Though it’s currently considered to be one of the most cost-effective tools for tourists to travel around Japan, prices for the popular Japan Rail Pass will soon see a sharp increase. On April 14, Japan Railways Group released a revised plan for the pricing of the multi-use pass covering JR Hokkaido, JR East, JR Central, JR West, JR Shikoku and JR Kyushu train lines, which is set to come into effect sometime this October.
As a refresher: Japan Rail Pass is the most convenient, all-inclusive pass that lets you travel across Japan on any JR network from Kyushu all the way up to Hokkaido. It’s different from the regional passes offered by the respective JR companies mentioned above.
Under the current plan, tickets ordered from an overseas JR-designated sales agency are ¥29,650 per adult for the seven-day pass (¥14,820 for children), ¥47,250 for the 14-day pass (¥23,620) and ¥60,450 for the 21-day pass (¥30,220). From October, however, these prices will be bumped up to ¥50,000 per seven-day pass (children ¥25,000), ¥80,000 per 14-day pass (¥40,000) and ¥100,000 per 21-day pass (¥50,000).
For context, a one-way adult ticket for a JR shinkansen journey from Tokyo to Osaka currently costs around ¥14,520, making the current ¥29,650 seven-day pass a sensible choice for travellers planning to do a round trip between the cities within the same week. Though JR Group says the new plans coming into effect around October will include more benefits for tourists, visitors will have to squeeze in a fair bit of travelling in order to break even with the increased cost of the passes.
According to JR, potential benefits for the new plan will include discounted tickets to certain tourist attractions, plus access to Nozomi and Mizuho bullet trains, which are currently not covered under the Japan Rail Pass. However, it will still require a supplemental fee to use the Nozomi and Mizuho services.
More details on the new plan are expected to be announced at a later date. In the meantime, here are a few more regional rail passes that are worth looking into.
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