Go Back  FlyerTalk Forums > Destinations > Asia > Japan
Reload this Page >

Japan Rail (JR) Pass questions (consolidated)

Japan Rail (JR) Pass questions (consolidated)

    Hide Wikipost
Old Mar 19, 19, 7:42 pm   -   Wikipost
Please read: This is a community-maintained wiki post containing the most important information from this thread. You may edit the Wiki once you have been on FT for 90 days and have made 90 posts.
 
Last edit by: muji
Wiki Link
About Japan Rail Pass
JAPAN RAIL PASS, a joint offering of the six companies comprising the Japan Railways Group (JR Group).
__________________________________________________ _____________

Eligibility
(1) You are a foreign tourist visiting Japan from abroad for sight-seeing, under the entry status of "temporary visitor" or

(2) You are a Japanese national living outside of Japan who has both their Japanese passport and written proof—obtained from the embassy or legation of Japan in the foreign country where they live—that they have been living legally in the country for 10 consecutive years or more.
__________________________________________________ _____________

Validity Period
The validity period of a JAPAN RAIL PASS is the consecutive 7, 14, or 21 days period beginning on the date the PASS is first used.
Within three months from the date the Exchange Order was issued, you must turn in your Exchange Order to obtain your JAPAN RAIL PASS
(for example, an Exchange Order issued on April 15 would have to be turned in by July 14).

more information: http://www.japanrailpass.net/en/index.html
Print Wikipost

Reply

Old Jun 22, 13, 11:16 am
  #1  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Dec 2009
Programs: Curr Noob, Ex Road Warrior
Posts: 476
Japan Rail (JR) Pass questions (consolidated)

I have a 5 day trip to Japan with NRT-Kyoto-Tokyo-NRT routing with 2.5 days in Kyoto and 2.5 days in Tokyo. We have 2 kids (1 and 3) and 5 adults in the group. Should we just buy JR Pass? Obviously I am going for little extra convenience over slightly lower cost (I am assuming) if bought separately. I am landing in NRT Thursday morning 10:30AM and leaving Tuesday 5.30PM and am staying at Westin Kyoto and Grand Hyatt Tokyo, so I want trains that go to stations closer to them.

myjrpass.com has the 7 day pass for $268 with 1USD-105Y conversion even though the current exchange rate is only around 95Y. Does that mean we will have to pay the difference while exchanging or once you have the exchange order in hand the exchange rate does not matter?

Thanks in Advance.

Edit: I just saw the sticky and started reading it. Sticky appears to have answers to most of my questions, but please feel free to answer them. Thanks

Last edited by ikonos; Jun 22, 13 at 12:19 pm
ikonos is offline  
Reply With Quote
Old Jun 22, 13, 4:16 pm
  #2  
 
Join Date: May 2000
Location: Houston, TX, USA
Programs: SPG Gold, AA Lifetime Platinum, UA Platinum, DL Platinum, HHonors Diamond, Hyatt Platinum
Posts: 7,126
Once you have the exchange order, that's all you need and you won't have to pay any more (or get a refund) if the exchange rate has changed since then. If some is willing to sell you an exchange order today at an exchange rate better than the current rate, then they're eating the difference (which makes me suspicious that they'd actually do so - perhaps their website is just out of date).

As you've found out, the Tokyo-Kyoto-Tokyo route is the classic "break-even" route for the JR Pass. You won't be making a big mistake either way.

Also, the Grand Hyatt Tokyo is near the Roppongi subway station, but not within walking distance of any JR station. So, if you want to take the trains to/from your hotel, you'll have to take the subway at least part of the way, and the JR Pass doesn't work on the subway.
Steve M is offline  
Reply With Quote
Old Jun 22, 13, 6:12 pm
  #3  
 
Join Date: Jun 2004
Location: Central California
Programs: Former UA Premex, now dirt
Posts: 6,340
Don't forget that you can use the JR Pass for the Narita Express airport train in addition to the longer Tokyo-Kyoto-Tokyo run so the Pass will save you money.

Things to remember - your kids under 6 years old do not need a Rail Pass, they ride free as long as each is accompanied by an adult pass-holder. You cannot reserve a seat for the kids but they can sit in vacant seats as long as the car is not full. If it fills up, the seat must be made available to paying customers and the child seated in an adult's lap. For that reason, it is probably best to plan trips at non-peak times. For the Narita Express, I'd just plan on holding them unless you get lucky and have empties nearby.

