Traveling: See Japan for Cheap with the Seishun 18 Kippu

On a previous travel guide post, I mentioned some cheaper ways to travel around Japan.  One of the ways to to do this is with a Seishun 18 Kippu (read as “seishun juuhachi kippu“), that allows you 5 days of unlimited JR train access except for special expresses/shinkansen.  Granted you’ll need a lot of time to get around, but it’s great for backpackers, group travel, and hopping off random stations to explore…  Or people like me who don’t mind spending half a day or two on the train to save 40,000 yen ($400 USD) in travel costs.

© J // Washing Rice Blog

© J // Washing Rice Blog

That’s right!  I went to Gifu, Okayama, and back, and that’s about how much I saved with this ticket and choosing to by local/rapid trains instead of taking the bullet train.  My whole train fare for the trip (including another trip I took to Tokyo with a friend to see the Fushigi Yūgi play) cost me less than 10,000 yen ($100 USD) with a Seishun 18 Kippu.

First things first, Seishun 18 Kippu are seasonal and are only sold/valid during certain periods during spring, summer, and winter.

This year’s Seishun 18 Kippu Calendar:

  • SpringOn sale: Feb. 20th – Mar. 31st 2015  Valid: Mar. 1st – Apr. 10th 2015
  • SummerOn sale: Jul. 20th – Aug. 31st 2015  Valid: Jul. 20th – Sep. 10th 2015
  • WinterOn sale: Dec. 1st – Dec. 31st 2015  Valid: Dec. 10th 2015 – Jan. 10th 2016

So if you want to use one, you need to plan your trip during one of these valid periods above.  And despite the name (Adolescence 18 Ticket), it’s like that saying, “You’re only as old as you feel…” so anyone can buy and use one.

The cost of one Seishun 18 Kippu with 5 stamps is 11,850 yen ($118.50 USD).  That means for you or your group to save any money, JR train use for each day trip/person (1 stamp) needs to exceed 2,370 yen ($23.70 USD).

That’s right, I said group!  Seishun 18 Kippu isn’t limited to just 1 person.  There are 5 stamps on each ticket, but you can share them any way you like.  That means you and a friend can ride for 2 days (4 stamps) with 1 day (1 stamp left over), 5 people can ride for 1 day (5 stamps), you can use all 5 days for yourself (5 stamps), etc.  The combinations are endless!  (Well not mathematically speaking, but you know what I mean… 😉 )

In my case, I bought a Seishun 18 Kippu for my upcoming spring travels, and used 2 stamps to go to Tokyo and back with a friend.  My friend reimbursed me 1/5 of the ticket cost for his stamp (2,370 yen).  Because the regular round trip fare to Tokyo and back from where we live is around 4,500 yen ($45 USD),  he benefited, too.  So for my trip to Gifu and Okayama, I had 3 stamps left.  I used to the first to travel to Gifu (4 hrs by local/rapid train), the second to travel from Gifu to Okayama (7 hrs by local/rapid train), and the last to travel from Okayama back home (11 hours by local/rapid train).

Japanese people and even some of my expat friends thought this was crazy, but I don’t think it’s any different than taking a road trip by car back in the U.S..  It’s even better because you’re not driving and you can sleep, listen to music, or enjoy the scenery along the way.  If you get hungry or restless, just stop off somewhere to grab a bite and explore.  I wasn’t even tired after my ride back from Okayama, and after going home to drop my suitcase off and change, I went out to celebrate my first BBQ of the year with my new part-time job boss and his friends.

Here are some pictures from Gifu and Okayama:

© J // Washing Rice Blog

Hanami (Cherry Blossom Viewing) drive in Gifu!
© J // Washing Rice Blog


© J // Washing Rice Blog

My buddy in Okayama and I happened along this local street festival going on April 5th.
© J // Washing Rice Blog


© J // Washing Rice Blog

Best cat cafe I’ve been to so far! (Pfft, Okayama)
© J // Washing Rice Blog


When traveling domestically, if you’ve got an OK grasp on Japanese or are confident with switching trains multiple times, I definitely recommend using a Seishun 18 Kippu.  This time I was able to take it easy and catch up with some friends I hadn’t seen in awhile.  🙂

Have you ever had any interesting Seishun 18 Kippu trips?  I’d love to hear about them!

– J


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