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Is the Japan Rail Pass worth it in 2024? Everything you need to know

We are asked many questions about the Japan Rail Pass here at 2 Aussie Travellers  We are asked whether you need it, if it is good value, which pass to get, where to buy it, how to use it and even where to go now you’ve ordered it.    

Last year, in October 2023, there was a massive price increase for the JR Pass that changed the value proposition completely. You will find a full discussion of the options below together with some opportunities and how to assess value for your trip as it stands now and into the future.

Using your Japan Rail Pass on the Shinkansen

Is the Japan Rail Pass worth it?

I’m going to come right out with it at the start and say no.  The JR Pass (purchased after 1 October 2023) is not good value and for most travellers and itineraries it is now a bad option.

Three things changed in 2023 that impacted the Japan Rail Pass and how it measures up for value, convenience and a tool for stress-free travel.

1. The Price Increase

The biggest impact was the massive price increase, the current price and changes are shown in the table below:

TypeOld PriceCurrent PriceIncrease %
Regular – 7 day29,650 yen50,000 yen69%
Regular – 14 day47,250 yen80,000 yen69%
Regular – 21 day60,450 yen100,000 yen65%
Green – 7 day39,600 yen70,000 yen77%
Green – 14 day64,120 yen111,000 yen73%
Green – 21 day83,390 yen140,000 yen68%

So many people have asked us to check their calculations or review the value of a pass for their itinerary over the years, there are over a hundred just in the comments below this article and I can’t find a single one of these that stacks up with the current pass and ticket prices.

Our own experience is a little different, we have travelled intensively while our JR pass is active and always optimise our plan to make the best use of that week or fortnight when it is active. I’ve been very happy on average getting almost double the value in fares that we paid for the passes. However, not even all of those itineraries break even with the new price and those that do are so borderline that I probably would not have tweaked the itinerary to make it fit, instead, I would have spaced things out and used individual tickets or regional passes.

2. Changes to luggage

Before Japan’s borders closed in 2020 we moved around easily with our luggage on the trains. When booking we’d usually travel out of peak times and ask for the rear seats so we could sit with our suitcases. Even if those seats weren’t available those spaces were free to use by anyone if they were empty. Right up to the end of 2019 we made dozens of Shinkansen trips with suitcases and were always able to fit them in the allocated space in our carriage.

During the border closure and in the lead-up to the rescheduled Olympics the policy changed to needing to book the luggage seats (rear row) and only people in those seats could store luggage in that space, oversized luggage (not an issue for us) had to be booked at an additional cost and all other bags had to go at your feet or in the open luggage shelves overhead.

The size limit for needing to book the luggage space is 160 cm, which is the length + width + depth of the bag, so still quite a big suitcase, there is no weight limit just the ability to lift it above your head and balance it on the shelf. As people are now taking up space well beyond the rack above their seat leaving others with none I expect this will be adjusted again soon.

This doesn’t only apply to the JR Pass, it is all passengers but as it is mainly foreign tourists who travel with larger bags it does seem targeted at limiting the number of tourists per train, especially at busy times and seasons. It definitely makes the case for luggage forwarding services much stronger but it is an extra cost and for most destinations, you will not have your bag until the next day.

3. Changing the pass to a paper ticket

The JR pass had always been a small cardboard folder the size of a passport with a ticket attached inside and some details added. This was shown at the ticket counter as you entered and to the inspector on the train when asked. It is a valuable travel document, not as scary to lose as your passport but very expensive as if you lose it or put it through the laundry and damage it, it can’t be replaced, it can only be issued once.

Now these have been replaced by a small green paper ticket that looks almost identical to a single-use Shinkansen or limited express ticket. The positive of this is that they are machine-readable, no more queuing for the only manned booth while counting down the minutes till your train departs you just feed it in and collect it on the other side.

The downside is it is a paper ticket that looks identical to half a dozen other tickets in your wallet you still need to throw out and if you get a crinkle in it or dog-ear the corner it is going to jam up that gate reader causing chaos behind you and a nightmare as you try to find someone to help and convince them to open up the gate machine and locate your missing ticket.

