Everything You Need to Know About the JR East Welcome Pass

Everything You Need to Know About the JR East Welcome Pass

The JR Welcome Pass presents its most fabulous deal thus far, with its latest JR EAST Welcome Rail Pass 2020 campaign. This pass allows you to explore the Tohoku and Shinetsu regions of Japan at a fantastic price point of unlimited use for 3 consecutive days for ¥12,000.

The monetary savings this pass provides is noticeable when comparing it to regular shinkansen tickets alone. A trip from Tokyo to Sendai, using the Tohoku Shinkansen Line, is ¥22,000. Whereas, by using a pass, you can ride the same shinkansen for 50% off, plus continue to use the rail pass on local and other connecting trains and buses in the area until the 3-day limit has expired. Additionally, combining this deal with the recent Go-To Travel campaign can provide you with excellent value as you travel.

Another notable benefit of railway passes, in general, is how it allows you to skip long ticket lines at machines and counters. Instead, you can smooth over the unpleasant parts of train travel and get to the part where you sit back with a beer and watch the Japanese landscape speed past.

If you have wanted to plan a weekend getaway to explore Northern Japan, this pass provides you with a legitimate reason to do so. Yet, the opportunity will not be around forever. The JR East company has stated it will issue a limit of 10,000 passes, the selling of which started on October 16, 2020, and will end on February 26, 2021. Passes are valid from October 16, 2020, to February 28, 2021.

What the campaign covers

JR EAST Banner

The JR EAST Welcome Rail Pass 2020 allows individuals who hold a foreign passport to buy a ticket pass that allows you unlimited use of trains in the Tohoku and Shinetsu regions for the space of 3 days.

This unlimited 3-day pass for the JR East region is ¥12,000 for adults (12 years +) and ¥6,000 for children (6 to 11 years). Age restriction decisions are set on the date of ticket purchase, and the sales office will use the child’s passport to verify the child’s age. If your child is under 6 years old, no pass purchase is necessary.

The validity period of 3 days must be consecutive. So, for instance, you can use it on November 5, 6, and 7. But not on November 5, 6, and 10. 

Where to get the pass

Where to get the JR East pass

To purchase this pass, present yourself and your passport at a JR East Welcome Rail Pass 2020 sales office. A list of locations can be found here. (Please note, pass purchases must be made by the traveler and cannot be purchased on behalf of another. Each traveler must present themselves, along with their passports, in order to complete the purchase.)

An option to streamline the process is to use WAmazing, an official partner of Japan’s train lines. Purchase your pass online on their site, and they will provide you with a QR code that you use to collect your ticket at a WAmazing vending machine at Ueno Station. You will need to swipe your passport to collect your ticket, and if you are purchasing multiple tickets, make sure to bring those passports, too. (Tickets for children must be purchased via a JR East sales office.)

How to use the pass

How to use the pass

Keep the pass on you during your travels and swipe or show it at ticket gates. Also, be ready to present your passport along with the rail pass, if asked to do so by a train attendant or station official.

You can use this travel pass on the following transit lines:

  • JR East Train Lines (including JR East’s Bus Rapid Transit lines)

  • Aoimori Railway

  • Echigo Tokimeki Railway (from Myoko Kogen to Naoetsu)

  • Iwate Galaxy Railway (IGR)               

  • Sanriku Railway

  • Shinano Railway

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Where to go

The Tohoku and Shinetsu regions that are covered by this pass are not the most widely traveled by foreign tourists. However, these areas are popular domestic destinations — locations Japanese citizens travel to when they are going on a weekend getaway or taking a holiday trip within their own country.

Nationwide, Tohoku is known for its stunning autumn foliage surrounding Japan’s deepest lake in Akita, its fantastic skiing opportunities in Zao, Yamagata, and other notable destinations that include Ginzan Onsen town, and Risshaku-ji Temple, which sits on a mountain top and boasts views both singular and breathtaking.

Other things to know

  • You must choose your travel dates when purchasing the ticket. Travelers can only change the travel dates once per pass.

  • You can purchase more than one pass so long as the dates issued on the ticket (the travel dates) do not overlap.

  • Once the pass is issued, the traveler must use it within 1 month of its issuance.                

  • Purchasing passes for others is not allowed. Only the individual who has purchased the ticket is allowed to travel using it.

  • Travelers cannot exchange this travel pass for other tickets or passes.

  • Refunds are allowed during the pass’s validity period. To get a refund, apply for it at a JR East Welcome Rail Pass 2020 sales office.          

  • Japanese passport holders are not allowed to purchase these tickets because the purpose of passes like these is to allow visitors to Japan a flexible and value-laden method for visiting Japan’s farther locales.

COVID-19 precautions

JR East is taking stringent precautions to prevent the spread of COVID-19. JR sanitation officers routinely sterilize train cars and all high-touch areas throughout station premises. To view ventilation measures JR trains and shinkansen are undertaking, go here.

Especially critical during these times, when planning your travels, be sure to check the guidelines and precautions that each destination has established for your safety and the safety of others.

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