Japan Railways (JR Group)

JR Group

A history

Japan Railways (JR Group) was founded in 1987 when its predecessor Japanese National Railways (JNR) was privatised.

Six large regional railway companies form Japan Railways (JR Group);

  1. JR Hokkaido
  2. JR East
  3. JR Central
  4. JR West
  5. JR Shikoku
  6. JR Kyushu

*there is also a nationwide freight company JR Freight.

These 6 companies operate one of the world's leading rail networks. They are responsible for metropolitan, regional and interregional train services. This includes the ever-popular Shinkansen bullet trains and overnight services.

Top 3 most popular Routes and travel duration

1. Tokyo Kyoto via the Shinkansen Hikari - 2hours 40 minutes (approximately)
2. Tokyo Shin-Osaka via the Shinkansen Hikari - 2 hours 55 minutes (approximately)
3. Tokyo Nagano via the Shinkansen A Sama - 1hour 40 minutes (approximately)


Did you know?

  • Shinkansen services boast no passenger fatalities since commencement. This is a truly remarkable success considering the estimated 400,000 passengers per day.
  • Shinkansen bullet trains have been operating for 50 years.
  • High speed Shinkansen network spans approximately 2393 kilometres.

In the future

The extension of the Shinkansen route from Tokyo to Hokkaido the northernmost island is also expected to reduce travel times greatly. A celebrated fact for snow bound passengers.
A new breed of Shinkansen services called the Chuo Shinkansen are approved for development. Using maglev (magnetic levitation) technology the expectation is for trains to reach 505km/h. Central Japan Railway Co (JR Central) expects to finish the project by 2027 and will shorten travel time from Tokyo to Nagoy to just 40 minutes.

Why to travel with JR

Travelling with JR using your JR pass eliminates the hassle of booking individual point-to-point train tickets and stressful train deadlines.

The JR Group provides a wide range of regional passes, with different durations and classes of service available for all types of traveller.

The passes include travel onboard;
1. Shinkansen bullet trains which link regions and cities
2. Regional trains linking Shinkansen services to towns and cities
3. Overnight train services for long distance journeys
4. Local buses linking train stations with hotels, attractions and cultural sites
5. Ferry services between islands.

JR passes will save travellers money with a return journey from Tokyo to Kyoto being the same price as a 7 day Ordinary JR pass. You are able to enjoy a full week of unlimited train travel around Japan for very low costs.

Order your JR pass with Rail Guru, save yourself time, money and hassle with our simple online booking system.