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

Typical JR ticket is like this.
Typical JR ticket is like this.

I have received many inquiries about Tokyo-Osaka one way trip. I always recommend to use single ticket for long distance transfer. like from Tokyo to Kyoto, Tokyo to Osaka or Osaka to Nagoya. Because it is cheaper than Japan Rail Pass 7 days pass. I wrote about fare calculation before. But I think it is not enough. I need to explain much more about JR single ticket rule. It is very complicated for the tourists from oversea. But you don’t need to understand everything. If you understand some basic rules, single ticket is more useful and it may save your cost.

In this post, I show you some basic rules of single ticket for long distance transfer and how to use and purchase it.

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

How to purchase it

Simply you can purchase it at the station. In major stations, you can purchase it at even vending machine. Especially when you purchase a ticket for short distance transfer, vending machine is the easiest. But ticket window is easier to purchase a llong distance ticket for the travellers.

If you want to take express trains, you have to purchase express surcharge ticket too. Even if you want to take non reserved seat on limited express, you have to purchase it. Both reserved and non reserved ticket for limited express (Shinkansen as well) can be purchased at “Midori no Madoguchi”. Midori no Madoguchi is the name of JR reservation window. You can purchase base fare ticket at Midori no Madoguchi too. Please get the detail about reservation at the post, “How to reserve the train seat of Japan Railway. Is Online reservation available for Japan Rail Pass user?“.

In the case of purchasing both base fare ticket and limited express surcharge ticket, you can purchase it in advance. The express surcharge ticket is on sale one month prior to departure date.

ex) Tokyo to Kyoto travel on Dec 1
You can purchase the tickets after Nov 1.

You also can purchase the tickets at any JR stations if you buy both base fare and limited express surcharge at same time. For example, if you start to travel from Tokyo station, you can purchase it at Narita airport station on the day of arrival.

Base fare ticket can be purchased at any JR stations where station staff is on duty. There are many station without station staffs in remote area. In major cities and major stations, there are station staff. Even if you take a train at the station without station staff, you can purchase it from the conductor in the train.

How to get a fare

As I wrote the post, Guide to plan your trip. Fare Calculation, you can get it at Hyperdia easily.

Click to enlarge.
Click to enlarge.

As you see above capture image of Hyperdia, you can get base fare and seat fare (includes surcharge). In this image, total fare is the following:

Base fare – 9560 yen
Shinkansen Nozomi (Tokyo – Shin-Osaka) – 5740 yen (reserved seat)
Ltd Exp Haruka (Shin-Osaka – Kansai airport) – 820 yen (reserved seat)
Total – 16120 yen

*The above image was captured in 2013. The fare was raised in April l, 2014 because of consumer tax was increased to 8% from 5%. The actual fare is different from the fare in the image above.

The price of Japan Rail Pass 7 days ordinary is 28300 yen. (New price is 29110 yen.) Total single fare is more than 10000 yen cheaper than 7 days pass price. This is the reason why I recommend to use single fare for Tokyo – Osaka one way transfer.

Validity

Please see the above capture image of Hyperdia again. You also can find a distance at Hyperdia. This is a key to use single ticket. Actually long distance ticket can be used in multiple days.

Distance Valid days
101 – 200 km 2 days
201 – 400 km 3 days
401 – 600 km 4 days
601 – 800 km 5 days
801 – 1000 km 6 days
  • From 1001 km and up, add 1 day every 200 km.
  • If you travel more than 101 km but it is in Tokyo or Osaka zone only, ticket valid in one day only.

So in above capture image, distance is 613.4km. This ticket valid in 5 days.

Stopover

You can stopover as many as you want. Of course you cannot go back. Once you start to travel, you have to go forward. You have to care only one thing. When you depart/arrive to travel at the following areas, you cannot stopover in same areas.

  • Sapporo
  • Sendai
  • Tokyo 23 wards
  • Tokyo Yamanote line
  • Yokohana
  • Nagoya
  • Kyoto
  • Osaka
  • Kobe
  • Hiroshima
  • Kitakyushu
  • Fukuoka

These areas are same as city limit. I show you some examples.

1. Above ticket (Tokyo – Kansai Airport)
You can NOT – Stopover at anywhere in Tokyo 23 wards. For example, after you start to travel from Tokyo, you cannot stopover at Shinagawa.
You can – Stopover at Kyoto, Osaka and anywhere outside of Tokyo 23 wards.
By the way, you can start to travel from anywhere in Tokyo 23 wards.

