JR Pass? What is it?

The Japan Rain Pass allows the holder unlimited use of the JR long-distance train system across Japan. If you have it, you won’t need to pay for individual ticket per journey, which can mean BIG SAVINGS, supposedly. It is offered to foreign tourists only and is not available for Japan residents.

There are two types of JR Passes: ordinary and green car (first class). And they are available in different validity durations: 7 days, 14 days, and 21 days. These days are consecutive and NOT flexible!

Where to Buy JR Pass in the Philippines?

Klook offers the cheapest JR Passes available. If you live in the Philippines, the pass will be delivered to you in 7 days.

Check JR PASS Rates Here

Reserve JR PASS Here


How much is a JR Pass?

As of March 2017, the rates are:

Type
Ordinary
Green Car
7 days
29,110 yen
38,880 yen
14 days
46,390 yen
62,950 yen
21 days
59,350 yen
81,870 yen

Children aged 6-11 enjoy 50% discount.

Pretty steep, huh? But once you see the usual train fares and seat fees, looking at these numbers will feel better.

Did I just say “seat fees”? Yes, I did. Most long-distance trains in Japan charge for seats separately, sometimes even the unreserved ones. But if you have a JR Pass, you can make seat reservations for free!


Is the JR Pass worth it?

I hate answering yes-no questions with “It depends,” but… it depends. LOL.

Depends on what, you ask? On your itinerary: how long you will be traveling in Japan and what your stops will be. You see, the Japan Rail Pass is a complicated thing and there are cases when it will give you huge savings. And there are also times when it isn’t necessary. Let me explain better below.


When is it wise to use a JR Pass?

If you’re on a multi-city journey across Japan over 7 days or longer AND the train is your preferred mode of transportation.

For example, if you plan on visiting Osaka, Tokyo and Sapporo, all in 10 days. So this means you’re flying to Osaka on Day 1, taking the train to Tokyo on Day 4 (which is Day 1 of your JR Pass use), taking another train to Sapporo on Day 7 (JR Pass Day 4), and exiting Japan on Day 10 (JR Pass Day 7).

If you do this journey by train without a JR Pass, you’ll be spending this much.

Osaka to Tokyo:
Seat: ¥5700 ($51, P2550)

Tokyo to Sapporo:
Seat (Tokyo-Hakodate): ¥11,130 ($100, P5000)
Seat (Hakodate-Sapporo): ¥1550 ($14, P700)

Total Fare Only: ¥18,140

Total Train Expenses: ¥36,520 ($326, P16,400).

Now, compare that to the cost of a regular 7-day JR Pass which is at ¥29,110 ($255, P13,000). You’ll be saving ¥7410. Doesn’t look much, but if you’re planning to go on day trips to other cities from your main stops — say, visiting Kamakura or Yokohama from Tokyo, or Himeji from Kyoto, or Kyoto from Osaka — these savings will rack up.

If you have an even more hectic itinerary, the JR Pass will prove useful. For example, if you’re planning on visiting 5 cities and staying just 1-2 days each. It’s not something I recommend, but I have met some travelers who roll this way.

It’s also a good choice for those who prefer traveling by train (like me!). Even when it takes more time than flying, I would usually choose to take the train because it’s pretty straightforward: no baggage check-in, no need to show up 1-2 hours before, and train stations are usually located centrally, unlike airports.

But it is important that you’re also aware that the train isn’t your only option. More about that below.

Klook offers the cheapest JR Passes available. Check updated rates or book here: Check JR PASS Rates Here.

When is a JR Pass NOT recommended?

When you’re staying in just one or two cities. One of the most common questions we get about Japan travel is “Should I purchase a JR Pass?” But what’s surprising to me is that it is often asked by people who are planning to stay in just one city.

JR Pass is ideal for those traveling long distances. If you’re staying in Tokyo and will be exploring Tokyo alone, you won’t need a JR Pass. If you’re traveling within just one region, a regional pass makes more sense, like the Kansai Thru Pass for the Kansai region.

