How to Buy Japan Rail Pass Tickets - 2023 Prices & Updates
Is the Japan Rail pass worth it? Everything you need to know about the Japan Rail Pass in 2023.
Are you wondering if the Japan Rail Pass is worth it? Not surprised, I was wondering the same before taking my first trip to Japan. I had no idea what the Japan Rail Pass is, how to use it, and if it's worth the price tag. Is there really a point buying one?
What is the JR pass? The Japan Rail Pass (JR Pass) is a cost-effective rail pass that allows you to enjoy unlimited train travel around Japan. This is incredibly convenient for tourists who want a longer Japan itinerary and wish to travel to multi destinations outside of Tokyo. But the question still remains: Does a JR Pass save you money, or is it better to buy individual tickets?
Only overseas tourists can benefit from a JR Pass, an initiative to make travelling around Japan cheaper and more accessible. You can use a JR Pass on the Shinkansen and take unlimited trips on your stay. A JR Pass comes in 7,14 or 21 days, allowing you flexibility to pick the right time frame to explore the country.
I ordered a Japan Rail Pass for my first 2 weeks in Japan itinerary, and I can now explain how it works and if it's actually worth buying one. Here is everything you need to know about the JR Pass.
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Is the Japan Rail Pass worth it in 2023?
Yes, the JR Pass does worth it, and it will save you money. You can make the most of the JR Pass if you plan to travel extensively around Japan for 7, 14 or 21 days.
To put prices into perspective, a 7-day Japan Rail Pass costs $231 (29650 yen) whereas a return trip from Tokyo to Kyoto is $214 (28340 yen). Add just a couple of day trips, and you can see how the JR Pass is already worth it.
Let's see the most common Japan Itineraries, so you can decide if buying the JR Pass worth it for you:
|Itinerary||7 days JR Pass Savings|
|Tokyo → Kyoto → Osaka → Hiroshima round trip||$80 (10500 yen)|
|Tokyo → Nikko (day trip)
Tokyo → Nagano (day trip)
Tokyo → Mt Fuji (day trip)
|$38 (5000 yen)|
|Tokyo → Sapporo (Hokkaido) round trip||$157 (23000 yen)|
|Tokyo → Nagoya → Kyoto round trip||$15 (2000 yen)|
These are just the most common examples. If you are planning on travelling more, for example visit Uji and Nara from Kyoto or take a few days trip to Kanazawa you will save even more.
You can save even more with your JR Pass while you are in Tokyo. Use your JR Pass in Tokyo between stations instead of your Suica or Pasmo card. The savings will add up quickly while you use the trains for free.
When is it not worth it to buy the JR Pass?
There are some instances when I wouldn't recommend buying the JR pass.
- If you are staying only in Tokyo and don't plan on travelling by train, the price of the JR Pass won't worth it for you.
- If doing the 7 days Japan Itinerary and only planning to visit Kyoto and otherwise staying in Tokyo for the remainder of your trip, the JR Pass will cost more than the return ticket from Tokyo to Kyoto.
My travels in Japan have been fun and made easy by the Japanese trains as they were incredibly clean, fast and always on time. The bullet train (the Shinkansen) is by far the best way to travel around Japan, although I must admit, the Japanese local trains won't disappoint either.
What is the Japan Rail Pass?
The Japan Rail Pass is a brilliant Japanese travel pass which allows any foreigner to use almost all Japanese trains for 7, 14 or 21 days for a fraction of the normal price. Simply show your JR pass at the ticket counter, and you get free tickets to whatever train you want to use. Don't forget to book your seat reservation, also included with your pass.
You can travel anywhere you wish, and journeys include Tokyo to Kyoto or even Tokyo to Kagoshima or Hokkaidō. If you want to travel around Japan, this is probably the best investment you can make, as otherwise, JR train tickets are very expensive.
How does the Japan Rail Pass work?
First, you need to decide for how long you want to travel for. You can do 7, 14 or 21 days with your Japan Rail Pass. Second, you need to remember that you must order the JR Pass online as the Japan Rail Voucher will arrive at your doorstep, in your home country.
Take the voucher with you and once you arrive in Japan, you can swap it for the real thing at any JR offices in all major train stations.
