With so many incredible natural landmarks, important historic and cultural sites, and delicious cuisine, Japan is one of the most popular tourist destinations in the world. Whether you are visiting for a couple of months or for just a week-long trip, you will be treated to some of the most memorable and enjoyable experiences that you will surely treasure for life.
A great way to explore this beautiful and fascinating country is via trains with a Japan Rail Pass. What is the Japan Rail Pass and how can it make your Japan adventures much better? Below are 5 important things about the pass that you should know before you head off to Japan:
1. The Japan Rail Pass should be purchased online before departing for your trip to save money
It is important to buy your Japan Rail Pass prior to your trip to save up to 15-20%. You can place an order through an authorized online seller or a travel agency in your place of origin. Make sure to do it at least a couple of weeks in advance to have enough time for your order to arrive to your address before you leave. Your JR Pass package should contain the exchange voucher that you have to exchange for the official pass once you arrive in Japan.
2. There are different kinds of JR Pass.
JR Pass comes in different kinds — 7-day, 14-day, and 21-day. The best pass for you depends on how long you are staying in Japan, how much train travel you plan to do, your budget, and other factors. It is highly recommended that you make an itinerary, and use an online JR Pass calculator to determine if getting a JR Pass is cost-effective and which one fits your plans perfectly.
3. There is an ordinary class JR Pass and a green class JR Pass.
The ordinary class JR Pass is cheaper, and allows you to access non-reserved and reserved ordinary class train cars, which generally have sufficient legroom and overhead luggage storage. On the other hand, the green class JR Pass costs a bit more, and gives you access to green class cars that offer more amenities, like wider seats, bigger legroom and luggage space, reading lights, and, sometimes, even hot towels and complimentary beverages.
4. It lets you get seat reservations for free.
All kinds of JR Pass, whether ordinary or green class, lets you reserve seats free of charge. Once you exchange your voucher for your official JR Pass at a JR Ticket Office, you can get seat reservations for your upcoming train journeys right there and then, or even wait up until five minutes before your train departs.
5. It is valid on most JR lines across Japan.
With a Japan Rail Pass, you can enjoy unlimited rides on most Shinkansen or bullet trains, rapid/express/special/local trains, buses, and ferries operated by Japan Railway or JR not only in the famous tourist cities, like Tokyo, Kyoto, and Osaka, but also in the lesser known parts of Hokkaido, Kyushu, Shikoku, and others.