FAQ

What is a Japan Rail Pass?

The Japan Rail Pass, or JR Pass for short, is a train ticket that grants passengers unlimited access to various types of transportation in Japan operated by the Japan Railways Group. There are different types of JR Passes for every itinerary.

 

The passes give you access to most of the major Japan Railways (JR) train lines, with the exception of some high-speed trains such as the Nozomi Shinkansen. 

Who is eligible to use JR Pass?

Any non-Japanese national who visits Japan as a tourist or with a “Temporary Visitor” status is eligible.

 

Japanese citizens are NOT eligible for the pass unless they are Permanent Residents of another country or married to a non-Japanese residing in another country outside of Japan. Foreigners visiting for non-tourism purposes (E.g. Work, military, diplomatic, cultural, research etc.), or holding a long-term visa (E.g. Student, instructor or work) are similarly NOT eligible for the pass.

I am holding dual-citizenship, am I still eligible to purchase the Japan Rail Pass?

Yes. You must use non-Japanese passport with a “Temporary Visitor” visa to enter the country.

What is the difference between the Green and Ordinary Pass?

First class cars on the Japan Rail lines are called “green cars”. You can locate this carriage with its green clover icon on the side of the carriage. This pass lets you enjoy your journey in comfort with a large reclined seat, ample leg space, integrated radio and luggage space.


Green Pass is usually recommended for peak travel seasons (May, August and September) as they are generally less crowded than the normal carriages.

 

Since the trains in Japan have such high standards, the ordinary cars are usually sufficient for most travellers. However, if you are looking for more spacious leg room and some peace and quiet, the green cars are for you.

Which JR pass should I get for my Japan travels?

There are so many passes to choose from and the right JR Pass for you depends on your itinerary. 

 

For example, you may consider getting the Hokkaido JR Pass if your trip is entirely within Hokkaido. This grants you full access to Hokkaido for a selected number of days. Alternatively, if you intend to visit Osaka and are looking to explore Kyoto along the way, you may wish to get any one of the Central West Passes.

If you’re visiting many different parts of Japan during your trip, you should purchase the Nationwide JR Pass as it covers the whole of Japan.

Do I have to purchase a JR Pass for my child?

Infants of ages 6 and below do not need a JR Pass and it also means they are not entitled to any seats. You must place them on your lap at all times and they can only be seated as long as no paying customers need their seats. 

Children ages between 6 and 11 years will require a Child Pass, while those above 12 years old will require Adult Passes.

Can I order a JR Pass for someone else?

Yes, you can order a JR Pass for someone else as long as they meet the requirements set by Japan Railways.

 

1. The name on the ticket corresponds to the name on the passport of the traveller.

2. He or she must not be working or residing in Japan. Please note that they are able to purchase discounted Japan Rail tickets directly from the train stations in Japan.

 

If they live or work in Japan without a temporary visitor status, they will not be able to use the JR Pass.

If I am already in Japan, can I purchase the pass for a friend/family member?

Yes you would be able to. However, please be advised that the friend/family member will have to meet the requirements for eligibility to use the JR Pass. Additionally, only he/she will be able to exchange the Exchange Order for a JR Pass at the JR Ticket Offices in Japan.

 

Proceed to order and indicate the name as per passport for the person you are purchasing it for, specify the collection location and date, and click on Submit.

Is the pass exchangeable between myself and another traveller(s)?

You must be present when exchanging the Exchange Order to the JR Pass with your passport. It is not possible to activate the JR Pass on behalf of someone else as the JR Pass office needs to verify the traveller’s passport and identity.

How and when can I purchase a JR Pass?

You can purchase them online at Travel Recommends website, at least 4 calendar day before your collection date (or departure date). It is recommended to get them online for an expedient experience.

Note: Please remember to enter your full name (as shown in your passport) at the point of booking for your JR Pass.

Where can I collect my Japan Rail Pass?

Japan Rail Pass Exchange Orders (EO) are delivered to you by courier service at least 2 days before your departure date. Please exchange the EO in Japan for the Japan Rail Pass.

You can also choose to collect your Japan Rail Pass Exchange Order (EO) at any of the preferred airport or city counters https://www.travelrecommends.com/my/locateus

Note: EO is valid for 3 months only from date of issuance.

Where and how can I use my Japan Rail Pass in Japan?

