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.

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

  1. I am going on a vacation to Japan flying to Narita and spending 7 days in Tokyo, two nights in Kyoto, then two nights in Osaka before flying out from Osaka Kansai airport to the UK.

    I want to travel around Tokyo area and visit Ghibli museum, possibly Yokohama too. I plan to travel around Tokyo itself.

    Is Japan Rail Pass the best option for this, or should I get some kind of cheaper pass for Tokyo area then purchase Tokyo > Kansai single trip? The price for 14 day JR pass is quite high so I was hoping there is a better, cheaper solution.

    Thank you for your help

      1. Hi Takeshi,

        Thank you for the reply and the link, this has helped me a great deal.

        Now I plan to take the Skyliner from Narita to Nippori, then purchase 3 day Tokyo metrocards to travel around the city.

        To Kyoto I will purchase single from Tokyo using shinkansen, then collect a Kansai Hiroshima Area pass 5 days as this would allow me to take a trip to Hiroshima and travel to Osaka and the airport. Plus that pass will allow me to travel to Wakayama which I’d like to travel to Kishi to visit Tama2.

        Looking at all the prices this works out to be around 32,000 yen, just a little more than 7 day Japan Rail pass, but much better for my trip.

        Thank you for such a useful website

  2. Hi Takeshi,
    Can you please help me with planning which passes to get?I’ll be travelling with my husband & 1.5 years old son. I’m arriving at Kansai Airport and will be staying in Osaka (nippombashi) for 2 nights, then heading to Kyoto for 3 nights, then Tokyo 3 nights before finally leaving through Narita Airport. I’ll most likely be getting the JR single pass but just don’t know when to start due to the validity of the ticket. Can you please help me to plan with it being the most cost effective way? Also, should I get any passes when I’m in Kyoto? Which would u recommend? Thanks for your help in advance.

  3. Hello,

    I have a question, Im traveling to japan on Apr. 2017. Arriving at Haneda airport on the 7th. Will be staying in tokyo for 3 days, then I want to travel to kyoto. will stay 3 days in kyoto and then come back to Tokyo and stay there a full week. Can you please advise me if its better for me to buy a JR pass or how do I get to kyoto back and forth cheap?

    Thanks a lot 🙂

    1. Hi Fabian,

      JR pass 7 days i recommended. Actually round trip fare with Shinkansen seat see is not much different from 7 days pass price. But JR pass gives you flexibility and easier to manage your trip.

      Cheers,

      Takeshi / JPRail.com

  4. Hi Takeshi,

    We are in Hakuba and need to get to Osaka, specifically, Nanba. There appears to be a lot of train changes and since we have lots of luggage, I would prefer a more direct route if there is one.

    Grateful for your assistance.

    1. Hi Eliha,

      If you take trains, you have to change trains at least three times.
      Hakuba – Matsumoto – Nagoya – Shinosaka – Namba.

      Otherwise you should take overnight bus. It goes Osaka directly. It’s not Namba but Umeda. You still need to take subway from Umeda to Namba.
      http://www.alpico.co.jp/access/express/hakuba_osaka/

      You have to book if you want to take this bus. Phone number is shown in the link above.

      Cheers,

      Takeshi / JPRail.com

  5. Hello Takeshi,

    We will be arriving in Osaka in March and spend 3 nights there (with day trip to Kyoto). After that, we plan to go to Odawara (Hakone) where we will be staying for 2 nights and then leave for Tokyo where we will be flying out from. Can we buy the single ticket from Shin-Osaka to Tokyo with stop-over in Odawara? and can I buy the ticket on the day of travel?

    Also, for our stay in Osaka and day trip in Kyoto, what pass should we get (JR Kansai Area Pass or any other pass?) Or is it better to just get the ICOCA card/Kansai One Pass?

    Thank you!

    1. Hi Daisy,

      You can use one base fare ticket from Shin-Osaka to Tokyo with stopover at Odawara. But when you go to Tokyo from Hakone, you can use Odakyu railway from Hakone-Yumoto to Shinjuku in Tokyo directly. You don’t need to change trains at Odawara if you take Odakyu railway’s limited express train, “Romancecar”. If you take this route, you need one base fare ticket from Shin-Osaka to Odawara only.
      http://jprail.com/destinations/chubu-area/fuji-hakone-access-guide-by-train-and-bus-from-both-tokyo-and-osaka-kyoto-nagoya.html
      http://www.odakyu.jp/english/romancecar/

      Kansai one pass is the best deal for trip to Kyoto.

      Cheers,

      Takeshi / JPRail.com

  6. Hi Takeshi,

    We are travelling one way from Tokyo to Kansai Airport with plan to stop over at the following station.

    1) Odawara Station- for a day tour of Hakone Area (Using the Hakone 1 day free pass). Then proceed in the evening to Toyohashi Station from Odawara station.
    2)Toyohashi Station- for overnight stay. Plan to visit Toyota Plant Tour in the morning after using JR train to Okazaki then by Aichikanjo Tetsudo to Mikawa-toyota Station
    3)Okazaki Station – for a visit at Toyota Plant Tour then proceed to kyoto after.
    4) Kyoto Station. then to Osaka (Shinsaibashi station area)
    5)Osaka (Shinsaibashi Area)

    Please clarify the following:
    1)Which of this stops will the oneway fare works? Which one we need to buy a seperate tickets?
    2) Which route we need to pay a limited express surcharge?Do we purchase the limited express surcharge at the time we book the one way ticket or at the station where we will be continuing our journey?

