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JR News: Renewal of JR East Rail Passes, easier to use!

JR News: Renewal of JR East Rail Passes, easier to use!

Updated as of 24 October 2023
Originally published on 12 January 2021

 

Many of us will agree that travelling by rail is one of the most convenient and affordable ways to get around Japan. There are many rail passes that make this possible, and in the Eastern Japan area under JR East, foreign visitors can choose from six different rail passes to get around various parts of the region:

 

Current features of passes handled by JR EAST

Taking effect from April 2021, current rail passes allow users to go through automatic ticket gates with machine readable tickets without the need to show it to a staff member, as well as offering a stress-free service that allows the purchase of rail passes and reservation of seats without having to wait in line at the ticket counter.

 

Use of automatic ticket gates 

Rail passes were upgraded from paper cards to machine-readable tickets, enabling customers to use automatic ticket gates instead of manned gates as previously required. 

 

The use of automatic ticket gates is now available for all 6 regional rail passes offered by JR EAST:

 

Purchase rail passes directly from selected vending machines

Passport readers will be installed at selected Reserved Seat Ticket Vending Machines. (Image credit: JR East)

 

Selected Reserved Seat Ticket Vending Machines were installed with a passport reader, and customers will be able to directly purchase the rail passes from these machines. Reserved Seat Ticket Vending Machines with the applicable logos as shown above indicate that rail passes can be purchased from the machine.

 

Stations with Reserved Seat Ticket Vending Machines accompanied by a passport reader are available at the following link.

 

Queue at Narita Airport during peak hours. (Image credit: JR East / Date)

 

Prior to the installation of passport readers, customers had to queue at selected JR EAST Travel Service Centers in order to purchase the rail passes and make seat reservations, with queues at popular locations like Narita Airport often exceeding an hour during peak periods. Customers now have the option to purchase passes from either the selected Reserved Seat Ticket Vending Machines or JR EAST Travel Service Centers.

 

Make seat reservations from vending machines

Reserved Seat Ticket Vending Machines. (Image credit: JR East / Date)

 

With the upgrade of tickets to machine-readable ones, inserting the rail pass ticket into the Reserved Seat Ticket Vending Machines. This enables customers to reserve seats for Shinkansen and Limited Express in the area covered by a valid pass.

 

Check here for detailed English instructions on how to make seat reservations with the Reserved Seat Ticket Vending Machines.

 

Eligibility

(Image credit: illustAC)

 

JR EAST PASS (Tohoku area) and JR EAST PASS (Nagano, Niigata area) are both usable for foreign passport holders living in Japan! This means that when you visit Japan, you can travel with family and friends that are already living in Japan (who hold foreign passports), and they can enjoy the same discounted rail passes as you.

 

Pricing changes from October 2023

From October 2023, adjustments to pricing of the rail passes have been made. Please check each pass for the latest pricing.

 

JR EAST PASS (Tohoku area)

RailPass_JEPTTrainsv2.png (726 KB)

The E5 series train (left) and the E6 series train (left)—two trains you can ride with the JR EAST PASS (Tohoku area). (Image credit: JR East / Shinoda)

 

The JR EAST PASS (Tohoku area) allows for unlimited rail travel on valid lines from Tokyo to the surrounding Kanto region, and to the northeastern region of Tohoku. It is recommended for travellers who wish to explore places in the Tohoku region like Matsushima and Naruko Gorge in Miyagi Prefecture, Snow Monsters in Yamagata Prefecture, Kakunodate and Nyuto Onsen in Akita Prefecture, Oirase Keiryu in Aomori Prefecture, and more.

 

Valid area and lines covered by the JR EAST PASS (Tohoku area). (Image credit: JR East)

 

Changes from 1 October 2023
Validity: Consecutive 5-day pass
Pricing: ¥30,000 / adult and ¥15,000 / child (6–11 years old), same price when purchased overseas and in Japan
Eligibility: Anyone who possesses a passport issued by a country other than Japan, including foreigners residing in Japan

 

JR EAST PASS (Nagano, Niigata area)

RailPass_JEPNTrainsv3.png (1.69 MB)

Clockwise from top left: E7 series train, Koshino ShuKura, KAIRI, HIGH RAIL 1375—some of trains you can ride with the JR EAST PASS (Nagano, Niigata area). (Image credit: JR East / Shinoda and JR East)

 

The JR EAST PASS (Nagano, Niigata area) allows for unlimited rail travel on valid lines from Tokyo to the surrounding Kanto region, and to Niigata and Nagano. It is recommended for travellers who wish to explore places in the Shin’etsu region like Hakuba, Matsushiro, or Iiyama in Nagano Prefecture, Niigata City or Sado Island in Niigata Prefecture, and more.

