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Is a JR Pass Worth It?

Th JR Pass provides a convenient way to explore the country, if you are only staying for a limited number of days. It gives good value for travelers who will use the JR Line throughout their stay. Using the shinkansen or bullet train allows you to get from one city to the next the fastest way possible by land.


Benefits of a JR Pass

The JR Pass is handy and convenient to use, especially if you are only staying in Japan for a certain number of days. Here are some of the advantages of getting one.
  • Good Value for Money - The pass lets you use shinkansen and regular trains, and some buses along the JR Line. The pass pays off once you go to other cities. The most popular route for the 7 days' JR Pass is Tokyo-Osaka/Kyoto and back. You already get good value by doing just that route. The further you go from your chosen base city, the better the value you get for the pass. Many travelers go to multiple cities using the pass to maximize their expense.
  • One Pass for All - You only need one ticket whenever you board trains or buses. You don't have to keep buying a new ticket every time you enter the station.
  • See as Much of Japan as You Can in a Limited Time - The JR Pass is a convenient way to get around the country, especially if you are only staying for less than a month. Short stays of one week or less makes the pass a good choice to use. You can go as far as Hiroshima or Fukuoka from Tokyo or Osaka.
  • Save Money - The pass reduces your expenses, especially if you take the bullet trains throughout. Spend the extra on delicious food or shopping during your visit.
The JR Pass also has some disadvantages such as:

  • You can't use other lines with your JR Pass. You have to pay extra if you use other buses or trains not on the JR Line.
  • You have to pay extra for taking certain seats.
  • You can't use it in many metro lines in the city. You have to get metro tickets to see some attractions in the city.

Overview of JR Lines

Photo from www.japan-guide.com

Can You Use a JR Pass?

Not everyone can use a JR Pass; only short term or temporary visitors can get one. The pass is valid for 7, 14 or 21 days (all consecutive). It is valid for a calendar day and not for 24-hour periods.

You can read more about the pass here: Japan Rail Pass


Is It Worth It?

The JR Pass pays off if you frequently move from one city to the next. For example, you already get your money's worth if you take the return trip from Tokyo to Kyoto or Osaka. If you're planning to stay in just one city or region, the pass isn't worth the expense.

How to Use a JR Pass?

Once you already have the pass, all you need to do is show it at the manned gates of each station you enter and leave. By spring 2020, you can use the pass and pass through the automated gates.

Regional Passes

If you think the JR Pass costs too much, you have alternatives. The regional passes provide good value for money for those staying in one place. Here are two I've used during my trips to the country.

Kansai Thru Pass

This is the pass I would recommend for first time visitors. It not only covers some train lines, but buses and metro trains as well. This pass is convenient to use while you explore Osaka and Kyoto. It is valid for 2 or 3 calendar days.

Buy here: Kansai Thru Pass

Kansai WIDE Area Pass
This pass is more expensive than the Kansai Thru Pass but allows you to visit more cities far from the region. This pass covers similar spots as the Kansai Thru Pass but will get you there faster. You can use the shinkansen using this pass. You can get as far as Okayama and some parts of the Wakayama region as well. It is valid for 5 consecutive days.

Buy here: Kansai WIDE Area Pass

How to Get a JR Pass



If you buy online, the pass costs:

  • 7 Days - JPY29650
  • 14 Days - JPY47250
  • 21 Days - JPY60450
The prices are for ordinary car passes.


Buy here: Whole Japan JR Pass




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