Happy March, everyone. I wanted to quickly pass along some news regarding the Japan Rail Pass. I first discovered this change a few days ago: One of the benefits of using the Japan Rail Pass has been, for some reason or another, the utilization of JR highway buses. That will now be coming to an end, however: Effective with Rail Passes issued on or after April 1 (which is traditionally the start of the new fiscal and school year in Japan), the Japan Rail Pass can no longer be used on any highway bus service. It will still be valid for LOCAL buses that are operated by JR, but not for the highway buses.
The condition as currently stated on the Rail Pass’ official web page refers to “Express buses” being discontinued from pass validity. That term is somewhat confusing, however two other sources that I wrote to confirmed to me that this likely means highway buses.
The discontinuation of this provision likely means two things: Not enough Rail Pass users are using highway buses (why would you when you can take the train), AND/OR more people are perhaps using the Japan Bus Pass offered by Willer Express for their highway bus travel.
Of course, I am still rooting for the day that we can use Nozomi and Mizuho shinkansen trains with the Japan Rail Pass, but much to my chagrin (and my expectation) this restriction will remain in effect. 😦