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A Basic Guide to Using the Japan Rail Pass

Riding a train is probably the most convenient way to get around Japan, albeit being expensive. If you want to save time and money on your trip, the Japan Rail Pass (JR Pass) is the answer.

 

What Is a JR Pass?

JR pass
Image Credit: Chomphuphucar / Shutterstock.com

The JR Pass is a discounted ticket that provides unlimited access to all Japan Railways National trains, letting you travel from one point to another with ease.

Aside from trains, the JR Pass gives you access to the local metro system in Tokyo, Kyoto, and Osaka. You can also use it when riding in JR Buses, JR Ferry, Monorails, and airport transfers.

Purchasing a JR Pass

The JR Pass can only be purchased outside of Japan. You can buy it directly from their official website or through Traveloka if you want to get amazing deals. It is available in three validity periods: seven, 14, or 21 consecutive days.

It is highly recommended to book your JR Pass about two months before your trip. Purchasing your JR Pass more than 90 days before your trip will invalidate the ticket.

Book JR Pass tickets here

Activating the JR Pass

JR Ticket Office
Image Credit: Niradj / Shutterstock.com

After you have successfully purchased a JR Pass, an exchange voucher will be sent to your email. Present a copy of this voucher, along with your passport, in a JR ticket office in Japan.

You will be asked to choose your start date. Make sure to pick wisely as the dates cannot be changed once your pass has been activated. You can choose any start date within 30 days.

After successful validation, the ticket office will provide you with the physical pass. You will only be allowed up to 90 days from the date of purchase to fulfill this step.

For more details on how to use the JR Pass, please watch this video:

Making a Seat Reservation

Before you get too excited about exploring Japan, make sure you reserve your seat prior to riding the train.

All you need to do is head over to a JR ticket office, mention your destination and your preferred time of departure, then ask for a reserved seat—no payment is required.

Dos and Don’ts

Take note of the following reminders when using the JR Pass:

1. Don’t put your JR Pass in a random pocket

You don’t want to lose this ticket. Keep it safe, as it cannot be reissued if lost or stolen. In addition, the JR exchange office only accepts original ticket vouchers.

In the case of a lost or stolen Japan Rail Pass, contact the customer support team ([email protected]) right away.

2. Don’t forget to bring your pass everyday

Only the original pass is acknowledged. You don’t need to show any identification when using the JR Pass. The ticket itself is enough.

3. Don’t cheat the system

Forging a pass is a major no-no. A traveler faking a pass will surely face serious charges.

4. Don’t forget to count the itinerary in days

As mentioned before, the JR Pass is available in 7-, 14-, and 21-day trips. Say, for example, you have travel plans from April 1 to 8, you may think that you’d only need a JR Pass for seven days, when in fact you’d need it to be longer. The last thing you want to happen is be stranded on your last day—so make sure to count that day, as well.

5. Don’t limit yourself to a specific city

The JR Pass allows you to enjoy Japan-wide (not just a city-wide) travel. Take advantage of it and explore every corner possible!

Additional Key Points

Japanese lunch box

Here are supplementary details you should know about the JR Pass:

  • Plan your trips with help from a train timetable. HyperDia, for one, informs you about train schedules and rates.
  • You can buy a first-class pass (AKA Green Pass), or a second-class pass. The former allows you to travel in a Green Car that offers larger seating and luggage space, on-board services, seat reservations, and separate train facilities.
  • Thinking about food? At every station, you can buy a Bento Box.
  • If you want to make the most out of your travel around Japan, supplement your JR Pass with regional passes.

Ready to board the trains using the JR Pass? You can now purchase tickets via Traveloka’s Attractions and Activities!

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