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How to Save Money with a JRail (Japan Rail) Pass

The fastest and most efficient way to travel in Japan is using the train. The Japanese trains are known worldwide for their punctuality. JR (Japan Railways) is a complex network of railroads that sum about 20,000 kilometers. It covers all the corners of the four major islands in Japan. They have over 26,000 stops a day. The Japan Railways trains are not famous only for their punctuality, but also for their safety, comfort and speed. The Shinkansen train usually gets to 300 kmh.

What Is A JRail Pass?

Japan Rail PassThe JRail passes are contracts that only the foreign tourists are being allowed to use. The Japanese transportation system is very effective anyway, compared to other major forces of the world. Therefore, they can afford to launch such a system only for tourists. The system is addressed to the tourists with a temporary visa of maximum 90 days. The foreigners who visit Japan with other reasons than tourism are not qualified for obtaining JRail passes.

There is however a restricted number of Japanese people who can obtain JRail passes. They must however have a permanent visa in another country.

Pay attention to the procedures you have to go through in order to get a JRail pass. It cannot be obtained in Japan. You must purchase an exchange order from one of the external authorized agents before you actually get to Japan. This exchange order will be changed in one of the Japanese stations with a JRail pass. It may sound a little too complicated, but at least you won’t have to waste your time in a foreign country trying to get it. The JRail passes have 90 days of validity since the moment you got them. When you change the exchange order, you must also present the passport with the temporary tourist stamp.

You have two types of contracts – JR Pass Green and JR Pass Ordinary. The JR Pass Green is similar to the first class seats. You have better conditions, less people and extra comfort and features. Obviously, it costs more than the second type, which is the second class.

If you come to Japan with a little prior research, you might want to travel with the Nozomi fast trains. Well, the JRail passes don’t cover these trains. You can just stick to the high speed train Shinkansen. Just like most other trains, the first class seats are occupied through reservations only. The second class seats are free though and can be obtained by presenting the JRail pass. Making a reservation is free.

The prices differ on the period, class and whether the applicant is a child or a mature individual.

Overall, the JRail passes are an excellent proof that the Japanese system and culture actually care for their tourists. If the government forbids its own citizens from these trains and sometimes has them almost empty, then the importance and respect tourists get here is unmeasurable. It is a good lesson of tourism Japan gives out for the rest of the world.

What Did I Decide To Do?

I decided not to buy a JRail Pass and buy a Japan Bus Pass by Willer Express instead. This Japanese bus pass for tourists has the potential to revolutionize budget travel in Japan. The pass can be used by both foreign tourists and residents of Japan, however, it has to be purchased outside of Japan. The pass can be used on overnight and daytime long distance buses on the nationwide network of Willer Express on 3, 4 or 5 days of your choice within two months from purchase.

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Vago Damitio

Damitio  (@vagodamitio) is the Editor-in-Chief for Vagobond. Life is good. You can also find him on Google+ and at Facebook

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