|Above, Tokyo Station. Phjoto by Armand Vaquer.|
Australia's SBWire asks the following question in a new article posted yesterday:
Is the Japan Rail Pass worth it?
This topic has been discussed here on this blog a number of times, but it bears repeating.
Although the article mainly pertains to Australia's Japan Rail Pass Now, it does answer some questions that Americans may be wondering about. The rail pass I've purchased for several trips was the JR Rail Pass (good for the whole country) or the JR East Rail Pass.
The article says there are three important factors to consider before buying a Rail Pass: Itinerary, Time and Flexibility.
In a nutshell, if you are going to Japan and plan to travel to other cities or prefectures outside of Tokyo, then the money savings by purchasing the Rail Pass would be realized.
For example, I spent twelve days in Japan in April 2007. While there, I went from Tokyo to Fukuoka in Kyushu on the shinkansen (bullet train). To get to Fukuoka, the train will take you through Kyoto (after a change of trains in Shin-Osaka). According to the article, "If you were to purchase a Tokyo to Kyoto return trip it would end up costing roughly the same price as a 7 day rail pass." Upon arrival in Fukuoka, I took a slower commuter train from Fukuoka's Hakata Station to Kumamoto Station. The JR Rail Pass was valid for that as well.
While in Kyushu, I took more trains to Mount Aso Volcano National Park, Sasebo City, Nagasaki and and back to Fukuoka. From Fukuoka, I took the shinkansen back to Tokyo. I must have saved at least $1,000 using the Rail Pass for all of these train trips. Generally, the more train trips (of long distance) one takes, the Rail Pass ends up paying for itself.
If you are wondering whether or not to buy a Rail Pass, reading the article could help you reach a decision and possibly save you some money. Go here
to read the article.
The Monster Movie Fan's Guide To Japan
contains information on the Japan Rail Pass.