Prior to Covid-19, I would travel to Japan fairly often, and each time I would go I would get a JR Pass for traveling between cities, as I did so quite often. I'm wondering, as I haven't been to Japan in over 3 years due to Covid, has anything changed with regards to the JR Pass from how it was pre-Covid?

2 Answers 2


There aren't any real changes. However, instead of having to purchase them via an agency, you now have three ways to buy a pass: you can purchase it directly from JR online (https://www.japanrailpass-reservation.net/) and pick it up in Japan (cheapest), or buy it in Japan at large stations, for a higher price (list of stations that sell JR Passes).

You are still able to use any JR trains except for Nozomi and Mizuho.


One change that is definitely pandemic related (and hopefully temporary) is that a lot of the JR service centers, where you need to go to collect your pass (regardless of how you purchase it) have shorter hours. For instance, the one a Haneda airport closes at 4pm now; previously it may have been open as late as 8.

I'm not sure exactly when this changed, so it may not be over the pandemic. But the pass is now a light cardboard ticket which you feed into the ticket slot of a ticket gate. (It used to be somewhat larger and you had to show it at a manned gate.) There are still places you have to show the pass, for instance at the JR ferry to Miyajima or on board a limited express train.

It also is now supposed to be possible to make seat reservations using some ticket machines. I was not able to figure that out using JR West and JR Kyushu machines on my recent trip (December 2022), so that may be only for JR East machines. It is still possible to get seat reservations by going to a ticket office. (See this link.)

BTW, I found the cheapest price was still to buy an exchange voucher and convert that; buying online from the JR site and in Japan seemed to be the same price.

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