On April 14, 2023, the Japan Railways Group (JR East and five other JR companies) announced on their official website that they will raise the price of the Japan Rail Pass (JR PASS) from October 2023. The JR PASS is a non-regional travel pass that supports almost all JR lines across Japan. For the 7-day pass, the current price is 29,650 yen, but after the price hike, it will be 50,000 yen, an increase of nearly 70%. The green car version of the JR PASS will also see the same percentage increase. Although the JR companies have stated that they will expand the applicable range of the JR PASS along with the price hike, will you still purchase a JR PASS when you visit Japan for free travel? Below is a detailed summary of the price changes for the JR PASS.
What is “JR PASS”?
JAPAN RAIL PASS, a joint offering of the six companies comprising the Japan Railways Group (JR Group), is the economical and convenient means of traveling throughout Japan by rail.
There are two types of PASSes: PASS for Green Cars and PASS for Standard Cars. Each type can be purchased for 7 days, 14 days or 21 days.
There are certain conditions for use. For example, “NOZOMI” and “MIZUHO” trains on the Tokaido, Sanyo and Kyushu Shinkansen Lines cannot be used.
Excerpt from Japan Rail Pass official website
*The six companies of the JR Group are JR East, JR West, JR Central, JR Shikoku, JR Kyushu, and JR Hokkaido.
**JR PASS refers to the nationwide travel pass for almost all JR lines in Japan. Besides this national pass, each JR company also offers regional passes such as JR East Pass (JR Tokyo Wide Pass), JR TOKYO Wide Pass, and JR-WEST RAIL PASS, etc. The announced price increase on April 14, 2023 only applies to the national JR PASS and not the regional passes for now.
Changes to the Prices of Japan Rail Pass (JR PASS)
Expansion of Usage Area
The current JR PASS does not cover the “Nozomi” and “Mizuho” shinkansen trains on the Tokaido/Sanyo and Kyushu Shinkansen lines. Starting from October 2023, JR PASS holders will be able to ride these trains by purchasing a separate ticket.
Details regarding the purchase of the separate ticket are not yet available on the official website, and are expected to be announced in the future.
Changes in the Price of the “JR PASS”
The new “JR PASS” will support:
- Travel on more types of shinkansen (bullet trains)
- Expansion of coverage areas for the pass
- Purchase and reservation of the pass on a dedicated website
- Use of automatic ticket gates
The current “JR PASS” can be reserved online and collected at train stations in Japan or purchased at designated overseas sales locations before arriving in Japan. The overseas price is generally cheaper than the price in Japan.
From October, with the above changes, the price of the “JR PASS” will be unified for both domestic and overseas purchases. The price difference between purchasing in Japan and overseas will be abolished.
|Type||Current Price (until October 2023)||Price After October 2023|
|JR Designated Agency Collaborative Shop||Dedicated Website|
|Regular Car Tickets
|7-day pass||29,650 JPY||33,610 JPY||50,000 JPY|
|14-day pass||47,250 JPY||52,960 JPY||80,000 JPY|
|21-day pass||60,450 JPY||66,200 JPY||100,000 JPY|
|Green Car Tickets
|7-Day Pass||39,600 JPY||44,810 JPY||70,000 JPY|
|14-Day Pass||64,120 JPY||72,310 JPY||110,000 JPY|
|21-Day Pass||83,390 JPY||91,670 JPY||140,000 JPY|
※ The price of “Child tickets” is half of the adult ticket price in the above table.
(Children refer to those who are 6 years or older and under 12 years old on the day of purchase. Those who are 12 years old or older are considered “Adults” and need to purchase adult tickets.)
Discounts for Domestic Tourist Facilities in Japan
After the changes in the JR PASS prices, domestic tourist facilities in Japan will offer discounts and other services to visitors who have the JR PASS (Nationwide Version).
However, there is no clear information yet on which facilities will provide how much discount or what kind of discount. The JR Group also stated that they will make an announcement in the future.
Will the JR PASS no longer be suitable for independent travel in Japan?
After the price hike, if you purchase a 7-day pass, you will need to spend 50,000 yen, which is almost equivalent to the actual shinkansen round-trip fare between Tokyo and Osaka. If your itinerary is limited to Osaka and Tokyo, this pass may not be the best option for you.
Moreover, the currently announced price increase of the JR PASS is for the nationwide version, and it is still unclear whether regional JR PASSes will experience a price increase or any changes. In any case, transportation costs for travel to Japan may almost double after October, so those who want to travel independently in Japan should hurry up.
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