Why the JR Pass is the best way to discover Japan
I just love the idea of slow travel. And there is no better way of travelling slow than by looking out a train window and see the world go by. I think that there is a certain kind of romance to this kind of travel, and anyway it’s the best way to see a country from a whole new perspective.
Japan is one of these countries that are renown for their fast and efficient rail system. Travelling on a train in Japan is one of these things you simply have to do at least once in your life. I am yet to do it myself, but it’s definitely on my bucket list.
If you are like me, you may find the idea of buying tickets and getting everything organised in a country like Japan a little bit daunting. Lucky that there are rail passes like the JR Pass that are specifically geared towards foreigners to not only make our life easier but also to save us some serious money.
What is the JR Pass?
The JR Pass is a discounted rail pass which you can use on all Japan Rail National trains. With only a few exceptions you get unlimited access to all 20,000 kilometres of the extensive and efficient Japan rail network, and more. The pass is also valid on busses, subways, ferries, and airport transfers. The pass is valid for a certain period, and you can choose passes that are valid for 1, 2 or 3 weeks.
It is by definition a rail pass for non-residents of Japans, i.e. tourists that come and visit the country and would like to experience different regions and cities during their stay. Some Japanese travellers are eligible to use the JR Pass as well, however there are some strict conditions tied to this, such as the buyer needs to hold a “temporary visitor” visa.
Children under 6 years of age do not need a rail pass at all, however they are not eligible for seats either. For children between 6 and 11 years there is a children’s Japan Rail Pass you can order.
Where can I go with the JR Pass?
You can go anywhere you like, using any mode of public transport there is.
When you stay in Tokyo for example, you can easily go to exciting destinations such as Mount Fuji or Tokyo Disney Resort. You can use the subway in Tokyo and explore the city in more detail.
Or you can visit other cities such as Yokohama, Kyoto or historic Kamakura, former de fact capital of Japan.
Of course, you can also make use of the connections to Haneda and Narita Airports.
Truth is, there is so much to see and explore in Japan, you will find it hard to make a decision on what to see and what to dismiss. The beauty of a rail pass is that you can be independent and make spontaneous decisions without much planning involved.
How to order?
Ordering a JR Pass is really simple and can be done in 4 quick steps:
- You order the ticket online from this website or from their office in London – you will find the exact address also on the website. You could also buy the pass at selected ticket offices in Japan, however the pass will then be more expensive. The order you receive is only valid for 90 days, so make sure you time this well.
- An Exchange Order will be send to your home address, or once you arrive in Japan have the Exchange Order delivered straight to your hotel door by FEDEX. This should take no more than 24 hours.
- At one of the JR Exchange Offices in Japan you can then exchange the order for the proper ticket. You will find these offices at all major train stations and airports.
- And that’s it – just start exploring this beautiful country by rail!
This post is brought to you by JR Pass.