Together the combination of an excessive price, a reduction in some of the benefits, convenience and stress-reducing features mean that while it hurts to say it, the Japan Rail Pass no longer represents good value for your travel dollar.

With that spoiler out of the way, there are some other options out there that are well worth considering that may save you some money and simplify your travel experience in Japan. These include regional passes, destination passes, alternative rail companies and more. As this article is quite long already and has a lot of information I will add a link here soon to a separate article on the best Japan transport options going forward.

First, let’s look at some sample itineraries to test the current Japan Rail Pass value, I’ll show you a quick way to do your own calculations and give you all the extra information you’ll need if you do decide a JR Pass is the solution for you.

Testing the JR Pass value against specific itineraries

We have always suggested you take a few minutes to check the value of a JR Pass for your own travel plans before making a decision to purchase, or not. While it is likely to be a lot more intuitive going forward I would still suggest you check the numbers yourself.

It can be easier to visualise as a worked example.  I suggest using a 7-day pass at Y50,000, if you can’t get this to work for a 7-day portion of your trip it is very unlikely the 14 or 21 will be economical either.

1. Tokyo, Kyoto, Osaka, Nara, Kobe, Tokyo

So if you take a typical but busy 7-day itinerary.  Say Tokyo to Kyoto, Kyoto to Osaka, a day trip from Osaka to Nara, a day trip to Kobe and back to Tokyo.  This lets you visit 5 cities, includes a couple of longer distance rides on the Shinkansen and leaves one full day to explore Kyoto and one full day in Osaka, neither of which uses the JR pass heavily.

This itinerary would be Y31,620 so the 7-day Y50,000 JR pass would not be worth getting.

2. Tokyo, Hiroshima, Kyoto, Osaka, Nara, Tokyo

A second example extends the distance across the country through to Hiroshima with a day trip to Miyajima Island, coming back to Kyoto then a day trip to Osaka and another to Nara, one full day in Kyoto and return Shinkansen to Tokyo.

This itinerary would be Y47,880 so the 7-day Y50,000 JR pass would not be worth getting.

While I have been a huge fan of the JR pass, using it frequently I think it is unlikely that we will purchase it again.  There will be examples where it works and your dream trip may be one of them so do your own calculations.

3. And an example of where the pass might work?

If you fly into Tokyo and want to get to Sapporo in Hokkaido by train and back in a week that would be a Y5520 saving using the pass.  This is an option for someone who really wants to make the trip by train, it is quite a stunning ride but takes over 9 hours each way with multiple connections along the way. Break it up with a couple of overnight stops, maybe Nagano, Aomori or Hakodate and that will increase the value. However flying, with advance bookings would be cheaper and much faster giving more time at the destination. 

I also tested it on a route from Tokyo to Nagasaki (Kyushu) with a stop in Osaka and that didn’t make the pass worthwhile.

Another itinerary I would see it possibly working for is someone backpacking who wants to train from one destination to the next each day following the main Bullet Train and limited express routes and covering multiple islands (Honshu and Hokkaido or Kyushu). 

If you have made the JR pass work for your itinerary since the increase I would love to hear where you went.

How to do your own JR Pass value calculations

There are so many options and variables that it is almost impossible to give a generic answer for someone else.  I’d suggest listing out your key routes and then costing them using Hyperdia which has returned since the borders reopened although with slightly less functionality than it had before.

If you prefer to use your phone consider a tool like the free Japan Transit app. That link is for Apple devices, if you use Android you’ll need this one.  

Japan Transit is the best free alternative to Hyperdia I have found. It is user-friendly and you can add in the settings that you are using a JR pass and it will then eliminate trains you can’t use from the search results.

Japan Transit App - Japan Rail Pass setting
Select your preferences in the settings, that Japan Rail Pass option at the top is why this tool is so good.
Japan Transit App - select route and time
On the main screen choose the departure and arrival station and when you are planning to go. That last train option has been useful for us on long day trips.

