Our family typically travels on Japan Rail Pass (JR Pass) when we’re in Japan.
If you are doing extensive traveling in Japan during your visit and especially if you know you are going to be taking Shinkansen (新幹線), Japan Rail Pass could be a great deal for you. You can purchase 7, 14, or 21-day pass. The current pricing is below.
Since the passes are priced in Yen, depending on the exchange rate the prices could fluctuate in your currency. There are different prices for adult vs. a child (6-11) and regular vs. green (business class) cars. Children 5 or under do not need a ticket but also do not get a seat. You will have to pay if the child requires a seat.
The most important part about Japan Rail Pass is that you have to purchase it outside of Japan and it is not available for purchase within Japan. A few more quick tips about the Japan Rail Pass:
- It is not a ticket and you will need to bring your pass to a JR office in Japan to exchange it for actual tickets.
- The exchange process is painstaking slow. It took over 1 hour to exchange our 4 passes and book tickets for our trip. For a single person, it will take about 20 min. You will need your passport during the exchange. For Japanese living aboard that’s using the Japan Rail Pass, you need to remember your foreign residence card or proof you live abroad.
- I highly recommend pre-planning your trip beforehand and know which day and train # you are going to take, and then book the entire trip at 1 time at the JR station. Use Google maps to plan out your trip (my tip on how to use Google Maps in Japan).
- You will need to show the Japan Rail Pass itself when entering and exiting stations along with your train ticket so keep it somewhere convenient to grab when traveling.
- You can always cancel and reschedule your tickets.