How to choose discount railway ticket and pass in Kansai (Kyoto, Osaka, Kobe, Nara) area

Dotonbori (道頓堀) is one of the popular spot around Osaka Namba area. ©JNTO
Dotonbori (道頓堀) is one of the popular spot around Osaka Namba area. ©JNTO

I wrote about the transfer among Kyoto, Osaka and Kobe in the previous post. There are lots of railways by Japan Railway and several private railways, such as Hankyu, Hanshin and Keihan. This means you have many many choices to choose the ticket or pass. All private railways have own pass. And also JR West has Kansai Area Pass. You may be overwhelmed to choose the right ticket.

Now I would like to share the information about the discount ticket and pass with you. I classify these tickets and passes under three types, all Kansai area, Kyoto and Osaka. I hope this post will help you to find the right one for you.

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

All Kansai area

This category is suitable for the tourists who visit Osaka, Kyoto, Kobe, Nara and many more places in Kansai for multiple days. I recommend you Kansai Thru Pass (Surutto Kansai Pass). And also JR West Kansai Area Pass may be considerble.
*If you will use Japan Rail Pass, don’t think about JR West Kansai Area Pass. Japan Rail Pass includes everything that JR West Rail Pass has.

Koyasan (Mt. Koya) (C) JNTO
Kansai Thru Pass include World Heritage site Koyasan (Mt. Koya) too. (C) JNTO

Kansai Thru Pass (Surutto Kansai Pass)

This is the most recommend one! This pass includes all major private lines and subway lines, such as Hankyu, Hanshin, Keihan, Kintetsu, Nankai, Osaka Subway and Kyoto Subway. You can access Kyoto, Osaka, Kobe, Nara, Himeji, Mt. Koya, Kansai airport, Wakayama and many more place. This pass is sold at 5,200 yen for 3 days and 4,000 yen for 2 days. It gives you the greatest value in any railway pass of Kansai area. But if you think about only round trip between Kyoto and Osaka, the regular fare may be cheaper. Please see the details at the post, .How to use Kansai Thru Pass. Compare pass and single fare. I compare the price of pass and single fare in many cases. You will find which you should buy or not.

Kansai Airport Express Haruka
Kansai Airport Express Haruka is one of the fastest way to get Kansai airport.

JR West Rail Pass – Kansai Area Pass

This pass includes most of JR lines in Kyoto, Nara, Osaka, Kobe, Himeji and Kansai airport. Shinkansen and all express trains are not included except Kansai airport express “Haruka”. Please see the details about this pass on the post, How to use JR West Kansai Area Pass. Compare pass and single fare.. And also one of my post, How to access from Kansai airport to downtown Osaka, Kyoto and Kobe may be helpful for you.

You don’t need to worry about express trains. There are lots of Rapid train services. These urban train services give you fast and frequent transfer. Please see the post, Rapid service network in Kansai area about Rapid trains in Kansai area.

Especially if you use this pass for Haruka, that is a good deal. But if you think about using this pass for sightseeing in Kyoto or Osaka, it may not work. Especially JR lines is not so convenient in Kyoto. Please read How to use Japan Rail Pass in Kyoto to get more details. Kansai Thru Pass (Surutto Kansai Pass) or the single fare and Kyoto day pass combination might be better choice for your trip in Kyoto and/or Osaka.

And also ICOCA and Haruka includes ride on Haruka and 1500 e-money that can be used for JR trains, private railway and subways. This is very good deal too. Please see the post, ICOCA and Haruka ticket. Very flexible and good deal for tourist who stay in Kansai.

Katsura river in Arashiyama, Kyoto is very popular in Spring and Fall. ©Yasufumi Nishi/© JNTO

Kyoto area

I explain several kinds of pass to you. These passes is suitable who stay in Kyoto or one day trip to Kyoto from Osaka.

