Q. For Japanese visitors and tourists, should you always get the JR Pass?
A. Not at all. It all depends really on your itinerary.
When one checks out posts on what’s the best way to go around Japan, the JR Pass is much regarded because, to a point, it will really save you big time. But first one should consider the price. At 38,880 YEN minimum purchase for an adult, 7 day pass, that is really expensive. But do you always have to get this?
First things first: my first Japan trip took me all of around 8 days. I got a free open jaw ticket from Philippine Airlines (Thanx!), entering Tokyo via Narita Airport and exiting Osaka. Most of the time, I will just be taking the subway in Tokyo, Kyoto and Osaka with possible use of the JR line in between cities.
But when I did travel from Tokyo to Kyoto, and for the sake of experience and writing about it, I took the fastest shinkansen, the Nozomi train wherein the JR Pass is not possible to use. It did cost me 16,000+ YEN (about PHP6,000++), the most expensive single fare I had so far during the trip. So instead of getting a JR Pass, I saw a better option, the Keisei Skyliner discounted fare with 2 Day Tokyo subway pass.
The Keisei Skyliner may not be the cheapest option there is for the route. Of course, there are other cheaper options but I chose this because it’s reserved seating although there were only a few passengers, its fast and comfortable. The form is stylish too, unlike the box type of the cheaper ones. But of course, it all depends on your budget and you can always shop for options at the different counters.
If you travel roundtrip Tokyo – Kyoto – Tokyo on the shinkansen plus other side trips using the JR Line, the 7 day JR Pass is already so worth it and is advisable. But if you think that your train expenses is just less than 38,880 YEN, like my first Japan trip, then better reconsider getting the JR Pass.