Basic itinerary of Tokyo, Kyoto and Osaka in 7 days

Chidorigafuchi near Imperial Palace in Tokyo is one of the best spots to see cherry blossom. (C) Yasufumi Nishi / JNTO
Chidorigafuchi near Imperial Palace in Tokyo is one of the best spots to see cherry blossom. (C) Yasufumi Nishi / JNTO

I made the sample itinerary of Osaka, Kyoto and Tokyo in 7 days a month ago. Now I would like to show you the reverse itinerary that start from Tokyo and end at Osaka in 7 days. There is no deal to cover whole part of trip unfortunately. But you can combine some local deals and single ticket.

In this post, I show you the basic 7 days itinerary and the deals that suit this itinerary. But you can extend the duration as many as you want. I also show you how to change or add days in this itinerary too.

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

Day 1 – Narita airport or Haneda airport to Tokyo

Ordinary class interior of Narita Express
Ordinary class interior of Narita Express. It takes you to Tokyo, Shinagawa, Shinjuku, Shibuya, Ikebukuro, Yokohama and many more stations.

Tokyo has two airports, Haneda and Narita.

Haneda airport is much closer to downtown Tokyo. You can take Keihin Kyuko railway to Shinagawa or Monorail to Hamamatsucho. Both stations are connected by JR Yamanote line with Tokyo, Shinjuku, Shibuya, Ueno and many other stations in Tokyo. And also many of Keihin Kyuko railway’s trains go through Toei Subway Asakusa line. You can get Shinbashi, Higashi-Ginza, Asakusa and Oshiage (Tokyo Skytree) directly without changing the trains. You may find some more information about access from Haneda to downtown Tokyo at the following link:

How to access from Haneda airport to downtown Tokyo

But if you arrive at Haneda very late, you may miss the last train. Midnight bus runs after the last train but it is very limited. Please see the link below to find more information about late arrival at Haneda.

How to take Tokyo Monorail or Keihin Kyuko for late arrival and early departure at Haneda

Narita airport is one hour away from Tokyo station. There are many ways to from Narita to downtown Tokyo, like Narita Express, Skyliner, Limousine bus and budget access bus. Please find more information about access from Narita at the link below:

The list of deals for access to downtown Tokyo from Narita airport

Day 2 – Sightseeing in Tokyo

The view of Tokyo Skytree from near Asakusa. It is new icon of Tokyo. (C) Yasufumi Nishi / JNTO
The view of Tokyo Skytree from near Asakusa. It is new icon of Tokyo. (C) Yasufumi Nishi / JNTO

Tokyo Metro/Subway deal is most popular. JR Tokunai Pass is also available. Subway covers most of spots in Tokyo but subway lines are so many and very hard to find the fastest route. JR train network is very simple. But you cannot get many places in Tokyo by JR trains, such as Asakusa, Tsukiji. Please see the links below to find more information of these deals.

Compare many discount tickets and passes for sightseeing Tokyo. How to choose the right tickets?
Tokyo Metropolitan District Pass (Tokyo Tokunai Pass), good choice for sightseeing in Tokyo.

How to access to the places surrounding Tokyo

Many popular attractions are located outside downtown Tokyo. For example, Tokyo Disney Resort, Ghibli Museum, Sanrio Puroland and many more places are located outside coverage area of both subway pass and Tokunai pass. There is no deals available to access these areas. Single fare is okay for access to these places. You may use IC card, such as Suica, Pasmo instead of single fare.

And also Yokohama, Kamakura and Kawagoe are not in Tokyo and not covered by these Tokyo deals either. Single fare is okay to access to these places too.

How to extend to stay in Tokyo

If you stay in Tokyo more, you may simply add subway fare, Tokunai Pass or single fare as you need. But if you want to travel to other places in Kanto area, like Nikko, Fuji, Hakone, there are some deals available. Please find more information at the links below:

Fuji Hakone access guide by train and bus from both Tokyo and Osaka / Kyoto / Nagoya.
How to access to Nikko from Tokyo. There are three ways from Tokyo, Shinjuku and Asakusa.

If you travel both Fuji/Hakone and Nikko, Tokyo Wide Pass is a good choice.

