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


hikari_shinkansen

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.

Rakuten
Rakuten

Route

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

“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.

Hikari

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
NR NR NR NR NR R R G G G R R R R R R

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

Kodama

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


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

  1. Avishek says:

    Hi Takeshi,

    Your blog is quite informative. As I have read multiple websites, information regarding JR pass is quite confusing. Hence I would like to clarify few things before I buy JR Pass. My wife and I are starting our Japan visit on 11th Nov. We will start from Narita International Airport.

    1) We have booked our hotel in Shinjuku Area. Hence, how to go to Shinjuku from Narita using JR pass.

    2) Next few days we will be in Tokyo doing the sight scenes. Planning to go to Mt. Fuji one of these days. Can we use JR pass for that trip?

    3) 15th Nov we will start from Tokyo to Osaka. My hotel is at Shin-Osaka station. We were late in our hotel booking for Kyoto. Hence, could not find reasonable accommodation at Kyoto. I can see from your blog you have stated that we can use JR pass in Hikari line and reach Osaka. How different is it from bullet trains?

    4) As we will visit Kyoto next 3 days, we would like to use Shinkansen to travel to Kyoto up and down. Can we use JR pass for that?

    5) Alternatively, I believe we can come down to Osaka/Umeda station and then take the rapid train to Kyoto and back. Please confirm my understanding. Can we use JR pass for the entire trip? How difficult is to commute from Shin-Osaka to Osaka/Umeda & Namba Area?

    6) 19th Nov we will take our flight from Kansai airport. How to reach airport from Shin-osaka Station?

    7) With this itinerary does it make sense to buy JR Pass?

    8) Shall I go for 14 day/7 day pass for this trip? Please note my overall journey is for 8 days.

    Thanks

    Avishek

  2. Apple says:

    Dear Takeshi,

    I’m travel with my family in next year Feb 20~28.
    Could you please guide me which is the best and save cost railway (JRP or Single fare ticket or other way) to my itinery below:

    Day 1: Reach Tokyo Haneda airport at 11.20pm and to my hotel Sotetsu Fresa Inn Hamamatsucho-Daimon

    Day 2: Tokyo,morning to Kyoto (stay a night)
    Day 3: Osaka trip (stay at Osaka shinsaibashi area)
    Day 4: Kobe day trip (stay at Osaka shinsaibashi area)
    Day 5: Osaka to Mt Fuji hostel at Gekkoji station to 5th Fuji Sation
    Day 6: Gekkoji to Gotemba to Odawara area to Shinkuju/ Tokyo hotel
    Day 7: Tokyo area (Roppongi, Skytree, Senso-ji, Rainbow bridge, market)
    Day 8: Disneyland
    Day 9: Tokyo shopping , Takeshida street ( Airflight departure at 6pm, Haneda)

    If buy JRP online and how to get the JRP card when reach in Haneda airport?

    Thanks,
    Apple

    • Hi Apple,

      You can use JR Pass 7 days for day 2 to 8.

      On day 1, it will be very tight to take the last monorail to Hamamatsucho. Please see the following:
      http://jprail.com/trains/sort-by-type/subway/how-to-take-tokyo-monorail-or-keihin-kyuko-for-late-arrival-and-early-departure-at-haneda.html

      You cannot exchange JR pass at Haneda on arrival day because it’s too late. You have to pay single fare and exchange JR pass at Shinagawa on day 2.
      http://www.japanrailpass.net/eng/en009.html
      If you want to leave early, you can go to Tokyo station. It’s open earlier as you see the link above.

      The last train departs at 00:10. You have only 50 minutes. As long as everything is very smooth, you will make it.
      If you can change your hotel in Kamata, the last train (Keihin Kyuko) is 00:23. This is much safer.

      The trip to Gekkoji from Osaka on day 5 is a bit complicated. The shortest way is the following:

      Shinkansen to Mishima
      Ride the bus from Mishima to Kawaguchiko
      Fuji Kyuko train to Gekkoji

      There are not many trains that stop at Mishima. Please see the following:
      http://english.jr-central.co.jp/info/timetable/_pdf/eastbound.pdf
      http://bus.fujikyu.co.jp/line/jikokuhyo/01.html

      You can take this route. But actually access to Kawaguchiko from Tokyo is much easier. And also you have many Shinkansen trains to get Tokyo.
      If you access to Kawaguchiko from Tokyo, you can use Fuji Hakone Pass.
      http://www.odakyu.jp/english/deels/freepass/fujihakone/

      This does not include the bus to 5th station. But this is cheaper than access to Kawaguchiko from Mishima. You can leave most of your luggage in Tokyo and pack for just one night trip to Fuji/Hakone.

      Cheers,

      Takeshi / JP Rail

      • Apple says:

        Dear Takeshi,

        Thanks to your prompt reply. I am highly appreciate to your clear answer and solve my problem.
        I’ve few queries at below.

        If you access to Kawaguchiko from Tokyo, you can use Fuji Hakone Pass.
        ~how to go 5th Station from Gekkoji (bus or train or walk)
        ~Did JR Pass can be use for bus not even train

        You can leave most of your luggage in Tokyo and pack for just one night trip to Fuji/Hakone.
        ~Where can we keep our luggage in Tokyo
        ~What suitable luggage diamension can easily fit into locker

        Thanks to your kind helpful.

        Regards,
        Apple

        • Hi Apple,

          You can take aFuji Kyuko train to Kawaguchiko and take a bus to 5th station. The link below is in Japanese, but you can find the timetable.
          http://bus.fujikyu.co.jp/line/jikokuhyo/10.html
          河口湖駅 = Kawaguchiko station
          富士山五合目 = 5th station

          But it may be closed because February is in winter season. The road to 5th station is closed. You may ask it at the window at Kawaguchiko station. It’s very popular spot for overseas tourist. They can speak English.

