[Update, March 2021] The JR East Welcome Rail Pass 2020 is no longer available for purchase. Click here for the most recent list of JR East rail passes available to foreign passport holders.
[October 8 2020] Domestic travel deals have never been this good. What with the Go To Travel campaign, half-price shinkansen tickets and discounted hotel prices, the hardest part in planning your trip is securing your rooms and tickets before availability runs out.
In case you needed another excuse for a weekend getaway, JR East has released yet another special discount pass – and it's probably their best deal yet. The only catch is that you must be a foreign passport holder to purchase the new JR East Welcome Rail Pass 2020. And yes, foreign residents are eligible.
From October 16 to February 26 2021, the railway group will be selling this pass, which is good for three consecutive days of unlimited travel on any JR East-operated trains running through Tokyo, Tohoku, Niigata and Nagano. Yes, even these shinkansen: Tohoku, Yamagata, Akita, Joetsu and Hokuriku.
The JR East Welcome Rail Pass 2020 costs ¥12,000 for adults and ¥6,000 for children, which is a considerable discount from the other existing rail passes that are only available to international tourists. For context, the JR East rail pass for the Tohoku area is normally ¥20,360 for adults, whereas the standard pass for Nagano and Niigata areas are ¥18,330.
With so many destinations covered under the pass, the list of possible autumn and winter activities are boundless. Here are some of the experiences that could be available at your fingertips:
- Apple-picking in Aomori
- Encountering onsen-loving snow monkeys in Nagano
- Tearing down ski slopes in Zao, Yamagata
- Going to see the historical Matsumoto Castle
- Walking through the old Edo-period town of Ouchi-juku
- Relaxing in a hot spring in the spa town of Ginzan Onsen
Tickets can be purchased from October 16 to February 26 at any JR East Travel Service Centre or online. They are valid for use every day of the week until February 28 2021. For more information on the JR East Welcome Rail Pass 2020 including how to purchase one, visit JR East’s official website.
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