Only tourists are able to purchase the famous Japan Rail Pass, which allows travelers to flit around the country on the normally expensive Shinkansen. What you may not know, is that there are a few regional rail passes that foreign passport holders on any visa can purchase. That means you, foreign residents of Japan!

These passes are available indefinitely, but in the past there have also been passes available to foreign residents for limited periods of time. Oh, and there are even some rail passes that can be purchased by anyone, even Japanese citizens.

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Overview of rail passes currently available

We’ve divided up the passes into two categories: The first is regional rail passes that are specifically for foreign residents — meaning you must have a foreign passport to be eligible to purchase the pass. Sometimes passes that are only intended for foreign tourists (meaning you entered Japan on a temporary “tourist” visa) become availble to foreign residents (in Japan on any visa), so watch this space!

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The second category is rail passes that have no eligibility restrictions (though they may have black out dates), meaning even Japanse citizens can purchase them. Some of these are available only for a limited time.

Pro tip: Also consider these JR Pass alternatives, many of which are available to foreign residents.

Rail passes for foreign residents

The following JR regional rail passes are currently available to foreign passport holders on any visa:

PassKey destinationsShinkansenDeadline to purchasePriceBooking links
Tokyo Wide PassNikkō, Izu Peninsula, Fuji Five Lakes, Karuizawa & Gala YuzawaHokuriku Shinkansen to Sakudaira; Jōetsu Shinkansen to Gala Yuzawa; Tōhoku Shinkansen to Nasu Shiobara ¥15,000Klook
JR East Nagano & Niigata Area PassNikkō, Izu Peninsula, Karuizawa, Gala Yuzawa, Kusatsu Onsen, Nagano & NiigataHokuriku Shinkansen to Jōetsu Myōkō; Jōetsu Shinkansen to Niigata; Tōhoku Shinkansen to Nasu Shiobara¥27,000Klook or Headout
JR East Tōhoku Area PassNikkō, Izu Peninsula, Karuizawa, Gala Yuzawa, Kusatsu Onsen & TōhokuHokuriku Shinkansen to Sakudaira; Jōetsu Shinkansen to Gala Yuzawa; Tōhoku Shinkansen to Shin-Aomori (Aomori) ¥30,000Klook or Headout

*Passes for children 6–11 are half-price

Passes without booking links must be purchased in-person at select train stations. See sections on individual passes for more details.

Rail passes that anyone can use

The following JR regional rail passes are currently available to anyone (regardless of visa or passport status). There is still some fine print, though, like blackout dates and purchase specifications. For example, the JR Kyūshū Hello! Freetime Net Pass (both the All Kyūshū and the Northern Kyūshū versions) must be purchased online via the JR East and JR Kyūshū portal sites (in Japanese; respectively) after setting up a (free) acccount.

PassKey destinationsShinkansenPriceBooking linkNotes
JR Kyūshū Hello! Freetime Net Pass (All Kyūshū)All KyūshūKyūshū & Nishi-Kyūshū Shinkansen (full lines)¥19,800Over 60s only
JR Kyūshū Hello! Freetime Net Pass (Northern Kyūshū)Northern Kyūshū (Fukuoka, Nagasaki, Yufuin, Beppu & KumamotoKyūshū Shinkansen between Hakata (Fukuoka) & Kagoshima; Nishi-Kyūshū Shinkansen to Nagasaki (full line)¥9,800Over 60s only
Expert Traveler Kyūshū to One’s Heart’s Content TicketAll KyūshūN/A¥11,000
Seishun 18 TicketAll JapanN/A¥12,050Local lines only. Seasonal availability.

Scroll to the bottom to read more about the individual passes and how to purchase them.

Tokyo Wide Pass

The excellent Tokyo Wide Pass gives you three days of consecutive travel in the Kantō area. That means excursions to Nikkō, the Izu Peninsula, Karuizawa, and (in winter) ski resort Gala Yuzawa (among other places). Find out more about what you can do with the Tokyo Wide Pass.

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The pass costs ¥15,000 and can be purchased here.

JR East passes

JR East has two passes that can be purchased by foreign passport holders of any visa status: the Nagano & Niigata Area Pass and the Tōhoku Area Pass. With the Nagano & Niigata Area Pass, you get Shinkansen travel in Niigata and Nagano — perfect for hitting the slopes or summer hiking trips.

The Tōhoku Area Pass, meanwhile, gives you some Shinkansen travel in Niigata and Nagano plus travel along the entire length of the Tōhoku Shinkansen. This pass is ideal for exploring this undervisited region in depth.

Both passes are good for five days of consecutive travel. The Nagano & Niigata Area Pass costs ¥27,000 and you can buy it here. The Tōhoku Area Pass costs ¥30,000; purchase it online here.

See our article on JR East regional rail passes for more details, plus ideas for where to travel.

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Pretty Shiraito Falls in Karuizawa, one of the places you can visit with the Tokyo Wide Pass or a JR East Pass. | Photo by

Discount rail passes that anyone can use

There are also discount travel schemes that have no eligibility requirements. These can be used by anyone, including Japanese citizens. Sadly none of them are as good of a deal as the passes created specifically for tourists — but they can still save you money.

JR Kyūshū has a 3-day pass — what it’s calling the Hello! Freetime Net Pass — that resembles the Kyūshū rail passes for foreign tourists. Except it costs more and you have create an online account with JR Kyūshū (in Japanese). Oh, and you have to be over 60 years old.

There’s also a discount scheme called something like “Expert Traveler Kyūshū to One’s Heart’s Content Ticket” (旅名人の九州満喫きっぷ) that gives you three non-consecutive days of travel (or one day for three people) on any local train in Kyūshū, JR or otherwise. It costs ¥11,000 and must be bought from a train station or travel agent in Kyūshū.

Finally, there’s always the famous Seishun 18 ticket, which gives you five non-consecutive days of unlimited travel on JR local and rapid trains. It costs ¥12,050 and can be bought from most JR train stations.

While we strive to make sure all details are correct, information is subject to change. Post first published in July 2022. Last updated October 2023.

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Filed under: Transport
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