Heading to Japan? Want to Buy the Cheapest Japan Rail JR Pass? Read This.

How to Buy the Cheapest Japan Rail JR Pass

When you start planning your trip to Japan a key question for most travellers is whether you need to buy a Japan Rail JR Pass and what is the cheapest option.  If you search in Google for Japan Rail Passes you are immediately inundated with many websites advertising themselves as the best place to buy your JR pass, and it can be somewhat confusing to work out the best place to purchase your JR Pass online at the cheapest price.

The aim of this article is to help answer those questions so you can buy the cheapest JR Pass online with confidence (if you even need one!).

Disclaimer:  This article contains affiliate links.  If you book after clicking on one of these links then we may receive a small commission at no extra cost to you.

How Much is a Japan Rail JR Pass?

Below are tables where you can see the set prices for Japan Rail JR Passes which are current as at Sep 17 and are presented in Japanese Yen, US Dollars and Australian Dollars.  Note that these prices will change due to standard price increases and exchange rate variations.  The major cost differentiator between Japan Rail Pass sellers is whether they ship to your country and the shipping costs.

To see the latest prices in your currency go to my recommended supplier JRailPass.com and in the top right there is an option to click multiple currency options which will then display the latest prices.  The advantage of using this purchase option is that they ship your voucher direct to your door worldwide.  Your exchange order will be typically be delivered within 24-72 business hours from the next business day after placing order, not including weekends and public holidays.

Free shipping is available for purchase value (not including shipping or insurance) over $US600 for the following countries:

  • Europe: Germany, Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Spain, Greece, Ireland, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Portugal, Switzerland, Scotland (UK), England (UK), France, Italy and Norway.
  • North America: United States and Canada.
  • For all other countries if you reach the minimum spend requirement of $US600 you are eligible for up to a 50% discount off the shipping cost.  See additional purchase options below for Asian countries.
  • You can get your exchange voucher shipped to your Japan hotel.  If you plan to order your Japan Rail Pass at the last minute, ensure you check this site – go to the bottom of the page – and enter your delivery location to get the estimated delivery date.  If there are public holidays in the period prior to delivery ensure you factor this into your expectations of when the passes will be delivered.

For a small additional cost it is very worthwhile to purchase a cancellation and modification insurance policy – click here to see the terms and conditions.

“I bought our JR Passes from the site recommended by Anne on this post. It worked out really great. Ordered Saturday, received today in Cape Town, South Africa. I sent a message to the site after I ordered and help was quick, friendly and efficient! Highly recommend ?? ” – Louda C.

Best Japan Rail Passes for Delivery to China, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, Philippines and South Korea

For readers who are able to receive deliveries to street addresses (not Post Office boxes) in Mainland China, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, Philippines and South Korea, the best option to purchase your tickets is through the Klook website.

Click on the following options to get the latest pricing and availability through Klook:

Japan Rail JR Prices if Purchased Outside Japan (Yen as at Sep 17)
Japan Rail JR Prices if Purchased Outside Japan (Yen as at Sep 17)

 

 

 

 

 

 

Japan Rail JR Prices if Purchased Outside Japan ($US as at Sep 17)
Japan Rail JR Prices if Purchased Outside Japan ($US as at Sep 17)
Japan Rail JR Prices if Purchased Outside Japan ($A as at Sep 17)
Japan Rail JR Prices if Purchased Outside Japan ($A as at Sep 17)

Where to Buy Your Japan Rail JR Pass Online

My recommended option to purchase your National Japan Rail Pass is through the JRailPass.com website.  You can purchase National Japan Rail Pass options including 7, 14 and 21 day passes, in either First Class (Green) or Second Class (Ordinary) seats.

There are other online providers of Japan Rail JR Passes, however the major differentiator is not the price of the passes (which does vary very slightly due to exchange rate variation), but the major differentiator is whether they ship to all locations in the world and also the shipping price.

I have recommended JRailPass.com as the advantage of using this purchase option is that they ship your voucher direct to your door worldwide.  Your exchange order will be typically be delivered within 24-72 business hours from the next business day after placing order, not including weekends and public holidays.

Free shipping is available for purchase value (not including shipping or insurance) over $US600 for the following countries:

  • Europe:Germany, Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Spain, Greece, Ireland, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Portugal, Switzerland, Scotland (UK), England (UK), France, Italy and Norway
  • North America: United States and Canada
  • For all other countries if you reach the minimum spend requirement of $US600 you are eligible for up to 50% discount off the shipping cost
  • You can get your exchange voucher shipped to your Japan hotel.  If you plan to order your Japan Rail Pass at the last minute, ensure you check this site – go to the bottom of the page – and enter your delivery location to get the estimated delivery date.

For a small additional cost you can also purchase a cancellation and modification policy – click here to see the terms and conditions.

Click here to see the latest JR Pass Prices

Who is Eligible to Buy a Japan Rail JR Pass

Japan Rail JR Passes can only be purchased by visitors to Japan who have a passport issued by a country other than Japan and have a temporary visitor designation on entry to Japan.  You must show your passport when picking up your Japan Rail JR Pass, so ensure your passport has been stamped as you enter Japan.

Japan Rail JR Pass Validity Period

At a basic level the main thing you need to understand is that a Japan Rail JR pass has a validity period of either 7, 14 or 21 days which starts on the day the pass is first used and finishes either 7, 14 or 21 days later.  Japan Rail JR Passes come as either an Ordinary-type pass or Green-type pass.  With an Ordinary-type pass you are only entitled to travel in Ordinary cars (~2nd class).  With a Green-type pass you are allowed to travel in both Green cars (~1st class) and Ordinary cars (~2nd class).  Note that not all trains include a Green car option.

