I am planning my trip to Japan

I am planning my trip to Japan and I'm going to use my blog as a collection of information that I can easily access on the road. Hopefully I won't get stabbed by some ninja dude...


1. Transportation services

The JAPAN RAIL PASS is valid for the railways, buses, and ferry boats shown in Table 1.

Railways: All JR Group Railways--Shinkansen "bullet trains" (except any reserved or nonreserved seat on "NOZOMI" trains), limited express trains, express trains, and rapid or local trains. (With some exceptions)

JR Bus Companies: Local lines of JR Hokkaido Bus, JR Bus Tohoku, JR Bus Kanto, JR Tokai Bus, West Japan JR Bus , Chugoku JR Bus, JR Shikoku Bus Company, and JR Kyushu Bus.
JR Highway Bus Lines: Sapporo-Otaru; Morioka-Hirosaki/Aomori; Tokyo-Nagoya/Kyoto/Osaka/Tsukuba Center;
Nagoya-Kyoto/Osaka; Osaka-Tsuyama/Kasai Flower Center (Not accepted on some lines)

Ferry: JR Ferry (Miyajima - Miyajimaguchi), except "Beetle2" (Hakata - Pusan)
Important notes: The JAPAN RAIL PASS is not valid for any seats, reserved or nonreserved, on "NOZOMI" trains on the Tokaido and San'yo Shinkansen lines. If you use a "NOZOMI," you must pay the basic fare and the limited express charge, and if in a Green Car, the Green Car charge. Passengers using train on non-JR lines* must pay respective fares and charges applicable to sections traveled on such lines.
Table 1

2. Train accommodations

Most JR trains have Ordinary Cars (coach class) while many long-distance trains also offer Green Cars (superior class). With a Green-type JAPAN RAIL PASS you can use either class, while with an Ordinary-type JAPAN RAIL PASS you can use only Ordinary Cars without paying an additional charge. Refer to the table below for details.
The cars with can be used with JAPAN RAIL PASS.
Use of the cars with requires paying additional charges.
There are no Green Cars on most HIKARI and KODAMA trains on the Sanyo Shinkansen line (Shin-Osaka ·Hakata), or on TSUBAME trains on the Kyushu Shinkansen line(Shin-Yatsushiro – Kagoshima- chūō )

(except any reserved or nonreserved seat on "NOZOMI" trains)
Green car
Ordinary car
Green private compartment
Ordinary private compartment
Green car
Ordinary car
Green private compartment
Ordinary private compartment
Sleeping car
Local and
rapid trains
Green car
Ordinary car

Table 2

Green private compartments are on certain limited express trains, such as "NARITA EXPRESS" and "Super-view Odoriko."
Use of "Home Liner" and other "liner" trains requires an additional charge.

3. Validity period

The validity period of a JAPAN RAIL PASS is the consecutive 7, 14, or 21 days beginning on the date the PASS is first used.
Within three months from the date the Exchange Order was issued, you must turn in your Exchange Order to obtain your JAPAN RAIL PASS. At that time, you have to specify the date that you want to start using the PASS. It can be any date within one month from the date the PASS is received.
Once the PASS has a starting date written on it, the date cannot be changed.

How to make seat reservations

Shinkansen and most limited express and ordinary express trains have reserved Green car seats and both reserved and nonreserved ordinary car seats.
*There are no Green Cars on most HIKARI and KODAMA trains on the San'yo Shinkansen line (Shin-Osaka – Hakata), or on TSUBAME trains on the Kyushu Shinkansen line (Shin-Yatsushiro – Kagoshima- chūō )
A nonreserved seat can be used simply by showing your JAPAN RAIL PASS.
Seat reservations can be made without additional payment. To make a reservation, go to any Travel Service Center or a Reservation Office (Midori-no-madoguchi) at a JR station, or to the sales office of a JR-associated travel agency. There, show your PASS, and obtain your reserved-seat ticket before boarding.

The sign for a Resevation Office(Midori-no madoguchi)

Please note that during crowded periods you cannot be guaranteed a seat on a specific train.
The periods when seat reservations are particularly difficult to secure are as follows:
December 29 to January 5
The New Year holiday period is the most popular travel time for Japanese people, for vacations and returns to hometown areas.
April 29 to May 5
Due to consecutive holidays in a comfortable travel season, there is large-scale travel throughout Japan for leisure and recreation.
August 13 to 15
Another time for traditional travel to home-town areas, called the Obon season.

Note: Do not use an automatic ticket-reading gate with a JAPAN RAIL PASS or a reserved-seat ticket. Please show the PASS at a manned ticket gate.

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