Rail - Rail Passes, Tokyo
We learned quickly that getting around Tokyo requires a LOT of reliance on the metro!! And because you will be going through many different gates to get to your stop, it is best to get the all important Pasmo, which is an electronic card that will get you around in the chaotic subways. You can buy these cards at the pink kiosks where they are issued in the subways. For English speakers, there is an English option where the text and voice are in English. Select the amount of cash you wish to deposit. It's best to start with 1000 yen that way it can last you a ways. The balance, at some gateways, are displayed once you scan your card and pass through the gate on the little screen.
All stops have a gate through which you have to pass, you either put in a ticket or scan your Pasmo on the electronic reader. The reader will signal blue if it's a successful entry, and red if you are out of money and need to add more money to your Pasmo. This Pasmo is good alternative to having to buy a single ticket every time you go through a gate.
JR Pass is a special arrangement for tourists visiting Japan. With JR Pass you will be able to use Japan Rail ordinary trains as well as Shinkansen.
Shinkansen also known as bullet trains provide comfortable and fast journeys (upto 300 km per hour), but it comes with an expensive price. The fastest of Shinkansen is Nozomi which only travels between major cities. Unfortunately, JR Pass is not valid on these trains. The fast one is called Hikari and it visits some primary stops between major cities. The slowest of Shinkansen is called Kodama and it stops on primary and secondary stations which extends the duration of journey. JR Pass is valid on Hikari and Kodama trains.
If you will not stay in Japan for a long time and do not intend to travel to more than 2 cities, JR Pass may not worth getting it. An ordinary week pass costs 28300 JPY. You can get 2 weeks or 3 weeks JR Passes too.
If you want to get a JR Pass, you have to apply for it on your country by purchasing an Exchange Order from an authorized sales office or agent before you come to Japan. After your arrival in Japan, you turn in your Exchange Order to receive your JR Pass. From website, you can find all details and locations for this process. Definitely, you have more flexibility with your travels in Japan once you get a JR Pass.
Trains are the most common method of transport in Japan and i highly recommend purchasing a Japan Rail pass from any JAL agency BEFORE arriving in Japan. The J.R pass gives you unlimited access on all J.R railway lines and the Sinkanzen (Bullet Train). If you use your pass for travel on the Shinkanzen then your pass has just paid for itself!
I purchased a 14 day pass and it cost me around $600 (two years ago), i travelled on trains every day and took a trip to Osaka on the Bullet Train. Having the pass saved me money and it was hassle free not having to wait in lines to purchase my ticket & having to work out how much my ticket would cost me.
You can buy your pass for 7, 14,30 days. (you may be able to get one for 60 & 90 days aswell i am not 100%)
Let's forget about too complicated Tokyo Metro's price board! All you have to do before you get on Tokyo's Metro is to get "Passnet" !! It is a prepaid card that can be used directly in the ticket gate. You can get on, get off and transfer completely freely !! Let's get this convenient card at vending machines. You can select the card depends on the amount of money, say, 1000yen, 3000yen and 5000yen. Please visit the Metro Web site more detail....
Since Tokyo has some like 10 train company, and you never know which one is which, I would recommend buying a Suica card when you get to your first station, either at the airport or in town. The Suica card doesn't cost anything but you must leave a deposit of 500 yen, which you get half of that when you return it and whatever money you have left. The best thing about the card is that it works on every train, every metro line in the greater Tokyo area... That way you don't have to fool with money every time you need to get on the train. And on a typical day you'll jump on the train at least 3 times if not more. The train cost based on distance, but the price varies from company to company.. the cheapest we were charged was 90 Yen and the most expensive was 220 Yen ... We were there 5 days and we put in 5000 Yen and we literally used every single yen, we had 500 Yens left and got half of it back at the airport. Well worth it to avoid the hassle of buying tickets each time.
Oh another thing they are valid for 5 years from the last time you use it, just in case you have money left over !!!