Kyoto Sightseeing One and Two-day Pass Card

This is a basic day pass of Kyoto City Subway and Bus. You can go anywhere in city of Kyoto. There are two types of pass, One day at 1200 yen and Two days at 2000 yen. Please see the details at Kyoto Municipal Transportation official website. If you pay a single fare, it costs 210 to 340 yen to take the subway and 220 yen to take the bus. So if you take a bus or subway more than 5 times a day, this pass is worth the price. If you are not sure how many times you take, I recommend you to purchase this pass. It is not bad deal, more convenient and save your time to calculate the fare at the station.

This pass is very suitable for the tourists who stay in Kyoto. Because you can use this pass even short distance transfer. For example, you can take a bus to move only several blocks to get the restaurant.

City Bus All-day Pass

This pass is very similar to the One or Two day pass above. But this pass does not include any subway lines. The price is only 500 yen for one day. If you take more than three, it would pay. Even though some of the popular spots in Kyoto, like Arashiyama, cannot be accessed by this pass, this affordable price may work for most of tourists.

I recommend this pass to the tourists who have one day trip to Kyoto from Osaka. If you have Kansai Thru Pass or JR West Kansai Area Pass, this pass will cover the place where these rail passes cannot cover. If you use Japan Rail pass, this pass is one of the best choice. Because you need to use subway or bus to get most of spots in Kyoto anyway. Of course you can combine this pass with a single fare from Osaka.

Floating Garden Observatory is popular observation deck in Osaka Umeda area. ©JNTO

Osaka area

There are lots of subway lines in downtown Osaka. This is the best way to explore in Osaka. You can use JR lines too. Especially if you will be Japan Rail Pass user, try to use JR lines as much as you ca. Please see the post, How to use Japan Rail Pass in downtown Osaka.

One-day unlimited Pass, Enjoy Eco Card

This is a basic day pass of Osaka Municipal Transportation. You take any subway lines and bus service that are operated by Osaka city. The price is 800 yen. But if you use buy this pass on weekends or holidays, the price is cheaper. It is only 600 yen. If you take subway train from Umeda to Namba, the fare is 230 yen. So it is not hard to use more than even higher price 800 yen.

Don’t forget to compare and check some more passes

At last, if you may travel to outside of Kansai area, like Kinosaki, Shirahama, Okayama and Kurashiki, don’t forget to check the post, The newest JR West rail pass for Kansai and Okayama, Kurashiki, Kinosakai and Shingu area, Kansai WIDE Area Pass. In my opinion, this pass gives you the greatest deal in all JR West rail passes.

If you need more information about rail passes in Japan for visitors, please check the post, How to choose Rail Pass to travel Japan. Summary of most of rail passes in Japan.

476 thoughts on “How to choose discount railway ticket and pass in Kansai (Kyoto, Osaka, Kobe, Nara) area”

  1. Hello! I am going to Osaka on Dec 8, and am trying to figure out which passes to buy.

    8/12 Arrival in KIX at 7:05 pm, will take the Nankai train to Namba, since our hotel is close to Nippombashi
    9/12 Go around Osaka
    10/12 Go to Kobe (mostly for the Kobe Luminarie)
    11/12 Go to Kyoto (Fushimi-Inari and Arashiyama, other places if possible)
    12/12 Explore Osaka again
    13/12 Fly home, will take the Nankai train again (flight is 9:30 am)

    Now my questions are

    1. If I get the Yokoso! Osaka pass for the first day of arrival, can I use the Nankai train to Namba, then use the subway and bus pass the next day? I arrive quite late already so I don’t see myself using the bus pass on my first day, only the Nankai train. I can’t find any information on this anywhere. Or is it better to just get the Kanku-Webtoku ticket then get an Eco Pass for the next day?
    2. For the Kobe and Kyoto, I was planning on getting the Hankyu 2-day pass, since the train goes to both Kobe and Kyoto from Umeda. I also plan to get a bus pass for both places.
    3. For the 4th and 5th day, use the 1-day Eco pass within Osaka, and get the Kanku-Webtoku ticket for the final day

    Is this at all feasible? I am interested in the Kansai Thru Pass, but I feel it is not particularly viable because it is only valid for 3 days. Japan West Rail Pass is also a possibility but it also seems not very viable for our stay.

