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How to Save Money with Japan's Amazing Rail Passes!

How to Save Money with Japan's Amazing Rail Passes!

Update: 20 July 2018

Japan is such an amazing destination for tourists that companies do their best to make it as easy to travel around as possible, and at an astonishingly low price. These tickets aren’t exactly a secret, but for many people around the world these kinds of tickets simply don’t exist in their countries, so it’s a bit hard to even imagine that they exist! They make travelling around Tokyo very cheap, and offer stupendous value for money for travelling around the Kanto region and around east Japan. For any savvy traveler they are tickets which are an important tool for making the most of any trip to this beautiful country. Today we will introduce four different train tickets which JR East, Japan’s largest train company offers. No tourist should be without!

N'EX TOKYO Round Trip Ticket

N'EX TOKYO Round Trip Ticket

In many ways Narita airport is the gateway to Japan with around 35 million people arriving here every year, and the Narita Express is one of the quickest ways to get to Tokyo. However, one way costs 3,020 yen which means that travelers arriving and departing from Narita normally have to pay 6,040 yen to use this train service.

For anyone who needs to make this round trip within 14 days the N’EX TOKYO Round Trip Ticket is here for you! For just 4,000 yen you can use this easy and convenient train service, making a saving of over 30%. It isn’t possible to buy it outside of Japan, so you will need to buy it as soon as you arrive at Narita airport at a JR EAST Travel Service Center, JR Ticket Office or the Narita International Airport Terminal 1 Travel Center. This ticket is only for people holding a non-Japanese passport, which has to be shown at time of purchase. It is also best to reserve your seat when purchasing a N'EX TOKYO Round Trip Ticket or before riding on the N'EX.

Price: Adults (12 and older) 4,000 yen; Children (6 to 11) 2,000 yen
Purchase Requirements: Non-Japanese passport holders
Where to buy: JR EAST Travel Service Centers and JR Ticket Offices (Midori-no-madoguchi) at Narita Airport Terminals 1 and 2·3
Area Covered: Between Narita Airport Terminals 1 and 2·3, and major stations in the Tokyo metropolitan area including Yokohama

More Information: http://www.jreast.co.jp/e/nex/

Tokyo 1-Day Ticket

Tokyo 1-Day Ticket

24 million people visited Japan in 2016, and most likely a massive proportion of these visitors went to Tokyo – which makes sense as it is a massive attraction in itself! However, as Tokyo is so big visiting different places will cost money in terms of subway tickets and buses – but again there is a ticket to come to your rescue!

The Tokyo 1-Day Ticket costs 1,590 yen and allows unlimited use of trains and certain buses within the 23 wards of Tokyo. It can be used for local and rapid JR East trains (unreserved seating), Tokyo Metro and Toei subway systems, the Nippori-Toneri Liner, the Tokyo Toei Streetcar Arakawa Line and the Toei Bus system (excluding late night buses and reserved seating buses).

This brilliant ticket covers a huge amount of ground and will make a day traveling around this great city an absolute breeze. You can purchase it at JR Ticket Offices (Midori-no-Madoguchi) at most major JR East Tokyo stations as well as at Travel Service Centers (View Plaza), in addition you can buy it up to one month before you intend to use it – which is really handy if you plan to travel outside Tokyo first but will need it as soon as you arrive back in Tokyo.

Price: Adults (12 and older) 1,590 yen; Children (6 to 11) 800 yen
Purchase Requirements:
Where to buy: JR Ticket Offices (Midori-no-Madoguchi) at most major JR East Tokyo stations as well as at Travel Service Centers (View Plaza)
Area Covered: The Pass may be used on:
-Local and rapid JR East trains (excluding reserved seats) in the designated open seating zone within the 23 Special Wards of Tokyo
-The Tokyo Metro and Toei subway systems
-The Nippori-Toneri Liner
-The Tokyo Toei Streetcar Arakawa Line
-The Toei Bus system (excluding late night buses and reserved seat buses)

More Information: http://www.jreast.co.jp/e/pass/tokyo_free.html

JR TOKYO Wide Pass

JR TOKYO Wide Pass

Armed with a N’EX TOKYO Round Trip Ticket and a Tokyo 1-Day Ticket you can get to Tokyo and visit many places in that city for a really reasonable price, but with the JR TOKYO Wide Pass you can go anywhere within the whole Kanto area for three days for an unbelievable 10,000 yen. That means that for an incredible 3,333 yen per day it is possible to visit any prefecture surrounding Tokyo.

You are allowed unlimited rides using, JR East Lines, Tokyo Monorail, Izu Kyuko Line, Fujikyu Railway, Joshin Dentetsu Line, Saitama New Urban Transit Line (New Shuttle) – between Omiya and the Railway Museum, Tokyo Waterfront Area Rapid Transit Rinkai Line, the following limited express trains that directly run between the JR East lines and Tobu Railway lines: the Nikko, the SPACIA Nikko, the Kinugawa, and the SPACIA Kinugawa and also, local trains (including rapid trains) between Shimo-imaichi and Tobu-nikko/Kinugawa-onsen Stations.

It isn’t valid on the Tokaido Shinkansen and JR buses, but you can use the shinkansen to Sakudaira, Gala Yuzawa and Nasushiobara. No matter how you look at it, this ticket offers unbelievable value. This pass is available to non-Japanese passport holders, regardless of whether they are on a tourist visa or other visa, and you can buy it at certain JR EAST Travel Service Centers in and around Tokyo, as well as the airports.