2. Ticket from Narita airport to Osaka
You can NOT – Stopover at anywhere in Osaka city. For example, you cannot stopover at Shin-Osaka. Once you exit at any stations in Osaka city, your ticket will be expired right away.
You can – Stopover at Tokyo, Kyoto, Nagoya and anywhere outside of Osaka city.
By the way, when you travel through Tokyo downtown core, ticket will be calculated by the shortest route. For example, most typical route from Narita to Osaka via Tokyo, via Tokyo station and Shinagawa station. But if you want to go to Osaka via Akihabara and Shinjuku, you can take this route and stopover.

But in case of using limited express, you have to purchase limited express surcharge ticket for each segments.
ex) Tokyo – Osaka trip, stopover at Nagoya.
You have to purchase two Shinkansen tickets, Tokyo – Nagoya Shinkansen surcharge ticket and Ngoya – Shin-Osaka surcharge ticket.

Sample ideas

Please see above capture image of Hyperdia again. If you use this ticket, you can do the following itinerary.

Day 1 Tokyo – Kyoto (Stopover at Kyoto)
Day 2 Kyoto (no use single ticket)
Day 3 Kyoto – Osaka (Stopover at Osaka)
Day 4 One day trip to Kobe (purchase another single ticket.)
Day 5 Osaka – Kansai airport

When you arrive in Tokyo, you can use other deals, such as Suica & N’ex. And you have 5 days after you finish to see Tokyo. If you add Suica & N’ex one way ticket, total amount is 19620 yen. It is about 9000 yen cheaper than JR Pass 7 days.

I believe this is the perfect solution for Tokyo – Osaka one way travellers.

703 thoughts on “For non JR pass travellers. Guide to use JR single ticket, basic rules, validity and stopover”

  1. Hello Takeshi,
    Please help me to figure out if one ticket will be valid for the following:
    1) Depart Shinagawa May 28 to KIX June 2, with stops at Odawara, Kyoto, Osaka/Umeda, Namba and Tennoji
    If I depart at 3 pm on Day 1, will the ticket expire on/before 3 pm on Day 6?
    Or better do a signgle ticket Shinagawa-Odawara and then
    2) Depart Odawara May 29 to KIX June 2, with stops at Kyoto, Osaka/Umeda, Namba and Tennoji
    If I cannot do all 3 stops in Osaka, can I stop at Osaka/Umeda and then later continue trip from Tennoji to KIX.
    Thanks!

    1. Hi FX,

      You cannot cover this route by one ticket. If you get Namba, you need to go back on same route. Your ticket is expired when you get Namba.
      And also you cannot use this on day 6. It’s expired on day 5 at 23:59 even if you use at 23:50 on day 1.

      I think you can use one way ticket from Shinagawa to Osaka (Umeda) with stopover in Kyoto. And then use regular ticket for Umeda to Namba and Namba to Tennoji by subway.

      Cheers,

      Takeshi / JPRail.com

      1. Thank you for the quick reply. Just to clarify, you think I can use a single tickets with stop overs like this:
        (1) Day 1 depart Shinagawa, stop at Odawara, (2) depart Odawara on Day 2, stop at Kyoto, (3) depart Kyoto Day 5, arrive at Osaka/Umeda?
        And then I’ll look for a different ticket at Osaka.
        Also, does Kansai Thru Pass make financial sense with this travel?
        Thanks again

      2. Also, help me to understand how do I buy reserve seat. Only Shinagawa to Odawara? and then later Odawara-Kyoto?
        HyperDia does not give me these options.
        Thanks!

        1. Hi FX,

          You can use one base fare ticket for the route which you mentioned.

          I don’t think Kansai thru pass is a good choice if you travel within Osaka only. Look at the link below to find the deal in Osaka:
          http://jprail.com/travel-informations/other-rail-passes/rail-pass-for-residents/how-to-choose-the-best-train-pass-for-sightseeing-in-osaka.html

          When you check the fare for Shinagawa-Odawara-Kyoto-Odawara, you have to check the fare at hyperdia 3 times. You can get the base fare by checking Shinagawa to Osaka. And then check the fare for Shinagawa to Odawara and Odawara to Kyoto. You just check “Seat fee” only at these fare search.

          You can reserve your seat at same time for these two rides at any major JR stations.

          Cheers,

          Takeshi / JPRail.com

  2. Hi good day can I ask what the best deal rail pass I buy we travel on June 4 to tokyo we stay June 4-6 and we go to Osaka for stay June 6-8 and go back to Tokyo for stay 9-10 I plan to buy 7days pass jr pass..what do you think it ok to buy a 7days jr pass?and one question if ok a 7days pass where can I buy it is in the narita airport?

