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Which of the 7 JR passes is right for me?

Explore Japan by train
Explore Japan by train

UPDATED on 11/10/2017

The countrywide JR Pass is the ideal solution for those planning an extensive trip to Japan. This pass enables travel on your own terms, at your own pace.

However, if you want to explore a particular region in depth, there are regional passes covering all four islands. Learn more about the different JR Passes available and the kinds of adventures you can have in each region. Rail Plus offers 6 regional passes to suit your travel needs.

Japan Rail regional map
Regional Passes in Japan

Where to go with a JR Pass

A JR Pass will grant you unlimited travel on most JR trains with the freedom to travel at your own pace. You can choose to explore all of Japan or just specific regions.

There are several types of rail pass available for the Japan Rail network including:

JR Pass: Unlimited travel on Japan Railways, affiliated buses, & ferries.

JR Hokkaido Pass: for rail travel on the island of Hokkaido.

JR East Pass (2 passes) - Nagano, Niigata Area: Greater Tokyo, Nagano & Niigata prefectures & Shonai Region of Yamagata Prefecture. Tohoku Area: The JR East Tohoku area has many natural attractions and historical World Heritage Sites.

JR West (Kansai Wide Area Rail Pass): for travel in the Kansai Area: Shiga, Tsuruga, the Nankai Area, the Okayama Area and Kinosaki-Onsen.

JR All Shikoku Pass: for rail travel in Shikoku.

JR Kyushu Pass: for rail travel on the island of Kyushu.

JR Northern Kyushu Pass: for rail travel in the Northern part of the island of Kyushu.

 

1. JR Kansai Wide Area Rail Pass: for rail travel in the Kansai area.

The Kansai Wide area JR Pass offers five consecutive days of unlimited travel in the Kansai Region of Japan's largest island, Honshu. Regions of interest are Okayama where

Top attractions to visit

  • Kyoto attractions include Kinkaku-ji an iconic Golden Pavillion, Nijo Castle a historic wooden castle with secret squeaking floorboard to alert for intruders, Fushimi Inari Taisha the famous red wooden gates leading to a cherished Shinto Shrine and Arashiyama an otherworldly bamboo groove.
  • Osaka sights to see include, Dotonbori street (neon lights and incredible Japanese cuisine), Universal studios, Umeda Sky Building and Osaka Castle.
  • Nara Park is a deer park located a mere 5-minute walk from Kintetsu Nara Station. Nara is a must-see town and can be reached by utilising the JR West (Kansai region) Rail Pass.
  • Visit the Okayama Korakuen Gardens, stroll along the Asahi river and partake in white peach picking at Tomomien Fruit Farm and Nishiyama Farm. Okayama is conveniently located only 1 hour from Kyoto and takes only 35 minutes from Hiroshima by Shinkansen.

 

2. JR East Pass: for rail travel the Eastern half of Japan's main island - Honshu.

JR East Pass offers two separate passes: one for Tohoku area, and one for Nagano and Niigata area.

Zenkoji Temple in Nagano
Zenkoji Temple in Nagano 

 

The area that is covered by the JR East - Tohoku Area Pass will allow you to discover the abundance of natural beauty and quality hot springs that the region is famous for, plus you will be able to explore the numerous national treasures and historical World Heritage Sites.

Stroll around Tokyo, one of the world's great megalopolises, take a trip on a Shinkansen or enjoy a relaxing ride on a resort train or a local line. Or even do all of these activities during your stay in Japan. Spread your wings in the Tohoku area. We guarantee you will encounter a Japan you never knew existed.

Nagano and Niigata area: Start with a trip from Narita Airport or Haneda Airport to Tokyo, for example, then ride around, and maybe hop aboard the Shinkansen or a limited express to Nagano or Niigata. In addition to JR East lines, the JR East Pass - Nagano, Niigata Area Pass allows rides on some non-JR trains in the Izu and Nikko areas.

JR East Tohoku Map
JR East - Tohoku area
JR East Nagano Niiagata Map
JR East - Nagano, Niigata Area

3. JR Hokkaido Pass: for rail travel on the island of Hokkaido.

The snowy landscape of Hokkaido is a breath of fresh air and is renowned for it deep soft powder, ideal for skiing and snowboarding. The island's capital Sapporo is known for welcoming its visitors with its stunning landscapes, framed by mountains and parks. We're giving you a sneak preview of what to expect on a trip to Sapporo, and how you can maximise your time in our article, Discover Sapporo with the JR Hokkaido Pass.

 

4. JR Kyushu Pass: for rail travel on the island of Kyushu.

Sea Hell Beppu Japan
Sea Hell Beppu Japan

Kyushu is famous for its active volcanoes, golden sandy beaches, and natural hot springs. Kyushu is home to one of the world's largest calderas (a large volcanic crater on Mount Aso) and some of the best surfing spots in the country.

Why not sample shochu, a strong spirit found in Kyushu bars that tend to get stronger the further south you travel?

The JR Kyushu Rail Pass is the perfect way to explore this fascinating island. Great Japanese cities to explore by rail are;  Fukuoka, Beppu, Mt. Aso, Kumamoto, Miyazaki, Saga, Kagoshima, Nagasaki and Oita 

 

5. JR Northern Kyushu Pass: for rail travel in the northern part of the island of Kyushu.

Kumamoto Castle Kumamoto island of Kyushu onpage 380
Kumamoto Castle Kumamoto (island of Kyushu)

 

The JR Northern Kyushu pass gives you access to a number of the islands key natural attractions including the hot springs of Beppu and the untamed volcanic landscape of Mt Aso.

This Pass also enables you to see some of the islands famous cultural sites like the city of Nagasaki which has played a key role throughout Japans naval and military history.

Another city of interest is Kumamoto, famous for its imposing castle which was the site of the samurai rebels last stand against the Meiji government in 1877.

 

 

 

6. JR All Shikoku Pass: for rail travel in Shikoku.

Shikoku is known for natural beauty and peaceful Buddhist lifestyles. Life on the smallest Japanese island runs at a slower pace and is a great escape.

The JR Shikoku Pass grants you access to over 1,100 km of rail in the region. Explore the holy mountain of Ishizuchi-san or discover the deserted white sands of Ohkinohama a journey not many travellers lay claim to.

In the western part of Tokushima, near the centre of Shikoku, the Iya area is one of the most remote part of Japan. The vine-made suspension bridge over the Iya River is called Iya no Kazurabashi and is one of Japan's three rare bridges.

 

NEXT Series: Which class of Japan Rail Pass should I select?

Japan Rail Pass Green Class (First class)
NEXT Series: Which class of Japan Rail Pass should I select?
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