In Japan, trains go practically everywhere and practically everybody takes the train. Beyond the legendary Shinkansen bullet trains, a range of long-distance and local services spider the country's main islands. For most travelers, rail is the preferred way to experience the Land of the Rising Sun. For those seeking the most eco-friendly, affordable and hassle-free travel experience, a rail pass is indispensable.
Because rail is the preferred mode of travel in even remote areas, a Japan rail pass is the best way to connect with all this island nation has to offer. Hop aboard the Yamamote Line, Tokyo's ring railway, and check out Shibuya and Shinjuku. Catch a Tokaido Shinkansen to Kyoto, Japan's ancient imperial capital. Take the night train to Hokkaido's ski resorts via the world's longest under-sea tunnel. Or ride the Sanyo Shinkansen to tropical Kyushu.
Most of Japan's rail lines are operated by the private railway networks that make up the JR Group, commonly referred to by its English initials, "Jay-Arru." JR is comprised of six member railways. JR West, JR Central and JR East serve the main Island of Honshu. The country's other three major islands are served by JR Kyushu, JR Shikoku, and JR Hokkaido respectively. In some areas, particularly highly urbanized regions like Tokyo, Nagoya, Kyoto and Osaka, JR Rail is supplemented by additional private rail networks.
Choose the JR Rail Pass that works best for you. Most popular is the JR Japan Rail Pass which gives you unlimited travel on almost all JR trains. If Tokyo and north central Honshu are your primary destinations, a JR East Rail Pass gives you access to Tokyo, Yokihama, Mt. Fuji and the airports. Heading south? The JR Kyushu Rail Pass opens up Japan's sunny island prefecture, including the just-opened Kyushu Shinkansen line!
JR Rail Passes are available for Ordinary class or Green class travel (Kyushu, Ordinary Class only). Green class pass holders enjoy upgraded seating on trains outfitted with first-class Green Cars. Half-fare passes are available for children, ages 6-11. Kids, under the age of 6, travel free.