We undertake to dispatch documents to you in a timely manner by the method you choose. But we cannot guarantee timing of the delivery, as this is out of our control.
If the delivery is not received and you wish vouchers to be re-issued and re-sent to you, you will need to buy replacement Exchange Order(s). After 3 months (ie. when the validity of the Exchange Order is expired) we will be able to refund you for the original voucher(s).
We strongly recommend that you choose the delivery method “Special Delivery”. Royal Mail’s guarantee is to delivery it by 1pm next day. The delivery can be tracked.
If you are just intending to travel on the bullet train from Tokyo to Kyoto and back again, the 7-day Japan Rail Pass is not really worthwhile.
But if you are travelling Tokyo-Kyoto-Osaka-Hiroshima-Tokyo within a 7-day period, it’s definitely worthwhile.
www.hyperdia.com is a useful website for checking fares, to see whether it would be more cost-effective to buy individual tickets or get a Rail Pass.
The website also shows train times and journey durations.
VALUE FOR MONEY CHECK:
Narita Express train from Airport to Tokyo: Yen 3,070
Tokyo – Kyoto by Bullet train (Hikari, non-reserved train): Yen 13,320
Kyoto – Tokyo by Bullet train: Yen 13,320
Narita Express train from Tokyo to Narita: Yen 3,070
Total Yen 32,780
7-day Japan Rail Pass (valid for all above journeys): Yen 29,650
If you opted for Royal Mail First Class, and the delivery is lost in the post, you will need to buy a replacement Exchange Order. After 3 months (ie. when the validity of the Exchange Order is expired) we will be able to refund you for the original lost voucher.
The “Asama” bullet trains run between Tokyo and Nagano only.
The “Kagayaki” is the faster of the two bullet train services of the Hokuriku Shinkansen all the way from Tokyo to Kanazawa, departing Tokyo and Kanazawa in the mornings and evenings. On its 2.5 hour journey it stops only at Ueno, Omiya, Nagano and Toyama. The Kagayaki is one of the few shinkansen trains without non-reserved seating. A seat reservation is mandatory. When all seats are booked out, standing tickets are available.
The “Hakutaka” is the slower of the two train categories that run along the entire length of the Hokuriku Shinkansen. It skips many stations between Tokyo and Nagano, but stops at most of the stations beyond Nagano. The Hakutaka does offer non-reserved seating. It takes 20 to 50 minutes longer than the Kagayaki to make the trip between Tokyo and Kanazawa.
The local trains along the line Nagano – Kanazawa on which the Rail Pass was valid are regarded as “legacy lines” and the Rail Pass is no longer valid on some of them. Information from the official Rail Pass website
JR (Japan Rail) Travel Service Centres in Japan do not accept copies, scans or reservation numbers of the Rail Pass Exchange Order you bought overseas.
You can now buy a Japan Rail Pass at certain locations in Japan (see “Can I buy a Japan Rail Pass when I arrive in Japan?” below): the price is higher, but it may be the best solution, depending on your rail travel plans.
Children under 6 years do not need a Rail Pass, but without a Rail Pass, they may only occupy a seat if it is not required for a fare-paying passenger.
If you want your infant aged under 6 years to be able to occupy their own seat, you should buy a child Rail Pass for them. This is particularly recommendable at busy times.
Please note that at busy times, you should always try to reserve seats in advance in the particular trains on which you wish to travel. With the Japan Rail Pass, seat reservations are free of charge, so it’s always worth doing if you can plan ahead enough to know which trains you are going to take.
So if your child is still 11 on the “date of issue” printed on the Exchange Order, it can be a child Pass. If she will have her 12th birthday before that day, you need to buy an adult Pass.
The Gran Class option is available on selected trains on the Tohoku and Hokkaido Shinkansen Line (Series E5 and H5, routes between Tokyo and Sendai, Sendai and Shin-Hakodate-Hokuto, Morioka and Shin-Hakodate-Hokuto), Hokuriku Shinkansen (Series E7 and W7, routes between Tokyo and Kanazawa), and Joetsu Shinkansen Lines (Series E7, routes between Tokyo and Niigata on “Toki” and “Tanigawa” train services).
Customers with a Japan rail pass must pay an additional Gran Class charge to use this service. This would be the difference between a standard or Green Class ticket, depending on your Japan Rail Pass type.
For more details, please check the JR East Official Website: JR East Website
If you are going to use an “Ordinary” pass, you can choose to reserve seats on specific trains, or just take “unreserved” seats. It is particularly advisable to get seat reservations during busy times, eg. 28 December – 6 January, 27 April – 6 May (“Golden Week”), and 11-20 August (Obon season).
You can’t make seat reservations before arriving in Japan and presenting the Exchange Order. Once you do so, and get the Rail Pass itself, you can make these reservations immediately, or at any rail station ticket office.
The Rail Pass Exchange Order is valid for 3 months from the date of issue.
So if you delay your trip, and the date you are able to present the Exchange Order in Japan still falls within the 3-month limit, you will still be able to use it to obtain your Rail Pass.
If the new dates for your trip mean that the validity of your Rail Pass Exchange Order will be expired, you will need a new one. In most cases of travel delay of just a month or two, if you let us know and return the original Exchange Order to us, we will be able to void that original one and re-issue with a date valid for your delayed trip. If your trip is delayed for 6 months or longer, you will need to return the original Rail Pass Exchange Order for a refund, and buy a new one.
It is not valid on other privately-operated railways.
Examples of private railways:
Keisei Express service from Narita airport to Tokyo
Nankai Express service from KIX airport to Namba (Osaka)
Odakyu Express service from Shinjuku(Tokyo) to Hakone
But for all the above, there is also a JR service – which may be slower or less frequent – for which the Rail Pass can be used.
