If it is your first time to ride the Shinkansen, reading Shinkansen tickets may look a little complicated. JR-East (East Japan Railway Company) has the official web page explaining how to read Shinkansen tickets.
How to Read Tickets | Ticketing | JR-EAST
However, there are a few missing points on that official web page.
One of our customers asked us, "Which are child fare tickets and which are adult fare tickets?" Hmm... there is no explanation about it on the JR official web page.
If you understand Japanese or Chinese characters, you can easily tell whether a ticket is for child or not, but there is no English description on a ticket!
There is a mark of Chinese character "小" in upper right corner of a Shinkansen ticket as circled red below for child fare tickets. The Chinese character, "小", means small in Chinese and Japanese.
Set ticket (回数券, kaisūken) for Shinkansen are widely used in Japan because you can get a small discount. However, set ticket is issued only in Japanese characters, and JR ticket vending machines sell set tickets only through Japanese display. So if you want to use set ticket for Shinkansen, you should be able to read Japanese to purchase a ticket and ride Shinkansen.
Don't worry. We purchase tickets with English for you. Even when we use set ticket, we arrange to issue separate reservation tickets which have English description.
Regular seats used on Reserved cars and Unreserved cars of Shinkansen. Consider it as "economy class" seat.
Better seats with more space than ordinary seats. All Green Seats are reserved only. Consider it as "business class" seats.
Your seat is reserved and secured when you book your tickets. Head to the station with a peace of mind.
Seats are the same as Ordinary Seat.
Better seats and free blankets. Popular among Japanese business persons, executives and people who
Know as "First Class" of Shinkansen seats. Only available on Hokuriku and Tohoku Shinkansen lines.
You can take any open seats in unreserved cars of any train on the departure date. (No departure time will be indicated on your tickets.)
The best seat type if your priority is the cost and are traveling during less-crowded season/time.
For further information and photos, please visit official page at http://www.jreast.co.jp/e/ticket/types.html