From October 1, 2023, the cost of the Japan Rail Pass will increase by around 70%, turning the pass into a much less attractive product than it currently is. On July 26, more details about the changes to the pass were released by the JR Group.

Apart from the cost increase, the pass will undergo some minor changes: it will newly allow holders to use Nozomi and Mizuho trains if they pay a hefty supplement fee and to enjoy discounts at selected tourist sites. In addition, the sale of the pass at stations inside of Japan will end on October 1. The old pass will remain on sale until September 30 and can theoretically be used until early 2024.

It was furthermore announced that the cost of many regional rail passes will also increase.

Change 1: Price increase

The price increase of around 70 percent is nothing but shocking. Under the new price structure, the 7-day pass will cost more than the current 14-day pass, making it much harder to pay off. The pass remains a good option for those who do not mind paying extra for the all-you-can-ride privilege and who value the simplicity of being able to board trains without the need of purchasing additional tickets.

Japan Rail Pass cost increase
TypeCurrent costNew cost
Regular 7 days29,650 yen50,000 yen
Regular 14 days47,250 yen80,000 yen
Regular 21 days60,450 yen100,000 yen
Green 7 days39,600 yen70,000 yen
Green 14 days64,120 yen111,000 yen
Green 21 days83,390 yen140,000 yen

Change 2: Riding the Nozomi/Mizuho

With the current Japan Rail Pass it is not possible to ride the Nozomi (the fastest trains along the Tokaido/Sanyo Shinkansen) and the Mizuho (the fastest trains along the Sanyo/Kyushu Shinkansen), at all. Despite the drastic price increase, the new pass will still not allow pass holders to ride these two trains freely. However, with the new pass it will at least become possible to ride the trains by purchasing an additional ticket.

The cost of the additional ticket depends on the distance traveled, but is the same for non-reserved seats, reserved seats and Green Car seats (only Green Card pass holders can ride the Green Car). The tickets can be purchased at ticket offices and selected ticket machines. The costs for some major sections are listed below:

  • Tokyo - Nagoya: 4,180 yen
  • Tokyo - Kyoto: 4,960 yen
  • Tokyo - Shin-Osaka: 4,960 yen
  • Tokyo - Hiroshima: 6,500 yen
  • Tokyo - Hakata: 8,140 yen
  • Shin-Osaka - Hiroshima: 4,170 yen
  • Shin-Osaka - Hakata: 4,960 yen
  • Shin-Osaka - Kagoshima-Chuo: 9,460 yen
  • Hakata - Kagoshima-Chuo: 4,500 yen

Change 3: Purchase methods

Currently it is possible to purchase the Japan Rail Pass for a slightly increased price at selected stations inside Japan; however, this sales channel will be discontinued on October 1. The two remaining sales channels will be the official website and a large number of online and offline travel agents. The cost of the pass will be the same for both sales channels, although customers should be aware of possible differences in exchange rates and service fees on the one hand and discounts and add-on products offered by travel agents on the other hand.

Change 4: Discounts

The only other change is that pass holders will newly be able to profit from discounts or gifts at selected sightseeing spots and shops. The discounts are typically 10% or 100 yen and gifts are typically a free postcard. See a list of discounts at the official website.

What are your alternatives

For most itineraries, regular point-to-point train tickets will become cheaper than the Japan Rail Pass, and unless you highly value the flexibility and comfort of the all-you-can-ride privilege, regular tickets for individual journeys will likely be the better deal. Check out our rail pass calculator to see whether the pass pays off for specific travel plans.

For longer trips, for example to Hokkaido, Kyushu or Shikoku, domestic flights have always been the faster option, but after the price increase they will now easily also be the cheaper option than the Japan Rail Pass.

Until when can the old pass be used

It depends on where you purchase the pass, i.e. whether you buy it through the official website or through a travel agent.

If you purchase the pass through the official website, you have to select a starting date for your pass within one month of purchasing it. So, if you were to purchase it on September 30, you could still use the old rail pass from late October 2023 into November at the latest.

If you purchase the pass through a travel agent, you get a voucher, which must be exchanged to the actual pass in Japan within three months of purchase. When exchanging the voucher, you can select a starting date within a 1-month period. In other words, if you purchase the pass on September 30, you could theoretically exchange the voucher in late December, select a starting date for late January and then use the pass into February 2024. However, by the 2024 cherry blossom season, the Japan Rail Pass - as we know it now - will be history.

Most regional rail passes will also become more expensive

It was announced on July 26 that most regional rail passes will also become more expensive on October 1. While price increases by JR West, JR Kyushu and JR Hokkaido will be relatively moderate, the price increases by JR East and JR Central will be more substantial. The All Shikoku Pass underwent a major price increase already in May 2023.

Price increase of selected regional passes: