Is the Japan Rail Pass Worth It?

The answer is a resounding yes if you plan to visit different cities in Japan. If you are thinking of traveling to Kyoto from Tokyo and back just that round trip will cost you about $272. So you figure buying the seven day ordinary rail pass from between $270-$300 upfront will save you a lot of money.

I'll give you a breakdown of cost for our one week itinerary in Japan. Please note that this is just for the long hauls for day trips to Nara, Miyajima, Arayashiyama, Nikko and Tori we did not have to pay. We just showed our pass and they let us through. We did have to pay for inner city buses but it wasn't expensive especially for Kyoto where we got a day pass which saved us money also.

Destination  Arrival  Fare 
Tokyo Kyoto  $     136.00
Kyoto Hiroshima  $     110.90
Hiroshima Odawara  $     172.60
Odawara Takayama  $     124.60
Kanazawa Tokyo  $     139.20
 $     683.30

As you can see based on our itinerary the pass definitely saved us some money. People always ask how using the trains in Japan is. The answer is that it's the most convenient thing in the world. The trains are ridiculously fast and the boarding process is so efficient. Also they are super comfortable and organized. You can sleep, eat and drink on the train which is awesome. For the long evening hauls we would get a snack and some beer and drink our way to the next destination no complaints here : ).

Here is a short clip of the shinkansen. This train is so fast you actually shake when it passes.

Below are some of the cities we went on our Japan Rail pass.


Arayashiyama, Kyoto
Torri, Kyoto
Tokyo Tower
Tokyo, Meiji Shrine

If you decide to buy the pass make sure your names match your passport. You will receive a voucher type of letter that you will use to exchange for the pass when you arrive in Japan. Do not forget this letter, it is the only evidence you will have of the transaction. Once you get to Japan just look for a Japan Rail office (they are hard to miss). There is usually more than one office at the train stations so don't fret. If you go during high season try to book all your tickets at the same time, that way you can reserve your seat. Please note that the trains are also used by the locals so there is always demand.

You can look up train schedules before you leave and an excellent site for that is I used this site to print the train times I wanted and when we got to Japan I just pointed out what I wanted and the people at the Japan Rail office printed the tickets for me which just made everything easier with the language barrier and all.

People in Japan are so courteous and friendly so if you are overwhelmed please ask for help. It will cost you nothing.

Happy travels.

Listening is loving...

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