How to access to Himeji and Kobe from Osaka

There are lots of castles in Japan. But Himeji castle is one of four existing original catle buildings. (C) JNTO
There are lots of castles in Japan. But Himeji castle is one of four existing original catle buildings. (C) JNTO

Himeji castle is National Treasure, National Heritage Building, one of the best 100 castles in Japan and UNESCO World Heritage Site. I think this castle is most well known and popular castle in Japan and I believe everybody agree with me.

Under restoration work, Himeji castle was covered. But now it was removed and the exterior can be seen. (C) JNTO
Under restoration work, Himeji castle was covered. But now it was removed and the exterior can be seen. (C) JNTO

Himeji castle is still under restoration work. But in this past June, whole part of exterior was unveiled. Now Himeji castle is so white! The following link is Kobe Newspaper in Japanese. But you can see two different photos, before and after.

Kobe Newspaper, Himeji castle is too white!?

All restoration work will be completed in March 27, 2015. But if you want to see “White” Himeji castle, now it is time to go.

In this post, I would like to explain about access to Himeji by several kinds of trains. Since Kobe is located on the way to Himeji, I also mention about Kobe. You can drop by when you go to Himeji easily.

*The information in this article is current at the time of writing.

Route and access

Let’s see the location map. Please see the map below:

Access map for trip to Himeji (Click to enlarge)
Access map for trip to Himeji (Click to enlarge)

There are three ways to get there.

Shinkansen — trip time 30 to 45 minutes (from Shin-Osaka) / 3130 yen (base fare and non reserved seat surcharge by Hikari, Sakura or Kodama)
JR Special Rapid train — average trip time 61 minutes (direct access from Osaka/Umeda) / 1490 yen fare
Hanshin-Sanyo Railway Limited Express from Umeda — average trip time 95 minutes (direct access) / 1280 yen fare

Shinkansen is the fastest train obviously, but expensive. And you have to go to Shin-Osaka to catch Shinkansen. Let’s see the available deals and frequency.

Shinkansen

Tokaido Shinkansen
Most common fleet of Tokaido-Sanyo Shinkansen N700 sereis.

Shinkansen is the fastest way to get Himeji if you can catch the fastest run. There are several kinds of Shinkansen train on this segment, Nozomi, Mmizuho, Hikari, Sakura and Kodama. Kodama stops at all stations and takes sometimes 45 minutes to get Himeji from Shin-Osaka because Kodama waits for other faster trains on the way to Himeji.

If you take this “slow” train Kodama, it’s not much different from JR Special Rapid train. Because you will spend 5 minutes to get Shin-Osaka from Osaka by local train. And you will spend another 5 minutes at least to transfer from local train to Shinkansen. It will be 55 minutes and not much different from Special Rapid trip time 61 minutes.

If you intend to use Japan Rail Pass, Kansai WIDE Area Pass or Sanyo Area Pass, Shinkansen surcharge is covered by these deals.
*Kansai WIDE Area Pass covers only non reserved seat.

But if you will purchase single ticket, the fare is more than double of Special Rapid train. I don’t think it is not worth taking Shinkansen for such a short trip. Special Rapid is better train service in my opinion.

JR Special Rapid train

Special Rapid Service operated by JR West 223 series.
Special Rapid Service dominates Kyoto-Osaka-Kobe-Himeji transfer.

This train is most popular and the fastest commute service between Osaka and Himeji. You can catch this train by base fare only. And if you use Kansai Area Pass, this train is your choice. Of course other rail passes, Japan Rail Pass, Kansai WIDE Area Pass and Sanyo Area Pass cover this train too. Please see the link below to get more details about Special Rapid train service.

Most convenient and the fastest train among Osaka, Kyoto and Kobe. Special Rapid Service

If you purchase single ticket from Osaka to Himeji, it is 1490 yen. But if you purchase a ticket from Osaka to Sannomiya the fare is 410 yen. And then if you add fare when you exit at Himeji station, the additional is 970 yen. The total is 1380 yen. Actually it 110 yen cheaper for Osaka to Himeji ticket.

