Last correction: February 2017
The JRP is definitely the most necessary thing for anyone traveling in Japan. It is a pass that allows to take unlimited trains during one, two or three weeks.
- The JRP can only be purchased outside of Japan. No, you cannot buy it in Japan in any way.
- Who can buy the JRP? Anyone who does not live in Japan and have tourist visa. Therefore, foreigners living there cannot, but the Japanese who live abroad do can.
- It is extremely profitable. A one week JPR costs same as a round trip from Tokyo to Kyoto.
- It is not mandatory reserve a seat on trains, although it is recommended in high season, especially in the Golden Week. There’s always room. I’ve seen people standing on the bullet train unreserved seats carriage for hours.
- You can use all trains on the Japan Rail (note that there are private train companies which don’t belong to the Japan Rail) except Nozomi (mnemonic, the NOzomi NO) and Mizuho Shinkansens. It can also be used on JR buses (in areas where there are no trains) and the ferry to Miyajima.
- Yes, you can use the Yamanote Line and the Circle Line in Tokyo, although I do not recommend activating the JRP for this, because days are wasted on short journeys. For the same reason, I do not recommend activating it at the airport on arrival if you plan to spend some days in the city where you are landing.
- With the JRP you don’t have to queue, you just have to show it when entering the train station.
HOW TO BUY IT
You have to contact a licensed travel agent. In the official website there is a list of agencies by country. It will be sent by ordinary mail a document which must be validated in one of the main train stations in Japan. Once validated, the traveler will get the JRP.
Adult one week ¥ 29,110, ¥ 46,390 two weeks, ¥ 59,350 three weeks. Prices are higher for the first class (Green Cars) and lower for children.