You will need to present the Exchange Order for your JR pass at a Japan Rail Office (available in Japan airports and main train stations).

You will be requested to fill in a form with your details and the passport entry stamp at the Japan Rail Office.

Can I select the date I wish to use the JR Pass?

You will need to select a start date for the pass when you hand in your Exchange Order for the JR pass at the JR Ticket Office (the start date does not have to be the same date as the exchange date). The start date of the JR Pass has to be within 30 days of the exchange.

The JR Pass will be valid for the consecutive number of days from your preferred starting date.

Example scenario:


Jimmy and his family are on holiday and arrive in Japan on 10th January. Early the next morning, they proceed to the JR Ticket Office to trade in their Exchange Orders for their 7 day JR passes. However, as they will not be using the rail services for the next three days, Jimmy decides to select the JR pass start date for 14th January. As their JR passes are only valid for a period of 7 days, their passes will expire and become invalid on 20th January.

Validity period of these Japan Rail Passes are counted in full days (midnight to midnight), and not 24-hour periods. For example, using your pass at 9am on day 1 and 8am on day 2 will be counted as two separate uses of the pass.

Note: Certain passes allow for flexibility of use within a certain number of days, i.e., 4 days of usage within a period of 6 days.

Does my pass expire while I’m on the train?

No, your pass will remain valid until you exit the final station through the ticket gates. This includes transfer of trains past midnight. However, do note that transferring to a Shinkansen, limited express or express train after midnight will incur the express supplement fee.

How do I enter the station with my Japan Rail Pass?

Unlike normal tickets, the JR Pass does not work with the automatic gates of the train station. Please show your pass to the train staff, in the glass booth next to the gate, for them to let you through.

Should I reserve a seat?

It is not necessary to reserve a seat as you may use the non-reserved seats by showing your JR Pass. Most trains do not have reserved seats except for trains like Narita Express, which will assign a seat number to you.

If you are travelling in a group and would prefer sitting together, we suggest that you apply for seat reservations.

Kindly take note of the peak hours when you are commuting. Peak hours are usually between 0700 hours and 0900 hours, or 1800 hours and 2000 hours. Do be advised that trains can get booked out several days in advance during public holidays such as Bank Holidays.

How do I make a seat reservation?

Seat reservations are free for JR Pass holders. Simply show your JR Pass at the JR Ticket Offices (Midori-no-madoguchi) in the train stations and proceed to book.

Look out for the logo of the JR Ticket Office (Midori-no-madoguchi)!

Online booking is also possible; however, take note that the websites are usually only in Japanese. The JR East Shinkansen Reservation office is the only one with an English version that allows online booking.

What are the types of trains can I use with my Japan Rail Pass?

A National Japan Rail Pass allows you to board a majority of trains that run on the JR railway network, including regional routes such as JR Kyushu, JR East, JR West, JR Center, JR Shikoku and JR Hokkaido. You will have access to local and express trains, fast bullet trains, and the 'Shinkansen' on the Hikari or Sakura lines.

The Japan Rail Pass is not valid for the following:
 

  • Private Rail Lines;
  • Super Express-Only Shinkansen trains i.e. 'Nozomi' and 'Mizuho'
  • Inner city subways/trams;
  • Sleeper wagons/private wagons in night trains;
  • Special compartments which require an extra fee.


If the JR train uses non-JR tracks during its route, additional fares may be required for that part of the trip. Payment is done either before boarding or after boarding the train.

 

What are the bus and ferries lines available with the Japan Rail Pass?

The Japan Rail Pass gives you access to these JR local bus lines:
JR Hokkaido Bus, JR Bus Tohoku, JR Bus Kanto, JR Tokai Bus, JR Shikoku, West Japan JR Bus, Chugoku JR Bus, and JR Kyushu Bus.

Note: Japan Rail Pass is NOT valid for travel on express bus routes or highway buses.

*Validity for particular routes is subject to change
Useful routes to note:
 

  • Samani → Erimo Misaki (Cape Erimo)
  • Aomori station → Aomori airport
  • Hachinohe/Aomori → Towada Lake
  • Morioka → Ryusendo
  • Tateyama → Awa Shirahama
  • Naganohara Kusatsuguchi → Kusatsu Onsen-Shirane Kazan
  • Yokokawa → Karuizawa
  • Kyoto Station → Ryoanji → Takao → Shuzan


You can also access the JR Miyajima Ferry with your JR Pass (not inclusive of the ferry to Korea).