JR East Kanto Area Pass. Perfect choice for tourist who want to go to Fuji, Izu, Nikko from Tokyo.

Tokyo Wide Pass covers Izu, Yuzawa (Gala Yuzawa), Kusatsu Onsen and many more places too.

Day 3 – Transfer from Tokyo to Kyoto

Shinkansen is the high speed train service in Japan. Shinkansen stops at Maibara, Kyoto, Shin-Osaka, Shin-Kobe, Nishiakashi and Himeji in Kansai area.
Shinkansen is the high speed train service in Japan. It connects Tokyo and Kyoto in 2.5 hours.

There is no deals to cover this segment. Single ticket is your choice. If you take Shinkansen (bullet train), base fare ticket and Shinkansen surcharge ticket are required. You can purchase these tickets in advance. Shinkansen and limited express surcharge tickets can be purchased at any JR stations that have reservation window, a.k.a. “Midori no Mdoguchi”. Base fare ticket also can be purchased with surcharge ticket at same time.

In this itinerary, you can purchase one base fare ticket from Tokyo to Kansai airport. Because you can make stopovers at Kyoto and Osaka. Please find more information at the link below:

For non JR pass travellers. Guide to use JR single ticket, basic rules, validity and stopover

You can find some information about how to find a timetable in the link above too. But PDF timetable of Shinkansen is available too.
Tokaido Shinkansen timetable westbound

If you leave Tokyo in early morning, you can spend half day for sightseeing in Kyoto. I recommend to visit south part of Kyoto, like Fushimi Inari. It’s just 5 minutes away from Kyoto station by Nara line local train and single fare is only 140 yen one way. If you want, you can visit even Nara.

How to access to Nara by Japan Rail Pass. If you don’t use JR Pass, Kintetsu Railway is more convenient.

If you need some more information about Kyoto station, please refer the link below:
Kyoto station guide. How to transfer among Shinkansen, Kintetsu, Subway and JR local trains.

If you go to Nara or other spots in Kyoto, please exit at Kyoto station and purchase other ticket. Your ticket is for Kansai airport. You have to exit and make a stopover Kyoto. You cannot use this ticket to other direction. Otherwise your ticket is expired.

Day 4 – Sightseeing in Kyoto

Fall foliage in Kiyomizu-dera temple. It is one of Must-See spots in Kyoto.
Fall foliage in Kiyomizu-dera temple. It is one of Must-See spots in Kyoto.

When you visit temples and shrines in Kyoto, you have to take city bus and/or subway. Kyoto city sightseeing card or all day bus pass is your choice. You may find more information at the link below:

Inside Kyoto – Special Kyoto Bus, Train and Subway Passes

Day 5 – Transfer from Kyoto to Osaka

You can continue using the base fare ticket from Tokyo to Kansai airport. Special Rapid train is the fastest way to get Osaka from Kyoto. Express supplement charge is not required to take this trian because this is a sort of commute train.

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

If you stay near JR station in Osaka, such as Osaka, Shin-Osaka on the way to Kansai airport, you can stopover there and take a train to Kansai airport on departure day. But if you stay near subway station, you cannot take subway by this ticket. You have to exit at the nearest JR station and pay single fare for taking subway.

Squeeze Nara or/and Kobe on the way to Osaka from Kyoto

If you just make a trip from JR Osaka to JR Kyoto, it takes 30 minutes by Special Rapid train. You can spend some more in Kyoto or get Osaka early and enjoy there. But you may visit other places, such as Nara or Kobe. Nara is easier to squeeze because both Kyoto and Osaka are very accessible to Nara. You may find the access to Nara from Osaka and Kyoto at the link below:

How to access to Nara by Japan Rail Pass. If you don’t use JR Pass, Kintetsu Railway is more convenient.

If you drop by Nara on the way to Osaka from Kyoto, you may purchase the base fare ticket for Tokyo – Kyoto – Nara – Tennoji – Kansai airport. This is the simplest route ticket that include Kyoto and Nara. But you cannot get Osaka (Umeda) and Shin-Osaka by this ticket.

If you want to make your travel be easier, use single ticket for just Tokyo to Kyoto. And you may use other deal. Kintetsu Rail Pass one day is recommended for trip to Nara.

