Japan Rail Pass
The Japan Rail Pass (ジャパンレールパス japan rēru pasu?), also called the JR Pass, is a rail pass for overseas visitors sold by the Japan Railways Group, and is valid for travel on all major forms of transportation provided by the JR Group in Japan, with a few exceptions. The Rail Pass is designed to stimulate travel and tourism throughout the country.
The Rail Pass comes in two varieties, one for each class of service, Standard Car (普通車 Futsūsha?) and Green Car (グリーン車 Gurīnsha?) (first class car). Furthermore, the pass is time limited based on the length of pass purchased. Three time periods are available: seven-day, fourteen-day and twenty-one-day passes, which provide the user unlimited use of JR transportation services. The table below summarizes the prices for each pass. The amounts are listed in Japanese Yen. When purchasing the Exchange Order (see below), the purchaser will pay the appropriate amount in the purchaser's home country currency based on the current exchange rate.
|Class||7 Day||14 Day||21 Day|
While the Rail Pass is sold by the JR Group, it is obtained by purchasing an Exchange Order from a travel agency located outside Japan. The exchange order can also be purchased from Japan-based airlines such as Japan Airlines or All Nippon Airways. The Exchange Order cannot be obtained in Japan. However, from Mar 8, 2017 to Mar 31, 2018, as part of a trial basis, the Japan Rail Pass will be available for direct purchase in Japan at a select number of major airports and train stations, though at a higher price.
The Exchange Order itself cannot be used for travel, and must be exchanged at a JR Midori no Madoguchi ticket office. It can be exchanged at the following designated major JR train stations.
- Kushiro Station
- Obihiro Station
- Asahikawa Station
- Sapporo Station
- New Chitose Airport Station
- Hakodate Station
- Hachinohe Station
- Sendai Station
- Yamagata Station
- Fukushima Station
- Niigata Station
- Kanazawa Station
- Narita Airport Station
- Narita Airport Terminal 2 Station
- Haneda Airport International Terminal Station*
- Tokyo Station
- Ueno Station
- Shinjuku Station
- Shibuya Station
- Ikebukuro Station
- Shinagawa Station
- Yokohama Station
- Shin-Yokohama Station
- Odawara Station
- Mishima Station
- Shizuoka Station
- Hamamatsu Station
- Nagoya Station
- Kyoto Station
- Shin-Ōsaka Station
- Ōsaka Station
- Kansai Airport Station
- Sannomiya Station
- Okayama Station
- Hiroshima Station
- Shimonoseki Station
- Takamatsu Station
- Matsuyama Station
- Kokura Station
- Hakata Station
- Nagasaki Station
- Kumamoto Station
- Ōita Station
- Miyazaki Station
- Kagoshima-Chūō Station
*This station is on the Tokyo Monorail line. JR East maintains a travel service center at this station where the pass can be obtained.
The pass is valid for travel on Japan Railways Group (JR) transportation throughout the country in the class of service indicated on the pass on the following lines:
- Shinkansen, except Nozomi and Mizuho services
- Limited express (特急 Tokkyū?)
- Express (急行 Kyūkō?)
- Local (普通 Futsū?), including Rapid (快速 Kaisoku?) and Special Rapid (特別快速・新快速 Tokubetsu-Kaisoku/Shin-Kaisoku?) services
The pass is also valid on the following non-JR lines:
- Tokyo Monorail between Hamamatsuchō and Haneda Airport
- Aoimori Railway for journeys starting and ending at Hachinohe and Aomori only, and for journeys from these stations to Noheji and the JR East Ōminato Line.
The pass is valid on the local routes of the following bus companies:
- JR Hokkaido Bus Company
- JR Bus Tohoku Company
- JR Bus Kantō Company
- JR Tōkai Bus Company
- West JR Bus Company
- Chūgoku JR Bus Company
- JR Shikoku Bus Company
- JR Kyushu Bus Company
The pass is valid on the following highway bus routes:
- Sapporo – Otaru
- Morioka – Hirosaki
- Tokyo – Nagoya, Kyoto, Osaka, Tsukuba Center
- Nagoya – Kyōto, Ōsaka
- Ōsaka – Tsuyama, Kasai Flower Center
Effective with passes issued April 1, 2013, the Japan Rail Pass will no longer be valid on express bus routes.
The pass is also valid for travel on JR Ferry service on the following route:
Conditions of exchange
The Rail Pass is designed for tourist use, and therefore has conditions for its purchase and exchange.
The user must meet one of the following two conditions:
- A foreign tourist visiting Japan, who has a passport bearing the "Temporary Visitor" entry status stamped at immigration, and who can present the actual passport at the time of exchange. A photocopy of the passport is not acceptable.
- A Japanese national living in a foreign country,
- who is qualified to live permanently in that country, or
- who is married to a non-Japanese residing in a country other than Japan.
- Note that from April 1, 2017, Japanese nationals as noted above will no longer be eligible to purchase the exchange order.
Validity period of the exchange order
The exchange order must be exchanged for a Japan Rail Pass within three months from the date the order was issued.
- The person designated on the Exchange Order must apply for the Rail Pass at an exchange office, and there,
- Present the order, along with passport.
- Fill in the application form provided at the office.
- Specify the desired first day of use, which must be within one month from the date of exchange. For example, if the exchange is made on January 1, then the date of first travel must be selected before February 1.
Conditions of use
The Rail Pass is valid on almost all forms of transportation (train, bus and ferry) operated by the companies of the JR Group. However, there are exceptions and conditions of use of the Rail Pass.
- The Rail Pass is non-transferable and can only be used by the person designated on the pass.
- The user must present his/her passport upon request.
- Seat reservations can be made without additional payment. Seat reservations can be made at all JR Midori no Madoguchi ticket offices.
- Use of a private compartment is not covered by the Rail Pass and requires an additional charge.
- Use of a sleeping compartment on overnight trains is not covered by the Rail Pass and requires payment of the limited express fare and the accommodation charge. Overnight trains that run over non-JR tracks (i.e. Cassiopeia ) require additional charges.
- Use of the Nozomi or Mizuho service is not covered by the Rail Pass and requires the full fare.
- Use of the Gran Class car on the Hayabusa service requires payment of the limited express fare and Gran Class seating charge.
- Use of the Fukuoka to Busan hydrofoil ferry service is normally not covered by the Rail Pass and requires an additional charge. There however are exceptions as travel agencies in Korea sell special types of Kyushu Rail Pass (valid within JR Kyushu network) which includes a round-trip ticket on the hydrofoil from Busan.
The Japan Rail Pass can normally be purchased only outside Japan, but one exception was made during 2002 FIFA World Cup when the JR Group sold the Rail Pass locally in Japan. JR Group has announced that it will be selling Japan Rail Passes inside Japan to tourists on an experimental basis at an undetermined time in 2016.
The Japan Rail Pass also allows the holders to obtain discounts when staying at JR Group Hotels.
- "JAPAN RAIL PASS sold in Japan on a trial basis" (PDF). Japan Rail Pass Web Site. Retrieved December 18, 2016.
- Japan Railways. "JAPAN RAIL PASS validity". Retrieved 26 February 2011.
- "Japan Rail Pass Validity". Japan Rail Pass Web Site. Retrieved March 1, 2013.
- "About some changes that have been made to the eligibility requirements of JAPAN RAIL PASS" (PDF). Japan Rail Pass Web Site. Retrieved December 18, 2016.
- Murai, Shusuke (2016-04-01). "JR rail pass to be available in Japan, ending frustration for tardy tourists". The Japan Times. Retrieved 2016-05-13.
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