Travelers planning on visiting Japan may want to re-evaluate their travel budget—the price for a Japan Rail Pass is set to rise by roughly 70 percent in October 2023.
The passes, which offer a flat rate for an unlimited number of rides on most trains during a set timeframe (including the famously fast high-speed Shinkansen bullet trains) have long been a popular way for travelers keen to visit multiple destinations (and have traditionally been more cost-effective than buying tickets à la carte).
The announcement was made by the Japan Railways Group (JR Group), the company that runs the vast Japanese train network, on April 14, though the group didn’t give an exact date for when the changes will go into effect. Here’s what you need to know about the new pricing for the Japan Rail Pass.
How much will the Japan Rail Pass now cost?
Japan Rail offers six options for passes, including one-, two-, or three-week passes for both regular seats and first-class seats (which allows for reserved seating in cars—referred to as Green Cars—with more legroom and comfier seats). All the pass prices will be increasing by between 65 and 77 percent. The changes will be as follows (U.S. dollar amounts are based on current conversion rates):
New Price for JR Rail Pass Beginning in October 2023
- Regular 7-day pass: from ¥29,650 (US$221) to ¥50,000 (US$373)
- Regular 14-day pass: from ¥47,250 (US$352) to ¥80,000 (US$597)
- Regular 21-day pass: from¥60,450 (US$451) to ¥100,000 (US$746)
- Green 7-day pass: from¥39,600 (US$295) to ¥70,000 (US$522)
- Green 14-day pass: from ¥64,120 (US$478) to ¥111,000 (US$828)
- Green 21-day pass: from ¥83,390 (US$622) to ¥140,000 (US$1,044)
At this time, the cost of single-destination tickets and regional passes (which are unlimited passes within six smaller regions of Japan) won’t change.
Is the Japan Rail Pass still a good deal?
Like most things, it depends on how you plan to use it. If you’re only aiming to travel to two or three cities or if you’re going to travel slowly and stay in cities for several days, it might be better to buy à la carte train tickets.
For context, a regular one-way fare from Tokyo to Kyoto is currently ¥13,320 (US$99) for a regular ticket or ¥14,000 (US$104) for a reserved ticket. And within those cities are a few Japan Rail lines that can help you get around (the passes aren’t usable on subways or trams). If you plan to visit those cities and any additional ones in seven days, it’s well worth it (at least until October 2023). After the prices are raised, however, it could make more sense to buy individual tickets, or even compare with domestic flights, depending on your itinerary.