Japan Rail Pass and rail travel in Japan complete guide. Let's use the Japan Rail Pass to its maximum!!!
Ganbaro Tohoku

Tokaido and Sanyo Shinkansen (Bullet Train), Most popular train to Kyoto, Osaka, Hiroshima and Hakata from Tokyo.


Shinkansen (Bullet Train) at Tokyo station

Tokaido Shinkansen is the oldest and busiest Shinkasen line and it is operated between Tokyo, Nagoya, Kyoto and Osaka. Sanyo Shinkansen is operated between Osaka, Okayama, Hiroshima and Hakata (Fukuoka). Both lines are connected each other. Many trains, “Nozomi” that is the fastest train on Tokaido-Sanyo Shinkansen, run from Tokyo to Hiroshima and some of those run to even Hakata.

Most of Hikari run between Tokyo and Shin-Osaka, But some of those run to Okayama and Hiroshima.

Sanyo Shinkansen connected to Kyushu Shinkansen at Hakata. Many trains, Mizuho and Sakura are operated between Shin-Osaka and KUmamoto or Kagoshima-Chuo directly. Please see the post, Kyushu Shinkansen to get details.

Many of you will use this train system between Osaka/Kyoto and Tokyo. In this post, I would like to share the information of this train system with you.



Tokaido and Sanyo Shinkansen run from Tokyo to Hakata via Shinagawa, Shin-Yokohama, Odawara, Atami, Shizuoka, Nagoya, Kyoto, Shin-Osaka, Okayama and Hiroshima. Please see several route maps below:

View Tokaido and Sanyo Shinkansen (Bullet Train) in a larger map

Tokaido Shinkansen (Tokyo – Shin-Osaka) route map

(C) Hisagi (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0) or GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html)], via Wikimedia Commons

(C) Hisagi (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0) or GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html)], via Wikimedia Commons

In the map above, there is a dotted line. JR Central is planning to build one more Shinkansen lines. But it may take a long time to complete.

Sanyo Shinkansen (Shin-Osaka – Hakata) route map

(C) Hisagi (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0) or GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html)], via Wikimedia Commons

(C) Hisagi (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0) or GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html)], via Wikimedia Commons

Types of train

There are three types of trains on Tokaido and Sanyo Shinkansen.


“Nozomi” is the fastest train. It takes 2 hours 21 minutes from Tokyo to Kyoto, 2 hours 36 minutes from Tokyo to Shin-Osaka, and about 2 hours 30 minutes from Shin-Osaka to Hakata. (Shin-Osaka is one local station away from Osaka. Shinkansen does not have a station in downtown Osaka.) Nozomi is operated every 10 minutes during daytime between Tokyo and Shin-Osaka, and operated every 20 to 30 minutes between Shin-Osaka and Hakata. All Nozomi are operated by the newest fleet N700 series. This train stops at Shinagawa, Shin-Yokohama, Nagoya, Kyoto, Shin-Osaka, Okayama, Hiroshima and Kokura. Some of this stops Shin-Kobe, Himeji, Fukuyama, Tokuyama and Shin-Yamaguchi.
*Be careful! The station name that has “Shin” is mostly NOT located in the city center. It is usually a few local stations away from city center.

Japan Rail Pass is NOT valid for Nozomi. Japan Rail Pass do not cover anything. If you want to take this, you have to pay full fare.


You cannot take Nozomi by Japan Rail Pass. Your choice is the second fastest train, it is called “Hikari”. It takes about 2 hours 45 minutes from Tokyo to Kyoto, about 3 hours from Tokyo to Shin-Osaka, and about 2 hours and 45 minutes from Shin-Osaka to Hakata. Hikari is operated every 30 minutes during daytime between Tokyo and Shin-Osaka, and operated every 20 to 30 minutes between Shin-Osaka and Hakata. Most of Hikari are operated by 300 series. But 300 series will be discontinued to use on March, 2012. Newer 700 series will be replaced and some of Hikari will be operated by N700 series. Every Hikari stop Shinagawa, Shin-Yokohama, Nagoya, Kyoto, Shin-Osaka, Shin-Kobe, Okayama, Hiroshima, Kokura. Some of Hikari stop Odawara, Atami, Mishima, Shizuoka, Hamamatsu, Toyohashi, Gifuhajima, Maibara, Nishiakashi, Himeji, Aioi, Shin-Kurashiki, Fukuyama, Shin-Onomichi, Mihara, Tokuyama and Shin-Yamaguchi.

