Japan Rail Odyssey: Seishun 18

September 26th, 2012By Category: Travel

There’s still time left to grab one of the best transportation deals in Japan! Imagine yourself whirring along on a train through the countryside, contemplating the following images: beautiful white cranes landing in dazzling green rice fields, forested mountains that reveal more and more of themselves as the morning mist rises, rocky formations breaking through crashing blue waves along the craggy sea coast. Train journeys in Japan are simply incredible—guaranteed.

And at the moment, they’re even more affordable! Seishun 18 is a ticket offered by JR that allows you to ride as much as you can in a day, on five separate occasions. It costs ¥11,500 – well worth it, as you would most likely quickly spend that amount on just a few trips on the rail network.

For example, I recently came back to Nagoya from Osaka and decided to stop off at Nara to see the many World Heritage Sites it has to offer. This detour easily exceeded the ¥2,300 per day value of the ticket. On my recent voyage across western Japan, I went to 9 different cities in a week using Seishun 18 – I definitely saved tens of thousands of yen!

You can ride as far as you want in a day, as well as go in and out of the system as many times as necessary. You can also use the ticket with other people, as long as you’re traveling together. Say you want to go on a day trip with two friends. This requires three stamps on one ticket, and you will still have two stamps left over to use later. Simply bring your ticket to the counter at the gate, receive your stamp, and you’re off on an adventure! All subsequent exits and entries require only a simple showing of that day’s stamp to the ticket taker.

There are some restrictions. You can’t ride private rail networks, so make sure your destination is accessible by local JR lines; shinkansen (bullet train), express and limited express trains are also excluded. A good way to plan this trip is to use hyperdia.com which allows you to filter those options out of your timetable search. Be aware of time when you’re making a transfer; plan ahead if you will need to quickly hop from one train to the next, including making the necessary pit stops.

The validity of this ticket expires after Sept 10. The next available period is during the winter; you’ll be able to purchase it from Dec 1-31, to be used from Dec 10-Jan 10. Just go to any JR ticket counter and ask for “Jyu Hachi Kippu.” Visit this website for more details:  http://www.jreast.co.jp/e/pass/seishun18.html

One of the best benefits of riding the local lines is that these slow trains often take you through the beautiful landscape of oft-unseen rural Japan. A few key items to bring: a camera, snacks (there are drink vending machines on most platforms, as well as conbinis in many stations), a sweater for cold cars/a fan for hot ones, coins (a good number of stations have lockers for you to temporarily stash a bag), toilet tissues (always a good idea), something to read or do, and patience. This last one is important, as you never know when one of the trains will be incredibly crowded, or you’ll get slightly lost, or your train will be delayed or even canceled, although in this country, renowned the world over for convenience and efficiency, the chances of that are rare.

Armed with this information, along with some good old excitement and determination, you are now ready to begin your own rail odyssey in Japan! Go with the flow and everything will be zen. Happy travels! Ganbatte!

Have you decided where to begin your train journey? Right now All Nippon Airways (ANA) is offering domestic flights to tourists for only ¥10,500! To help get your trip started, check out https://www.ana-cooljapan.com/#/japanfare

Author of this article

Nicole Sauer

Nicole is a traveler, teaching to pay the bills and because she enjoys it! She loves discovering and taking photos of hilarious English fails on public signage ("Please use a toilet finely!") She currently lives in Nagoya. Check out her other site at http://la-mera-mera-viajera.blogspot.com/

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