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
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.

Osaka Amazing Pass

This deal includes unlimited subway ride and 28 attractions. If you visit 3 or more attractions on the list, this is better deal than subway pass. Please find more information about this pass at the link below:

Osaka Amazing Pass

Osaka Kaiyu Ticket

This is combo deal of Osaka subway unlimited ride pass and Osaka Kaiyukan Aquarium admission. This deal is cheaper than even round trip fare to Osakako station from either Namba or Umeda and admission. If you visit some more places after vising aquarium by subway, this deal gives you a great saving.

Trip to Osaka Kaiyukan Aquarium by Osaka Kaiyu Ticket

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.

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

  1. Hi,

    Thanks for your post. I am only going Kyoto and Osaka. 4 days in Kyoto and 2 days Osaka . Can I know which pass is more suitable ?

    Thanks !

  2. Takeshi-san, Rainbow card and Eco Card both seem to give you unlimited use of subway in Osaka for 1 day, but Rainbow is only 500 yen while Eco card is 800 yen. Am I missing something ?

  3. i have check willer express
    i might take willer express from kyoto on 18 Oct night bus and arrive 19 oct morning ,
    but there sign “Ladies Seat policy”, i’m travel with my husband, is that mean we can seat down next to each other?

  4. hi Takeshi-San,
    i have ready all your information.
    thankyou for share your knowledge to other.
    i really need a help for choose the transports pass
    13 oct
    day 1 i will arrive in Kansai Airport around 7 pm and i have book airbnb on Osaka-shi
    14 oct
    day 2 USJ
    15 oct
    day 3 kobe (mount rokko, earthquake museum,nankinmachi) and himeji castle if we have time
    16 oct
    day 4 osaka castle, osaka aquarium,dotonbori
    and at night time will travel to kyoto and will continue the trip from kyoto
    17 oct
    kiyomizudera temple, toei kyoto studio park
    18 oct
    fushimi inari temple,arashiyama bamboo,kinkakuji temple,gion
    19 oct from kyoto will travel to tokyo

    what is the best pass i need to used when i’m in osaka and kyoto?could you please help me. thankyou

    1. Hi Meriana,

      The following link shows you one of my sample itineraries. You can use it for most part of your trip.

      Kobe is not included in this trip plan. I just add some info about it.
      Please see the link below:

      If you add Himeji, please see the link below:

      I think you can visit both Kobe and Himeji. You can go up Rokko at the last part of your trip. Night view from mountain is gorgeous.
      In this case, you can use JR Kansai area pass one day and add transportation to get Rokko.


      Takeshi /

      1. Thankyou for your reply, i really appreciated your help.
        i just realize my accomodation is on Tengachaya location.
        the host have recommend to take nankai airport exp. for namba 920 Yen. (13 Oct)
        what ticket i need to purchase on Kansai airport?

        on 14 Oct will go to USJ and spend 660 Yen Round Trip (Tengachaya-Shinimamiya-nishikujo-universalcity)

        what ticket i can purchase?
        is just a single ticket or i can used ICOCA?and where i can purchase the pass?

        i will take Kansai Thru Pass from 15 Oct to 16 or 17 Oct
        is that worth it with my itinerary?

        On 15 Oct i will go to Kobe and Himeji

        if i used Kansai Thru Pass to visit Kobe what is the spots in Kobe have cover by Kansai Thru Pass?

        depart from Namba, i can catch Hanshin train at Osaka-Namba, 40 minutes and fare is 400 yen.

        place i will visit on kobe it will be cover all the Kansai Thru Pass only.

        and from Kobe to Himeji
        From Sannomiya to Sanyo-Himeji – 60-65 minutes / 940 yen
        still not sure where i will go, can you give me some edvise?

        On 16 Oct will just take around Osaka( osaka castle, osaka aquarium,dotonbori)
        and will go to Kyoto from osaka

        the Hostel we have book is close to Kawaramachi Station?

        which line subway or station i need to take from Dotonbori to Kawaramachi which is have cover by Kansai Thru Pass?

        i have searching on hyperdia but i really not sure which line have cover by Kansai Thru Pass really need your guide and experience

        On 17 Oct
        is my first day on Kyoto and will visit kiyomizudera temple, toei kyoto studio park
        is that good idea if i still used Kansai Thru Pass?
        or i can swape the itinerary on 18 Oct to 17 Oct is there some place have cover by Kansai Thru Pass

        18 oct
        fushimi inari temple,arashiyama bamboo,kinkakuji temple,gion

        19 oct from kyoto will travel to tokyo

        as i stay in Kawaramachi for 3 days only, what is the best pass i can have for cover all my itinerary on kyoto if Kansai Thru Pass not really erconomic to be used on Kyoto ?

        i’m really sorry to give you alot of question.
        thakyou Takeshi

        1. Hi Meriana,

          You may purchase a single ticket at the vending machine for trip to Tengachaya from KIX and trip to USJ. You may use ICOCA. If you purchase this card, you don’t need to purchase a single ticket. You can take any trains, JR, subway and other railways. You can purchase it at JR Kansai airport station. But in these days, the window at JR Kansai airport station is very busy. If you see the long line up, just purchase a single ticket at the vending machine. Otherwise you will spend many minutes there.

          The following link shows you the info about Kyoto Access Ticket. This deal is not your choice. But it shows you the route from Tengachaya to Kawaramachi. Kansai thru pass covers this route too and this is the easiest route.

          Kansai thru pass is a good choice for Oct 15 and 16. I think you can use 3 days Kansai thru pass. I also recommend you to visit Arashiyama, Bamboo forest and Toei Studio Park on same day. If you can add Kinkakuji temple on same day, it’s easier to visit because Toei, Arashiyama and Kinkakuji are located in the west side of Kyoto. Other places are located at east side. If you can do, use Kyoto Sightseeing Card for Arashiyama, Toei and Kinkakuji. Kansai thru pass can be used for the rest of places, Gion, Fushimi, Ginkakuji, Kiyomizudera and Gion.


          Takeshi /

          1. dear Takeshi-san
            thankyou for your advise !!!
            so 15 Oct, 16 Oct it will be my itinerary

            and 17 Oct i will used Kansai Thru Pass from my Accomodation on Kawaramachi to Gion,Fushimi, Ginkakuji and kiyomizudera,

            and 18 Oct i will use Kyoto sightseeing Card to Arashiyama, Toei, and Kinkakuji (cost 1200 Yen for one day pass)

            i have another question about travel from Kyoto to Tokyo what pass i can used for transfer from kyoto to tokyo and pass i can buy to be used on my itinerary?

            as i will go to Tokyo on 19 Oct in Morning time after arrive in Tokyo(my acconmodation is close to KINSHICHO station)i will just go around Tokyo city such like shibuya,harajuku,akibara,ameyako market ,tokyo tower and harbour rainbow.

            20 Oct i will go to Disney Sea
            21 Oct Kawaguchiko
            22 Oct hakone
            23 Oct Edo Open house museum and Doraemon Museum
            24 Oct is my last before Back to my country i don’t have any itinerary as we will pack luggage , but my flight is from Narita Airport

            thankyou so much for your guide, wish can meet such a great person like you.please visit my country one day


          2. Hi Meriana san,

            There is no deals available from Kyoto to Tokyo. But in Tokyo, you may use subway pass or other deals. For access to Narita, you can catch budget bus from Tokyo station. Please see the links below:


            Takeshi /

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