However, despite the price increase in Japan rail pass, strong demand is expected to persist due to a favorable exchange rate for the yen and a steady influx of foreign visitors.
Starting this month, Japan’s rail pass offerings have expanded to include one- and three-week passes and a first-class option, in addition to the existing 14-day pass.
The Japan rail pass price changes reflect the increased availability of bullet train destinations, as the JR network now spans over 19,000 km (11,800 miles) across the country, compared to when the previous fares were set when there were fewer destinations.
The JR group, consisting of six train operators, raises prices of rail passes due to the expansion of bullet train destinations and the lack of pass adjustments for system upgrades, like online seat reservations and automatic ticket gates.
Travelers can now opt to pay extra to ride the faster Shinkansen bullet trains (Nozomi and Mizuho) instead of the slower ones with more stops. These passes cover local lines, express trains, and some ferries but are not available for Japanese residents.
Despite the higher Japan rail pass cost, many travelers find them convenient and cost-effective for exploring Japan, and even those who bought tickets before the price increase still consider them attractive at the new rates.
The recent price hike for rail passes in Japan could lead some travelers to consider low-cost carriers like Jetstar and Peach for long-distance travel, as airfares can be notably cheaper than standard train tickets, according to Bloomberg Intelligence analyst Denise Wong.
According to JR Central’s spokesperson Koki Mizuno, the rail passes still provide a good value even after the price increase.