforts the Japanese have done to make rail travel the most convenient, comfortable experience.


japan shinkansen
Shinkansen travelling past Mt Fuji

The Japan Rail Pass

A Japan Rail Pass is designed purely for visitors to Japan and cannot be purchased by Japanese local. It's important to know that the JR Pass should be purchased before you arrive, so it's best to order one at least 1 month before you leave. 

The pass can be used on all JR Group Railways including Shinkansen (except Mizuho and Nozomi), limited express trains, express trains, and rapid or local trains, as well as JR Bus Companies.

Highlights of using the JR Pass are unlimited travel on the Shinkansen bullet trains. These high-speed technological marvels travel at speeds of 300 km/h and connect Tokyo with Japans major cities. For example, a trip from Tokyo to Kyoto is only 2 hours 15 minutes and you will pass stunning views of Mt Fuji, Japan's national treasure.


How long can I use my JR Pass?

japan train autumn onpage 380
Japan local train


The length of your JR Pass validity depends on how long you choose to travel Japan by rail. Choose your Japan rail pass from a 7,14 or 21-day consecutive (travel daily) day option depending on your travel duration.

Buying individual tickets each time you travel, restricts you to a specific train, departing at a set time. Purchasing a JR pass is a more cost-effective option, offering far better value for money.

Are you planning a trip to Japan and wondering whether the Japan Rail Pass is really worth it? Check out our handy comparison guide to the Japan Rail Pass vs Point to Point Train Tickets, and find out how much you can really save with a JR pass.


JR Pass Inclusions

All JR Group Railways

  • All bullet trains (Shinkansen), limited express and rapid or local trains are included with the Japan Rail Pass.
  • Not included on the Japan Rail Pass is the Nozomi and Mizuho Shinkansen trains.

Select buses and the Miyajima  Miyajimaguchi Ferry

Narita Express train (N'EX)

  • A fast, convenient and comfortable way to travel between Tokyo's Narita Airport and major stations in the Tokyo metropolitan area.
  • Seat reservations are compulsory but are free of charge for Japan Rail Pass holders.
  • Exchange your voucher and reserve your seat at a JR Exchange office at Narita Airport and you're ready to go.

Tokyo Monorail (Haneda Airport) and the Kansai Airport Rapid Service (Osaka)

Sit back in your seat and relax as you are transported through the countryside, admiring the scenery and enjoying a conversation with other passengers. Stories with locals are never forgotten and make a trip exploring Japan all the more memorable.


Please note: The JR Pass covers travel on all JR rail lines (it is not valid on the Nozomi and Mizuho trains.) These trains require tickets for Sakura, Tsubame, Kodama and Hikari services.


Japanese Train Conductor -all aboard!
Japan Conductor


Arriving in Japan and using your JR Pass

Purchase an Exchange Order from Rail Plus and on arrival, you simply exchange the voucher for a Japan Rail pass.

When ready to use your Exchange Order, take it to an authorised Japan Rail Pass exchange office and swap it for the actual JR pass. JR exchange offices are found at select rail stations or at the following airports - Narita, Kansai or Chitose. The location of all JR Rail Offices will be clearly outlined in your documentation.



You may use your JR Pass immediately or specify a later date for activation. Bear in mind that you will need to show your passport with your Japanese tourist visa to redeem your JR Pass - it is important all details match your passport exactly. JR office staff will be more than happy to assist you should you require it.

Travellers must meet certain criteria to use these passes. To be eligible to purchase a Japan Rail Pass, you must meet one of the following 2 criteria.

1. You are a foreign tourist visiting Japan for sightseeing, under the entry status of temporary visitor. Only persons who have a passport bearing this stamp can use a Japan Rail Pass.

2. Japanese Nationals who have both their Japanese passport and WRITTEN PROOF - obtained from the embassy or legation of Japan in the foreign country where they live - that have been living legally in the country for 10 consecutive years or more are allowed to purchase a Japan Rail Pass. Note: persons meeting conditions a or b will be required to show proof of the same at the time of purchase.

NEXT Series: Which of the 7 JR passes is right for me?

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