TrainReview's guide to Japan Rail Passes

May 20, 2020

Japan has one of the world's great rail networks with clean, fast and efficient trains effortlessly linking almost all cities, towns and villages from tiny settlements on Hokkaido and Kyushu to the dynamic mega-cities of Tokyo, Kyoto, Osaka, Hiroshima, Fukuoka, Sapporo and Nagoya. Japanese trains are famous for their ease of use and punctuality, and will not disappoint. From modern and fast intercity Shinkansen bullet trains to quaint branch lines; from the lights of Tokyo to sub-tropical Kyushu – trains crisscross Japan reaching every corner of the country. If you are planning to make a number of train journeys during your visit to Japan ticket prices can add up – especially if you plan to extensively use the country’s excellent but almost airline priced high speed Shinkansen bullet trains. Luckily, to encourage tourism, the Japanese Railways have a solution – the Japan Rail Pass. Japan Rail Passes off an “all you can eat” buffet of train travel – simply make a reservation and ride.

If you will be traveling by train between cities more than once whilst you are in Japan it might be worth purchasing a 7,14 or 30-day Japan Rail Pass, which can be cheaper than just one round trip ticket between Tokyo and Hiroshima. For example, a 7-day Japan Rail Pass costs less than $300 whereas a regular round trip ticket from Tokyo to Hiroshima costs $360. Japan Rail Passes are accepted on all JR operated trains including the country's famous Shinkansen bullet trains, trains to and from airports and even JR operated trains within Tokyo, Osaka and other major cities – so take your pass when you go sightseeing!

Why travel by train in Japan?

Trains are synonymous with Japan – few images encapsulate the country better than those of its iconic Shinkansen bullet trains whisking past Mt Fuji. Trains are integrated into Japanese society – they are a way of life, an asset the country could not exist without. To experience Japan one has to travel by train. If that's not enough reason to hit the rails trains are also faster, cheaper and more efficient than flying.