Once you have your epic Japan Rail Pass, your options are limitless. Travel around as much as you want. The only thing you must bear in mind is that if you wish to have a seat reserved, you must go to the JR counters and ask them to reserve a seat for your upcoming journey. This is entirely free of charge, and it's included in your Japan Rail Pass cost. It is also hassle-free, as all you have to do is show your Japan Rail Pass and tell them where and when you wish to go.
Important: the Japan Rail Pass cannot be used for travel on the superfast Nozomi and Mizuho trains on the Tokaido, Sanyo, and Kyushu Shinkansen lines. Don't worry, there are plenty of alternative Shinkansen trains to pick from.
Tip: For train journeys towards the Kansai region, make sure you reserve your seat in advance, to ensure you can see Mount Fuji. Nothing better than eating some sushi from a bento box whilst gazing at the beautiful mountain from a Shinkansen. Ask at the counter which side of the train you should sit for best views.
Should you buy a JR Pass?
If you want to do long-distance travel around Japan or do lots of day trips, then yes, you should buy a Japan Rail Pass because it's great value for money. For example, the bullet train from Tokyo to Kyoto is currently $210 (28000 yen) for a return trip. If you also take a day trip to Nara, Yoshino, Osaka and Hiroshima then your JR Pass will end up saving you a couple hundred dollars.
I purchased a JR Pass for my first trip, and it gave me so much peace of mind that I can do a lot of day trips and see more places. I took day trips on the Shinkansen to Kobe, Himeji Castle, Nagoya, and Nagano. I reckon I would have ended up spending at least twice as much on train tickets were it not for the JR Pass.
When should you buy the Japan Rail Pass?
It is a good idea to purchase your JR Pass as early as possible, but you don't have to rush. There are 24/48-hour delivery options available, so you will receive your tickets anywhere in the world superfast. The tickets can be delivered to your home address or your hotel in Japan.
It is important to remember, you can't buy the JR Pass in Japan anywhere. You have to purchase it in advance, before you travel.
Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, until March 31, 2023 it was possible to purchase the JR Pass in Japan from selected sales offices. The JR pass purchased this way was more expensive than if you bought the pass online.
How much does it cost to buy a Japan Rail Pass?
The JR Pass might seem pricey at first, but if you end up using the Shinkansen a lot, then it's well worth it. In the table below, I have collected the up-to-date JR Pass prices in various currencies including USD, GBP, EUR and Japanese Yen.
Japan Rail Pass Prices in 2023
The JR Pass prices until October 2023 are as follows:
|7 days||$231||£186||€212||¥29650||Click to buy|
|14 days||$369||£297||€338||¥47250||Click to buy|
|21 days||$471||£379||€432||¥60450||Click to buy|
(updated: April 2023, Per person prices)
Top Tip: The pass comes with free seat reservation option on most trains. Just make sure to reserve your seat in advance at the train station.
Where can you buy a Japan Rail Pass?
I bought my Japan Rail Pass from this company. My JR voucher arrived in less than a week, alongside further info about how to use it, a JR line map and a Japanese train timetable.
Make sure you allow plenty of time for your voucher to arrive, but don't order it earlier than 3 months prior to your departure to Japan.
Can you buy a Japan Rail Pass in Japan?
You can purchase the Japan Rail Pass in Japan, but for an extra cost, which is why I recommend pre-ordering yours online. You can order it to your home address or to your hotel in Japan if that's more convenient to you. Once you receive the voucher, simply exchange it at any major Japan Rail Stations around Japan.
Update: Japan Rail has extended the period in which the pass can be purchased within Japan until March 31, 2024, from selected sales offices.
Remeber that if you buy the JR Rail Pass in Japan you will pay approximately 10-15% more then if you buy it outside Japan, in advance.
In the table below, you can see the price comparison between buying your JR Pass in advance or buying it directly from Japan.
|Duration||Price in advance||Price in Japan|
What changes are coming to the JR Pass in October 2023?
In October 2023, the Japan Rail company will raise the price of the JR Pass. The prices for the pass will be made the same across all sales channels, and offline sales of the pass will be discontinued.
The new JR Pass prices for adults* from October 2023 are as follows:
*Child Passes (6-11 yrs), will cost 50% of the adult price
Additionally, to the price increase detailed above, JR Pass holders will be able to use the Nozomi and Mizuho express bullet train services for an extra fee.