Have a play and see if you get on with it, I still prefer Hyperdia in web mode, its app versions haven’t been great, but I’ve been using it for around 12 years now and it is just what I am used to. One of them will likely become one of your key tools both in the planning stage and once you’re in Japan. It will help you work out all the information including travel time, any transfers and for this particular purpose the cost.  Make sure you take the total price from the top of the screen for the route you choose.  

Japan Transit App - total ticket price
I have circled the cost at the top to use in your calculation

I then jot down the dates and against them any major trips we will be doing that day. Don’t worry about the around-town trips at this stage, that might be a bonus saving but it’s not what is going to help decide if you need the pass or not. Plug those details into the app remembering to include the return fare if it’s a day trip.

My example here using old pricing but the concept works and the current pricing is shown above.

Calculate if JR Pass is worthwhile

Now I look for any 7-day grouping (or 14/21-day if that is applicable) and compare it to the price of the pass. If my dates are still flexible I might move things around so that they work better at this stage.

We suggest you consider whether you will use the JR Pass early in the trip planning process as it might impact the timing and sequence of the places you visit. That will have a flow-on effect on booking your accommodation and other activities. is the website we have used on our past trips. They have been great to deal with, reliable and competitively priced.

Check the current price and terms for

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What is the Japan Rail Pass?

The passes are a deal offered by Japan Rail (JR) on their railway, bus and ferry network exclusively for foreign visitors to Japan. To use one, you must be in Japan on a tourist visa (under 90 days).

The format of the Japan Rail Pass also changed in 2023. It is no longer the folded cardboard ticket it is now a small green scannable paper ticket, very similar to the Shinkansen tickets. With this change, you now don’t have to use manned entry and exit points, instead, insert the ticket into the card reader at the station.

While we (and most people) refer to THE Japan Rail pass there is a range of passes issued by Japan Rail.  Some such as the JR East and West passes cover only sections of the country and will be useful for very specific trips, or segments of your trip if you’re planning to travel for longer.  

The Japan Rail Pass can be used nationwide.  You can use it on all Japan Rail services including the shinkansen (bullet train), limited express trains, airport and local trains.  There are even a few other specific services it can be used for including the ferry across to Miyajima Island in Hiroshima and some JR buses.  

Japan Rail is the national railway, it is the largest network by far and you can travel to all prefectures and cities on its trains but not on every train line or to every station. There are many other companies in Japan that also operate train and subway services in different areas. This pass is only for Japan Rail services and can’t be used on private railways, subways or inner-city buses.  

Check current prices for the Japan Rail Pass with our preferred supplier

Where to buy your Japan Rail Pass

Until this year we’ve always recommended purchasing your Japan Rail Pass before leaving for Japan, it was a significant cost saving (up to 13%) that way and much simpler with limited stations in Japan able to sell them in person. Online is still the best option but there is now the option to purchase online direct from the Japan Rail Group.

Buying the pass at a station in Japan

A couple of years ago Japan Rail trialled selling Japan Rail passes at a small number of stations. We did the price comparison in Tokyo at the time with our actual exchange rate and it worked out to a 13% premium for purchasing the pass once you arrive in Japan. This trial has ended and you can no longer by them in person at the station.

Buying the pass from an agent before travelling

There are a number of agents selling the Japan rail pass outside of Japan and have been for many years. This is just like booking a flight or hotel through a travel agent or website, they are legitimate sellers, most with their own fulfilment centres. One of the advantages of this method is that you purchase in your own currency so you know up front exactly what it will cost you.

When you purchase the pass you will be sent a voucher then when you arrive in Japan you exchange that voucher at a railway station office for the actual JR Pass.  We’ll cover more on the conditions of purchase and the mechanics of activating your pass late. is the website we have used on our recent trips. They have been great to deal with, reliable and competitively priced.

Check the current price and terms for

Buying the pass online from Japan Rail

In 2023 Japan Rail introduced their own website selling Japan Rail passes internationally. You can buy through this website either before arriving in Japan or after. The purchase price is in Japanese Yen and must be purchased on an accepted credit card in the name of the person purchasing the pass.

