JAPAN RAIL PASS: To get or not to get one?

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This passport-sized ticket is a JR PASS (2015)

JAPAN RAIL PASS (JR PASS)

5 Things to know about JR PASS

1. It is an easy pass/ ticket. Meant for tourists to get around Japan using the JR Shinkansen (bullet train), buses and ferries operated by the JR Group.  You can use it unlimited number of times within the number of days your ticket is valid (see #2 ). Bullet trains mean shorter time travel. Example: A bus ride from Tokyo-Kyoto is 8-10hrs while with a Shinkansen it takes 2hrs.

*Note that it is valid for JR Group only

2. It comes with 7 days,  14 days, or 21 days validity. Take your pick. Please note that the pass is valid only on successive days. This means, even if you do not use the pass on daily basis, you will not get any additional days. Example, if you choose a 7-day-pass, and activate your JR pass on June20, it will expire on June 27 wheather or not you did not use it everyday.

3. You can ONLY purchase a JR PASS outside Japan and is only sold by accredited agencies. Click HERE to see accredited agencies in the Philippines. For non-Philippine citizens, check your country’s embassy of Japan.

4. There are two types of JR PASS tickets: Reserved (green car)  and non-reserved (ordinary). The green car is more expensive compared to non-reserved.  Reserved means you automatically have a seat number, you have wider seats and other amenities. Non-reserved means you don’t have an automatic seat number and you seat on any vacant seats. Although If preferred you can reserve seats beforehand thru the JR office. I took the ordinary ticket and I liked it a lot and I also saved money.

5. It cannot be used in some trains like Nozomi and Mizuho Shinkansen trains and some local buses. But thats ok.

CONCLUSION: If you want to explore japan and hop on and off across the country, YES! you better get one. It saves a lot of time from buying ticket on each ticket booth and waiting in line.  But if you are staying in one area or city for the whole trip, better not get one.

FAQ

Q: What is exactly a Shinkansen train?

A: Shinkansen is a term for bullet train. Its the easiest way to get around japan. There are different trains in Japan though. You will identify which type of train it is as it is flashed on the trains’ side.

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