Venice Aka

JR EAST Pass (Tohoku Area):
Exploring Japan from Tokyo to Tohoku

If you’re planning a trip to Japan’s Tohoku and Kanto regions, the JR East Pass (Tohoku Area) is a useful travel companion. In this article, we’ll focus on the benefits of having a JR East Pass (for travel in Kanto and Tohoku areas), where to buy it, how to use it effectively and essential tips. Why not journey through Japan’s picturesque landscapes and vibrant cities using the JR East Pass?

JR East Pass Ticket

What is the JR EAST Pass (Tohoku Area) ?

The JR East Pass (Tohoku Area) is a special rail pass offered by East Japan Railway Company (JR East) and provides unlimited travel on designated JR trains within the Tohoku and Kanto regions in Japan. This pass allows visitors to explore popular destinations such as Tokyo, Karuizawa, Kusatsu Onsen, Jomokogen, Utsunomiya, Nikko, Nasu, Fukushima, Sendai, Iwate and much more.

JR East Tohoku Pass coverage map

😀 Cost Savings benefits:

The JR East Pass (Tohoku Area), lets you enjoy unlimited travel within Kanto and Tohoku regions at a fixed price. In most occasions, this is much cheeper than purchasing several individual tickets, so the pass can help you save money during your stay.

😎 Convenience benefits:

The JR East Pass (Tohoku Area) allows you to travel on various JR trains, including the Shinkansen,  Limited express trains, and local lines with ease. There is no need to worry about buying separate tickets for each leg of your journey. With the pass you can enjoy a hassle-free travel experience.

How much does the JR East Pass Cost?

💸 The JR East Pass (Tohoku Area)  costs 20,000 JPY for an adult, and 10,000 JPY for children ages 11 and below. (June 2023)

How long can I use the pass for?

1. The standard pass can be used unlimited times for 5 consecutive days from the date of activation. It can be purchased by foreign nationals visiting or living in Japan.

2. There is also a flexible type where visitors can use the pass for any 5 days within 14 days. This is more flexible than the standard type, but is only eligible for foreign nationals with a “Temporary” visitor stamp on their passport.

Where to Buy the JR EAST Pass

The JR EAST Pass (Tohoku Area) can be purchased online through authorized agents or at designated JR East stations in Japan. Popular websites  include Japan Rail Pass Online and JR East Travel Service Centers. You can also purchase this pass at train stations with a JR East Reserved Seat Ticket vending machine which has a passport reader.

How to Use the JR EAST Pass (Tohoku Area)

🚆 Activation:

If you have bought it online (or abroad),  you need to go to a designated JR East Travel Service Center or an authorized location to receive a physical ticket not more than 3 months after you purchased it. You also have to indicate the start date of activation/usage when it is purchased.

🚆 Reservations:

One big benefit of having the JR East Pass or any other JR Passes is that you can reserve seats on Shinkansen without any additional fees. This is  especially useful during peak seasons. Reservations can be made at JR ticket offices or or online (here).

🚆 Validity:

The pass is valid for 5 days. The standard type is 5 consecutive days but there is also a flexible type. Make sure to check the exact validity which is printed on the pass.

🚆 Entering and Exiting Ticket Gates:

You can simply insert your Pass through the station gates and enter smoothly. Before you had to show the Pass to the station staff, but this is not needed anymore. Just make sure you don’t forget taking your Pass out the other end of the gate after inserting it.

JR East Pass Shinkansen

What to Keep in Mind When Using the JR EAST Pass

The JR East Pass does not cover non-JR trains, such as subways or private railways. It is also not valid on the Tokaido Shinkansen (The bullet train that runs towards Kyoto and western Japan).

Routes Covered by the JR EAST Pass (Tohoku Area)

The pass covers JR train lines within the Tohoku and Kanto regions. Shinkansen (Bullet trains) and Express trains include:

🚄Tohoku Shinkansen:

Travel from Tokyo to destinations like Utsunomiya, Sendai, Morioka, and Aomori.

