In my previous MoVernie BLOG, I discussed about the reasons and benefits to purchase a Japan Rail Pass (aka JR Pass) when travelling in any parts of Japan. In this MoVernie BLOG, let me share my experience with you when we redeemed our JR vouchers with the actual JR Passes at 1 of many JR offices in Japan that will assist and issue the JR passes for you.
Our plane arrived at the Haneda International Airport in Tokyo, Japan at around 6:45 pm. By the time that we boarded off the plane and waited for our luggage at the baggage claim, it was almost 7:20 pm. Apparently, the friendly staff at the Information Centre inside the Haneda International Airport informed us that the JR office inside the airport was closed. It closes at 7:00 pm. So, we were off by 15 minutes. But nevertheless, we were informed that there are a number of JR offices across Japan that will allow us to redeem our JR vouchers in exchange for our JR Passes.
During that evening, we simply paid our train rides from the Haneda International Airport to the place that we were staying. The staff was available at the ticket booth to assist us in determining which station we need to go and the price we need to pay for the train ride. Each station has different prices, so we have to determine the cost. But no worries, it’s not that difficult, the staff is there to assist you if needed.
After we checked-in, we researched on the JR office locations that we could redeem our JR passes. We decided to go the JR East Travel Service Center to redeem our JR passes the next morning. FYI – JR East Travel Service Center is located near the Shinjuku Station but since Shinjuku Station is a big station, it did require a bit of more time to find the way to the JR office. Along the way, we did ask some staff at the train station to assist us, they were very friendly and knowledgeable to give us directions to find the office.
We first walked across the road from the JR Shinjuku Station, then we walked on the side street that we saw the Starbucks. This Starbucks looked quite big and is a standalone cafe. After we walked pass the Starbucks, we also walked pass this area called the “NewOMan Food Hall“. If you see the NewOMan Food Hall, you are walking in the right direction. After a few stores down, you will see the “JR East Travel Service Center“. Then, you have arrived!
Depending of the time of the day, the JR office can be busy or quiet. Since we redeemed the JR Passes on a Sunday morning, the line was average. The JR office looked very clean, modern and organize. There was a line for tourists who required assistance for hotels and tours. Since we were there to redeem our JR Passes, we chose to lineup on a separate line. Inside the JR office, there was also a currency exchange booth with a staff, so if you need to get more Japanese Yen or other type of currencies, you can also do so at this JR office.
While we were waiting in line, a friendly staff welcomed us and asked us if we were lining up to redeem our JR Passes. We kindly replied with a “Yes”. Then, he handed out a clipboard with a form (one per person) for each of us to fill in our INFO, mainly asking for our name, where we were from and the dates we would like to have our JR Passes to start. The staff also checked our passports just so if the person forgot to bring the passport, they are not wasting their time in the lineup only to know they don’t have the passport with them.
After about a 15 minutes wait, it was our turn to redeem our JR vouchers with our JR Passes at the counter. Another friendly staff greeted us and start processing our filled forms and inspected our respective passports. Our group all came into the same counter.
The staff inspected our JR vouchers and ensure the names on the JR vouchers matches the names on each of our passports. Then she explained to us the basic instructions on how to use the JR passes and explain what access we have with the pass.
At the same time, we asked her about the process of reserving seats with the bullet train. She asked us where we plan to go, the date we plan to travel and then afterwards, she provided us with the schedules. We plan to leave from Tokyo to Osaka on a specific date and she helped us book our reservation. The reservation allow us to sit in the “reservation” compartment on the bullet train and also the exact seat location. However, if you don’t know exactly when you want to take your bullet train or the exact schedule, that’s ok, you can be freestyle and hop on the “non-reserved” section. Thus, making reservation is not mandatory, but it’s free of charge to book, so it really depends on your preference.
After that, the staff printed out the INFO that we provided on the form and she inserted the INFO card in the JR Pass (see below). You could see how nicely the JR Pass looks. After that, we used the JR Pass for any JR lines in Tokyo and other parts of Japan.
For this Japan trip, our team used the Japan Rail Pass as our official mode of transportation, which these JR passes were provided by Japan National Tourism Organization (courtesy from the assistance from both Tokyo & Toronto branch locations). However, as always, the opinions expressed in this post are entirely my own.
I would also like to give a special thanks to Air Canada for providing the return Signature Class flights from Toronto, Canada to Tokyo, Japan. Without such hospitality and assistance by Air Canada, this Japan trip would not have been possible.
JR East Travel Service Center
Located in: Shinjuku Station
Address: 5 Chome-24-５５ Sendagaya, Shibuya, Tokyo 151-0051, Japan
Japan Rail Pass
Japan National Tourism Organization (JNTO) – HQ – Tokyo Location
Address: Headquarters 4-4-1 Yotsuya Shinjuku Ward, Tokyo 100-0006, Japan
Japan National Tourism Organization (JNTO) – Toronto Location
Address: 481 University Ave, Toronto, ON M5G 2E9
Phone: (416) 366-7140