Mar 25, 2014

Budget Japan: Introduction, Flight & JR Pass

I was invited to Japan last October as one of CoFesta's oversea Influencer Ambassador due to my continuous work on the Social Media in promoting Japanese related content. I extended my trip for 9 more days and it totalled to 13 days and 12 nights trip in Tokyo, Kyoto and Osaka.  I spent a grand total of SGD$2186 on this trip and that includes airfare, JR Pass, accommodations for my extended 9 nights and everything else.




In these on-going blog post about my Japan Trip, I will attempt to share all my spending and experience with you guys because I believe a trip to Japan doesn't have to break the bank! To start off, let me tell you where most of my money went to. $740 went to a return ticket with JAL airline and $380 went to getting a 7 days JR Pass.

Our day tour at NHK Studio Park with the awesome NHK Staffs. Read here



I screwed up and missed my sponsored flight and ended up buying my own tickets on the morning itself. It was a miserable experience and I implore all of you to make sure you check the closing time for your flight's check-in. If there's anything I learnt from this experience, other than reaching the airport earlier, was to buy a return trip instead of a single trip in such situations.


If you have the unfortunate luck of being in the same situation as I was, make sure you ask the staff at the counter for the price quote of BOTH the return and single plane tickets. And you ask me why? That's because surprisingly, return tickets are usually a lot cheaper. The staff at JAL had the wisdom to highlight this to me in my grief (lol) and even wrote the price comparison down on paper to let me make the decision.

Single ticket to Tokyo: $1000+
Return tickets to Tokyo & Back: $740


SERIOUSLY, WHICH ONE WOULD YOU PURCHASE?!! Even if I had no intention of returning, darn I'd still get the return tickets and skip the return flight back. We're talking about over $300 of savings!


If I had bought my tickets earlier, I'm sure I could get a much better deal and slash my spending a further $200 more. So my tip is to plan in advance. And be at the airport early -_-;


Japan Rail PASS:

Before I went to Japan, I had planned and arranged my itinerary semi-meticulously. I said semi because I only arranged the rough flow and left the itsy bitsy parts like places-to-visit till I was there. Normally I would prefer a more meticulous plannign but this time I was lazy and decided to go with the flow when I'm in Japan. Afterall, that's the perks of traveling alone isn't it?



I bought my JR Pass at the Japan Tourism Board (JTB Pte Ltd, ION Orchard) in Singapore. They are located at at ION Orchard. Full address below.

Japan Tourism Board (JTB Pte Ltd, ION Orchard)

2 Orchard Turn, #B4-29, ION Orchard, Singapore 238801

Tel: 6595-0600

For a full list of authorised agents to purchase JR Pass in Singapore, click here.

Online website to order JR Pass: &

JR maps: &


The JR Pass thingy can be pretty confusing and overwhelming in the beginning so I'll try to explain as clearly as I can. The JR Pass is a special tourist pass that allows you to travel on all trains owned by Japan Railway Company ( train lines that says JR Line LOL). The packages are roughly divided into 2 category ( Green & Standard) and further divided into different duration and price.



The JR Pass package is also categorised by directions; directions that the trains you buy can go to. They are categorised into Nationwide, West, East, Hokkaido. Kyushu and All Shikoku Pass For more information about those, click here. I wasn’t able to find any JR Websites that directly talks about the different regional JR Pass so I’m sorry I can’t give more information about that.


The Green category are for use with the "Green trains". In short, they are the more expensive and luxurious trains hence the significantly higher cost. The Standard category is well, for ordinary cars and folks like us. I took the standard category because I am oh-so-ordinary. The Duration columns are the slightly tricky part. They come in 7, 14 and 21 days package and the longer days directly reflects in the price tag.


One thing good about this package is that the duration doesn't start until you get it to. Which is awesome for my trip as I intended to spend 6 days in Tokyo and only leave for Kyoto on the 7th day which is the day I'll have my JR Pass activated. After that, I get 7 days on my JR pass which will then last me right up till the day I fly back to Singapore.



The validity date is printed onto the JR Pass. This is the actual pass you will use to show the staffs at the train stations, this is your ticket!


If you intend to get a JR Pass, planning is CRUCIAL as it affects the overall structure of your itinerary. Getting your JR Pass activated at Japan's train stations requires a whole blog entry by itself so I shall not delve into it now. I believe I bought the Ordinary , Adult, 7-days , National JR Pass for $380. ( seems to sell it a lot cheaper -__-; )


I summarised all the main points below:

  1. 1) JR Pass can ONLY be purchased outside of Japan for tourists abroad for sight-seeing, under the entry status of “Temporary Visitor”. If you want to get it, BUY IT BEFORE entering japan.
  2. 2) Buy JR Pass only if you intend to cross states(Tokyo to Kyoto or Osaka etc) more than once
  3. 3) Do not buy JR Pass if you only intend to travel within Tokyo
  4. 4) You can ride on all Shinkansen except the fastest 'NOZOMI' train
  5. 5) Try to reserve a seat for your shinkansen beforehand at the Ticket exchange counter (the place where you exchange for your JR Pass). It is a lot of hassle and embarrassment if you arrive at the next stop and realise you're sitting on someone else's seat.
  6. 6) NEX (Narita Expression, a train that goes from Tokyo striaght to Narita Airport) has power sockets so bring your cables & adaptors (
  7. 7) If you are buying the JR Pass physically at a shop, ask the staff tonnes of questions to make sure you are getting the best suited plan. Share your itinerary and intentions with them.
  8. 8) Bring your passport along when you intend to use the JR Pass,  sometimes they will check. Especially Shinkansens.


More links related to JR Pass:


Hope you guys found this entry useful! I’m so sleepy now zzzz

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