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

Shinkansen is the high speed train service in Japan. It is known as Bullet Train too.
Shinkansen is the high speed train service in Japan. It is known as Bullet Train too.

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.

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


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 ( or GFDL (], via Wikimedia Commons
(C) Hisagi (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 ( or GFDL (], 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 ( or GFDL (], via Wikimedia Commons
(C) Hisagi (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 ( or GFDL (], 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

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

  1. Hi! Takeshi,

    I am Alice from Malaysia. We will be arriving at Narita airport by MAS, which terminal will MAS be landing on 20/12/2015 please?

    We will be arriving in Tokyo on 20/12/2015 and will be leaving for Osaka on 26/12/2015. As I browsed through difference wedpages I notice that by flight is faster than by bullet trains.

    Is it J R Pass good while moving around in Tokyo? or pay single ticket as we move!

    I notice you have mentioned about 29,000 yen 7 days pass, will that be good and convenient for us since we will be going to Osaka on 26/12/2015 from Tokyo? Is that the 7 days pass have to purchase online in advance? Can we use Shinkansen Sanyo/Hikari? from Tokyo/Osaka/Tokyo by using the 7 days J R Pass?

    Thank you.


    1. Hi Alice,

      Please ask your airline about the terminal. I think it mentions on your ticket.
      If you use JR pass, you have to make round trip between Tokyo and Osaka by Shinkansen. If you want to use the domestic flight, forget about JR Pass. Because 7 days pass price is almost same as round trip fare by Shinkansen.
      You have mentioned that flight is cheaper than Shinkansen between Tokyo and Osaka. Actually it’s not true. Trip time by flight is much shorter. It takes about one hour and it takes 2.5 hour by Shinkansen. However you will spend one hour each for arrival and departure if you use the flight. Because airports are not located in the center of downtown. You have to check in and pick up the baggage. On the other hand, Shinaksnen stations are located in downtown. If you have JR pass, you can book your seat without any extra in advance. So you can go to the station just 5 minutes before departure time. You don’t need to check in and drop off the baggage. Just show your pass and ticket at the ticket gate and proceed to the platform. It is much easier to take flight.

      You can use JR pass in Tokyo and Osaka. Please find more info at the link below:

      Of course you can take Shinkasnen other than Nozomi and Mizuho.


      Takeshi /

  2. Hi, I will be travelling with my husband to Japan in January and would like to find out the most efficient way to get from Tokyo – Hakone – Kyoto – Osaka. And then from Osaka it’s back to Tokyo again.

    Previously, I took the Nozomi from Tokyo to Osaka. Is it worthwhile to do the same and then make day trips to Kyoto and Hakone?


    1. Hi Mopeey,

      Please see the link below:

      It’s one way trip from Tokyo to Osaka. But you can add Osaka to Tokyo on this itinerary. If you can complete from Tokyo to Tokyo in 7 days, you can use JR Pass 7 days.

      But JR pass does not cover Nozomi. It covers Shinkansen but only the second fastest train, Hikari is covered.


      Takeshi /

  3. Hi Takeshi san,

    May I know if there is a train pass that can cover from Osaka and stop at Lake Kawaguichiko first and then proceed to Yokohama? Otherwise what is the best option to take?

    Awaiting your kind reply. Thank you.

    1. Hi Casey san,

      If you have only one way trip to Yokohama from Osaka with stop at Lake Kawaguchi, single ticket is only your choice. You can find more info about single ticket at the link below:

      And Lake Kawaguchi is not located on the way to Yokohama. You have to take bus from Mishima.


      Takeshi /

  4. Takeshiさん、

    I would say thank you before, for your reply my question at Furano thread.
    This 2nd time I would ask journey from Tokyo to Hiroshima.
    (I’ll use JR Pass).
    I searching at hyperpedia my plan trip to Hiroshima ;
    My question is, when I take LTD. EXP SUNRISE IZUMO
    (from Tokyo sta. to Himeji sta.) is it sleep train right, Can JR PASS get reserve seat for free?.
    Or which one I should reserve better (I choice a free way), because too many options (sleeper car A & B, up, low, middle), a little bit confuse.

    If yes I can reserve seat, can I reserve the seat two days before I go at JR counter (anywhere right) ? or must be a day before?
    I still need learn using JR Pass (even if you already told at others page).

