Japan Rail (JR) Hokuriku Arch Pass
Many international visitors to Japan will follow a route that takes them from Tokyo to Kyoto and Osaka, or in the opposition direction. Bookended with the airports in Tokyo and Osaka, and serviced by extensive network of rapid trains including shinkansen, this is a well-established route that takes in the modern capital, the ancient capital and the thriving metropolis of Osaka and all its fantastic food!
An increasingly popular way of making this journey is by heading north toward Kanazawa. Known for its historic streetscapes, gardens, museums and amazing seafood market, Kanazawa is becoming an established point on the route from Tokyo to Osaka – with stops including Fukui, Nagano and Karuizawa on either side.
For visitors wanting to take that journey, the Japan Rail (JR) Hokuriku Arch Pass might be of interest. Covering 7 consecutive days of unlimited use, the pass covers a range of train lines that connect those and other fantastic destinations in Central Japan.
Services Covered by the Pass
The Hokuriku Arch Pass covers 7 consecutive days of unlimited use on the Hokuriku Shinkansen (from Tokyo to Kanazawa via Nagano), an extensive network of Japan Rail (JR) lines west of Kanazawa and servicing areas including Fukui, Kyoto and Osaka along with a range of regional lines.
The following services are covered:
Tohoku/Yamagata Shinkansen / Tokyo to Omiya only
Joetsu Shinkansen / Tokyo to Takasaki only
Along with the following conventional lines:
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*.
*Additional small lines are covered in some regions.
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.
Eligibility for a Hokuriku Arch Pass
To obtain a pass, you must be travelling on foreign passport and be the holder – or will be the holder – of a temporary visitor visa while you are in Japan. Any other class of visa, including other temporary visas such as students, spouses, trainees, etc. are not eligible for a pass.
Purchasing a Pass
Passes can be purchased via the official website or via a JR-affiliated overseas sales office. Once you have completed payment, you will receive an exchange order. This is a proof of payment and looks almost like a flight ticket with your personal details, type of pass, and validity (three months from the date of issue).
It is important to note that the exchange order is not your actual pass and will need to be exchanged for your pass once in Japan. Whatever you do, do not lose the exchange order and prioritise exchanging it for your pass when you arrive.
Passes can be purchased when in Japan from these approved offices. It is worth noting that it is cheaper to buy the pass outside of Japan.
Exchanging & Activating Your Pass
Prior to using your pass, you must actually get your hands on it by exchanging the order/proof of purchase you received online. This can be done a numerous JR Pass Exchange Offices found at Narita, Haneda and Kansai Airports or major train stations within the region covered by the pass.
If you have time to do so before leaving the airport, you can use the pass immediately. Tokyo Station is another popular place to exchange/obtain your pass at either of these offices:
JR East Travel Service Center (Marunouchi North Exit): 07:30 to 20:00
JR Central Ticket Office (Yaesu North Exit): 07:30 to 20:00
Passes can also be exchanged/activated at Shin-Osaka Station:
JR Ticket Office (Midori-no-madoguchi): 05:30 to 23:30
Travelers already in Nagano can exchange/activate their pass at the Travel Service Center/View Plaza inside Nagano Station.
To exchange/activate your pass you will need your exchange order and passport.
Make sure you allow adequate time to exchange and activate your pass if you are intending to use it on the same day or do so a day or two before you plan to start using it (you can always nominate a later activation date).
Once you have your activated pass you are free to ride however you can’t insert your pass into the ticket gates. Simply walk through the side booth (permanently attended by station staff) and show your pass. You will be waved through and you can make your way to the platform.
Should I get a Hokuriku Arch Pass?
If you’re in Japan for only a short-term stay – i.e. around one week – and mostly travelling in the region between Tokyo and Osaka, then the Hokuriku Arch Pass might work well for you. At JPY24,440, the pass is notably cheaper than the 7-day full JR Pass – which costs JPY33,610. While it doesn’t cover the entire country, the Hokuriku Arch Pass offers great value for money for travelers only moving within Central Japan.
The pass is a little more expensive than the JR East Pass – which costs JPY18,300 and covers 5 days of use over a two week period in Nagano and Niigata. While the East Pass good value and convenience for travelers staying within Nagano and Niigata, it doesn’t cover regions to the west of Kanazawa such as Kyoto and Osaka. If you are making that journey i.e. Tokyo to Osaka or Osaka to Tokyo, then the Hokuriku Arch Pass should be of interest.
For further information including a suggested itinerary, please refer to our ‘How To: Introducing the Hokuriku Arch Pass’ page.