 

Valid area and lines covered by the JR EAST PASS (Nagano, Niigata area). (Image credit: JR East)

 

Changes from 1 October 2023
Validity: Consecutive 5-day pass
Pricing: ¥27,000 / adult and ¥13,500 / child (6–11 years old), same price when purchased overseas and in Japan
Eligibility: Anyone who possesses a passport issued by a country other than Japan, including foreigners residing in Japan

 

JR TOKYO Wide Pass

Clockwise from top left: Arakurayama Sengen Park, Kawaguchiko, GALA Yuzawa, Hitachi Seaside Park—some of the places you can visit with the JR TOKYO Wide Pass. (Image credit: JR East / Carissa Loh)

 

The JR TOKYO Wide Pass allows for unlimited rail travel on valid lines within the Kanto region and a slightly wider area, including Kawaguchiko, the Izu Peninsula, Karuizawa, Nikko, and GALA Yuzawa (winter only). It is recommended for travellers staying in Tokyo and wishing to make day trips out of the city.

 

Valid area and lines covered by the JR TOKYO Wide Pass. (Image credit: JR East)

 

Changes from 1 October 2023
Validity: Consecutive 3-day pass
Pricing: ¥15,000 / adult and ¥7,500 / child (6–11 years old)

*Only physically at specific locations as specified at this site (please select Tokyo Wide Pass) or online at JR EAST Train Reservation

Eligibility: No change. (Anyone who possesses a passport issued by a country other than Japan, including foreigners residing in Japan)

 

For the following passes, please note of the additional requirement of being a "Temporary Visitor to Japan" applies.

 

JR East-South Hokkaido Rail Pass

The H5 series train on the Hokkaido Shinkansen. (Image credit: JR East / Shinoda)

 

The JR East-South Hokkaido Rail Pass allows for unlimited rail travel on valid lines from Tokyo all the way to Sapporo, covering the Kanto, Tohoku, and south Hokkaido regions. It is recommended for travellers who wish to visit both Tokyo and Hokkaido.

 

Valid area and lines covered by the JR East-South Hokkaido Rail Pass. (Image credit: JR East)

 

Changes from 1 October 2023
Validity: Consecutive 6-day pass
Pricing: ¥35,000 / adult and ¥17,500 / child (6–11 years old)
Eligibility: Anyone who possesses a passport issued by a country other than Japan and enters Japan with the status of Temporary Visitor

 

JR Tohoku-South Hokkaido Rail Pass

A Hokkaido Shinkansen train coming out of the Seikan Tunnel, which connects mainland Japan with Hokkaido. (Image credit: JR East / Shinoda)

 

The JR Tohoku-South Hokkaido Rail Pass allows for unlimited rail travel on valid lines from Fukushima in southern Tohoku all the way to Sapporo in Hokkaido, covering the Tohoku and south Hokkaido regions. It is recommended for travellers who wish to explore both the Tohoku area and southern Hokkaido, but will not be visiting Tokyo or the Kanto area.

 

Valid area and lines covered by the JR Tohoku-South Hokkaido Rail Pass. (Image credit: JR East)

 

Changes from 1 October 2023
Validity: Consecutive 6-day pass
Pricing: ¥30,000 / adult and ¥15,000 / child (6–11 years old)
Eligibility: Anyone who possesses a passport issued by a country other than Japan and enters Japan with the status of Temporary Visitor

 

Hokuriku Arch Pass

RailPass_E7Kagayaki.JPG (240 KB)

The E7 series train runs on the Hokuriku Shinkansen. (Image credit: JR East / Shinoda)

 

The Hokuriku Arch Pass allows for unlimited travel between Tokyo and Osaka via the Hokuriku Shinkansen and Thunderbird Express, and includes major cities like Omiya, Nagano, Toyama, Kanazawa, Fukui, Kyoto, Kobe and more. It is recommended for travellers who wish to explore the Hokuriku region.

 

Valid area and lines covered by the Hokuriku Arch Pass. (Image credit: JR East)

 

The Hokuriku Arch is the only pass that has not experienced a change in pricing as of 1 October 2023. However, pricing changes are planned to coincide with the Spring 2024 extension of the Hokuriku Shinkansen to Tsuruga Station.

 

Currently:
Validity: Consecutive 7-day pass
Pricing:
     Price when purchased overseas: ¥24,500 / adult and ¥12,250 / child (6–11 years old)
     Price when purchased in Japan: ¥25,500 / adult and ¥12,750 / child (6–11 years old)
Eligibility: Anyone who possesses a passport issued by a country other than Japan and enters Japan with the status of Temporary Visitor.

 

Header image credit: JR East

 

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