What is a Ryokan? Like a Western-style inn, maintaining the special, atmosphere and appearance is more important than providing the latest modern conveniences. Ryokans are the best way to experience Japanese culture and enjoy the true comforts of Japanese hospitality and service.
Hot springs have a very long history in Japan, and they are an intimate part of Japanese culture. There are over 3,000 "onsen" ,or hot springs, in Japan. Many can be found at the ryokans available on Japanese Guest Houses.
The JR Rail Pass is designed to make travel in Japan easier for foreign travelers so there are rules for eligibility. You must enter Japan on a ‘Temporary Visitor’ tourist visa which is valid for a stay of less than 90 days. Japanese nationals are not allowed to use a JR Pass unless they live overseas and hold a permanent resident visa or are living overseas and married to a non-Japanese citizen.
Types of Passes
Ordinary Car Class or Green Car Class
7 consecutive days
14 consecutive days
21 consecutive days
Reduced rates (50% off) apply to children aged 6 to 11
Ordinary vs Green Car
Green Car Class is considered first class on Shinkansen Bullet Trains and offers larger seats, more leg room, enhanced boarding service and is often less crowded. If you are traveling during the height of high season then it makes sense to purchase a Green Car JR Rail Pass as it will be easier to make seat reservations. Most travelers will be fine with an Ordinary Class JR Pass as the seats are comfortable with enough leg room. Both classes offer non-smoking cars. It is possible to upgrade your Ordinary Class ticket to a Green Class ticket but you will need to pay the extra costs which can get quite expensive.
How to Use Your JR Rail Pass
After purchasing your JR Rail Pass you will be sent a JR Rail Pass Exchange Order which will have your name exactly as it appears in your passport, type of rail pass and duration it will be valid. Make sure everything is correct before you leave for Japan as if something is wrong then JR may refuse to honor your exchange order.
Your JR Rail Pass Exchange Order will need to be validated before use so take it along with your passport to a JR Ticket Gate also called Midori no Madoguchi. The station employee will make sure everything is correct and will issue your JR Rail Passes. This is also a good time to make seat reservations. Now all you have to do is show your JR Rail Pass to a station employee to use your pass.