But if you make a round trip to Himeji from Osaka, round trip fare is at least 2760 yen. If you purchase Kansai Area Pass one day, the price is 2060 yen. Kansai Area Pass is the best deal to Himeji from Osaka.

Hanshi/Sanyo Railway’s Limited Express

Hanshin Railway connects Umeda and Kobe. The train go through Sanyo Railway to Sanyo-Himeji station.
Hanshin Railway connects Umeda and Kobe. The train go through Sanyo Railway to Sanyo-Himeji station.

Hanshin Railway is one of major private railway companies between Umeda and Sannomiya, Motomachi in Kobe. And also Hanshin Railway connects Osaka-Namba station with Amagasaki.

Sanyo Railway connects Himeji and Kobe area. Both Hanshin and Sanyo go through each other and both companies operate direct train service from Umeda to Himeji. But this is much slower than JR Special Rapid train. You will spend at least 30 minutes more than Special Rapid train.

If you use Kansai Thru Pass, you cannot take any JR trains. Hanshin-Sanyo direct train is only you choice. The round trip fare is 2560 yen. It is worth using Kansai Thru Pass for the trip to Himeji from Umeda.

If you stay in Namba, you can catch Hanshi Railway train at Osaka-Namba station. The transfer at Amagasaki station is usually same platform and very easy. If you use Kansai Thru Pass, you can take subway Midousuji line to Umeda and transfer to Hanshin Railway at Umeda. In this case, you have to exit subway station and enter Hanshin Railway station. But the train departs from Umeda. It is much easier to get a seat than Amagasaki.

This train is “Limited Express” but you don’t need to pay any extra. This is same type of trains as Special Rapid.

In the map above, there is Hankyu Railway between Umeda and Sannomiya. You can take this train by Kansai Thru Pass too. But any Hankyu trains do not go through Sanyo Railway line. So it is not convenient and not recommended.

Himeji station

Sanyo-Himeji station is located at the north side of JR Himeji station. It is 20 minutes away from Himeji station by walk. Please find the detailed about Himeji station and how to access to Himeji castle at the link below:

Himeji station guide. How to get Himeji castle from the station

Drop by Kobe

Sannomiya is the core place of Kobe. You can take any train other than Shinkansen to drop by Kobe. But if you go to Kobe only, any kinds of passes do not work. Single ticket is much cheaper than any deals.

82 thoughts on “How to access to Himeji and Kobe from Osaka”

  1. Hi Takeshi-san,

    I’m still abit confused, and will appreciate your advice please!

    We will be travelling from Osaka, and would like to go to Himeiji, then Kobe, and then back to Osaka in a day trip. Does this mean we can get the Kansai Area Pass?

    We are also travelling within Osaka for a week (heading to Mie and Mount Koya), so I’m thinking the Kansai Area Pass will be an overall good option.

    Thanks!

  2. Hello Takeshi san,

    Can you please clarify, with 1-day JR Kansai Area pass, from Osaka to Himeji can you travel on Super Hakuto trains with this pass or only Tokaido-Sanyo trains?

    Cheers.

    1. Hi Michael san,

      Unfortunately you cannot take Super Hakuto. Haruka is only limited express train which is covered by this pass. Special rapid is the fastest way to get Himeji by this pass.

      Cheers,

      Takeshi / JPRail.com

      1. Hello Takeshi san and thank you again.

        When you say Special Rapid to Himeji, would this then be Tokaido-Sanyo train to Himeji? Is this train covered by the JR Kansai area pass?

        Cheers.

  3. Hi Takeshi,

    I am travelling to Osaka for the first time with my husband for our honeymoon the end of this month (March 2017). We will be staying close to the Osaka/Umeda station.

    For one day, we would like to travel to Himeji to see the Himeji castle and then go to Arima Onsen in the afternoon then go to Kobe for evening and then back to Osaka. Do you think this plan is feasible? Or do you think we should cut out Himeji and stay longer in Kobe for the day to explore? What pass or transportation tips can you recommend?