    1. Hi Kat,

      1. I’m not 100% sure though. In my understanding, you cannot Yokoso Osaka ticket for 2 days. You have to use Nankai ticket and Subway ticket in same day.
      You may ask when you are in Kansai airport. I may be wrong.

      2. Probably Hankyu pass + subway/bus pass in each cities may be cheaper. However I recommend Kansai thru pass. Because you need to take subway in Osaka to get Umeda from Nipponbashi. And also, you have to purchase a pass whenever you arrive at next place. For example, you have to purchase Hankyu pass at Umeda, and then purchase subway pass in Kobe. You will spend many minutes. If you have Kansai thru pass, it covers Osaka subway, Hankyu, Kobe subway, Kyoto subway and bus, and many more. When you go to Kobe, you can take Kintetsu and Hanshin from Nipponbashi. Both railway connect each other and run through. You can get Kobe directly from Nipponbashi. When you go to Kyoto, you can take Hankyu to get Arashiyama. You may use Keifuku railway (Randen) and Hankyu to get Gion. And then take Keihan railway to get Fushimi-Inari. You can continue to travel to Osaka by Keihan too. It’s much more convenient.
      These are reason why I recommend Kansai thru pass. It’s available from 2 days at 4000 yen.

      3. I agree.


      Takeshi /

      1. Thank you for your reply, Takeshi-san!

        About the Yokoso! Osaka pass, I keep found this

        It can be used after the day of issuance, depending on when you first use the ticket to board the train, but on the pdf
        it seems that the Nankai-Namba train ticket is separate from the Yokoso! Osaka pass, which is why I was wondering if they could be used separately.

        I have emailed the Osaka Tourism website for clarifications, but I still have not received any reply. If I buy it in Japan it is called the Osaka Shuccho Kippu, yes?

        1. Hi kat san,

          Actually I have read both already but I still don’t know the exact conditions. I hope you will receive the reply.
          If you purchase it at Kansai airport, it’s sold as Yokoso Osaka Ticket. You can use this name too.


          Takeshi /

  2. Hi, would really appreciate it if you could advise me which rail pass we should buy for our 6 day trip to the Kansai area in March 2016. We are from Melbourne and our itinerary is as follows-
    Day 1- arrive at KIX airport. From there we need to get to our hotel in Kyoto downtown.
    Day 2- spend all day in Kyoto
    Day 3 – short trip to Kanazawa and Nagahama. Back to Kyoto.
    Day 4 – Leave Kyoto for Namba, Osaka
    Day 5 – spend all day in Osaka
    Day 6 – travel from Osaka to Kobe. Stay in hotel near Sannomiya Station Kobe.
    Day 7 – travel from Kobe to KIX airport for our flight back to Melbourne.

    Based on the above, please advise which rail pass would be the most cost effective for us. Also do they offer discounted senior fares for rail passes as there are 4 of us, 2 are over 60 years old and another two are over 50. Please help us – I look forward to your email. Thanks.

      1. Thanks Takeshi -san for all your advice. Given our itinerary below please confirm the most cost effective rail pass for us.
        Day 1 – KIX to Kyoto Station. Stay in Kyoto for 3 nights
        Day 2 – Day trip to Kinosaki
        Day 3 – Day trip to Kurashiki
        Day 4 – Travel from Kyoto Station to Cross Hotel, Namba. Address 2-5-15 Sinsaibashisuji, Chuo-ku, Osaka-shi, Osaka 542-0085. Stay in Namba, Osaka for 2 nights
        Day 5, 04 March – Remain in Osaka – can you suggest a suitable day trip? We have been to Nara, Himeji & Koyasan during past visit.
        Day 6, 05 March – Depart Osaka for Sannomiya Station, Kobe. Which is the most convenient way to get from Namba Osaka to Sannomiya Station?
        Day 7, 06 March – Depart Kobe for KIX
        Would appreciate any other suggestions/advice you may have to offer. Thanks.

