From 1st of April 2014 JR East introduced the new Kanto Area Pass. Many Japan Rail passes are only available to temporary visitors, however the Kanto Area Pass is also available to people living in Japan as long as they hold a foreign passport. In my opinion this pass is a fantastic deal at ￥8,300. It allows you unlimited travel for 3 consecutive days on JR trains, from local to limited express trains including the Shinkansen (there are a few exceptions.) It even includes travel on some non-JR lines, like the Fuji Kyuko private railway to Kawaguchi-ko and Mount Fuji.
You can only buy the Kanto Area Pass in Tokyo, from JR East Travel Service Centers at Narita Airport, Haneda Airport, Tokyo Station, Shinagawa Station, Ueno Station, Shinjuku Station, Shibuya Station, Ikebukuro Station or Yokohama Station. You will need to show your passport and tell the staff which 3 days you plan to use it. You will receive a ticket attached to a folder. However you don't need to start your trip from one of these stations - any JR station is OK. When you use the pass, don't try to go through the ticket gate. Present the folder to the staff at the ticket gate office. The fist time you use it, they will stamp the pass. You should carry your passport with you and present it if asked. That's all there is to it!
I used the pass on a three day trip to Yamanashi recently. I usually travel the cheapest way possible, so it was wonderful to ride in luxurious comfort on Kaiji Limited Express, Super Azusa 31, and Fujikyuko Express, and still not break the budget. Although I didn't really cover a great distance, considering how many times I got on and off the train to take photos, I definitely saved money. I'll certainly be using this pass again in the future.
The pass is perfect for getting out of Tokyo on long weekends. Here are some of the places I am planning to go on my three day jaunts around Kanto area...
Izu Peninsula with its beautiful beaches, the Five Lakes Area with views of Mount Fuji, the stunning scenery and World Heritage temples at Nikko, famous Kusatsu Onsen in Gunma, Fukuroda Falls, Yokohama China Town, and Kamakura with its historic temples.