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.

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

  1. Hi,

    I will travel to Japan from 15th April(from narita) to 1st may(fly back through kix). Plan to spend first 4 days at Tokyo and have no idea how should I travel along the way and finally reach Osaka to fly back to Singapore. Can you give me some suggestion ?

    1. Hi Sy,

      Most of travelers make stops at Hakone, Fuji, Kyoto, Nara. But there are too many choices to tell you. Especially you have two weeks. You can visit most part of Japan if you like.

      I recommend you to read Japan Guide.
      http://www.japan-guide.com/

      You have to pick which place you want to go and how you want to stay. You can go anywhere and visit many places if you are okay with busy trip. If you stay in one place and want to relax, you still can pick up several places.

      Cheers,

      Takeshi / JPRail.com

  2. Hi Takeshi
    Your posts are so helpful. Thank you.
    6/9 Arrive KIX Osaka
    6/10 Osaka to Kyoto Haruka LEX to Kyoto
    6/12 Kyoto to Kinosaki 5 LEX
    6/13 Kinosaki to Osaka
    6/15 Osaka to Tokyo
    6/19 Depart Haneda

  3. Hi Takeshi,
    Really need you help here..

    We’ll be traveling next week to Japan, the family of 6 adults and 2 children. The itinerary:
    Day 1. Kansai airport to Kyoto (staying in Kyoto for 3 days)
    Day 4 Kyoto to Tokyo (staying in Tokyo for 3 days – will visit Disneyland for 1 day for myself and my son)
    Day 7 Tokyo to Osaka (staying in Osaka for 1 day)
    Day 8 Departure from Kansai Airport.

    Is it worth it to buy JR pass for the whole family, I know that in Kansai/Osaka and Kyoto we could bu Icoca or haruka train ticket for use in Osaka and Kyoto area.
    My son does love and want to go on Shinkansen train though…

    so desperately need your advise on this one..

    Thank you

  4. Hi Takeshi

    I enjoy reading your posts and have learnt many things about traveling in Japan 🙂

    I want to visit Tateyama this June. May I buy a one-way Tokyo to Kyoto train ticket and make the following stops for Day 1, 2 & 4?

    My upcoming traveling plan is as follows:
    Day 1 From Tokyo -> Shinano Omachi
    Day 2 Tateyama Alpine route (using the Tateyame Option ticket) ending route at Toyoma. I will travel to Kanazawa (overnight)
    Day 3 Kanazawa -> Shirakawago -> Takayama -> Kanazawa
    Day 4. Kanazawa -> Kyoto

    If it is possible to use the one-way ticket, may I know how should I purchase the Shinkansen seat ticket for each segment?

    Thanks in advance for your valued advice 🙂

    May

    1. Hi May,

      You cannot use one way ticket from Tokyo to Kyoto because you will not take JR trains between Shinano-Omachi and Toyama. You can purchase single ticket to Shinano-Omachi. But you can use Takayama Hokuriku Area Pass after arrival Toyama.
      http://jprail.com/travel-informations/other-rail-passes/rail-pass-for-visitors/takayama-hokuriku-area-pass-perfect-deal-to-get-takayama-kanazawa-toyama-shirakawago-from-nagoya-or-osaka.html

      It covers train trips from Toyama to Kyoto via Kanazawa and also bus to Shiraawago and Takayama. This pass is cheaper than all fares after arrival Toyama.

      Cheers,

      Takeshi / JPRail.com

    2. Hi Takeshi,

      Thanks for your fast response 🙂 I’ll do as you suggested.

      Just to clarify for a better understanding of one way ticket use,, if I don’t travel the Tateyama Alpine route, I could in fact make use of the one way Tokyo-Kyoto ticket via Omachi, Toyama and Kanazawa? If so, what are the Shinkansen seat ticket segments that I would have needed?

      May

      1. Hi May,

        If you don’t take Alpine route, you can use one way ticket. In this case, you need to buy one way base fare ticket, limited express surcharge ticket for Tokyo-Toyama, Toyama-Kanazawa and Kanazawa-Kyoto. Forget about Shinano-Omachi. You don’t need to visit there if you don’t go to Alpine route.