Japan Rail JR Pass Inclusions

A Japan Rail JR Pass enables you to take unlimited rides on specific trains, buses and ferries in Japan as detailed below.

Railway Inclusions.  A Japan Rail JR Pass includes:

  • Unlimited rides on all JR group railways, which includes shinkansen bullet trains, limited express trains, express trains, rapid trains, local trains and the BRT (Bus Rapid Transit), and the Tokyo Monorail.
  • Travel on the “HIKARI,” “SAKURA,” “KODAMA,” or “TSUBAME” shinkansen trains.
  • Reserved seats on shinkansen trains are included at no extra change. To make a reservation you can go to the ticket office at the departure station to obtain your reserved seat ticket.  Note that during crowded periods you cannot be guaranteed a seat on a specific train, so plan to book ahead if travelling during these time periods.  Crowded periods include 27 April – 6 May, 11-20 August, 28 December to 6 January.
  • If you use the GranClass car of the Tohoku, Hokkaido, and Hokuriku Shinkansen, you must pay the limited express charge and the GranClass car surcharge.
  • Passengers using JR trains on non-JR lines must pay additional fares and charges for sections traveled on such lines, because some JR trains use the lines of other companies railways for direct services.

Railway Exclusions.  A Japan Rail JR Pass does not include:

  • Train rides on the Nozomi and Mizuho trains (which are faster than the standard shinkansen bullet trains).
  • The Aoimori Railway between Aomori and Hachinohe, the IR Ishikawa Railway, between Kanazawa and Tsubata and the Ainokaze Toyama Railway between Toyama and Takaoka each have some special conditions. If you plan to travel to these areas check the specific rules for these options.

Bus Inclusions.  A Japan Rail JR Pass includes unlimited rides on all local JR Bus lines, and validity is subject to change at any time.  JR bus lines include JR Hokkaido Bus, JR Bus Tohoku, JR Bus Kanto, JR Tokai Bus, West Japan JR Bus, Chugoku JR Bus, JR Shikoku Bus and JR Kyushu Bus.

Bus Exclusions.  A Japan Rail JR Pass does not include:

  • Travel on Express Bus routes operated by JR Bus

Ferry Inclusions.  A Japan Rail JR Pass includes travel on the JR-WEST Miyajima ferry between Miyajima and Miyajimaguchi.  Miyajima Island is a major tourist attraction close to Hiroshima.

Ferry Exclusions.  A Japan Rail JR Pass does not include travel on the JR-Kyushu hydrofoil ferry service between Hakata and Busan (South Korea).

What is the Cheapest Japan Rail JR Pass and Can You Get Discounts?

Japan Rail JR Pricing is firmly fixed so it is unlikely that you will find a cheaper or discounted option.

If you do see an website purporting to sell cheaper or discounted Japan Rail JR Passes be very careful before purchasing and check whether it is from an authorised travel agent of Japan Rail at this link.

In researching this article I have reviewed multiple online sellers of Japan Rail JR passes and can confirm that the only real difference in pricing is very minor based on exchange rate variation, and the main price differentiator is the shipping cost.  As a result the best option to purchase your Japan Rail JR Pass is through my recommended supplier JRailPass.com.

Click here to see the latest JR Pass Prices

Japan Rail JR Station Sign

Can You Buy a Japan Rail JR Pass in Japan?

Japan Rail is trialling whether to sell the Japan Rail JR Pass over the counter in Japan until March 2019.  Of note is that purchasing the passes in Japan is significantly more expensive than purchasing them online before you depart for Japan.

The prices within Japan are as follows:

Japan Rail JR Prices if Purchased Within Japan (as at Sep 17)
Japan Rail JR Prices if Purchased Within Japan (as at 6 May 2018)

Within Japan you can purchase a Japan Rail Pass from the station as detailed in this link.

Is Narita Express or N’EX covered by the Japan Rail JR Pass?

The Narita Express or N’EX provides fast transport between Narita Airport and Tokyo in less than one hour.  The major stations where it stops are Tokyo, Shinagawa, Shibuya, Shinjuku, Ikebukuro and Yokohama stations.  The Narita Express is included in your Japan Rail JR Pass.

For more information about whether the Narita Express is the best option to get from Narita to Tokyo I suggest you check out my article on best options to transfer from Narita Airport to Tokyo.

Should I Buy a Japan Rail JR Pass?

You can also determine the individual fares for your planned trip using the Hyperdia website to determine whether the available passes are good value, or whether you just want to pay as you go for point to point tickets.

Note that the Japan Rail pass also enables you to use JR local trains in Tokyo and other cities, however if you want to use a non JR train line you will still need to separately pay for tickets.

What is the Japan Rail JR Pass Official Site?

The official Japan Rail JR website is www.japanrailpass.net, however you cannot purchase your Japan Rail JR Pass from this site.  The site provides good advice on Japan Rail JR Pass inclusions and how to use it, and the travel agents who are authorised to sell the passes.

How to Buy the Cheapest Japan Rail Pass

Where Can I Activate my JR Pass?

Your Japan Rail JR Pass can be activated in many locations, basically anywhere that Japan Rail has a ticket counter.  A detailed list of those ticket counters and their opening hours is available at this link.

You are also welcome to join my Japan Travel Planning Facebook Group – it is a great resource to enable you to ask questions about your upcoming trip to Japan!

Disclaimer:  This article contains affiliate links.  If you book after clicking on one of these links then we may receive a small commission at no extra cost to you.

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