A Full Information to the Japan Rail Cross

Posted: 1/9/23 | January ninth, 2023

Japan is one in every of my favourite international locations on the earth. The serene great thing about the mountains and temples, the hustle and bustle of the sprawling cities, the beautiful meals, and its lengthy historical past make for an enchanting place to go to.

Nonetheless, Japan has a repute, particularly amongst funds vacationers, as being too costly. “Higher skip Japan and head to Southeast Asia, the place your cash goes additional,” they are saying.

But you’ll be able to journey Japan on a funds. Meals, points of interest, and even lodging (it’s the land of capsule resorts!) will be discovered for a comparatively low value if you realize the place you look.

But one facet of touring in Japan that does stay as much as its expensive repute is transportation — significantly practice journey.

Japan’s iconic bullet trains (known as shinkansen) are stunning, comfy, handy, and quick. They’re world-class wonders of transportation, racing round at speeds as much as 320 kilometers (200 miles) per hour. They run on particular tracks separate from the opposite trains and are a formidable feat of engineering.

They’re tremendous costly. There’s simply no method round that truth.

Fortunately, there’s one straightforward factor you are able to do to chop your practice ticket costs in half (or extra): purchase a Japan Rail Cross. You actually shouldn’t be touring across the nation with out one (and I’m fairly positive they value the cross and common tickets out in a method that basically forces you to purchase one).

On this submit, I’ll introduce the JR Cross and clarify the way it works, how a lot it prices, and reply frequent questions I get in regards to the cross.


What’s the Japan Rail (JR) Cross?

The Japan Rail Cross (also referred to as the JR Cross) was created to assist vacationers get across the nation (just like the Eurail cross in Europe). JR is the most important practice operator in Japan, and the cross gives limitless entry to all its trains for a set value.

The cross is available in 7-, 14-, and 21-day choices. Word that these are consecutive days, not journey days. So, if you wish to journey round Japan for 2 weeks, you’ll have to buy the 14-day possibility, though you gained’t be taking the practice daily.

A number of JR trains are included within the cross. The preferred is the shinkansen (bullet) practice, which is the quickest practice and goes to just about each vacation spot and area. The following quickest is the tokkyu (restricted specific). The kyuko (specific) practice comes subsequent, adopted by the kaisoku (fast) and kakueki-teisha or futsu-densha (native trains that make each cease).

Briefly, which means that there are JR trains that quickly journey between areas, some that go between cities with a number of stops, and native commuter-style trains which can be gradual (however low-cost).

Moreover, JR trains additionally serve some metropolitan areas, to allow them to be used inside cities. For instance, on my final go to, I used my JR Cross to get round Kyoto and Tokyo as a substitute of shopping for native metro tickets.

The JR Cross must be bought earlier than you arrive in Japan and it must be mailed to you so that you’ll wish to order it properly prematurely (extra under).

How the JR Cross works

The JR Cross may be very straightforward to make use of — you simply want to recollect to buy it beforehand, whereas in your house nation, because the cross is barely out there to guests. (When you can buy it at choose ticket places of work in Japan till March 2023, in-person passes value considerably extra, so it’s higher simply to order it prematurely).

The cross has a number of choices (every legitimate for consecutive days, not simply journey days):

  • 7 days: 29,650 JPY (39,600 JPY for a Inexperienced Cross)
  • 14 days: 47,250 JPY (64,120 JPY for a Inexperienced Cross)
  • 21 days: 60,450 JPY (83,390 JPY for a Inexperienced Cross)

The Inexperienced Cross is the first-class possibility. For the reason that trains in Japan are already wonderful, you seemingly don’t want to purchase the Inexperienced Cross until you really need some luxurious. Moreover, touring in inexperienced vehicles will be extra of a trouble for those who wish to be spontaneous, as you should at all times reserve a seat prematurely in inexperienced vehicles, requiring you to go to the ticket workplace or automated reservation machines forward of time to take action. In atypical vehicles, you’ll be able to simply hop on and take any out there seat.

