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Is a Japan Rail Move Price It? (2023 Replace After Value Improve)


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Travelling by prepare is likely one of the issues we love most about Japan. There’s an in depth community, the trains are spacious and comfy, and so they all the time run on time (we even made a one-minute connection!).

The one draw back is the worth. Shopping for a Japan Rail Move prematurely used to avoid wasting you some huge cash, however that has modified with a value enhance in October 2023.

On this assessment, I’ll discover whether or not a Japan Rail Move is value it any longer and share helpful ideas for utilizing the move and travelling by prepare in Japan.

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Replace: Japan Rail Move Value Improve 2023

The price of the Japan Rail Move elevated considerably (round 70%) in October 2023.

Sadly, which means for many guests, the Japan Rail Move now not saves you cash.

That is such a disgrace as I completely love the comfort of travelling with a move. It is best to nonetheless think about a Japan Rail Move if:

  • You’re travelling so much – For instance for a visit that features Tokyo to Kyoto return with a day journey to Hiroshima (see the itinerary beneath), a move now prices about the identical as particular person tickets.
  • You prioritise comfort – It’s so good having the ability to hop on trains with out shopping for a ticket.

One other change with the brand new passes is that you need to use it on the quickest shinkansen trains (Nozomi and Mizuho), however you need to pay a hefty supplementary price (4960 yen/ US $33 from Tokyo to Kyoto). This isn’t value it to achieve Kyoto 20 minutes sooner.

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What’s a Japan Rail Move?

A Japan Rail Move is a ticket that gives limitless journey on all Japan Rail nationwide trains for a sure interval. Passes can be found for 7, 14 or 21 consecutive days and you may select between a regular and inexperienced (firstclass) move.

Japan Rail Passes are solely accessible to foreigners travelling on a vacationer visa and (often) should be purchased exterior Japan.

You should buy your move on-line and get it delivered to your own home handle and even to your first Japan resort for those who’ve left it to the final minute.

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Japan Rail Move Value (New Costs)

That is the present price of every of the usual Japan Rail Passes in Japanese yen with the present approximate trade price in US {dollars} and the fee per day in {dollars}.

Japan Rail Move Value in Yen Value in $ Value per Day in $
7 Day JR Rail Move ¥50,000 $336 $48
14 Day JR Rail Move ¥80,000 $538 $38
21 Day JR Rail Move ¥100,000 $672 $32

JR Passes for youngsters price half the quantities above (i.e ¥25,000 for a 7 Day Move).

I don’t suppose there’s any have to pay further for the Inexperienced Move (¥70,000 for a 7 Day Move) to journey firstclass as we discovered commonplace class snug with loads of leg room, tables, and energy factors.

The one time it may be value contemplating is throughout vacation intervals resembling Golden Week in late April/early Might when commonplace class trains are busy (you may make seat reservations, although).

We all the time purchase our tickets on-line with official vendor JRailPass.com. They ship worldwide in two days. 

Purchase your Japan Rail Move from JRailPass.com right here

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Which Trains are the Japan Rail Move Legitimate On?

The JR Rail Move is legitimate on all Japan Rail trains, however it may well’t be used on trains operated by non-public corporations.

This implies you possibly can’t take the quickest Nozomi or Mizuho shinkansen (bullet trains) until you pay an costly complement, however there are many different bullet trains and this by no means prompted us an issue.

For instance, when travelling from Tokyo to Kyoto you possibly can take the Hikari shinkansen which is simply 20 minutes slower at 158 minutes than the Nozomi shinkansen which takes 138 minutes.

A super fast shinkansen (bullet train) in Japan that can be used with a Japan Rail Pass
A brilliant quick shinkansen (bullet prepare) in Japan

The rail move can be utilized on some native trains inside Tokyo and different large cities, however not on the metro or buses.

It’s largely helpful for saving cash on journey between cities. See the native transport part beneath for extra particulars.

Joyful Trains

Hello Kitty Shinkasen bullet train in Japan

The JR Move is legitimate on lots of Japan’s Joyful Trains that are enjoyable, character-themed trains.

We seen the Hi there Kitty shinkansen in Okayama station and have been tempted to hop on for a pleasure experience (the benefit of a rail move is you possibly can observe whims like this). 

Locations the place we couldn’t use a JR Move

In case you are solely travelling to main cities, you’ll have the ability to use your JR Move in all places. For journeys to some smaller cities, chances are you’ll have to pay further to take the bus or non-public railway. 

