How to Travel Cheap in Japan – Popular Travel Passes!

shinkansen mt fuji Transportation

Are you looking for the best and most convenient way to travel through Japan and keep the travel costs to a minimum? There are various kinds of travel passes that help you get around Japan easily with an access to the extensive and reliable network of public transportation. If you look around, you can often find great deals or discounts on travel expenses such as trains or buses, much cheaper than getting single tickets. Here is a list of some of the most popular Japanese travel passes that you will want to use on your holiday in Japan!   

1. Japan Rail Pass

The most comprehensive, popular and best value is the Japan Rail Pass issued by JR group, the primary railway network connecting throughout Japan. This JR Pass is a cost effective pass that gives you unlimited rides on almost all the JR trains (including Japan’s super fast Shinkansen), for a designated period of time. It is one of the most desirable ways to conveniently discover Japan, and much to the envy of foreign residents living in the country, the JR pass is exclusively available to international tourists visiting Japan. There are basically three types of passes which have different length of validity, 7 days, 14 days or 21 days that you can select, depending on how long you are staying in Japan.

It gives you an unlimited access to the large part of JR trains including the famous bullet train (※Note that there are some exceptions) You can also receive a special discount if you purchase Japan Rail Pass at JR-designated sales offices or agents overseas. Here you can purchase your JR Pass online. They also offer discounts at designated accommodation such as JR hotels that can be found across Japan.

After getting your Japan Rail Pass, book a reserved seat at JR Ticket Offices (“Midori-no Madoguchi”) or online!

Price Japan Rail Pass

DurationPrice (adult)Price (child)
7 days¥33,610¥16,800
14 days¥52,960¥26,480
21 days¥66,200¥33,100
Prices for the JR-pass when purchased overseas
DurationPrice (adult)Price (child)
7 days¥33,610¥16,800
14 days¥52,960¥26,480
21 days¥66,200¥33,100
Prices for the JR-pass when purchased in Japan

* children under the age of six travel for free.
* children at the age from 6 – 11 years old travel against a reduced rate of 50%.

2. Tokyo Wide Pass

The Tokyo Wide Pass is another useful pass issued by JR East Railway. It was released in 2015 as a convenient and reasonable way for international tourists to travel around Tokyo and the surrounding area. You can purchase the pass online or visit sales locations including Narita International Airport in Japan. It is available only to holders of non-Japanese passport, which means the Tokyo Wide Pass is also available to international residents of Japan!

With this pass you can enjoy 3 days of unlimited travel on JR East trains, Shinkansen and other public transport in the designated area around Tokyo. If you are planning a short trip to popular tourist destinations such as Nikko, Mt. Fuji, Hakone or Karuizawa, this is the perfect option for you!     

Price Tokyo Wide Pass

DurationPrice (adult)Price (child)
3 days¥10,180¥5,090

There are often some special discounts and offers for Tokyo Wide Pass holders at the popular ski resort Gala Yuzawa in Niigata prefecture. Often you will receive a discount on your ski pass when you show yout Tokyo Wide Pass. During the summer season, the resort is also turn to a great trekking, camping, and BBQ spot with a range of outdoor activities and refreshing hot spring facility! 

3. JR EAST Passes

Next to the Tokyo Wide Pass, JR East has several other passes on offer that will help you save a few yen on your trip. Most of these passes are only available to foreign travellers that do not reside in Japan. However, in April 2021, JR East has changed the conditions for the Tohoku area pass and the Nagano Niigata Area Pass and made these two also available for internationals residing in Japan. Planning a trip to Nagano & Niigata area or up north to the Tohoku area from Tokyo has never been so easy and cheap! It offers 5 consecutive days of unlimited rides on JR trains and other JR transport networks, including most of the Shinkansen (except for the Tokaido Shinkansen that is operated by a different company). which conveniently takes you to the famous tourist attractions such as Aomori, Nagano and Yamagata!

Price of JR East Passes

PassPrice (adult)Price (child)Eligibility
Tohoku Area¥20,000¥10,000Foreigners with a non-Japanese passport
Nagano – Niigata Area¥18,000¥9,000Foreigners with a non-Japanese passport
South Hokkaido Rail Pass¥27,000¥13,500Foreigners with a non-Japanese passport,
residing outside of Japan
Tohoku-South Hokkaido Rail Pass¥24,000¥12,000Foreigners with a non-Japanese passport,
residing outside of Japan
Hokuriku Arch Pass¥25,500¥12,750Foreigners with a non-Japanese passport,
residing outside of Japan

Tohoku Itinerary
Weekentrip to Aizu-Wakamatsu

4. Nikko Pass

Nikko is a popular short trip destination from Tokyo and the surrounding area. It is home to a great number of tourist attractions, including scenic landscapes represented by Kegon falls and historic sites such as Nikko Toshogu Shrine. The Nikko Pass allows available to foreign travelers to explore the beautiful area with an unlimited access to public transportation and other discounts at gift shops or theme parks. It also includes a 20% discounts of the limited express ticket SPACIA which takes you from Asakusa or Tokyo Skytree station to Nikko in less than 2 hours.

