Japan cheap travel

A complete guide to budget travel in Japan

 Slow train near Aso-San, Kyushu
 Slow train near Aso-San, Kyushu
Seishun 18 Kippu Availability for 2009
Period of use Period of sale
Mar 1st to Apr 10th  Feb 20th to Mar 31st
July 20th to Sep 10th  July 1st to Aug 31st
Dec 10th to Jan 20th Dec 1st to Jan 10th
 For exact dates and conditions see here

Seishun Juhachi (18) Kippu

If you want to travel by rail in Japan there is no cheaper option than the excellent Seishun 18 kippu train pass. Also called the "JR Seasonal Discount Ticket for Local and Rapid Trains."

This ticket gives five days unlimited travel on the slower Japan Railways (JR) trains for the bargain price of 11,500 Yen. These travel days do not have to be used consecutively, but must be within a specified time period.

NOTE: The availability periods are shown by the table on the right.

The 5 Seishun 18 Kippu coupons may be used for 5 non-consecutive days, or for 5 persons. It can therefore be shared with up to 4 other people, if a group travels on the same route.

The ticket is valid on the local, rapid, and some limited express trains. These trains can be slow, but they are always, comfortable, clean and punctual.

The Seishun 18 Kippu can easily be purchased in Japan and there are no age restrictions.

A Leisurely Travel Experience

We travelled on a Seishun 18 Kippu all the way from Fukuoka to Tokyo via Hiroshima and Kyoto. The journeys were of an epic length, and a few of the changeovers were worryingly quick, but everything worked like clockwork and we managed to catch all our connections.

What's more, the journeys we took on this ticket were very enjoyable. On these slow local trains, it is possible to observe normal daily Japanese life as workers, families and school children get on and off of the train.

Another benefit of travelling on the slow trains is the view. While the super-fast Shinkansen (bullet trains) are amazing, the view passes you by too quickly. Whereas, the cheap trains normally have huge windows; great for watching the world go by at a leisurely place.

Night Trains and Timetables

An extra bonus for the budget traveller is that it is possible to take some overnight trains using the Seishun 18 Kippu ticket and save on accommodation. For example, a very popular route is the 'Moonlight Nagara' between Tokyo, Kyoto, and Osaka. Note that for this train it is necessary to make a reservation and you should make this as early as possible. For some information about which night trains may be used on the Seishun 18 Kippu click here.

Planning is important before undertaking long journeys using the Seishun 18 Kippu. This is easier to accomplish once you have arrived in Japan (there are few resources on the internet). The staff in railway stations are invariably helpful and from major cities you can often pick up special timetables for Seishun 18 Kippu travellers.