Shinkansen Japan Rail Pass: The Ultimate Guide

The Japan Rail Pass is an economical and convenient way for foreign tourists to travel around Japan by train, especially on the famous shinkansen bullet trains. The pass allows unlimited rides on most JR trains, including shinkansen (with a few exceptions), for 7, 14 or 21 days. While the pass recently increased in price, it can still provide good value for extensive train travel in Japan.



 

 

Here is a brief description of the key shinkansen lines most useful for tourists:

  • Tokaido (Tokyo-Kyoto-Osaka): Japan's busiest high-speed line connecting the country's three largest cities
  • Sanyo (Shin-Osaka to Fukuoka): Extends the journey from Osaka to Hiroshima, Fukuoka and Hakata
  • Tohoku (Tokyo to Aomori + branch lines to Akita & Yamagata): Runs north from Tokyo up to Aomori, with mini-shinkansen branch lines
  • Hokkaido (Aomori to Hakodate): Connects the main Honshu island with Hokkaido via an undersea tunnel
  • Kyushu (Fukuoka to Kagoshima): Traverses the southern island of Kyushu
  • Hokuriku (Tokyo to Kanazawa): Provides access to the Japan Sea coast, Nagano and Kanazawa

Each line has multiple train categories from fastest to slowest, with sample travel times provided.

Map of the Japan Rail Pass network

Map of the Japan Rail Pass network

@Japan Experience

Reservation Machine

Ticket and reservation machine at Yotsuya Station

@Japan Visitor

Latest Articles

shinkansen 700s nozomi eco friendly green

Japan Rail Pass or Train Tickets: what to choose when traveling in Japan?

When traveling in Japan, if your itinerary takes you beyond Tokyo, for example into the Kansai (Kyoto & Osaka) region, a primordial question awaits: how to get around Japan and naviga

Shirakawago, Takayama

How to get from Kanazawa to Takayama

Go from Kanazawa to Takayama with the Hokuriku Shinkansen and the Hida Express Train!

Matsumoto Castle in Nagano

How to get from Tokyo to Matsumoto

Use the Azusa Limited Express Train to get from the metropolitan capital of Japan, Tokyo, to the historically rich but modest town of Matsumoto in Nagano Prefecture!

See All (427)