So the differences between Nozomi and Hikari are following:

  • Frequency (Tokyo to Shin-Osaka) — Every 10 minutes Nozomi / Every 30 minutes Hikari
  • Time required (Tokyo to Shin-Osaka) — 2 hrs 36 mins Nozomi / 3 hrs Hikari
  • Accommodation — Nozomi by the best and newest fleet / Hikari by a bit older fleet

What do you think? Of course Nozomi is better and faster. But Hikari is good and fast enough to travel to Osaka or Kyoto from Tokyo. It is acceptable in my opinion. If you cannot accept it, you need to give up to use Japan Rail Pass anyway.

If you want to check the difference of interior of those trains, like 300, 700 and N700 series, please see the following posts:
Tokaido Shinkansen image gallery
Sanyo Shinkansen image gallery

Hikari train formation

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16

R:Ordinary class reserved seat NR:Ordinary class non-reserved seat G:Reserved Green class (First class seat)


Kodama is the slowest train and stops at all stations on Shinkasen line. So you don’t need to take this except going to the station where Nozomi and Hikari do not stop.

I show the images of accommodations of Shinkanse trains at the following links:
Tokaido Shinkansen image gallery
Sanyo Shinkansen image gallery
Kyushu Shinkansen Mizuho and Sakura

You may also like these posts:

101 Comments to “Tokaido and Sanyo Shinkansen (Bullet Train), Most popular train to Kyoto, Osaka, Hiroshima and Hakata from Tokyo.”

  1. John Cran says:

    I am staying with a friend in Kameoka for around 14 days. Wewould like to visit Kyoto, Nara, Osaka places around Kyoto and do day trips from there mostly. Is there a good pass option? I heard it is really not valid on many transport options like subways. Thank you.

  2. Novita says:

    Hi takeshi,

    My family and I (3 adults&3children) will be arriving in tokyo on 23rd December. We will stay at Hilton and Sheraton. And on 29th Dec we will be going to Osaka and stay at Ark Hotel shinsaibashi for 6 nights.

    My question is: is it better off to buy a 7 day JR pass or just a shinkansen ticket from Tokyo to Osaka? It’s gonna be winter and i’m worried if i buy the JR pass we will not be using it a lot. My youngest kid is quite sensitive to cold weather. Since we stay quite close to the city centre already, we plan to go around the metro area and not taking long distance trips.

    Pls give suggestions and where can i buy just a one way tokaido shinkansen ticket? Thanks in advance :)


    • Hi Novita,

      One way Shinkansen Tokyo-Osaka ticket is about half of JR Pass 7 days. So as long as you have one way trip, JR Pass is not suitable for your trip.
      Shinkansen ticket can be purchased at any stations in Tokyo.

      And also Dec 29 will be busy day. Everybody get out Tokyo and going hometown. So secure the ticket right after arrival in Japan. Shinkansen has non reserved seat too. But there are lots of standee on isle and passengers deck in this period.


      Takeshi / JP Rail

      • Novita says:

        Thank you so much for your help Takeshi. They are very useful!

        So we will arrive at Haneda airport on 23rd dec late night and stay at a hotel near the airport for that night. The next day we will stay at Hilton bay and go to disneyland. Where is the closest ticket office to buy and reserve seats for the shinkansen (close to haneda airport or to hilton bay) please?

        If i buy the shinkansen ticket once in japan, will we for sure get the seats? As you mentioned 29th dec is the date for many people getting out of tokyo? I’ve read your post re-buying shinkansen through travel agent here in australia. Yes it’s much more ecpensive :(

  3. Masu says:

    Great site and info.