Even if you’re going on a one-leg long-distance journey, a JR Pass might still not be the best fit. For example, if the only long-distance trip you’re making is Osaka-Tokyo, the Shinkansen is probably the most expensive option out there (¥14,450). You’ll find flights from Kansai Airport to Narita for only ¥4870 ($45, P2150) and day buses from Osaka to Tokyo for around ¥4300 and night buses for ¥6480.

Skyscanner
Willer Bus. Tokyo-Osaka. Day Bus.
Willer Bus. Tokyo-Osaka. Overnight Bus.

Another important thing to consider: The JR Pass can only be used for JR Lines, and although it is an expansive train system, it does not cover ALL of Japan. There are many parts of Japan that are still best reached through other modes of transportation.


IN SUMMARY:

Purchasing a JR Pass makes sense if you’re visiting multiple cities in a span of least 7 days. Otherwise, you might want to consider other modes of transportation.



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Yoshke Dimen

Storyteller at Yoshke.com
Yoshke is a part-time digital marketing consultant, part-time travel blogger, and full-time dreamer. He has three passions in life: social media, travel, and --- wait for it --- world peace. Yoshke has won 3 PHILIPPINE BLOG AWARDS and received 9 nominations. Learn more about his personal journeys at Yoshke.com.
Yoshke Dimen

Comments

  1. Azenith Gracia Catimbang Ramir says:

    Hi. I am flying in to Osaka and planning to visit Kyoto and Tokyo. Is it advisable to buy the JR Pass?

    • yoshke says:

      Depends on how much time you have. But I would choose to take the overnight bus if it’s just Osaka-Tokyo.

      (Osaka-Kyoto doesn’t matter. It’s a short ride and it’s cheap anyway.)

  2. norman says:

    Good morning guys.
    I’m a fan of your blog and used your reviews on my trips.
    I badly needed your advice as we are preparing for our Japan trip for the coming November.
    Okay, the thing is, my friends (also half of me admit it) wanted to experience the bullet train from Kyoto to Tokyo as this is the farthest distance we have in our itinerary.
    My question now would be, should I buy the Kyoto – Tokyo shinkansen (bullet train) ticket here in the Philippines (thru online) or we can buy it anywhere in Kyoto train station when we get there? Would it be better to buy if we buy it here before we leave Manila?
    Thank you in advance and have a great week ahead

  3. Joseline says:

    Hi,

    I am a fan of your blog. My concern is that I’ll be traveling next year, Osaka-Nara-Kyoto for the first 5 days but will exit at Narita, so I’ll stay in Tokyo for about 2 days. Is it advisable to get one?

    Thanks in advance.

  4. Yzz Villanueva says:

    Hi! we’ll be travelling Osaka- Tokyo-Osaka with kids and elders on march. Do you think it would be wise to get a JR pass?and how long is the bus ride?

  5. Zuri says:

    Hello! I’m planing to go to Japan and I would like to know if is worthy for me the rail pass. My idea is doing Osaka – kyoto- Tokio (Mt. Fuji) in 7-10 days.

    Thank you,
    Zuri

    • Yoshke Dimen says:

      For me, nope. I’d just take the bus. Unless you’re really in a hurry.

  6. Leslie says:

    Hi Yoshke,
    We’re a groupof 4 ladies travelling to Japan on November. We’ll spend 3 days for Osaka, Kyoto and Nara and the 3rd day will be overnight bus to Tokyo. Could you please post the link of those night buses and a quick guide please!

    Thanks much!

    • Yoshke Dimen says:

      Hi Leslie, if you’re coming from Osaka, here’s the page you should check out: willerexpress.com/st/3/en/pc/bus/route/kansai/all/

      Just enter your origin and departure.

