There is a wide variety of options and things to consider when choosing the best Japan Rail Pass.
Depending on your travel itinerary, the following questions and answers will help you choose the best JR Pass.
Will your trip cover most parts of Japan?
If yes, then the main Japan Rail Pass should be the best choice for you. This is because it will give you better access to the entire country.
|Type||Ordinary||Green (First class)|
|Adult (12+)||Child (6-11)||Adult (12+)||Child (6-11)|
Will your trip cover mostly the Northern, Eastern, and Central parts of Japan?
If yes, then one of the JR East Passes would be the best choice. This is because it can help you save more money compared to the main JR Pass.
You will have to choose between these four JR East Pass options:
- The JR East Nagano-Niigata Pass
- The JR East Tohoku Pass
- The JR Tohoku South Hokkaido Pass
- The JR East-South Hokkaido Pass
If you plan on staying in Tokyo or another major city such as Sendai, you don’t have to get a regional rail pass.
|Type||Major Destinations||Validity Period||Classification||Price (purchased online or overseas)||Price (purchased in Japan)|
|Nagano & Niigata Area Pass||Available to foreign residents of Japan from April 1, 2021. |
The best choice for travelers is between Tokyo and Nagano, Karuizawa, Niigata, and Gala Yuzawa resort.
The pass can be used on Shinkansen Narita Express and Tokyo Monorail.
|5-day pass used consecutively.||Adult(12+)|
|Tohoku Area Pass||Unlimited travel on JR East trains within the Tohoku area. Available to foreign residents of Japan from April 1, 2021. |
Best for travelers between Nikko, Akita, Sendai, and Fukushima, Tokyo, and Aomori.
Pass valid on the Shinkansen, Narita Express, and Tokyo Monorail. The pass can be used in Nikko and Izu on certain non-JR trains as well.
|5-day pass used consecutively.||Adult(12+)|
|East-South Hokkaido Pass||It is recommended for travelers between Tokyo and Hakodate and Sapporo (Hokkaido), Sendai, Nikko, Karuizawa, and Aomori.||6-day pass used consecutively.||Adult(12+)|
|Tohoku-South Hokkaido Pass||It is recommended for travelers between Sendai, Hakodate, Sapporo (Hokkaido), Fukushima, Aomori, Akita, and Iwate.||6-day pass used consecutively.||Adult(12+)|
Will most of your Japan itinerary cover Tokyo?
If yes, then you should get JR Tokyo Wide Pass.
The JR Tokyo Wide Pass will give you access to limited express and several bullet trains.
However, if you are only going to be traveling around the Yokohama/Tokyo area, don’t buy the pass. It is not worth it.
|Tokyo Wide Pass (3 consecutive days)||Adult (12+)|
Check out the reasons why I don’t fly United Airlines.
Will you be visiting major cities and tourist destinations of Kobe, Nara, Kyoto, and Osaka?
If yes, then your best Japan Rail Pass choice should be Kansai Area Pass.
Kansai Area Pass is best, especially if you plan on using it for daily travel rather than inter-city travel.
|Types of JR West Pass||Validity Period||Classification||Price (purchased online or overseas)||Price (purchased in Japan)|
|Kansai Area Pass (Most popular)||1 day||Adult (12+)||¥2,300||¥2,400|
|2 day||Adult (12+)||¥4,600||¥4,800|
|3 day||Adult (12+)||¥5,600||¥5,800|
|4 day||Adult (12+)||¥6,600||¥6,800|
|Hokuriku Area Pass||4 day||Adult (12+)||¥5,090||¥5,600|
|Hiroshima-Yamaguchi Area Pass||5 day||Adult (12+)||¥11,200||¥12,200|
|Sanyo-San’in Northern Kyushu Area Pass||7 day||Adult (12+)||¥22,400||¥23,420|
|San’in-Okayama Area Pass||4 day||Adult (12+)||¥4,580||¥5,600|
|Kansai-Hokuriku Area Pass||7 day||Adult (12+)||¥15,270||¥16,290|
Are you planning on taking a slow route between Tokyo and Osaka?
Hokuriku Arch Pass then will be the best choice.
This pass will easily allow you to explore both Osaka and Tokyo. It is also a great way of getting to see incredible places that are mostly under-visited.
|Hokuriku Arch Pass||Classification||Price|
[Railway companies and lines you can use]
JR West Lines
JR EAST Lines
IR Ishikawa Railway
Ainokaze Toyama Railway
Noto Railway (between Nanao and Wakuraonsen stations)
You cannot use the Hokuriku Arch Pass to travel on the Tokaido Shinkansen.
(This is because a different company operates the Tokaido Shinkansen)
|Adults (12 year+)|
Children (6-11 years old)
So, in summary, what is the best train pass for Japan?
It depends on your Japan travel itinerary. However, it is worth noting that Japan Rail Pass will not be worth it if you’ll only be exploring Tokyo city.
A better alternative should be buying individual tickets or charging money onto a Suica card or Pasmo card.