JR News: New rail pass 「JR EAST Welcome Rail Pass 2020」 launching soon
East Japan Railway Company (JR East) has unveiled a new 3-day discounted rail pass for foreign passport holders—which includes both foreign visitors and foreigners residing in Japan. Called the 「JR EAST Welcome Rail Pass 2020」, the rail pass will let users have unlimited rides on valid lines within the Kanto, Tohoku and Shin’etsu areas, including bullet trains (shinkansen), for three consecutive days.
Priced at ¥12,000, the JR EAST Welcome Rail Pass 2020 is cheaper than a round-trip ticket between Tokyo to Nagano (~¥16,680), or cheaper than a one-way ticket from Tokyo to Aomori (~¥17,670). Rail pass holders will also be able to ride JR East’s themed trains—known as Joyful Trains—for free.
Coverage area of the JR EAST Welcome Rail Pass 2020. (Image credit: JR East)
Perfect for weekend trips, the JR EAST Welcome Rail Pass 2020 is recommended for those who want to enjoy their travels while avoiding the Three C's: closed spaces, crowded places, and close-contact settings, and those who want to have peace of mind on the safe and clean shinkansen as they discover new destinations in Tohoku and Shin’etsu.
Other than JR East’s railway lines, pass holders will also be able to ride all of the following non-JR lines:
- Aoimori Railway Line
- Iwate Galaxy Railway Line (IGR)
- Sanriku Railway Line
- Echigo TOKImeki Railway Line (only from Myoko-Kogen to Naoetsu)
- Shinano Railway Line
The Sanriku Railway Line offers a lot of beautiful coastal views. (Image credit: JR East)
One of the notable non-JR line inclusions is the entire Sanriku Railway Line, which was badly affected by the 2011 Great Eastern Japan Earthquake and Tsunami. As we approach the 10-year anniversary of the disaster, why not visit the region to see first-hand its resilience and recovery, as well as to support the local community?
Clockwise from top left: Naruko Gorge in autumn, view from Hakuba Mountain Harbor in autumn, Oirase Keiryu in winter, and the No.1 Tadami River Bridge in winter. (Image credit: JR East / Carissa Loh)
The JR EAST Welcome Rail Pass 2020 comes just in time for the autumn foliage and winter seasons, which are stunning in Eastern Japan. Check out some of our recommended spots for autumn and winter below:
- No. 1 Tadami River Bridge in Fukushima (both autumn and winter for scenery)
- Oirase Keiryu in Aomori (autumn for hiking and winter for scenery)
- Kakunodate Samurai Residences in Akita (both autumn and winter for scenery)
- Naruko Gorge in Miyagi (autumn for scenery)
- Hakuba in Nagano (autumn for scenery and winter for snow sports)
- Hot springs (like Ginzan Onsen in Yamagata and Nyuto Onsen in Akita)
Some of JR East’s Joyful Trains. (Image credit: JR East / Carissa Loh)
The new rail pass also provides a good opportunity to try out various Joyful Trains for free, such as:
- POKÉMON with YOU Train: Pikachu train
- GENBI SHINKANSEN: art gallery bullet train (catch it before it retires in December 2020!)
- Resort Shirakami: scenic coastal train
- Toreiyu Tsubasa: footbath bullet train
- SL Banetsu Monogatari: steam locomotive train
- Koshino Shu*Kura: sake-themed train
- HIGH RAIL 1375: train with domed planetarium
- Oykot: scenic countryside train
- and many more
The JR EAST Welcome Rail Pass 2020 will go on sale from 16 October 2020, and can be bought at the JR EAST Travel Service Center and View Plaza offices listed here, as well as from Japan Rail Café Tokyo, or online here.
The rail pass will let users travel through the automated gates, as well as make seat reservations through vending machines at the train stations.
JR EAST Welcome Rail Pass 2020
Price: ¥12,000/adult (12 and above), ¥6,000/child (6–11)
Sale period: 16 October 2020–26 February 2021
Usage period: Any 3 consecutive days within 16 October 2020–28 February 2021
Eligibility: Customers holding a passport issued by a country other than Japan.
Header image credit: JR East