Planning to spend much, but not all, of your Japan trip in Tokyo? Then this could be an unbeatable deal.
If you’re thinking of travelling to or around Japan this summer, there are a couple of questions you’ll need to ask yourself in the planning stage. Should I try the sushi? Should I wander around Tokyo’s Shinjuku neighborhood in hope of bumping into Mr. Sato and the rest of the RocketNews24 team? Should I buy one of the various all-you-can-ride passes from Japan Railways?
While the answers to the first two questions are, of course, yes, the decision of whether or not to buy a JR Pass is a bit trickier. Sure, the passes can save you a ton of money if you’re making a multi-leg journey to far-flung regions of the country. If you’re going to be spending a large chunk of your trip in Tokyo, though, where it’s easiest to get around by the not-covered-by-JR-passes subway, a JR pass might not be the best option.
But as endlessly interesting as Tokyo is, you might find yourself wanting to make one excursion outside the capital, perhaps to see the beautiful mountains of Nagano or the lush forests of the northeastern Tohoku region. If such a side-trip stirs your wanderlust, JR East’s brand-new three-day pass is just about perfect.
Released to commemorate the company’s 30th anniversary, the pass allows for unlimited use of regular and rapid trains on the JR East network, allowing passengers to travel as far west as Yamanashi and Niigata Prefectures, east to the Pacific coast of Chiba, and all the way up to the northern tip of Tohoku.
▼ A map of the region covered by the pass (Tokyo metropolitan area circled in red)
The JR East 30th Anniversary Pass, as it’s officially called, is offered to both Japanese residents and foreign visitors for an affordable 13,000 yen (US$115) for adults. By comparison, JR East’s two pre-existing passes, which cover only the western or eastern half of the network, are priced at 18,000 and 20,000 yen, while the all-Japan pass is 29,110 yen. The upside is even bigger if you’re travelling with kids 11 and under, for whom the new pass costs just 3,000 yen, compared to 14,550 yen for the all-Japan version.
In addition to JR trains, the new pass also gives passengers access to carriages on the Aoimori, Iwate Galaxy, and Hokutetsu rail networks. Upgrades to Shinkansen or limited express trains can be purchased for additional fees.
The JR East 30th Anniversary Pass goes on sale June 21, and can be activated for use between July 21 and July 31. Purchases can be made at JR East stations with a Midori no Madoguchi travel office, or through the JR East Travel Service Center.
Follow Casey on Twitter, where his wanderlust is always stirred.