When planning the trip to/from Kyoto, you cannot use the Pass on the fastest "Nozomi" train. The "Hikari" train is just as fast but stops more often so it takes a little longer - about 15 - 20 minutes.

Which stay comes first? Tokyo and then Kyoto or the other way around? Your post suggests you will be going directly from NRT to Kyoto that first day. If so, I'd suggest taking the Narita Express to Shinagawa Station rather than Tokyo Station and changing for Kyoto there as it is much easier to navigate for first-timers. On the other hand, Tokyo Station is closer for your Tokyo hotel. For myself, in your case, I'd just grab a cab from there rather than trying to figure out the subway after a long flight and while juggling a couple of toddlers. During the stay, you will probably want to use the subway but that first night isn't the best time to learn.

If your Kyoto stay is after Tokyo, it is completely possible to leave directly from there to make your afternoon departure. 2-1/2 hours +/- Kyoto to Tokyo or Shinagawa, an hour to 1-1/4 hour for the Narita Express and a half-hour or so to make the change means leaving on the 10:29 am Hikari would get you to Narita just before 2:30 pm for your 5:30 flight. If you are comfortable cutting your pre-flight time down a bit, there is a 10:56 that would arrive just before 3:00 pm.

Hyperdia - http://www.hyperdia.com/en/ - can help you figure out trains. Just remember to select "Search Details" and uncheck the box for "Nozomi/Mizuho/Hyabusa" to eliminate options you can't use with the Rail Pass.

Last edited by abmj-jr; Jun 22, 13 at 6:27 pm
abmj-jr is offline  
Reply With Quote
Old Jun 22, 13, 11:48 pm
  #4  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Dec 2009
Programs: Curr Noob, Ex Road Warrior
Posts: 476
Thanks all for your suggestions. I am going to Kyoto directly from NRT, spend the next 2 days there and on the third day come back to Tokyo and spend another 2 days before leaving for NRT.

So I get the JR pass (myjrpass.com has it for $268 while others have it for around $280-$285), exchange it at NRT and have it stamped and take the Narita express to Shinagawa and take a Hikari to Kyoto. On my way back from Kyoto, stop at Tokyo station.

1) In kyoto how do I get to Westin Miyako? I understand I should go to Karasamu exit and do I take a Cab? Bus? Hotel Shuttle? Which one is relatively easier?
2) Should we get a day bus pass in Kyoto? 2 day pass?
3) How do we travel around in Tokyo? Metro Pass? Or some form of JR Pass + something else? Do we buy it the first day at NRT? or once we get to Tokyo station? Does it make a difference?
4) Getting from Tokyo station to Grand Hyatt. What are our metro options?

We are 5 adults and 2 toddlers so we might need 2 cabs if we go that route.

Thanks again for your help.
ikonos is offline  
Reply With Quote
Old Jun 23, 13, 1:38 am
  #5  
 
Join Date: Jun 2004
Location: Central California
Programs: Former UA Premex, now dirt
Posts: 6,340
When you arrive at NRT and have your luggage and some cash, go to the JR Service Center (glass walls with green trim) and have all of your Rail Passes validated. Each person will have to validate his/her Pass. Once the Passes have been issued, have the same agent reserve your seats for both the Narita Express to Shinagawa and the Hikari to Kyoto and issue your seat tickets right then. If the line is too long, you can also do the exchange downstairs at the JR ticket window in the basement. Once you have your seat tickets, go down to the rail station in the basement, show your passes and seating tickets at the manned gate, go to the tracks and get on the train. The attendant at the gate can direct you to the right platform. Train number, platform number, car number and seat number will all be on the tickets. There are two rail companies in the basement. Make sure you go to the JR gates, not the Keisei.

Once at Shinagawa, follow the signs to the correct platform for your train to Kyoto and repeat. When the conductor passes through show him your Rail Passes. If there is time, I like to get a drink and small bento lunch box at a kiosk on the platform to eat on the train. Drink vending machines are also on the platform.