If you are unsure if this change affects you, feel free to drop us a message at the comments section below the article. Give us as many details as you can about your circumstance, and we will try to help.
What if you didn't buy a Japan Rail Pass?
You can buy your regular train tickets right at the train station whilst in Japan. Just know that if you want to travel a lot, the costs add up, and you will end up paying more for your tickets. The best thing is to plan ahead.
I recommend getting your Japan Rail Pass with worldwide delivery, for unlimited, hassle-free train travel across Japan. Buy the Japan Rail Pass here!
Is the JR Pass worth the cost?
Yes, the JR Pass is worth it, especially if:
- you are on a short trip but want to use the Shinkansen to save lots of time
- you are staying for longer periods and want a more complete itinerary with long distances and several destinations
- you plan long distance travel to places like Hokkaido or Hiroshima
- you want comfort during your trip
- you don't want to rely on slow local trains or buses
If you take all these into account, it's clear that the JR Pass will be worth buying.
Prepare for your trip to Japan
- 7 days in Japan itinerary
- 2 weeks in Japan itinerary
- 3 weeks in Japan itinerary
- Preparing for your trip to Japan
- Is Japan expensive?
- What to pack for Japan
- What to wear in Japan
- Japanese Food
- Things to do in Japan
Frequently Asked Questions about the JR Pass
Is it worth buying the JR Pass in Japan?
If you are spending 7 days or more in Japan and planning to take trips to multiple cities, then yes, absolutely. The JR Pass will save you money and make your life easier when booking your tickets and seats. You can check prices and buy your JR Pass here.
How useful is the JR Pass in Tokyo?
The JR Pass can be used on any JR lines to travel between stations. It is a great way to save money if you already have the pass. Look for the JR trains in Tokyo and enjoy unlimited free travel.
To pass the barrier at the station, show your JR Pass to the attendant. They will let you through the gates. It's easy!
Is JR Pass worth it 14 days?
It really depends on your Japan plans if the 14 days JR Pass worth it. I only recommend buying the 14 days pass if you plan on staying at least 14 days, and you will travel extensively across the country by train.
I suggest that you check your plans and see if it's possible to group all the trips together, so you do all your train travels within 7 days. If that's doable, buy the 7 days pass only.
Is Hokkaido JR Pass worth it?
Travelling from Tokyo to Hokkaido (Sapporo) is a great way to take advantage of the JR Pass. You will save around $157 (23000 yen) per person for a round trip if you use the JR Pass instead of buying a return ticket. You can check prices and buy your JR Pass here.
Does Japan Rail Pass include subway?
No, you won't be able to use your JR Pass to travel on the subways in Japan. However, many large cities including Tokyo, Osaka, Nagoya, also run JR trains on the same lines. You can use these trains for free if you have the pass.
Is Japan Rail Pass unlimited rides?
Yes, the JR Pass give you unlimited travel on any JR train ithin the timeframe you've purchased your pass.
Important: the Japan Rail Pass cannot be used for travel on the superfast Nozomi and Mizuho trains on the Tokaido, Sanyo, and Kyushu Shinkansen lines. Don't worry, there are plenty of alternative Shinkansen trains to pick from.
Is the price of the JR Pass will really increase?
Yes, the price of the JR Pass will increase from October 2023. Click on this article to see the new prices and learn about additional changes that are coming in October.
If you buy your JR Pass before this date, it will still be valid during your travel after October. You can check prices and buy your JR Pass here.
What do you think?
Did you like this article? Do you have any questions or suggestions?
Leave a comment below.
hi, great article thank you. My partner and I will be in Japan towards end of October. Can we get our JRP prior to price increase and will it be honored?
How far in advance can we purchase the pass?
Hi Narmin, you can buy your JR Pass up to 3 months before your travels. And the company delivers it to you around 1 month before your actual departure time. Happy travels around Japan!
Because I have seen the JR Rail Pass site saying that you can buy it even more then 3 months before your trip, we just need to let them know so that they can delay the issue date of the pass, will it work for avoiding this price increase if we're planning a trip for February 2024?
Concerned as noticed that most travel sites indicate that you can only buy up to 3 months before the trip.
To my knowledge you can only buy a JR Pass up to 3 months before the trip.
