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If everyone or almost everyone who’s set on visiting Japan knows about the JR Rail Pass, the almighty pass to travel around Japan without spending an insane amount of money, there’s another pass that flies under the radar. The Seishun 18 isn’t like its name could suggest, a pass for children. There are no restrictions to buy it (you can be Japanese, foreign resident with an alien card and of course a tourist). So why it is not often mentioned?
This is what you need to know about this pass.
- Validity: the Seishun 18 can only be bought during three precise periods of the year: spring, summer, and winter. Every year, dates are slightly different but to give you a better idea these are the period for 2020.
|Period of use||Period of sale|
|Printemps||March 1st to April 10th 2020||February 20th to March 31st 2020|
|Eté||July 20th to September 10th 2020||July 1st to August 3st 2020|
|Hiver||December 10th to January 10th 2021||December 1st to December 31st 2020|
So yeah, obviously way less practical if you compare it to the JR Pass in that aspect.
- Use: The Seishun 18 is valid for 5 days or for 5×1 days. It’s not in your name so if you’re a couple or a group, you can use it the way you want as long as you are doing the same itinerary, just keep in mind you can use it 5 times during the validity period (5 days for 1 person, 2×2 days for 2 people + 1 day for one people, 1 day for a group of 5,…). While you have to use your JR Pass on consecutive days, you can use the Seishun 18 5 times (if one person uses it) during the period of use any day you want. Perfect to go on a trip, using the pass for long-distances and then paying for small journeys between.
- Trains: Byebye Shinkansen, Limited Express, and other fast trains. You will discover the joy of riding small local trains and have time to admire the scenery. You’ll love it. Well, not if you are in a hurry, if you have a limited amount of time in Japan, it won’t be a good option for you as you’ll spend sometimes 8 hours to do a journey that takes 2hour on the Shinkansen. If losing some hours or a few days to save money isn’t a problem, then go for it, you won’t regret it.
|JR Pass||Seishun 18 Kippu|
|Available||All year||Three periods in the year|
|Use||7, 14 or 21 days||Between 4 and 6 weeks depending on the period|
|Where to use it||All of Japan (or choosing a regional pass)||All of Japan|
|Which trains||All JR lines (except Shinkansen Nozomi and Mizuho), JR Miyajima ferry, Tokyo Monorail and local JR buses.||JR local trains, JR Miyajima ferry and some buses (Bus Rapid Transit)|
|Price (2020)||252€ (national pass) for 7 days||103€ for 5 days|
Example of my use of the Seishun 18 Kippu Pass in Hokkaido + my journey Osaka-Hiroshima:
Sapporo – Biei: 3630 yen
Biei – Abashiri: 5940 yen
Abashiri – Sapporo: 7370 yen
Sapporo – Noboribetsu (A/R): 4840 yen
Osaka – Hiroshima: 5270 yen
Total: 27500 yen (235€)
Seishun 18 Kippu: 12050 yen (103€)
I saved 15450 yen (132€)
The pass can be bought at JR train stations. You can buy as many passes as you want during the sales period and use them during the use period.
Before buying a JR Pass or a Seishun 18 Kippu, please take some time (a lot of time) to check Hyperdia and see all your options to see what’s the best solution for you.
To find the trains that are covered by the Seishun 18, tick the boxes:” Walk”, “Local train” and “Japan Railway (JR) in the options of the website or the app.