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

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