Japan Rail Pass' Frequently Asked Questions
Here are some of our most Frequently Asked Questions that we receive about the Japan Rail Pass. To read the answers, please click on the question and the it will appear below. Have another question to ask? Click the "Ask another Question" button below.
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Rail Pass FAQ
What is the difference between Economy and Green Class?
Both provide a comfortable experience, but as you’d expect, Green class offers larger seats, more foot space and enhanced facilities, in return for a higher price. The enhanced facilities depend on the Bullet Train, but can include foot rests, reading lights, radios, electrical outlets and seat warmers. Green class Bullet Train carriages also tend to be less crowded.
Where can I use my JR Pass?
Your JR Pass can be used throughout Japan on all JR Lines. This may be subject to change due to the purchase of a regional pass, in which you can use your JR Pass on all JR Lines within the region you have chosen. Your Japan Rail Pass can be used to board some busses run by Japan Rail (except Highway busses & some local commuter bus) although it should be noted that Japan Rail doesn’t really have a large bus network. Adding to that, your pass will also let you use ferries operated by Japan Rail network. The most popular is the Miyajima to Miyajimaguchi ferry.
Which trains can I use the JR pass on?
One simple rule that you can follow is; if you can see a “JR” sign in or at the station, in most cases you will be able to use these trains. Naturally, you can use certain bullet trains as well as they are owned by Japan Railways as well.
Can the JR Pass use all Bullet Trains?
Your JR Pass is valid to be used on all Bullet Trains, except the Nozomi and Mizuho Bullet Trains.
Why can’t the JR Pass use the Nozomi and Mizuho Bullet Trains?
JR Central vehemently protects against any attempt to cut into their revenue from the Tokaido Shinkansen, of which the Nozomi makes up the vast majority. (For example, Nozomi tickets cost more than those for Hikari or Kodama trains for the same distance.) They see no reason to make travel on the Tokaido Shinkansen any cheaper than it is now given that Nozomi trains are generally full most of the time. This reasoning also applies to the Mizuho trains area which is from Shin-Osaka onwards.
What are the Nozomi and Mizuho train routes?
The Nozomi bullet train will only stop at the major stations between Tokyo and Hakata. This includes Tokyo, Shinagawa, Shin-Yokohama, Nagoya, Kyoto, Shin-Osaka, Shin-Kobe, Okayama, Hiroshima, Kokura and Hakata.
The Mizuho train runs from Shin-Osaka down to the final shinkansen station, Kagoshima-chuo.
Is there a timetable where I can check the train times?
It is recommended that you use the website Hyperdia (http://www.hyperdia.com/) to check your train times. On this website, you can input your location, destination and preferred time of departure and it will provide you with the closest available trains and also providing a range of different routes.
Is there a timetable for the JR Pass?
All the trains in Japan are generally on time, fixed to a strict timetable. To check when your train leaves or which train you should use, we suggest using Hyperdia(www.hyperdia.com). Hyperdia can be used to view an extensive timetable of all transport options in Japan.
How long is the JR Pass valid for?
Once you have activated your JR Pass, it will then be valid for either 7, 14 or 21 consecutive days. You don’t need to use it every day however, it is wise to understand where you want to go and how long you will be staying in each destination.
When does a JR Pass expire?
The validity of a 7, 14 or 21 day JR Pass is based on calendar days (midnight to midnight), rather than 24 hour periods. For example, if you start using your pass at 2pm on day 1, it will expire at 11.59pm on day 7, rather than 2pm on day 8. If you happen to be on board a train at midnight on your last day, your JR Pass remains valid until the end of your journey.
How do I reserve a seat?
The JR Pass provides you with the option of reserving your seats at no additional cost. All you need to do is present your JR Pass to any JR ticket office at stations throughout Japan. You cannot make reservations on board a train or at ticket machines.
Can I reserve seats from Australia?
The short answer is no. Before reserving any seats, you must transform your Japan Rail Pass Exchange Order to your JR Pass to then start reserving seats.
What if I lose something on the Bullet Train?
Don’t worry, Japan is one of the safest countries in the world and there is a great possibility that your belongings have been handed in. If you have recently lost something, you can visit one of JR’s lost property counters or even give them a call. When calling or visiting the lost property counter you need to provide the following information:
1. A detailed description of the lost item (include any unique characteristics)
2. Your seat number, the train number, and the train car number, which you can find on your seat reservation ticket.
3. The departure and arrival stations
4. The times you boarded and arrived at your destination station
What if I lose my JR Pass?
The japan Rail Pass Exchange Order or Japan Rail Pass cannot be reissued if it is lost or stolen. Make sure that you keep it safe at all times.
I have my JR Exchange Order, but I dont have my JR Pass. What should I do?