        And also, if you don’t take alpine route, Hokuriku Arch Pass is considerable. Total fares are almost equal to this pass price.
        http://jprail.com/travel-informations/other-rail-passes/rail-pass-for-visitors/tokyo-osaka-hokuriku-arch-pass-user-guide-clarify-valid-trains-coverage-area-and-compare-single-fare-and-pass.html

        Cheers,

        Takeshi / JPRail.com

        1. Hi Takashi,

          In addition to my planned trip to travel from Toyama to Kanazawa using the Takayama-Hokuriku Tourist Area Pass, I would like to make the following stops on route to Kyoto:

          1) Awaraonsen to visit Tojinbo and
          2) Lake Biwako – is Tsuruga the nearest JR station that is covered by the Area Pass? Please advise.

          Thanks in advance 🙂
          May

          1. Hi May,

            1. You can drop by Awaraonsen. But please remember that this pass does not cover any bus services to Tojinbo.

            2. It depends on which part of Lake Biwa are you going to. Lake Biwa is the biggest lake in Japan. There are many stations to access to many places at Lake Biwa. But Tsuruga is not the nearest station. You need to get off Limited Express Thunderbird at Tsuruga or Kyoto and then take local train to access to the place near Lake Biwa where you want to go.
            You can get off at either Tsuruga or Kyoto to access to Lake Biwa by this pass. And also if you take JR local train after Kyoto or Tsuruga, it’s covered too.

            Cheers,

            Takeshi / JPRail.com

  5. Hi Mr Takeshi

    Kindly advise what pass should I buy?
    Mt Fuji kawaguchiko to Kanazawa 3 nights
    Kanazawa to Namba osaka 2 nights
    Namba osaka to Miyajima (ferry) 1 night
    Miyajima to Namba osaka 1 night

    I am considering for 7days JR pass. Any better advice for cost savings?

    Appreciate your reply and thanks.

    1. Hi Teresa,

      7 days JR pass is the best choice.

      When you start using JR pass at Kawaguchiko, you cannot use JR pass to take a train from Kawagchiko to Otsuki. This is Fuji Kyuko railway and it’s not JR.
      http://jprail.com/destinations/chubu-area/how-to-use-japan-rail-pass-to-go-to-mt-fuji.html

      And also you must exchange JR pass in Tokyo or other major city’s JR station. You cannot exchange it at Kawaguchiko. You can exchange it in advance. Please see the list of exchange place in the link below:
      http://www.japanrailpass.net/en/exchange.html

      Cheers,

      Takeshi / JPRail.com

  6. This will be my first time in Japan… need a little clarification on which tickets to buy and whether this is possible

    Day 1: Narita Airport –> Tokyo
    – Taking limo bus as it drops me off right outside by hotel

    Day 2-4 Tokyo
    – Subway (Using Suica Card)

    Day 5-6 Kyoto, Day 7 Osaka / Kansai Airport
    – Using subway to travel around Kyoto

    To save on money, what is the best way to from Tokyo D4 –> Kyoto D5-6 –> Osaka –>Kansai airport D7?
    – Is it possible to do one-way JR fare from Tokyo to Kansai with allowable stopovers at Kyoto, Osaka, then Kansai airport? Is there anything I need to do extra or is the ticket automatically valid for 5 days?

    1. Hi James,

      Suica is okay but you may thing about using subway pass. There is a combo deal of limousine and subway pass.
      http://www.tokyometro.jp/en/ticket/value/airport_bus/index.html

      Single base fare ticket is the best way for Tokyo to Kyoto. You may think about using Platt Kodama if you want to save your cost:
      http://jprail.com/travel-informations/other-rail-passes/rail-pass-for-residents/platt-kodama-one-way-deal-among-tokyo-nagoya-kyoto-and-shin-osaka-by-shinkansen.html

      You may use it for Tokyo to Kansai with stopovers. But it’s not much different if you purchase separately, Tokyo to Kyoto and Kyoto to Osaka. There are some Non JR routes between Kyoto and Osaka. If you take non JR, you cannot use one base fare ticket anyway.
      http://jprail.com/destinations/how-to-transfer-among-kyoto-osaka-and-kobe-compare-japan-railway-and-private-lines.html

      And also there are some deals from Osaka to Kansai.
      http://jprail.com/sample-itineraries/airport-access/kansai-kix/how-to-choose-the-deals-for-access-tofrom-kansai-airport.html

      Cheers,

      Takeshi / JPRail.com

  7. Hi Takeshi

    Please advise if my trip is worth to take 7days JR pass?

