Japan Rail Pass Terms
Should you need to cancel your Japan Rail Pass then we will refund the price of the rail pass minus a 10% cancellation fee. Please note that we can only refund rail passes before the voucher has been exchanged. There is no refund available after the voucher has been exchanged in Japan.
IC Card (Manaca Card) is non-refundable.
General Japan Rail Pass Terms and Conditions
- Eligibility - who can use the Japan Rail Pass?
- Exchanging your rail pass voucher
- Validity - which services you can use your rail pass on?
- Seat Reservations - how to book reserved seats with your rail pass
The JAPAN RAIL PASS is a special ticket that is available only to travellers visiting Japan from foreign countries for sight-seeing. You are eligible to purchase a JAPAN RAIL PASS if you meet one of the following two conditions:
1. You are a foreign tourist visiting Japan from abroad for sight-seeing under the entry status of "temporary visitor"
"Temporary visitor" entry status, according to Japanese Immigration Law, allows a stay in Japan of 1 to 90 days (depending on your nationality) for "sightseeing, etc." When entering the country you should enter "sightseeing or tourism" as your reason for visiting Japan. Entry personnel will then stamp your passport "temporary visitor". Only persons who have a passport bearing this stamp can use a JAPAN RAIL PASS.
Even if you visit Japan with an Exchange Order, to be turned in for a JR Pass, the exchange cannot be made unless you have "temporary visitor" status; if you enter Japan under any other official status, such as "trainee" or "entertainer", you can not change the Exchange Order for a JR Pass. Please note that according to strict interpretation of the Japanese Immigration Law, "temporary visitor" status differs even from other types of stays that are also for only short time periods.
2. You are a Japanese national living in a foreign country who
is qualified to live permanently in that country, or
has been living in that country for ten or more years, or
is married to a non-Japanese residing in a country other than Japan.
2/ Exchanging your rail pass voucher for the pass itself
When you purchase any kind Japan Rail Pass you will be issued not with the pass itself, but with a voucher. After arrival in Japan this must be exchanged for the pass.
You can not use the Exchange Order for travel. Turn in your Exchange Order and obtain your Japan Rail Pass at one of the Japan Rail Pass exchange offices. We will provide full details of where to find these (and there are a lot of them so you don't have to worry) when we send you your voucher.
Your Exchange Order must be turned in for a Japan Rail Pass within 3 months of the date the Order was issued.
At the JR Pass Exchange offices, fill in an application form to accompany your Exchange Order, and submit it, along with your passport. You will then be issued with your rail pass. Please allow up to 20 minutes for this process. You can turn in the exchange order any time after arrival in Japan and can specify any date (within 3 months of the exchange voucher issue date) on which you wish the pass to start.
The type of Pass described on the Exchange Order can not be changed.
3/ Validity - which services can you use your rail pass on?
The Full Japan Rail Pass is valid for travel on all Japan Railways' Lines throughout Japan. The only trains you may NOT travel on with the Japan Rail Pass are the Nozomi Shinkansen and the Mizuho Shinkansen. If wish to ride these trains then you will have to pay the full fare for your journey.
Overnight sleeper services with sleeping berths require holders of the pass to pay the full express and sleeper surcharges. The pass will cover the basic fare so you will still make a substantial saving on a long overnight journey.
Regional Pass Validity
Usage of the various regional passes is restricted to the relevant area of Japan. You can use all JR services within those areas with the exception of the Nozomi Shinkansen and the Mizuho Shinkansen. If you hold a JR Sanyo Pass you CAN ride the Nozomi.
In general terms, Japan Rail Passes are valid for:
- All JR line train services except for the Nozomi Shinkansen and the Mizuho Shinkansen
- Local lines of JR Bus Tohoku, JR Bus Kanto, JR Tokaid Bus, West Japan JR Bus and Chugoku JR Bus.
- Local bus lines of JR Hokkaido, JR Shikoku and JR Kyushu
- JR Highway bus Morioka to Hirosaki, Aomori and Towadako; Tokyo to Nagoya / Kyoto / Osaka/ Tsukuba Centre; Nagoya to Kyoto / Osaka and Osaka to Tsuyama Car Shed / Kasai Flower Centre
- JR Ferry from Miyajima to Miyajima-guchi (not valid for JR Beetle Ferry from Hakata to Pusan, South Korea)
Supplements for JR Trains running on non-JR lines
Some JR services run partially on track that is owned by other train companies. For these services a surcharge is payable locally. Some examples are:
Kanazawa <--> Echigo-Yuzawa: 1,450yen per person (each way) supplement payable on the train
Tokyo <--> Shimoda: 2,070yen per person (each way) supplement payable on the train
Please contact us if you have any questions and we will be more than happy to advise you.
4/ Making seat reservations
One of the best things about all of the various JR Passes is that you can travel in reserved seats for no extra charge. This is especially of benefit if you are travelling during peak seasons* or at very busy times of the day such as morning rush hour. At these times the unreserved carriages tend to fill up so unless you reserve a seat you may end up standing!
A non-reserved seat can be used simply by showing your Japan Rail Pass. If you wish to reserve a seat on a particular train you can do so at any Travel Service Centre or reserved seat ticket office (Midori no madoguchi). The signs for the ticket offices look like the image on the right.
There is no charge for making a seat reservation.
*You should definitely make seat reservations if you intend travelling over any of the following periods:
December 29 to January 5
The New Year holiday period is a very popular travel time for Japanese people. Many people take a vacation or return to hometown areas.
April 29 to May 5 (Golden Week)
Golden Week is the busiest time of year for leisure travel in Japan. It is estimated that every year some 70% of the population (that's 80 million people) take a vacation during Golden Week. All in all that means a huge number of people on the road, in the planes and on the trains. Try and avoid it but if you must travel get those seat reservations made!
August 13 to 15
The middle of August is the O-bon festival of the dead when traditionally everyone (and this includes the souls of those departed!) returns to their hometown. The trains are packed.
If you have any more questions concerning any aspects of the various Japan Rail Passes then please do not hesitate to call us on (UK) 0117 370 9750 or e-mail us.
For more information email us: [email protected] or call: 303 952 0379
- Mount Koya
A classic 13-night itinerary that promises a mouthwatering introduction to Japanese cuisine, from sushi to soba and everything in between.
13 nights: from US$3523 pp (twin share) Read more >
- Mount Koya
A superior 13-night gastronomic adventure introducing you to the best of Japan's food culture, from the Alps to Osaka.
13 nights: from US$5669 pp (twin share) Read more >