Along with the usual and inexperienced JR passes, there are regional passes in case you aren’t touring throughout the complete nation. These choices can prevent much more cash since they’re cheaper than the common JR passes. Every area has a number of cross choices, often ranging between one and 7 days.

You should purchase JR passes for six areas:

  • JR East (for the principle island)
  • JR West (for the principle island)
  • JR Central (for the principle island)
  • JR Hokkaido (for the northern island)
  • JR Kyushu (for the southwestern island)
  • JR Shikoku (for the southeastern island)

For those who’re simply going to be specializing in one area of the nation, think about shopping for a JR regional cross. If you’d like entry to the complete nation, get the common JR Cross.

For those who’re a first-time customer to Japan, you’ll seemingly need the common JR Cross, because it covers all the foremost locations.

In sum, to get a cross, it’s worthwhile to:

  1. Choose the time period on your cross (7, 14, or 21 days)
  2. Select your class (Inexperienced or customary — once more, customary is greater than ample for many vacationers)
  3. Resolve what geographical space you wish to go to (all the nation or a single area)
  4. Pay the price and order the cross earlier than you allow house

Getting and utilizing Your JR Cross

The simplest solution to get a Japan Cross is by ordering it on-line (there are numerous official on-line suppliers however I like to recommend this one because it’s been promoting passes for the longest time).

As soon as you buy a cross, you’ll obtain an “trade order” within the mail, stamped with a date, that you just’ll flip in to choose up your precise cross in Japan. Don’t neglect your trade order at house, as you should convey this doc to choose up your cross in Japan!

When you get to Japan, you’ll trade your trade order (therefore the title) for a JR Cross at a JR workplace. Ensure you have your passport on you (not a photocopy) once you go to gather it, as they are going to test to just remember to have a short lived customer stamp in your passport. The JR Cross is barely out there to guests and they’re fairly strict about verifying you’re a vacationer.

You’ve gotten three months from the date printed on the trade order to choose up your JR Cross, however you don’t want to start out utilizing the cross on the identical day that you just decide it up.

For instance, say that you just wish to decide up the cross when you arrive however you wish to spend a while in Tokyo earlier than heading on to see the remainder of the nation. You’ll be able to choose any date inside one month of exchanging the order as your beginning date. (However as soon as the cross is issued, you’ll be able to’t change the beginning date.)

When you’ve received your cross in hand, you don’t want to fret about getting tickets, as you merely use your cross to go proper by means of the automated turnstiles.

Along with utilizing the shinkansen and different trains, the JR cross provides entry to:

  • Native buses operated by JR (such because the vacationer loop bus in Hiroshima or JR buses round Sapporo)
  • Ferries operated by JR (such because the one from Hiroshima to the island of Miyajima)
  • JR strains working by means of metropolitan areas (equivalent to Tokyo and Osaka)
  • Free seat reservations (in any other case, seat reservations value round 330-930 JPY)

The JR Cross will not be legitimate for:

  • The Nozomi and the Mizuho shinkansen strains
  • Japanese residents or residents, equivalent to foreigners working in Japan (solely these with a vacationer visa can use the cross)

Is the Japan Rail Cross value it?

Completely! Though you would possibly get sticker shock initially when buying a cross, you’ll save a whole bunch of {dollars} throughout your journey with one — even for those who simply go to 2-3 cities. For instance, with out a rail cross, a ticket from Tokyo to Osaka prices round 27,000 JPY (round-trip), but you may get a seven-day rail cross that features limitless journey on JR trains for simply 29,650 JPY. So for the worth of 1 round-trip ticket, you get limitless journey. It’s a no brainer!

