JR PASS or JR TOKYO Wide Pass: which one should you choose?

Feb 17, 2020

JR PASS or JR TOKYO Wide Pass: which one should you choose?

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For most of the time, people are confused whether they should purchase the JR PASS or JR TOKYO Wide Pass when visiting Japan for the first time.

Both JR PASS and JR TOKYO Wide Pass are rail passes issued by the JR company, allowing foreign visitors to enjoy a fantastic discount on bullet train and regular train for several consecutive days, but it’s difficult to decide which one to purchase if you don’t have much experience with Japan’s rail transport system..

Today we introduce the JR PASS and JR TOKYO Wide Pass in details, allowing you to get a better idea of which rail pass to choose for your trip.


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JR PASS allows you to use all JR Trains from Kagoshima in South Japan right up to Hokkaido in North Japan unlimitedly.

With this pass, you’ll get privilege to hop on the incredible Shinkansen (bullet train), all local JR commuter trains, all JR buses, and even JR ferries.

Although you will have the privilege to hop on the shinkansen with this pass, please keep in mind that JR PASS holders cannot use the Nozomi and Mizuho shinkansen (the fastest shinkansen).

The price of the pass is as follows:

Type of JR PASS Ordinary cars Green cars (first class)
Adult (12+) Child (6-11) Adult (12+) Child (6-11)
7 day 29,650 yen 14,825 yen 39,600 yen 19,800 yen
14 day 47,250 yen 23,625 yen 64,120 yen 32,060 yen
21 day 60,450 yen 30,225 yen 83,390 yen 41,690 yen

*Price is as of January 23, 2020

Up until March 2017, JR PASS could not be purchased in Japan, so all foreigners need to buy the pass from authorized travel agents before their trip.

Now the JR PASS can be purchased in Japan until March 2020, but the price is more expensive than when you purchase it after your arrival, so it is still better to purchase your JR PASS before you start your trip.

Important note: you are only eligible for a JR PASS if you’re entering Japan with a “temporary visitor” visa, with a stay not exceeding 90 days.

Do you need a JR PASS?

If you will stay for at least a week, and want to travel somewhere like Kyoto, Osaka, or other prefecture located in North or South Japan, then JR PASS is a must-have item for your trip.

However, if you will stay for less than a week and plan to travel around the city you stay, you almost certainly don’t need JR PASS.

JR TOKYO Wide Pass

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If you’ll stay in Tokyo for a week or more, and want to travel to one of the nearby prefectures, then JR TOKYO Wide pass is maybe the best Japan rail pass for you.

With JR TOKYO Wide Pass you can travel around to some of Kanto’s notable spots like Nikko, ski resort Gala Yuzawa, and even Mt. Fuji.

You can also visit the Nagano area by taking the Nagano Shinkansen or the Jono Kogen by taking the Joetsu Shinkansen.

If you visit Tokyo in the winter, you can use this pass to visit the resort town Karuizawa, a beautiful resort town in Tokyo famous for its scenic views.

Important note: The JR TOKYO Wide Pass cannot be used on JR buses or on the Tokaido Shinkansen (the bullet train running between Tokyo and Shin-Osaka).

Type Classification Price
JR TOKYO Wide Pass (3 consecutive days) Adult (12+) 10,180 yen
Child (6-11) 5,090 yen

You can buy the JR TOKYO Wide Pass at major JR stations, including Yamanote Line stations (Shinjuku, Shibuya, Ikebukuro, Ueno, Tokyo, and Shinagawa), as well as Yokohama Station, Narita Airport, and Haneda Airport.

Important note: JR TOKYO Wide Pass is available to all foreign passport holders, so foreigners living in Japan with long-term visas can purchase and use this pass too.

Do you need a JR TOKYO Wide Pass?

You should get JR TOKYO Wide Pass if you want to take the shinkansen within the Kanto region to visit other prefectures like Yamanashi, Nagano, Tochigi, and Gunma.

If you’re just traveling around the Tokyo / Yokohama area, buying regular tickets or using the rechargeable IC cards like SUICA or PASMO is generally cheaper.