One of the most common questions we receive from our clients prior to them beginning their trips to Myoko has been “is it worth buying the JR East pass”. In response, we have taken the time to collect all the relevant information and crunch the numbers. This is what we came up with.
Although the JR East pass will not cover your journey from Nagano to Myoko (small fee of roughly ¥830), it will cover your Journey’s between the airport, Tokyo and Nagano. Your pass will allow you to travel from Haneda (Tokyo Monorail) and Narita (Narita Express) airports into Tokyo, and then on to Nagano via the Shinkansen from central Tokyo. Purchasing tickets individually won’t make a huge difference in cost overall but it does work out to be more cost efficient if you purchase the JR East pass to cover your travel between Narita/Haneda airports and Myoko.
We have included all the relevant information below to help you make an informed decision.
JR East 5 day flexi pass
For trips purely between Narita, Tokyo, Myoko Kogen and back, the most economical and versatile pass available is the JR East 5 Day Flexible Pass (Nagano, Niigata area). The 5 day flexible pass allows you unlimited travel on selected train lines over 5 days within 14 days of issuance. The 5 days do not need to be consecutive and day 1 starts the first day you use your pass to travel regardless of the time of use.
The 5 Day Flexible Pass, as well as other passes, can be purchased in a number of ways including:
For outlet locations where you can buy JR East passes, go to http://www.jreast.co.jp/e/eastpass_n/index.html#locations. Please be sure to check you are buying the right pass for your requirements.
If purchased in Australia or online, you will be given an ‘Exchange Order’. This needs to be exchanged at a specified outlet location (http://www.jreast.co.jp/e/eastpass_n/index.html#locations), where you will be handed your pass.
Breakdown of costs
The cost of a 5 Day Flexible Pass when purchased internationally is currently:
As an example, if you take a train from Narita – Tokyo – Myoko – Tokyo – Narita and purchase the tickets individually, it works out at approximately ¥18000-¥20000. The 5 Day Flexible Pass is cheaper provided you complete the travel within the allowed 5 days during the 14 day period. This means, if you only use the pass to transit from Narita to Myoko and return over 2 days, it has already paid for itself plus you still have 3 more days of use on your pass. The remaining days could be used for a day trip to Tokyo to pick up some new ski/snowboard gear, or to visit the snow monkeys at Jigokudani Yaenkoen.
Benefits of purchasing the JR East Pass
Besides working out to be generally cheaper, it can also be far more convenient at train stations as you are not required to purchase tickets for every stop on your journey. You can simply flash your pass at the train attendants at the gate and you’re good to go.
If you know exactly which trains you want to catch during your trip, you can now reserve your seats online. This can be extremely useful for the busier times of the day to ensure you reserve a comfortable seat for your journey. To reserve your seats, please follow the link below, search for your train route and follow the steps. http://www.eki-net.com/pc/jreast-shinkansen-reservation/English/wb/JRTicket/SeatReservation/Guide.aspx
The JR East pass can be used on the N’EX and the Tokyo Monorail, so if you plan on using these routs to get to Tokyo we recommend you pick up/purchase your pass at the Airport before you start your journey.
Please note, if you intend to purchase a JR EAST pass from Narita Airport, the JR East office operating times are from 10:30 to 19:30. If you arrive outside of these times, you can purchase your JR East Pass from the JR Office, located approximately 20 meters directly opposite the JR East Office.
All of the information in this article is available in our Read Me First pack along with plenty of other useful tips which are provided to our guests prior to commencing their ski holiday in Japan with Powder Recon. One of the particularly useful tips included in the pack is; how to send your bags to your hotel from the airport to avoid lugging them half way across the country.
We recommend you visit the JR East site (http://www.jreast.co.jp/e/eastpass/index.html) to ensure you fully understand the terms and conditions of use and to confirm that you are eligible to purchase a JR East Pass as information may have changed since the date this article was produced.