There are certain tickets available that are offered specifically to tourists who want to explore Japan – and there are some great deals to be made.
Where to purchase these special tickets?
While there’s a wide variety of special deal tickets for tourists available, every railway company sells them in a different manner and place. So with your sightseeing goal in mind, first check which company’s lines will take you there. Some special deals might not be sold at all stations and will require that you visit a specific information or ticket center instead.
Tourist tickets from JR East
If you plan to travel all over Japan with railways and buses, then JR East’s (which we’ll call JR from now on) JAPAN RAIL PASS is highly recommended. It is valid on any Shinkansen (super bullet trains), limited express trains, express trains, fast trains, local trains of JR groups, local JR buses and even on the Miyajima Ferry of JR West. While this already is a huge variety of different train lines, keep in mind that there are still exceptions. The JAPAN RAIL PASS is not available in Japan, however. Instead, you’ll have to purchase an exchange order before coming to Japan from a JR designated sales office or agent in your country. These include JTB, the Nippon Travel Agency, Japan Airlines and more. Once you have arrived in Japan, simply show your exchange order to an exchange counter located in main JR stations and you’ll receive your JAPAN RAIL PASS. There are two different types: the green pass and the ordinary pass. The green pass basically makes you eligible for JR’s first class cars called green cars. While ordinary cars are comfortable and mostly perfectly sufficient, first class travel does have advantages like being less crowded and therefore quieter. The choice is entirely up to you. Both passes are available for different durations: 7 days, 14 days, or 21 days.
Apart from that, there are also special tourist tickets available for traveling within certain areas. The N’EX TOKYO Round Trip Ticket, for example, allows to you comfortably get from and to Narita Airport for a very reasonable price, while the JR TOKYO Wide Pass is an unlimited three-day pass including reserved seats within Tokyo and the surrounding Kanto area, allowing travel to famous areas such as Mt. Fuji and Echigo-Yuzawa, stress-free and fairly cheap.
Tourist tickets from Tokyo Metro, Keikyu Electric Railway and the Tokyo Metropolitan Bureau of Transportation
The Welcome! Tokyo Subway Ticket is offered by Keikyu Electric Railway, connecting the suburbs of Tokyo to Haneda Airport. It includes a Keikyu train ticket from Haneda Airport International Terminal Station to Sengakuji Station, as well as a unlimited train tickets on all lines of Toei Subways and Tokyo Metro for either one day or three days. One-way or round trip tickets for the Keiyu Lines can be purchased for 1,200 yen and 2,200 yen per adult at the Keikyu Tourist Information Center (Keikyu TIC), located on the 2nd floor of Haneda Airport International Terminal Station.
Tourist tickets from Keisei Electric Railway
Keisei Electric Railway, which offers a direct train connection to Narita Airport, sells the Keisei Skyliner & Tokyo Subway Ticket. It grants you unlimited rides on the Skyliner, the nine lines of the Tokyo Metro, and the four lines of the metropolitan subway for one to three days - you can go almost anywhere within Tokyo! A one-way or round trip ticket can be chosen for the Skyliner and it remains valid for three days. The price for adults is from 2,800 yen to 5,400 yen. The tickets can be bought, one per person, at the Keisei Electric Railway's ticket counter in the Narita Airport Station and the Airport Terminal 2 Station.
It can also be purchased via local travel agencies in South Korea, Taiwan, and Hong Kong, as well as inside the planes bound for Japan of some low-cost airlines. If purchased before coming to Japan, the voucher needs to be replaced with a proper railway ticket at Narita airport.
Tourist tickets from Seibu Railway
The Seibu Kawagoe Pass (with CO-EDO Loop Bus 1 Day Pass included) is exclusive to international tourists visiting Japan – it’s a round trip ticket from either Seibu-Shinjuku Station or Takadanobaba Station to Honkawagoe Station for only 700 yen. The regular price for this connection is about 2,000 yen so there’s a real bargain to be made if you plan on exploring the Saitama area. The ticket can be purchased at the Shinjuku Prince Hotel, the Seibu-Shinjuku Station, and the Takadanobaba Station. The travel agency CTT, or Sozo Ryokosha (創造旅遊社), also offers a tour package including this ticket to tourists from Taiwan.
Tourist tickets from Tobu Railway
Tobu Railway sells four types of railway tickets for tourists, which take you from Tokyo to Nikko and Kawagoe.
There are three different types of tickets. You can immerse yourself in Nikko's rich history for two days with the 2 DAY NIKKO PASS, you can explore Edo Wonderland Nikko Edomura, or Tobu World Square - or even both of them - with the KINUGAWA THEME PARK PASS, or you can fully enjoy the Nikko and Kinugawa areas for four straight days with the ALL NIKKO PASS. These tickets needs to be reserved in advance and picked up at the Tobu Sightseeing Service Center in Tobu Asakusa Station.
With the KAWAGOE DISCOUNT PASS, you get discounts on your train fare from Ikebukuro to Kawagoe City, as well as other discounts and bargains at five specified shops. This ticket can only be purchased in the Tojo Line's Ikebukuro Station and the Tobu Top Tours Ikebukuro Station branch.
Tourist tickets for limousine buses
Limousine buses are a comfortable and reasonably priced option to get from and to the airport – and also offer special tickets to tourists. Welcome to Tokyo Airport Limousine Bus Return Voucher, a limousine round-trip bus ticket, is available for 4,500 yen. With its first stop being Narita Airport, this ticket allows you to get off at any stop within Tokyo. The ticket is sold at the limousine bus ticket counter in the Narita Airport arrival lobby and at overseas travel agencies.
Explore Beyond the City Center with the Greater Tokyo Pass – Unlimited Rides for 3 Days!
The Greater Tokyo Pass offers you the opportunity to explore Tokyo’s suburbs and surrounding areas, with unlimited train and bus rides for three days. In total, 12 railway companies and 52 bus companies are part of the pass that is available from April 1, 2018. The pass itself costs 7,200 yen for adults and 3,600 yen for children.
Besides both Haneda and Narita Airport, the Greater Tokyo Pass also covers major sightseeing spots such as Mount Takao, Chichibu, and Kamakura – explore beyond Central Tokyo!
What you should keep in mind
Price changes might occur depending on the effective date of your ticket and, as already mentioned, the places where and methods how these tickets can be bought differ by company. Mostly, the tourist tickets are sold at specific places, such as railway company offices or tourist agencies but worry not, it’s usually clearly indicated on a company’s website where to buy your tourist ticket. Visiting in advance is also always an option! One of the most important things to keep in mind, however, is to bring your passport as these special types of tickets often require a proof of identity. Have fun exploring!