Even with these further bills, the rail move nonetheless saved us cash on our three journeys. 

On our first journey we visited two locations that we couldn’t entry with our rail move. For the mountain temple city Koya-san we used our move to journey from Kyoto to Osaka after which purchased a ticket for the non-public Nankai Railways prepare.

For the tiny city of Tsumago within the Kiso Valley we used our move to get from Nagoya to Nagiso then paid for the bus to Tsumago. 

On our second journey (see our two week Japan itinerary) we used our rail move to get in all places besides Hakone the place we purchased a Hakone Free Move from Odawara prepare station to discover the world by bus, prepare, ferry, and cable automobile.

The one different slight challenge was having to take a slower prepare with one switch to get to Nikko as you possibly can’t use a move for the direct prepare from Shinjuku to the Tobu Nikko station.

Hida Furukawa near Takayama
We have been in a position to make use of our rail move for day journeys to locations like cute Hida Furukawa from Takayama.

On our third journey, the one place we couldn’t get to with a JR Rail Move was Kawaguchiko (to see Mt Fuji at Lake Kawaguchi). 

We have been travelling from Okayama (on the identical line as Hiroshima) and will solely take the shinkansen so far as Mishima the place we took a 1.5-hour bus experience to Kawaguchiko. 

From Tokyo you will get to Otsuki with a rail move and solely pay the common fare for the ultimate part to Kawaguchiko. 

We additionally visited the very cool Naoshima Artwork Island as a day journey from Okayama. The rail move lined our prepare to Uno port however didn’t cowl the 20-minute ferry (which is cheap anyway). 

Fujisan View Express train with Mount Fuji behind
Sadly, the Fujisan View Specific prepare can’t be used with a JR move

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Is a Japan Rail Move Price It?

Whether or not a Japan Rail Move is value it for you will depend on your route.

In case you’ll be travelling at a quick tempo to plenty of locations, particularly on the costly bullet trains, then a rail move could prevent cash.

In case you are solely travelling from Tokyo to Kyoto and again inside per week, the move now not saves cash.

The return journey on the shinkansen prices ¥27,300 (for a reserved seat). You’ll need to do a variety of further journey to achieve the ¥50,000 price of a 7-day move.

Japan Rail Move Calculator

To work out whether or not the JR Move is value it for you, you’ll want to provide you with a possible itinerary after which calculate how a lot it will price to pay in your tickets as you go.

To get a tough thought use Japan Information’s Japan Rail Calculator. It’s not 100% correct, nevertheless it’s fast and straightforward to make use of. 

A Japan Rail Pass calculator can be used to see if a Japan Rail Pass is worth it since the price increases.
Is a JR Move value it? The Japan Information Rail Move Calculator exhibits that it was for one in all our earlier journeys on the previous costs however not on the new costs.

For an correct calculation, put every leg of your journey into Navitime to see the prices.

If it’s an in depth name

If the price of the move is just a bit greater than particular person tickets, I like to recommend shopping for the move. It makes journey a lot simpler not having to purchase tickets and having the ability to hop on and off trains as you want.

You too can use the move for some native journey (particularly in Tokyo the place it may be used on the trains however not subways) and day journeys. 

Our our newest extra unconventional journey from Kyoto-Kinosaki Onsen-Okayama (with day journeys)-Mishima (for the bus to Kawaguchiko)-Tokyo we purchased a 14-day Japan Rail Move.

As we have been travelling at a reasonably gradual tempo, this labored out roughly the identical value as if we’d purchased the tickets individually (on the previous move value), however the comfort made it value it. 

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Our Financial savings with a Japan Rail Move

For a earlier two week journey to Japan we flew out and in of Tokyo and used a 7-day Japan Rail Move to journey to Nikko, Hakone, Takayama, and Kanazawa—see our detailed Japan itinerary.

Listed below are the financial savings we made through the use of a Japan Rail Move. This features a facet journey from Takayama and utilizing the move for native trains in Tokyo on our remaining day with the move.

From To Value in Yen
Tokyo Shinjuku Nikko 5,380
Nikko Odawara (for Hakone) 8,200
Odawara Takayama 12,000
Takayama Hida-Furukawa (facet journey) 240
Hida-Furukawa Takayama 240
Takayama Kanazawa 5,610
Kanazawa Tokyo Station 13,920
Tokyo Station Shibuya (inside Tokyo) 200
Shibuya Takadanobaba (inside Tokyo) 170
Takadanobaba Shibuya (inside Tokyo) 170
Complete Value of Particular person Tickets   JP¥46,130
Value of Previous 7 Day Japan Rail Move   JP¥29,110
Earlier Saving   JP¥17,020
Value of New 7 Day Japan Rail Move JP¥50,000

We saved over ¥17,000 or $115 per individual with the previous Japan Rail Move.

