Questioning whether or not the Japan Rail Go is definitely worth the cash? This shopping for information covers the place you should utilize the JR Go, how a lot worth you’ll get on a standard journey to Tokyo and Kyoto, and solutions to steadily requested questions concerning the limitless prepare ticket. It additionally covers our many experiences buying the JR Go and likewise not shopping for it. (Up to date Might 1, 2023.)
For starters, that final level–that we generally don’t purchase the Japan Rail Go–might be essentially the most pertinent. We’ll be up entrance with you: similar to each evaluate of the JR Go, this information accommodates affiliate hyperlinks for shopping for (discounted) Japan Rail Passes. Not like a lot of them, this isn’t a thinly-veiled commercial for the go consequently.
Positive, we’d such as you to purchase the JR Go utilizing the hyperlinks right here and we predict it is smart for many guests to Japan. However there’s nobody dimension matches all recommendation, and we’re not going to faux there may be to make a number of cents in fee. To that finish, we’re additionally going to share our experiences with not shopping for the Japan Rail Go, explaining how a number of the extra environment friendly journey itineraries is commonly completed with out it.
Earlier than we get to the nitty gritty of the evaluate, we should always in all probability begin with fundamentals. The Japan Rail Go for foreigner guests is a cost-effective “all inclusive” go on the JR rail traces accessible for buy exterior of Japan at a reduction.
The JR Go permits guests limitless journey for 7, 14, or 21 days by way of the JR traces. There are additionally two variations of the JR Go: the costlier Inexperienced go, and cheaper Abnormal one (we at all times purchase the latter—extra on that beneath).
Right here’s present pricing for the Japan Rail Go, which is legitimate via September 2023:
7-Day Japan Rail Go
- Grownup: 29,650 yen
- Youngster: 14,820 yen
- Grownup: 39,600 yen (Inexperienced)
- Youngster: 19,800 yen (Inexperienced)
14-Day Japan Rail Go
- Grownup: 47,250 yen
- Youngster: 23,620 yen
- Grownup: 64,120 yen (Inexperienced)
- Youngster: 32,600 yen (Inexperienced)
21-Day Japan Rail Go
- Grownup: 60,450 yen
- Youngster: 30,220 yen
- Grownup: 83,390 yen (Inexperienced)
- Youngster: 41,690 yen (Inexperienced)
As famous above, that is via September 2023. JR has introduced some really huge value will increase that can begin someday in October 2023. The common 7-day go will skyrockets from JPY 29,650 to JPY 50,000, the 14-day go will increase from JPY 47,250 to JPY 80,000, and the 21-day go goes up essentially the most “modest” quantity, from JPY 60,450 to JPY 100,000. That final one is “solely” a 65% enhance, whereas the weeklong and two-week passes shoot up 70%.
Regardless of this huge value enhance, the quickest Nozomi trains on the Tokaido/Sanyo Shinkansen and the Mizuho trains on the Sanyo/Kyushu Shinkansen nonetheless is not going to be included within the base Japan Rail Go. There was some confusion about this, nevertheless it seems to be the case that these are not included within the new and better base costs. What is altering is that JR might be providing a further particular ticket that may be bought to improve to the Nozomi and Mizuho providers.
Costs and different particulars haven’t but been introduced–it’s attainable these do find yourself being included within the base value, particularly if gross sales drop off a cliff because of the larger costs. We’ll replace accordingly when extra particulars are launched–and we’ll additionally share extra data on regional rail passes, as these will most assuredly change into extra in style as extra vacationers are priced out of the JR Go.
Within the meantime, there are a number of methods to buy the Japan Rail Go, with the commonest being third occasion web sites licensed to promote it. We advocate shopping for the discounted Japan Rail Go from Klook, which additionally gives all kinds of different discounted tickets (together with to Common Studios Japan).
Each licensed third occasion sells the JR Go on the similar value, and so they’re all reliable and have nice buyer critiques (not less than, the licensed sellers). So there’s actually not a lot of a purpose to decide on one web site over one other. Possibly you favor the emblem or shade scheme of 1 over one other, who is aware of. We usually use and advocate Klook as a result of they’re extra of a one-stop store for a mess of Japan tickets and experiences.