    Thank you kindly,
    Jackie

    1. Hi Jackie,

      It’s very tight but not impossible. Kansai Thru pass covers all places.
      http://jprail.com/travel-informations/other-rail-passes/rail-pass-for-residents/how-to-use-kansai-thru-pass-compare-pass-and-single-fare.html

      But I recommend you to use Kansai Area Pass one day and single fare for bus to Arima Onsen. Because JR trains is much faster than Hanshi-Sanyo railway to get Himeji.
      http://jprail.com/travel-informations/other-rail-passes/rail-pass-for-visitors/how-to-use-jr-west-kansai-area-pass-compare-pass-and-single-fare.html

      You can get Arima Onsen by bus from Sannomiya station directly.
      http://jprail.com/travel-informations/basic-informations/station-information/kobe-sannomiya-stations-guide-check-the-location-and-connections-between-many-sannomiya-stations.html

      Cheers,

      Takeshi / JPRail.com

  4. Hi Takeshi San. Please we need your advise. It’s our first time to travel to Japan. April 16 – 26 2017. We book 5 days at Hotel Keihan (near USJ) and 5 days in Tokyo.
    1st day – Arrival – Kansai Airport to Hotel Keihan (8pm)
    2nd day – USJ (All day)
    3rd day – Visit Nara
    4th day – Visit Kyoto
    5th day – Explore Osaka City – Dotonbori – Osaka Castle etch.
    6th day – Travel to Tokyo via Shinkansen from Osaka
    Check-in- and visit places near the hotel
    7th day – Disneyland
    8th day – Disney Sea
    9th day – Visit Mt. Fuji – day trip only
    10th day – Around Tokyo
    11th – back to Manila

    * Is it worth to stay on the same Hotel in USJ?
    *Which pass can you recommend for all our trip
    Thank you very much.

    Regards,
    Romeo

    1. Hi Romeo san,

      You can use ICOCA and Haruka (to Tennoji) for arrival day and day 5.
      http://jprail.com/travel-informations/other-rail-passes/rail-pass-for-visitors/icoca-and-haruka-ticket-very-flexible-and-good-deal-for-tourist-who-stay-in-kansai.html

      You can take Haruka to get Tennoji and then take local train to Universal city station.

      For day 3 and 4, you may use Kansai area pass 2 days.
      http://jprail.com/travel-informations/other-rail-passes/rail-pass-for-visitors/how-to-use-jr-west-kansai-area-pass-compare-pass-and-single-fare.html

      Single ticket is basically your choice for Osaka-Tokyo by Shinkansen but if you are okay with spending more time, you can use Platt Kodama.
      http://jprail.com/travel-informations/other-rail-passes/rail-pass-for-residents/platt-kodama-one-way-deal-among-tokyo-nagoya-kyoto-and-shin-osaka-by-shinkansen.html

      You still can use ICOCA in Tokyo. But you may use local deal in Tokyo.
      http://jprail.com/destinations/kanto-area/tokyo-kanto-area/guide-to-take-trains-in-tokyo-how-to-choose-the-best-deal-and-the-best-route-by-train-to-get-the-major-spots.html

      There are several ways to get Fuji area. You have to decide which place you go before choosing the deal:
      http://jprail.com/destinations/chubu-area/fuji-hakone-access-guide-by-train-and-bus-from-both-tokyo-and-osaka-kyoto-nagoya.html

      I cannot say about your hotel in USJ. If it’s super expensive, you can relocate to other place.

      Cheers,

      Takeshi / JPRail.com

  5. Hi Takeshi San,

    I confused with all the pass available and need help/suggestions for our itinerary.

    Day 1 Osaka (Kansai Airport to Namba)
    Day 2 Osaka (Umeda Sky Bldg, Osaka Castle)
    Day 3 Nara
    Day 4 Kyoto
    Day 5 Osaka with local friend (Probably Minoo Part)
    Day 6 Kyoto
    Day 7 Hiroshima
    Day 8 Himeji Castle
    Day 9 Namba to Kansai Airport

    All nights will be spent in Namba. Which pass do you recommend. We can switch the iti if necessary except for Day 5. Thank you.

