Japan Rail Pass for Tokyo Disneyland & Universal Studios Japan

While planning your trip to Tokyo Disney Resort, Universal Studios Japan, and the rest of this wonderful country, one question that comes up is whether it’s worth buying the Japan Rail Pass for. The answer is “it depends”. I’ll help you decide whether it’s right for you and give you an ideal itinerary to make the most out of your pass.

There are a large number of articles out there already that go in-depth about the Japan Rail Pass, but I wanted to add my spin on it for those wanting to include Tokyo Disneyland and Universal Studios Japan in their itinerary.

Table of Contents

What is the Japan Rail Pass?

The Japan Rail Pass allows short-term visitors (90-day tourist visa) unlimited travel across Japan using the world-renown Shinkansen (bullet train), JR Commuter trains, JR Buses, JR Ferries, and even the Narita Express.

Rail pass users are issued a paper pass the size of a small greeting card that you present to the staff at the train gates to gain access to the platforms (this is for ordinary trains). For the Shinkansen bullet train, you can book your tickets in person at a JR ticketing office (also known as a midori-no-madoguchi) and present your Japan Rail Pass when making your reservation.

The official website has a list of locations to book your tickets (in English), also how to use the ticket machines.

How to Buy the Japan Rail Pass

Japan Rail Pass

I highly recommend buying the Japan Rail Pass before you get to Japan (saves you time and money). Get your JR Rail Pass in advance through one of these trusted affiliates:

Choose the duration of your pass and you’ll have an “Exchange Order” mail to you. You’ll then exchange that for the JR Rail Pass. It’s simple, easy, and worry-free. You can choose the Standard Pass or the Green Pass First Class.

Japan Rail Pass Official Vendor Prices

 Standard (Adult)Standard (Child)Green Pass (Adult)Green Pass (Child)
7 Days¥29110 ($263USD)¥14550 ($132USD)¥38880 ($351USD)¥19440 ($175USD)
14 Days¥46390 ($420USD)¥23190 ($210USD)¥62950 ($569USD)¥31470 ($285USD)
21 Days¥59350 ($536USD)¥29670 ($268USD)¥81870 ($740USD)¥40930 ($370USD)

A child is considered ages 6 to 11. The Green Pass gets you access to seats in First Class which includes perks such as larger seats and luggage areas, onboard service, seat reservations, and separate train facilities.

Can I Buy the JR Rail Pass in Japan?

You can buy your JR Rail Pass when you arrive in Japan, but it’ll cost you extra (more on this below). Historically, you were only able to buy a Japan Rail Pass prior to arriving in Japan. However, JR Rail sells passes at select ticketing offices throughout the country.

Until March 31, 2021, you can buy the JR Rail Pass when you arrive in Japan. It starts at ¥33,610 (US$300) for the 7-Day Ordinary Pass. This is perfect if you forgot to buy it or made a last-minute trip.

Buying the JR Rail Pass Online

The easiest way is to buy from the trusted vendors listed above. However, starting Summer 2020, you’re able to buy the JR Rail Pass online officially through the Japan Rail website.

You’ll buy through the website and pick it up once you arrive in Japan.

Should I Buy the Japan Rail Pass?

If you’re only staying in the Tokyo area and/or Tokyo Disney Resort, then the simple answer is no. You’re best buying various day passes or Tokyo Wide Pass if you plan to do small trips within Tokyo. Most of these passes won’t cover transportation to/from Tokyo Disney Resort (as it’s outside the Tokyo Area) but are perfect for within the city.

I recommend buying a Suica or Pasmo Card which is a contactless payment card (IC Card) which you can use to pay for transit. It can be purchased from any ticket machine (press English to make it easier) for a ¥500 deposit, add money to the card (again this is done on the machine), then you can tap through the ticket gates without having to buy a ticket. The best part about this is, you don’t have to figure out how much your trip costs, it calculates it for you.

Travelling Beyond Tokyo

If you want to travel outside of Tokyo (Osaka, Kyoto, Hiroshima, Northern Japan) via Shinkansen, then the simple answer is yes – you will want a Japan Rail Pass. You can work this into your trip if you want to visit Tokyo Disney Resort, Universal Studios Japan, LEGOLAND Japan, or Huis Ten Bosch. Of course, experience plenty of other non-themed park-related aspects of Japan.

The cost of a round-trip Shinkansen Hikari from Tokyo Station to Shin-Osaka Station is ¥28,680 (~$260USD). While the cost of at the 7-day Japan Rail Pass is ¥29,110 (~$263USD). Which is a difference of ¥430 (~$4USD). You’ll make up the difference by taking local trains and taking the Shinkansen to/from Kyoto. Use Hyperdia to price out your trips.

Get your JR Rail Pass before you go:

Note: Japan Rail Pass doesn’t include the faster Shinkansen bullet trains which are the Nozomi and Mizuho. You can ride the slower Hikari, however.

14-Day Japan Itinerary

14-Day Japan Itinerary

Here’s a suggested itinerary with the 7-Day Japan Rail Pass that includes Tokyo Disney Resort, Universal Studios Japan, and other popular tourist destinations. This is a 14-Day itinerary to get the most out of your 7-Day Japan Rail Pass and to experience the highlights of Japan (certainly not all of it but that means there’s more to see next time).