Listed here are some extra examples of one-way practice tickets on the shinkansen trains with non-reserved seats within the “atypical” (non-green automotive) class:

  • Tokyo-Hiroshima: 18,380 JPY
  • Tokyo-Kyoto: 13,320 JPY
  • Tokyo Fukuoka: 23,390 JPY
  • Kyoto-Hiroshima: 10,570 JPY
  • Kyoto-Osaka: 4,230 JPY
  • Hiroshima-Fukuoka: 9,000 JPY
  • Nagano-Kanazawa: 8,440 JPY
  • Tokyo-Yokohama: 3,210 JPY
  • Hakodate-Tokyo: 23,500 JPY

As you’ll be able to see, it solely takes one longer-distance journey from Tokyo (equivalent to to Hiroshima or Fukuoka) to justify the price of the cross. And also you’ll seemingly use it rather more than that!

And even for those who aren’t taking the bullet trains, the cross nonetheless is smart. For instance, a visit on a neighborhood practice from Kyoto to Tokyo prices round 8,360 JPY — as a substitute of 13,320 JPY for the bullet practice. Nonetheless, the native practice journey takes 9 hours and requires a number of transfers, as a substitute of a direct three hours, making it a lower than ultimate alternative for many vacationers (particularly for those who’re tight on time). It’s typically merely not value the price financial savings.

You’re higher off utilizing the bullet trains and reveling within the high-speed expertise because it whisks you from one unimaginable vacation spot to a different!

Japan Rail Cross Continuously Requested Questions

Is JR Cross just for vacationers?
Sure. Solely folks visiting on a vacationer visa can use the JR Cross.

Can Japan Rail Cross be used on the Tokyo subway?
Yep, among the subway strains (although not all) in Tokyo are run by JR, which suggests you’ll be able to entry them without spending a dime together with your JR Cross. That is true for the complete nation. Metro strains and native subway strains are excluded from the cross.

Can I modify the times on which I want to use the Japan Rail Cross?
No. As soon as the cross has been activated, the dates are set in stone.

How do I activate the Japan Rail Cross?
To activate the JR Cross, convey your trade order and your passport to a JR workplace in Japan. As soon as they confirm your identification and visa standing, they are going to activate your cross.

Can I exploit JR Cross from Tokyo to Kyoto?
Yep! The space is 445 kilometers (283 miles), and the journey takes beneath three hours on the bullet practice.

Are buses included in JR Cross?
Sure, JR does run some bus strains, that are included within the JR Cross. Some locations the place JR has buses embody Hokkaido, Shikoku, and Kyushu.

Can I cancel my Japan Rail Cross?
You’ll be able to cancel your cross so long as it has not been activated, however as soon as it’s activated, you’ll be able to’t.


Prepare journey is the easiest way to see Japan. The trains are clear, quick, and the surroundings attractive. I like touring the nation by practice. Whereas shopping for a rail cross would possibly appear to be a expensive alternative, it can prevent a ton of cash — and it’s a uniquely Japanese expertise that you just gained’t neglect!

Click on right here to get your Japan Rail cross at this time!


E-book Your Journey to Japan: Logistical Ideas and Methods

E-book Your Flight
Use Skyscanner to discover a low-cost flight. They’re my favourite search engine as a result of they search web sites and airways across the globe so that you at all times know no stone is left unturned!

E-book Your Lodging
You’ll be able to guide your hostel with Hostelworld as they’ve the most important stock and finest offers. If you wish to keep someplace apart from a hostel, use as they persistently return the most affordable charges for guesthouses and low-cost resorts. My favourite locations to remain in Japan are:

Don’t Neglect Journey Insurance coverage
Journey insurance coverage will shield you towards sickness, harm, theft, and cancellations. It’s complete safety in case something goes fallacious. I by no means go on a visit with out it as I’ve had to make use of it many occasions prior to now. My favourite corporations that provide the most effective service and worth are:

On the lookout for the Greatest Corporations to Save Cash With?
Try my useful resource web page for the most effective corporations to make use of once you journey. I checklist all those I exploit to economize once I’m on the highway. They are going to prevent cash once you journey too.

Make sure you take a look at the Japan Rail Cross for those who’ll be touring across the nation. It is available in 7-, 14-, and 21-day passes and may prevent a ton of cash!

Need Extra Info on Japan
Make sure you go to our sturdy vacation spot information on Japan for much more planning ideas!

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