  3. Hi. I amcurrently staying near Tenibashi station. Would be visting kyoto , kobe, and exploring osaka like shinsabashi etc. i wil be here for 5 days. And catching flight from kansai. So which pass is more ecomical for me to get around please!

  4. Hi Takeshi-san,
    I am having headache in getting the best passes to travel the following places in coming Dec 2015:
    Kansai Airport- Osaka-Kyoto-Kanazawa-Shirakawago-Takayama-Toyama- Nagoya-Osaka-Kobe-Nara–Kansai Airport

    Can you please advise us as to what needs to be done for the passes?

    Here is my itinerary:
    Day 1: Reach Kansai Airport in the morning and then travel to Shin Imamiya Station to search for accommodation. After check in, we will explore around Osaka.

    Day 2~3: Take the earliest train to Kyoto. Look for hotel after getting down in Kawaramachi station. Will stay here for two days to explore the beauty of Kyoto.

    Day 4: Take the earliest train to Kanazawa and then take Nohi bus to Shirakawago to stay for one night there.

    Day 5: Take the earliest Nohi Bus to Takayama. Explore around Takayama before heading up to Toyama. In the afternoon, we will travel down to Nagoya from Toyama to catch a night bus to travel from Nagoya back to Osaka.

    ***From Day 1 to Day 5 above (Excluding the night bus), we are planning to use only 1 pass which is 5 Days Takayama Hokuriku Tourist Pass. Do you think this pass will cover all the transportation mentioned above? Or we need to get some of the local train or bus passes as well?

    Day 6 ~7: Check in hotel in Osaka. Travel around Osaka using 2 Days Osaka Amazing Pass.

    Day 8: Travel to Kobe and Nara.

    Day 9: Travel around Osaka again before back to Kansai Airport to catch the night flight.

    ***From Day 6 to Day 9, I am not sure which option is the best:
    A) 2 Days Osaka Amazing pass +2 Days use IC card or
    B) 4 Days Kansai Area Pass
    I would be grateful if you can provide some information for me to get the best passes for my first experience to travel Japan.
    Thank you.

    1. Hi Chin san,

      Your choices are right. You can use Takayama Hokuriku Area Pass (day 1-5), Amazing Pass (day 6 and 7), and Kansai thru pass. The last one is different from that you think. Kansai thru pass covers Hanshin railway (to Kobe), Kintetsu railway (to Nara), subway in Osaka, and Nankai railway (to KIX). You can use this pass to take subway in Osaka after trip to Kobe and Nara, and before going back to KIX. Please find more info at the links below:

      And also you need to add Kyoto city deal for staying Kyoto. You can get off at Kyoto but Takayama Hokuriku Area Pass does not cover any local transportation there.


      Takeshi /

  5. Hi Takeshi-san,

    Total 5-days tour.
    I will be travelling to Osaka via KIX.
    Planning to get Osaka Amazing Pass for first 2-days to visit around Osaka.
    For 3rd day, we are still at Osaka only on 4th day will be visiting Kyoto for day trip.
    If i buy another 2-day JR Kansai Area pass ?

    Do i still need Kyoto Sightseeing One day pass?

    Thank you and looking forward for your information.

    1. Hi Jammy san,

      You have to add Kyoto city deal, like bus pass if you use Kansai area pass. Because it does not cover much in Kyoto. Please see the link below:

      If you use the pass just to get Kyoto, it’s not a good idea. Single ticket may be cheaper. If you visit outside Osaka on 3rd day, you may think about Kansai Thru Pass. It covers Kyoto subway and bus but it’s valid for 2 days.


