JR Rail Pass

If you're traveling to multiple cities throughout Japan then I'd highly recommend getting the JR Rail Pass. The pass is issued by the JR Railways Group, and it cannot be purchased inside of Japan. You have to buy an exchange order through an authorized sale agent in Canada. There are a few located in the GTA and I also know of one place in Markham. You have to purchase an exchange order in Canada, and then exchange the voucher for an actual pass in Japan. You must show your passport in order to get the actual pass and photocopies are not allowed.

We got two (14 days) (ordinary) pass for $966 CAD. In the long run, it was definitely worth the investment as we traveled a lot with it. The seats in the ordinary cars were quite spacious and many Hikari and Kodama trains don't have green cars, so there was no point in getting the green one. We spent our savings on Kobe beef =D

The prices are as followed:

07 days: ¥ 37,800 ($405) [green car]                      07 days: ¥ 28,300 ($303) [ordinary]
14 days: ¥ 61,200 ($656) [green car]                      14 days: ¥ 45,100 ($483) [ordinary]
21 days: ¥ 79,600 ($852) [green car]                      21 days: ¥ 57,700 ($618) [ordinary]

The prices might look expensive at first but it's really an economical and flexible way to travel in the long run. The pass allows you to have unlimited travel on all JR trains except for two which are the NOZOMI and MIZUHO Shinkansen (bullet trains). If you get on either of those two then you will have to buy the full price ticket. Other perks of buying the JR Rail Pass is that you can make free seat reservations on the trains.

What transportation services can I get on using the JR Rail Pass?

The JR Rail Pass is valid on all JR JR Group Railways-Shinkansen (bullet trains) except the NOZOMI and MIZUHO Shinkansen. The four Shinkansen (bullet trains) that you can take using the JR Rail Pass are Hikari, Sakura, Kodama, and Tsubame.

Other transportation methods that is valid with the pass are buses, Tokyo monorail, Miyajima ferry, limited express trains, express trains, and rapid or local trains

Can I reserve seats before arriving in Japan?

Unfortunately you can't reserve seats on the bullet trains until after your arrival in Japan. The reason is because you need to exchange your voucher for the real pass first, and that can only happen once you are in Japan.

How do I make seat reservations?

You can make seat reservations at no additional cost as it comes with having a JR Rail Pass. To make a reservation, you need to go to any reservation office at a JR station or travel service center. You need to show your pass, select the seat/time that you want, and get your reserve seat ticket.