 

What do I do if I lose my JR Pass or if it gets stolen?

Unfortunately, you will need to purchase a new pass again as there is no replacement for any lost or stolen passes.

Can I smoke on the trains?

There are smoking and non-smoking carriages. Please board the appropriate carriage if you wish to smoke on the train.

Can I eat on the trains?

Absolutely! Please try out the various unique meal boxes from different regional trains. These yummy meals only cost upwards of 1,000 Yen.

Can I use my mobile phone on the train?

Yes, you may use your phone on the train for messaging and games. Talking on the phone is forbidden while riding the train. However, you may make phone calls in the entrance sections of the Shinkansen and limited express trains.

My travel plans have changed. Can I change my pass or cancel them? Will I get refunds for cancellations?

Unused Japan Rail Pass Exchange Orders must be returned to any of our airport or city counters within 1 year from the date of purchase as long as the Exchange Order has not been redeemed for a Japan Rail Pass. Stolen, damaged or misplaced Exchange Orders will not be valid for cancellation. Please note that there will be a 10% administrative fee and a 90-day processing time for cancellations.

 

Please contact us via email at hello@travelrecommends.com for any inquiries on cancellations or returns of Japan rail pass exchange order.

Will I get a refund or compensation if my pass becomes unusable or affected due to unforeseen circumstances?

In the event of an unforeseen circumstance, Travel Recommends and its operators shall not be liable to provide refunds or compensations to the affected parties. This includes but is not limited to:

  • Act of God (e.g. fires, floods, earthquakes, explosions, droughts, etc.)
  • Civil Disorder (strikes, industrial blockage, civil disturbance)
  • Acts or threats of terrorism
  • Other unforeseeable circumstances beyond the control of Travel Recommends and its operators
How and when can I purchase a JR Pass?

You can purchase them online from Travel Recommends, at least 4 calendar days before your collection date (or departure date). It is recommended to get them online for a smooth travelling experience.

 

Please remember to enter your full name (as shown in your passport) when you are booking your JR Pass.

What’s the difference between my Travel Recommends confirmation email, Exchange Order, and JR Pass?

Travel Recommends Confirmation Email: Upon completing your order on Travel Recommends, you will receive an order confirmation email. You need this email to redeem your Exchange order at selected Travel Recommends counters if you have selected the pickup option.

You cannot use this email to redeem your JR Pass in Japan.

 

Exchange Order: You will receive your Exchange Order from Travel Recommends either by post or pickup (if you have selected that option). You need to have your Exchange Order in order to exchange it for your JR Pass in Japan.

 

JR Pass: The actual pass you will receive and use for transport around Japan. You will need your Exchange Order and passport in order to receive your JR Pass in Japan.

Where and how do I exchange my Exchange Order for the JR Pass?

Japan Rail Pass Exchange Orders are delivered to you by courier service at least 2 days before your departure date. You can also choose to collect your Japan Rail Pass Exchange Order at any of the preferred airport or city counters: Locate Us 

 

Your Exchange Order is valid for 90 days from the day of your booking on Travel Recommends. 

 

(The start date does not have to be the same date as the exchange date and it has to be within 30 days of the exchange.)

 

After receiving your Exchange Order from Travel Recommends, you will need to present it at a Japan Rail Office (available in Japan airports and main train stations) in order to receive your JR Pass.

 

You will be requested to fill in a form with your details and get your passport entry stamp at the Japan Rail Office.

 

After collecting your JR Pass, you will be able to access unlimited rides within the validity date.

How do I use my JR Pass in Japan?

You will have to pass through a manned gate instead of the automatic gates to present your pass to the JR staff. You might also be required to present your passport with your JR Pass.

Should I reserve a seat?

It is not necessary to reserve a seat as you may use the non-reserved seats by showing your JR Pass. Most trains do not have reserved seats except for trains like the Narita Express, which will assign a seat number to you. However, if you want a peace of mind and to make sure nothing comes up along your journey, it’s recommended that you reserve a seat.

 

If you are travelling in a group and prefer to sit together, we suggest that you apply for seat reservations.