I suggest taking an Airport Limousine Bus (from either Narita or Haneda Airport) to Tokyo Disney Resort, that way you don’t have to activate your Japan Rail Pass until after you’re done at the parks. After Tokyo Disney Resort, head to Tokyo Station and exchange for your pass.

  • 4 Days at Tokyo Disney Resort
  • 2 Days in Osaka and Nara
    • Activate your pass when travelling to Osaka and reserve your Shinkansen ticket
    • Use Osaka as your home base
  • 1 Day at Universal Studios Japan
  • 1 Day in Hiroshima
  • 1 Day in Kyoto
  • 4 Days in Tokyo
    • Take the Shinkansen from Osaka to Tokyo. You should be left with one full day left on your pass. Use this within Tokyo. For the rest of the days, use your Pasmo card or buy one of the days passes listed above.
  • Last day make your way to the airport

Once you leave Tokyo, use Osaka as your home base and take the Shinkansen to Hiroshima and Kyoto as day trips (this is my preference). Then the local trains (JR Yamatoji Line) to Nara to make use of your pass. Afterward, head back to Tokyo for the rest of your trip.

Other Japan Rail Passes

There are a number of other passes that cover specific areas of Japan. Chances are you won’t need these, but it’s good to know if you do.

In short, if your trips consist of only Tokyo Disney Resort and the greater Tokyo area then there is no need for the Japan Rail Pass. As soon as you want to do a single round-trip on the Shinkansen to another part of Japan, then it’s worth the money.

Explorer Thoughts?

Have you used the Japan Rail Pass before? Share with us your itinerary in the comments!

Feature photo by Fikri Rasyid on Unsplash.

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Add yours
  1. Chrissy D

    Thank you Chris – this is such a valuable post for your audience (traveling to Japan and mostly staying around Tokyo and TDR.) You’re totally right that those other more comprehensive guides aren’t as helpful as a post like this that’s very specific. Thank you!

  2. Thom Ferlisi

    I love the pass. It paid for itself for a week long trip with a two day excursion to Kyoto, five days traveling only on JR Tokyo metro, and the trip from Narita… it was amazing!

  3. ade rafida

    I did buy JR pass when my kids and i visit Japan in last April 2017. By using JR pass makes our journey within Japan much easier. We were visited Osaka, Kyoto, Shirakawago and Aomori to see cherry bloosom at Hirosaki park. Next time when we visit Hokaido island i will buy JR Pass again. Because i want to use it from Tokyo to Sapporo and other parts of Japan.

  4. mark rowlands

    Agree entirely that Japan Rail Pass is a must if you are exploring more than Tokyo – we did Tokyo, Kamakura, Kyoto, day trip to Hiroshima, day trip to Nara and 3 days at Tokyo disneyland. Rail pass saved us a lot of money (as a family of 5).

  5. The Ultimate Tokyo Disney Trip Planning Guide | TDR Explorer

    […] If you’re staying in Japan longer than 7 days and plan on visiting other parts of the country, I recommend buying the JR Rail Pass. Which gives you unlimited use of certain trains in Japan for different time periods. As an example, the cost of a bullet train (shinkansen) ride round-trip to Tokyo is just under the cost of the 7-day pass. To see if this is right for you, our informative blog post gives you a price breakdown. […]

  6. Ben

    Hi, i want to buy the JR 7 days pass, but i am confused on how to plan, the itenary will be arriving at tokyo narita , plan to be in tokyo, osaka and kyoto and disney land to be the last before the airport . So how do i plan this to have a full use of the JR pass

  7. Tabatha

    We will b arriving in osaka for 3 nites then go to tokyo for 5 nites. Should we get a pass fg o r bullet train ?

  8. Grace

    Hi! We are planning a 15 days Japan trip on 23 APR to 8 May. It will be 3 adults, 1 teenager and 1 10yrs old. It will be a really budget tour so we wont be staying at any Disney Hotels since it is very expensive. What we have plan is to spend 1 whole day only in Disney Sea. I already have planned a 4 days stay in Hirano Ward, Osaka for our Osaka activities. Next place to visit would be Kyoto. And we also plan of visiting Kobe(maybe 2 days at least) and a must is Mt. Fuji of course (maybe 2-3 days) and last on our tour will be in Tokyo. So I was just wondering since you mention to make Osaka as home based, should I do the same with what I have plan with our itinerary even visiting Kobe & Kyoto? And for the Mt. Fuji visit, should we still stay at Osaka or better to get accommodation in Mt. Fuji area? This will be our first time to travel so I would really appreciate all the help. Thanks a lot.

  9. Grace

    Am sorry I forgot to ask about the JR Rail Pass. Since we will be staying in Japan for 15 days so buying JRRP is a must? Because on our stay in Osaka we will also be availing an Osaka Amazing Pass which will be use as entrance fee for more than 30 attractions in Osaka and unlimited rides to tran, bus etc. In Kyoto we are also looking for offers about day tours with transportation already. So I’m a bit confused what kind of JR Rail Pass should we buy, when ans where will we use it?

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