Last Updated: Feb 10, 2024

Dissecting the JR Rail Passes

Who Benefits from Buying ‘Em

Donny Kimball
18 min readOct 19, 2018

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On the starting date of her Japan Rail Pass (one of the Green JR Passes), a woman looks to board the green car in Kyoto.
This story was originally published on donnykimball.com and has been syndicated here on Medium

Ah, the mighty Japan Rail Pass… When I originally penned this piece back in 2018, I didn’t think that I would ever need to do as significant an update as I have now completed. Alas, nothing lasts forever, my dear readers, and that includes the pricing for this ever-economical pass. As you probably have already heard, Japan Railways announced a price hike in 2023 for the beloved Japan Rail Pass, increasing it by as much as 70%. This change took effect in October 2023, meaning that all foreign tourists purchasing a pass in Japan since then have needed to pay more to enjoy the same benefits.

As you might imagine, much of the internet was up in arms about the change in price for the beloved Japan Rail Pass. Honestly speaking, given what a steal it was for many people, it’s easy to understand why they were irate. To put just how much of a money-saving investment it had been thus far in context, know that Japan Rail Pass holders could enjoy unlimited travel on all JR lines for just a little over the price of a round trip ticket to Kyoto Station from Tokyo Station. Because of this, most people would have been foolish not to buy one when making a trip to Japan.

At the same time, we really do need to cut Japan Railways some slack here. The company hadn’t altered their prices for at least 15 years. With inbound tourism booming again in the post-pandemic era, it only made sense for the JR train operator to align the price of the actual pass with our current macroeconomic environment in 2023. Remember, a huge swath of people visiting Japan purchased one of these practical passes. To make things a bit more in line with what Japanese nationals have to pay, the price of the Japan Rail Pass simply had to change.

While it is still a good deal for those riding JR lines, it is not the outright bargain it used to be. Below, you’ll find the new prices for the Japan Rail Pass as of October 2023:

Regular Pass
・7-day: 50,000 yen (previously 29,650 yen)
・14 day: 80,000 yen (previously 47,250 yen)
・21-day: 100,000 yen (previously 60,450 yen)

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Donny Kimball

I'm a travel writer and freelance digital marketer who blogs about the sides of Japan that you can't find in the mainstream media. https://donnykimball.com/