Short answer: yes you can, as long as the Japan Rail Passes you buy are used within 3 months. In fact, it’s one of my top tips for getting more of a feel for Japan.
I’ve used the Japan Rail Pass countless times to explore Japan, and it’s by far the best way to travel around and maximise your travel bang for buck.
Though it sounds weird before you actually use the JRPass, the thought of travelling 800km to go and eat a particularly great bowl of Hakata Ramen doesn’t sound that crazy after a week of bombing about Japan at 210km/h…
Needless to say, this sort of breakneck cherry-picking of the sights and tastes of Japan is brilliant, but you can end up spending more time on the trains than milling around and enjoying the country!
Slow down a little and enjoy Japan
In recent years when I’ve been able to go on longer breaks, I’ve started to take 2 × 7-day passes. I’ll use the first to zip around the country and see friends, then settle down in a new part of the country or go hiking somewhere (Yakushima is highly recommended) for a week and really soak it in. Finally, I’ll use the second Japan Rail Pass to finish up eating my way from city to city.
Damn that Hakata Ramen: smells weird, but tastes great…
Unlimited travel on the Japan Rail network from $2,118 for 7 days