I forgot to mention this on my last post about Kyoto. It revolves around the JR rail pass though, so I suppose it is worth it’s own post. Anyone visiting to Japan should get one. In my opinion you should also splurge and get the green car pass, or their first class pass. This allows you into reserved cars in the rapid express and into first class on the Shinkansen, which is the premier way to travel in my opinion. Anyways, one of my friends came to Japan with a regular, 7 day rail pass that he bought in the US for about $200USD. Once he activated it we made same day reservations on the Shinkansen to and from Kyoto. If you make that trip with the rail pass, you immediately pay off the price of the rail pass assuming you are in Tokyo. He also was going to make trips to Osaka, so that would pay for his train tickets there too.
When using the pass for a regular train, you just flash the pass at the ticket window and they let you pass. For a Shinkansen ride, you get your reserved ticket that you have to show with the rail pass. If you have one without the other, you can’t pass.
Here is where his train figuratively jumps the tracks. We got return tickets as well with the rail pass but my friend lost his rail pass, which means your fucked. They will not reissue one to you and even if you have the reserved ticket, and without the rail pass in your possession, they won’t let you on. Since my friend needed to fly out that day, he had to bite the bullet and pay 100% for a new reservation, which was actually the same seat. So in the end equation, he lost money on it.
Moral of the story: if you are prone to losing things, duck tape that shit to your chest and roll like superman when you pass through the ticket gate.