New Super Cheap Rail Pass Allows Unlimited Train Travel in North Japan

Photo by aouei/PIXTA

New Super Cheap Rail Pass Allows Unlimited Train Travel in North Japan

Just in case the slew of travel discounts weren't enough to tempt you to travel around Japan, JR East have released a new limited rail pass that allows for unlimited travel on trains around North Japan for three days. It'll only cost ¥12,000 for adults and ¥6,000 for children.

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New Super Cheap Rail Pass Allows Unlimited Train Travel in North Japan

Who Can Use the Pass

The JR East Welcome Rail Pass 2020 can only be bought by those with foreign passports, although it doesn't matter if you're a tourist or resident, unlike the nationwide JR Pass. Making it particularly tempting for residents of Tokyo, where foreigners can easily take weekend trips around Tohoku or Nagano for a steal.

Will Foreign Tourists Be Able to Use it?

Whether or not foreign tourists will be able to take advantage of the deal is still hard to tell. The pass will be sold for use until the end of February next year and it's unlikely foreigners outside of Japan will be able to visit for tourism reasons by then. There is a large possibility this pass will be reissued when overseas tourism resumes however (the pass was originally intended for use during the Summer Olympics but was postposed).

The Scope

Photo by JR East

Although it's being issued by JR East, there are a few non JR lines you'll be able to use the pass with too. The JR East Welcome Rail Pass 2020 will include travel along the Aoimori Railway, Iwate Galaxy Railway (IGR), Sanriku Railway, Echigo TOKImeki Railway (between Myoko-Kogen and Naoetsu), and the Shinano Railway Line as well.

The pass can be used all over Tohoku, but continuing on the shinkansen from Aomori onto Hakodate in Hokkaido will require adding a surcharge. You can also use it to travel further south of Tokyo to Ito in Shizuoka and to Nagano and Niigata (Kanazawa and Toyama are also outside of the area).

Where to Buy it

Photo by YAO23/Shutterstock

From October 16th you'll be able to purchase the welcome pass at JR East Travel Services Centers such as in Tokyo or Shinjuku Station, or online here. JR East will continue to sell the tickets until February 26th.

Just How Much Can You Save

A one way trip to Aomori from Tokyo would set you back ¥17,500 normally. Although there's also the current half price shinkansen promotion, it'd still be that price if you're planning on returning. For ¥12,000 you can travel there and back, saving over ¥5,000, and travel to destinations around the area for free. For example the popular city of Hirosaki would normally cost ¥3,460 return from Aomori, adding further to your savings.

You could also take trips to other places in Tohoku without adding costs. The beautiful samurai town of Kakunodate in Akita would normally cost ¥8,910 to get to from Aomori for example. It's a great way of touring this beautiful region of Japan without incurring the high transportation costs that would normally be required.


As a three-day pass, this new rail pass makes for the perfect excuse to take weekend excursions for those living in Tokyo. If you're living further afield it's still a viable option to save on transportation costs while exploring the north.