JR PASS RESTRICTIONS

JR Pass Restrictions - When does it make sense to buy a JR Pass? What times of the year should you not buy a JR Pass?

When not to buy a JR Pass

Around the New Years time most intercity trains are very full as this is the traditional time for the Japanese to return to their family's home town. You cannot book a train ticket from outside Japan with a JR Pass. Thus you cannot book a train ticket until you arrive in Japan. If you are only arriving a few days before the New Year and you wish to travel between cities on or near the New Years, then I strongly recommend not purchasing a JR Pass for this section of your trip.

You must purchase JR Pass outside Japan

JR Pass can only be purchased outside of Japan. You can purchase your JR Pass online here. Upon purchase, you are given a receipt, which can be exchanged at Japan Rail Offices at most stations in Japan (including all of the  JR Stations nearest to airports), for the JR Pass itself.

JR PASS Shinkansen Bullet train

JR Pass only works on JR Network

Cities like Tokyo, Kyoto and Osaka have many different train companies, sometimes more than five. JR is only one of them and you can only use the JR Pass on JR lines. If you are staying in a part of a city that is not serviced well by JR or you want to go to an attraction that is not serviced by JR then you will have to buy tickets for those trips.

JR Pass only works on the slower Shinkansen

On the main Shinkansen lines there are three different speeds of service. You cannot use the JR Pass on the fastest Nozomi service.

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