Is the JR Pass worth it?

Hey there!

One of the most frequently asked questions I see about Japan travel is ‘Is the JR Pass worth it?’ The JR Pass is a rail pass that offers unlimited travel on JR lines within Japan at a discounted rate. The pass comes in 7 day, 14 day and 21 day increments.

Please see below for the costs from Japan Guide.

Japan Rail Pass
Type Ordinary Green Car
7 consecutive days 29,110 yen 38,880 yen
14 consecutive days 46,390 yen 62,950 yen
21 consecutive days 59,350 yen 81,870 yen
Reduced rates (50% off) apply to children aged 6-11.

Now, on the face of it, it may seem like almost 30,000円 is quite a lot for one week, however, depending on your circumstances, you may actually save some money. Let’s do some sample itineraries to see if we save cash!


Sample 1 – Basic 1 Week Trip (Based in Tokyo)

Fly into Tokyo Narita – Narita Nex approx 3000円

Stay in Tokyo for 3 days – JR line average 500円 per day x 3 = 1500円

Day trip to Kyoto – Shinkansen approx 14,000円

Day trip to Osaka – JR Line from Kyoto approx 500円

Return to Tokyo – Shinkansen approx 14,000円

Fly out from Tokyo Narita – Narita Nex approx 3000円

It’s likely you’ll do additional journeys.

Total: 36,000円

JR Pass Cost: 29,110円

Total Savings: 6890円


Sample 2 – Basic 2 Week Trip (Based in Tokyo)

Fly into Tokyo Narita – Narita Nex approx 3000円

Stay in Tokyo for 6 days – JR line average 500円 per day x 6 = 3000円

Day trip to Kyoto – Shinkansen approx 14,000円

Day Trip to Nara – JR Line from Osaka approx 800円

Day trip to Osaka – JR Line from Kyoto approx 800円

Day Trip to Hiroshima – Shinkansen approx 10,000円

Return to Tokyo – Shinkansen approx 18,000円

Day Trip to Hakone (round trip) – Shinkansen approx 4000円 x 2 for Round Trip = 8000円  (can only get to Odawara then use non-JR lines)

Stay in Tokyo for 2 more days – JR line average 500円 per day x 2 = 1000円

Fly out from Tokyo Narita – Narita Nex approx 3000円

It’s likely you’ll do additional journeys or day trips.

Total: 61,600円

JR Pass Cost: 46,390円

Total Savings: 15,210円


Pretty neat, right? The JR Pass certainly is able to save a decent chunk of money if you are going to be undertaking quite a few day trips across long distances. However, there are some instances where the JR Pass may not quite live up to the cost. One is if you leave and arrive from different airports, or if you prefer to not take as many day trips.

Sample 3 – 2 Week trip (Base split between Osaka and Tokyo)

Fly into Tokyo Narita – Narita Nex approx 3000円

Stay in Tokyo for 7 days – JR line average 500円 per day x 7 = 3500円

Travel to Osaka for 2nd week – Shinkansen approx 14,000円

Day Trip (Round) to Kyoto from Osaka – 1000円

Day Trip (Round) to Nara from Osaka – 1600円

Day Trip (Round) to Kobe from Osaka – 1000円

Stay in Osaka for 4 days – JR line average 500円 per day x 4 = 2000円

Fly out from Osaka Kansai – 2000円

Total: 28,100円

JR Pass Cost: 46,390円

Total Loss: 18,290円

That’s a huge loss if you aren’t making long distance shinkansen journeys. Also, some areas such as Mt Fuji, Kawaguchiko and Hakone are better accessed via Highway Bus services or independent rail lines, so you could even make those trips and still be under budget using this trip plan.


To summarise – if you are taking 2-3+ long distance shinkansen trips, the JR pass is usually worth it. If you don’t plan on taking many day trips, or use different cities as hubs to travel to and from, you’ll likely not need the JR Pass.

Hope that was useful for you, do let me know if you have any more questions about the Japan Rail Pass!

Thanks,

Ganbatte Girl x

 

4 Comments Add yours

  1. Jennifer says:

    You put up a pretty neat summary here.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you! 😀 Hopefully it helps people!~

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Kat says:

    Totally agree on this! JR pass is worth it if you plan to take the shinkansen a lot. 😀

    Liked by 1 person

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