One of the biggest dilemmas I had while planning our Japan trip was if we should buy the Japan Rail Pass or not. I looked into this for over two weeks before I made the choice to purchase. Even after I made the purchase I wasn’t sure I had made the right decision. Now that we have been to Japan I can help you make an informed decision.
What is the Japan Rail Pass?
Designed to make temporary visitor (tourist) travel easier, the Japan Rail Pass or JR-Pass is a 7, 14 or 21-day train ticket that you can use on the JR network. In Japan, there are seven rail companies that run the trains. While this means there are tonnes of trains you can catch in Japan. But it can be very confusing when you’re trying to get somewhere and if you only have a JR pass. Once you wrap your head around what trains you can use the Japan Rail Pass on, train travel is the easiest and most convenient method of travel in Japan. HyperDia also has an option to find routes with Japan Rail Pass friendly trains only.
Other Methods of Train Travel in Japan include the trip by trip ticket purchase which is frustrating. Or the Suica card for touching on and off for each trip. Train travel in Japan is super cheap, trips cost between ¥170 – ¥310 for a metro trip.
So with train travel so cheap why would I buy a Japan Rail Pass?
When we got to Japan and I discovered how cheap the train trips were I was regretting my purchase. We already had the pass we used it to get around and it made travel very easy.
Our daily trips with the Japan Rail pass were about ¥1000 per day which worked out to $10 AUD. if you’re just going to locally travel around one area the Japan Rail Pass is not worth it at all. Our 10 Day trip did not use over ¥15,000 of local travel and the Japan Rail Pass for 7 days was ¥32,000. Since our trip was to Osaka and Tokyo with a few day trips to other locations our JR Pass saved us a lot of money.
Over the 10 day trip, we used the Shinkansen (Bullet Train) 7 times. The trip from Osaka to Tokyo with booked seat is ¥15030 or $150 AUD. Since we had the JR Pass this trip was included in the service of the Japan Rail Pass. All up the 7 trips on the Shinkansen would have cost ¥78,696 or $790 Aud. As this was included in our Japan Rail Pass it only cost us $331 for the first 7 days of travel.
So, Japan Rail Pass. Is It Worth The Cost?
If you plan on doing a lot of travelling, especially on the Shinkansen it is. If you are only travelling around one area it is not and you should just get a Sucia card.
Are you visiting Japan or have you got any handy Japan tips? Leave them in the comments.
If you too are debating the JR Pass I hope this helps.