    Namba station to Kyoto station
    Kyoto to Hiroshima guchi station to Miyajima (ferry ride)
    Miyajima to Namba Station

    Thank you.

  8. Hi Takeshi,

    I love this site. It is really helpful. After reading the article I feel like it’s not worth getting the JR pass for my 7night/8 day trip in April. I added the single pass fares and they seem a lot less than the JR pass. Here’s my quick literary & single fare calculation based on HyperDia.

    Day 1: Arriving at Narita Airport: Narita – Tokyo = 1140 yen
    (Staying in Tokyo for 3 nights. Haven’t figures out all the itinerary in Tyoto and how much local transportation will cost yet ).
    Day 4: Tokyo – Odawara = 1490 yen.
    (then buying separate pass/ticket to Hakone)
    Day 5: Odawara – Kyoto = 7020

    (two nights in Kyoto)

    Day 7: Kyoto – Osaka = 560

    Day 8: Osaka – Kansai airport = 1190

    Total 11400 < JR pass 29110

    Could you help me take a quick look at my price research to make sure I didn't miss anything? Thank you!

    Linda

    1. Hi Linda,

      JR pass is too expensive for your trip. But your calculation does not include seat fee. You have to pay more actually.

      For Tokyo from Narita, you can take local or rapid train from Narita. But there are some deals and budget bus are available. You may take one of these for day 1. Some deals includes unlimited subway pass. It’s very useful for sightseeing in Tokyo. Please see the links below to find more info:
      http://jprail.com/sample-itineraries/airport-access/narita/the-list-of-deals-for-access-to-downtown-tokyo-from-narita-airport.html
      http://www.tokyometro.jp/en/ticket/value/airport_bus/index.html
      http://jprail.com/destinations/kanto-area/tokyo-kanto-area/guide-to-take-trains-in-tokyo-how-to-choose-the-best-deal-and-the-best-route-by-train-to-get-the-major-spots.html

      You may take Odakyu railway from Shinjuku. If you pay a bit more, you can take limited express romancecar and you can get Hakone directly.
      http://www.odakyu.jp/english/romancecar/

      Odawara-Kyoto fare is 7020 yen but this is only base fare. It’s too far to get Kyoto from Odawara by local train only. You have to take Shinkansen (bullet train) and have to pay another 5000 yen.

      Kyoto-Osaka is okay by local train.

      For Osaka to KIX, there are some deals available. You may use one of those.
      http://jprail.com/sample-itineraries/airport-access/kansai-kix/how-to-choose-the-deals-for-access-tofrom-kansai-airport.html

      Cheers,

      Takeshi / JPRail.com

  9. Hi Takeshi

    We arrive at KIX for one day and night in Osaka. Then to Kyoto for for 3 nights then to Hakone for 2 nights, then to Tokyo for 4 nights, then to Narita for outbound flight. We realize we probably need the JR pass and know we need the Freepass in Hakone. Where should we start our 7 day pass and which single ticket should we buy? Also, we are looking at the green car. This is all in April, 2017

    1. Hi Lisa,

      Actually JR pass is not required. It’s too expensive.
      Please see the link below first of all:
      http://jprail.com/sample-itineraries/7days/basic-itinerary-of-osaka-kyoto-and-tokyo-in-7-days.html

      It does not include Hakone. So you can purchase a single ticket for Kyoto to Odawara. And then use Hakone Free Pass there. You can use Odakyu railway to get Shinjuku, Tokyo after Hakone.
      http://jprail.com/destinations/chubu-area/fuji-hakone-access-guide-by-train-and-bus-from-both-tokyo-and-osaka-kyoto-nagoya.html

      After arrival in Tokyo, follow the sample itinerary in the first link above.

      Cheers,

      Takeshi / JPRail.com

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