Go Green & Serene in Japan with the Green Rail Pass (first class)
The Japan Rail Pass is available in ordinary class or a green rail pass (equivalent to first class). Most long distance Japanese trains have a Green Car, which is the equivalent to First or Superior Class train travel in the western world.
Precisely why it’s called this is something of a mystery. As far as we know, it has nothing to do with any additional environmental benefit - though of course traveling by train is always a far greener way to go than flying or driving.
It may just simply be a handy colour coding system to help overseas, non-Japanese speaking travellers. Green Cars are labelled as such with a cute little green clover symbol on the carriages, which keeps things simple and stress-free.
Green class provide greater comfort and style and is ideal for long distance train travel. Read more to find if the green class japan rail pass is really worth it.
Just as with regular ordinary class Japan Rail passes, Green Passes can be bought for 7, 14 or 21 consecutive day durations for both adults and children, offering extensive rail travel across the network, including the Shinkansen bullet trains, the ‘Tokkyu’ or limited express trains and some sleeper trains too.
A 7 day pass starts at AUD $420*, while the 21 days pass goes for AUD $882. That means that Green Car Passes are roughly 40% more expensive than standard class. This might seem like a big jump, but honestly how often in your lifetime are you likely to embark on an epic rail trip across the land of the rising sun? Why not treat yourself a little and see the country in suitable style?
Being less populated, they’re also more quiet.
Although the Japanese are not known for being especially rowdy travellers there’ll certainly be less ‘tourist chatter’ to filter out in your average Green Car. Imagine travelling in spacious luxury rather than squashed into a train like sardines!
If you’re travelling overnight you can expect to get more, fluffier pillows and blankets, a selection of newspapers and magazines (usually in Japanese, but hey you can still enjoy the pictures. Who knows, you might even pick up a little sprinkling of kanamoji into the bargain?).
There is also a free soft drink and maybe even a snack included. Plus you can make the most of the dedicated Green Car lounge areas in many stations before boarding your train, to help start your journey in a perfect zen state.
Exactly what you get depends on the train route you’ve booked, but on some such as the JR Kyushu Line green car passengers even get issued their own personal pair of leather slippers at their seat, which are changed after every journey by the dutiful green car attendants.
Remember that, just like with regular Japan Rail Passes, Green Passes can only be bought outside of Japan – and naturally the good folks here at Rail Guru will be only too happy to assist with your purchase. We also recommend securing reservations for travel on any Green Car journeys, as obviously there are fewer Green Cars than standard ones.
Just like a refreshing cup of sweet green tea or the green, green grass of home, we reckon the best things in life are green, so now you know, when it comes to seeing Japan by train - Green Means Go!