For those of you planning a trip to Japan, you may consider purchasing a JR Pass that can possibly save you money while traveling throughout this country. JR Pass, or Japan Rail Pass, is exactly what it sounds like, a pass that allows you to use the majority of the Japan railway systems throughout the country. So what makes it worth buying? This guide can give you an idea of what this pass offers.
Why Buy a JR Pass
The main take home message of this guide is you can possibly save money depending on what your travel plans are for Japan, basically if you plan to explore beyond Tokyo. My personal 2-week trip to Japan had me going to Tokyo, Kyoto, Osaka, and back to Tokyo within the first week.
After looking at one way tickets for Tokyo-Kyoto, and Osaka-Tokyo, each ticket cost roughly ¥14,800 (about $130), I found it beneficial to purchase this pass for the first half of my trip as I can use it for other JR lines besides the Shinkansen bullet train, which will be explained later. My second half of my Japan trip was solely in Tokyo, so I knew that I could get away with just using a Suica card to get around Tokyo. So I decided to buy a 7-day JR Pass, which at the time was around $270 shipped.
If your personal trip has you traveling outside Tokyo using a bullet train, then I would highly consider purchasing a JR Pass as the benefits of using it can save you money. However, if your trip has you staying solely in Tokyo, unless you expect to use the transit systems a lot, I would consider getting a Suica card instead. It really depends on how far you’re traveling in Japan, and for how long.
How to Buy a JR Pass
If you decided that a JR pass is right for you, where do I buy one? Several websites sell JR passes, however it should be noted that these passes are solely for foreigners and/or tourists. If you’re a foreigner living in Japan, you may not be qualified to purchase this pass. The company that I purchased my JR Pass from was through Japan Experience. Companies can vary from price and duration, but they all generally share the same principle. Depending on how long you stay in Japan, you can generally purchase a 7, 14, 21 or more-day pass, with each increasing day-period costing more. Once you’ve decided on which pass you’re purchasing, you’ll have to wait a few days to a few weeks to receive a packet containing your voucher and various items and guides to help you with your trip. Japan Experience uses Fedex express, so I got my relatively quickly (within a few days).
It’s important to note that because it can take a few weeks to receive the voucher, it’s best to purchase a month or so prior to your Japan trip. I'm unsure if you can purchase a voucher in Japan. So it is best to play it safe!
How to Exchange your Voucher
You’ve got your voucher, and you’ve just arrived to Japan, it’s time to get your pass! The nice thing about the voucher is that you can exchange it at any JR Pass ticket off
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