You have an upcoming trip to Japan, you want to travel around different cities, and you stumbled upon the JR pass in your research. One of the best things about Japan is its efficient transportation system- as a tourist, it makes traveling so much easier and stress-free. With so many things to see and do, you definitely want to make the most out of your trip.

Perhaps one of the most frequently asked questions of people planning their trip is “Is the JR Pass Worth It?” Well, we get it- the JR Pass can be expensive and naturally, you want to make sure you get the best bang out of your buck! There is no simple answer to this question. In this article, we’ll explore whether the JR pass would be a good buy for you on your upcoming trip.

We’ve rounded it down to some questions that can help you decide whether the JR pass could be worth it for your trip.

How long are you going to be in Japan for? 

You have an option to get a 7, 14 or 21-day validity for the JR pass. That already gives you a rough idea of whether this would be the right fit for your trip. Obviously, if you’re staying in Japan only for a few days and you want to maximize your time exploring and not spend your precious time in transit, then it wouldn’t be worth it. Now, can the JR pass still be worth it even if you’re going to be in Japan for less than 7 days? The answer depends on the next question.

How many cities are you planning to visit or how extensively are you going to travel?

The JR pass can be used to access ALL trains under Japan Railways (JR Line) including some ferries and other trains on the JR Line-  Shinkansenlimited expressexpress as well as rapid or local trains. It can also be used even for the Tokyo monorail! Do note that access to “Nozomi” and “Mizuho” Shinkansen are excluded from the pass, and you would, therefore, need to pay regular fare for these trains. Explore the trains and the maps of the JR Lines here.

Are you going to doing extensive travelling or are you going to stay in a city (let’s say Tokyo)  and explore nearby using mostly local trains? If your answer is the latter, then the JR pass might not be a good fit for your travel.

Sample 7-day itinerary: Tokyo- Osaka- Kyoto- Nara

This itinerary is quite common and is based on Tokyo Narita Airport being the entry/exit point and having accommodations in Osaka for the first 5 days of the trip and the 6th night in Tokyo. Note that these are based on rough estimate costs.

To simplify it further, let’s say you’re only doing Tokyo and Osaka. One-way tickets from Tokyo to Osaka (without the JR Pass) cost about JPY132,000 or AUD190. Roundtrip tickets would already cost you around AUD380, and that’s excluding other shorter travels within the city and your train to and from the airport upon arrival and departure, which are about AUD42 each.

With the JR pass: 
– you get unlimited travel- making it really convenient (as there would be no need to buy individual tickets every time!)
– you can also reserve train tickets in advance
– travelling can also be much faster as you can choose to take the Shinkansen or bullet trains all the time since it’s included in your JR Pass!

The answer to whether the JR pass is worth it really depends on your travel plans and the places you want to see and spend time on. For more resources and details on the JR pass, read our other articles here: JR Pass FAQs & All you need to Know About the JR Pass.

If you do decide to purchase a JR pass, each purchase comes with a J-Book, a curated travel book where you can find out about all the best things to do on the routes of Japan Rail!

Let’s plan your trip!

Explore travel essentials, attractions, sightseeing tours you can do in Japan here.

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