Mt Fuji and Tokaido shinkasen
Photo: Shizuo/Photo AC

13 JR rail passes for foreign tourists visiting Japan

Tourists with foreign passports can explore Japan on a discount with these affordable train passes by JR

Kaila Imada
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Kaila Imada
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Travelling via train and shinkansen is a quintessential Japanese experience. However, train rides, especially on the shinkansen, can add up to be a costly expense. Lucikly for tourists, Japan Railways has created a host of discount rail passes exclusively for foreign passport holders with short-term visit visas, all of which offer unlimited rides on trains and shinkansen across multiple days. (Psst... some of these JR passes are also available to foreign residents in Japan – more info here.) 

Aside from the popular Japan Rail Pass, which gives you access to most JR trains and shinkansen across the breadth of Japan, there are a number of other discount passes that could also save you a lot of money. To help you organise your travels, here's a list of all the current JR rail passes you can enjoy with your foreign passport as a temporary visitor in Japan. Just don't forget to bring your passport along with you when you go to purchase or collect your pass.

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Japan Rail Pass

How much: 
Purchased in Japan: 7-day ¥33,610 (children ¥16,800); 14-day ¥52,960 (¥26,480); 21-day ¥66,200 (¥33,100)

Purchased outside Japan: 7-day ¥29,650 (¥14,820); 14-day ¥47,250 (¥23,620); 21-day ¥60,450 (¥30,220)

What it includes: A joint offering by all six JR companies in the country, the Japan Rail Pass is the ultimate pass to rule them all as it can be used for unlimited rides on almost all JR trains and shinkansen across the country from the north of Hokkaido to the south of Kyushu. The pass is available for seven, 14 or 21 consecutive days and is exclusively offered to foreign tourists from abroad who are visiting Japan as a temporary visitor. More information on the pass here.

Where you can travel with the pass: As this pass can be used all over Japan, the possibilities are endless. To make the most of your time in Japan, you could travel all the way from Kyushu to Hokkaido, while stopping at other popular destinations in between, including Hiroshima, Kyoto, Mt Fuji, Tokyo and Aomori. 

How much: ¥10,180 (children ¥5,090)

What it includes: Three consecutive days of unlimited rides on shinkansen and limited express trains in the Kanto region. You can even hop on selected Joyful Trains (novelty and sightseeing trains) such as the steam locomotive SL Gunma. For details on lines covered by the pass, visit here.

Where you can travel with the pass: Head north to Nikko, Utsunomiya or the picturesque Hitachi Seaside Park in Ibaraki. For views of Mt Fuji, you can head inland to Lake Kawaguchiko in Yamanashi. You can also hit the ski slopes at Gala Yuzawa in Niigata, go hot spring bathing in Gunma’s Kusatsu Onsen town or travel down the Izu Peninsula in Shizuoka for a beachside getaway.

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How much: ¥18,000 (children ¥9,000) 

What it includes: Five consecutive days of unlimited travel on trains, shinkansen and JR buses across Nagano and Niigata prefectures. For details on lines covered by the pass, visit here

Where you can travel with the pass: This pass will get you to the top destinations in Nagano and Niigata prefectures including Matsumoto, Karuizawa and Tokamachi. You’ll also be able to visit popular ski resorts like Hakuba, Echigo-Yuzawa and Gala Yuzawa.

How much: ¥20,000 (children ¥10,000) 

What it includes: Unlimited rides for five consecutive days on local, rapid and limited express trains as well as shinkansen across the Tohoku region. Selected JR East bus services and Joyful Trains (including the Pokémon with You train) are also included in the pass. For details on lines covered by the pass, visit here

Where you can travel with the pass: It allows for travel within Greater Tokyo and the Tohoku region: Kanagawa, Chiba, Saitama, Gunma, Tochigi, Ibaraki, Miyagi, Fukushima, Yamagata, Akita, Iwate and Aomori prefectures.

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How much: ¥10,000 (children ¥5,000) 

What it includes: Three consecutive days of unlimited rides including shinkansen and limited express trains in the Kansai region. The pass is valid for shinkansen trips between Shin-Osaka and Okayama, plus the JR West lines across Kansai as well as the Chizu Express. It can also be used on local JR West buses and the adorable pink Hello Kitty shinkansen that runs on the Kodama line from Shin-Osaka. More information here

Where you can travel with the pass: Explore Western Japan including Osaka, Kyoto, Nara, Hyogo, Wakayama, Kobe and more.

