Is the Japan Rail Pass Worth Purchasing?

One of the questions I see asked most often on the Lonely Planet Thorn Tree Forum message boards is whether or not Japan Rail Group’s Japan Rail Pass is good value for money. It’s a great question which you’ll often get a subjective answer to.

There are so many variables and personal preferences/biases which can determine whether or not the pass is right for someone.

In this guide, I’ll share my experience and offer suggestions to those looking to ride the rails in Japan.

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The Gone John Canada-Japan Showdown

It’s hard not to compare where you are to where you are from.  Along the way, you find the new places you’ve discovered have found a better way to do something you’ve always felt wasn’t exactly right – and sometimes, you long for the creature comforts of home.

Many friends and family back in Canada (and friends here in Japan) have been curious about the differences I’ve found between the two countries.  And while this is by no means an exhaustive list of comparisons, they are five of the more fun/interesting ones I’ve been able to make.

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Episode 11 – Ghosts, Trains and Jet Lag

Halloween in Shibuya has made international headlines – and it was awesome to get to be a part of the crowd!  (Yes, that’s me in the picture above with my tail between my legs.  If you’re reading these show notes on Stitcher or in a podcasting app, head over to to see what I’m talking about!)

On this episode of the show, we will talk more about the craziness of Halloween in Japan and how it’s just starting to become a big deal.

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Sure, you may want to binge watch "The Big Bang Theory" on the in-flight entertainment system. But you'll be so tired when you get to where you're going!

Time Flies

In 2009, I went to Florida from Saskatchewan, Canada with my Sister and her family for a week at Walt Disney World – and back then I thought that was a long flight. Granted, it was a hectic day with two connections, lots of rushing around, and cramped quarters in packed airplanes. But, I look back at that trip now and laugh – that’s not the longest I’ve been in the air!

I thought Minneapolis to London was a long flight. It is... but not the longest I've had yet!
I thought Minneapolis to London was a long flight. It is… but not the longest I’ve had yet!

My first venture out of North America was to London in 2012 – and that was roughly an 8.5 hour flight from Minneapolis. My legs cramped up, I panicked a little waking up from a restless sleep to find the seatback in front of me reclined all the way – it was a little harried! I thought that was a long flight – and again, I laugh. I’ve been up in the clouds even longer.

Fast forward to this month’s trip to Tokyo. Minneapolis to Narita is a flight that lasts just over 12 hours. Half a day, up in the sky. Now, THAT is a long flight (or at least the longest I’ve been on so far – I’ve yet to make the journey from the South Pacific back to North America, but it’s coming.)

When I was telling family and friends about my upcoming half-a-day-in-the-sky, they cringed at the thought of spending so much time trapped inside a plane. “How will you spend the time,” they ask? Good question.

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