One of the great things about living in Japan is its frankly amazing public transport system. It is easy to forget that other countries cannot compete in this department, and become blasé and accustomed to it – I recently found myself impatiently tapping my foot at a two-minute late subway train, but then you see something new that makes you realize how great it is. Today I found out about the Kanto Area Pass.
For those of you who do not know, the Kanto Area Pass is a discounted ‘norihōdai’ (unlimited ride) pass for Tokyo and the surrounding Kanto area. It is marketed predominantly towards non-Japanese; however, it is not restricted to tourists, meaning that those of us who reside here can get in on the act. Valid for three days, unlike the Seishun 18 Kippu pass that is restricted to local trains, the Kanto Area Pass is good for unlimited rides using reserved seats* on ordinary cars on Shinkansen Bullet Trains, limited express and other trains (although this does not include the Tokaido Shinkansen) for a mere 8,300 JPY for adults or 4,200 JPY for children.
Now, I am sure that you will agree that this is an excellent deal. Unfortunately, there is a downside as the Kanto Area Pass is only available until December 19 2015, when it will undertake something of a change.
Like Superman going into a telephone box and coming out as, well still Superman, but in a slightly more expensive cape, on December 19 the Kanto Area Pass will transform into the Tokyo Wide Pass. With the Tokyo Wide Pass you havb pretty much the same deal – unlimited train travel on most JR rail lines in the Kanto area, but with a couple of minor tweaks. On the down side, at 10,000 JPY for adults and 5,000 JPY for kids, it is a little bit more expensive. However, its reach is extended to include the Tokyo Waterfront Area as well as the Gala Yuzawa, making it ideal for weekend skiing trips.
There are plenty of fantastic places you can get to with either pass:
and many more…
-The entire Tokyo Waterfront Area Rapid Transit Rinkai Line is available on the Tokyo Wide Pass only
-The service from Echigo-Yuzawa Station to GALA Yuzawa Station on the Joetsu Shinkansen is available only on the Tokyo Wide Pass between Saturday, December 19, 2015, and Sunday, May 8, 2016.
For information on other discount train travel in Japan see our guide here.