questions & answers: using the japan rail pass

nozomi, mizuho, hikari, sakura & kodama validity check

Nozomi, Mizuho, Hikari, Sakura & Kodama validity check

We are still trying to understand how this rail pass works and where and to what extent it can be used. According to the stipulation on Japan Rail Pass's website,

"The pass is not valid for “NOZOMI” and “MIZUHO” trains on the Tokaido, Sanyo and Kyushu Shinkansen lines."

Are these the trains on the lines that would take us from Tokyo to Hiroshima, Hiroshima to Kyoto, and Kyoto to Tokyo?. We were considering the JR Rail Pass expressly for using it for these major legs of our trip, as well as anywhere else within those cities that we might be able to use it for transportation.

Thank you,


Hi Okisan,

Yes, the JR Pass is valid on the route from Tokyo to Hiroshima and Kyoto, using the Tokaido Sanyo and Kyushu shinkansen lines. The key point is that the JR Pass is not valid on certain classes of Bullet train. There are several types of bullet train that run on the Tokaido, Sanyo and Kyushu shinkansen lines:

  • Kodama (Normal, stops at all stations)
  • Hikari & Sakura (Express, stops at main stations only)
  • Nozomi & Mizuho (Super Express, stops at very large cities only)

The JR Pass is valid on the Kodama, Hikari and Sakura types of Shinkansen, but is not valid on the Nozomi and Mizuho classes. In practice, the Hikari and Sakura bullets reach the same top speed as the Nozomi and Mizuho trains and use the same type of actual train, but stop at more stops on each route. For example, for the trip down from Tokyo to Kyoto, the Hikari service runs 15mins slower than the equivalent Nozomi service, and so for holiday travel is more than acceptable. There are 2 Hikari/Sakura services an hour on the Tokyo > Hiroshima route so you should find it very easy to get the bullet train you need.

I hope this clears any confusion about valid train classes up!

Expert button 2

Hi mari,

Thank you very much for clarifying this issue. Two Hikari/Sakura services an hour between Tokyo and Hiroshima is more than I could expect. This is great news!

Thank you again,



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