Expected to launch this September, JBL (Japan Bus Lines) will start issuing the 'JBL Pass' that will offer unlimited express bus rides across Japan. The pass will cover around 100 express routes from north Hokkaido all the way to the southernmost tip of Kyushu.
JBL is a consortium of 60 regional bus companies—including Willer Express, Keisei, Odakyu and JR—aiming to improve bus access and services to foreign tourists looking to travel Japan by bus.
The JBL pass will be sold online from Japan Bus Lines website which is available in English, Chinese, and Korean. There are two types of bus pass, priced at ￥20,000 for a one week journey and ￥28,000 yen for two weeks. Prior reservations will still be required to travel.
The pass will likely be a great alternative for budget travelers. Offering value for money on extended trips, tourists could theoretically save a considerable amount on accommodation expenses too, by using night bus routes.
Compared to the JR Rail Pass that costs around ￥30,000 for a week trip, traveling with this new pass definitely unlocks a new way of travelling Japan at low cost. Besides, you can also enjoy the view that is normally missed by high speed train, not to mention discover regional Service Areas (SA) up and down the country (often tourist spots in their own right).
The consortium is expected to gradually improve English signage across the network and usage in their service to accommodate more foreign tourists coming to Japan.