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JR pass for long-term resident

shigasumi

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Hello everybody!
Right now I am a research student in Saitama University under the MEXT scholarship program. In July my friends will visit Japan and plan to spend some time in Tokyo, Osaka, Kyoto and then go to the Fuji Rock festival which is held in Naeba city (Niigata pref.)
Naturally, I wanna join them :D
So here is my question. Up to this day (I'm in Japan from April 1st, 2012) I've never traveled farther than Tokyo, so I still don't know much of the details regarding railways in Japan. My friends plan to use Shinkansen, so they buy JR pass in their country. I've checked out the fares for the shinkansen to/from Osaka and to/from Niigata, and the result is - I'll to spend ~40000 yen only to shinkansen itself :(
Can someone explain me in simple terms - are there some means for me with my status here (long-term resident - 2years, research student - not yet full time doctoral student) to get some commuter pass or something to reduce traveling costs, if, say, all shinkansen trips will be within one week? (or 10 days maximum). As far as I understand, neither JR pass nor JR passes by company (JR west, JR east etc) are available for me.
So, are there any options at all?
Thanks!
 

Mike Cash

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I've heard that it is sometimes cheaper to fly than to take the Shinkansen. You might investigate that. You might also consider trains other than the Shinkansen. It would mean traveling separately from your friends, but if your budget won't allow for the Shinkansen then you may have to look at separate travel as an option.

There are very affordable overnight buses, but at the moment I would recommend against them, unless you are traveling on a 路線 bus instead of a 観光 bus and know how to tell the difference before you buy tickets.
 

shigasumi

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I've heard that it is sometimes cheaper to fly than to take the Shinkansen. You might investigate that. You might also consider trains other than the Shinkansen. It would mean traveling separately from your friends, but if your budget won't allow for the Shinkansen then you may have to look at separate travel as an option.

There are very affordable overnight buses, but at the moment I would recommend against them, unless you are traveling on a 路線 bus instead of a 観光 bus and know how to tell the difference before you buy tickets.

I see... So probably there's no such options for shinkansen after all (
Thanks for the answer!
 

Mike Cash

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That's not what I'm saying. There may be some option for you; I didn't attempt to research it. I was only trying to provide you with some "Plan B" ideas.
 

shigasumi

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That's not what I'm saying. There may be some option for you; I didn't attempt to research it. I was only trying to provide you with some "Plan B" ideas.

I understood you perfectly :) I meant that I also did more research on this topic and came to such a conclusion
 

thepie

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When there are three consecutive holidays, sometimes JR issues 三連休 Shinkansen pass (three consecutive holidays pass) with a good price. I saw it last year but didn't have time to try out the plan though. According to some friends of mine who have lived here for several years and are fluent in Japanese, that's the cheapest way to travel by Shinkansen. But this pass does not have English information, but JR advertises in many JR stations.

Edit: Just found more information here (Japanese - but you can Google Translate)
https://ja.wikipedia.org/wiki/三連休パス

The price is 26,000 for adults, 14,000 for junior high students, and 5000 for children. It's not very cheap, but it's the cheapest option for Shinkansen I know so far.

Edit2:
https://ja.wikipedia.org/wiki/スリーデーパス
The 三連休 was replaced by スリーデーパス (three day pass) from 2010. This one is cheaper, 13,000 yen but you will have to pay extra-fees if you want to have a reserved seat. It has some other limitations and additions compared to the old one but my Japanese is not enough to understand though :)
 
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