    My mum and I arrive in Nagoya on Wednesday and have 1 full day there, but thought to go to Atami for the day instead, before going to Takayama the next day. So the JR Pass covers both Atami and Nagoya lines and is better value than separate ticket purchases? Thanks in advance.

    • Hi Masu,

      JR Pass covers both Atami and Takayama. But are you going to use JR pass for visiting Atami and Takayama from Nagoya? If so, single ticket will be slightly cheaper than JR pass. I estimated the difference between single fares and 7 days JR Pass is 3000 yen.


      Takeshi / JP Rail

  4. Judith says:

    I would like a train that goes from Kofu *Yamanashi prefecture* to Tokyo and from Tokyo to Kyoto or if possible Kofu directly to Kyoto. Does the JR Rail Pass cover this for the 7 day trip? Or would I need to buy to different passes? This trip is for December 17-26. Thanks!

    Kofu –> Tokyo –> Kyoto
    Kofu –> Kyoto
    Kofu –> Tokyo

  5. meera says:

    I would like to travel by train from osaka to hiroshima on april 12th 2015
    and hiroshima to tokyo on april 13th 2015.

    if i buy a JR rail pass for 7 days will i be able to use it on this route?

  6. dhana says:

    Dear Sir,
    3 sisters plan to go to japan on 27 october. we land in Nagoya on 29 we go to Takayama -31st to osaka. 4t h to Tokyo. i plan to buy Jr pass can Jr pass be used to from Nagoya to Takayama and Takayama to Osaka- many thanks

  7. Serene says:

    Hi Takeshi,
    I’m planning a trip in dec to the following places. However it’s only a rough guide as I’m still finding out the cities to visit. Would appreciate some info on the transportation needed. Many thanks!
    Haneda-hakone-Osaka-Kyoto-Kobe-Hiroshima-Kyushu area. It will be about 12-13 days trip. Many many thanks!

Leave a Reply

I always welcome your comment. But before you leave a comment, please remember these following:

  • This is not an official website. This website, JPRail.com is a private website. I don't sell any tickets or passes.
  • I am not a travel agent. Please do not ask me to make an itinerary. I can check your itinerary and give you suggestion. I think making an itinerary is a part of your travel. Please try to make it by yourself. Enjoy! :)
  • If you need access information to your hotel, please don't ask me but ask your hotel.
  • If you are looking for the information about timetable, please refer Japan Railway's timetables.
  • If you are looking for the information about the fare, please refer Fare Calculation.
  • If you are looking for the information about reservation, please refer, How to reserve seat.
  • And you may find the infomation that you need at full index in site map.

If you still have a question, of course I can answer your question.
Please don't ask a question about other than train travel. :)

*If you are the first time vistor, your comment will not be shown before I approve.


Comments links could be nofollow free.

Find your hotels in 500 cities throughout Japan!!!

Tokyo (from US$16)
Kyoto (from US$21)
Osaka (from US$20)

Haneda Airport
Mt. Fuji|Takayama

And many more hotels in more than 600 cities throughout Japan!

JPRail.com site menu
Ticket Reservation
Fare Calculation
Airport Access
Overnight trains
Shinkansen - Bullet train
Express trains
Japan Rail Pass - aka JR Pass
Other rail passes and tickets
Learn about Japan Railways
Destination guide
Sample itineraries
Tips for using JR Pass
Train operation status
Seasonal trains schedule
Ajax spinner

About JP Rail.com

This website is unofficial website about Japan Rail Pass. It explains you how to use Japan Rail Pass and assists you to use Japan Rail Pass to its maximum! And also this site explain about many more rail passes and supports you to enjoy rail trip in Japan.

Read more about JP Rail.com

Recent Pins.

Follow Me on Pinterest
ACP Rail - Rail Passes Japan

Japan Rail Pass | Kyushu Rail Pass

Custom Search