A Shrine in Obama, Nagsaki, Japan

Explore Japan with JR Kyushu Discover Rail Pass

Japan Railway (JR) made it affordable for the international community in Japan to explore Kyushu with its new JR Kyushu Discover Rail Pass for as low as 6,500 yen!

What is JR KYUSHU DISCOVER RAIL PASS?

This is a discounted railway ticket that allows foreign passport holders— regardless of their visa status— to travel throughout Kyushu for 3 consecutive days. You can leisurely ride the local and rapid trains, as well as the limited express and the Shinkansen (bullet train)!

JR Kyushu Discover Railway Pass is available from December 11, 2020- June 28, 2021, but you could still use it until June 30, 2021.

Where to use it?

You’ll be able to explore Fukuoka, Kumamoto, Nagasaki, Oita, Saga, Kagoshima, and Miyazaki with this pass. However, you cannot use the bullet train between Hakata and Kokura.

Purple and white wisterias in Kawachi Wisteria Garden
Purple and white wisterias in Kawachi Wisteria Garden

Where and how to buy JR KYUSHU DISCOVER RAIL PASS?

There are two ways to purchase it— at JR Kyushu Stations and through the booking websites KKDAY and KLOOK. You also need to show your passport or Japanese residence ID when you buy or claim your JR Kyushu Discover Railway Pass.

Take note, not all JR Stations can provide this ticket. It’s only available in Hakata, Mojiko, Kokura, Nagasaki, Saga, Beppu, Oita, Kumamoto, Miyazaki, Miyazaki-Airport, and Kagoshima-Chuo.

NOTE: I purchased mine using KLOOK, because I could get points for buying and reviewing it. I also wanted to use some of the points I collected from my previous bookings.

Once I paid (using my credit card) for my railway pass on KLOOK, I printed out the attached file they sent me. I then claim my ticket at one of the stations in Fukuoka by showing the paper that I printed out. After the staff checked the information, she asked for my passport.

When everything was confirmed, I was asked if I want to make seat reservations. I requested to do it on the day I will use my JR Kyushu Discover Railway Pass. The staff said that it was okay and gave me my ticket.

The process took about 10 minutes.

How to use it?

You’ll be given four pieces of tickets. One has the date when you’ll be using your JR Kyushu Discover Railway Pass, the second has 6 boxes, the third one has a diagram, and the last one just has a lot of texts.

The First JR Kyushu Discover Rail Pass

The first one is the only one that you need to insert in the ticket gates. However, when you do take a seat reservation, you’ll be given another ticket (this has your destination and seat number) that you also need to put in the slot with the first ticket.

Second JR Kyushu Discover Rail Pass

The second one is for the seat reservations. You can book your seats in Shinkansen and limited express trains up to 6 times. You just need to go to the ticket information office to reserve your seats and they will stamp on the boxes on your second ticket.

NOTE: During the time I traveled from Isahaya to Nagasaki and Hakata and Kokura, I didn’t make any seat reservations in the limited express train. However, the seats were comfy and the car I was in was almost empty. There were times that there are more people in the reserved areas. So, don’t worry too much about not getting a comfortable seat.

Third JR Kyushu Discover Rail Pass

The third just shows what are the routes covered by the ticket.

Fourth JR Kyushu Discover Rail Pass

Finally, the last one indicates the information about the JR Kyushu Discover Railway Pass. It’s written in Japanese. So for those who can’t read Nihonggo, it can be a hit frustrating and you’ll probably just stash or throw it away. But, if you want to know more about the rules of this pass, you can just go to JR Kyushu’s website.

https://www.jrkyushu.co.jp/english/discover/

How much?

The All Kyushu pass cost 12, 000 yen, while the Northern Kyushu pass is 6,500. You may take a companion with you who is Japanese, but their ticket is a little bit expensive. They need to pay 14,000 or 7,500 yen.

Moreover, for those who are going to use the plane to come to Kyushu, you could get a discount when you travel with ANA or Peach Airlines. From 6,500, you just need to pay 6,000 and from 12,000 to 11,000.

For children ages 6-11 years old, it’s half price.

NOTE: For me, I just bought the Northern Kyushu because I live in Fukuoka and I only planned to go to Nagasaki. I didn’t need to buy the All Kyushu Pass. It’s very cost-effective for those who are living in the Northern part!

However, for those living in the lower part of Kyushu, even though you are not traveling to the upper part of Kyushu, you need to buy the All Kyushu Pass.

Is it worth it?

HELL YEAH!

When you ride the limited express train from Hakata to Nagasaki, you pay 8,540 yen (non-reserved seat) for a round-trip ticket. However, the JR Kyushu Discover Railway Pass only costs 6,500 or 12,000, which you can use for 3 days! It’s a huge bargain.

Megane Bashi (Spectacle Bridge) in Nagasaki
Megane Bashi (Spectacle Bridge) in Nagasaki

JR KYUSHU DISCOVER RAIL PASS vs. CAR

For those already living in Kyushu and who owns a car, it’s usually more convenient and cheaper to travel on your vehicle. There are still a lot of interesting places in Kyushu that are still very difficult to access unless you have a car.

But for those, who don’t have that luxury, having the JR Kyushu Discover Railway Pass is a gift from heaven. You just need to plan what are the easiest places to visit by train to use this pass as much as you can.

NOTE: When my husband and I travel around Kyushu, we always use our car. So, we never took advantage of it as soon as we can. We decided to finally purchase it on June, because my husband wanted to take a break from driving.

I began to research which prefectures in Kyushu, that we haven’t been to, would be the best to travel with JR Kyushu Discover Railway Pass. Suddenly, Nagasaki popped into my head because of HUIS TEN BOSCH— I always wanted to visit it. I then started drafting an itinerary for three days in Nagasaki and it was perfect!

The colorful flowers of Huis Ten Bosch
The colorful flowers of Huis Ten Bosch

This prefecture is one of the easiest prefectures to explore in Japan. A lot of its tourist spots are accessible by train, tram, or by bus.  In addition, Nagasaki City has a lot of notable places that you could access on foot— it’s a great way to exercises!

Conclusion

My husband and I had a pleasant experience using the JR Kyushu Discover Railway Pass. The staffs at Japan Railways were very helpful, so it made everything go smoothly.

On the other hand, the only negative thing I could say is, I hope that this promo could last longer. Many people are still struggling or avoiding travel because of COVID-19, hence many people can’t enjoy the perks of this special train ticket

Although there is a permanent discount train ticket called JAPAN RAIL PASS, it’s only available to foreign passport holders that are visiting Japan. This is a little disappointing for a budget-  globetrotter living in Japan— like me. I need to find other ways to cheaply travel around Japan, which means (sometimes) sacrificing time and comfort.

But, I’m still thankful that JR Kyushu Discover Railway Pass happened and I was able to use it and travel comfortably. I hope that there would be another promo like this in the future.

How about you guys? Have you tried out other discounted train tickets in Japan? Comment it down below.

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