How do I use my rail pass?

Japan Railways has a free guide on how to use the Japan Rail Pass including a list and maps of all exchange office locations. You may download a copy of the guide here.

Who can use a Japan Rail Pass?

You can use a Japan Rail Pass if:

  1. you are a tourist holding a non Japanese passport and enter Japan as a " temporary visitor " meaning you get a "temporary visitor" stamp in your passport upon entering Japan. If you enter Japan under any other status such as student, work permit, trainee etc. you are not eligible to use a Japan Rail Pass.

Note that the above criteria is strictly enforced in Japan where you have to present your original passport (not photocopy) to convert your exchange order into the Japan Rail Pass.

What is an Exchange Order?

A Japan Rail Pass can only be purchased from an authorised Japan Rail Pass agent outside of Japan. However, when you purchase your Rail Pass, you do not physically receive the pass. Instead you receive an Exchange Oder in your full passport name which has to be exchanged in Japan to receive the actual Rail Pass. Once in Japan the passenger named on the Exchange Order can go to any Rail Pass exchange office and convert the Exchange Order to the Rail Pass. To do so you will need to fill out an application for Japan Rail Pass Exchange which can be downloaded here , and present it with your Exchange Order and passport to obtain your rail pass. Exchange orders and Rail Passes are not transferable and valid only for the persons named on them.

Why is your price different today from when I checked last week?

Prices are constantly adjusted based on the exchange rate between the Canadian Dollar and the Japanese Yen

I have purchased a 7 day Japan Rail Pass. How do I count the days when I can use the pass?

When you convert your Exchange Order to the Japan Rail Pass in Japan, you have to specify the first date you will start using your pass. This date has to be within one month of the date you are converting the exchange order to the pass. This date is stamped in your pass and cannot be changed. You can use your pass for 7 consecutive days from and including the date that is stamped in your pass. On the last day of your pass you can technically use till 11:59 p.m. E.g. If you start using your 7 day pass on a Monday, it will expire at 11:59 pm the following Sunday.

What are all the critical dates I should be aware of when using a Japan Rail Pass?

  1. Exchange Order Issue Date, Issue Date 
    This is the date that you purchase your Japan Rail Pass in your home country. This date should not be more than 4 months prior to the date you intend to start using your rail pass in Japan.
  2. Date you convert the Exchange Order to the Rail Pass, Conversion Date
    This is the date you go the Japan Rail exchange office in Japan and convert your Exchange Order to your actual Rail Pass. This date cannot be 3 months past the exchange order issue date.
  3. Date you start using your rail pass, Start Date
    This is the date that is stamped on your pass that you can start using the pass. This date cannot be more than 1 month past the Conversion Date
  4. Date where your pass expires, End Date
    This is the last day you can use your pass and travel on the Japan Railways system. The pass expires at 11:59 pm that night.
NOTE: The dates stamped in your pass are in the Year/Month/Day format. The year used is the Japanese Era system which is the number of years the current emperor has been on the throne (Imperial Year). Do not pay attention to the year. Just ensure the Month and Day are correct on your pass before leaving the exchange office.

    What trains can I use the Japan Rail Pass on?

    Not only can you travel on the trains, you can also use the pass on JR Buses and JR Ferry.

    1. TRAINS. You can use your pass to travel all over Japan on all Japan Railways group trains including the "Shinkansen" (bullet train) except the "Nozomi" Trains. or can also the pass on the N’EX (Narita Express) train to/from Narita Airport. The N’EX trains require a reservation which is free with your Japan Rail Pass. For more information on the N’EX trains, consult the Narita Express Site
    2. BUSES. Local lines of JR bus companies (JR Hokkaido Bus, JR Bus Tohoku, JR Bus Kanto, JR Tokai Bus, West Japan JR Bus, Chugoku JR Bus, JR Shikoku Bus, JR Kyushu Bus) and some of JR highway bus services (Sapporo-Otaru; Morioka-Hirosaki; Tokyo-Nagoya, Kyoto, Osaka,Tsukuba Center; Nagoya-Kyoto, Osaka; Osaka-Tsuyama, Kasai Flower Center).
    3. FERRIES. Only the JR Miyajima ferry is covered. The JR Hakata-Pusan (Korea) ferry is not covered.

    I want to research and plan my train journeys prior to leaving for Japan. How do I get more information about Japan Railways train schedules?

    Hyperdia has the complete schedule of JR trains available online. This is a very useful site for planning your travel in Japan. It also gives you the point to point train fares.

    I am travelling with young children. Do they need a pass?

    Children aged 12 and above are considered as adults and need a regular adult pass. Children aged 6 to 11 need to have a child pass and pay 50% of the adult fare. Children 5 and under travel for free with an accompanying parent but are not entitled to a seat.

    How do I reserve my seat on the bullet train?

    Seats can be reserved free of charge at Station Ticket Offices and can be done right up to the train departure time. It would be advisable to reserve seats if travelling during weekdays, or holiday seasons in Japan. Note that there are smoking and non smoking carriages on the bullet trains.

    I am not a Canadian citizen and do not hold a Canadian passport.  Can I purchase a Japan Rail Pass from you?

    The Japan Rail Pass exchange orders we issue can be used by anyone of any nationality as long as this person enters Japan as a tourist. However at this time we only ship to Canadian addresses.

    I have misplaced/lost my Japan Rail Pass exchange voucher, can I get a replacement or a refund?

    Unfortunately nothing can be done if you have misplaced or lost your Japan Rail Pass exchange voucher.  Any unused exchange voucher can be returned and refunded less a penalty up to one year after date of issue. 

    I am a travel agent. Can I purchase from this site?

    Yes you can purchase from us and set the shipping address as your travel agency address and we will ship to your office. If you have steady demand and regular sales of Japan Rail Pass, you can emailt us (orders(at) and we can set up an account for you and set up a compensation scheme for your office.