Over the last few years, Japan has become one of the top destinations for UK holidaymakers. Its exotic culture, beautiful sites, and family-friendly environment have made it Britain’s favourite, affordable, long-haul destination.
It is hard not to love Japan. It is a country of contrasts that really captures the imagination and the heart of travellers. From the head-spinning futuristic playground of neon flashes and skyscrapers that is Tokyo, to the historically priceless temples, shrines, and zen gardens of Kyoto, Japan has something to suit all visitors. The good news is that you don’t have to choose between one or the other. There is a way that allows you to truly soak in the Japanese culture, move around from place to place, and explore the country where ancient traditions fuse with modern life under magnificent cherry blossom trees: the Japan Rail Pass.
How does the JR Pass work?
The JR pass offers excellent value for your money while travelling around Japan. It is a multi-use all-you-can-ride discounted rail ticket that provides unlimited access to all Japan Railways National trains and also to the famous speedy 'Shinkansen' bullet trains that connect most of the main cities, like Tokyo to Kyoto. The JR Pass also gives you access to the JR Buses, JR Ferry, Monorails, airport transfers (such as Narita Express in Tokyo and Haruka Express in Kyoto), and local trains and metro in Tokyo, Kyoto, and Osaka. It is without a doubt the cheapest and best way to get around Japan and see all that this fantastic country has to offer.
The JR Pass is only available to tourists, for 7, 14, and 21-day trips, and must be ordered before arriving in Japan. Travellers will receive an exchange voucher, that must be validated and exchanged for the actual pass at a JR Exchange Office upon arrival. These offices can be easily found at airports and main train stations. Along with the ticket, you will also receive a handy guide where all of this information is available and even allows you to track the closest JR Exchange office.
When exchanging the voucher for the JR Pass, you will be able to choose the activation date or the first day of use.. The activation date, or starting date, has to be within 30 days of the date in which the exchange is made, and can be any day you desire within this time frame. For example, if you are travelling to Japan for ten days and spending three days in Tokyo you can get the 7-day pass and activate it for the day you leave Tokyo. Once validated, you will be able to use your pass for the consecutive number of days for which the pass is valid.
Getting around Japan with your JR Pass
With your JR Pass in hand, you can start exploring Japan! You can go to any JR ticket office or Midori-no-madoguchi, to make a seat reservation free of charge.
All you need to do is provide your destination and preferred departure time and one of the friendly staff members will make everything happen. You can make reservations right up to train departures, although, during national holidays such as Golden Week, Obon or New Year, it is advisable to make them at least 3-4 days in advance.
Is the JR pass really worth it?
Still wondering if the JR pass is worth it? Hint: it is! The JR Pass allows you to get the most out of your trip for less. It will save you a lot of money, for instance, the cost of a 7-day pass is covered by a round-trip from Kyoto to Tokyo.
You won’t have to worry about buying tickets and fishing for change each time you take a trip: you just show the pass to the attendant at the turnstiles, and you board the next available train. You will be able to map out the route of your dreams without having to compromise where to go because of distances or money. You can be in the Japanese Alps one day and be running around with wild deer in Nara the next. So, if you are planning your vacation to Japan, be sure to get the JR Pass with free delivery for the UK in 48 hours. Get ready to explore the most magnificent sights in the Land of the Rising Sun, with your Japan Rail Pass starting at £189.