Nikko Pass All Area

  • Valid for 4 days;
  • Round-trip between Asakusa Station and Shimo-Imaichi Station;
  • 20% discounts on the round trip fare from Tokyo to Nikko by limited express train;
  • 5% or 10% discount at designated stores in Asakusa or Nikko;
  • Lake Chuzenji Sightseeing Cruise;
  • Nikko – Kinugawa Onsen bus;
  • Akechidaira Ropeway;
  • All Tobu Bus lines in Nikko;
  • All Tobu Railway lines between Shimo-Imaichi, Tobu-Nikko and Shin-Fujiwara stations.

Nikko Pass World Heritage Area

  • Valid for 2 days;
  • Round-trip between Asakusa Station and Shimo-Imaichi Station;
  • 20% discounts on the round trip fare from Tokyo to Nikko by limited express train;
  • 5% or 10% discount at designated stores in Asakusa or Nikko;
  • Tobu Bus lines within the world heritage area;
  • All Tobu Railway lines between Shimo-Imaichi, Tobu-Nikko and Shin-Fujiwara stations.

Price Nikko Pass

Pass
Price (adult)
12.01 – 4.19
Price (child)
12.01 – 4.19
Price (adult)
4.20 – 11.30
Price (child)
4.20 – 11.30
Nikko Pass All Area¥4,600¥1,180¥4,230¥1,160
Nikko Pass World Heritage Area¥2,040¥610¥2,040¥610

If you want to make the most of your time in Nikko, the Nikko All Area one is probably the best to get as it covers the public transport network of a larger areas! Both passes can be purchased at the Tourist Information Center at Asakusa Station, or the Tobu Tourist Information Center or Tobu Top Tours travel agency at Ikebukuro Station or online (you’ll still need to pick-up your ticket in Asakusa).

5. Hakone Freepass

The Hakone Freepass is a great find if you are planning to visit Hakone area in Kanagawa prefecture. With this travel pass you can explore the Hakone area with unlimited rides on 8 kinds of transports, including the Hakone Ropeway, trains, and buses and around the designated area. There are 2 types of passes, one that is valid for 2 days and one that is valid for 3 days. It also includes a round-trip ticket on the Odakyu Line from designated stations such as Shinjuku Station to Odawara Station, the main gateway to the popular tourist attractions in Hakone. You can also enjoy discounts at 70 locations such as shops, art museums, hot spring facilities, restaurants and much more! 

Price Hakone Freepass

DurationAdult Child
2 days – Shinjuku ¥6,100¥1,500
3 days – Shinjuku¥6,500¥1,750
2 days – Odawara¥5,000¥1,000
3 days – Odawara ¥5,400¥1,250
Hakone Ashinoko lake

7. JR West Passes

In the Kansai Region, JR West, one of the Japan Railways Group companies, operates the railway, distribution and hotel businesses. The company has a whole list of the travel passes, available to international tourists that reside outside of Japan, that will enable you discover the popular Kansai area. Are you travelling between Hakata, Wakayama and Toyama, visiting cities like Kyoto, Hiroshima, Okayama, and Osaka? Then these passes can be good for you, especially when you aren’t visiting Tokyo, but only the Kansai region. Here you can find detailed information about the different option, but below you’ll find the most important information.

PassPrice (adult)Price (child)Duration
Kansai Area¥2,400
¥4,600
¥5,600
¥6,800
Children half price1 day
2 days
3 days
4 days
Kansai WIDE Area Pass¥18,000¥9,0005 days
Kansai – Hiroshima Area Pass¥27,000¥13,5005 days
Sanyo – San’in Area Pass¥24,000¥12,0007 days
Kansai – Hokuriku Pass¥17,000¥8,5007 days
Hokuriku Area Pass¥5,090¥2,5404 days
San’in Okayama Area Pass¥4,580¥2,2904 days
Hiroshima – Yamaguchi Area Pass¥13,000¥6,5005 days
Okayama – Hiroshima – Yamaguchi Area Pass¥15,000¥7,5005 days
JR-WEST All Area Pass¥23,000¥11,5007 days

8. Koyasan World Heritage Ticket

The Koyasan World Heritage Ticket makes your travel to Koyasan area easy, affordable and convenient. It offers a round trip ticket from any departure station on the Nankai Line to Koyasan Station. Other benefits include unlimited travels on the Nankai Rinkan Buses in Koyasan area, 20% off discounts on admissions fees to world-famous temples, and 10% off for purchases at designated souvenir shops. The Koyasan World Heritage Ticket is sold at major Nankai railway stations and other locations around Kansai region, including Namba station and Kansai International Airport.  

