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

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

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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.

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