do not pass up the rail pass
Day 1 in Japan, my luggage trolley and I made the short walk from Kansai International Airport (KIX) to the Japan Rail (JR) office where I picked up the glittering jewel in the crown of my japan trip preparation: the JR Rail Pass. If you ever go to Japan and are moving around from place to place, get the rail pass. Don't dither about it; just fork out the money and enjoy. I paid AUD645 for a 21-day pass and I had used the equivalent in (fast, comfortable, reserved seating) train travel before my trip was at its halfway point.
Rail pass tips: You cannot buy a JR Rail Pass in Japan, so think about it before you leave. And don't lose it, because you can't replace it in Japan either! Also, it is NOT worth paying the extra to get the 'green' pass. The small number of additional services it gives you over the 'ordinary' pass are minimal and unnecessary.