The Seishun Juhachi Kippu (青春１８きっぷ, meaning something like "Youthful 18 Ticket") is a seasonally available railway ticket, which gives you five days of unlimited, nationwide travel on local and rapid JR (Japan Railways) trains for only 11,850 yen, or 2,370 yen per day!
The Seishun 18 Kippu is only available three times a year during school holiday seasons, as shown in the table below:
Despite its name, the Seishun 18 Kippu can be used by people of any age. It is available to foreign tourists as well as Japanese nationals and foreign residents of Japan. However, there is no child fare.
Where is it sold?
The Seishun 18 Kippu can be bought at most JR stations across Japan. Consult the table above for the dates during which the ticket is on sale.
How does the ticket look like?
The ticket is one small card with five fields to be stamped on each day it is being used.
Can it be shared?
The Seishun 18 Kippu is a non-personal, transferable ticket, meaning that it can be used either by one person on five days or be shared by up to five different people. When sharing one ticket as a group, you always need to travel together, and each person uses up one of the ticket's five days of validity. Some examples on how the ticket can be used are listed below:
- 1 person uses it on 5 days (it can be a different person each day)
- 2 people share it on 2 days, and 1 person uses it on 1 day
- 3 people share it on 1 day, and 1 person uses it on 2 days
- 5 people share it on 1 day
How to use it?
You cannot use automatic gates with the Seishun 18 Kippu. Instead, you have to pass through the manned gates and show the ticket to the station staff. At the beginning of each day's usage, the station staff will stamp one of the five fields with a stamp showing the current date. If you travel in a group, one field will be stamped for each member in your group.
When is it valid?
The ticket is valid on five days during the period of validity (see table above). The five days do not need to be consecutive days. One day is defined as from midnight to midnight, except in the Tokyo and Osaka areas where the ticket is valid until the last train. In all other areas, when you are on board of a train at midnight, the ticket is valid up to the first station reached after midnight.
Which trains can be used?
The ticket is valid only on local trains (futsudensha/kakuekiteisha) and rapid trains (kaisoku), operated by the Japan Railways (JR), as well as on the JR ferry to Miyajima and the JR buses along the Sanriku Coast (Maeyachi - Kesennuma - Sakari). It cannot be used on express (kyuko), limited express (tokkyu) and bullet trains (shinkansen) or on any other buses or ferries. (Note that there are a small number of JR trains which partially use the tracks of a different railway company. An additional fee has to be paid on such trains.)
Is it valid on non-JR trains?
The ticket can generally not be used on non-JR trains. However, there is a small number of exceptions to enable ticket holders access to isolated JR lines:
- Aoimori Railway between Aomori, Noheji and Hachinohe to access the JR Ominato Line to the Shimokita Peninsula.
- IR Ishikawa Railway between Kanazawa and Tsubata to access the JR Nanao Line to the Noto Peninsula.
- Ainokaze Toyama Railway between Toyama and Takaoka to access the JR Himi Line and JR Johana Line.
Is it possible to use the ticket on trains between Honshu and Hokkaido?
Until the opening of the Hokkaido Shinkansen on March 26, 2016, Seishun 18 Kippu holders are allowed to exceptionally use non-reserved seats on limited express trains between Kanita (the last station on Honshu) and Kikonai (the first station on Hokkaido). After the opening of the Hokkaido Shinkansen, ticket holders will need to purchase a "Seishun 18 Kippu Hokkaido Shinkansen Ticket" for 2300 yen per person and ride in order to use a vacant seat on the shinkansen between Okutsugaru-Imabetsu (the last station on Honshu) and Kikonai and the Donan Isaribi Railway (aka South Hokkaido Railway) between Kikonai and Hakodate.
Is it practical to travel long distances by local trains?
Travel by local trains is naturally much slower than by shinkansen or limited express. From Tokyo, for example, it takes roughly nine hours and multiple transfers of trains to reach Kyoto. On major lines, such as the Tokaido Line and the Sanyo Line, local train service is frequent enough to travel without preparing a prior itinerary, but on most other lines, local service is infrequent and connections inconvenient. Therefore, it is highly recommended to create an itinerary in advance by studying the timetables. Furthermore, cheap fares by overnight buses and discount airlines have created more comfortable alternatives to the Seishun 18 Kippu in recent years.
How do I look up timetables?
The best tool is Hyperdia that allows you to look up train connections for just trains covered by the Seishun 18 Kippu. To do so, unselect all checkboxes under "Search Options" except "Local train" and "Japan Railways (JR)". Results will only include local and rapid JR trains.