JR East Launches Welcome Pass 2020

Travel around east Japan using this cheap pass

By Peter Sidell    - 2 min read

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.

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Peter Sidell

Peter Sidell @peter.sidell

I came to Japan from Manchester, England in 2003, and have travelled a lot since then, around Japan and in Asia. When I'm not working, I write satire and perform stand-up comedy in and around Tokyo. Check YouTube for a taste.

Join the discussion

Susan Tumanon 2 months ago
Looking forward to using this during the winter season break. Convenient and cheap way to explore the Tohoku region using the shinkansen.
Peter Sidell Author 2 months ago
I'm hoping to use it to go to Ginzan Onsen, if I can find somewhere there that isn';t absurdly expensive to stay!
Bonson Lam 3 months ago
This is almost as cheap as a 5 day “youth 18 “ pass but much more convenient with rides on limited express and the Shinkansen
Elizabeth S 3 months ago
This is a great deal. If I can get my mitts on a pass, it will likely save me half or more of the train fare.
Kim 3 months ago
Great news! I know a lot of folks who will be happy to hear this.
Sleiman Azizi 3 months ago
That's a good deal. A couple of days of long-distance sightseeing without breaking the bank.