The JR East Japan Pass (JR東日本パス – JR Higashi-Nihon Pasu), is a one-day all-you-can-ride rail pass.
For ¥10,000 (¥5,000/children), it allows pass holders to use ALL lines within the JR East system, including Shinkansen and Limited Express trains.
This pass shouldn’t be confused with the JR East Pass, which is a multi-day rail pass which can only be bought by overseas visitors to Japan. The JR East Japan Pass can be bought and used by anyone living in or visiting Japan.
Although it can only used for one day, there’s a lot of ground that can be covered in that period of time because of the ability to use Shinkansen trains.
For example, let’s say you live in Tokyo, and you want to do a day trip to Aomori, the ”crown” of Honshu. A one-way ticket from Tokyo to Shin-Aomori Station is ¥16,370 (already more than the price of the Pass). You take the first train from Tokyo at 6:28am, arriving at Shin-Aomori at 10:01am. From there, you visit some hot springs, sightsee around Aomori City, and eat some famous Aomori apples and scallops (hopefully not together). Finally, it’s time to go home. Pay another ¥16,370, board the last train bound for Tokyo at 7:33pm and arrive at 11:08pm. A long day, indeed…but doable.
Normally, this trip would cost you ¥32,740. But with the pass, just ¥10,000. A whopping 69% discount.
It’s the first time I’ve seen this kind of pass offered, and I definitely view it as way to boost tourism to most parts of Tohoku. Not only does it allow many people to see so many different places in Eastern Japan, but the price definitely can’t be beat. Even it you wanted to make it an overnight trip by buying 2 one-day passes for consecutive days, it’s still a great deal.
This pass is only available for a certain period and rules do apply. I’ll help break it down below:
- Price: ¥10,000 for adults, ¥5,000 for elementary school students and younger
- Type: One-Day Free Pass
- Purchase Locations
- Most major JR Stations
- Automated Ticket Machines that sell ticket reservations
- Usage Period
- June 11-20, 2011
- July 7-18, 2011
- Purchase Period
- May 11 – July 17, 2011
- NOTE: Tickets MUST be purchased at least one day in advance!
- Usable Areas
- All lines within the JR East network, including Shinkansen lines
- Aoimori Railway Line (Aomori Prefecture)
- IGR (Iwate Galaxy Railway) Line (Iwate Prefecture)
- Hokuetsu Express – Hokuhoku Line (Niigata Prefecture)
- Reserved and Unreserved Seating
- Most trains, like those that run on local lines are unreserved seating, meaning you can sit anywhere you please. With this pass, no additional ticket is needed. Some Shinkansen trains also have unreserved seating, so all you need is your pass.
- Limited Express and most Shinkansen trains are reserved seating, meaning a reservation has to be made in advance to obtain a seat. Usually, a separate ticket and an additional cost. However, with this pass, it allows users to obtain up to TWO reserved seating tickets at no additional cost.
- Example 1: Using the Tokyo to Shin-Aomori scenario above, the all trains running on the Tohoku Shinkansen are reserved, meaning there is no unreserved seating available. If I wish to ride this train, I’ll need a reserved seating ticket for the trip up to Aomori, and then an additional one for the trip back to Tokyo, thus using the two times permitted to obtain reserved seating. If I want to ride an additional train with reserved seating, I would have to purchase one this time.
- Example 2: I want to go from Tokyo to Niigata using the Joetsu Shinkansen. Most trains on this line have both unreserved and reserved seating. I decided to board the unreserved seating section, meaning I don’t need an additional seating ticket and I can sit where ever I’d like.
- Green Car and GranClass
- Green Car (First Class seats) is an additional charge…and can be quite expensive.
- GranClass (Super First Class) is only available on the Hayabusa (E5 Series), and also requires an additional, and expensive charge.
- Changes, Cancellations, and Refunds
- Changes to reserved tickets can be made one time at no additional cost
- Unused tickets can be refunded, minus a ¥630 handling fee
Don’t let all the rules scare you, as it’s all a lot easier than it seems. All in all, its a great way to see a lot without having to dish out a bunch of money. So, what do you say? How does a trip sound?
Any questions about this pass? Need some sample itineraries? Time tables? Please let me know!
JR東日本パス – (Japanese) The official page about the pass on the JR Company website.