          The best place to store your luggage is your hotel in Tokyo. Most of hotels can store your luggage in advance. If they can’t, you can store your luggage at Tokyo station. They can store any size of luggage.
          http://www.jreast.co.jp/e/customer_support/service_center_tokyo.html

          Cheers,

          Takeshi / JP Rail

  3. Jenny chong says:

    Hi, Takeshi-san

    We are have a trip on next year 2015, could you guide me the itinery and the best rate to traveling by train

    plan (a) Nagoya – takayama 4 days
    takayama – tokyo 5 days
    tokyo – osaka 2 days

    plan (b) Nagoya – takayama 4 days
    takayama – tokyo 3 day
    tokyo – yokohama 2 days
    yokohama – osaka 2 days

    please let me know, which way we can get a cheaper bus / trains service

    thank you very much

    best regards

    Jenny

  4. David Chua says:

    Dear Mr Takeshi,

    Coming Sep 15, I will be in Hokkaido and departing on 20 Sep. to Tokyo Haneda airport in the morning. I will be going to Osaka by shinkanshen. can i book the shinkanshen ticket on the actual day when reaching tokyo station?

    for your advise and thanks

    david Chua

  5. NInui says:

    What is the best way to get from Koyasan to Hagi? Thank you.

  6. Ching Teng says:

    Hi Mr Takeshi/JR rail,

    Im staying in Nagoya on coming september. can you advise me to mt fuji for a half day visit when im on my way to tokyo ? I dont have JR pass,planning to take shinkansen. Which station should it stop ? Can i buy the shinkansen ticket to tokyo, then stop over shin-fuji to hang around for few hours and catch the next shinkansen to tokyo ? Any cheaper price if i get a return ticket in station ? Thank you.

    • Hi Ching Teng,

      I think Mishima is better. Shin-Fuji station is not located in the town. But Mishima is located in the center of the city. There are lots of restaurants.
      If you want, you can get Gotemba by bus for 50 minutes one way. Of course you can see Mt. Fuji from Mishima station too.

      And you may find Hikari that stop at Mishima every two hours.
      http://english.jr-central.co.jp/info/timetable/_pdf/eastbound.pdf

      But there is no Hikari that stop at Shin-Fuji. Only Kodama stop there and takes a long time to get there from Nagoya.

      You can purchase one base fare ticket and two separate Shinkansen surcharge ticket. Stopover is available for base fare ticket only. You mush have two Shinkasen ticket, Nagoya – Mishima (or Shin-Fuji) – Tokyo.

      Cheers,

      Takeshi / JP Rail

  7. Crystal Lew says:

    Dear Takeshi / JP Rail,

    Can you guide me the best railway route or train name from Nogayo to Sapporo? ( prefer overnight train). We are using the JR Rail Pass.
    Travel from 09 Dec 2014

    Many thanks for your guidance & reply.

    Regards,
    Crystal Lew
    (Malaysia)

  8. Erty Mertjoe says:

    What is the best transportation from shin Osaka to Osaka station, Mr. TAKESHI? By JR train or Midousuji subway? My family & I will be arriving there from Tokyo by Nozomi on 31 July and stay at Intercontinental Osaka. Thanks.

    • Hi Erty,

      JR trains is much easier to catch and faster to get Osaka.
      One station away by JR and 3 stations away by subway.
      Please see the details about Shin-Osaka station at the following link:
      http://jprail.com/travel-informations/basic-informations/station-information/shin-osaka-station-guide-how-to-change-shinkansen-haruka-thunderbird-and-local-train-access-to-osaka-umeda-and-namba.html

      Cheers,

      Takeshi / JP Rail

      • Erty mertjoe says:

        Thanks for your explanation, Mr. TAKESHI.Now I need your help to find out is it possible for us to change the time of Nozomi green car advance tickets(route Osaka to Tokyo on August 4th). I have bought 4 tickets for 1.30 pm to tokyo and wanna change to 11.00 am on the same date . Sorry for troubling you again . Thanks; )

        • Hi Erty,

          You can change it once without any handling charge before departure time.
          Of course if Green seat of 11:00 am departure is sold out, you can’t change it.

          Cheers,

          Takeshi / JP Rail

          • Erty Mertjoe says:

            Dear Mr. TAKESHI,
            Many thanks for your explanation again:)
            FYI, My family & I will arrive in Tokyo on July 30 around 5.30-6.00 pm (with SQ flight from Singapore). We want to send over our 3 big luggages to Intercontinental hotel osaka by advanced luggages delivery service from Narita. Any suggestions which luggages delivery company is the best in service & price for me to use? As I have informed you before, we will go to osaka for the next day (31st July. 2.00 pm) by Nozomi, so we hope that our 3 luggages have been arrived by that day at Intercontinental hotel Osaka.
            Best regards,
            Erty Mertjoe

          • Hi Erty

            I know there are several cargo service companies in Narita. But I don’t have a price list.
            I think there is not much difference among the companies. All companies can deliver next day.

            Cheers,

            Takeshi / JP Rail

  9. Reddy says:

    Hi Takeshi,

    Can you tell me a place in Tokyo/Kanagawa where I can buy the shinkansen ticket from Osaka/Kyoto to Hiroshima (to & fro)?. I have already purchased Tokyo to Kyoto (to & fro) and I cannot avail JR pass or JR west rail pass since I am a foreign national (without temporary visa).

    Thank you in advance.

    Reddy

    • JPRail says:

      Hi Reddy,

      You can purchase in any JR stations in Tokyo and Kanagawa. Even you will purchase a ticket for Osaka-Hiroshima, you can purchase it at any Midori no Madoguchi (reservation window) throughout Japan.

      Cheers,

      Takeshi / JP Rail

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