In the event you purchase the JR Go via one in every of these intermediaries, you’ll obtain an Alternate Order fairly than the precise JR Go. The Alternate Order is basically a voucher–it’s a bodily doc that can’t be emailed or faxed, solely despatched via the bodily mail. It additionally can’t be changed if misplaced.
Along with the third occasion licensed sellers, JR now sells passes by way of the official web site. Oddly sufficient, their costs are literally larger than by way of the third events by 10-15%, so it doesn’t actually behoove you to purchase by way of the official web site until you’re buying on the final minute, as no change voucher is required to select up your Japan Rail Go at one of many ticket places of work when shopping for immediately from JR. Everybody else ought to persist with the licensed third occasion sellers.
The Japan Rail Go can also be at the moment accessible for buy on a check foundation inside Japan in any respect main stations. This consists of Narita and Haneda Airports in Tokyo and Kansai Airport in Osaka, in addition to just about each huge station related to the Shinkansen (Shinjuku, Tokyo, Sapporo, Nagoya, Kyoto, Hiroshima, Yokohama, and lots of extra).
Technically, that is nonetheless being marketed as “for a restricted time solely.” At the moment, the JR Go is in the stores inside Japan till March 31, 2024. Japan Railways has not introduced whether or not the inner gross sales trial might be prolonged past this date, however we’d put the possibilities of extension above 95%.
Inside gross sales started ~4 years in the past prematurely of the Tokyo Olympics and elevated tourism, and there’s no purpose to consider that’ll change. There have already been main enhancements since we began utilizing the Japan Rail Go (extra on these beneath) and we solely count on that to proceed. As Japan continues to modernize and streamline its strategy to the JR Go, our expectation is that your entire course of is digitized within the coming years.
Whereas there are different transportation firms that function in Japan, the JR Group is by far the commonest. They’re the predominant rail group inside Tokyo and Osaka, and likewise the principle community connecting numerous cities to 1 one other. Earlier than our first go to to Japan, we learn a ton concerning the Japan Rail Go, consulting a variety of sources that overcomplicated the choice.
For many first-timers to Japan, whether or not the JR Go is for you is sort of a easy query to reply. It normally boils down as to if you’re touring to any main metropolis from Tokyo by way of the Shinkansen (bullet prepare). All Shinkansen in Japan are operated by the JR Group, that means your entire community in Japan is roofed with the go.
The primary illustrative instance goes from Tokyo to Kyoto and again, as that roundtrip is fairly near the present value of the 7-day JR Go. Between that roundtrip on the Shinkansen journey and attending to and from the airport, you’ll come out forward by buying the Japan Rail Go. All the pieces else is gravy.
In the event you’re solely visiting Tokyo, don’t purchase the Japan Rail Go. In the event you’re solely visiting Kyoto, positively don’t purchase the JR Go. (There are some JR traces in Kyoto, however most are different firms.) Similar goes for actually any single metropolis journey to Japan. Even any journey to a single area in Japan doesn’t necessitate buy of the JR Go. For these sticking to the Kansai (Osaka, Kyoto, Nara, and so forth.) or Kanto (Tokyo, Yokohama, and so forth.) areas, the Japan Rail Go is sort of actually not for you.
Mainly, when you received’t be utilizing the Shinkansen not less than as soon as, the query ends there. Do NOT purchase the JR Go. Fairly easy and simple, proper? It’s virtually not possible to justify the Japan Rail Go from a price perspective in case you are not venturing past Tokyo. Except you propose upon spending your entire day using the JR traces round (not a nasty option to spend a day!), there’s little probability that the Japan Rail Go can pay for itself over the course of a Tokyo-only journey.
So, what when you’re solely utilizing the Shinkansen as soon as? That’s the place this query turns into a more in-depth name. It’s additionally the state of affairs during which we mostly discover ourselves, as we’ve change into keen on flying into Osaka, taking the Shinkansen from Kyoto to Tokyo, and flying out of Haneda or Narita.