      Takeshi /

  6. Dear Takeshi San,

    Its me again. I have had some revisions to our itinerary and would like to check with you if it is worth it to avail of these passes:
    c/o Haruka + ICOCA
    Day 1 KIX to Kyoto
    Day 2 & 3 Around Kyoto (ICOCA or bus pass)

    c/o Kansai Thru Pass
    Day 4 Kyoto (Fushi Inari & Tofukuji) then move to hotel in Tennoji then around Namba
    Day 5 Kobe (HOHO bus & shin-kobe ropeway) then back to Tennoji
    Day 6 Nara (Park & Todai-ji) then Osaka Castle then Tennoji

    Day 7 Not yet decided if Himeji or Mt. Koyasan
    Day 8 Around Osaka c/o Eco Card
    Day 9 Tennoji to KIX c/o Haruka + ICOCA

    Note that when I first plotted the trip using Hyperdia, I chose mostly JR trains for the least transfers.

    Many thanks!


  7. Hi Takeshi^^
    I’m planning to travel around Osaka only for 5 days. I’m not going to visit Kyoto or anywhere else. I will be going to USJ and Osaka Castle anytime within the 5-day period.

    So should I buy Kansai Thru Pass or Osaka Amazing Pass or One-day unlimited Pass, Enjoy Eco Card?

    I’m confused..

  8. Hi Takeishi san

    I will be travelling to Japan with my family in Dec 2015. Appreciate if you can advise which will be the most affordable pass which we should get for our trip.

    Day 1 Kansai Airport to Hotel Consort then to Universal Studio

    Day 2 Hotel Consort to Kyoto (Mystays Kyoto Shijo)

    Day 3 Mystays Kyoto Shijo to Mt Fuji (Massimo Mishima Hotel)

    Day 4 Massimo Mishima to Tokyo (MyStays Hamamatsucho) to Disneyland

    Day5-6 Sightseeing Tokyo

    Day 7 Mystays Hamamatsucho to Narita airport

    Much thanks in advance for your help.

    Kind regards

    1. Hi CS san,

      Actually there is no deal from Oskaa to Kyoto and Kyoto to Tokyo via Mishima. Only single fare is your choice for this segment.

      Probably limousine bus to USJ is the best because it’s direct.

      You may add subway deal as you need in Osaka, Tokyo and Kyoto.

      You can use one base fare ticket from Osaka to Tokyo with stopover Kyoto and Mishima.

      You may find some info about access to Narita at the link below:


      Takeshi /

      1. Hi Takeshi San

        For the base fare from Osaka to Tokyo with stopover at Kyoto and Mt Fuji, can I purchase the ticket online in advance or I can only purchase at the train station?

        Much thanks.

        Kind regards

        1. Hi CS san,

          You cannot purchase it online. You can purchase it at the station after you arrive in Japan.
          If you purchase base fare ticket and limited express supplement ticket (such as Shinkansen reserved seat ticket) at same time, you can purchase it in advance at most of JR stations.

          If you purchase only base fare ticket, you can purchase it at departure station on the day of using only.


          Takeshi /

          1. Hi Takeshi san

            Much thanks for your advice. With regards to the base fare ticket alone, can I purchase the ticket on 18 Dec from Osaka to Tokyo with stopover at Kyoto and Mt Fuji ie I will leave Osaka to Kyoto on 18 Dec then to Mt Fuji on 19 Dec and subsequently to Tokyo on 20 Dec?

            Kind regards

          2. Hi CS san,

            You can purchase and use it. But where are you going to stop by for Fuji? If you think about Mishima or Odawara, it’s okay. But if you think about Lake Kawaguchi, it’s located at the other side of Fuji. It’s not realistic to access there between Kyoto and Tokyo. Please find the location at the link below:


            Takeshi /

          3. Hi CS san,

            No, you can’t. Osaka – Narita is about 630km. It’s valid for 5 days only. Please see the rule at the link below:

            Osaka to Tokyo is about 560km and it’s valid for 4 days. So you can use one base fare ticket for Osaka to Tokyo with stopover at Kyoto and Mishima. I think you will take Shinkansen. You must have separate Shinkansen surcharge ticket for each segment.

            You cna use your credit card for payment.


