JR Pass Money Saver or Expensive Souvenir?

JR Pass Money Saver or Expensive Souvenir?

In Japan travel can be expensive but one way that you could reduce the price of you travel is a JR Pass (Japanese Rail Pass). It is important that if you would like to purchase a pass that you do this prior to arrival in Japan. You can pay for the pass with a third party company and they will then send you a voucher. This voucher can then be exchanged for a JR Pass once in Japan.

Types of Pass:

There are 3 different types of JR Pass the 7 day, 14 day and 21 day. You can select this appropriately but bare in mind if you are in a city at the start and end of your trip then you may be able to shave a few days off of your trip and go for the cheaper pass for instance as you will have to pay for the metro in the city.

Important to know:

It is important to note that the JR Pass is not valid on all journeys/ lines. I read this when I was researching into the pass and I thought well I’m sure that will be ok. But once in Japan I realised that the pass was not valid for the metro (Japan’s subway or London Underground equivalent). This meant that you had to pay for your travel there so if you plan on spending most of your time in one place it probably won’t be cost effective to get a pass.

There are still JR trains to transport you around the city but these are limited.

The JR Pass is valid on some bus services which will take longer than the train to the same destination but if you’re on a budget then a good way to make your money go further.

Will the JR Pass Save me money?

The most important thing on everyone’s mind! This is entirely dependent on where you plan to go and which pass you go for. If you plan on travelling to many cities then it may work out cost effective. Or you may be able to get a 7 day pass for a 14 day trip.

A really good website I found ‘Trip Calculator’ works out how much roughly your fares will cost from place to place and you can then work out whether the pass will be cost effective or not

I would take into account that you could spend up to 1000 Yen buying single tickets in one day on the Metro/Subway but this is a generous estimate obviously if you walk everywhere its free 😊

Where can I buy one?

There are many different places you can buy them online but I went for the cheapest one and the voucher was delivered with in 2 working days and I had no problem exchanging the voucher in Japan. This company is called:


I Have my Voucher what now?

Once you arrive in Japan if you would like to use your pass immediately then find your nearest JR Travel Office in the airport. The location should be signposted in the airport or you can ask someone. Go to the counter and show them your voucher and your passport. You will have to fill out a form and then they will give you your JR Pass.

If you don’t want to exchange immediately then exchange the voucher from the day you would like it to start. You can do this in all of the larger train stations or Google the nearest Japanese Rail Office.


The JR Pass is not going to work out best for me!

All is not lost there are still ways you can save money on your travel:

Buy a 1,2 or 3 day metro/subway card when in a city. This is a top up card which will save time having to buy tickets and sometimes are reduced fares.

Catch the local trains rather than the rapid service trains as this could save you money. The local trains will have more stops so bare that in mind do you want to save a bit of cash or get there quicker?

Good Luck!!

Whether you go for the pass or not you will have a fantastic trip and anyone can figure out how to get around best for them when they get to Japan.

If you have any questions comment below and I’ll do my best to answer them. I don’t claim to be an expert I’m just letting you know from my own experience.

Also If you have any additional information or experiences of using the pass comment below so other readers can see!


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