Japan Rail offers a range of passes to international visitors that offer fantastic convenience and savings. While the full Japan Rail (JR) Pass is well-known and well-used by foreigner travelers in Japan, several other passes exist which might be better suited to your travel plans.
The Japan Rail (JR) Hokuriku Arch Pass covers 7-days of consecutive, unlimited use on many JR services between Tokyo, Nagano, Kanazawa, Kyoto and Osaka.
As such, the pass covers one of the most popular routes for international visitors and includes (but is not limited to) the following shinkansen services:
- Hokuriku Shinkansen / Tokyo to Kanazawa inc. Nagano Station
- Tohoku/Yamagata Shinkansen / Tokyo to Omiya only
- Joetsu Shinkansen / Tokyo to Takasaki only
Along with the following conventional lines:
- Airport services including: Narita Express ‘NEX’ (to Narita Airport) / Tokyo Monorail (to Haneda Airport) / Kansai-Airport Express ‘HARUKA’
- Limited Express ‘THUNDERBIRD from Kanazawa-Kyoto-Osaka
- Numerous JR limited express, express, rapid service and local trains within the defined region.
Types of Passes & Prices
There is only one pass available. Valid for 7-days of consecutive use from the day of first use, the pass offers great value to visitors covering the route from Tokyo to Osaka (or vice-versa) within a week. As the table below shows, passes are cheaper to purchase outside of Japan:
Children under the age of 6 are covered under an adult pass however please note, should you be traveling with 3 or more children aged under 6, additional child passes will be required to cover them.
Why make use of the Hokuriku Arch Pass?
If you’re in Japan for only a short-term stay – around one week – then the Hokuriku Arch Pass could suit your needs. While the full JR Pass is another great option, it covers the whole country with an accordingly high price. Should your travel plans be limited to Central Japan – i.e. from Tokyo to Osaka or Osaka to Tokyo – then there may be no need to pay the price of the full pass and the Hokuriku Arch Pass might be perfect for you.
The region covered includes Tokyo, Karuizawa, Nagano, Kanazawa, Fukui, Toyama, Kyoto, Nara, and Osaka. When compared to the JR East Pass, which covers Nagano and Niigata but will not get you as far as Kyoto and Osaka, the true value of the Hokuriku Arch Pass stands-out.
It is designed to match the needs of many international visitors who move between Tokyo and Osaka, flying in and out of one of the airports servicing those cities. Importantly, the Hokuriku Arch Pass covers the Narita Express ‘NEX’ to Narita Airport, the Tokyo Monorail (to Haneda Airport) and ‘HARUKA’ Express to Kansai Aiport (Osaka).
All-in-all, the pass offers fantastic convenience and value for visitors staying within that region and will be completing the majority of their longer travel during a period of 7-days.
Sample itinerary using the JR Hokuriku Arch Pass
The pass opens-up numerous options and possible itineraries through Central Japan. The following is just one of the many choices you could make:
Day 1: Arrive in Tokyo and spend the day enjoying the world’s largest metropolis – home to some of the world’s best restaurants, nightlife, shopping, galleries and museums.
Day 2: Tokyo has so much to explore that you need a second day. Enjoy another day of exploration before taking a late Hokuriku Shinkansen service to Nagano Station.
Day 3: Enjoy the day exploring the region in and around Nagano City including Zenko-ji Temple, the Jigokudani Monkey Park or beautiful Togakushi.
Want to experience the highlights of the region, led by a locally-based guide? Our popular tours operate all year round and take in some of Nagano’s most unique and engaging experiences.
Day 4: Get-up early and take the shinkansen to Toyama. From there, you can access ‘The Roof of Japan’ via the Tateyama-Kurobe Alpine Route – one of Japan’s most stunning and iconic landscapes*. After your adventure to the top of Japan’s highest mountain range, returned back to Toyama for the night and try some of the cities renowned seafood.
Day 5: Take the shinkansen onto Kanazawa. This lovely city is famous for its fantastic seafood market – a great place for lunch! – and one of Japan’s most beautiful gardens, Kenroku-en. Home to other lovely gardens, historic areas, museums and great restaurants, you are sure to love Kanazawa.
Day 6: Time to begin your journey into the real west of Japan! On your way, consider at stopover at Fukui. Home of one of Japan’s most impressive Zen Buddhist temples – Eihei-ji – and one of the largest dinosaur museums in the world, Fukui remains a little known but tremendous destination enrounte to Kyoto and Osaka; and one easily included using a Hokuriku Arch Pass!
Day 7: Take an early train to Kyoto or Osaka and enjoy the different atmosphere, sights and sounds of western Japan. This is the final day of your pass, so if your schedule is tight, cut-out one of the earlier stops to give yourself adequate time to explore these engaging cities.
For full details, including eligibility, purchasing and obtaining your pass, please refer to our ‘Japan Rail (JR) Hokuriku Arch Pass’ page.
*Please note, the Hokuriku Arch Pass does not cover transport on the Tateyama-Kurobe Alpine Route.