  7. Tiny says:

    Hi Yoshke,

    We are travelling 7D6N from Tokyo-Osaka-Kyoto-Tokyo. Do you recommend to purchase the JR Pass for this?

    Thanks

    • Yoshke Dimen says:

      Pwede na, since balikan ka sa Tokyo.

      What I don’t recommend though is squeezing all three cities in 7 days. Hehe. I feel like it’s not enough. Tokyo alone can easily eat up 7 days. Have you considered staying in Tokyo and exploring nearby sites (like Mt. Fuji, Kamakura or Yokohama) instead of going to Osaka? This will make your trip much more relaxed and budget-friendly. You won’t need to purchase a JR Pass this way.

      • Lei says:

        Hi Yoshke,
        in 7-days iterinary do you recommend JR PAss for Tokyo/hakone/kyoto/Osaka back to tokyo?

        we plan to fly back to tokyo from osaka.

        thanks!

        • Yoshke Dimen says:

          Hi Lei, if you’re flying back to Tokyo from Osaka, then I don’t recommend the JR Pass for your route. Just take the bus from Tokyo to Kyoto/Osaka and get a more local pass (like Tokyo Wide Pass or subway pass) in Tokyo.

  8. Arianne says:

    Hi, just wanted to ask if it’s advisable to purchase JR Pass if our travel destination would be Osaka-Kyoto-Tokyo-Nagoya. We’re flying in/out from Chubu Airport. Or could you recommend better mode of transpo. Thank you.

      • Renee says:

        Hi! I have the same query as Arianne. Travelling to the same destinations and entry/exit point. Trip is 7 days. Thank you.

        • Yoshke Dimen says:

          Yep, in theory, sulit na yun if we’re just looking at the price. But practically, I don’t really recommend visiting Osaka, Kyoto, Nagoya and Tokyo in 7 days. That’d be like spending 1 day per stop.

  9. Almira Pangcatan Ombar says:

    Hi , just wanted to ask if it’s wise to purchase a JR Pass. We’ll visit japan 7D6N. Our itinerary osaka-kyoto-nara for first 3days then from osaka-mt fuji-tokyo-manila. Thank you.

    • Yoshke Dimen says:

      For me, no. You’ll get more savings if you just get city passes like Osaka Amazing Pass or Tokyo wide pass.

      Also, I don’t recommend Osaka, Kyoto and Nara in 3 days. Hehe. Osaka and Kyoto alone can fill 3 days. I’d skip Nara for now.

  10. J&Mon says:

    Hi Sir Yoshke,

    Will you recommend a JR PASS for this route.

    TOKYO-KYOTO-OSAKA-TOKYO-NIIGATA(day trip just for SKI)-SHIRAKAWA-GO(day trip also)-TOKYO. 10 days. Entry and Exit point is Tokyo. Please i need your suggestion and any recommendation instead. Thank you so much Sir!

    • Yoshke Dimen says:

      Hi! Yepppp! Get a JR Pass. Without JR Pass, super mahal nyan. :)

      Just plan well kung kailan mo dapat first gamitin ang JR Pass. If you plan to explore Tokyo first, use your JR Pass on Day 3 to get to Kyoto. If you plan to explore Tokyo last, use it on Day 1 and explore Tokyo on your last 3 days. :)

      • J&Mon says:

        Ang plano po kasi namin is from narita diretso na po kami sa osaka. Naguguluhan din po kasi kami sa pag gamit ng JR pass. Yung sa mga route niya. pwede na po ba namin gamitin agad from narita straight to osaka???? may regional pass po kasi which is pasok ang kansai pass(tokyo-osaka-nara). yung sa JR pass national hindi po kasi niya sakop ang regional pass. tapos po pupunta din kami sa shirakawa-go from tokyo po pwede po ba ang jr pass dun? nagpunta po ba kayo sa Niigata?

