Whenever someone asks me whether they should purchase a JR pass, I only need to ask one question. Are you traveling from Tokyo to either Kyoto or Osaka and back? If the answer is yes, so is mine.
A one-way trip from Tokyo anywhere into the Kansai region, which includes the popular destinations previously mentioned, costs $130 USD. A roundtrip ticket will cost $260. The JR pass costs $260, but it is valid for 7 days on any JR transport lines. Essentially you’re paying the same amount to get there and back, but you will save more with the JR pass since you can utilize JR lines to get around until the pass expires.
Important: The pass must be ordered online and shipped to a country outside of Japan before your arrival. Update: Travelers may purchase the pass at selected stations and a few airports (including Haneda and Narita) at a higher price until March 2020.