When I first came to Japan I was kind of bummed out to find that the great travel deals like the Japanese rail pass are generally only avaliable to people on a tourist visa. My dreams of spending every vacation touring the country came crashing g down when I realised that despite having one of the most convenient rail systems in the world it’s not especially cheap.
When complaining about the lack of affordable travel options in class my Japanese teacher suggested I try the seishun juhachi Kippur ticket.
It was created as a young persons rail pass for holiday periods aimed at university students hence the juhachi/18 in the name. However is became so popular that it was made avaliable for all ages. I’m not sure why they didn’t change the name to reflect this but hey that’s Japan for you.
Basically you can travel on almost any JR train in the country for any five days during set holiday periods three times a year. The days don’t have to be consecutive and you can share a ticket so five people can travel for one day instead of one person for five. It can’t be used on rapid trains, bullet trains or a few other faster ones. It also can’t be used for private rail networks or subways. On the other hand it can be used on one of the ferries to Miyajima near Hiroshima which is a must see.
The ticket only costs about ¥11,800 which is about ¥2400 per day. The price a d specific dates change each year sounds can’t be certain of the 2017 dates at this point. Still this ticket allows you to travel to most areas of the country at a very low price as long as speed isn’t you priority.
I was able to travel from Nagoya to Fukuoka in one day. It’s possible using a special night train put on just for these holiday periods to travel from Tokyo to Fukuoka while using only one days travel. It is a pretty exhausting way to go but if price is the priority there is nothing cheaper.
The dates for 2017/18 haven’t been released at the time of writing but it’s generally three times a year. Two of the periods cover Obon ( summer vacation) and winter vacation. The third is generally around March rather than golden week so isn’t as useful for people working in Japan.
They do make changes in price, dates and trains so check out the website or search for the most up to date details.