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Advice Request: Japan Rail Pass for Two Weeks

Advice Request: Japan Rail Pass for Two Weeks

Old Sep 25th, 2017, 08:16 PM
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Advice Request: Japan Rail Pass for Two Weeks

Hello fellow travelers,

I will be visiting Japan soon for about 4.5 weeks and have already purchased a 2-week Japan Rail Pass. I'm spending the first week in Tokyo then the JR Pass will come into effect for the next two weeks, and I'll end the last ~week somewhere TBD (likely somewhere in the south) before I fly to Singapore.

My question is: How should I best utilize the JR Pass during these two weeks?

One thought was to go from Tokyo to Sapporo since this is a long distance, then back down to somewhere like Hiroshima or Kyoto.

I have never been to Japan before and really want to get a good taste for the culture - even if it means seeing less popular areas. I am a young, solo, male traveler on a somewhat inexpensive budget. I will mostly be staying in hostels and doing couch surfing. I enjoy anything outdoors, adventurous, cultural, and historical.

Thank you for your help! If you feel like you need more information from me, please ask.
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Old Sep 25th, 2017, 09:09 PM
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I could be wrong, but I think we need to know more about your interests and preferred itinerary before answering.

Japan is delightful -- enjoy!
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Old Sep 25th, 2017, 10:13 PM
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Japanese immigration officers may deny you entry if you appear to have no visible means of support.

You must have a valid passport and an onward/return ticket.
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Old Sep 26th, 2017, 03:45 AM
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You need to establish an itinerary before knowing where or even whether a JR pass will be cost effective. Use hyperdia.com to price your rail trips, not forgetting the seat fee.

It sounds as if you have no real idea of your itinerary at this point. Why do you want to visit Japan? What kinds of things do you want to see? Have you spent time on sites like https://www.jnto.go.jp/eng/ and https://www.japan-guide.com/e/e623.html ? Or read trip reports here?

You may find couchsurfing more difficult in Japan as many Japanese live in small apartments. Lonely Planet suggests business class hotels, capsule hotels and perhaps overnighting in internet cafes. You can eat cheaply in Japan.

If you want to spend time outdoors you could look at the Japanese Alps.
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Old Sep 26th, 2017, 07:27 AM
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Appreciate the responses. I have a valid passport and will have proof of a flight to Singapore before my 90-day tourist visa expires.

I want to see temples, hot springs, mountains, and other natural scenery. I would love to do some hikes, see Sumo wrestling, visit the A-bomb museum in Hiroshima, and see other world-heritage sites.

Those links you posted have some terrific information, thank you so much! I really just need to decide if I want to go as far north as Hokkaido.
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Old Sep 26th, 2017, 09:39 AM
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Of course, you could also consider going as far south as Okinawa... No shortage of temples, hot springs or mountains, also consider gardens.
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Old Oct 1st, 2017, 05:40 AM
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I will be spending approx. 4 weeks in Japan and am not buying a Japan pass. Went on Hyperdia and priced out the cost of tickets and realized that it did not make sense for me this time. What I will most likely do is get a 5 day Kyusho pass since I plan on taking many daytrips from Fukuoka.

Last year I did buy a 2 week pass and it more than paid for itself.
My TR in case you want to see where I went and what I did
http://www.fodors.com/community/asia...s-to-japan.cfm
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Old Oct 1st, 2017, 07:02 AM
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You should've come up with an itinerary before deciding to buy the two-week pass. Now that you've bought it, the pass is a sunk cost. All I can say is, once you come up with an itinerary, make sure all the long distance travel happens during the two-week timeframe, but don't try to cram in as much long distance travel as you can just because you want to mazimize your pass.

If you'll be going to Hiroshima, then it makes sense to at least stop by Kyoto and Osaka, with side trips to nearby placed such as Nara and Himeji which are all along the way. What you describe about nature, temples, and onsens are ubiquitous in Japan.
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Old Oct 1st, 2017, 07:42 AM
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>>have already purchased a 2-week Japan Rail Pass

Doubt it. You purchased a voucher for a pass. It is possible to get a refund for the voucher.
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Old Oct 1st, 2017, 12:46 PM
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We went to Japan for about 10 days and we got a Japan Rail Pass to take the shinkansen to Kyoto. The pass gave us 7 days unlimited use of trains in Tokyo so we activated the pass for our last few days in Tokyo after returning from Kyoto (3 days in Tokyo, 3 days in Kyoto, and 3 more days in Tokyo).

Here's a blog post about our trip:
https://fanofblank.blogspot.com/2014...and-kyoto.html

Enjoy trip planning!
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Old Oct 2nd, 2017, 05:43 AM
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Check out "Journeys in Japan" a NHK show avaiable on NHK World and Youtube
You'll get a good range of destinations within Japan that may help you decide where you might want to visit. J Trip Plan is another good program


https://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/en/t.../201709260600/

https://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/en/tv/journeys/

Have a great trip
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Old Oct 3rd, 2017, 04:52 AM
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Thank you everyone!

Last question: If I go to Okinawa, can I take the train or do I have to fly / take a ferry?
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Old Oct 3rd, 2017, 05:56 AM
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Okinawa is the southernmost major island in an island chain.

GET A GUIDEBOOK. (And a map.)
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Old Oct 5th, 2017, 02:26 PM
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I read through the original post a few times and didn't see any listed time of travel. Winter can be quite cold if that is when you are traveling. Also, you must exchange your voucher for the pass within 3 months of the date of issue, or it will be useless.

It is not hard to make a rail pass pay off with enough long distance travel. Starting from Tokyo, even if you did an overnight trip to see Sendai and returned, you'd nearly be 50% there for the cost of the pass. There is the issue of common sense though, even if you have an enviable amount of time for a trip like 4½ weeks. You'd get great use of a pass from Tokyo to Sapporo, but you'd also be murdering a whole day sitting on trains. Time is important too, and if you just want to get up to Hokkaido, you could easily fly there on a low cost carrier in 90 minutes for only about 5000 yen. You could though make good use of a pass touring your way up there, seeing many nice places in the Tohoku Region.

You could also easily see Okinawa with that amount of time as well - and also use a low cost carrier like Peach or Jet Star to fly there dirt cheap. Obviously there is no train there.

As others said, decide where you're going first, then pick the best way there. You're going there to see a lot of nice places, not to make a rail pass pay off. It's better to see a few very nice places than a whole string of mediocre ones just to recoup the cost. For people with a very long time of travel like yours, in some cases a full JR Rail pass may not be the best way to go. If you travel too little or too slowly, you can lose money on a rail pass too. For some people, a series of regional passes might make more sense, and give you enough time to enjoy the places you see without cramming in too much.
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