Price:Adults (12 and older) 10,000 yen; Children (6 to 11) 5,000 yen
Purchase Requirements: Non-Japanese passport holders
Where to buy: Travel Service Centers and JR EAST Travel Service Centers across Tokyo
Area Covered: The Pass may be used for designated or unreserved seats on the ordinary cars of Shinkansen, limited express, express, rapid and local trains in the usage area shown below.
-JR East Lines   
-Tokyo Monorail  
-Izu Kyuko Line 
-Fujikyu Railway   
-Joshin Dentetsu Line 
-Saitama New Urban Transit Line (New Shuttle) – between Omiya and the Railway Museum
-The entire Tokyo Waterfront Area Rapid Transit Rinkai Line
-The following limited express trains that directly run between the JR East lines and Tobu Railway
-lines: the Nikko, the SPACIA Nikko, the Kinugawa, and the SPACIA Kinugawa. Also, the local trains
- (including rapid trains) between Shimo-imaichi and Tobu-nikko/Kinugawa-onsen Stations.

More Information: https://www.jreast.co.jp/e/tokyowidepass/

JR EAST PASS

JR EAST PASS

Last, but not at all least, there is the JR EAST PASS. There are two versions of this pass, one that covers the Tohoku area, and one that covers the Nagano and Niigata areas. If bought abroad they can be purchased for an astounding low price of 19,000 yen and 17,000 yen respectively, and are valid for a whole five days within a 14 day period. In contrast to the JAPAN RAIL PASS these days don’t have to be consecutive.

① JR EAST PASS (Tohoku area)

These tickets put a massive area of Japan within reach, and for example the Tohoku version allows you to use both the shinkansen and certain train lines including, but not limited to, JR East Lines, Izu Kyuko Line, Aoimori Railway and the Tokyo Monorail.

Specifically being able to ride the shinkansen is a massive asset; a return ticket to Aomori would normally cost over 34,000 yen. It is only available to non-Japanese passport holders on a tourist visa with a visa to stay in Japan for no longer than 90 days, but it can be bought overseas and within Japan – however there is a small premium if bought within Japan. It includes use of Narita Express, and also covers the Tokyo area, but the astounding aspect is that you can reach Aomori, as mentioned before, as well as places like Akita prefecture with its beautiful lakes and coastline.

Price:
-Outside of Japan: Adults (12 and older) 19,000 yen; Children (6 to 11) 9,500 yen 
-Inside Japan: Adults (12 and older) 20,000 yen; Children (6 to 11) 10,000 yen
Purchase Requirements: Non-Japanese passport holders with tourist visa (i.e. stamped “Temporary Visitor” on your passport).          
Where to buy: It is possible to buy this pass at travel agents overseas, online on the JR East website, and at participating JR East Travel Service Centers                     
Area Covered: Unlimited travel on local, limited express and express trains including Shinkansen trains on the following rail company lines, however please see the JR East website for further detailed information:
-JR East Lines (including the BRT**)
-Izu Kyuko Line       
-Aoimori Railway      
-Iwate Galaxy Railway (IGR)   
-Tokyo Monorail       
-Sendai Airport Transit     
-The following limited express trains that directly run between the JR East lines and Tobu Railway lines: the Nikko, the SPACIA Nikko, the Kinugawa, and the SPACIA Kinugawa.
-The pass can be used for travel on local and rapid trains between Shimo-imaichi and Tobu-nikko/Kinugawa-onsen on Tobu Railway Lines. Between Kurihashi and Shimo-imaichi Stations, the pass may be used only on limited express trains that connect directly with Tobu Railway Lines.

More Information: http://www.jreast.co.jp/e/eastpass_t/index.html

** Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) is a bus system in certain areas in Tohoku, including Ofunato and Kesennuma

② JR EAST PASS (Nagano and Niigata area)

The Nagano and Niigata pass works in the same way towards those respective areas. Just like the Tohoku version it is only for non-Japanese passport holders who are on a tourist visa (i.e. stamped “Temporary Visitor” on your passport), and they can be bought overseas before you arrive in Japan – please note there is a small premium if buying within Japan.

The unbelievable value for money of these passes can be demonstrated by the simple fact that a return ticket to Niigata by shinkansen would cost just over 20,000 yen and a return ticket to Nagano would cost 16,000 yen! This pass can also be used from the moment you arrive at Narita airport as it allows use of Narita Express and trains in the Tokyo area, and from there you can explore central Japan. It is a more than five hour journey, but yYou can even travel as far north as Sakata in Yamagata where the beautiful movie Okuribito (Departures) was shot.

Price:
-Outside of Japan: Adults (12 and older) 17,000 yen; Children (6 to 11) 8,500 yen
-Inside Japan: Adults (12 and older) 18,000 yen; Children(6 to 11) 9,000 yen
Purchase Requirements: Non-Japanese passport holders with tourist visa (i.e. stamped “Temporary Visitor” on your passport).
Where to buy: It is possible to buy this pass at travel agents overseas, online on the JR East website, and at participating JR EAST Travel Service Centers
Area Covered: Unlimited travel on local, limited express and express trains including Shinkansen trains on the following rail company lines, however please see the JR East website for further detailed information:
-JR East Lines (including the BRT**)  
-Izu Kyuko Line        
-Hokuetsu Express       
-Echigo TOKImeki Railway: Arai-Naoetsu 
-Tokyo Monorail 
-The following limited express trains that directly run between the JR East lines and Tobu Railway lines: the Nikko, the SPACIA Nikko, the Kinugawa, and the SPACIA Kinugawa.
-The pass can be used for travel on local and rapid trains between Shimo-imaichi and Tobu-nikko/Kinugawa-onsen on Tobu Railway Lines. Between Kurihashi and Shimo-imaichi Stations, the pass may be used only on limited express trains that connect directly with Tobu Railway Lines.
       
More Information: http://www.jreast.co.jp/e/eastpass_n/index.html

** Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) is a bus system in certain areas in Tohoku, including Ofunato and Kesennuma

*This information is from the time of this article's publication.

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