The cost of purchasing from Japan Rail direct from JR is generally slightly higher but there are two differences that may make this option worthwhile for some travellers. Firstly you get an electronic confirmation rather than a voucher being mailed to you, once you have that email you can go back onto the website and make bookings for specific train trips, including the luggage seats before you get to Japan.

Whether you have the Japan Rail email or voucher from another online seller you need to exchange it for the actual pass in the same JR station offices once you are in Japan. If you book tickets online you still need to collect those physical tickets at the same booking office you would go into to book them with the JR Pass in person.

The option for early booking is something that might provide peace of mind, especially when travelling with luggage during peak times soon after collecting the pass.

Purchasing from Japan Rail Group directly will cost Y50,000 which will usually be a little more expensive than other online providers. You will also have less price transparency in your local currency due to credit card exchange rates and international fees being added by some card issuers.

Please do the calculations for your own circumstances but for indicative purposes, this is based on my past experience with live purchases and more recent test transactions.

Final thoughts on where to buy

The JR Pass is a significant purchase for almost all travellers, the important decision is whether it makes sense for your trip and that you are comfortable with the provider you are purchasing it through. There is a combination of price, convenience, trust and now the opportunity for pre-booking to consider.

The Japan Rail pass also works well for those whose travel style is the complete opposite of ours.  Those who travel light and want to cover a lot of towns and cities in a fairly short period only stopping a night or two in each new place will also get great value.

What if I’m a budget traveller?

If you’re on a very tight budget the JR Pass may never have been the best option for you.  There are much cheaper ways to get around Japan than high-speed trains, the trade-off will be time, convenience and potential comfort so it comes down to what your priorities are.

As an example taking the bullet train from Tokyo to Kyoto will cost around Y13,850 for a single ticket but the overnight Willer Express bus can be as low as Y5,000 PLUS you will save a night’s accommodation as it literally travels all night.  If you don’t need much sleep or you can sleep well sitting up it could be an option for you.  While we’ve talked to several people who’ve used and recommended the bus as a budget option we haven’t used it ourselves and I’m just putting it out there as an alternative for comparison.

What is the price of the Japan Rail Pass?

The first thing you need to know is the price of the Japan Rail Pass. It’s a service provided in Japan so the base price is always in Japanese Yen (JPY) and the price is fixed, you won’t see it go on sale. Using the price in JPY makes it easy to compare it to the individual ticket prices and decide whether you want to buy one.

Number of daysOrdinary CarGreen Car
7-day passY 50,000Y 70,000
14-day passY 80,000Y 111,000
21-day passY 100,000Y 140,000
Updated for 2023 prices

Are there situations where the pass definitively isn’t good value?

Absolutely!  If you’re spending your visit mostly exploring the Golden Route between Tokyo, Kyoto and Osaka with a few days in nearby towns such as Hakone, Nara, Kobe, Nikko, Kamakura or Nagoya the pass will almost certainly not be worth the cost.  

You are far more likely to use the subway and other options most of the time within the cities and there are passes or private railway options that can be better value for those other trips.  Check out our posts on transport tips for first-time visitors to Japan and mastering the Tokyo subway system to get some handy hints if Tokyo is where you will spend a good portion of your time.

Again I’d recommend using Hyperdia or one of the apps to plug in your key routes and get an idea of the costs involved if you were to buy single tickets.

Types of Japan Rail Pass

If at this point you’ve decided it makes sense to use the Japan Rail pass you next need to make 4 choices:

Which Pass

The Whole Japan rail pass can be used right across the country, this is by far the most common version and the one you will need if you are including a trip from Tokyo to Kyoto for example.  

There are many other passes issued by Japan Rail for extensive travel in very specific regions and these isolated areas are less common choices for tourists.  With a few exceptions, when I’ve considered these in the past for sections of our trips I’ve usually found it more cost-effective and flexible to buy individual tickets or use a stored value card in that situation.

