1. JR East
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  2. Kumano Kodo
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  3. Lake Towada, autumn leaves
    Photo: Minchun Chen/DreamstimeLake Towada in Aomori in autumn
  4. Hitachi Seaside Park
    Photo: Banky405/DreamstimeHitachi Seaside Park

8 JR rail passes that are available to foreign residents in Japan

Foreign passport holders living in Japan can now explore Japan with these discount travel passes by JR

Kaila Imada
Written by
Kaila Imada
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Travelling Japan by train and shinkansen is one of the most enjoyable ways to explore the country, but it can be costly. Yes, there are discount rail passes, but these are usually reserved for tourists on short-term visit visas – until now. With no inbound tourism for much of the last two years, Japan Railway has finally extended its much coveted rail passes to foreign residents living in Japan. Covering almost the breadth of the country from Hokkaido to Kyushu, these money-saving passes will help you see more of Japan for a lot less.

To help you plan your travels, we’ve compiled a list of all the current JR rail passes you can enjoy with your foreign passport. Just remember to bring along your passport when you go purchase one of these passes. 

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Ongoing

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 detailed 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 Karuizawa or to Lake Kawaguchiko. You can even 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 for a beachside getaway.

Ongoing

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 detailed lines covered by the pass, visit here.

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

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Ongoing

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 Pokemon with You train) are also included in the pass. For detailed 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.

Sapporo-Noboribetsu Area Pass

Available through September 2022

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 and the Sapporo subway lines. More details here.

Where you can travel with the pass: Tour 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

Available through September 2022

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 and 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 Furano's and Biei's famous farmlands and flower fields, as well as Sapporo, Otaru and Noboribetsu.

Available through September 2022

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 participation in the Setouchi Triennale, the gorgeous beaches around Kochi, and Tokushima, home to Japan’s largest Awa Odori dance festival.

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Kyushu Rail Pass

Available through November 2022

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: 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). 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.

Available through March 2023

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 adorably pink Hello Kitty shinkansen that runs on the Kodama line from Shin-Osaka. For more detailed information, visit here.

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

Explore more of Japan

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