In Japan, there are a variety of discount train tickets and passes available specifically to tourists who want to explore the country. By doing a little advance planning, you can really take advantage of these deals to save big on your journey.

From the Japan Rail Pass to Tokyo Metro day passes, here we will introduce a variety of the Tokyo train passes for tourists.

About Trains in Japan

While transportation in Japan is fairly straightforward, there are a few points to get accustomed to.

Rail operators in Japan can be broken into two major categories: Japan Railways (JR) and private railway companies.

For this reason, a Japan Rail Pass would be valid on all Japan Railways trains (roughly 70% of transport nationwide), however, it would not be valid on trains of private railway companies or on subways in Tokyo.

Speaking of subways, some cities may have multiple operators for subways. (For instance, Tokyo subways would include Tokyo Metro and Toei Transportation.) A particular train pass may cover one operator but not the others.

Accordingly, when planning your itinerary, it is good to note what train lines are covered and then see what tourist passes best align with where you want to go.

Japan Transit 101: Complete Guide to Using Trains in Japan

1. Japan Rail Pass & Other Tourist Passes From JR East

Japan Rail Pass
If you plan to travel all over Japan with railways and buses, then JR East’s JAPAN RAIL PASS is highly recommended. With a Japan Rail Pass, you can travel without restriction on the Japan Railways network for 7, 14, or 21 days.

The Japan Rail Pass is valid on any Shinkansen bullet train (except for Nozomi and Mizuho), limited express trains, express trains, fast trains, local trains of JR groups, local JR buses, and even on the Miyajima Ferry of JR West.

While this already is a huge variety of different train lines, keep in mind that there are still exceptions.

As a foreign visitor, you can purchase a Japan Rail Pass in Japan, however, it is cheaper to purchase an exchange order before coming to Japan from a JR designated sales office or agent in your country.

These include JTB, the Nippon Travel Agency, Japan Airlines, and the link below.

Once you have arrived in Japan, simply show your exchange order to an exchange counter located in the main JR stations and you’ll receive your Japan Rail Pass.

Two types of Japan Rail Pass
There are two different types: the Green Pass and the Ordinary Pass.

The Green Pass basically makes you eligible for JR’s first-class cars (called green cars).

While ordinary cars are comfortable and mostly perfe…

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