Kintetsu Rail Pass (Kintetsu Railway official site)

You may visit Kobe too. But Kobe is located at other side if you move from Kyoto to Osaka. Please find more information about trip to Kobe at the following link:

How to access to Himeji and Kobe from Osaka

Hankyu Tourist Pass covers Osaka, Kobe and Kyoto. This is most affordable one day pass that covers these three cities.

Hankyu Tourist Pass (Hankyu Railway official site)

If you are okay with very tight schedule and want to visit as many as you want, you can do Kobe and Nara in one day. In this case, Kintetsu Rail Pass that I mentioned above and Hanshin Tourist Pass are recommended. Hanshin Tourist Pass covers Umeda, Namba and Kobe. Hanshin Railway connects with Kintetsu Railway at Osaka-Namba station. Many of both Hanshin and Kintetsu trains run each other. Some trains go directly from Nara to Kobe-Sannomiya. This is the easiest route to get Nara from Kobe. If you have these two passes, you can take this direct train.

Day 6 – Sightseeing in Osaka

Dotonbori is located near the biggest downtown core of Osaka, Namba.
Dotonbori is located near the biggest downtown core of Osaka, Namba.

The basic choice is Enjoy Eco Card that is one day subway unlimited ride pass. You may get most of places in downtown Osaka by this pass.

Enjoy Eco Card (Osaka subway official site)

If you want to visit many attractions, Osaka Amazing Pass gives you the great savings. It includes 28 attraction’s admission and unlimited subway ride. Please see the following link to get the details about this pass:

Osaka Amazing Pass

If you want to go to Osaka Kaiyukan Aquarium, Osaka Kaiyu Ticket is the best choice.

Trip to Osaka Kaiyukan Aquarium by Osaka Kaiyu Ticket

If you intend to spend one full day in Universal Studio Japan, single ticket is okay.

If you want to extend to stay in Osaka

You may add another Eco Card or Amazing Pass. But you may visit other places, such as Kobe, Nara. In case of this, you may add another Kansai area deal, like Kansai Thru Pass or Kansai Area Pass.

The following link shows you the itinerary of stay in Osaka only. But you may get some idea about choosing deal for trip to inside/outside Osaka.

How to build the itinerary and choose the deals for Osaka stay 5 to 7 days.

Day 7 – Osaka to Kansai Airport

Limited Express Haruka at Kansai Airport station
Limited Express Haruka at Kansai Airport station

You can continue using the base fare ticket from Tokyo to Kansai airport. But this ticket is valid for 5 days. If you extend your stay in Osaka or Kyoto, your ticket is expired.

And also if you drop by Kyoto and Kobe, you will use a single ticket for Tokyo to Kyoto only. But there are many deals to get to Kansai airport from Osaka. Please find more information about the deals at the link below:

How to choose the deals for access to/from Kansai Airport

In this post, I have explained Tokyo to Osaka in 7 days. If you want to learn reverse itinerary, Osaka to Tokyo in 7 days, please see the link below:

the sample itinerary of Osaka, Kyoto and Tokyo in 7 days

I also have many more sample itineraries. Please check the category, Sample Itinerary.

43 thoughts on “Basic itinerary of Tokyo, Kyoto and Osaka in 7 days”

  1. Hi Takeshi,

    Just wondering, should I book Shinkansen in advance from Tokyo to Kyoto ? We are group of 4 and will be going to Kyoto from Tokyo on 03 March 2017.

    Can we buy Shinkansen ticket on that day in Tokyo station?

    Regards,

    Dina

    1. Hi Dina,

      You can purchase a ticket either on the day of travel or in advance. You can purchase it at any major JR stations. In downtown Tokyo, most of JR stations have reservation window. When you have a time in Tokyo, just stop by there and purchase it.

      It’s totally up to you but I recommend you to reserve in advance.

      Cheers,

      Takeshi / JPRail.com

  2. Hi.i will be arriving in Haneda airport on 1st april around 2150pm and depart from haneda airport on 8th but since i plan to go tokyo, osaka,kyoto and motegi any idea which place i should go first and should i take JR pass single ticket or 7days pass to travel to all those places

    1. Hi Aisya,

      You can use 7 days JR pass. You can start using the pass on 2nd April because of late arrival. You cannot exchange the pass on arrival day and need to stay in Tokyo. Please see the hours of exchange windows at the link below:
      http://www.japanrailpass.net/en/exchange.html

      You can go whichever Osaka/Kyoto or Motegi. You can stay in Tokyo in the first couple of days or the last couple of days.

