I mentioned a lot of times on my recent Japan-trip blogs re the JR Pass I purchased, that gave me access to unlimited train rides between major cities in Japan. During my trip, I was able to visit Kyoto, Himeji, Hiroshima and Sapporo, with Tokyo as my port of entry (via Cebu Pacific direct flight from Cebu City). Yes, medyo mahal ang pass, but I think I was able to maximise my purchase to the fullest. To give a better picture, here are some points to know.
Ano vah itong JR Pass?
- The Japan Rail Pass is an unlimited transpo-pass for overseas visitors, valid for travel on all major forms of transportation provided by the JR Group in Japan (with very few exceptions).
- JR Pass is mainly used for Inter-city train travel, but is also accepted on certain local (city) train, some buses and ferry transfer. Basta JR Group na company, game na!
- Train transfer from Tokyo city center to Narita Airport is also included with the pass.
- The popular and highly expensive high speed 320km/h Inter-city bullet trains of Japan is also included with the pass, except for “Nozomi” and “Mizuho” bullet trains.
- Pass is available in 7 days, 14 days, and 21 days (of course, iba-iba din presyo nyan).
- There are two types of JR Pass: ordinary and green car (first class). Kaya umasta nang naaayon sa biniling pass. lol, joke! The difference? di ko alam bes! di ako pumasok sa first class.
- JR Pass is available for foreign tourists only and is not available for Japan residents. As such, you have to purchase the JR Pass ONLINE, Days prior to your trip to Japan.
- The Rail Pass is designed to stimulate travel and tourism throughout the country.
- For Reference, here are the places I visited, using my pass. Saya, diba?
Where to Buy?
- As mentioned earlier, JR Pass should be purchased online prior to the trip. Most blogs usually recommend purchasing online through Klook, as they are the cheapest daw, at around 13,500 Php (ordinary pass) + Shipment fee. I tried to contact Klook but found out that you have to buy at least 10 days prior to the trip. That did not work for me.
- Discovery Tours, the most popular Japan Visa processing agency in the Ph, also offers JR Pass. However, they require you to secure a visa first before buying.
- I purchased mine via the main JR Pass website (click here to check) for around 14,500 Php (ordinary pass) with shipment na yan Fed Express from London,UK. I purchased this 5 days prior to my flight.
- I purchased the pass that is valid nationwide. But there are other “Region-specific pass” available, say Kansai-Only Pass, at a lower cost. Contact the agency nalang for recommendations.
Points to Remember after buying:
- Better purchase JR Pass earlier nalang, if sure ka na din naman with your visa approval. Na stress ako dun sa 5 days prior.
- Note that these agencies won’t be shipping you the actual JR Pass Booklet. Instead, they will be sending you a certificate/voucher, which you will have to exchange for the actual booklet by the time you arrive in Japan (sa airport or any major train station).
- Upon exchange, the pass does not immediately take effect. You can choose a later date that is more favourable with your travel program, like what I did. I arrived in Tokyo via Cebu Pacific and spent 3 days there. On my fourth day, I travelled to Kyoto, and that is when I activated my 7 days pass.
- Mag install kayo ng Hyperdia – Japan’s Official Travel App. I was very dependent on this for the train schedules and specific stops.
- Despite having the JR Pass, it is recommended that you still have to pass by the ticketing booth to get a reservation for inter-city travel. Meaning, may privilege ka to secure a designated seat, parang airplane. Reservation is very quick to do. And as per my experience, nakakapag-english yung mga staff assigned for this. For local trains within the city, no need to reserve.
Do I really need the JR Pass in my life?
Case to case. If you are going to Japan to just visit 1 or 2 major cities that are close to each other, say Tokyo and Nagoya, then No! It will not be sulit. JR Pass would be perfect only if you intend to visit multiple cities within 7 days (or 14 or 21, depending on which pass you availed).
I arrived in Tokyo and spent 3 days there. On my fourth day, I travelled to Kyoto, which was Day 1 of my pass. and within 7 days, I was able to visit Kyoto, Himeji and Hiroshima in the south, then gave one day to travel up north to Sapporo,Hokkaido. I spent 10 days total in Japan and I was able to maximise my JR Pass to the fullest. Here is a chart showing my usage with equivalent fares if I did not have the pass.
Bes as you can see, my travels in total was worth 56,966.40 Php. Compared to the price of my 7 days pass at 14,500 Php. Sulit diba?
Here is my Route map for reference:
Though again, this backpacking style is not for everybody. I did a lot of train rides within seven days. It could be tiring for some, but that is how I intended my travel to be. I wanted to really exhaust my pass and see more. Train rides are fun anyways, especially travelling across the countryside of Japan and see red autumn landscape of Tokyo transform into the snow white covered mountains and flatlands of Hokkaido.
Madami din naman airplanes between cities which are definitely faster and are fairly priced. But airports are quite malayo tologoh and katamad to go through airport check ins. I find the train transfers more convenient and flexible. City center to city center na eh.
So there you go mga mumsh, I hope i was able to explain the core essence and value of JR pass in our lives as travel enthusiasts. Travelling across Japan countryside by high speed bullet train has always been a dream of mine,and I am glad I was able to tick it off my list this year. =)
For “places to see” reference, check out these links:
For Visa Application Guideline, click HERE.