the route of the newly launched Hokuriku Shinkansen is included in the Takayama-Hokuriku Area Tourist Pass (Photo: CC by i北陸 (i Hokuriku))
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JR to Sell Special Tourist Passes

Two special rail passes for tourists available in July

JR Central and JR West have announced the launch of two special rail passes exclusively targeted towards foreign tourists, both of which can be purchased starting July 1st.

The Takayama-Hokuriku Area Tourist Pass is an upgrade over its predecessor (which is available until June 26th) - although more expensive by 3,000 yen, the pass now also covers the area between Takayama, Kanazawa, and Toyama, and newly includes Kansai Airport.

For 13,500 yen (half price for children aged 6-11), pass owners are granted 5 consecutive days of unlimited travel on JR trains from Nagoya to Toyama and from Kansai Aiport to Kanazawa, on Shinkansen trains from Kanazawa to Toyama, and on buses from Kanazawa to Takayama and from Shirakawa-go to Shin-Takaoka. Furthermore, pass holders are also allowed up to four free reservations on limited express trains (excluding the Shinkansen and Haruka Express Trains).

With this pass, tourists can access a variety of popular destinations such as big cities Osaka, Nagoya, and Kyoto, the beautiful Kenroku-en in Kanazawa, the World Heritage Site Shirakawa-go, and renowned hot springs such as the Gero Onsen and Kaga Onsen, for a significant discount.

The Ise-Kumano Area Tourist Pass allows tourists unlimited travel for 5 consecutive days on JR trains from Nagoya to Toba and Kii-Katsuura, as well as on certain buses within the Mie Kotsu and Kumano Kotsu bus operating areas, for only 10,500 yen (half price for children aged 6-11) - much cheaper than buying single tickets each time. Furthermore, pass holders are also allowed up to four free reservations on limited express trains.

Possible tourist sites pass holders may be interested are the famous Ise Jingu Shrine, Futamigaura (and the famous Meoto-iwa), and the Kumano Kodo, a World Heritage Site.

The Area Tourist Passes will be available for purchase online or at certain overseas travel agencies; they can only be purchased by non-Japanese passport holders with a "short-term stay" visa, who will receive an exchange ticket (MCO). Once in Japan, they can exchange the MCO for the rail pass at designated JR stations (Tokyo, Shinagawa, Shin-Yokohama, Nagoya, Kyoto, Shin-Osaka, Osaka, Komatsu, Kanazawa, Toyama).

More Information

Official Website (contains maps of coverage area)

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Jeff S 8 years ago
Hi Edward,

If I'm making my base in Kyoto, can I make it to Gokayama, enjoy the place and back to Kyoto on the same day?

Cheers, Jeff
Malcome Larcens 8 years ago
Hi how does it differ from the Japan Rail Pass. I use the JR Railpass several times before as a tourist. Last year some of my family visiting used it too. JR Railpass gives people access to almost all or JR lines for about the same price.
Edward Yagisawa Author 8 years ago
Hi Malcome,

I believe that the difference is that the two special passes only limit traveling to those specific areas for 5 days, whereas the Japan Rail Pass can be used on pretty much any JR line nationwide and can be used for 7, 14, or 21 days. However, prices for the Japan Rail Pass start from 29,110 yen (ordinary 7 day pass), while you can buy the above passes for less than half that price. So if you're thinking about exploring the Takayama-Hokuriku region or the Ise-Kumano area specifically, then the special passes mentioned in the article might be the sweeter deal, but if you want to travel cross-country then the Japan Rail Pass might be better. Hope that helps!

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