The JR Pass is a special pass available only to those entering Japan on a tourist visa. It allows for unlimited travel around Japan on JR lines usually at a price much less than purchasing individual tickets.
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2 minutes before the Thunderbird train to Kanazawa was due to leave Kyoto Station my son John said "it's going to be late." 1 minute before leaving it arrived. It left on time. Exactly. All our travel arrangements were the same: perfect. Kaoru arranged everything for our self-guided tour. We started in the cold of late winter (snow in Takayama) but ended with the warmth of cherry blossom. We remember simple bento on the train, kai-seki, the bat's ears on the Nozomi shinkansen, monks chanting in Saiho-ji temple, and thousands picknic-ing by the river in Arashiyama. John wants to go back.