JR Kyushu Rail Pass

How much: 3 days ¥17,000 (children ¥8,500); 5 days ¥18,500 (children ¥9,250); 7 days ¥20,000 (children ¥10,000) 

What it includes: The All Kyushu Area Pass includes unlimited rides on limited express and local trains across Kyushu as well as selected shinkansen between Hakata and Kagoshima or Nagasaki.

If you’re only concentrating on certain parts of Kyushu, consider the Northern Kyushu Area Pass (¥10,000 for three days) or the Southern Kyushu Area Pass (¥8,000 for three days). There’s also the Fukuoka Wide Pass (¥3,060 for two days) if you're only exploring the main tourist spots around Fukuoka prefecture. More details here

Where you can travel with the pass: The All Kyushu Area Pass can be used throughout Kyushu island including the hot spring capital of Beppu, foodie destination Fukuoka and the lush nature attractions around Kagoshima. The Northern Kyushu Area Pass gives you access from Fukuoka to Nagasaki, Hita and Beppu while the Southern Kyushu Area Pass will get you from Kagoshima to Ibusuki, Aoshima and Obi.

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Takayama-Hokuriku Area Tourist Pass

How much: ¥15,280 (children ¥7,640); ¥14,260 if purchased outside Japan (children ¥7,130)

What it includes: Five consecutive days of unlimited travel on JR local, limited express trains, buses and the Hokuriku shinkansen from Osaka and Nagoya towards Shirakawa-go and Gokayama. More details here.

Where you can travel with the pass: Visit the World Heritage sites in Shirakawa-go and Gokayama, which are famed for their gassho-zukuri houses with steep, thatched roofs. You can also get to Kanazawa via the Nohi or Hokutetsu Bus from Toyama.

Ise-Kumano-Wakayama Area Tourist Pass

How much: ¥12,220 (children ¥6,110); ¥11,210 if purchased outside Japan (children ¥5,600)

What it includes: Five consecutive days of unlimited travel on JR local, limited express trains, private railways and buses around Wakayama, Mie and Nara. More info here

Where you can travel with the pass: Travel from Osaka or Nagoya to the World Heritage site of Kumano Kodo in Wakayama. The route also covers the popular onsen and beachtown Shirahama and the gorgeous Ise Jingu Shrine in Mie prefecture.

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Mt. Fuji-Shizuoka Area Tourist Pass Mini

How much: ¥5,080 (children ¥2,540); ¥4,570 if purchased outside Japan (children ¥2,280)

What it includes: Three days of unlimited rides on JR Local trains, buses, private railways and even a ferry around Shizuoka and Hamamatsu, including the Mt Fuji area. More info here.

Where you can travel with the pass: Besides visiting Mt Fuji, you can tour the popular hot springs around Shizuoka and Hamamatsu, including Atami, Kanzanji Onsen and Shimobe Onsen. Prefer to do a bit of shopping? Check out the Gotemba Premium Outlets, which also offers an amazing view of Mt Fuji.

Sapporo-Noboribetsu Area Pass

How much: ¥8,500 (children ¥4,250); ¥8,000 if purchased outside Japan (children ¥4,000) 

What it includes: Four consecutive days of unlimited rides between Sapporo New Chitose Airport, Sapporo, Otaru and Noboribetsu. However, it does not cover the JR Hokkaido buses, the streetcars or the Sapporo subway lines. More details here

Where you can travel with the pass: Visit Sapporo, the capital of Hokkaido, as well as the retro harbour town of Otaru and the hot springs in Noboribetsu.

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Sapporo-Furano Area Pass

How much: ¥9,500 (children ¥4,750); ¥9,000 if purchased outside Japan (children ¥4,500) 

What it includes: Four consecutive days of unlimited travel between Sapporo New Chitose Airport, Sapporo, Otaru, Furano, Biei and Ashikawa. However, it does not cover the JR Hokkaido buses, the streetcars or the Sapporo subway lines. More details here

Where you can travel with the pass: See more of Hokkaido with this travel pass, which includes access to the famous farmlands and flower fields of Furano and Biei, as well as Sapporo, Otaru and Noboribetsu.

Available through March 29 2023

How much: ¥11,000 (children ¥5,500) 

What it includes: Three consecutive days of unlimited travel around Shikoku island. You can use it for rides on limited express and local trains, with unreserved seats on the entire JR Shikoku Line and Tosa Kuroshio Line. It can also be used on fixed-route JR Shikoku buses (Otochi and Kumakogen routes), but not expressway buses. More details here

Where you can travel with the pass: Visit Takamatsu, known for its art and udon, the gorgeous beaches around Kochi, and Tokushima, home to Japan’s largest Awa Odori dance festival.

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