        • Yoshke Dimen says:

          HI J&Mon, here are my answers:

          “pwede na po ba namin gamitin agad from narita straight to osaka?”
          —– Yep! But you need to activate it first. To do that, look for the JR East Travel Service center sa airport. Open un from 6:30am to 9:45pm. Get your JR Pass by presenting your voucher and passport. After that, pwede mo na magamit yun basta JR yung line na sasakyan mo.

          “Yung sa mga route niya. pwede na po ba namin gamitin agad from narita straight to osaka???? may regional pass po kasi which is pasok ang kansai pass(tokyo-osaka-nara). yung sa JR pass national hindi po kasi niya sakop ang regional pass.”
          —- Medyo di ko gets yung question mo here. If you have a JR Pass, di mo na kailangan ng regional pass. Magagamit mo yung JR Pass basta JR line.

  11. SJ says:

    planning to visit hokkaido from Narita. Medyo torn ako kung magbook ako ng flight (6000php roundtrip narita-sapporo-narita)or buy nlng ng 7 days JR PASS. 5 days in hokkaido including Lake Toya and Otaru. 3 days in Tokyo naman. Ano po kaya mas ok? Thank you

    • Yoshke Dimen says:

      Hi SJ, parang halos pareho lang pumapatak ung total amount, so kahit alin ay pwede naman.

      So I think ang deciding factor mo na lang is time. Since 8 days lang ang trip mo in total, consider time as a currency din kasi you don’t have much. Shorter ang total travel time mo by a few hours if you fly even if you count the journey to and from the airport and the check-in/boarding/waiting times. Check also the schedule nung murang flight na tinitingnan mo if it’s something that would allow you to maximize your time.

  12. charise tomas says:

    hi po plano po nmin pumunta ng japan this coming april all in all we are 12 adults and 3 kids and also we are first time travellers in japan ano pong itenerary ang maganda sa amin since we want to stay for at least 7-8days, tokyo po ang entry and exit points po nmin, and also ask ko n rin po kung saan magandang lugar magstay sa tokyo n malapit sa lhat may kasama po kc kming isang senior para hindi nman sya masyadong mahirapan sa paglilibot kung nearby lang yung mga pupuntahan

  13. Dianne says:

    Hi hingi lang po ako ng aadvice. 11 days po kami sa japan:
    “Day 1-4: Osaka (4th day) day 4-7:kyoto (6th day) day trip to narra then go back to kyoto (7th day) day 7-11: tokyo (may side trip po sa mt. Fuji)”.

    Ang balak ko po osaka amazing pass 2 days muna.

    Tapos JR pass po sana iaactivate namin sa 4th day pag pupunta na sa kyoto. Para umabot hanggang day 11.

    Kaya lang po sa kyoto sa higashiyama po kami titira. Hindi daw po magagamit jr pass don. more on bus daw po ang transpo, may unli daw po na 250 php per day. (May iba po bang pwede bilin na pass for kyoto since four days po kami doon.?) Gagamitin po namin ung jr sa inari at arashiyama. Pati ung day trip sa nara.

    Tapos jr pass pa tokyo. magagamit po ba ung jr pa mt fuji?

    Hindi ko po alam kung tama yan at sulit ba. if ever saan po ba pwede bumili ng tokyo wide pass? Ano po kayang alternative sa jr pass kung sakaling hindi namin bibilin.

    Thank you po ng marami in advance sa reply.

    • Yoshke Dimen says:

      Hi Dianne, I don’t really recommend JR pass sa Osaka-Kyoto-Tokyo itinerary.

      Try looking at local passes like Tokyo Wide Pass for Tokyo and Mt. Fuji, and City Bus All-day Pass or Bus and Subway Pass for Kyoto. Di ako familiar sa details nila pero google mo na lang.

      • Cc says:

        Hi! I bought a JR Pass for our 10 day trip. Covered na ba ng JR pass ang train expenses or we still need to pay for train tix pero less amount?

