Don’t worry! All of the preparations beforehand will be stressful, but it is fairly straight-forward to navigate once you’re in Japan. For a good overview, the Japanese government has an agency just for tourists, the Japan National Tourism Organization (JNTO), which provides basic information along with information about specific destinations.
JNTO – Official Tourism Guide for Japan Travel
∟ Japan Travel Planning | Travel Japan
∟ Airport Access | Plan | Travel Japan
∟ Transportation in Japan | Plan | Travel Japan
Authorized vendors outside of Japan issue JR Pass exchange vouchers. These are physical papers which must be presented to the JR office after arriving in Japan, so please make sure to order it with time to spare. Shipping delays or printing errors may occur, so please allow extra time for shipping.
The Japan Rail Company is based in Japan and are the only ones that can issue the actual JR Pass. Non-Japanese passport holders are able to purchase directly with the JR company online or in Japan (currently available until March 31, 2024). Japanese passport holders must purchase from authorized vendors outside of Japan.
Please be careful as there are many “official” looking websites for the JR company! It is not uncommon for people to mistake the official website. Make sure wherever you are buying from is located within the United States and not internationally-based. This will greatly affect the shipping time for exchange vouchers. The company’s actual site for JR Pass purchase is shown below:
JAPAN RAIL PASS | ジャパン・レール・パス (日本語)
JAPAN RAIL PASS (English)
Purchase through IACE Travel
Discounted rate (Cheaper)
Purchase through Japan Rail Company
Those who purchase online can get seat assignments through the online account before arriving in Japan.
The JR Pass covers all reserved seat fees. Be sure to get a seat assignment if you are bringing oversized luggage with you. Seat reservations can be made at the kiosk or at the “Midori no Madoguchi” window either right before you board or up to a month in advance. The “Midori no Madoguchi” or “green window” will have a symbol of a person reclining in a seat.
Shipped from our headquarters in New York City, two shipping methods are available and both include tracking:
$10 ー USPS ー 5-10 business days
$35 ー FedEx ー Next Day, Up to 4 business days
Once the order is placed, we will begin processing your order on the next business day.
Consider purchasing exchange vouchers about 2.5 months to 1 month before your trip’s departure date. The voucher must be exchanged within 90 days of your arrival in Japan, so give yourself extra time to receive them and time to make corrections if the vouchers need to be re-issued.
Unfortunately, the travel industry is still recovering from the impacts of the COVID pandemic. We are currently unable to accommodate customers in person with the exception of very special cases.
A live agent must coordinate office schedules and contact staff at the local office. This is possible for urgent cases as a last resort, but additional handling and pick-up fees will be charged.
Important Note: Non-Japanese passport holders who are departing soon should purchase directly with the JR company (currently available until March 31, 2024).
From Haneda Airport (HND), the Tokyo Monorail can be used.
From Narita Airport (NRT), the JR Narita Express train can be used.
From Kansai Airport (KIX), the Haruka Express train can be used.
When exchanging the voucher, a future activation date may be set. Before the pass is issued, let the JR company staff know what date you want to start using the pass.
The Japan Rail company has shinkansen (bullet trains) and local trains running throughout all of Japan! However, other non-JR trains and modes of transportation are also available. If everything you want to see is centered around JR train stations, then it won’t be an issue.
Non-JR local lines or subways will require an IC card, such as Suica or Pasmo which may also be accepted as payment at some retail shops, convenience stores, and restaurants. IC cards may only be issued within Japan and can be issued and recharged from train station kiosks.
Rental wi-fi is highly recommended and will definitely make life easier! The free wi-fi available in larger cities is limited and may be difficult to continuously access.