I do like the tool on this booking site over many of the other options. They offer a long list of JR Passes but when you select one from the summary screen it shows a map to the left with the covered area highlighted. I like this double-check that you are getting what you intended. They also list the 7-day national pass at the bottom of the regional list and on its own page.

How long do you want to use the pass for

The Japan Rail Pass comes in a 7, 14 and 21-day option.  It makes sense to group your longer and more expensive trips during the duration of the pass and continue to explore within your base city outside of that.  

Even if you’re staying 2-3 weeks in Japan you may only need the pass for the week when you do your long-distance trips and then buy individual tickets outside of that.  The incremental cost of the pass does get cheaper for each additional week though so it’s worth pricing it out both ways.

The Japan Rail pass is ideal for a touring holiday such as our 14-day Japan itinerary to see the best of cherry blossoms that stops off in 10 cities between Tokyo and Hiroshima.

Standard or Premium

Japan Rail has ordinary cars and green cars on the Shinkansen and other long-distance trains.  These aren’t ‘green’ as in environmentally friendly it is their equivalent of first-class.  The seats are larger and grouped in 2 not 3 on each side of the carriage.  You usually have a bit more legroom, more comfortable foot and leg rests and sometimes additional facilities like charging points for electronic devices.

We have used both green and standard passes over the years and even when you have a green pass, not every train has that car option. The ordinary car is very comfortable too. When travelling as a couple, it is nice to have that extra space and have the row to ourselves. Generally, the green car is less busy overall and we’ve never had a problem finding space at the back of our carriage to stow our suitcase. I don’t consider it a necessity but yes the upgrade is nice.

Adult or child

The final variable is whether the passenger is an adult or a child.  That’s fairly self-explanatory, under the terms of the pass a child is aged 6-11, and if they have turned 12 they require an adult pass.  Infants aged 0-5 years won’t require their own pass BUT they are also not entitled to a seat. If you take this option, they must travel on your lap.

How to use the Japan Rail Pass?

The main terms and conditions

For the full terms and conditions at your date of purchase be sure to read them on the provider’s website or discuss them with the travel agent before you make your payment.  The general rules are:

  1. Purchase the pass before travelling to Japan (after April 2017 this is a price and convenience consideration only)
  2. You must be able to produce the pass and the corresponding passport on request
  3. The pass may only be used by the person named on it.
  4. It must only be used within the dates shown on the pass
  5. It’s for JR (Japan Rail) transport only but that includes certain JR buses and ferries
  6. The pass can’t be reissued in the event that it is lost or stolen so be sure to keep it safe.

Collect, exchange and activation of the JR Pass

If you decide to use the pass, there are three dates to be aware of.

Purchase date:   

You can buy the pass up to 90 days ahead of when you plan to use it. If you think exchange rates are likely to move up a lot you might do it early but otherwise, I’d suggest looking into it a month before you fly giving you time to look into all the options. They usually only take a couple of days to arrive but allowing a bit more time gives a comfort margin if there are delays with the delivery.  

What you receive from the online purchase is either a voucher for a Japan Rail Pass or an email confirmation, not the pass itself.

Exchange date:  Once in Japan you can exchange the voucher for a pass at a JR station office whenever you want, this is simply receiving the pass and it doesn’t activate on this date unless you want it to of course.  You will usually be given a very simple form to fill out with your name, dates and a few details in English, you present it with the voucher and passport and they write up your pass and hand it to you.  Before you leave the counter check your name is written correctly (it must match your passport) and that the dates are correct.

Activation date:  The activation date is the day you want to first use the pass.  It can be the date you exchange your voucher and pick up the pass or any date after that as long as it will be used within the 90-day purchase window.  The pass works on calendar days, not a 24-hour period.

Best price for Japan Rail Pass

Because the wholesale price of the pass is fixed there is only a small variation in price between providers that results from the difference in their profit margin, exchange rates used and who absorbs the delivery fee.

Buying the pass is a sizable outlay of cash so we want to purchase from a company that offers a good price, who we trust, can offer prompt delivery and is easy to deal with.

We have used JRPass for a number of years now. They have been competitively priced, had quick delivery and we have had no issues dealing with them.

