Is the Japan Rail Pass worth it?

· train travel,shinkansen

With prices for the popular Japan Rail pass increasing in October 2023, a question I often get is ‘Is the Japan Rail Pass worth it?’

For a 7 day regular pass to be worth your time, a good rule of thumb is that you’ll be riding high speed trains for at least 2 hours per day during your trip, or that you’ll be traveling the distance from Tokyo to Kagoshima (as far south as you can take the train bullet train - about 7 hours) and back during the 7 days you pass will be valid. A great resource to find out if the Rail Pass is worth it for your trip is to plug in the main routes you'll be taking into the Rail Pass Calculator. Also note that while the new Rail Passes do allow travel on the fastest bullet trains, the Nozomi, there is a supplemental fee which is charged to Rail Pass holders for these rides.

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Another consideration is time and convenience. During cherry blossom season and other busy times of year, waiting until your arrival in Japan to try to reserve seats on popular train routes can lead to a lot of extra stress. Popular times of day may be sold out, leaving you with the option of standing for the whole journey, or delaying your trip.

Likewise, waiting in sometimes long queues to exchange your Rail Pass vouchers for your actual pass and then reserving your seats for each train journey can take up a lot of time on the first day or 2 of your trip when you would rather be out exploring.

Don’t want to mess with the Rail Pass? Let us help you plan your trip to Japan! In addition to booking hotels and guides, we can book your train tickets in advance so that you don’t have to worry about a thing when you land in Japan!