I'm planning a long trip to Japan, about 4 weeks in October. I found a bus pass (Willer Express) that can be used 3 or 5 times over a period of 2 months.
That's perfect for a long trip like mine, except I would much rather buy a rail pass than a bus pass, to avoid car sickness... but the Japan Rail pass is only available for 1 or 2 consecutive weeks. I will only travel about once a week, and booking each train individually is far too expensive.
Does anyone know of another rail pass that's more suitable for longer trips, similar to that bus pass?
I recently was in Japan for a month and traveled with 2 JR passes. One 7 day pass and one 14 day pass. (I was on a tour for the first week, which is why I had two passes instead of a 21 days pass) Before I activated the pass I spent some time in Tokyo and in between passes I spent time in Kyoto. JR is really the best way to travel. It's so fast and easy to navigate. It also allows you to see more as you can spend time in a city for a couple hours on your way to somewhere else. For example, when I left Kyoto for Naoshima(which I highly recommend spending a few days in) I stopped at the Himeji Castle for a couple hours while my bags were locked up in the train station. If I were traveling by bus there would be no time to do this.
I was going to suggest buying 2 one week passes, but after evaluating the prices, I'd go ahead and buy the 21 day pass (59,350 yen), which is going to end up being the same cost as 2 one week passes. Arrive in Japan, spend time in the arrival destination before you activate the pass, travel around, and then spend some time at the end in your final destination after the pass expires. Although the JR pass may be a more expensive option than bus, the ease, convenience, and speed makes it worth it. Don't forget, you can also use the pass for day trips, such as Mt. Fuji from Tokyo or Osaka & Nara from Kyoto. You'll also have more flexibility in that if you are in a destination and are itching to leave, just jump on the next train. It's so easy!
Let me know if you have any questions!
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I can't think of the name (maybe JR rail pass) that you can buy and have it sent to you before you leave, and that allows you to use the Japanese rail for certain periods of time. The trains can be expensive in Japan, especially the bullet train (shinkansen) so I would recommend Willar Express. I used it a ton of times and they have really large reclining seats, TVs for each seat (with English films) and they stop regularly at service stations. Also, when I used them, I found them to be really empty, so I always got two seats to myself.
Also, its worth checking out Peach airways. Its cheaper to get the plane from the likes of Tokyo to Osaka, rather than the train.