When my wife said that we would have to buy a Japan Railway (JR) Pass in order for us to get around Japan, it reminded me of the Eurail Pass I got for Europe some 15 years ago when I backpacked my way around Europe after my medical training in Isarel. It also reminded me that it does not come CHEAP at all. Of course, we got it through Lakbay Capiz Travel & tours.
The 7-day UNLIMITED JR Pass was priced at Y28,300 (P15,370) – very expensive indeed. But we had to go from Kyoto to Tokyo to Hakone back to Tokyo, then to Osaka to Nara then back to Osaka and finally, from Osaka to Kansai Airport. If we had bought individual train tickets for all these trips, we would have spent over Y46,300! As an added bonus, we were also able to use our JR Pass for the city trains in Tokyo and Osaka.
One has to buy the JR Pass here in the Philippines since it is not available at all in Japan. The travel pass issued here had to be exchanged for the actual JR Pass once you get to Japan. In our case, we had it exchanged in Osaka when we landed in Kansai Airport.
Traveling around Japan by JR Pass was so convenient for us - we did not have to queue to buy our tickets, nor queue again to enter the gates. The coaches are also so comfortable – especially the bullet trains (Shinkansen) that we used from one city to another. It’s like traveling business class by plane – wide seats that can be reclined and so much leg room in between seats. There were only a few coaches that allow smoking (usually car no. 1 & 3 out of 16 cars). But we always traveled using the non-smoking coaches.
By the way, food (for sale) is also offered in the trains. But we opted to buy our bento boxes before boarding the train – in fact one of our best meals in Japan was a bento box we bought in a food outlet in Daimaru Department Store in Tokyo!
What we also found so convenient with using Japan Railways is that there are big lockers in all stations where you can deposit your big luggage after checking out of your hotel and have time to go around without lugging the bulky luggage with you all the time. We did this twice – once in Tokyo en route to Osaka (to tour the Tokyo Imperial Palace) and when we were on our way to the airport at the Shin-Osaka station (to go to Himeji Castle before going to the airport).
We will definitely miss the efficiency and the comfort of the Japan Railway trains … When we return to Japan, we would surely get another JR Pass. This time, we will explore the mountains of Japan.
back to HOMEPAGE