Travel Japan with a Japan Rail Pass

Japan isn’t a huge country, but it’s long and skinny, so there are often quite large distances between the cities you might want to visit. By far the best way to get around Japan quickly is to use the Japan Rail network, which includes the famous shinkansen or bullet trains, as well as other fast trains – but if you just buy the tickets you need each time, it will cost a small fortune.

Shinkansen bullet train-strollers63Creative Commons License Photo credit: strollers

Shinkansen bullet train-strollers63

Which brings me to the Japan Rail Pass – a great deal for tourists wanting to see a lot of Japan in a limited time. The most important thing to know about a Japan Rail Pass is that you have to buy it before you arrive in Japan. In general, you must be visiting Japan as a tourist to be able to use the pass – that is, you can’t buy one if you’re living in Japan temporarily.

You can buy a Japan Rail Pass for either 7, 14 or 21 days of use, and they are valid on shinkansen and other JR trains across the country, with a couple of exceptions and rules, but generally they are useful everywhere – and they are certainly good value. For example, the cost of the 7-day pass is less than a return ticket from Tokyo to Osaka, which is about the minimum trip any tourist visiting Japan would make.
Creative Commons License Photo credit: Bistrosavage