Is it worth buying a JR-Pass?
I added a JR-Pass 2nd class for 14 days to my sample trip in Japan. This costs 46.390 Yen (September 2014) which is quite a bit. So is this really worth buying? I already travelled Japan with and without the pass here’s a sample calculation which I made using Hyperdia, a homepage for train schedules:
|Narita Airport → Tokyo Station (Narita-Express)||3.020 Yen|
|Tokyo Station → Kyoto (Shinkansen)||13.600 Yen|
|Kyoto → Nara (JR Line)||1.130 Yen|
|Nara → Osaka (JR Line)||800 Yen|
|Osaka → Hiroshima (Shinkansen)||10.230 Yen|
|Hiroshima → Miyajima (RT, JR Line and ferry)||1180 Yen|
|Hiroshima → Nagasaki (Shinkansen and express)||13.690 Yen|
|Nagasaki → Shinagawa Station in Tokyo (Shinkansen and Express)||27.230 Yen|
|= 70.880 Yen|
This makes a difference from 24.490 Yen, so it is way cheaper. I didn’t include any rides on local JR trains in the calculation which makes the pass even better. So if you travel far across the country it’s totally worth it.
Well, so far I only compared travelling on JR, but there are other opportunities too.
For example (night) buses like Willer-Express. And those are cheaper of you only have one destination (e.g. Kansai-Region: Osaka, Kyoto, Nara), especially when you’re riding at night. But you lose flexibility, reservations on JR trains can be cancelled without charge, but bus tickets must be bought in advance and have a cancellation fee. If you aren’t riding on a night bus it takes much longer than the train because there is speed limit of 80km/h on Japanese highways. In comparison the Shinkansen rides with about 300 km/h.
Also Flying sis an option that should included. Flights with Jetstar or JAL could be quite cheap (5000 Yen for Tokyo – Osaka). Flying is faster too, but check-in time and so on must be added which makes longer.
I hope this little comparison is helpful and helps on deciding whether to buy a JR-Pass or not. If in doubt I would suggest calculating it using Hyperdia, but uncheck the boxes Nozomi Shinkansen, Mizuho Shinkansen, Hayabusa Shinkansen, Private Railway and air plane because they aren’t included in the JR-Pass.