* There are a couple of exceptional cases where the Rail Pass cannot be used, even though the services are operated by JR:
– “Nozomi” bullet trains on the Tokyo-Kyoto-Osaka (Tokaido) line
– “Mizuho” bullet trains on the Kyushu Shinkansen line
Full details are in the leaflet we provide with the Rail Pass Exchange Order, or on the Japan Rail Pass official website japanrailpass.net.
The Japan Rail Pass Exchange Order (MCO) will NOT be accepted in Japan if the passenger is a visa holder of any other entry status or visa type.
Examples of non-eligible visa: Multiple entry visa (Include Temporary Visitor Visa Multiple Entry status), Long term visas which allow to stay in Japan more than 90 days, Student visa, Permanent residency visa, Entertainer visa, Working holiday visa, Military entry status, Diplomatic passport holders, and any other visas which are not temporary visitor single entry visa for sightseeing.
Japanese nationals can buy the Japan Rail Pass outside Japan ONLY if they can produce the “Certificate of Overseas Residence” from their local Japanese Embassy showing that they have lived in that country for 10 years or more.
The person using the Japan Rail Pass has to have entered Japan with the status of “Temporary visitor”. This is given in the case of a short stay for business or tourism.
If the person is already living (and perhaps, working) in Japan, they will not have “temporary visitor” status stamped in their passport. Therefore, they will not be able to get a Japan Rail Pass.
Example of the temporary visitor stamp
When you take the Rail Pass Exchange Order to a Travel Service Center in Japan, you will have to complete a form and show your passport for checking. JR staff check the immigration status in your passport (temporary visitor stamp) before they will give you the actual Japan Rail Pass.
They will need to receive the Rail Pass Exchange Order and take it with them when they travel to Japan.
These types of Bullet train should be used instead: “HIKARI,” “SAKURA,” “KODAMA,” and “TSUBAME” trains.
Do not use an automatic ticket-reading gate with a Japan Rail Pass. Please show the Pass at a manned ticket gate – preferably with the validity date of your Rail Pass showing – and the staff will let you through.
Please note that during crowded periods you cannot be guaranteed a seat on a specific train.
The periods when seat reservations are particularly difficult to secure are as follows:
December 29 to January 5
The New Year holiday period is the most popular travel time for Japanese people, for vacations and returns to their hometown or family.
April 29 to May 5
Due to consecutive holidays in a comfortable travel season, there is large – scale travel throughout Japan for leisure and recreation.
August 13 to 15
The “O-bon” season, another traditional time for Japanese to travel to their hometown or family.
The validity period of a JAPAN RAIL PASS is the consecutive 7, 14, or 21 days beginning on the start date specified on the Pass.
Once the Pass has a starting date written on it, the date cannot be changed.
On or after the specified start date, the Pass is not refundable.
Shinkansen (Bullet trains) and most Limited Express and Ordinary Express trains have reserved Green Car seats (First class) and both reserved and non-reserved Ordinary Car seats (Standard class).
For a non-reserved seat, simply show your Japan Rail Pass to board.
To make a seat reservation, visit any Travel Service Centre or reserved-seat ticket office called “Midori-no-madoguchi” at a Japan Railways station in Japan.
Normally, seat reservations cannot be made from outside Japan. For users of the Japan Rail Pass, seat reservations are free of charge BUT you cannot reserve seats until you have presented the Exchange Order in Japan and obtained the actual Rail Pass.
However, JR East now have an online seat reservation system. This allows travellers to make advance seat reservations for all JR East Shinkansen (Bullet trains) as well as certain JR East Limited Express trains.
This system allows JR Pass holders, JR East Pass holders and also non-pass holders to make seat reservations.
To make a reservation, travellers have to enroll as a member (sign-up is free). Then check the types of trains and specific times, and reserve seats. Travellers just need to pick up the tickets when they arrive in Japan (at any location specified by East Japan Railway Company within the JR East area).
JR East Shinkansen Reservation website
JR Shinkansen Notice: From mid-May 2020, when bringing baggage of total dimensions between 160 cm and 250 cm into the Tokaido/Sanyo/Kyushu Shinkansen (Tokyo – Nagoya – Kyoto – Shin-Osaka – Hiroshima – Hakata – Kagoshima-Chuo), passengers will be required to make an advance reservation for a seat with oversized baggage area (free of charge, limited availability). If no prior reservation has been made for those specific seats, the passengers will be required to pay a 1,000JPY fee per piece of luggage and also to move it to a space designated by the conductor.
We recommend sending your large baggage to your next destination with a specialised courier service. Luggage Free Travel offer a luggage transfer service that delivers items from one Japan destination to another in 24-48 hours (timing dependent on location). Please enquire for more information here.
- PLAN YOUR TRIP
This will help you decide whether a 7-, 14- or 21-day pass will be best for you, or one of the regional passes.
- CHECK PRICES AND BUY YOUR EXCHANGE ORDER
at our “buy” page
- TAKE YOUR EXCHANGE ORDER TO JAPAN
Present the Exchange Order at any Exchange Office (see photo) to get your actual Japan Rail Pass issued.
You can start using the actual Rail Pass from that day, or you can specify a start date up to one month in the future.
- USE THE JAPAN RAIL PASS!
Enjoy exploring Japan by rail, including local lines of JR bus companies. Special discount rates are available at JR Group Hotels too!
Your passport must be shown at the time of presenting the Exchange order for the Rail Pass so that your immigration stamp can be checked.
JAPANESE NATIONALS: From 1st June 2017, Japanese nationals are able to buy and use a Rail Pass if they have permanent residency outside Japan for more than 10 years. A “Certificate of Overseas Residence” document from the Japanese Embassy is required as evidence of this. See Conditions.
If you are travelling on a train at midnight on that day, it’s OK until the end of that journey.