Japan Rail Pass
Probably, when you plan to visit Japan, you may think about using Japan Rail Pass.
It is certainly convenient.
You can use all JR trains in Japan. And you can use Shinkansen.
First, please check the official website.
Main points to use Japan Rail Pass
- Buy the pass at any designated travel agency in your country before the travel.
- Accept an "Exchange Order" at that time, and exchange it for real "Pass" after you arrive at Japan.
- You can use only the trains of JR lines including Shinkansen.
The third point means that you can't use the trains of the other companies and subways.
Use Japan Rail Pass when you travel around wide area in Japan
Let's check the price.
7-days pass for ordinary car is 33,610 yen. (in 2020)
This price is nearly equal to the round-trip fare of Shinkansen between Tokyo and Okayama. (about 730km)
When you use such Japan Rail Pass, you should plan an itinerary that you travel around wider area than that.
Rail Passes sold by each JR companies
Japan Rail Pass is sold by the group of all JR companies.
There are six JR companies, and each company sells own Rail Pass.
You can use them as a pass for local area.
And the duration of using the pass is shorter than Japan Rail Pass.
Rail Passes sold by the other railway companies
There are many railway companies in Japan.
Some of them have popular tourist attractions in own area, so such companies sell rail passes.
But when you think about these passes, you need to plan to take many trains as you can for using the pass economically.
Central Japan area
IC Card for railway ticket
There are some passes for subway and railway in the central area of big city such as Tokyo, Osaka.
When you travel around the city, you must take a train several times a day.
Every fare is not so expensive because of short distance.
For example, I stay in Shinjuku and plan to visit Asakusa, Ginza, Shibuya, Meiji-Shrine within a day, then return to Shinjuku.(I walk from Shibuya to Meiji-Shrine.)
Tokyo One-day pass for Tokyo Metro and Toei subways is 900 yen.
It is a hurried trip, but the calculated result of total fare is 810 yen.
As above, one-day or two-day pass of big city is not always cheap.
Because, the fare of short distance in big city is cheap.
Therefore, I recommend IC card ticket when you stay and travel around a big city for a few days.
When you pass a ticket gate, you have only to touch the card on the gate machine.
You can use to pay at some shops and coin-operated lockers in the station.
If the remaining amount is decreasing, you can charge the money at the ticket machine in the station.
In some metropolitan areas in Japan, JR and the other railway companies sell original IC card.
You can use them everywhere in Japan.
SUICA = sold by JR East
PASMO = sold by the other railway companies around Tokyo area
TOICA = sold by JR Central
MANACA = sold by the other railway companies around Nagoya area
ICOCA = sold by JR Central
PiTaPa = sold by the other railway companies around Kansai area
Attention when you refund your IC-Card
When you refund your IC-Card, it is accepted at only the station office in the area the IC-Card is sold.
In short, only the railway company selling the IC-Card accepts a refund.
For example, you arrive at Narita Airport and buy Suica.
And you move to Kansai area and depart from Kansai Airport.
Suica is sold by JR East.
The railway station in Kansai Airport isn't JR East but JR West.
So, you can't refund your Suica at Kansai Airport.
In such cases, you should refund the card in any station of JR East before you move Kansai area.