 

Reserving your seat when travelling during crowded periods will guarantee you a seat as well, in case the unreserved seats cars are full.

 

Kindly take note of the peak hours when you are commuting. Peak hours are usually between 0700 hours and 0900 hours, or 1800 hours and 2000 hours. Trains can also be fully booked several days in advance during public holidays such as Bank Holidays.

Will I still be able to get a seat if I did not make a reservation?

If you are using a Green pass, you will have to make reservations as Green train carriages do not have unreserved seats. However, if you are using an Ordinary pass, you will still be able to get a seat without a reservation in the unreserved seats carriages.

 

If you are travelling during peak seasons, we recommend that you reserve your seats. Some of the peak seasons in Japan are around 28 December to 6 January, 27 April to 6 May (Golden Week), and 11-20 August.

How do I make a seat reservation?

Seat reservations are free for JR Pass holders. Simply show your JR Pass at the JR Ticket Offices (Midori-no-madoguchi) in the train stations to make your seat reservations.

 

Online booking is also possible; however, take note that the websites are usually only in Japanese. The JR East Shinkansen Reservation office is the only one with an English version that allows online booking.

Will my pass expire at midnight if I am still on the train?

No, your pass will remain valid until you exit the final station through the ticket gates. This includes transfer of trains past midnight.

 

However, transferring to a Shinkansen, limited express or express train after midnight will incur the express supplement fee.

What are the types of trains can I use with my JR Pass?

A Nationwide JR Pass allows you to board the majority of trains that run on the JR railway network, including regional routes such as JR Kyushu, JR East, JR West, JR Center, JR Shikoku and JR Hokkaido. You will have access to local and express trains, fast bullet trains, and the 'Shinkansen' on the Hikari or Sakura lines.

 

The Japan Rail Pass is not valid for the following:

 

  • Private Rail Lines;
  • Super Express-Only Shinkansen trains i.e. 'Nozomi' and 'Mizuho'
  • Inner city subways/trams;
  • Sleeper wagons/private wagons in night trains;
  • Special compartments which require an extra fee.

 

If the JR train uses non-JR tracks during its route, additional fares may be required for that part of the trip. Payment is done either before boarding or after boarding the train.

What are the bus and ferries lines available with the Japan Rail Pass?

The Japan Rail Pass gives you access to these JR local bus lines:

JR Hokkaido Bus, JR Bus Tohoku, JR Bus Kanto, JR Tokai Bus, JR Shikoku, West Japan JR Bus, Chugoku JR Bus, and JR Kyushu Bus.

 

Note: Japan Rail Pass is NOT valid for travel on express bus routes or highway buses.

 

*Validity for particular routes is subject to change

 

Useful routes to note:

 

  • Samani → Erimo Misaki (Cape Erimo)
  • Aomori station → Aomori airport
  • Hachinohe/Aomori → Towada Lake
  • Morioka → Ryusendo
  • Tateyama → Awa Shirahama
  • Naganohara Kusatsuguchi → Kusatsu Onsen-Shirane Kazan
  • Yokokawa → Karuizawa
  • Kyoto Station → Ryoanji → Takao → Shuzan

 

You can also access the JR Miyajima Ferry with your JR Pass (not inclusive of the ferry to Korea).

Can I use my JR Pass from the airport?

Yes, you can use your JR Pass from the airport. You will have to exchange your Exchange Order and activate your JR Pass at the airport first. 

 

If you are arriving at Narita Airport, you can use your JR Pass on the Narita Express or N’EX to Tokyo, Shinjuku, Shinagawa, and other popular stations. If you are arriving at Haneda Airport, you can use your JR Pass on the Tokyo Monorail to Hamamatsucho station.

 

However, you will not be able to use your JR Pass on the Keisei Skyliner that connects Narita Airport to Tokyo.

If I am booking JR Passes for my friends and/or family, can I use one name for all the passes?

No you may not. The name under each JR Pass has to correspond with the pass holder.

Can someone pick up or redeem by JR Pass on my behalf?

No they will not be able to redeem the JR Pass on your behalf. You have to redeem the pass yourself at a JR Ticket Office in Japan where one of their staff will verify your identity.

 

First, you will have to present your Exchange Order in order to redeem your JR Pass. Then you will have to complete a form and show your passport for proof of identification and your immigration status with a temporary visitor stamp.