If you’re planning to travel extensively through Japan then the best thing you can do is buy a Japanese rail pass before you leave home. There are plenty of companies out there that are extremely helpful.
I was able to obtain my 21-day Japan Rail Pass whilst I was still at home in the UK. The company I used were fantastic and always willing to answer emails promptly to help me out. One thing I should point out is that once you have purchased your Japan Rail Pass, you need to use it within 3 months and it also must be used within a given number of consecutive days – make sure you check with your agent to confirm all the details.
Here are 5 reasons why I think everyone should buy a Japanese Rail Pass before they travel.
You’ll save money
This is the main reason why we all buy things in advance, to save dollars. So long as you are planning to visit a few places, not just Tokyo to Kyoto return, then you’re definitely going to be saving money. I used it for 36 different train journeys over the 21-day period. That would have cost me $690 without the pass – I paid $480 for my pass.
It makes life easy
When you’ve got your Japan Rail Pass you don’t need to buy any more tickets. You just stroll up to the security check, present your pass and stroll on through. It’s not only easy, but it is ‘green’ too because you’re not using up loads of paper printing numerous tickets.
It makes you explore
There are a whopping 20,000 km of rail track in Japan, so there’s no reason not to explore and go off the beaten track. You can use the Japan Rail Pass to reach places that would otherwise cost a lot of money; islands such as Kyushu, Hokkaido and Shikoku.
You get great in-country help
Make sure you choose an agent that offers in country help. There are agencies out there that will help you get around Japan using the Japan Rail pass. If you find yourself stuck at night, can’t understand directions etc then you don’t have to worry, you can call a helpline; speak to s bilingual agent who will help you. If for example you don’t know how to get to the town where your hotel is or maybe you don’t have Internet access and need to know train schedules, the specialists at the end of the phone will fix everything for you.
You can use it on more than the train
The Japan Rail Pass is not only for the train! You can also use it to travel on JR buses, and amazingly ferries as well. I didn’t really need to use any JR buses; I did find it very helpful to use the JR lines instead of some metros. In Osaka I was blown away because I was able to get around the whole city with just the Japan Rail Pass!