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. It is only cost effective for long-distance travel, particularly by bullet train. While the savings from extensive travel can be considerable, those who travel too little may in fact lose money on a rail pass. The Japan Rail Pass is of limited use within larger cities. For Tokyo for example, it does cover the Yamanote Line which goes to several popular tourist areas as well as in Osaka on the Loop Line, plus in Kyoto on the Nara and Arashiyama Lines.
The national 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, fourteen and twenty-one consecutive day passes, which provide the user nearly 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.
Purchase before going to Japan:
|Class||7 Days||14 Days||21 Days|
Purchase in Japan (Trial):
|Class||7 Days||14 Days||21 Days|
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 All Nippon Airways; Japan Airlines stopped selling exchange orders in March 2017. The Exchange Order cannot be obtained in Japan. However, from March 8, 2017 to March 31, 2020 (Extended), 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 of between 10%-13% depending on the pass type.
The Exchange Order will have a 90 day validity period from the date it's issued by an Authorized Seller. It then needs to be exchanged over to a Japan Rail Pass in Japan within that time period. 
The Exchange Order itself cannot be used for travel, and must be exchanged at a JR Midori no Madoguchi ticket office. Exchange Orders can be exchanged for a Japan Rail Pass 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 Terminal 1 Station
- Narita Airport Terminal 2·3 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
- Nara Station
- Higashi-Maizuru Station
- Nishi-Maizuru Station
- Tottori Station
- Sakaiminato Station
- Shin-Yamaguchi Station
- Shin-Hakodate-Hokuto Station
- Higashi-Maizuru Station
- Nishi-Maizuru 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
- Nozomi (Regional passes only)
- 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.
- Chizu Express
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.
- People 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 they have been living legally in the country for 10 consecutive years or more.
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.
- Automatic ticket gates cannot be used; Rail Pass holders must enter and exit stations through a manned gate and display their pass to a station agent.
- 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 services on the Tokaido, Sanyo, or Kyushu Shinkansen lines is not covered by the Rail Pass and requires payment of the full fare.
- Use of the Hayabusa service on the Tohoku and Hokkaido Shinkansen lines, the Komachi service on the Tohoku and Akita Shinkansen lines, the Kagayaki service on the Hokuriku Shinkansen line, the Narita Express, the Sunrise Seto, or the Sunrise Izumo overnight limited express service requires a seat reservation (free of charge).
- Use of the Gran Class car on the Tohoku, Hokkaido, or Hokuriku Shinkansen lines requires payment of the Shinkansen 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 Rail Pass does not cover city subways (though local JR lines such as the Yamanote line are covered).
- The Rail Pass is good for either 7, 14 or 21 consecutive days, and a day starts and ends at midnight. That means, for example, if you activate your pass for immediate use on July 1st at 12 noon, your pass will expire at midnight on July 7th, not July 8th at 12 noon.
- It is possible to activate your pass with a future date (within 30 days) to be your first day. This allows you within its validity to start using your pass at any JR station at any time the station is open.
- Even if your pass expires at midnight, if you are already on a train when it expires, you can continue to ride it until you get off or the train reaches its terminus.
JR Group has announced that it will be selling Japan Rail Passes inside Japan to tourists on an experimental basis from March 8, 2017 ‒ March 31, 2020.
The Japan Rail Pass also allows the holders to obtain discounts when staying at JR Group Hotels.
Regional Rail Passes are also available for JR-Hokkaido, JR-Central, JR-East, JR-West, JR-Shikoku, and JR-Kyushu lines. Unlike the full JR Pass, regional passes that include bullet train travel generally allow you to take the Nozomi bullet train.
- "JAPAN RAIL PASS sold in Japan on a trial basis" (PDF). Japan Rail Pass Web Site. Retrieved December 18, 2016.
- "Japan Rail Pass Exchange Order | Japan Rail Pass". Japan Rail Pass. 2018-10-30. Retrieved 2018-10-30.
- Japan Railways. "JAPAN RAIL PASS validity". Retrieved 26 February 2011.
- "Japan Rail Pass Validity". Japan Rail Pass Web Site. Retrieved March 1, 2013.
- "Exchange Period - Japan Rail Pass". JRPass.com. Retrieved 2018-05-22.
- "JAPAN RAIL PASS: From purchase to travel | JAPAN RAIL PASS". www.japanrailpass.net. Retrieved 2018-07-24.
- "Japan Rail Pass (JR Pass)". www.japan-guide.com. Retrieved 2018-07-27.
- ""JAPAN RAIL PASS" sold in Japan on a trial basis" (PDF).
- "Hotel discounts with the Japan Rail Pass".
- "Is the Japan Rail Pass (JR Pass) Worth It? | Footsteps of a Dreamer". Footsteps of a Dreamer. 2018-05-16. Retrieved 2018-05-22.
|Wikivoyage has a travel guide for Japan Rail Pass.|