The Japan Rail Pass – a trusty bang-for-your-buck multi-use ticket for budget-conscious travellers traversing the Land of the Rising Sun – will see its price nearly double come October.
The Japan Railways (JR) Group, which runs the country’s wide-reaching and famously punctual trains, including its high-speed shinkansen bullet trains, did not give a specific date when it announced the price hike in April.
The passes – sold by official JR retailers and authorised foreign travel agencies – can be purchased and used only by short-term tourists to Japan. Japanese citizens who do not reside in the country are also allowed to use them.
Currently, travellers hoping to cover multiple popular destinations such as Tokyo, Osaka and Hokkaido in a single trip can purchase a regular seven-day rail pass at 29,650 yen (S$273).
A return trip on the shinkansen from Tokyo to Osaka without the pass, for example, will cost about 29,000 yen.
In October, the same pass will cost 50,000 yen. A 14-day pass covering all JR lines will rise to 80,000 yen, up from 47,250 yen now.
But travellers can still enjoy the pass at the current price if they order it before Oct 1.
Several online third-party travel platforms such as Klook have a cut-off purchase date of Sept 25, while the official JR Pass website states that it will be on sale at certain physical sales offices in Japan until Sept 30.
Following that, travellers can activate the pass within 90 days from the date of issue. When activating the pass in Japan, they can also choose a start date that is up to 30 days in the future. In other words, some travellers may be able to enjoy the current price until late January.
Despite the JR Pass still being a valuable and convenient option after the price hike, there are other options that continue to be viable alternatives for budget-conscious travellers.