Travelling by train in Japan is really fun. As a tourist you have the opportunity to buy a credit for the Japan Rail Pass outside of Japan. In Japan, the Rail Pass will be issued. Now you can drive as much and as far with the Japan Railway as you want. Other lines cost extra. For the Shinkansen, the Japanese high speed train, you need a seat reservation. This is issued at the station ticket office and is inclusive for the Rail Pass holder. For the Rail Pass holders there is even usually an extra switch, where English is spoken. On the reservation is always the number of the car and the seat number. The Shinkansen has its own platforms and sometimes even its own train station. On the platform you will find the waggon number on the ground and the train stops exactly there. We were excited.
Excerpt from my travel diary from 30.11.2013:
Just in time at 7:00 am, to the second, the first of three trains we used over the next 10 hours left Sapporo. Through a wonderful snowy landscape we went to Hakodate. There we had 45 minutes stay. That was enough for a geocache in front of the station and to buy provisions.
The journey continued through the longest railway tunnel in Japan to Shin-Aomori. The Shinkansen has its own terminal there. 15 minutes were enough to reach the next train completely stress-free. At 5:08 pm we were in Tokyo punctually.
For the 453 kilometers from Sapporo to Aomori, a large city, the same prefecture Aomori at the northern tip of Honshu, the main island of Japan, we need 6 hours 30 minutes and for the 710 kilometers to Tokyo 4 hours 34 minutes. As you can clearly see the difference between high-speed and regional trains. On the website Hyperdia you can choose suitable train connections in Japan. A super help. So it's easy to plan a train journey.
In total, we drove 3616 kilometers in 2013 in Japan by train. That would have cost without Rail Pass 88,820 (about 735.00 €) Yen. The Rail Pass cost JPY 57,700 yen (about € 478.00) and was valid for 21 days.