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Tuesday, Nov. 28, 2006

LIFELINES

Cheap travel in Japan?


Full Moon Green Pass

Jim writes that he and his wife (based near Sasebo in Kyushu) have heard about a special JR ticket that is a great deal.

"I think it's called a Full Moon Pass, or something?"

The correct name is Full Moon Green Pass. Sadly it is hardly cheap, but remember, the pass is for two people.

Also, though it is available only at certain times of the year, such a pass allows you to jump on and off trains all over Japan, and even use sleeper cars.

To be eligible for a FMGP, Jim and his wife need to have a combined age of 88 years or more (hence the symbol of a full moon).

The pass is valid for travel in Green (1st class) cars on all JR services, except the Nozomi bullet train. A surcharge is required for travel on the Hikari bullet train and on certain types of sleeper trains.

The pass costs 79,000 yen, 98,000 yen or 122,000 yen, for 5, 7 or 12 days of consecutive travel (for two people).

Buy the one most suited to your needs at any major JT station within Japan from Sept. 1 to May 31 and it is valid for travel between Oct. 1 and June 30 (excepting Dec. 21-Jan. 6), March 21 to April 5, and April 27 to May 6.

Japan Air Pass

Kate is planning to welcome her parents to Japan from the U.K. "Any ideas how we can fly to Hokkaido and Kyushu without further breaking the bank? They won't have so much time and I'd like them to see as much as possible."

Good news and not so good news. Japanese airlines offer discount domestic air tickets for overseas travelers. So although her parents can travel cheaply, Kate -- who is living here -- will have to pay full whack.

If Kate's parents are coming with JAL, they are eligible for Japan Airlines' Yokoso (Welcome) Japan Air Pass. This allows travelers to fly within Japan for 11,100 yen per sector, including applicable taxes and surcharges -- special airfares that are available for use between Japan's 42 cities.

Travelers must reside outside Japan and must purchase the JAL Yokoso Japan Airpass prior to travel in conjunction with their JAL Group international tickets. For more information or to purchase the Yokoso Japan Airpass, contact your travel agency or Japan Airlines at 1-800-JAL-FONE or 1-877-2-JAL-TKT.

All Nippon Airways is more flexible, with their ANA Visit Japan Fare. This allows foreigner travelers to fly to 73 destinations within Japan for only 12,600 yen per destination.

In order to purchase an ANA Visit Japan ticket, travelers must have a valid international ticket traveling to/via Japan and must reserve and purchase a Visit Japan Fare ticket outside Japan.

Finally, there is the Star Alliance Japan Air Pass. Buy one to five coupons for travel (lasting up to 60 days) in economy class at 11,550 yen inclusive, and they are valid on ANA (NH) and Air Nippon (EL).

Note that this Air Pass is also available only to residents of countries outside Japan visiting here on an international flight, and it must be purchased on an international flight to/from Japan.

Send your queries, questions, problems and posers to lifelines@japantimes.co.jp


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