Here is the step-by-step process on how to receive your JR Pass:
- ENSURE TO GET YOUR EXCHANGE ORDER BEFORE YOU GO TO JAPAN
As it against the rules for any agent to send an exchange order outside of Australia, you must attain your exchange order before leaving your country. Once in Japan you can exchange your voucher (exchange order) for your JR Pass. This must be exchanged within 3 months after receving your voucher, otherwise it will expire.
- ENSURE YOU ARE ENTERING JAPAN ON A "TEMPORARY VISITOR" VISA
If you're entering Japan on a non-Japanese passport, to be eligible for a Japan Rail Pass you must enter on a "Temporary Visitor" Visa. This is the only VISA eligible to use the JR Pass.
Please Note*: you must enter on the same passport which you bought the pass under.
- FIND YOUR NEAREST JR EXCHANGE OFFICE
To swap your exchange order for your JR Pass, you must exchange it at a JR Exchange Office, Travel Service Center or at a "Green Window" (Midori no Madoguchi). These offices can be found at Kansai International Airport, Narita International Airport, Haneda Airport, Tokyo Station, Shinjuku Station, Nagoya Station, Kyoto Station and Osaka Station. Please be aware that due to the mass of passengers at these stations, expect queues to be from 15 to 60 minutes long.
- SWAP YOUR EXCHANGE ORDER
Once you have arrived at your JR exchange office, present your passport and Exchange order to the person behind the counter. They will then provide you with a form for which you will write your complete name as per passport, nationality, passport number, your contact details in Japan and the date that you would like to activate/begin using your JR Pass.
Tip: You may choose a date that is not necessarily the same day you swapped the exchange order. However, although you may activate it later, if it is not activated within 30 days your pass will expire.
Is the issue date the same as when my JR Pass will be activated?
No, your JR Pass will activate upon your first trip. However, this must be started within 30 days of the issue date.
Is there a child discount?
Yes, children aged from 6-11 are entitled to a price which is half of the adult prices. Children whom are aged 5 and under can travel for free, however, must not occupy a seat.
Is there student or senior discounts?
No, as the JR Pass is already at a discounted price, there is no discounts for students or seniors.
Will I need to buy a JR Pass for my infant?
Children aged 1-5 are able to travel for free however, when in a busy train, it will be asked that your infant sits on your lap.
Are the seats facing forward?
Yes! All seats are facing forward however, on the Bullet Trains, you can move some seats around to face your fellow travel companions.
Are bullet trains accessible for wheelchair users?
Yes, however, compared to general seats, the seating options are limited. In saying that, all economy class trains do have a wheelchair space, however, in green class there is only space available on limited routes. It is possible to just get a boarding ticket and sit between carriages but, the better option by far, is to reserve a seat. It is recommended by JR (Japan Railways) to reserve your seats 2 days in advance.
Here are the available seats for wheelchair users.
Tokkaido・Sanyo Bullet Train - The train has 16 carriages total （東海道・山陽新幹線16両編成全車両）
Seat No. 12C & 13C in Carriage No. 11 (Economy Class)
Sanyo・Kyushu Bullet Train N700 （山陽・九州新幹線N700系）
Seat No. 9B & 10B in Carriage No. 7 (Economy Class)
Tohoku・Joetsu・Hokuriku Bullet Train E2 – The train has 10 carriages total （東北・上越・北陸新幹線E2系10両編成）
Seat No. 1C in Carriage No. 10 (Economy Class) & 12C in Carriage No. 9 (Green Class)
Tohoku・Joetsu・Hokuriku Bullet Train E2 – The train has 8 carriages total （東北・上越・北陸新幹線E2系8両編成）
Seat No. 1C in Carriage No. 8 (Economy Class) & 12C in Carriage No. 7 (Green Class)
Tohoku Bullet Train E5 （東北新幹線E5系）
Seat No. 12B in Carriage No. 5 (Economy Class) & 14B in Carriage No.9 (Green Class)
Akita Bullet Train E6 （秋田新幹線E6系）
Seat No. 1B & 1C in Carriage No. 12 (Economy Class)
Hokuriku Bullet Train E7 （北陸新幹線E7系）
Seat No. 11C, 12C in Carriage No. 7 (Economy Class) & 16B in Carriage No. 11 (Green Class)
Where can I put my luggage?
There is no specific area to place your luggage on the bullet train but you can place them behind the very last row of seats in the carriage. Japan is very safe, so don’t worry! Smaller items can be placed in the overhead storage compartment, or if you are not comfortable with leaving your luggage unattended then you can always keep it in front of you.
Is it possible to eat on the Bullet Train?
Yes, it is possible to eat on the Bullet Train. Adiing to that, you will be able to buy something at the train staton prior to boarding. Most train stations and platforms generally have a “bento” (lunchbox) shop where you are able to buy a prepacked lunch.