🚄Yamagata Shinkansen:

Explore Yamagata Prefecture, known for its picturesque landscapes and hot springs.

🚄Akita Shinkansen:

Journey to Akita Prefecture, famous for its beautiful coastline and the charming city of Akita.

🚄Joetsu Shinkansen:

Visit Niigata Prefecture, renowned for its skiing resorts, delicious rice, and sake.

🚄Hokuriku Shinkansen:

Explore Nagano Prefecture and its majestic natural landscape.

🚆Tokiwa Express:

Visit Mito and Hitachinaka area on this Express train from Tokyo station.

Frequently asked questions

Can I use JR East Pass (Tohoku Area) in Hokkaido❓

The JR East Pass (Tohoku Area) only covers up to Aomori, the northern end of Japan’s Tohoku Region.

If you plan to visit both the Tohoku/Kanto regions as well as Hakodate area in Hokkaido, you should purchase a JR East South Hokkaido Rail Pass. And if you want to travel all over Hokkaido Region, you should purchase the JR Hokkaido Pass, which allows you to explore cities like Sapporo, Hakodate, Asahikawa, and various other destinations across Japan’s beautiful northern island.

What should I do if I lose the pass❓

If you lost your JR East Pass (Tohoku Area), you should immediately report it to the nearest JR East station or Travel Service Center. They will help you find your Pass if it’s somewhere in the JR stations.

However, a lost JR East Pass cannot be replaced or reissued even if you have the receipt. So it’s important to make sure you keep the pass safe and make sure you have it with you at all times.

Does the Pass cover bus rides❓

The JR East Pass (Tohoku Area) may cover some bus rides operated by JR. However, the pass does not include highway buses and local buses operated by a different company. Please check the specific bus routes or ask the JR East staff for more information on bus services.

Can I use JR East Pass (Tohoku Area) to Niigata❓

There are two kinds of JR East Passes. This can be a bit confusing. There is a Tohoku area one (explained in this article) as well as a Niigata & Nagano area one (article coming soon).

Niigata isn’t included in the Tohoku area one, so, if you’re planning to visit Niigata and its surrounding areas, it may be better purchasing the Niigata & Nagano area JR East Pass (article coming soon). Also, if your itinerary includes both areas covered by the two types of JR East Passes, it might be a good idea to purchase the nationwide JR Pass (article coming soon) which covers most areas of all Japan.

Can I to go to Nikko using the JR East Pass❓

Yes, you can go to Nikko using the JR East Pass. You can take the Tohoku Shinkansen to Utsunomiya station and change for the JR Nikko line. Or if you are staying on the West side of Tokyo you can a  SPACIA Nikko train directly from JR Shinjuku station to Nikko (or a SPACIA Kinugawa to Kinugawa Onsen). There are no changes for this route so it is a comfortable ride, but please note there is only one train to Nikko and Kinugawa-Onsen via Shinjuku per day. *You can use  the JR East Nagano/Niigata area Pass, or the Tokyo Wide Pass as for this trip as well.
For reservations, purchases, and further information about the JR East Pass, please visit the JR East official website.

Final Thoughts

The JR EAST Pass unlocks a world of exploration in Japan’s Tohoku and Kanto regions, allowing you to experience the rich cultural heritage, scenic landscapes, and vibrant cities Nearby Tokyo. With its cost-saving benefits, extensive route coverage, and ease of use, the JR EAST Pass offers a seamless and convenient way to travel.

Remember to plan ahead, activate the pass, make necessary reservations, and keep the pass with you at all times to fully enjoy the wonders of Japan.

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Contributor:  Venice Aka

Venice’s lives locally and has a passion to make travel videos so she can provide reliable information to travelers visiting Japan. After starting her youtube channel, she’s been continuously sharing about travel, local events, and everyday life in Japan.

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