Japan Rail Pass

Old Mar 30th, 2004, 04:10 PM
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Japan Rail Pass

We are considering buying Japan Rail Pass for rail travel in Japan. We learned that it is only $100 more to get first class pass. Is it a worthwhile investment? Is there a big difference when traveling first class on Japanese rail?
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Old Mar 30th, 2004, 06:15 PM
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First class travel is in the Green cars in Japan...they are nicer, but the regular cars are nice too. I'd only spend the extra money if you will be in Japan during Golden Week or Obon, when your chances of actually getting a seat will be much improved in green cars. The Personally, I've ridden in a green car once just because it is the only way I could get a reserved seat...not that different, and I'd only pay the extra again it was the difference between a reserved seat or not. Kim
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Old Mar 31st, 2004, 02:07 AM
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The difference is subtle as KimJapan indicated. During our last trip, we used the Green car for the same reason, to find a reserved seat otherwise not available in ordinary car section.

Having used oridinary pass, here are the factors favoring the Green pass.

- Want to be able to find reserved seats at last minutes. During busy time, we could not get the seats on desired train even 2 days ahead.

- If you are travelling in group of 4. Ordinally cars, except for Hikari railstar operating west of Shinosaka, come in rows of 2 and 3 seats. The rows of 2 seats fill up first. For a group of 4, getting adjacent 2 seat section and turning the seat around is usually desirable.

- You travel with luggages. I did not recall seeing any luggage storage area near the entrance (like Haruka, Narita express trains). The Green cars have little more leg room, but not any more overhead rack space.

- Desire wee less walking. Green Cars are located in the middle where escalators and stairs are located.

- not travelling mostly by Hikari Railstars. Railstar cars do not have Green cars.

- Want foot rests. Yeah I told you subtle difference.

If you do end up using Green car with the ordinary pass, as the condition on the pass states, you need to REPAY the express charge in addition to the Green car fee. Also keep in mind that not all JR companies take credit cards. But confusingly, next to the JR counters that do not take CC, there are tourist agency division of the same company at some station that look just alike, but with a small sign indicating they do take credit cards!
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Old Apr 2nd, 2004, 12:17 AM
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We don't care much about the added amenities of green class, but we will be traveling on a 7 day JR Pass from Tokyo-Hakone-Kyoto-Nara (day trip)-Hiroshima-Osaka the first 10 days in August.

Will we be able to reserve seats in the regular cars during this time? Can you reserve seats before you activate your pass? We will not be activating our pass until our sixth day so if we can reserve before we activate, we can do it ahead of time.

Any advice would be much appreciated!
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Old Apr 2nd, 2004, 01:08 AM
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Follow the threads below under 'Japan during Golden week' about http://www.world.eki-net.com/, which tells you all about booking seats with JR Pass, before arrival in Japan, and on pros and cons.
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Old Apr 5th, 2004, 04:35 PM
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My husband and I just came back form Japan last week. While there, we used the Shinkansen (bullet trains) to travel from Tokyo to Hiroshima, to Kyoto and back to Tokyo. We purchased 2 week JR passes before leaving for Japan. We had ordinary passes (i.e., not green car) and it was very comfortable. You can get reserved seats for no extra charge with an ordinary JR pass, which guarantees you a seat. We also made use of the pass extensively in Tokyo since JR operates trains within the city, on the ferry between Hiroshima and Miyajima Island since JR operates a ferry line, and, we used the pass to go to Nikko from Tokyo. We definately got our money's worth and I do not believe it is worth the extra charge for the green car. Besides, if you really want to ride in the green car once there, you have the option of paying the difference in price.
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