So, one thing we knew we would be doing a lot of in Japan was travelling on their trains – hopefully on a few Shinkansen (bullet trains!). We did a bit of research before we went and found out the cheapest way of using their trains was to buy a 14 day Japan Rail Pass (JR Pass) which you can buy here…
There are different options for comfort as well as the length you need them for. We went standard class and bought 14 days from the time of arrival which was about £341 each – but we worked out it was cheaper that way than buying as we travel as we used so many trains! I would advise you buy about a month or more before because you get sent some documents through the post that you then exchange for your Pass when you arrive in Japan. You can do this in both Narita and Haneda airports and they speak English and are very helpful. One thing to note is you CANNOT buy the Pass once you arrive in Japan!
Once you have your pass you can pretty much get on any train ran byJapan railways (which is a lot and includes all but 2 Shinkansen trains) If you go to the ticket office of any station and show your pass they will tell you which trains to get/where to change and if you can reserve a seat they will do this for you. It’s so simple and no need to reserve in advance – if there are no reservations left you can get on the unreserved carriage and are mostly guaranteed a seat. All signs are in English as well as Japanese so it’s easy to get around.
In Tokyo, there are several lines that you can use your JR Pass to get around the city, otherwise you can use the buses or Tokyo Metro which are super cheap and easy to use. If you ask any official worker at an office on the Metro they will give you a Metro map in English.
It’s a great way to see Japan and well worth the money if you plan on travelling a long way with it. The only place we had to pay extra apart from the city Metro’s was to go up to Mt. Fuji. It runs it’s own train line and you have to pay extra for it.