Thursday, February 19, 2009

How to Buy a Japan Rail Pass

So you want to travel to Japan? Okay then, you better get ready to give up the idea of a rental car and settle instead for public transportation. Just like in Europe, trains are the only way to travel in Japan, and the Japan Rail Pass is “the way” to get the best travel value during your stay.

Japan Rail operates the Japan rail system and they offer a discount pass that can only be purchased outside of Japan. Japanese citizens living in Japan are not allowed to buy the Japan railway pass. The only ones who can purchases the JR Pass are people who:

• are entering Japan on a non-Japanese passport with "Temporary Visitor" entry status or Japanese citizens who live abroad, and are either permanent residents of another country or have a foreign spouse.

The Japan Rail Pass, or JR Pass is a discounted ticket that allows visitors “unlimited rail travel throughout Japan over a 7, 14 or 21 consecutive day period.” And the best way to take advantage of the pass is to make the most of your Japan travel time.

Once you’ve got your fourteen day Japan railway pass, for example, it doesn’t matter whether you visit 10 cities or two – the price remains the same. So the best way to use the Japan Rail pass is to travel like crazy! Make as many trips to as many places as possible: Kyoto, Kobe, Hiroshima, Yokohama, Osaka – see them all!

The JR Pass also means that you can travel on Japan’s bullet trains, which are know in Japan as shinkansen; this will save you many hours and provide you with a few kicks.

The key to the buying the Japan Rail Pass is to purchase the exchange voucher from a distributor in your home country. Don’t wait until you get to Japan to buy a JR Pass, because they won’t let you. Go to the Japan Rail Pass website to find a distributor in your area.

When you arrive in Japan – most likely Narita Airport, you can exchange your JR Pass voucher for a rail pass at a Japan Rail Pass exchange office. Good luck!

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