When is the Japan Rail Pass worth it?
Japan is one of the most incredible places to visit in the world but it is also one of the most expensive. For this reason, it is worth doing some research into how you can economize.
Traveling around Japan is normally expensive, but you can make huge savings using a JR Pass. It is a cost-effective way of getting around Japan though you need to order one before you arrive in Japan.
Should you order a Japan Rail Pass? Is it really worth it? This depends on how much traveling you will do, but in the vast majority of cases, the answer is yes.
Will a JR Pass save you money?
The JR Pass gives you unlimited access to all Japan Rail National trains, JR bus services, ferry services, and airport transfers. A 7-day JR Pass only costs ¥29.650 which is actually cheaper than a return ticket from Tokyo to Kyoto on a Shinkansen bullet train (including airport transfer).
This means that if you make just one long-distance trip you can already save money. If you make multiple trips then you start saving thousands of yen.
In addition, when you start factoring in the money you would spend on the metro, buses, transfers, and ferries, then the savings become a must. A return transfer from Narita Airport is over ¥2.600 and a one-day metro and bus pass in Tokyo costs around ¥1.590.
What advantages does it offer?
Saving money is the main reason why people buy a Japan Rail Pass. It is one of the easiest ways of keeping the costs down during your trip. However, there are more advantages.
It is very easy to use and it saves the hassle of constantly needing to buy tickets every time you use a train or any other form of public transport. Instead, you simply flash your JR Pass to gain access.
You can also make seat reservations using your JR Pass. This is especially advantageous during busy times, as you can ensure getting a seat and avoid standing up for long journeys.
When is it not worth it?
There are very few scenarios when it is not worth buying a JR Pass and it comes down to simple math. As previously mentioned, you only need to make one long-distance trip using a Shinkansen bullet train to save money.
A 7-day pass costs ¥29.650 which is ¥4.235,71 per day. If you calculate that your traveling costs would be cheaper if you bought individual tickets for each journey, then it is not worth buying a JR Pass.
For example, if you only took an airport transport each way and did not leave Tokyo, this would cost around 13.730 yen (which you must add the daily cost of metro and bus) which is less than the 7-day JR Pass.
However, as soon as you factor in train journeys using Shinkansen bullet trains or other forms of transport, then the savings you make become substantial. In the vast majority of cases, it is worth ordering a JR Pass.