Sadly, with the brand new Japan Rail Move costs, we’d have saved ¥4000 ($27) by shopping for tickets individually. On this case, I do suppose the move could be value the additional price for the comfort.

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Right here’s an instance for a typical 10 day journey to Japan arriving in and departing from Tokyo and visiting the highlights. 

Spend the primary three days in Tokyo (pay out of pocket for the Narita Specific prepare from the airport), after which activate your 7-day rail move on the day you allow for Kyoto. 

Spend six days in Kyoto and take day journeys to Nara and Osaka (that are cheap on native trains) and additional afield to Hiroshima by bullet prepare (the place you’ll actually respect the move). See extra Kyoto day journey concepts

Return to Tokyo in your remaining day and use the move to take the Narita Specific prepare to Tokyo Narita Airport.

Right here’s how a lot you’ll save by buying a JR Rail Move for this itinerary: 

Japan Rail Pass costs and savings for Tokyo to Kyoto itinerary
Is a Japan Rail Move value it for this Tokyo to Kyoto itinerary (with day journeys)? Sure!

By buying a 7-day JR Move for this journey, you used to avoid wasting a substantial quantity. After the worth enhance, shopping for a move is about the identical as particular person tickets however could possibly be value it for the comfort.

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When To not Use a Japan Rail Move

In case you are flying into Tokyo and out from Osaka (or vice versa) and solely travelling to Tokyo, Kyoto and Osaka, a rail move can be dearer than the one-way shinkansen ticket from Tokyo to Kyoto. 

And even in case you are simply travelling from Tokyo to Kyoto and again (with out main day journeys), shopping for particular person shinkansen tickets is cheaper and also you’ll have the ability to take the quickest Nozomi prepare.

In case you are solely travelling in a single space of Japan, resembling Kansai the place Osaka and Kyoto are, paying for tickets individually will seemingly be cheaper than a JR move. You would possibly need to look right into a regional rail move as an alternative such because the Kansai Space Move (though these have additionally had value will increase).

In case you are on a very tight funds and are travelling at a gradual tempo, it might work out cheaper to take the bus. Willer provides bus passes from ¥10,200 for 3 days of journey inside two months. 

We a lot favor prepare journey, although, because it’s sooner, extra snug and spacious, we are able to work on the tables, and I don’t get journey sick (an issue on the bus on Japan’s winding mountain roads).

The gorgeous view on the Hida wide view train from Takayama to Toyama.
The beautiful view on the prepare from Takayama to Toyama.

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The place to Purchase a Japan Rail Move

Japan Rail Passes are bought by some journey brokers exterior Japan, however the simplest way to purchase a move is on-line.

We purchased our passes for our final two journeys from JRailPass.com who’re an official JR Rail Move vendor. You’ll obtain an trade order that you just trade for the move once you arrive in Japan.

An alternative choice is Klook, which is the best choice for Australians as they embrace free delivery inside Australia (or choose up from Sydney CBD).

The trade order should be exchanged inside three months, so don’t order too far prematurely.

Our buy with JRailPass.com was very simple. For every passenger you want the total title precisely because it’s written on their passport and their nationality.

You’re additionally requested for an approximate arrival date in Japan, however that is simply to allow them to be certain your passes will arrive on time. You don’t have to determine the precise begin date of the move till you get to Japan.

The process for buying a Japan Rail Pass online
The shape to fill in when shopping for a Japan Rail Move on-line

They will ship passes worldwide and so they often arrive inside two working days, though ours took three days to Indonesia. On one in all our journeys we have been already travelling so we bought the move delivered to our resort in Bali. 

There are further bank card and delivery charges until your order is over $600 when there’s free delivery to the UK and Europe.

Within the US the passes are despatched by UPS and worldwide they use FedEx Worldwide Precedence. You’re given a monitoring quantity to trace the progress of the supply. Somebody has to signal for the supply. 

Sending a Japan Rail Move to Japan

In case you’ve left shopping for your move to the final minute, you will get the trade order despatched to your first resort in Japan.

