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. In Tokyo, for instance, it does cover the Yamanote Line which goes to several popular tourist areas as well as in Osaka on the Osaka Loop Line, plus in Kyoto on the Nara Line and Sagano Line.
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 Terminal 3 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.
The pass is valid on all JR-operated lines, including the Shinkansen (with the exception of Nozomi and Mizuho services on the Tōkaidō, San'yō and Kyushu Shinkansen), limited express (特急, Tokkyū) trains and regular commuter services, including Local (普通, Futsū) and Rapid (快速, Kaisoku) trains.
The pass is also valid on the following non-JR lines:
- Tokyo Monorail between Hamamatsuchō and Haneda Airport
- Aoimori Railway, for the following journeys (local and rapid services only):
- IR Ishikawa Railway for journeys starting and ending at Kanazawa and Tsubata only, in order to access the JR West Nanao Line
- Ainokaze Toyama Railway for journeys starting and ending at Toyama and Takaoka only, in order to access the JR West Johana Line and Himi Line (local services only)
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 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.
- Starting on June 1st, 2020, automatic ticket gates can be used.  Previously, Rail Pass holders had to 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. Starting on June 1st, 2020, reservations can also be made using a Reserved Seat Vending Machine.
- In the event that an Exchange Order or a Japan Rail Pass is lost or stolen, no replacements can be provided.
- 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.
- Use of the Nozomi and Mizuho services on the Tokaido, Sanyo and Kyushu Shinkansen lines is not covered by the Japan Rail Pass and requires the purchase of a separate ticket and payment of the full fare.
- Use of the Gran Class car on the Tohoku, Hokkaido, Joetsu and Hokuriku Shinkansen lines requires the payments of the Shinkansen express charge and the Gran Class surcharge.
- Use of the DX Green Car by JR Kyushu or the Premium Green Car on the Saphir Odoriko limited express service by JR East requires the payments of the limited express charge and the DX Green / Premium Green Car surcharge.
- Some trains, such as the Narita Express and the Hayabusa shinkansen service, require mandatory seat reservations, which are free of charge.
- Use of the JR Beetle 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 a visitor activates his or her pass for immediate use on July 1st at 12 noon, that pass will expire at midnight on July 7th, not July 8th at 12 noon.
- It is possible to activate a Japan Rail Pass with a future date (within 30 days) to be the first day. This allows Japan Rail Pass users to start using their pass within its validity period at any JR station at any time the station is open.
- Even if the Japan Rail Pass expires at midnight, if one is already on a train when it expires, the holder can continue to ride it until he or she gets off at any station 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, some regional passes (in particular those sold by JR West) allow holders to travel on Nozomi and Mizuho trains.
From Spring 2020, users of the Japan Rail Pass will be able to make seat reservations for trains over the internet in four languages (English, Korean, Simplified Chinese and Traditional Chinese) and use automatic ticket gates at stations.
- "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.
- "Exchange Period - Japan Rail Pass". JRPass.com. Retrieved 2018-05-22.
- "日本を旅する際のお役立ち情報 | ジャパン・レール・パス | JAPAN RAIL PASS". japanrailpass.net. Retrieved 2020-06-14.
- "JAPAN RAIL PASSの購入から利用まで | ジャパン・レール・パス | JAPAN RAIL PASS". japanrailpass.net. Retrieved 2020-06-14.
- ""JAPAN RAIL PASS" sold in Japan on a trial basis" (PDF).
- "Is the Japan Rail Pass (JR Pass) Worth It? | Footsteps of a Dreamer". Footsteps of a Dreamer. 2018-05-16. Retrieved 2018-05-22.
- "「ジャパン・レール・パス」Web販売サービス開始について" [Launch of Japan Rail Pass web sales service] (Press release) (in Japanese). JR Group. 18 December 2019. Retrieved 26 December 2019.
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