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Your Guide To Choosing The Right Japan Rail Pass

The Japan Rail Pass might as well be called your golden ticket to exploring the Land of the Rising Sun. Widely known as the JR Pass, it entitles you to unlimited rides on the Japan Railways Group (JR Group), so you can make the most of your visit in the country at an affordable rate.

For your trip, you may avail of a pass that will enable you to hop on JR Group trains throughout Japan (All Japan Rail Pass) or just pick a certain area that you wish to see. But with over a dozen areas covered, the JR Pass can pose a dilemma to some travelers. So, which JR Pass should you choose?

If you haven’t decided on which JR Pass to get, read up as we give you a lowdown on the major regions you can check out with Japan’s ultimate train ticket:

 

Hokkaido and Tohoku

Furano Tomita Farm

Situated in the northernmost parts of Japan, Hokkaido and Tohoku offer some of the most idyllic sights to see and the most exciting activities to try in the country—that is if you’re into skiing and relaxing in hot springs.

Soak up in the baths of Hokkaido’s onsen area Noboribetsu or take in the stunning views of the sweeping Lavender Fields of Furano. In Tohoku, get an adrenaline rush at the region’s famed ski and snowboarding spots like Yamagata Zao Onsen Ski Resort and Appi Kogen Ski Resort.

Available JR Passes:
JR Hokkaido Rail Pass
Deliver to Taiwan, South Korea, Hong Kong, and Singapore

JR East Pass (Tohoku Area)
Japan pickup 

JR East Pass (Nagano-Niigata Area)
Japan pickup

JR Tohoku-South Hokkaido Rail Pass
Deliver to Malaysia, Philippines, and Vietnam 

JR East-South-Hokkaido Pass
Deliver to Malaysia, Philippines, Vietnam 
Hong Kong and Singapore pickup


Chubu

Miho no Matsubara | via Shutterstock

Found in the heart of Honshu, Japan’s largest island, the Chubu Region is home to the Japanese Alps and the Mt. Fuji. With your JR Pass, hop on a JR train to Miho no Matsubara area, a UNESCO-listed scenic pine tree-lined seashore, where you can take in dramatic views of Japan’s most iconic mountain.

Available JR Pass:
JR Mt. Fuji-Shizuoka Area Pass
Deliver to Malaysia, Philippines, Vietnam
Hong Kong and Singapore pickup


Kansai

Osaka Castle | via Shutterstock

This region was Japan’s most important hub for politics and culture for centuries. It is where you will find the former Imperial capital of Japan Kyoto, as well as the cities of Osaka, Nara, and Kobe.

Use your Kansai Area Rail Pass to get to some of Japan’s historic sites and attractions such as the Osaka Castle, Himeji Castle, Si Tian Wang Temple, the Lushan bamboo forest, and the Fushimi Inari Shrine.

Available JR Passes:
JR Kansai Area Pass
Kansai airport pickup

JR West – Kansai Wide Area Pass
Kansai Airport pickup
Deliver to Malaysia, Philippines, and Vietnam

JR Kansai and Hiroshima Area Pass
Deliver to Malaysia, Philippines, and Vietnam

JR Ise-Kumano-Wakayama Area Pass
Deliver to Malaysia, Philippines, and Vietnam


Hokuriku

Kanazawa | via Shutterstock

An underrated gem, the Hokuriku region is teeming with culture, history, and breathtaking landscapes. During your visit, stop by Kanazawa to admire the city’s well-preserved Edo-era buildings, step into art museums, and check out products crafted by local artisans.

Available JR Passes:
JR Hokuriku Arch Pass
Deliver to Malaysia, Philippines, and Vietnam

JR Hokuriku Area Pass
Deliver to Malaysia, Philippines, and Vietnam

JR Takayama Hokuriku Area Pass
Deliver to Malaysia, Philippines, and Vietnam
Singapore pickup

JR Kansai-Hokuriku Area Pass
Deliver to Malaysia, Philippines, and Vietnam


Chugoku-chiho

Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park | via Shutterstock

Discover the beauty of western Japan in Chugoku Chiho. Divided into two sub-regions, it has two contrasting worlds for you to see. The northern San’in region lies along the coast of the Sea of Japan in Western Honshu. Laid-back with an enchanting vibe, it inspired many of Japan’s myths and also draws in visitors with its attractions like the dramatic Inasa Beach, Izumo Taisha and Yaekagi Shrine, where people pray for love and relationships.

