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Is japan rail pass worth it on a close call 2021/5/17 05:08
Hi everyone,
me and my boyfriend are planning to go to japan in april next year, we're not traveling very far and we're going for 3 weeks!
We're going to tokyo, hakone, osaka and kyoto in that order but we're doubting to buy the japan rail pass since the 7 day pass was a close call on the calculator... It would be easier if we didn't have to buy our tickets but if we could save that money that would of course also be nice!
Now also if we would buy the 7 day pass it would probably won't fit into the 3 week plan right? Because then we would have to combine the travels in a week and we were planning a week for staying for most places except hakone...
Haha so shortly said we hope someone who is more experienced in japan maybe could tell us what is the smartest thing to do!

Greets anouk! :)
by anouk (guest)  

Re: is japan rail pass worth it on a close call 2021/5/17 08:20
We're going to tokyo, hakone, osaka and kyoto in that order but we're doubting to buy the japan rail pass since the 7 day pass was a close call on the calculator...

If you do a round trip between Tokyo and Osaka within 7 days, a 7-day pass costs about the same as regular shinkansen tickets. Unless you have a desire to use Nozomi trains, I suggest to use the Japan Rail Pass because of the flexibility and convenience it offers.

If you do not do the round trip within 7 days, then the Japan Rail Pass won't pay off.

It would be easier if we didn't have to buy our tickets but if we could save that money that would of course also be nice!

If you are serious about saving money, then you should consider taking the overnight bus instead of the shinkansen:
https://www.japan-guide.com/e/e2363.html
by Uji rate this post as useful

Re: is japan rail pass worth it on a close call 2021/5/17 08:38
My advice is to not make your itinerary fit a rail pass, but instead plan what you definitely want to do and then see if any rail passes fit. If they don't, then don't worry about them!

Buying tickets has become easier over the last few years with the introduction of the SmartEX app, which can be used by people from certain countries to purchase shinkansen tickets online (only some, not all, regions). You can also use some of the JR websites to buy/book tickets. I have done both - SmartEX and JRWest - and they are quite easy and in English.

Buying tickets at the counter is also normally straightforward if you arrive prepared, even with a language barrier. Bring a piece of paper with the trip details written on it - time of departure and arrival, departure and arrival stations, and the "name" of the train (e.g. Hikari 123). This will make the process much faster and easier for both you and the person assisting you.

As someone else has already mentioned, round trip shinkansen tickets between Tokyo and Kansai are close in price to a 7-day JR Pass, so if buying the pass would restrict the time you spent in Kyoto and Osaka, it's probably not worth the pass.
by / (guest) rate this post as useful

Re: is japan rail pass worth it on a close call 2021/5/17 09:02
A round trip Tokyo to Osaka/Kyoto is much less than the 7-day rail pass using the 21-day advance purchase ticket. Check Smart-ex.
I also agree, plan your trip first, then see if there are discounts/passes that help. While the national JRP has some great benefits if doing lots of travel, if it is marginal I would tend not to get one based on my experience. Also, even with a pass, you would probably be doing tickets/reservations anyway.
by JapanCustomTours rate this post as useful

Re: Is japan rail pass worth it on a close call 2021/5/17 20:04
thanks so much for all the replies! Super useful and I will definitely check those sites out and otherwise come prepared at the service kiosks! Thank you so :)
by anouk (guest) rate this post as useful

Re: Is japan rail pass worth it on a close call 2021/5/20 01:49
I just wanted to add that on the multiple week trips I've taken and gotten rail passes careful planning went into each trip in advance. The convenience of not having to buy multiple individual tickets was great. I more than got my money's worth out of the passes by using them as frequently as possible - including using local JR services in Tokyo, Kyoto and Osaka to get around (the Yamanote and Chuo lines in Tokyo for example and NEX Express from/to Narita) and also taking side trips out of the cities I stayed in - Nikko, Kamakura and Hakone while in Tokyo. Kanazawa, Osaka, Okayama, Himeji while in Kyoto and longer trips on one journey to Kyushu and Hokkaido with side trips added. The ferry from Miyajima Guchi to Miyajima Island and at least one JR bus allowed the JR pass. If a lot of side trips and local use of the pass are not your traveling style the pass may not pay off.
by sjvacc rate this post as useful

Re: Is japan rail pass worth it on a close call 2021/5/20 02:15
yeah its good to remember you can use it for other lines too, side trips do sound like a lot of fun! I honestly have no clue what to expect so we thought to ease into these cities but since wefre going for three weeks there is enough time to travel to other places too! Thanks for the tip, really appreciate it and it is all so fun to read Ifm truly super excited already haha :)
by Anouk (guest) rate this post as useful

Re: Is japan rail pass worth it on a close call 2021/5/20 14:24
You can only use it on 30% of rail lines in Tokyo and Japan. And also nil options at Hakone.

IC card and regional passes are better.

You really only need to buy 2 shinkansen tix, for your itinerary, so hardly a reason get a JRP for ease.
by H (guest) rate this post as useful

Re: Is japan rail pass worth it on a close call 2021/5/20 16:13
I think these are all various great arguments, and I think it ultimately depends on the individual traveler's travel style. Flexible travelers, for example, will love the rail pass, because - if for any reason (weather, changing interests, etc.) - you suddenly decided that you wanted to do an unplanned side trip to, for example, Hiroshima, the rail pass would allow you to do that at any time without any additional cost.
by Uji rate this post as useful

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