It’s finest to verify along with your resort or Airbnb host first, nevertheless it shouldn’t be an issue with larger motels.

On our final journey we have been staying in an condo in Kyoto for a month earlier than we began our two-week rail move journey.

As I wasn’t certain what would occur if we missed the supply (and we wouldn’t have the ability to learn any notices in Japanese), the agent who managed the condo agreed to obtain supply for us. 

Shopping for Direct

It was once you would solely purchase a move exterior Japan from an authorised agent, however Japan Rail now promote passes on-line (they stopped promoting them at sure stations). See the Japan Rail Move web site for extra particulars.

The draw back of reserving direct is having to cope with a considerably clunky web site (the place you need to create an account).

The upsides aren’t needing to have an trade order mailed to you in your house nation (you acquire the move in Japan) and having the ability to make seat reservations on-line (even earlier than you arrive in Japan), which could possibly be helpful at very busy occasions of yr like Golden Week.

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Trade a Japan Rail Move

You don’t obtain the move at first however an trade order which you could then trade in your move once you arrive in Japan.

A booklet with data on the place you are able to do this comes with the trade order.

We exchanged ours on the JR Rail workplace in Shinjuku Station and it was fast and straightforward.

We needed to fill in a brief kind and present our trade order and passports (don’t overlook to deliver yours). You need to select the beginning date for the move inside the subsequent month and this could’t be modified.

If attainable, it’s finest to do that a day or so earlier than your first journey day so that you don’t have to fret about it on the day.

In any other case, be sure you enable loads of time earlier than your prepare departs in case there are queues.

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For native transport inside cities you need to use the JR Rail Move on some prepare traces however not the metro or buses. 

As native transport isn’t very costly (except the quick airport trains), it may not be value activating your move till you allow town. See above for easy methods to calculate this. 

Tokyo Native Journey

In Tokyo, the Japan Rail Move is kind of helpful. You should use it on the JR Yamanote line, which is likely one of the most used traces within the metropolis and connects main hubs resembling Shinjuku, Shibuya and Tokyo Stations.

There are a selection of different JR prepare traces that crisscross the massive metropolis—the Chuo line is one other one we regularly use.

You may’t use a JR Move on the Tokyo Metro.

The move can be utilized on the Narita Specific prepare which is essentially the most snug and quickest method to get from Narita Airport into the centre of Tokyo.

You may activate your move on the JR Journey Service Centre within the airport prepare station.

Kyoto Native Journey

In Kyoto, the move is of extra restricted use for native transport. You may’t use the move on the metro or buses, however there are a few prepare journeys you would use it for.

You may take the JR Nara line to Inari (to see Fushimi Inari shrine—one in all our high issues to do in Kyoto).

You too can take the JR Sagano line to Saga-Arashiyama station to see the well-known bamboo grove and plenty of lovely temples on this neighbourhood. 

In case you are flying into Kansai Airport close to Osaka, you possibly can activate your rail move on the airport prepare station and use it for the Restricted Specific Haruka prepare, which is one of the simplest ways to get to Osaka or Kyoto.

Osaka

Though there are a couple of JR prepare traces inside Osaka, the Osaka subway is extra helpful for getting round, and this isn’t included with a rail move. 

Native Transport Playing cards

As you possibly can’t use a JR Rail Move on many types of native transport inside the cities, in case you are staying for quite a lot of days, it’s value selecting up a pay as you go IC transport card.

You add cash to those prematurely after which simply faucet on and off all native transport. 

In Tokyo you should buy a Suica or Pasmo card and in Kyoto and Osaka you’ll get an ICOCA card.

Whichever card you purchase you need to use them in cities throughout Japan, so that you don’t want a separate card for Kyoto and Tokyo. 

You used to have the ability to purchase them at ticket machines and counters in prepare and metro stations, however gross sales are at the moment suspended on account of a scarcity of IC chips.

Vacationers can nonetheless buy Welcome Suica and Pasmo Passport playing cards at choose stations and airports. They’re solely legitimate for 28 days although.

A better possibility is so as to add Suica or Pasmo to Apple Pockets in your cellphone or watch (at the moment solely Mastercard and American Specific work as cost strategies for it in Pockets although).

The previous IC playing cards included a ¥500 deposit, which you will get a refund for for those who return your card on the finish, however solely within the space you got it. You may’t get a refund for a Suica card in Osaka or an ICOCA card in Tokyo. 

The vacationer playing cards don’t have a deposit.