On this state of affairs, we use Kyoto as a house base and take quite a lot of day journeys all through the Kansai area to Kobe, Himeji, Nara, and elsewhere. For us, these day journeys–and the pliability and comfort supplied by the JR Go–are the tipping level. We’ve carried out spontaneous day journeys to Kanazawa, Hikone, Uji, and a variety of different cities and spots.
We’ve used the JR Go to go to nighttime illuminations throughout fall colours and sakura seasons, in addition to different particular occasions in far-flung locales, utilizing the lengthy prepare rides to get work carried out on multi-month journeys. We by no means would’ve visited these locations or had these experiences if paying out of pocket for added Shinkansen tickets.
The factor is, we’re undoubtedly distinctive in that regard. Most guests to Japan–particularly ones asking “is the Japan Rail Go definitely worth the cash?”–are usually not taking spontaneous day journeys. Extra doubtless, it’s your first go to to Japan and you might be, understandably, going to stay to the script and see the highlights round Tokyo and Kyoto.
Nonetheless, you is perhaps contemplating flying into one of many cities and out of the opposite. That is very true for these taking a visit to Japan lasting 10 or fewer days, because the open-jaw route is extra environment friendly and provides you extra time to spend in each Kyoto and Tokyo. To that time, when you solely have 7-10 days in Japan, you could not have additional time for day journeys…and thus not want the JR Go.
In the event you do have greater than 10 days, or are simply planning a whirlwind journey to Japan that’ll take you to as many alternative locations as attainable, the JR Go will be price it. From Kyoto or Osaka, it’s fairly straightforward to do a ton of various day journeys throughout the Kansai area, which might be expensive Shinkansen rides with out the Japan Rail Go. In the event you’re desirous about including days within the aforementioned cities–and even Hiroshima, Nagoya, or Yokohama–it turns into a really shut name even with solely doing a one-way Shinkansen journey.
In our view, day journeys in that state of affairs are what tip the scales in favor of shopping for the JR Go. In the event you plan on doing even 2 of these, it is smart to buy the go. Even when you can’t fairly see that within the math forward of time, it normally will work out. You’ll find yourself taking the prepare greater than you in any other case anticipate for shorter commutes, and it’ll work out in the long run. That coupled with comfort and pre-planning makes the go make sense. A minimum of, between now and September 2023. (After that, all bets are off!)
The case might be made in favor of the Japan Rail Go on a Tokyo-only journey from the attitude of comfort, however it could not be a really compelling argument. It’s positively simpler to make use of the go as you stroll via the stations fairly than calculating the price of every route, shopping for a person ticket, invariably buying the flawed one, and having to go to the adjustment counter.
Nonetheless, the answer to that drawback isn’t shopping for the Japan Rail Go. It’s shopping for an IC card (like Suica, PASMO, or Icoca), filling it with yen, and simply tapping that on the computerized gates as you go. It avoids the entire inconveniences you’ll encounter with particular person tickets, and likewise means you’re not overpaying (such as you would when you purchase the Japan Rail Go and solely go to Tokyo).
The extra upside of the PASMO card is that it’s practically common, that means you should utilize it on traces that aren’t operated by the JR Group. We usually use the PASMO card in tandem with the Japan Rail Go. (Simply be aware of not utilizing the PASMO card accidentally in locations that settle for the JR Go!)
That is very true when touring inside Kyoto, as most of the rail (and the entire bus) traces in Kyoto are usually not operated by the JR Group. For sensible functions, that is essentially the most notable occasion of non-JR traces you’ll in all probability encounter in Japan, though we encounter non-JR traces on occasion in different places, as nicely.
That is more true than ever now that IC playing cards will be loaded into digital wallets and used in your iPhone or different sensible gadget. You may reload this along with your bank card, and achieve this earlier than even leaving dwelling when the conversion charges are most favorable. IC playing cards can be utilized at prepare stations, eating places, retailers, and even sure merchandising machines.
Talking of latest developments, the JR Go is now automated! It now appears similar to a daily prepare ticket, and can be utilized at computerized ticket gates to enter and exit railway stations. It is a big and overdue improve.
