The Japan Rail Pass, which is issued by the JR (Japan Railway) Group, offers travellers excellent value for money and convenience. The Rail Pass enables the almost unlimited use of JR trains and its affiliated bus and ferry services within various areas of Japan.
The Japan Rail Pass is available only to people from abroad who wish to come to Japan as "temporary visitors" for sightseeing. It can be purchased from travel agents or online. Once you've purchased the rail pass, you will be sent a voucher in the post. Once you have been through customs at the airport, you can obtain your pass from the Japan Rail Pass Exchange Office at the airport (but do be careful to check the opening times of these offices, as they are not open 24 hours per day. See opening times here).
Where exchange orders are sold
The Exchange Order of Japan Rail Pass can be purchased from various travel agencies and tour operators in the UK. Agencies selling the JR Pass in the UK include:Discover Japan, Japan Experience,Jaltour, JTB Europe, Japan Travel Centre, InsideJapan Tours, Toptour Europe and ViaJapan Holidays, Overseas offices of Japan Airlines (JAL)* and All Nippon Airways (ANA) also handle the Exchange Order. *When using JAL group flight. See the full list of JR pass sales agents here.
Trial of domestic sales
From March 8th to 31st 2017, under a trial scheme, foreign visitors to Japan will be able to purchase JR Passes within Japan.
Under the scheme, people visiting Japan from abroad under the entry status of “Temporary Visitor (Tourists)” will be eligible to buy the JR Pass directly at many larger JR stations such as Sapporo, Tokyo, Shinjuku, Yokohama, Nagoya, Osaka, Hiroshima, and Hakata, as well as four airports including the international airports at Narita, Haneda, and Kansai.
The domestically sold JR Pass will only be available to those holding a passport issued by a country other than Japan, and purchasers will be required to show their passport when buying the Pass in Japan.
For more information on prices, usage periods and where to buy JR passes domestically, see JR’s press release on the trial scheme.
An online seat reservation service is provided by JR East, but other companies do not offer online booking options from overseas. If you'd like to book a seat for your travel, you can visit the JR Ticket Offices in major stations. Booking a seat in advance is advised if you're travelling at a busy time, such as during cherry blossom season or on 1st, 2nd and 3rd January. If you have not booked a seat, you can use the 'unreserved seating' carriages. See also Japan Rail Pass and Other JR Passes