It’s very easy to buy a Japan Rail Pass online before you arrive in Japan, with a reliable and efficient online rail pass vendor. Here are all the details of how to order your pass in advance.
Japan Rail Pass with shinkansen : antb / Shutterstock.com
Why Buy A Japan Rail Pass Online?
In recent years, Japan Railways (JR) has started selling Japan Rail Passes inside Japan. At the time of writing this is a temporary program. Many people prefer to buy their pass before arriving in Japan, both for convenience, and to avoid waiting on lines at JR ticket offices upon arrival in Japan. Note, that what you buy is officially called an “exchange order,” which you bring to any major JR station after arriving in Japan, where they will give you the actual pass. For full details on the entire process, check out Japan Rail Pass: How to Make the Most of It.
How to Buy a Japan Rail Pass Online
If you choose to buy your pass before arriving in Japan, you’ll find plenty of sites online selling them. One site we have tested several times are fast, efficient and reliable, and they’ll send your exchange order from Japan by EMS (Japan’s international express mail service). Here’s a step-by-step summary of the process. (Please note: the links in this article are affiliate links).
First, go to the Japan Rail Pass page.
Japan Rail Pass Page top – image © Chris Rowthorn
Scroll down to the options section of the page and hit “select” for the pass(es) you want.
Japan Rail Pass page options – image © Chris Rowthorn
You’ll be taken to a page where you must input participants (ie, number of passes) and date (ie, the date your journey in Japan will begin). Input the number of adult and child passes you want. Also, indicate the approximate start date of your time in Japan (this does not have to be exact – they just want to know if they’ll be enough time to get the exchange order to you by express mail).
Participants and date page – image © Chris Rowthorn
Once you’ve done that, on the right, it will show the total price in Japanese yen. Hit “add to cart.”
Price calculation – image © Chris Rowthorn
You will then be taken to a page that shows your subtotal. You can continue to choose items (“continue shopping”) or you can go to checkout (“go to cart”). Here, we choose to go to checkout (go to cart).
Shopping or checkout page – image © Chris Rowthorn
The cart page will show the total cost of you pass (es). If you want to have the exchange order sent to your home, scroll down and on the left side select “add worldwide shipping.”
Cart Page – image © Chris Rowthorn
You’ll be taken to a page where they try to sell you other things (the “upsell” page). If you don’t want to buy anything else, scroll down and hit “I’m all set! Take me to checkout.”
Upsell page – image © Chris Rowthorn
You need to create an account or proceed with Facebook.
Account page – image © Chris Rowthorn
After creating account you must enter your full name, gender, delivery address (or, address of hotel in Japan), contact name and number at delivery address, the date you will depart home country, and the date you will convert your exchange order into a pass (this can be approximate).
Details form – image © Chris Rowthorn
You will then have to input your credit card details. After doing this, hit “complete payment.”
Payment form – image © Chris Rowthorn
After checking out, you will get a screen saying your order is in review. You can then log out.
Order summary page – image © Chris Rowthorn
You will soon receive an email confirming that they have received your order and are reviewing it.
Order received email – image © Chris Rowthorn
A few days later, you will receive an email saying that they’ve shipped your exchange order(s). This will also give you tracking information.
Shipping confirmation email – image © Chris Rowthorn
You will then receive the package in the mail. In my case, the pass arrived six days after I placed the order. This is typical for North America and Europe. We suspect that other parts of Asia and Australia might require less time.
EMS package received – image © Chris Rowthorn
Here’s what the exchange order looks like. You bring this, along with your passport, to a JR station in Japan and they’ll give you your rail pass. It’s very easy. You can do this at Narita, Haneda or Kansai airports (along with most other major Japanese airports). Or, you can wait until you get into a city (if you’re too tired from flying and don’t want to stand on line).
Exchange order for Japan Rail Pass. – image © Chris Rowthorn
Check the Japan Rail Pass page to order your own Japan Rail Pass online.
Other Useful Information About Japan Rail Passes
Kyoto Vacation Checklist
- For all the essentials in a brief overview, see my First Time In Kyoto guide
- Check Kyoto accommodation availability on Booking.com – usually you can reserve a room with no upfront payment. Pay when you check out. Free cancellations too
- Need tips on where to stay? See my one page guide Where To Stay In Kyoto
- See my comprehensive Packing List For Japan
- Buy a data-only SIM card online for collection when you arrive at Kansai International Airport (for Osaka and Kyoto) or Tokyo's Narita Airport. Or rent an unlimited data pocket wifi router
- Compare Japan flight prices and timings to find the best deals
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