At Kyoto, I would use a cab to the hotel. There may be a hotel shuttle but I'm not sure. Someone else may know.

I have found the Kyoto prepaid bus pass to be helpful but I haven't travelled with such a crowd. You may find cabs to be almost as cheap when you pack people in. You will most likely need 2 cabs for 7 people although the hotel may be able to arrange a minivan-cab. You should probably look through some guides and have a list of destinations. 2 days is not enough to see everything so have a list. Another option would be a day tour with Mr. Doi in his minivan. He is very highly regarded. http://www3.ocn.ne.jp/~doitaxi/

In Tokyo, you can get a prepaid Suica card or PASMO card at subway stations. Since your Rail Pass will cover any JR train travel in Tokyo, the PASMO might make the most sense for subways but the Suica (which would also cover JR train lines) will work as well.

http://www.pasmo.co.jp/en/

http://www.jreast.co.jp/e/pass/suica.html

I would just take a cab to the hotel from Tokyo Station. Others may disagree. I would NOT like to juggle luggage and 2 toddlers on the subway!

If you are certain of your desired train back to Tokyo, you can reserve seats immediately upon arriving at Kyoto. That way you can be more sure of getting all your seats together. I would probably wait until the day before and just stop by the station at my convenience. Others might say just get your seats as you are leaving but I prefer the certainty of advance reservations.

Last edited by abmj-jr; Jun 23, 13 at 1:44 am
abmj-jr is offline  
Reply With Quote
Old Jun 23, 13, 1:45 am
  #6  
 
Join Date: Jun 2004
Location: Central California
Programs: Former UA Premex, now dirt
Posts: 6,340
Dup. I have no idea why.

Last edited by abmj-jr; Jun 23, 13 at 3:18 pm
abmj-jr is offline  
Reply With Quote
Old Jun 23, 13, 3:03 pm
  #7  
 
Join Date: Jan 2013
Location: Reston, Virginia
Posts: 179
I appreciate this detailed logistical advice for traveling with the JR pass.
restonva is offline  
Reply With Quote
Old Jun 23, 13, 3:41 pm
  #8  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Dec 2009
Programs: Curr Noob, Ex Road Warrior
Posts: 476
abmj-jr and Steve M thank you very much for your valuable insight. You make planning this trip so much easier. Thank You.
ikonos is offline  
Reply With Quote
Old Jun 24, 13, 4:19 am
  #9  
 
Join Date: Aug 2002
Location: TYO
Programs: UA 1K
Posts: 6,816
Is there really a JR counter at 1F in Terminal 1 at NRT? They redid the travel center in the basement earlier this year and there are huge lines there in the afternoon since it happened. People with passes have to go there, I believe. It wasn't that busy before, even though my experience partly overlaps the post-Fukushima era when there fewer tourists.

Since you are not saving any money with a JR Pass you should consider just paying as you go.

The Hikari train is slower but also much less frequent. The Nozomi leaves literally like every 5 minutes vs. 30 min for Hikari. Then you don't have to wait in the long line at NRT to process your pass. You could just buy a Suica-NEX to Shinagawa and book the next Nozomi. Allow 10 min transfer with toddlers at Shinagawa.

Actually though, if you arrive at 10:30 am then you should be ok at NRT. Things are a lot quieter at that time.

You definitely don't want to take the Metro from Tokyo eki to Roppongi. It's probably less than 5 km so cab fare is reasonable; you would need to change trains.

Then when going back to NRT from Roppongi it will be easier for you by bus. If you pay as you go a one way Suica-NEX, which gives you a Suica with 2000 yen value (500 deposit plus 1500 for all public transit in Kanto region) for 3500 yen.
gnaget is offline  
Reply With Quote
Old Jun 24, 13, 7:58 am
  #10  
 
Join Date: Jan 2005
Programs: Dirt
Posts: 932
IIRC you can only exchange for Japan Rail Pass at the green window after the travel center has closed at 1900 or so. Same goes for the Suica + N'EX so you are not going to save time by to get the Suica + N'EX in lieu of the Rail Pass.

Since OP can use the rail pass for both ways on the N'EX and shinkansen, it's worth it. Additionally, OP indicated he values the convenience of the pass.

