Thursday, 2 February 2017

Japan Rail Pass & trains

Do I need Japan Rail Pass?

In this trip, we did not get the rail pass because we did not travel out of Osaka.

Disclaimer - This is based on our knowledge. Any amendments please do comment.

This is my favorite website:

Japan Rail Pass News (taken from

1. On a trial basis, the Japan Rail Pass will become available for sale at selected stations inside of Japan from March 8, 2017, to March 31, 2018. However, the pass will be more expensive when purchased inside Japan.

2. From April 1, 2017, the pass will become unavailable to Japanese nationals with permanent residence outside of Japan.

There's been confusion on a need or a want? Here are the things that can be broken down to suit your needs.

1. JR Pass

Normally the pass will include Shinkansen, airport express train, JR region lines, bus, and trams package all in one. Prices will be steep but it's a very good value if you're visiting Japan longer and want to experience other places.

An example of a rail pass will be categorized in places called 'area'. Pick the appropriate ones and choose wisely. When purchases made online, it will be exchanged for a physical pass to use on your travels. While this is a good option to have, be cautious of the train services. Some Shinkansen trains will be affected by your ticket. If the service is not on your pass, you'll have to pay the price difference.

2. Cost per travel - Buying tickets at the train station

Best suited if you're making arrangement for short distance journey. This option is made by going to the ticketing automated machine or through the ticket counter if you're not sure how to purchase the ticket. Most of the machine in Japan are in Japanese but using the machine is very easy when you're used to buying it. Just selected the desired location amount that you want to go and pop in coins or notes into the slot. If let's say you have reach upon the station and the amount is not sufficient to exit, there will be a "fare adjustment" machine to match the exit amount.

Different type of trains

But first, before hopping onboard the train, do check the timetable of the train. Japanese trains have a vast variety of services. Subway trains are less complex. Look at the timetable and be sure about it or you can ask the friendly staffs there for assistance. Most of the time we are using Google Maps as timetable are integrated into the app itself.

Trains are categories as follow:

1- Local (Stops at every station)
2- Rapid (Skip most stations. No price difference)
3- Limited Express (Stops at major station. Surcharge will be applied)
4- Super Express, Shinkansen (Runs on different track and platform. Different charges may apply for your rail pass)

Before entering the paid zone, be aware of where to slot in your ticket. If you do not have the ticket in your hand, the barrier will close automatically.

When at the station platform, there is guidance where to stand. Signs will indicate how many cars depending on the service. For example, a rapid airport express route will be having a 9 car formation (3 cars + 6 cars). Station announcement will indicate before the train arrives at the platform. So listen carefully. Most services have combined trains such as the rapid airport express which will uncouple at a station before the train proceeds to the next destination.

Inside the train, it's very quiet. Please take note that there are few of priority seats. Announcements are made in both Japanese and English.

Be sure to get ready your ticket when exiting the machine. Any adjustment of fare can be made at the fare adjustment machine.