Japan Rail Pass is a transit pass for foreigners to travel via transit services served by Japan Railways Group (JR Group). You can carry it to board JR trains including shinkansen (except for Nozomi trains and Mizuho trains. However, Hikari trains are just as fast as Nozomi!) for free for 7 or 14 days.
I have compared multiple authorized JR Pass retailers in Toronto and finally decide to buy it from IACE TRAVEL. It’s cheaper than the other places. I got it for 321CAD for the 7-day ordinary adult pass. (It might be more expensive now as the currency plunges).
Here’s their website: http://www.iace-canada.com/en/top/
I placed the order around the noon time and got their email in the afternoon asking for:
1. A photo copy of my passport
2. A photo copy of the round-trip air ticket confirmation
And they also asked my whether I would like to pick it up onsite or have it deliver it to my door. I chose the former one as I lived in Toronto downtown anyway. I called them asking if I could pick it up on the same day and was told it would be ready on the next day in the morning and they also reminded me that I needed a visa to enter Japan as my passport did not have Japan Visa Exemption. (I had not started apply the VISA yet)
On the next day in the morning, I went to their office to pick up my pass. Their office is just over the Bay Station on the Bloor Line.
1240 Bay Street. Suite 407 Toronto, ON M5R 2A7
Open in Google Maps
Two “moe” ladies greeted me, walked me through the refund policy and told me how I could exchange the voucher for the real pass in Japan. They also asked me which airport I would land at and drew a map for me for the location of the JR office located in that airport.
The pass I bought was the ordinary (blue) pass. You can also reserve seats in advance with an ordinary pass. Just make the reservation in the JR office next to the fare gates before you board the train. The representatives speak English very well. They essentially ask you your destination and confirm the departure and the arrival time with you. For sure you can make reservations with a green pass too. I actually believe that there’s no need to reserve the seats in advance too much. I usually make the reservation 10-15 minutes before the departure time. Well, if the time is tight, you can just go directly to the general admission cabins, but it’s usually crowded. There are service trolleys on shinkansen trains selling snacks.