In Japan travel is easy and fast with the great train network. Here are the 10 things you need to know about traveling by train through Japan with the JR Pass.
1. As JR Pass holder seat reservation is for free, yet not mandatory. Reserved cabins tend to be less crowded than the non-reserved cabins.
2. On the other hand, if there are long rows at the service office and little time left before the train leaves, better catch the train without reservation than to miss the train.
3. JR Passes are available for 7, 14 or 21 days. A 14-days pass costs about 340 euro, a price Japanese residents can only dream about. Check with this calculator whether or not a JR Pass is a smart choice for your trip. However I think that even if in your case the calculation says it is not 100% worth it, having the JR Pass in general is convenient I think.
5. Upon arrival in Japan, go to an appropriate JR service office (for example Narita for Tokyo) to exchange the voucher for the real pass and your first seat reservation.
6. When you enter and exit the platform, show your JR Pass – and if you made seat reservation also your ticket. Always pass via the staffed gate. Automatic gates do not recognize JR Pass tickets.
7. The bullet trains in Japan are called Shinkansen. You recognize them by a green logo on the signs and a pointy nose. Each Shinkansen train has a name. The Nozomi is the fastest (2018) with 300 km p/h.
8. The Hyperdia app is a useful tool for planning your train trips. Google Maps functions as well (when put on public transport), but has no option to switch off the trains JR Pass is invalid for. Downside of Hyperdia is that you have to know and enter the name of the station you want to go to (not city).
9. The JR Pass cannot be used on the following trains: Nozomi, Hayabusa, Mizuho, Liner, Sleeper, Limited express (surcharge), private railway. There are a few different companies that have trains in Japan.
10. Lost your JR Pass on the way? That really sucks because you will need to buy a new one. Shit! Better keep it safe like your life depends on it.
I love it and would highly recommend traveling by JR Pass in Japan. However, see for yourself and your situation what suits best. The above would have saved me a lot of time searching for the right information, hope you find it useful.
Do you have any further questions on the JR Pass or traveling by train throughout Japan? Please do not hesitate to comment and I’ll reply a.s.a.p.
How to get the JR Pass
Go Voyagin is a great, realiable website where you can book all sorts of activities, transfers, etc. for Japan. The JR Pass for 7, 14 or 21 days can easily be purchased online via Go Voyagin. It is clearly described how the order process works.
Read more of my Japan blog posts here.
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