1. Echigo Yuzawa
    Photo: Chikuwa/iStockYou can go skiing at Echigo Yuzawa with the JR Tokyo Wide Pass
  2. Lake Ashi in Hakone
    Photo: Torsakarin/DreamstimeLake Ashi in Hakone

5 best discount train deals and rail passes for short trips from Tokyo

Travel to Nikko, Hakone, Kawagoe, Kawaguchiko and Kamakura with these cheap shinkansen and local train deals

Youka Nagase
Written by
Youka Nagase

Japan’s world-renowned efficient train network is a thing of beauty. We love being able to zip around the country on a shinkansen for a weekend getaway, but that convenience often comes with a hefty price tag. A trip from Tokyo to Osaka can cost around ¥15,000 one-way.

Thankfully, Japan’s railway companies offer package deals for trips on a budget. Deals can include shinkansen tickets to and from your destination, unlimited public transport once you’re there, and even discounts on local attractions. 

Whether you want to spend a day exploring Greater Tokyo, take a day trip to Nikko, or go skiing at Echigo Yuzawa for the weekend, be sure to check out these deals before you book your next trip. 

RECOMMENDED: For longer trips across Japan, check out these JR rail passes for foreign tourists

Weekend getaways

Nikko All Area Pass
Photo: Sean Pavone/Dreamstime

Nikko All Area Pass

Where you’ll go: A historical old town in Tochigi prefecture, Nikko is popular for its Unesco World Heritage-listed shrines and temples and lush nature. The spectacular Nikko Toshogu Shrine is a particular draw beloved for its ornate architectural details, especially the ‘see no evil, speak no evil and hear no evil’ monkey carvings.

The deal: The Nikko All Area Pass gets you a round-trip between Asakusa and Shimo-Imaichi, and includes unlimited rides with Tobu Railway from Shimo-Imaichi to Tobu-Nikko and Shin-Fujiwara stations for four days. It also grants you access to the Lake Chuzenji sightseeing cruise plus any Tobu Bus in Nikko. On weekends, you can even hop on the shuttle bus servicing Nikko Edomura and Nikko- Kinugawa Onsen for free.

Keep your ticket with you when you’re going around Nikko, as many attractions including the outdoor skating rink at Nikko Kirifuri Skate Center and Kosugi Hoan Museum of Art offer special discounts to those who flash the pass.

Price: ¥4,780, children ¥1,330 (Apr 20-Nov 30); ¥4,160, children ¥1,080 (Dec 1-Apr 19)

Where to buy: Tobu Tourist Information Center at Asakusa Station and our affiliate partner Klook. This pass is limited to non-Japanese passport holders (Japan’s foreign residents included). 

Hakone Freepass
Photo: Odakyu Electric Railway Co., Ltd.

Hakone Freepass

Where you’ll go: The mountain onsen town of Hakone is only about 90 minutes by train from central Tokyo, making it a popular weekend destination. Aside from the rejuvenating hot spring baths, this lush resort is also known for its art museums, scenic ropeway across Owakudani volcano crater, views of Mt Fuji, and the gorgeous Lake Ashi with its ‘floating’ red torii gate.

The deal: With the Hakone Freepass, you can get a round-trip ticket from Shinjuku Station to Odawara Station on the Odakyu line, and unlimited rides on local public transport once you’re there. These eight services in Hakone are included in the deal: Hakone Tozan line, Hakone Tozan Cable Car, Hakone Ropeway, Hakone Sightseeing Cruise (on the aforementioned Lake Ashi), Hakone Tozan Bus (in designated areas), Odakyu Highway Bus (in designated areas), Tokai Bus (in designated areas), and the Kanko Shisetsu Meguri sightseeing bus.

Price: Two-day pass from Shinjuku ¥6,100, children ¥1,100; three-day pass from Shinjuku ¥6,500, children ¥1,350. For a faster and more comfortable trip, you can upgrade to the Limited Express Romancecar train between Shinjuku and Hakone-Yumoto with a surcharge of ¥1,200 one way.

Where to buy: Odakyu Sightseeing Service Centers, ticket vending machines at Odakyu line stations, and via the EMot app

  • Travel
  • Transport & Travel

Where you’ll go: The Kanto region on the east of Japan’s Honshu island has a lot to offer – there’s the hot springs of Nasu, the beaches of Boso and Izu, the mountain resort of Karuizawa in Nagano, the ski resorts of Gala Yuzawa and Echigo Yuzawa, and Kawaguchiko for the Mt Fuji view. And that’s just for starters.

The deal: The JR Tokyo Wide Pass will get you unlimited rides for three consecutive days on the JR East lines, Tokyo Monorail, Izu Kyuko line, Fujikyu Railway line, Joshin Dentetsu line, Saitama New Urban Transit (between Omiya and the Railway Museum) and Tokyo Waterfront Area Rapid Transit line. Plus, limited portions of selected shinkansen lines.

You can also travel on reserved seating in the ordinary cars of express lines with through operations between JR East and Tobu Railway, specifically the Nikko, Kinugawa and Spacia Kinugawa trains. Also included are the ordinary and rapid trains along the Tobu Railway lines between Shimo-Imaichi and Tobu- Nikko/Kinugawa-Onsen stations.

Price: ¥15,000, children ¥7,500

Where to buy: JR East Travel Service Centers (within the pass area) and JR-East Train Reservation website.

For day trips within Tokyo

Enoshima-Kamakura Freepass
Photo: Eduardo Y/Shutterstock

Enoshima-Kamakura Freepass

Where you’ll go: For a quick and easy day trip, head south of Tokyo to explore Kamakura, a coastal town known for its historical temples, and Enoshima island.

The deal: The Enoshima-Kamakura Freepass includes a round-trip ticket on the Odakyu line between Shinjuku Station and Fujisawa Station, and unlimited rides on the Odakyu line between Fujisawa and Katase-Enoshima stations, as well as the entire Enoden line. You’ll also receive discounts at many major tourist attractions, shops and restaurants including Enoshima Aquarium and Enoshima Sea Candle.

Price: ¥1,640, children ¥430

Where to buy: Odakyu Sightseeing Service Centers, ticket vending machines at Odakyu line stations, and via the EMot app.

Kawagoe Discount Pass Premium
Photo: Joshua Hawley/Dreamstime

Kawagoe Discount Pass Premium

Where you’ll go: Affectionately also known as ‘Little Edo’, Kawagoe is an old town in Saitama prefecture, right next to Tokyo. Just 30 minutes away, this nostalgic little spot looks like a Japanese period movie set with its host of traditional shops and warehouses, many of which have been beautifully preserved and turned into cafés and restaurants.

The deal: The Kawagoe Discount Pass Premium gets you a round- trip journey on the Tobu line from Ikebukuro to Kawagoe, plus unlimited rides on local Tobu buses for a day. Show your pass at selected attractions and shops to be eligible for a discount or gift with purchase.

Price: ¥1,050, children ¥540

Where to buy: Tobu Tourist Information Center and Tobu Tojo line counters at Ikebukuro Station.

Know more, do more

    You may also like
    You may also like