JR East
Photo: Eq Roy/Dreamstime

JR East passes for Nagano, Niigata and Tohoku are now available to foreign residents

To get the JR East shinkansen-train-bus passes, all you need is a non-Japanese passport, regardless of the type of visa

Emma Steen
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Emma Steen
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One of the most enjoyable ways to see the country, Japan’s train and shinkansen passes offer significant savings as well. However, they are mostly available only to foreign travellers who enter Japan under a tourist visa, much to the envy of foreign residents living in the country.

Good news, though, as this has changed. Last year, JR East made two of its most popular passes – Tohoku area pass and the Nagano, Niigata area pass – available to anyone with a foreign passport regardless of visa type. Previously, these passes could only be purchased by foreign passport holders entering Japan as a Temporary Visitor, but now, foreign residents can also take advantage of these train deals. 

Both the Tohoku area pass and Nagano, Niigata area pass offer unlimited rides in their respective regions over the course of five consecutive days. This includes local, rapid and limited-express trains as well as shinkansen, plus selected JR East bus services. 

Oirase Gorge in Aomori, gushing stream surrounded by lush forest
Photo: Hiro1775/DreamstimeOirase Gorge in Aomori prefecture, which you can travel to using the JR East Pass

The Tohoku area pass costs ¥20,000 for adults and ¥10,000 for children. It allows for travel within these prefectures: Tokyo, Kanagawa, Chiba, Saitama, Gunma, Tochigi, Ibaraki, Miyagi, Fukushima, Yamagata, Akita, Iwate and Aomori.

The mirror pond of Happo Ike in Hakuba
Photo: Sunil Naik/UnsplashHappo Ike in Hakuba

The Niigata, Nagano area pass, on the other hand, will also cover Matsumoto and Hakuba. The five-day pass is priced at ¥18,000 for adults and ¥9,000 for children.

These JR East passes can be purchased at any JR East Travel Service Centre or online through the official JR East website. 

This article was originally published on February 8 2021 and updated on April 8 2022.

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