    Thank you for your posting.It was very helpful and informative.

    1. Hi Sergio,

      1. You can use Tokyo to Osaka base fare ticket with stopover at Odawara, Toyohashi, Okazaki and Kyoto. Shisaibashi is not on JR lines. So your trip by JR single ticket will be completed at Osaka. You will take subway from Osaka (Umeda) to Shinsaibashi.

      2. You will purchase three Shinkansen seat fee tickets for Tokyo to Odawara, Odawara to Toyohashi and Nagoya to Kyoto. You can take local train or local rapid train for Toyohashi to Okazaki, Okazaki to Nagoya and Kyoto to Osaka. You can take local or rapid train by base fare ticket only. Technically you can take local or rapid train only for all segments. But it takes much longer and very inconvenient. If you are interested in it, please use hyperdia to check the timetable:
      http://jprail.com/travel-informations/basic-informations/timetable-and-reservation/hyperdia-perfect-guide-train-timetable-and-route-search-engine.html

      You can purchase all tickets at same time. You also can purchase Shinkansen seat fee ticket later just before taking Shinkansen if you want.

      Cheers,

      Takeshi / JPRail.com

      1. Hi Takeahi,
        Thank you for very informative post. We look forward in having a great time in Japan.
        Much appreciated.
        Sergio

  7. Hi Takeshi

    We are travelling from Kyoto to Hakuba late January. We are only travelling one way so only need a single ticket but I am finding it hard to purchase the ticket online, is this possible?

    Our second trip (before we leave to Hakuba) we will be going from Osaka to Hiroshima for one day only so we will need a return trip Osaka to Hiroshima to Osaka in the same day. Can we use a single trip ticket or will we need two single trip tickets? Also is there luggage lockers at the train stations to store luggage for the day?

    Thank you Takeshi, look forward to your response!

    1. Hi Eloise,

      The best option for you is Kansai Hiroshima Area Pass and single ticket for Kyoto to Hakuba. Please see the link below about Kansai Hiroshima Area Pass.
      http://jprail.com/travel-informations/other-rail-passes/rail-pass-for-visitors/kansai-hiroshima-area-pass-perfect-deal-for-the-traveller-who-wants-travel-both-kansai-and-hiroshima.html

      Single ticket cannot be purchased and booked online. You have to do it after you arrive in Japan.

      There are lockers at most of stations. Please see the link below to find more info:
      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

  8. Hi Takeshi,

    I will be traveling from Osaka imamiya station to Rinku town on 1st Jan 2017 and return the same day to Osaka. Then 2nd January I am going to Kansai airport to fly back. What should pass or tickets should I buy?

  9. Hello Takeshi,

    I am arriving in Tokyo in January, spending 3 days there then travelling all the way to Miyajima. On the way we are planning to spend a day at Hakone, then 3 days in Kyoto and another 3 days in Osaka (with day trip to Nara and Kobe) then stopping at Himeji and Hiroshima on the same day before arriving at Miyajima in the night. We then travel back the next evening from Miyajima to Tokyo for our flight. I am wondering if I can do the stopovers like you mentioned between tokyo–>kyoto and then kyoto or osaka–>hiroshima or if I have to buy individual tickets between the cities and if JR pass is more worth it than individual tickets.

    Thank you!

    1. Hi Natasha,

      You can use JR Pass 7 days. You can start using it when you leave Tokyo and I think it will cover until you get Hiroshima/Miyajima.

      First of all, you can take Shinkansen from Tokyo to Odawara. Odawara is a gateway to Hakone but JR pass does not cover in Hakone. You may add Hakone Free Pass at Odawara if you want to visit most part of Hakone.
      http://www.odakyu.jp/english/deels/freepass/hakone/

      You can take Shinkansen from Odawara to Kyoto, Kyoto to Shin-Osaka, Shin-Osaka to Himeji, and Himeji to Hiroshima. JR pass also covers local train in Osaka, Kyoto, Nara and Kobe.
      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

      JR pass also covers city loop bus in Hiroshima and ferry to Miyajima.
      http://jprail.com/travel-informations/basic-informations/station-information/hiroshima-station-guide-how-to-change-the-trains-shinkansen-and-local-train-to-miyajima-how-to-catch-tram-and-loop-bus-meipuru-pu.html#Tourist_Loop_Bus_Meipuru-pu_bus_stop

      If you are okay with above suggestions, you can use JR pass. If you use single ticket, you cannot use one base fare ticket from Tokyo to Hiroshima. You have to split it into at least two segments, like Tokyo to Kyoto and Kyoto to Hiroshima.

      Cheers,

      Takeshi / JPRail.com

    2. Hi Natasha:

      We did the exact same itinerary in June using the JR Pass (just spent different lengths of time in each place). We bought the 2-day Hakone Free Pass at Odawara Station. Normally the Free Pass is worth it even if you only spend the day in Hakone (which we did), however, a few of the attractions we wanted to see were closed that day (the Hot Springs, the cable car) so it may have been cheaper to buy tickets individually, but it was nice to not have to buy tickets for each bus, boat, train, etc. Be sure to take the boat ride across Lake Ashi really early in the morning so you have a chance to see Mt. Fuji before the clouds roll in.

      I had read this tip somewhere online: For another shot at seeing Mt. Fuji, sit on the right side of the train when leaving Odawara (on the way to Kyoto). Again it was morning when left Tokyo, and the only Fuji sighting the entire trip.

      Have a fun trip!

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