        • Yoshke Dimen says:

          Hi CC! You can use the JR Pass on any JR train and shinkansen (with some exceptions). Covered na ung fare and reserved seat fees. No need na to pay anything else.

  14. Girruette Harvenheit says:

    Hi po! Ask ko lang kung mas makakatipid kung kukuha po akong JR Pass for a 12 day stay.
    Day 1 and 2 – Osaka
    Day 3 – Kyoto
    Day 4 – Nara
    Day 5 – Kobe
    Day 6 to 12 – Tokyo (from Osaka)

    Sa Dotonbori po ako magstay. Ang plan ko po kasi, day trips lang sa mga neighboring cities sa Osaka tapos uuwi rin ng hotel. Kaunti lang ang itinerary ko for the first five days kasi priority ko ang Tokyo. Tapos, shinkansen po sasakyan papuntang Tokyo galing Osaka. The rest nung sa itinerary ko, local and private trains na karamihan na sasakyan as per navigation estimates. Balak ko sanang kumuha ng 7-day JR Pass para dun sa first five days including na ung shinkansen papuntang Tokyo. Ano po kaya ang mas magandang gawin? Thank you po :)

    • Yoshke Dimen says:

      Hi! If Kansai to Tokyo lang yung long distance travel, di sulit ang JR Pass for that. Get individual city passes and then just fly from Osaka to Tokyo. Mas mura yung ganun.

  15. Karina says:

    Hello, your blog has been such a great help to us in preparing for our Japan trip next week.
    My husband and I are going for a 8days babymoon! Our Itinerary looks like this:
    – Enter Osaka stay 2 night in Hotel
    – Kyoto stay 2 night in Hotel
    Take shinkansen to Tokyo and stay for 4 nights in Hotel

    Do you recommend us getting a JR pass? If not, whats your best recommendation?

    Thanks alot and cheers to your very successful blogsite!

    • Yoshke Dimen says:

      Hi Karina! Thanks for your comment.

      Sorry, I’m not sure what babymoon is. I tried googling but it gave mo conflicting meanings. Is babymoon a trip by parents BEFORE or AFTER the baby is born?

      Either way, parang di pa rin sulit yung JR Pass sa situation mo. I’m guessing you don’t want a hectic itinerary, which means you won’t be squeezing a lot of attractions in a day. If that’s the case, you won’t be taking the train or bus a lot. It’s just a matter of visiting attractions that are close to each other, so you won’t need a JR Pass or similar passes.

      What I would do if I were in your shoes.
      — Osaka: Use Osaka Amazing Pass (2 Days). May discount na rin yan sa ilang attractions.
      — Kyoto: Either use a Hankyu Tourist Pass or kahit ICOCA na lang.
      — Take Shinkansen to Tokyo. Flying is cheaper, though. I normally take the bus but it takes a long time. Not sure if you’re traveling pregnant or traveling with a baby. (Dunno what babymoon means, haha)
      — Tokyo: No pass. Just visit places that are close to each other in a day. Example: Meiji Shrine, Yoyogi Park, Harajuku, Shibuya Crossing area in one day. Just use your ICOCA (it also works in Tokyo).

      But if you really want to use just one pass, the closest to your itinerary is JR Hokuriku Arch Pass: https://affiliate.klook.com/jump/activity/2781-7-day-jr-hokuriku-arch-pass-jr-pass/?adid=44626&af_wid=825

  16. Cheska says:

    Hi, I was trying to read all comments but Icant seem to apply them on my itinerary. We booked Narita as our entry and exit point for our travel this coming march which means we need to travel to and from tokyo and osaka. Our itinerary are as follows:
    Day 1-5 Osaka Kyoto Nara (straight from Narita)
    Day 5-7 Tokyo (been to Tokyo last 2017 thus shorter). This includes Mt Fuji.

    May I know if JR pass is recommended for my trip?