For 5 adults + 2 toddlers/infants, I think taxi will be preferable, especially if you can get a minivan. What I would do is to prioritize traveling on JR (and use the pass), and use taxi when there's no JR station near the destination.
msb0b is offline  
Reply With Quote
Old Jun 24, 13, 12:23 pm
  #11  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Dec 2009
Programs: Curr Noob, Ex Road Warrior
Posts: 476
I already placed an order for JR Pass at myjrpass.com. It appears the pass does come out even or slightly ahead and it has convenience at the expense of wasting 30 mins or so (may be less depending on when we get to Shinagawa) to get on the Hikari and another 17 mins additional time it takes for Hikari over Nozomi. Japan is the second part of our long 16 day trip so any added convenience will help us.

I will opt for the taxi (hopefully mini van) from Kyoto train station and Tokyo station to my hotels. I understand there are plenty of restaurants near GH Tokyo but what about near Westin Miyako? I don't think I read much about it.

Thanks you all and I will drink a round of sake on your name.
ikonos is offline  
Reply With Quote
Old Jun 24, 13, 12:47 pm
  #12  
 
Join Date: Jan 2005
Programs: Dirt
Posts: 932
Just want to add Westin Miyako Kyoto has a complimentary shuttle service from Kyoto Station Hachijo exit: http://www.miyakohotels.ne.jp/westin...ss/index.html/ scroll down to Shuttle Bus Information.
msb0b is offline  
Reply With Quote
Old Jun 24, 13, 7:54 pm
  #13  
 
Join Date: Aug 2002
Location: TYO
Programs: UA 1K
Posts: 6,816
Originally Posted by msb0b View Post
IIRC you can only exchange for Japan Rail Pass at the green window after the travel center has closed at 1900 or so. Same goes for the Suica + N'EX so you are not going to save time by to get the Suica + N'EX in lieu of the Rail Pass.

Since OP can use the rail pass for both ways on the N'EX and shinkansen, it's worth it. Additionally, OP indicated he values the convenience of the pass.

For 5 adults + 2 toddlers/infants, I think taxi will be preferable, especially if you can get a minivan. What I would do is to prioritize traveling on JR (and use the pass), and use taxi when there's no JR station near the destination.
No, you can buy the Suica/NEX at the regular manual ticket sales to the right of the gate. The only place that you cannot is at the machines. Before the renovation they had a special line marked Suica/NEX at the "travel center" and it never seemed to be busy there. Now it's one large line and tourists will gladly spend 30+ minutes doing their planning in front of a clerk.

Once when arriving downstairs with no chance to catch train and 30 min to spare I got into the line with 4 people and 3 clerks working. I was in no rush so figured that I would it there and the line was short....... I was close to not getting the next train. Lately, I have seen 30-40 people in line spilling into the hallway. The Japanese would never say "hurry up there is a huge line and you have been here for 15 minutes now asking inane questions. Please take the next NEX and figure out your trip later".
gnaget is offline  
Reply With Quote
Old Jun 25, 13, 5:58 am
  #14  
 
Join Date: Jun 2004
Location: Central California
Programs: Former UA Premex, now dirt
Posts: 6,340
Originally Posted by msb0b View Post
IIRC you can only exchange for Japan Rail Pass at the green window after the travel center has closed at 1900 or so...
Yup! I blew it on this one. OP is best served by just zipping down the escalator and exchanging at the Service Center.

It has been awhile since I last used NRT. The last few trips were through KIX.
abmj-jr is offline  
Reply With Quote
Old Jun 25, 13, 7:39 am
  #15  
 
Join Date: Jan 2005
Programs: Dirt
Posts: 932
Originally Posted by gnaget View Post
No, you can buy the Suica/NEX at the regular manual ticket sales to the right of the gate.
I stand corrected.

Originally Posted by gnaget View Post
Lately, I have seen 30-40 people in line spilling into the hallway.
The last time I wanted to buy Suica+N'EX I saw a long line at the travel center and changed my mind. I took Keisei limited express instead.

Originally Posted by gnaget View Post
The Japanese would never say "hurry up there is a huge line and you have been here for 15 minutes now asking inane questions. Please take the next NEX and figure out your trip later".
Shikata ga nai.
msb0b is offline  
Reply With Quote

Thread Tools
Search this Thread