The ultimate hack to traveling from Tokyo to all over Japan - from the Northern Aomori to Hiroshima, the JBL Bus Pass (or Willer Bus Pass) is the key to other cheap adventurers out there.
What is it?
It's a bus pass for non-Japanese. Meaning you buy one, and it allows you to use any and all of the highway buses all over Japan. Highway buses are different from the local buses that go around the city, in that the highway buses use the, well, express ways and cross prefectures. It can be as short as an hour or two bus ride, or an overnight one.
If you are Japanese, I am not sure if you can use it or not, but definitely never been checked.
Not to be confused with the Willer Bus Pass, which is very similar, but of a smaller scale (less bus types and bus routes allowed for use, but cheaper)
How much is it?
The ideal one is JPY4,000 per day - which you can get via JPY20,000 pass for 5 days valid for any day in a month. If you can travel outside of holidays and weekends, then you can get the much cheaper one and pay JPY2,800 per day.
The rates do change, which is why you might see some differences in the estimates in the posts in this blog. Here are the rates as of May 2021.
How do I buy the tickets?
See the screenshot above? It has a purchase button in it. Just click it.
Only done online - even if you call them, they cannot do anything and will ask you to do updates online!
I bought it and changed my mind. Is it refundable?
100%. Buying is easy and done online, and refunding is in the same place - as long as you have NOT used even one slot and the validity has not passed yet. No fees for refunding (I've probably refunded half of what I bought simply because I changed my mind. ]
So. What are the cons?
- Buses are not for everyone. Overnight on a bus much less so. There are some nice buses, but buses still.
- One month limit. It has to be used within the month, so tick tock.
- Five days (uneven number), so it's basically two roundtrip tickets plus one. What do you do with that extra one? That's a bit tricky.
How to I reserve?
Now, this is a bit tricky, so here are the steps:
|Click My Booking in the upper right.|
|Log in if you already have an account (if you created one during purchase), or register as a new member otherwise.|
|Under MyPage TOP, click "BusPass management"|
|Depending on the package booked, the number of days will be there. Click "Search the target routes"|
|Fill up the form. I generally stick with one way. Select the from and to, departure date, and gender.|
|Log in again.|
|Confirm the search parameters, and scroll down across the different types bus buses and time slots.|
|After finding the preferred bus type, route, and time, click select.|
|Click on the preferred boarding and arrival place. The map link shows the google maps pin and is accurate.|
|After selecting the boarding and arrival place, click Next.|
|Select the preferred seat type, if applicable. Ignore the price shown. That is the price to be paid if NOT using the bus pass.|
|Click Add to shopping cart.|
|A corona special window - agree to all the terms and click Agree to the above and proceed with making the reservation.|
|Click the bus pass you want to use (if you have multiple ones), then click reserve.|
|Make sure that the primary contact details are ticked, and click "Specify a seat", if available. Not all buses can have seats specified though.|
|Select the seat, and click complete.|
|Make sure that the email address is correct as that will be where the ticket is to be sent, then click Next.|
|Tick the "I have read and agree to the policies above", and click "Complete the reservation"|
|They will send you the details with the reservation.|
|Scroll down to the bottom, and just show it to the driver when boarding. That's it!!!|