    Thank you again~

      1. こにちは ,
        Thank you for answering my question before Takeshiさん。

        OK I’ll move to my next question to your thread as you mention before >>


  5. Sir/Madame,

    I am a 60 years old retiree from Malaysia travelling with my wife and 16 years old child. We arrive Osaka evening of 13 December 2015. Spent 3 nights to experience Universal Studios Japan. Move on to Tokyo 16 December for 5 nights stay and visit Mount Fuji/Hakone and Tokyo Disneyland. We return Osaka 21 December for 4 nights and visit Kyoto and Hiroshima Atomic Dome for 1 day trips. I want to buy the Japan Rail Green Pass but i was told that there is no first class service to Hiroshima and Kyoto from Shin-Osaka, is this true? As a tourist, i have to purchase Japan Rail Pass from Japan Tourist Board in Kuala Lumpur . Before i make a purchase, can you please advise me correctly.

    Thank you and best wishes,

    Haris & family.

    1. Hi Haris,

      No. You can take Green car (1st class) on any segments of Shinkansen. Of course you can take Green car from Kyoto/Shin-Osaka to Hiroshima.
      You can take Shinkansen between Kyoto and Shin-Osaka. But it takes 13 minutes ride. Sometimes commute train, Special Rapid is faster if you travel from Osaka (not Shin-osaka) to Kyoto. Please find the info at the link below:


      Takeshi /

  6. Hi,

    We are a group with 6 adults and 1 teenage. We’re going to Osaka in Feb 2016 for 7 days. My draft itinerary as below:-
    day 1 – Arrive Osaka @ night
    day 2 – explore Osaka
    day 3 – day trip to Himeji & Okayama, Kobe
    day 4 – Kyoto
    day 5 – Nara
    day 6 – Rinku Premium Outlet & Sakai
    day 7 – back to home

    wondering the 5 days JR Kansai wide area pass is suitable for my plan, kindly advise..



  7. Hi there,

    I have been researching online for the best options for traveling from Tokyo to Kyoto to Osaka and back to Tokyo again but could not decide which is most cost effective for my trip. I will be traveling with my husband and 6 yr old. I have booked the discount shinkansen 7 day round trip ticket package from Tokyo to Kyoto on, however I will have to go Osaka after Kyoto and so, have to travel back to Kyoto to make use of my ticket. (I can still cancel at no charge before 25Oct)

    Will it be too much of a hassle for me to travel from Osaka to Kyoto to board the Nozomi back to Tokyo, as I can’t travel directly from Osaka to Tokyo using the ticket. I paid 54,000yen for that package, so I’m not sure if there are other better deals I can use for my tokyo-kyoto-osaka-tokyo journey. Kindly advise and thank you so much. If there are any better options, please let me know and I can still cancel the japanican tickets.

    Best regards

    1. Hi Vee,

      If you complete your trip (Tokyo-Kyoto-Osaka-Tokyo) in 7 days, JR pass 7 days (29100 yen) is better choice. You cannot take the fastest Shinkansen Nozomi, but you still can take Hikari. Trip time is not so much different. You can find Shinkansen timetable at the links below. Nozomi is shown as “N” and Hikari is “H”.

      The benefit of JR Pass is direct access by Shinkansen to Tokyo from Shin-Osaka. If you use package, you have to purchase single ticket between Osaka and Kyoto and you need to transfer at Kyoto when you go to Tokyo from Osaka. But if you have JR pass, you can take Shinkansen from Shin-Osaka. It’s much more convenient. And you can use JR Pass to get Osaka from Kyoto. And also you can take JR trains throughout Japan, of course in Osaka and Kyoto.

      If you change your mind when you are in Kyoto or Osaka, you can go to Kobe, Nara or even Hiroshima or Kanazawa as day trip from Kyoto or Osaka.

      JR pass gives you more flexibility and much more useful.


      Takeshi /

  • Your comment will not be shown until I approve.
  • Please do not ask me to make your itinerary. Because I am not your personal travel agent. I am very happy to check your itinerary. But please try to make the plan by yourself. In this website, there are lots of resources to make your plan.
  • If you want to ask me which pass suits your plan, please tell me your detailed itinerary and location to stay. I cannot choose any deals without the detailed itinerary because I have to compare the total single fare and deals

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