  17. Dia says:

    Just want to say thank you for everything. Ang dami ko natutunan sainyo. You guys are such an inspiration. Travel goals!!! Thank you for all your effort mag bigay ng tips at mag reply saamin. :) god bless!

  18. Camille Garcia says:

    Hello. Would you recommend JR pass for Tokyo-Osaka-Kyoto-Tokyo travel for 8 days? TIA ❤️

  19. Hanna says:

    Hi! is it advisable to purchase a JR Pass if our itinerary is:

    May 1-5 Nagoya
    May 5-8 Tokyo

    Our entry and exit point is at Narita airport and we’re planning to take a day tour from Nagoya to Kyoto as well. Thanks!

    • Yoshke Dimen says:

      Hi Hanna, yep, masusulit mo na yung JR Pass nun if gusto mo talaga train ung sasakyan mo and 7 days or shorter ung trip mo.

  20. Paula says:

    Hi! This is super duper helpful! Thanks so much! May question lang po ako. Worth it ba pag yung itinerary namin is Tokyo-Osaka-Kyoto-Tokyo in 7 days?
    Day 1 Entry is Tokyo
    Day 2 Whole day in Osaka
    – overnight in Osaka –
    Day 3 Whole day in Kyoto
    – travel back to Tokyo –
    Day 4 to 7 – Tokyo

    Thanks in advance! :)

    • Yoshke Dimen says:

      Hi Paula, pwede na yung JR Pass dyan kung balikan kayo sa Tokyo. :)

  21. anna says:

    Hi I am Indonesian, I read your review about summary recommendation of Ticket/Pass in Japan like City => kind of pass needed a couple months ago. But I can not find your recommendation again now. Could you give me the link of it ?
    2. Do you know how to go to Kyoto from Kanazawa ? since I just find out only Thunderbird train from Kanazawa to reach Kyoto and its expensive.

    thank you for your helping

      • anna says:

        Hi Yoshke,
        thanks a lot for your prompt reply, I am looking for another link that you make summary of city => ticket needed in one pages for Japan area (not only Kansai) So sorry to disturb you always.
        For example : Kyoto+Osaka=> Hankyu Pass, Kyoto + Osaka + other city => Kansai Thru Pass etc.

        thanks in advance for your nice blog.

        • Yoshke Dimen says:

          Hi Anna, the link I provided above leads to a page containing that. That post is not limited to Kansai. You just need to scroll down a little bit to see the other cities. :P

  22. Jen says:

    Hi! Mag DIY kami sa Japan. 6 days Osaka-Nara-Kyoto-Tokyo-Mt. Fuji- Tokyo. ok ba yung 7days na JR Pass. Nag search kasi ako sa Google re: Train Fare sobrang laki nung gastos, transpo palang.

    • Yoshke Dimen says:

      Hi Jen, normally I would recommend taking the bus or plane from Kansai to Tokyo. But since you only have 6 days and you need to travel fast, yeah, pwede mo nang masulit yung JR Pass kung siksik ung itinerary nyo.

      • Jen says:

        Yeah, feeling ko nga din, I’m not sure lang kasi kung lahat talaag ng train magamit yung Pass. may limit din ba yung pag gamit ng JR Pass?

        • Jen says:

          and iba yung entry point namin sa exit point. pero ang mode of transpo talaga train or buses.

        • Yoshke Dimen says:

          Yep. May limit din. Sa JR trains lang sya pwede. Yung mga “private railways,” di pwede. Tapos sa shinkansen, di lahat. May certain types na di accepted ang JR Pass, pero konti lang naman sila.

  23. judith says:

    Hi Yosh,

    ask ko lang po if saan mas makakatipid na pass/transpo if we go to tokyo then disneyland then along the city of tokyo lang. ano yung need namin i-purchase na pass? we just stay for 3 days.

    thanks in advance.

    • Yoshke Dimen says:

      3 full days ito? Or ung arrival and departure ay Day 1 and Day 3?

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