Japan Rail Pass & Seishun 18
Green Car Rail Passes cost 39,600 yen, 64,120 yen and 83,390 yen for 7, 14 and 21 days, respectively, and include unlimited travel in Green Car seating. Read more details about more comfortable Green Cars below.
The unlimited rides also include use of the JR Miyajima Ferry for travel from the mainland to the island of Itsukushima, popularly known as Miyajima. The Japan Rail Pass is also valid on local buses operated by JR "but not on highway buses". The JR Pass is offered exclusively to foreign visitors with tourist visa.
Japan Rail Passes
Japan Rail Pass can only be purchased outside of Japan from specific vendors listed on the official website which includes Japanese Airlines JAL and ANA if you are travelling with them. Additionally, there are official vendors who are selling Japan Rail Passes online.
The easiest way would be to purchase it online. An Exchange Order will be delivered to you within 3–5 days. Take your Exchange Order to any major JR station or airport in Japan to collect your JR Pass.
You should also note that there are other passes for particular regions, so if you are only or primarily interested in a certain area, you may want to consider a local or regional pass (read more below).
At the time of exchange, you will need to have your passport with you, and know the date upon which you will want the Rail Pass to start. Dedicated counters specifically for Rail Pass exchanges exist at some stations such as Tokyo station, but most stations issue passes from the travel center, or occasionally, the main information desk; because this is separated from the main ticket office, wait times are generally low and as soon as you receive the pass you can make all your planned reservation immediately with the same person giving you the pass.
You can only make advance reservations after receiving your pass. The reservations are free, so even if you are not entirely settled with your plans, you can reserve everything at the start and make changes later at no cost. Note that many trains fill up far in advance, particularly around holidays.
Japan Regional Rail Passes
Regional JR Companies also sell their own passes that cover only parts of the country. They are generally poorer value overall because the journeys are shorter, but they often also cover private lines in the covered area, so if you are spending several days in a particular area, it may pay to consider a regional pass. Unlike the main Rail Pass, most of these can be purchased in the country "at any major JR station", but they're still mostly limited to individuals with visitor visa.
When you make any rail journey "even if you obtained a ticket using your Rail Pass", you will need to show the Rail Pass at the manned ticket barrier. This is inconvenient if there is a queue, but it is usually acceptable to flash your pass at the ticket-taker as you slip past the other customers transacting business with JR. Occasionally, there is no window, and you’ll have to jump the gate and show the pass to the security guard, if they stop you.
Same as the main Rail Pass, these also can be purchased online from the multilingual Rakuten Travel Experiences website. In addition, on Rakuten Travel Experiences website you can book tours, activities, events and restaurants in popular destinations in Japan as well as 30 other countries. Below are the most popular regional passes in Japan:
Japan Rail Pass Exceptions
Japan Rail Pass does have a few exceptions:
Japan Rail Green Cars
Express services may offer first-class Green Car seats. They are available on most Shinkansen and limited express trains and on a small number of local trains. Green cars offer larger seats, more foot space and tend to be less crowded and quieter than the regular cars.
The Japan Rail Pass is available in two types; Ordinary which requires paying the surcharge to use the Green Car, and Green, which includes Green Car seats at no additional charge.
Many travelers find the size and foot room of ordinary seats sufficient, but those who wish to have additional luxury, should go for the green car.
Train Accommodations - Depending on where you travel in Japan, Green Cars do have some little perks. If you travel in the Green Car on JR East bullet trains north of Tokyo, for example, you are entitled to a free drink once you are on board.
Tokaido and San'yo Shinkansen Green Cars have softer lighting with access to six channels of in-cabin audio - mostly in Japanese, with the occasional English language lesson included. If travelling on the Hikari or Nozomi you will receive hot towel service.
Seishun 18 Ticket
The Seishun 18 Ticket is the most economic deal for travel in Japan, offering five days of unlimited JR train travel for just 12,050 yen .
Better yet, unlike the Rail Pass, the days do not have to be consecutive. You can even split a ticket so that for example; one person uses it for two days and another for three days.
The main catches are that tickets are only valid on Local and Rapid JR Trains and that, tickets are valid only during school holidays "March-April, & July-September & December-January", so you need good timing and plenty of time on your hands to use it. The price for the Seishun 18 is the same for adults and children.
The unlimited rides also include use of the JR Miyajima Ferry for travel from the mainland to the island of Itsukushima, popularly known as Miyajima.
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