We bought a Japan Rail Pass before leaving Australia and it was the best AUD$500 we spent. We used it our 14 day pass to travel from the airport to Shinjuku, for travel around Tokyo, from Tokyo to Nagoya, to Takayama, to Kyoto and Osaka.
When we arrived at the airport we got the cards and got them validated for our trip on the NEX to Shinjuku. The next day we went to the JR Office at Shinjuku Station and booked all our tickets for our upcoming travel to the remaining cities. For travel to these cities, we were given allocated seat passes, however we also used the JR Pass to do a lot of our travel around Tokyo. We seemed to be constantly pulling the JR Pass out of our bags and would have to say it was definitely worth it.
very helpful since you get confused on the vastness and the dizzying number of train and subway lines in tokyo so you need to go to a fare adjustment machine before going out of the station so that no alarm would beep when you swipe your ticket to the exit! don't worry since using the fare adjustment machine is free if your fare is the exact one and you will just be charged extra for the increments of your trip. (for example, a trip from shinagawa to akihabara is 210 yen at the yamanote line and you just paid 130 yen to the ticket at the shinagawa station, after arriving at akihabara station find a fare adjustment machine at akihabara station before going out the staion and pay the difference of 80 yen so that no alarm will sound at the exit booth and you will not be arrested for cheating ok!).
Suica card gives you flexibility with using metro and bus around Tokyo. When you reach Narita Airport, before buying any train tickets to reach Tokyo, go into a JR ticket office. If you show your passport, you will be eligible for getting an ordinary suica & NEX for 3500 JPY. You will be given a Narita Express (NEX) one-way ticket which usually costs around 3000 JPY and within your Suica card there will be 1500 JPY credit and 500 JPY deposit. So actually, you pay half the price for Narita Express. With your Suica card, you can use metro and bus services around Tokyo. The card is a touch type so you don't need to hassle when entering and exiting stations. You can top up your credit balance on increments of 1000 JPY in metro stations. You can also use your Suica card on some vending machines. When you return your Suica card, you will be paid 500 JPY back for deposit.
Well, if you intend to step into the land of JAPAN. The only way to call budget could be the JPN rail pass. It gives thousand of backpacker a conveniet way to move around Japan. Most of all it's affordable.
And remember to get the RAIL PASS outside of JAPAN.
This rail pass cover NOT only the Shikasen but most of the subway lines in Jpn.
a JR rail pass for tourists only, which can only be purchased outside of the country, is a must. It is expensive but will pay for its self in two to three days, especially if you travel on the Sienkasen long distances.
The Shinkansen is by far the most convenient way to travel around Japan. Unfortunately it isn't very cheap! Luckily there is a Japan JR Rail Pass available to foreign travellers. See the JR East website for details:
It must be bought abroad and stamped in Japan before you can use it. There are several options including one week (unlimited JR travel except for the super fast Nozomi service), two week, JR East and JR West passes. Check with your local travel agent for the best option or click on the link to see for yourself!
Here is a link to a very cool page that lets you see the routing between cities/stations/ports within Japan. It will tell you the route and includes the cost and time. http://www.jorudan.co.jp/english/norikae/.
This was the first thing I bought when I oriented myself around Tokyo Station. It's called a Tokyo Furee Kippu, for 1580Yen you can travel pretty much anywhere in central Tokyo. You scratch off the month at the top and the day at the bottom. Then every time you enter or leave a station you just flash it past a guard. It saved me so much time, and hassels! Of course if you have a Japan Rail Pass you won't need this.
The thing I found funny, was that there was absolutely NO information in English on this ticket!!
On the other hand all the subway stations etc. are well signposted in English. Still, it can get confusing!! There are over 20 train lines in Tokyo!
The cheapest way to go around Tokyo.
You can perchase '1 day Traveling Pass' with lesser than 1000JPY for all JR destination in Tokyo Area.
JAPAN RAIL PASS is a special ticket that is available only to travelers visiting Japan from foreign countries for sight-seeing.
Buy the rail pass It gets you all around the city
Ride the train after rush hour in the AM hours
most train have English language signs
They Are very Clean.