JR East has announced the launch of a new pass, the Welcome Rail Pass 2020, available to all holders of non-Japanese passports, whether you're visiting Japan or a long-term resident here.
This pass will allow three consecutive days of unlimited travel on all JR East trains, including shinkansen bullet trains, in Tokyo, Tohoku, Nagano and Niigata, putting plenty of attractive destinations within easy and affordable reach. The coverage area extends as far south to Ito, on the Izu Peninsula, and all the way north to Ominato in Aomori prefecture.
The cost of the pass is just ¥12000 for adults, and ¥6000 for children, and it allows for free seat reservation. (I assume it's possible to buy more than one pass if you want to travel at different times.)
It really brings down the cost of travel around eastern Japan, and will allow visits to a whole range of destinations. For history, there's Matsumoto and Aizu-Wakamatsu, both with impressive castles; onsen lovers can soak in the many baths of Ginzan Onsen in Yamagata or Nyuto Onsen in Akita.
For beautiful scenery, you can see the myriad islands of Matsushima in Miyagi prefecture, or climb the spiritual mountains of Dewa Sanzan, also in Yamagata; snowboarders and skiers can take their pick of the many resorts in Nagano and Niigata; or if you like wildlife, you can pay a visit to the foxes of Zao Village in Miyagi, or the bathing snow monkeys in Nagano (though the last leg of that journey is on a private line not covered by the pass).
The pass will be available for purchase online and at JR East travel service centres. Sales start on October 16th 2020, and end on February 26th 2021, with validity until February 28th.
The website is in English, but also supports Chinese (traditional or simplified), Korean and Thai languages.