Located in the South, the Sanyo region has seen more developments than the San’in region. Its capital is Hiroshima, which is perhaps one of Japan’s most visited cities. Stop by the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park, where the memory of the World War II atomic bombing is commemorated, then marvel at the ancient Shinto shrine Itsukushima Floating Torii Gate, which is among Japan’s most revered sites.

Available JR Passes:
JR Hiroshima-Yamaguchi Area Pass
Delivery to Malaysia, Philippines, and Vietnam
Hong Kong and Singapore pickup 

JR West Pass (Okayama-Hiroshima-Yamaguchi Area)
Deliver to Malaysia, Philippines, and Vietnam

JR San’in-Okayama Area Pass
Delivery to Malaysia, Vietnam, Philippines 
Hong Kong and Singapore Pickup

JR Sanyo-San’in Area Pass
Deliver to Malaysia, Philippines, Vietnam

Northern Kyushu Pass (Sanyo to San’in)
Deliver to Taiwan, South Korea, Hong Kong, Singapore, and more locations
Hong Kong and Singapore pickup 


Setouchi

Yayoi Kusama’s Yellow Pumpkin | via Shutterstock

Lovers of art and culture wouldn’t want to miss the Setouchi region, especially Naoshima. Tagged as Japan’s art island, it is where you will find Yayoi Kusama’s eccentric Yellow Pumpkin, the Benesse House, an art complex that also welcomes guests as a hotel, and the Chichu Art Museum, designed by renowned self-taught Japanese architect Tadao Ando. The Setouchi region also hosts the contemporary art festival Setouchi Triennale, with the stunning Seto Inland Sea as its backdrop.

Available JR Pass:
JR Setouchi Area Pass
Deliver to Malaysia, Philippines, and Vietnam
Hong Kong and Singspore pickup 


Shikoku

via Shutterstock

Among Japan’s four main islands, Shikoku is the smallest and least populous, but that doesn’t mean it comes short in experiences to offer. It is surrounded by the Seto Inland Sea and the Pacific Ocean, and gives travelers a variety of sights to see—from seas to rivers to mountains.

Hike up Mt. Ishizuchi, one of the highest peaks in West Japan or be amazed by one of the largest whirlpools in the world that can be found in Naruto. Shikoku also boasts a banquet of traditional fare made with fresh ingredients sourced from the island and its surrounding waters. Don’t forget to try Sanuki udon, thick wheat noodles in soup stock derived from seafood, and Tokushima ramen, which has a rich broth made from pig and chicken bones.

Available JR Pass:
JR All Shikoku Rail Pass
Deliver to Taiwan, South Korea, Hong Kong, Singapore, and more locations

 

Kyushu

Huis Ten Bosch | via Shutterstock

The third largest island of Japan is brimming with historic attractions highly urbanized cities, and natural wonders. Its most vibrant city Fukuoka is definitely a mustn’t-miss. For a bird’s eye view of the city, scale the Fukuoka Tower. Love to shop? Stop by Canal City, a massive shopping and entertainment complex that treats visitors to marvellous fountain shows.

The port city of Nagasaki is also located in Kyushu. Thanks to centuries worth of exclusive trading with China and the Netherlands, it showcases charming influences from the countries. On your visit, you might want to visit Huis Ten Bosch, a Dutch-themed amusement park. Or if you want to go on a nature trip, head to the Shimabara Peninsula, a popular hot spring and hiking destination formed by the volcanic eruptions of Mount Unzen, which can be found at its center.

Available JR Pass:
JR All Kyushu Rail Pass
Deliver to Malaysia, Philippines, and Vietnam


Ready to make your purchase? Read our guide on how to successfully purchase a JR Pass

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