      Cheers,

      Takeshi / JPRail.com

        1. Hi Alysa,

          Mostly it’s covered. I’m not very familiar with Motegi. But I think you have to take bus from Mito or Utsunomiya. You can use JR pass to get these cities, but the bus is not covered.

          Cheers,

          Takeshi / JPRail.com

  3. Hi,

    Kindly help me ive been having a hard time with our japan tour this coming march 2017 manila-natita then kansai-manila. do we need to puchase JR pass? we are going kyoto-osak-nara then tokyo.

    Kindly advise me on this thank tou so much in advance.

    Regards,
    emz

  4. Hi Takeshi,

    I will arrive Haneda and stay in Tokyo for few days. We will then go to Osaka for 2 days before visiting Kyoto as one day trip. I will then fly from Osaka (Kobe) airport to Haneda.

    Should I only get one way Shinkansen ticket and buy Kansas area pass to visit around Osaka and Kyoto? I hope this is cheaper as JR Pass seems to be more expensive?

  5. We plan to spend 10 days/9 night in Tokyo, Kyoto, Nara and Osaka. Fly to Tokyo and spend 3 nights, visit various places in Tokyo. Then take the train to Kyoto and spend 4 nights. Visit various places in Kyoto and take a day trip to Nara. After Kyoto, take a train to Osaka and spend 2 nights to explore Osaka before taking the flight from Kansai airport.
    Can you let me know what kind of rail or local passes will work best for us.

  6. Hi pls. me Iam arriving in Kansai airport and also departing at kansai airport will be staying for 9 days wanted to go in tokyo what should I do, Iam with family 2 adults & 2 child 6yrs old and 11 yrs old pls. thanks.. also the cheapest way and fast way thanks.. if can only thanks.

    1. Hi Ujin,

      Please see the link below:
      http://jprail.com/sample-itineraries/7days/basic-itinerary-of-osaka-kyoto-and-tokyo-in-7-days.html

      Please add another Shinkansen trip from Tokyo to Osaka on the itinerary in the link above.
      You may use JR pass 7 days for the first or the last 7 days in your trip. As long as you use the pass for return trip to Tokyo, you can use it whichever the last 7 days or the first 7 days.

      Cheers,

      Takeshi / JPRail.com

  7. Hi Takashi,

    First of all, thank you for sharing all these useful tips. Our seven-day itinerary is very similar to this and is as follows:

    Day 1 and 2 – Tokyo (from Narita)
    Day 3 – depart from Tokyo to visit Hakone with overnight stay at Ito
    Day 4 – Depart Ito and stay overnight at Kyoto
    Day 5 – Day visit to Nara then go directly to Osaka
    Day 6 and 7 – Osaka then Kansai

    The single base fare route you proposed (Tokyo – Kyoto – Nara – Tennoji – Kansai airport) seems the most appropriate. I assume we would have to purchase separate fares from Shinjuku-Oawara-Hakone, Hakone-Ito and back, as well as Odawara to Kyoto.

    I have two questions though:

    1) When purchasing the single base fare ticket, do we have to specify this exact route to the ticket seller?

    2) Can we stopover at Tennoji and purchase a separate ticket to JR Namba (which is near where we will stay) and then still use the Tokyo-Kansai ticket to go to Kansai Airport (again from Tennoji)?

    Thank you again.

    Luci

    1. Hi Luci,

      The following itinerary is more similar to your plan.
      http://jprail.com/sample-itineraries/7days/sample-itinerary-of-tokyo-hakone-kyoto-and-osaka-classic-route-in-7-days.html

      But you will drop by Ito. So you will arrange different way to purchasing a ticket.

      First, you can take Odakyu railway to get Hakone from Shinjuku. This is not JR. So just purchase a ticket to Hakone simply. If you visit many places in Hakone, you may purchase Hakone Free Pass 2 days at Odawara. Even 2 days pass may be cheaper than single fare if you visit whole part of Hakone. At this point, it’s hard to compare single fare and pass. You have to make the detailed itinerary and find our which point in Hakone you will visit. And then you can compare single fare and pass.