            Takeshi /

          4. Hi Takeshi san

            Thank you very much for your advice. After Mishima, I will be in Tokyo for 4 days (20-23 Dec) , which pass should I purchase to travel within Tokyo and to Narita airport on last day ie on 23 Dec?

            Can I enquire if the standard base fare from Osaka (17 Dec) to Tokyo (20 Dec) with multiple stop at Kyoto (18 Dec) and Mishima (19 Dec), will be cheaper as compared to JR pass 7 days?

            Kind regards

  9. Konnichiwa Takeshi-san,

    Could you advise me what type of pass i should get for the following?

    Day 1 — Need to get from Kansai Airport (KIX) to Tsuruhashi station in early morning.
    My B&B is near Tsuruhashi station.

    After checking in, i will go out and explore Osaka city for the whole day.

    Day 2 — Need to go from Osaka to Kyoto.
    Explore Kyoto the whole day. And return to Osaka in evening or night.

    Day 3 — The end of my trip. Need to go to Kansai airport in early morning.

    My friend & her child (7 years old) will stay 1 extra day in Japan, so, they might need different travel pass than me:
    Day 1 (osaka) — same itinerary as me
    Day 2 (kyoto) — same itinerary as me
    Day 3 (osaka) — from the B&B which is near Tsuruhashi station, they need to go to Universal Studios Japan.
    Their flight leaving Osaka is at 6:50PM. So, they must arrive at airport at around 4:50PM. Which means they should leave Universal Studios at 3:00PM, right?

    Is there any luggage storage facility at Universal Studios?

    Yuet Ling

    1. Hi Yuet,

      You and your friend may use Kansai thru pass for the first 2 days and Kanku Chikatoku Ticket for the last day to KIX.

      Your friend needs to add single fare from Tsurubashi to Universal city and Universal city to Osaka. After arrival Osaka, take subway Midousuji line to Namba and take Nankai to KIX. Location map can be found at the link below:

      Locker is available at USJ.


      Takeshi /

      1. Dear Takeshi-san,

        Thank you for the advice….. I have the following questions which need your further advice…..

        Kanku Chikatoku ticket — You’ve advised that we should use this ticket on the last day to get from Osaka to Kansai airport. Can we buy this ticket from Kansai airport on the day we arrive at Osaka? Do they sell ticket for “Osaka to Kansai airport” direction?

        Tsuruhashi station to Universal City station — How to get from Tsuruhashi station to Universal City station?
        is it by JR Loop Line Tsuruhashi station >>> Tennoji station >>> Bentencho station >>> Nishikujo station (9 stations in total)? and change to JR Yumesaki Line to go from Nishikujo to Universal City??

        Universal City to Osaka station — Need to change line at Nishikujo station, right?

        Thanks & regards,
        Yuet Ling

          1. Takeshi-san,

            Tsuruhashi station — is it the same station (physical location) for Sennichimae Line and JR Loop Line?
            Is there any connected pathway within Tsuruhashi station that i can walk from Sennichimae line to JR Loop line?

            Yuet Ling

          2. Hi Yuet san,

            Yes. It’s same location but subway is located underground and JR is located on ground. It takes less than 5 minutes to transfer. There are lots of signage that says “JR line” and you can’t miss it.


            Takeshi /

          3. Takeshi-san,

            Very sorry to bother you again…..
            My 1-day Osaka trip + 1-day Kyoto trip, you’ve recommended me to get Kansai Thru Pass + Kanku Chikatoku ticket.

            I will be visiting the following places during my 1 day in Osaka and I need to use JR Loop Line for 2 occasion, do you think i should buy another pass or stick with Kansai Thru Pass?

            My accommodation is near Tsuruhashi station.

            1) Osaka Castle — JR Loop Line is the fastest & most convenient
            2) Tennoji Park — JR Loop Line is the fastest & most convenient
            3) Sumiyoshi-Taisha Shrine — can ride Hankai line trolley car from Tennoji trolley car station
            4) Umeda — can take subway
            5) Namba — can take subway

            Yuet Ling

  • 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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