Some good news for traveling around Japan for those already there, and those who can get there as and when international travel resumes again – JR East half price shinkansen tickets!
Yes, JR East have announced a massive 50% discount promotion for the period from August 20, 2020 through to March 31, 2021.
The super discount is available by pre-booking on the JR East website between 20 days and one month prior to your travel dates – all promotional tickets can only be purchased directly from the official JR East website, not via travel agents or other services.
Almost the entire JR East shinkansen network is included, with only the Hakutaka and Kagayaki services on the Hokuriku shinkansen to destinations like Kanazawa, Toyama and Takayama not included.
Otherwise you can travel all the way up north to Akita and Aomori, west to Niigata, through to popular areas like Yamagata, Aizu and Fukushima, and cities like Sendai (worth visiting just for the best shitake mushrooms – check our feature on that here) and Morioka. For skiers the deals include getting to Shin-Hakodate in Hokkaido too!
Limited Express trains are also on special.
The savings are big – individual shinkansen tickets have never been cheap, which has always made the JR East Rail Passes a better option for many visitors than separate sector tickets. But with 50% discounts point to point travel is much more affordable. It is also perfect for people on extended or more free-wheeling itineraries who might want to start in one location and make their own way on local transport and/or self-driving to another.
The full details of fares are available online here (but only in Japanese so far)
Sample price savings include (all one-way)
Tokyo – Akita ¥17,920 normal, discount deal ¥8,950
Tokyo – Hakodate
Tokyo – Morioka
Tokyo – Fukushima
Tokyo – Niigata
JR East half price shinkansen services offering the deal
Asama (between Tokyo and Nagano)
Hayabusa, Hayate (between Tokyo and Morioka/Shin-Aomori/Shin-Hakodate Hokuto)
Komachi (between Tokyo and Akita)
Nasuno (between Tokyo and Nasushiobara)
Tsubasa (between Tokyo and Yamagata)
Toki, Tanigawa (between Tokyo and Jomokogen/Niigata)
Yamabiko (between Tokyo and Koriyama/Fukushima/Sendai/Morioka)
Discount Limited Express Trains
Azusa (between Tokyo and Haranomachi/Chino/Kami-Suwa/Matsumoto)
Hitachi (between Tokyo and Haranomachi/Soma/Watari/Iwanuma/Sendai)
Inaho (between Tokyo and Tsuruoka/Amarume/Sakata)
Kaiji (between Tokyo and Kofu/Ryo)
Nikko, Kinugawa, Spacia Kinugawa (between Tokyo and Tobu-Nikko/Kinugawa Onsen)
Sazanami, Shinjuku-Sazanami (between Tokyo and Goi/Anegasaki/Kisarazu/Kimitsu/Tateyama)
Shiosai (between Tokyo and Sakura/Yachimata/Naruto/Yokaichiba/Asahi/Choshi)
Wakashio, Shinjuku-Wakashio (between Tokyo and Oamishirasato/Ohara/Katsuura/Awa-Kamogawa)