Check prices and order the Japan Rail Pass

Tips when using long-distance trains in Japan

There are a few things we have noticed when travelling inter-city on Japanese trains. These tips might be useful if you are going to be spending a bit of time travelling on them:

  1. If you have a booking and are in a carriage with allocated seating, you must sit in that seat and only that seat.  Don’t move to ‘spare’ seats with a better view as people will board at all stops along that route and they will reasonably expect to sit in the seat they booked.  
  2. Place small to medium baggage in the racks above the seats, if you have large luggage there is a section at the back of each carriage to place it in.  We’ve not had any issue with getting luggage space when moving between cities with our suitcases as locals mostly travel with small cases. If you have larger suitcases you need to book your seat, this is free with the pass and will avoid incurring a surcharge for luggage storage if space is unavailable.
  3. It’s perfectly OK to eat and drink on long-distance trains.  You can bring food with you or purchase it from the trolley that goes past periodically.  You’re expected to take the rubbish off the train at the end of your trip and out of courtesy not to bring overly fragrant food onboard.
  4. It is normal practice in Japan to keep your voice low when chatting on public transport. Talking loudly or being on the phone is generally considered impolite.  
  5. If travelling with children it will help to have activities to keep them quietly entertained.  There is some tolerance for children being children but not running around the train, standing on seats or shouting.
  6. Be waiting at the marked platform area for your carriage before the train is due to arrive.  Allow any exiting passengers off first then board promptly.  Trains, especially the Shinkansen run to a very tight timetable and they won’t hold the train for you as you race down the platform.

Our summary of the Japan Rail Pass

Our past experience has consistently been that the Japan Rail Pass is easy to use and represents excellent value on our travels.  That said, the price change together with other changes at Japan Rail since the country reopened in 2022 has changed that significantly.

Invest a little time before you book to ensure you get the right pass for your needs. I wouldn’t hesitate to buy the JR Pass again if I had the right itinerary where it represented good value, however I think the chance of finding that with our travel style is now very low.

This article turned out longer than I intended but I hope it has answered your questions.  The terms, conditions and prices for the Japan Rail Pass do change over time and I will update this article regularly to ensure it is as current as possible.  

Before purchasing you should always read the agent’s website details carefully or ask them to clarify anything you are unsure of.  If you have any queries in the planning stage that I haven’t answered here please leave them in the comments section below, I will answer them directly and also update additional information in the article for others.

Hover over the image to save it to Pinterest for reference later.

Japan Rail Pass - Shinkansen
Japan Rail Pass -Shinkansen

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Tuesday 16th of January 2024

Thanks for your very helpful article. We’ll visit Japan end of march 2024 Our route will be Tokyo Haneda to Tokyo. Next stop will be Nagano for some hiking. Then to Kyoto for 3 nights followed by Osaka (daytrip to Nara) and back to Tokyo (daytrip to Mt. Fuji). Our trip is 2 weeks, is the JP Pass suitable? Or is it not worth it for this trip? Really appreciate your help.

Toni Broome

Tuesday 27th of February 2024

For those destinations over 2 weeks I would not find the JR pass cost effective at the new prices. It's an adjustment after it being such a great tool in our travels for well over a decade but I am now enjoying planning for this next trip with more flexibility, if I want to use Nozomi on a section or a green car on the longer legs after a hectic few days I can and it's still costing me less than the new pass overall. Enjoy your trip!


Sunday 26th of November 2023

Hi, thanks for the info.

Wondering if you know of a way to get tickets from Osaka to Takayama or Hida? We have booked a stay in Hida, but can't seem to find where I can book tickets without having to go through JR Pass.


Toni Broome

Monday 27th of November 2023

There are a number of different JR companies. Osaka is in JR West territory, Nagoya and Takayama are in JR East territory. Online booking for international tourists is very limited, you have something like Klook for the major Shinakansen routes or very limited online booking through the JR West site. I don't think either of those options will help with what you need.

