I went to Tokyo station the weekend before last to buy my Shinkansen (新幹線), or bullet train, tickets from Tokyo to the southernmost main island of Kyushu.
This time it was very simple, not like the two hours it took last time. The not so easy part was handing over the money though. It cost me Y23,000, which is over £100!
My plan was to reserve this trip, and then buy separate tickets each time I wanted to use the Shinkansen during the holiday.
But the day before I left, Sunday, I was speaking to my Chinese housemate, and I asked him if I could buy a ticket that would get me from Kyushu to Tokyo, but allow me to get off at stations along the way for a couple of days at a time.
He didn't know, but he came with me to Tokyo station and was a brilliant translator. He helped me buy a ticket that allowed me to travel from Kyushu to Tokyo on normal trains, and then I just pay the superexpress fare on top of that at each station to use the Shinkansen trains.
That ticket cost just Y10,000 and was valid for 14 days. I really recommend buying that because it was so useful to just walk up to the ticket office in various cities and say:
"Kono kippu o motte imasu kedo kyou wa destination e ikitai desu." (I have this ticket but today I want to go to destination.)
Then they ask you the usual questions like, do you want reserved or non-reserved ticket. I generally chose non-reserved (juuseki) because it's cheaper, and usually easy to find a seat.
It made my trip much cheaper and simpler so consider it if you go travelling around Japan by train!