Price Koyasan World Heritage Ticket

From Namba stationPrice (adult)Price (child)
Regular ticket¥3,080¥1,550
Includes Limited express ticket¥3,630¥1,830
From Kansai International Airport
Regular ticket¥3,930¥1,970
Includes Limited express ticket¥4,480¥2,250
Koyasan

9. JR Kyushu Pass

Your trip to Kyushu area will get much cheaper using the JR Kyushu Pass, a convenient travel pass issued by JR Kyushu. This pass travel pass to is exclusively available to international tourists normally, however, currently there is a campaign running until March 31, 2022, which allows foreign nationals living in Japan to use the JR Kyushu Pass too. The JR Kyushu pass is convenient for those who wish to explore the Kyushu area and offers unlimited access to JR local trains, limited express, Shinkansen and more. There are several types of passes for you to choose from according to your travel itinerary, budget and destination. Details of each pass are as follows:

Prices JR Kyushu Pass

PassDurationPrice
All Kyushu area3 days¥16,000
5 days¥18,500
7 days¥20,000
Northern Kyushu
3 days¥9,500
5 days¥11,000
Southern Kyushu
3 days¥8,000
Fukuoka Wide
2 days¥3,060
※half price for children
Mount Aso

Which JR Kyushu Pass is best for you?

All Kyushu area pass is an ideal option for those who planning to travel around the multiple destinations across Kyushu from Hakata in Fukuoka all the way down to Kagoshima area. Northern Kyushu Pass mainly covers public transport networks in the north Kyushu area such as Hakata, Saga, Nagasaki and Beppu.

Southern Kyushu Pass is relatively affordable and valid in south Kyushu, including Kumamoto, Kagoshima and Miyazaki. Fukuoka Wide is the cheapest one which is only available in Fukuoka area with local trains or non-reserved seats of limited express trains.  

10. Discount Domestic Flights 

Taking a domestic flight will get you to multiple destinations in Japan fast and easily. Japan boasts several LCC’s and airlines like ANA and JAL which both offer convenient domestic flights that connect the entire country. They also have some special travel passes for foreign visitors which suit every budget and itinerary. Here are some of the discounted air tickets in Japan for foreigners! Some of the air passes have to be purchased outside of Japan, some can be booked by anyone with a foreign passport or some are only available in certain periods.

How to book cheap flights in Japan?

PassDetailsPriceEligibility
JAL Japan Explorer PassTokyo to Hokkaido/ Tohoku¥5,500Foreign visitors who fly to and from Japan by any airline.
Tokyo to Osaka
Okinawa to remote islands
¥7,700
Tokyo to other major cities (Osaka, Nagoya, Fukuoka, Sapporo)¥11,000
JAL Welcome to Japan FarePer domestic flight (※available for all domestic flights operated by JAL and JTA)¥14,300Foreign visitors who fly to/via Japan by any airline.
ANA Discover Japan Fare(※available for ANA Japan domestic flights with designated routes)¥7,700 – ¥11,000 (depending on the route)Travelers purchasing their ticket outside of Japan.
ANA Visit Japan FarePer domestic flight (※available for all domestic flights operated by ANA)¥13,000Foreign visitors who fly to/via Japan by any airline.
ANA Experience Japan Fare¥5.500 – ¥11,000 (depending on the route)Foreign visitors who fly to/via Japan by any airline.
Solaseed Enjoy Japan fareHighly discounted flight ticketsDiscount depends on period of booking & route.Only for travelers with non-Japanese passport arriving in and departing from Japan.

Low Cost Carriers Japan

LCC airlines, such as Solaseed and Air Do, offer many of the same types of discounts as JAL and ANA, but the flight tickets are typically at least 20% cheaper. 

Advanced Purchase Discounts

It is always a great idea to book your flight as soon as your itinerary is set. It allows you to get special discounts rates for all the major domestic airlines in Japan. Sakitoku and TOKUBIN 21  are popular discount promotions by JAL which help you enjoy great deals that will help you save up to 87% compared to normal price!

Don’t forget to check out our private tour!

If you need some help to organize your trip to Japan, you should definitely check out our private tours. We offer different tours all over Japan, all with a local English speaking guide. We’d we more than happy to welcome you in Japan and help you make your trip a safe, comfortable, and unforgettable memory!

  1. Tokyo Private Tour [Customized, 7 Hours]
    Visit the must-see spots in Tokyo with our friendly guide. This tour is flexible; the times and places are customizable according to your preference.
  2. Kyoto Private Full Day Walking Tour
    Explore the beautiful city of Kyoto, home to numerous world-famous historic temples and shrines. Visit the old geisha district and learn more about the culture of Japan.

With the right travel pass, your travel to Japan will be easier, cheaper and much more convenient. After you have decided where you want to go, make sure to take the time to look into all the different travel passes. It is very important to carefully choose the right pass for you depending on your destination and budget. In addition, make sure to check the updates and the latest information on their official website prior to your visit as they may make changes to the usage of the passes!

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Happy travelling!

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Writer’s profile

Miho Shimizu is a Japanese freelance writer settled in Shizuoka with her husband and two rabbits. Fascinated with travelling at the age of 18, she has spent most of her long holidays exploring incredible spots around Japan. Also love to listen to music, draw, and read novels over a cup of green tea.

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