Once your online order is confirmed, you will receive an Exchange Order (JR voucher) by post. You can either receive it home before you leave or have it delivered to your temporary residence in Japan. The voucher needs to be exchanged for the actual rail pass once you are in Japan, within three (3) months of when the Exchange Order is issued.
I doubt, though, any JR reseller could delay sending the exchange order for so long, as that would be way beyond October price rises.
Can I please ask, where are you planning on going in Japan via shinkansen? Maybe I can help you some other ways?
We are traveling in October. If we buy a Japan Rail Pass now (or before October) do we have to pay the price increase?
Hi Amy, you can buy your JR Pass up to 3 months before your travels. And the company delivers it to you around 1 month before your actual departure time. Which means you should aim to buy yours in August before the price increase. Happy travels around Japan!
Hi Cory, great post! I am planning a trip to Japan in November and have used the JR Pass before, so I would like to buy it again. Will be traveling as followed: Tokyo - Osaka - Fukuoka - Tokyo. I was wondering about the increase in price in October. If I buy it now or in June for the old price, have they said anything about that? Will they ask for an extra charge or will I still pay the old price and be able to use it without issue in November? Thank you in advance! Best, Lisa
Hi Lisa, you can buy your JR Pass up to 3 months before your travels. And the company delivers it to you around 1 month before your actual departure time. Which means you should aim to buy yours in September before the price increase. Happy travels around Japan!
Hey there, you can buy the JR pass in Japan - I bought one two days ago (19 April 2023) at Tokushima Station, and according to JR, they've extended it to be able to buy in Japan until March next year. It costs a few thousand yen more, but definitely worth it if you can't buy one before your trip.
Dear Rebecca, thank you for your comment. We are looking into this now and will update the article shortly.
Very nicely written blog with beautiful pictures. very interesting information and its quite helpful for other.
We are trying to work out how to get from Narita Airport to Kobe . We are in Japan for 16 days. Should we buy a 14 day train pass and just buy train tickets back to the airport. Or take a 21 day pass, we will be 45 minutes from Tokyo on our last 4 days
I would just buy a train ticket on the last day and use the 14 day JR Pass for all other travel :)
I'm sure you will love Japan. Have lots of fun and safe travels.
Hello I noticed in your article (thank you for it) that you mention that you cannot use the rail pass for certain trains however I intend to travel to Hiroshima from Tokyo. Can you tell me if the rail pass would permit me to use it from Tokyo to Hiroshima and or to Miyajima ? If not what do you suggest.
You can use the JR Pass from Tokyo to Hiroshima on the Shinkansen. The JR Pass will come with a handy guide which will tell you exactly which lines you and can not use.
It realy works great. We had a pass and we haf a great time. You should also order the box for internet. Them you have always acses to internet during yout trip. You can order it in combination with your trainpass
Thanks! I found the useful information from the blog. All the tips are very informative.
Glad to hear :) Cory
Thanks for your article. I have been also confused with the lines included in the JR pass so it's great to read simple and straightforward articles like this one.
I thought I calculated right that I will pay if I buy a JR pass but with your suggestion to take the JR pass for Tokyo-Nagano to the snow and back to Fuji and then Tokyo (in the comment section), I'm now not sure about my calcul.
As I'm staying 10 days in Japan, my plan was to travel from Narita airport-Tokyo; (after two days in Tokyo) Tokyo-Hakuba; Hakuba-Takayama; Takayama-Tokyo; 'after two days in Tokyo) Tokyo-Narita airport without the JR pass....
Would it be worthy to buy a JR pass? (knowing that it wont cover all my trip anyway?)
Thanks a lot :).
Thank you very much for your message. It will 100% worth it!!! You will end up saving SO much by having the JR Pass for 7 days. You can also use it in Tokyo for the JR Yamanote line. I think you should absolutely go for it!
Any questions, please let me know.
P.S. Takayama is so beautiful <3
Amazing Blog. Very Informative. Keep it up
Great article and glad that I came across it before my trip in Nov'17. I came across the JR East Pass (Nagano) which I am considering to buy as it can be used for my returned trip to Nagano as well as on the monorial to Haneada for my return flight.
However, I am still understanding the extensive network of Tokyo train system currently.
