Riding the Rails: Train Passes for Foreign Residents

ByMichael Stigall
Aug 30, 2022

Riding the Rails: Train Passes for Foreign Residents

We’ve discussed Japan’s rail passes before, including most recently reviewing the options available for Kanto residents, but what about if you’re living in or traveling to one of the other spectacular regions of Japan? Obviously, there is the Japan Rail Pass, but that is only good is you are a non-resident. So what is a resident to do when they want to ride the rails and see this amazing country region by region? Luckily, we have you covered with run down of regional passes. Some are available for only a limited time while some are available year-round. Either way, pick a region, get your rail pass, and safe travels!

Kyushu Rail Pass

This rail pass is also only available until the end of September 2022, but comes with many different options. You can purchase a 3-day pass for 17,000 yen or a 5-day pass for 18,500 or a 7-day pass for 20,000 yen. Additionally, you can chose from a version that covers the northern half of the island, or the southern half, or the whole island. Foreign residents can purchase tickets online or at major JR Kyushu rail stations such as Hakata.

JR Shikoku Pass

Perhaps you want to have a quieter excursion though. Perhaps even take a shot at completing the famous Shikoku Pilgrimage? In that case, the JR Shikoku Pass is an option that would give you 3 days worth of travel around the smallest of Japan’s main islands. Since it included limited express trains as well as local trains, this is a particularly good and fast way to see the major sights on the island and maybe try to visit some (or all) of those 88 temples. The price is 11,000 yen and it is available for sale online at travel sites such as Rakuten. Hurry on this one though as it is only offered through September of 2022.

Kansai Wide Area Excursion Pass

Many people know about the Kansai Area Wide Pass, but this is a special version that is valid for 3 days instead of the usual 5. While you don’t have as much time as the tourist-version, this is still a good deal that let’s you travel to your heart content through one of the most culture-rice areas of Japan. Tickets are 10,000 yen and available online at retailers such as Rakuten and Klook.  Don’t miss out on this one since it is only available through March of 2023.

JR East Nagano Niigata Area Pass

This pass is also worth a look covering most of the Kanto area as well as Yamanashi, Nagano, and Niigata prefectures, which are some of the most beautiful and mountainous areas of Japan. This pass offers 5 days of travel, which you will definitely need, for 18,000 yen.  It is available year round, so you can check out the slopes in the winter or get in some hiking during the warmer months. It can be purchased online or at major JR East Stations.

Tokyo Wide Pass

This one is extra helpful regardless of whether you live in the capital or not. The Tokyo Wide Pass is available for 3 days at a 10,180 yen, which is a steal. Not only does it give you access to JR and some non-JR lines, but it covers a huge area including the Izu Peninsula, Karuizawa, and the Fuji Five Lakes. The best part? It is available year round and is available at most of the major stations in the Tokyo area.

JR East Tohoku Area Pass

After a trip through the Kanto Plain, you may be tempted to just stay in Tokyo, but there is still more to see further to the Northeast and this is where the JR East Tohoku Area Pass comes in. It covers JR trains and some non-JR trains throughout a good portion of the Tohoku as well as Kanto Area for 5 days, meaning that now you have no excuse to miss visiting Nikko. The price is 20,000 yen and the pass can be purchased online or at large JR East stations.

Sapporo-Noribetsu Area Pass

So far we have talked about the other islands of Japan such as Honshu, Shikoku, and Kyushu but what about Hokkaido? There is a train pass available for the area between Sapporo and Noribetsu available through the end of September. The pass is good for 4 days and is a bargain at 8,500. The pass can be purchased at Noribetsu Station, Sapporo Station, and the New Chitose Airport station. 

Sapporo-Furano Area Pass

There is also another, slightly more expensive, pass that goes between Sapporo and Furano. For 9,500 yen you can ride for 4 days from Sapporo to Furano, as well as everywhere in between.  This pass can be purchased at Asahikawa Station, Sapporo Station, and the New Chitose Airport station.

JR Group, Monaneko, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

About the author

Michael Stigall editor

Leave a Reply