  3. Iam traveling to OSAKA for a short 3 day visit with my wife and son. Iterinary as follows:
    Day 1(Arrival) 1200PM Osaka Tour( Osaka Castle, Osaka Aquarium and Dotonburi(Night)
    Day 2 Osaka to Kyoto (Ashiharamiya Bamboo, Fushimi Inari, Kinkakuji Tenple)
    Day 3 Osaka Universal Studio (Whole Day)

    I want to ask for your help on how much i will spend for the ticket/ JR Single ticket? for osaka to kyoto(vice versa) or any suggestions? Thanks allot

  4. Hello Takeshi,
    We are a family of 4 (2 adults and 2 children 12 and 7) we will be traveling one way from Tokyo to Osaka. From Osaka we will eventually travel to Kobe to board a cruise ship. Would you recommend a one way ticket or JR Rail pass for 7 days? How would you recommend we handle luggage on the train. Can we take suitcases on Nozomi?
    Thank you in advance for your help.

    1. Hi Anna,

      Please see the link below to find info about how to make an itinerary from Tokyo to Osaka.
      http://jprail.com/sample-itineraries/7days/how-to-make-the-itinerary-of-tokyo-osaka-one-way-trip.html

      You can just add another regular ticket to Kobe from Osaka.

      Regarding luggage, please see the link below:
      http://jprail.com/travel-informations/travel-tips/baggage/managing-luggage-how-to-carry-your-baggage-on-board-and-how-to-store-your-baggage-at-the-station.html

      Cheers,

      Takeshi / JPRail.com

  5. Thanks for this information!

    Can you please suggest some savings for my one way Osaka-Tokyo itinerary with a stop at Kyoto?

    I’m planning to leave Osaka on the 14th for a day trip at Nara and from there to Kyoto.
    Will be leaving Kyoto on the 19th to Tokyo.

    I don’t think I can do much because Osaka to Tokyo is 552.6km and that would give me 4 valid days only.

    Cheers!

  6. Hello Takeshi. We are a couple who need to travel from Narita Airport on Sat 12 August to begin our Japan guided tour at Osaka on Monday 14 August. We want to travel via Nara, and have booked a Nara for the 2 nights, Sat 12 and Sunday 13.

    We will be provided with a 7-day rail pass for our guided tour, so do not want to buy another 7-day rail pass just for this one journey (Narita to Osaka).

    We think it might be cheaper to just buy 2 one-way rail tickets, Narita-Osaka, plus a side-trip to Nara and back.

    Can you advise if this is a good option, and the names of the rail tickets we will need to purchase at the ticket office. thanks

    1. Hi Marion,

      You can just purchase a regular ticket. When you purchase it, you can tell that you want to go to Osaka from Narita airport. The staff at the window tells you which train is available and the price. I think Narita Express from Narita airport to Tokyo or Shinagawa and Shinkansen from Shinagawa or Tokyo to Shin-Osaka.

      You can purchase regular ticket at the vending machine for Osaka to Nara on the day of travel. You don’t need to purchase it in advance. Even if you want, you cannot. Because Osaka-Nara is short distance trip and you will take an ordinary train for commuters.

      Cheers,

      Takeshi / JPRail.com

  7. Hi! I’m traveling from Tokyo to Hiroshima July 18th through the 1st of August. We will be stopping along the way for a few days at a time in Nagoya, Kyoto, Osaka, Okayama and will be visiting Hiroshima and Mijiyama near Hiroshima as well. My question is the economical value of getting the pass, since we will be using the pass to travel within the city as well as from city to city. I’m not sure how it works within the cities subway system (nagoya, tokyo, kyoto, osaka, hiroshima, etc) as far as the number of times you can use the pass before it becomes void?
    I would hate to be in Hiroshima and try to use the pass to ride the (2?) shinkansen on the JR line it takes to get back to tokyo only to find out we’d used the pass too much and have to pay $200 to get back, which would totally defeat the purpose of buying the JR pass in the first place.

    Thank you so much!
    Anna Neal

    1. Hi Anna,

      You can make some stopovers at a few places, like Nagoya, Osaka, Kyoto. So you may use one base fare ticket from Tokyo to Hiroshima. But you may need to pay Shinkansen seat fee ticket for each segments. For example, if you travel from Tokyo to Hiroshima directly by Shinkasen, it costs less than 19,000 yen. But if you make stopover at Osaka from Tokyo to Hirshima, it costs around 22,000 yen. You will make more stopovers. The cost for Tokyo to Hiroshima with stopovers will more expensive than my example.

      In my opinion, if you can come back to Tokyo in 14 days period, JR Pass 14 days is the best choice. You cannot take subway by JR pass but you can take local trains in each cities. You can get ferry to Miyajima and loop bus in Hiroshima by JR pass too.
      https://www.chugoku-jrbus.co.jp/teikan/meipurupu/en/

      In this case, if you leave Tokyo on 18th, you need to be Tokyo by 31st of July. 21 days is too expensive. In this case, single fare ticket and local deals are better solution.

      Cheers,

      Takeshi / JPRail.com

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