Hi Jasmine, I'm glad you found it useful. Please remember that you can only use the JR Pass on trains and not on subways. In Tokyo, you can use the Yamanote line which is a green circle around the centre :)
Any questions, let me know. Cory xoxo
Hi Cory, thanks for the heads up. Lucky my friend whom is a local from Nagano will join me from day 2 of my trip. So i just have to navigate the first day and half on my own. I am slowly going through your posts to better equip myself
Thank you for sharing such useful information with us! For those who are planning to have a trip in Japan, they really need to know the railway of Japan beforehand.
Thanks for sharing a good post about the Japan rail pass, keep writing and sharing.
thanks for sharing nice information blog about japan rail pass
It seems pretty affordable for a week pass and a great way to get around! I'll certainly bookmark this for when I get to Japan this year.
Thanks for the boatload of info, Cory! I had dismissed the JR Pass because I wasn't sure if it could be used within certain cities, but after reading this it feels like we should do the math properly. We are going to Tokyo, Hakuba, Kyoto and then Osaka so perhaps a 2 week pass would be worth it!
So helpful! Bookmarking this as we head back to Tokyo and Osaka next month! The rail pass can seem a bit overwhelming so this is great!
Ooh, sounds very useful. When I travel Japan I usually island hop, though I've heard the pass is so great for quick easy travel in one place. May have to plan for it next time I go! :)
This post is so useful! Thanks so much. I've heard some talk about the JR Pass but never actually received any legitimate, useful info. I'll definitely be getting a pass when I finally get to visit Japan!
Great article - I've never heard of this before but I'm planning a trip to Japan next year so I'll definitely be investing in one. I wish more countries offered passes like this.
Sounds like great trip! Thank you. Hope you will remember it for many years.
thank you for the all the guidance given in your blog posts, it is really helpful, though i m still confused with the train pass, planning to visit japan in end of march and would like to see the snow monkeys and put up a day in the snow mountain as my two young kids seeing snow for first time(aged 8 and 5) and would like to see mount Fiji too. Pleases tell me should i buy the rail pass for 7 days or wide pass? can i use this pass in to subway in tokyo.
thank you in advance
I'm very glad to hear you found this article useful. It is entirely up to you if you wish to purchase the JR Pass for the duration of your stay. Here is the information I can provide:
Children age 5 and under don't have to pay for the JR Pass.
Adult price for JR Pass (at the date of writing this) is £206 for 7 days.
Child price for JR Pass (at the date of writing this) is £103 for 7 days.
If you want to purchase tickets separately it will cost you:
A return trip with the shinkansen Tokyo to Nagano (roughly £100 per adult and half for your eldest child) + the cost of using the local trains from Nagano to Yudanaka (I don't actually know the price for this I'm afraid)
A return trip with the shinkansen Tokyo to Fuji (roughly £50 per adult and half for your eldest child)
As you can see, you break even with either buying the JR Pass or buying tickets on the shinkansen.
Add a trip to Nikko from Tokyo for one day and you would already save A LOT with the JR Pass.
You can't use the JR Pass for the Tokyo subways but you can use for all JR trains in Tokyo. So for example, if you want to go from central Tokyo to Shinjuku by train, you can easily do this with your JR Pass.
You can also use your JR Pass on the monorail from the Haneda airport.
For the subway, you will need to get a Pasmo card. This enables you to pay as you go for your subway travels. It's very easy to use and it allows you to save money and hassle on a long run, especially when travelling with children.
A few more words of friendly advice:
Please familiarise with some basic customs and manners before going to Japan. Japanese people are super friendly and very willing to help, but please help them by respecting their culture.
If you want to know more about Japan, I'm happy to direct you to more articles or help you with your itinerary.
Do let me know if you have more questions, and do not hesitate to contact me.
Links to more articles:
Manners and customs: https://www.youcouldtravel.com/2016/05/how-to-behave-in-japan-manners-an...
My journey to the Snow Monkey Pass: https://www.youcouldtravel.com/2016/04/a-rewarding-journey-to-the-snow-m...
Hi Alina, I recommend buying your JR Pass at least one month before travelling to Japan. I really loved the Shinkansen and I am sure you will have a great experience too. I've heard of the Maharajas' Express. It looks absolutely amazing! I bet it's such fun adventure to travel by luxury train, right?
How many day before I will have to book the tickets? It seems you love the train travel. I don't like much but yes, sometimes. Have you ever heard about Maharajas' Express - The Luxury Train?