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Discovering Prepare Instances

Use Navitime to seek for prepare occasions. Keep in mind to click on the Vacationer Move dropdown menu and choose Japan Rail Move to have it present routes the place the rail move is legitimate.

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Making Seat Reservations

You don’t have to make seat reservations to journey with a move on most trains—you possibly can simply hop on any unreserved automobile.

Essentially the most generally used prepare that does require a seat reservation is the Narita Specific from Narita Airport into Tokyo.

If you wish to use your move on the airport prepare, you possibly can swap your trade order for a move and get the seat reservation on the airport JR workplace.

You most likely need to make seat reservations when travelling throughout Japanese nationwide holidays—see this checklist of Japan vacation dates.

Seat reservations are free for rail move holders and might be made at any JR station ticket workplace—both on the counter or at ticket machines.

It doesn’t need to be the station you might be travelling from, so it can save you time by getting a couple of seat reservations without delay. Smaller stations could have shorter queues.

You may additionally make your first few seat reservations when exchanging your trade order for a move. We did this in Kyoto Station on our final journey, which saved time because the queues have been lengthy. 

All you need to do is present your move and provides them the prepare time you need the reservation for.

Workers could communicate English, however I discover it useful to jot down down the date, prepare time, and route I would like reservations for. Because of this it’s finest to analysis occasions on Navitime prematurely. 

Baggage Reservations

In case you are travelling on the Tōkaidō, San’yō, or Kyūshū Shinkansens and have outsized baggage, you’ll have to make a seat reservation for the seats subsequent to the outsized baggage space on the finish of the prepare automobile.

Baggage is taken into account outsized if it has complete dimensions (A+B+C) of over 160cm.

That is pretty beneficiant as most traditional suitcases are smaller than this. Smaller suitcases, together with any that slot in airline overhead compartments (together with our Away Greater Carry On), ought to match within the overhead compartments on shinkansens.

Even when your bag just isn’t outsized, you possibly can ebook an outsized baggage seat to have entry to the storage space behind the seat for those who suppose you’ll have issues lifting your baggage overhead.

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Use a Japan Rail Move

To make use of the Japan Rail Move all you’ll want to do is get on an unreserved automobile and discover an empty seat.

In 2023, the format of the move modified and it’s now a small scannable ticket that you need to use within the computerized gates to entry the prepare platforms.

You might also be requested to indicate the move on the prepare.

If you end up travelling on a bullet prepare you possibly can see which automobiles are unreserved on the screens, after which discover the corresponding quantity on the platform to see the place to attend.

The panels on the facet of the carriage may also say whether or not it’s reserved or unreserved.

Trains are all the time on time so a 10-minute switch time is ok.

Shibuya Crossing in Tokyo, Japan
The busy Shibuya Crossing exterior Shibuya prepare station in Tokyo. There may be order within the chaos!

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Japanese Prepare Etiquette

The Japanese are typically a quiet and respectful individuals and it’s essential to observe these guidelines when travelling by prepare:

  • Be quiet – Preserve your quantity low when taking, don’t speak in your cellphone and ensure it doesn’t beep or ring. We even noticed indicators warning you to not sort too loudly in your laptop computer!
  • No consuming – The exception is on bullet trains when shopping for a bento lunch field on the station is an enormous a part of the expertise. On native trains we didn’t see anybody consuming or ingesting something aside from water. 
  • Don’t smoke – Except there’s a delegated smoking automobile on the bullet trains.
  • Don’t sit within the precedence seating – On native trains these seats are designated for the aged, pregnant girls, and other people with disabilities. If the prepare is quiet you possibly can sit right here, however be ready to surrender your seat if mandatory.
  • Queue – There are designated spots to attend for the prepare marked on the platform, so be part of the orderly queue.
  • Be affected person – Stand to the facet and await individuals to get off the prepare earlier than you get on.

Is a Japan Rail Move Price it?

On all our earlier journeys to Japan, we discovered a JR Move saved us a whole lot of {dollars} and made journey a lot simpler.

Whereas that has modified with the worth enhance, it’s nonetheless value contemplating a rail move in case you are doing a variety of journey.

Even when a move prices about the identical as particular person tickets, the comfort of having the ability to hop on nearly any prepare with out shopping for a ticket is value it.

Hopefully the guidelines above will provide help to work out whether or not a Japan Rail Move is value it for you.

Let me know if in case you have any questions within the feedback beneath. 

Purchase your Japan Rail Move right here.

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