    1. Hi Ryan san,

      The following deals are recommended.

      KIX-Namba on day 1 and 9
      Single fare (920 yen) for ordinary train or limited express Rapi:t deal
      http://www.howto-osaka.com/en/ticket/ticket/webtoku.html

      Osaka amazing pass for day 2
      http://www.osaka-info.jp/osp/en/index.html

      single ticket to take Kintetsu railway train to Nara from Namba (560 yen one way)

      Kansai Hiroshima area pass for day 4 to 8
      http://jprail.com/travel-informations/other-rail-passes/rail-pass-for-visitors/kansai-hiroshima-area-pass-perfect-deal-for-the-traveller-who-wants-travel-both-kansai-and-hiroshima.html
      You can get Kyoto by this pass and can visit Arashiyama, Nijo and Fushimi. But you need to take a bus to get other places in Kyoto. All day bus pass is recommended to add.
      http://jprail.com/travel-informations/other-rail-passes/rail-pass-for-residents/how-to-choose-the-best-train-pass-for-sightseeing-in-kyoto.html

      Cheers,

      Takeshi / JPRail.com

  6. Dear Khun Takeshi,
    Very much appreciate your thorough suggestions ka.

    I am staying in Namba, Osaka for 7 days, 9-15 Feb.
    During the 7 days, I will travel from Osaka to Himeji, spend 1 night.
    Then Himeji- Kinosaki for 2 nights.
    Then Kinosaki-Osaka to catch a plane back to Thailand.

    Question: How should I travel? And which pass should I buy?
    Thank you very much ka.
    Poj

      1. Dear Khun Takeshi,
        Thank you very much.
        You are so active & prompt in helping visitors.
        JPRail is fortunate to have you!
        Poj

          1. Dear Khun Takeshi,

            I need help please.
            I bought the Kansai Wide Area Pass. I activated the 5-day pass today and am now in Himeji, on my way to Kinosakionsen, which was the whole reason why I bought this pass.
            Unfortunately, due to the snow, the train stopped the service today, and maybe tomorrow.
            One person at the JR Himeji said I could either extend the pass for more days due to the incident, or return the ticket to get part of the refund back.
            Since I am leaving Japan on 15 Feb, I chose the refund.
            However, later he said it could not be refunded.

            What should I do to get a refund?
            Thank you very much.

          2. Hi Poj,

            I don’t understand why the first one said you can get the refund. In this case, it’s due to weather and not fault by railway companies. They don’t refund in this case. They don’t extend it either usually.

            In my opinion, unfortunately you cannot extend and cannot refund either because of weather.

            Cheers,

            Takeshi / JPRail.com

  7. Hello again Takeshi,

    I intend to use the Kansai Thru Pass and I would like to ask how do I get to Himeji castle from Osaka(Kujo) station?

    1. Hi Faiz,

      You can take Hashin Railway local train at Kujo. You can change Hanshin railway express train to Himeji at Amagasaki. You can follow the route of Hanshin – Sanyo in the post above.

      Cheers,

      Takeshi / JPRail.com

  8. Hi Takeshi San,
    We are confused and need guidance.. about what train passes to get. Flying into Kansai airport and depart from here also. 28December to 4 January. Accomodation already booked 7 nights in Shin-Osaka. They wanted to visit Osaka, Kyoto, Ine, Himeji, Kobe, Hiroshima, Nara.
    Thank you.
    With Regards,
    Jackie

  9. I am travelling in Japan for the first time in January-February 2017. Part of my plans are to travel to the Kansai airport at 4pm on 27 January then catch the train/trains to Himeji where I will stay, catching the train to Hiroshima and Miyajima Is and back to Himeji on the the 28th and catch the train in the afternoon of the 29th to Kyoyo. I will have a JR Pass and was wondering whether my plans are practical and whether it can all be done on the JR Pass?

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