      For the trip to Kyoto from Odawara via Ito, you can purchase two single ticket, Odawara to Ito and Ito to Kyoto. You don’t need to follow very complicated single ticket rule. Total fare is not much different.

      I don’t include Kyoto-Nara-Tennoji-KIX segment in single ticket. Because I recommend you to use Kansai thru pass for day 5 and day 7.
      http://jprail.com/travel-informations/other-rail-passes/rail-pass-for-residents/how-to-use-kansai-thru-pass-compare-pass-and-single-fare.html

      If you use this pass, you can get Nara from Kyoto by Kintetsu railway. If you don’t stay near Kyoto station, you can take subway or city bus by this pass to get Kyoto station. Kintetsu Kyoto station is exactly same place as JR.

      Kintetsu Nara station is located at the best place in Nara. It’s much closer to most of popular places in Nara than JR station.
      After visiting Nara, you can also take Kintetsu railway to get Namba directly. You don’t need to change the train at Tennoji.
      http://jprail.com/destinations/kansai-area/how-to-access-to-nara-by-japan-rail-pass-if-you-dont-use-jr-pass-kintetsu-railway-is-more-convenient.html

      Kansai thru pass also covers subway in Osaka. So after arriving Namba, you can take subway in Osaka as much as you want to visit other places. That is another reason why I recommend this pass.

      On day 7, if you have time, you can use this pass to take subway in Osaka for the last minutes shopping or sightseeing. You may take Nankai railway from Namba to KIX directly. Nankai railway operate direct limited express “Rapi:t” to KIX. But if you take this, you need to pay extra, 510 yen. But there are many rapid train to KIX and it’s direct service too.

      Cheers,

      Takeshi / JPRail.com

      1. Thank you so much, Takeshi-san! I overlooked the Kansai Thru pass and we’ll surely be using it during this trip.

        Regards,
        Luci

  8. Hi Takeshi,

    I will be arriving in Narita Airport on 18th Jan. I am planning to fly out from Kansai Airport (yet to purchase the ticket).

    How many days should I stay so that I can take advantage of the single ticket since I wont be buying any JR Pass.

    Is that fine?

    Day 1- Narita – Tokyo
    Day 2-Tokyo
    Day 3- Tokyo-Hakone
    Day 4 – Tokyo-Kyoto
    Day 5-Kyoto
    Day 6-Kyoto
    Day 7 – Kyoto-Osaka
    Day 8 – Osaka-Kobe-Himeji
    Day 9 – Osaka -Kansai Airport (or should I add another day for Osaka)

    1. Hi Ying,

      In this case, JR Pass may be better than single ticket because you will visit Hakone and Himeji. If you take these trains in your itinerary, JR pass 7 days will work:

      1. Take Narita Express from Narita to Tokyo on day 1.
      http://jprail.com/trains/sort-by-type/limited-express/narita-express.html

      2. Take Shikansen between Tokyo (or Shinagawa) and Odawara when you visit Hakone on day 3.
      http://jprail.com/trains/sort-by-departure-arrival-stations/stations-in-tokai/nagoya-toyohashi/what-is-shinkansen-bullet-train.html
      http://jprail.com/travel-informations/tips-for-japan-rail-pass/how-to-get-hakone-from-tokyo-compare-japan-railway-and-odakyu-lines.html

      3. Visit Himeji and Kobe on day 7 instead of day 8. And take Shinkansen from Kyoto to Himeji
      http://jprail.com/travel-informations/tips-for-japan-rail-pass/how-to-transfer-among-kyoto-osaka-and-kobe-compare-japan-railway-and-private-lines.html

      You don’t need to take Shinkansen when you go to Himeji and Hakone. Especially JR pass does not cover any trains after arrival in Odawara. But Shinkansen is fast, convenient and comfy. And also if you use JR pass, it’s much easier to handle than using many kinds of local deals and single ticket.

      If you want to use single ticket, you may use it for only Tokyo to Osaka via Kyoto. Because there are many local deals. You don’t need to use single ticket so much in your plan.

      Cheers,

      Takeshi / JPRail.com

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