questions & answers: using the japan rail pass

rail pass for a student exchange

Rail Pass for a student exchange


This summer I am going to do a student exchange in Akita for about 6 weeks, and I am wondering what is the best deal for purchasing this rail pass.

1) I am thinking of purchasing two 21-days pass or (one 21-days and one either 7 or 14-days). I will most likely travel during the weekends or weekdays after class. Is that a good deal?

2) When I purchase the tickets, where can I activate them? Is it available in both Narita Airport and Akita city (when I want to activate my second pass)?

3) In case I realize that the pass(es) expire before the end of the exchange session, is there any way I can purchase another pass when in Japan?

4) Just want to make sure: the pass is only valid for JR railways, ferry, and buses only. Therefore, if I were to use local, non-JR public transports I still need to pay their respective fee. Is this correct?

Below is the general itinerary:
June 16: Arrive at Tokyo, spending a night
June 17: Departure to Akita
June 17-Late July: Exchange session, possible travelling in between
Late July: Return to Tokyo, Return to home country

Thank you. I am looking forward to your reply.



Hi Alvin,

Since you are coming to Japan for 6 weeks you will probably be alright but please be sure that you enter Japan under a 90 day Tourist Visa, otherwise you won't be able to make use of the JR Pass.

Going to your questions:

1.) It would depend on the distance that you travel, you will be able to make savings quickly if you travel frequent by Bullet Rail, however it may be better just to buy tickets if you travel local.

2.) You can find a list where you can activate your JR Pass here. Both Narita Airport and Akita are included.

3.) You can only buy a JR Pass outside of Japan! Please be very careful about this.You may however have someone else order it for you abroad and than ship it to Japan.

4.) Here is a detailed explanation of what is covered by the JR Pass. In short, all JR lines, local JR buses and the ferry between Hiroshima and Miyajima. This also includes the new Super Komachi train that was just put into service this March, its a complete new bullet train and makes for a great ride. We also have a great interactive map that you can use to see what is covered and make your travel plans.

Hope this helps,


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