Beforehand, you needed to go via the staffed gate and current the Japan Rail Go to an worker who waved you thru. That had change into extra tedious lately as tourism to Japan exploded, as there have been usually backups at these manned gates with confused foreigners asking questions, fare changes, and extra. The automated tickets lower down on a variety of ready, and–not less than for us–the occasional missed prepare consequently.
Our honest hope is that the following step is a completely digital Japan Rail Go. Logically, it looks as if you may buy the Japan Rail Go on-line, activate and set the beginning date your self, and use it by way of Apple Pockets (and so forth.) similar to an IC card. Given how lengthy it took Japan simply to advance previous the handwritten paper go, that’s in all probability nonetheless years away, however I can dream. (Right here’s hoping it’s one of many as-yet unannounced “enhancements” teased with the large value will increase for October 2023!)
For now, the Japan Rail Go voucher will be bought on-line or via journey brokers exterior of Japan and nonetheless should be exchanged in individual. As famous above, what you obtain when buying is simply a voucher, which then should be exchanged at places of work in main JR stations. Once more, these places of work embrace these at Narita Airport and Kansai Airport.
If it’s your first time in Japan, we extremely advocate making the change on the airport, as that is the best location. Even when you don’t plan on utilizing the Japan Rail Go instantly (you must time its begin date strategically to embody all your Shinkansen rides), that’s high quality. You may specify a begin date sooner or later.
The upside of redeeming on the airport is that the JR workplace is way simpler to seek out, and extra handy. On our first go to to Japan, we did not comply with this recommendation. We waited till going to Tokyo Station (an awesome labyrinth the primary time you expertise it) to redeem our passes, and we nearly had a meltdown looking for the workplace.
On the workplace, a consultant takes your voucher, critiques your passport (for the suitable “short-term customer” standing stamp), and gives you with the go, which is then to be introduced to the window at JR gates (the place they wave you thru) along with your passport.
The distinctions between the Inexperienced and Abnormal variations of the Japan Rail Go principally relate to the Shinkansen. With the Inexperienced model, you’re in a position to board the Inexperienced automotive on the Shinkansen (and a few restricted categorical trains). Consider this as First or Enterprise Class on an airline—bigger seats and barely extra spacious.
We now have by no means bought the Inexperienced Go, and by no means will. We buy the JR Go to economize, in order that defeats its function for us. The “peculiar” vehicles on the Shinkansen are greater than ample–they provide way more legroom and area than flying coach on an airline. Your mileage might differ on this, however we see this as a slight improve within the expertise for an enormous premium in pricing.
Finally, most of you who’re researching this query are going to need to purchase the Japan Rail Go. Making the trek to Kyoto is nicely price your money and time, and using a state-of-the-art bullet prepare is an expertise in itself. Even when you don’t do the spherical journey voyage (during which case it’s a no brainer), the Japan Rail Go is normally a great choice that’ll allow you to take day journeys past the 2 main cities.
You’ll additionally use it loads as you commute round Tokyo and (to a lesser extent) Kyoto. In the event you head to different cities, you’ll get much more worth out of the go. We’ve used the JR Go to journey from Tokyo to Hiroshima, with stops at Nagoya, Kobe, Himeji, and Hikone alongside the best way, earlier than ending up in Kyoto all throughout the span of 7-days–and possibly bought quadruple the worth of the go within the course of. The Japan Rail Go isn’t at all times a must-buy for us, and there are positively one-way eventualities the place it’s pointless, however we’ve discovered that it normally works out in our favor. That’ll virtually actually change in October 2023.
In the event you’re planning a visit to the Japan, take a look at our different posts about Japan for concepts on different issues to do! We additionally advocate consulting our Final Information to Kyoto and Final Information to Tokyo to plan.
Have any questions on utilizing the Japan Rail Go that we didn’t cowl? Have you ever used the Japan Rail Go previously? Any ideas or extra suggestions based mostly upon your expertise? Please share your ideas or questions within the feedback beneath!
Leave a Reply