You will probably want to use the Shinkansen as far as Nagoya (about 50 minutes) then the Limited Express Hida through to HidaFurakawa (just over 2.5 hours). Are you travelling at a time when you will need to book in advance (eg Takayama Matsuri or Golden Week?). If not you should be OK to buy tickets through the station ticket office or machines, and you can do that a few days in advance if you have the opportunity.


Thursday 16th of November 2023

Hi, thanks for the article! I am planning my first trip to Japan in February, and according to my calculations the JR pass isn't worth it but am not confident in these calculations.

- Arrive at Haneda and go to Shiga Kogen for 9 days of skiing. - Go from Shiga Kogen to Kyoto for 4 days. - Go from Kyoto to Tokyo for the remaining 6 days. - Tokyo back to Haneda airport.

If I don't get the JR pass, will I need to pre-book train tickets? What's the best way to do that?

Thanks so much for your help!

Toni Broome

Thursday 16th of November 2023

Hi Hunter, the JR pass will not be worth getting for the itinerary but it sounds a great first trip. Are you using the Nagano Snow Shuttle bus from the Airport to Shiga Kogen on the day you arrive or do you plan to use trains? If you are flying in and heading out the same day you might want to look at booking that. From Nagano down to Kyoto should not really need booking ahead although you can organise that from the Airport if you have time and are waiting around. It's not an exceptionally busy time of year on those route but you might consider booking your train from Kyoto back to Tokyo sometime when you are around Kyoto Station if you want a particular departure or a luggage seat. Reduced services since Japan reopened have made a difference to how busy the trains are despite tourism numbers still being well down on 2019 pre closure levels meaning you may choose to book ahead now when in the past most people didn't.


Tuesday 31st of October 2023

Hi there, great article. So as a first timer going to Japan in Novemeber it seems like a pass isnt for me but id like your thoughts. -Arrive in Tokyo and spend 1 full day there. -need to organise transport to Osaka for following day. we have 4 days in Osaka, and plan to travel by train to Kyoto and back on 1 of those days -need to organise transport back to Tokyo from Osaka.

What would you say is my best/cheapest/fastest options? Thanks.

Toni Broome

Thursday 2nd of November 2023

Hi Justin. As you have worked out, the JR pass will not be good value for this trip at the new prices. You can book tickets for shinkansen either at the ticket office or a machine at the station, Nozomi is you fastest option between Tokyo and Osaka, while it wasn't an option under the JR pass it is only $3-4 more expensive for the 20-40 minute time saving and experience. There really aren't many discount deals available to tourists on transport within Japan now unless you are using the network quite extensively so individual tickets and a card like the Welcome Suica or Pasmo Passport if you want the convenience are the best option.

Cheapest option between Tokyo and Osaka is the Highway buses, especially the night bus as it doesn't take up time that you want to use to see the sights and saves a nights accommodation cost too. We haven't used it but have met others that have and they were very happy to trade time for the cost saving.

From Osaka to Kyoto it will depend where you are staying, it is very unlikely you'd want to use the shinkansen anyway as you would have to get from the city to shin-Osaka. Most likely the Keihan or Hankyu railways will be your most efficient and cost effective options especially if you are headed into the heart of Kyoto such as Gion-Shijo or Kawaramachi station.

J Don

Monday 3rd of July 2023

Hi- it looks like the Japan Rail Pass can't be used on all bullet trains now? We were thinking of getting one, but found out that the Nozomi and Mizuho Bullet trains that we wanted to book on from Tokyo to Kyoto doesn't accept the Japan Rail Pass :-(

Toni Broome

Thursday 6th of July 2023

Those fastest trains have always been excluded from the JR Pass, but you can do the exact same route on alternate bullet trains, it just takes a couple of minutes longer, the trains don't travel at slower speeds but they stop at a few more stations in between your departure point and destination. If you main use of the JR pass was to be from Tokyo to Kyoto and back again it is likely to be a minimal cost saving at best so if the Nozomi is what you have been looking forward you can buy individual tickets at the time of travel or in advance.

For travel booked after the price increase, expected to be in October, you will be able to buy an upgrade supplement for the Nozomi if required.

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