How to transfer among Kyoto, Osaka, Kobe, Nara and Wakayama. Compare Japan Railway and private railways.

Kobe Harborland © Kobe Convention & Visitors Association/© JNTO
Kobe Harborland © Kobe Convention & Visitors Association/© JNTO

As you probably have already known, train system in Japan is very complicated. Especially in urban area, there are lots of railways. You might not understand the difference between Japan Railways (JR), subways and private railways.

Especially in Kansai area, such as Osaka, Kyoto, Kobe, Nara, Himeji and Wakayama, many trains runs among these cities. You may be overwhelmed. But it is very important to understand the train system. You will make a trip much smoothly and save your trip time.

I would like to explain about JR lines and private railway companies in Kansai area in this post. You may find which train line is the best for your trip.

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

Overview of train system in Kansai area

Please find the map below. It looks very complicated, but please do not upset. I will explain you one by one.

Click to enlarge
Click to enlarge

I tried to make this map as simple as possible. But it still shows you many train lines. This map actually does not show all stations and all train lines. It shows you only major stations, transfer points and the station that is near popular sightseeing spot.

At this point, you just need to know that there are many train lines among cities. You have to pick one of those things. Now I would like to explain train lines one by one.

JR trains

JR used to be Japanese National Railway. It has lines throughout Japan. In Kansai area, JR network is wider than any other railways. I would like to show you only JR lines in Kansai area at the map below:

Click to enlarge.
Click to enlarge.

You can catch JR train right after you arrive in Kansai airport. You can go almost anywhere in Kansai area, like Osaka (both Umeda and Namba), Kyoto, Nara, Kobe, Wakayama and Himeji.

If you use Japan Rail Pass or any other JR deals, of course, try to use Japan Railway trains as much as you can. JR has two kinds of railways, Shinkansen and conventional lines.

Conventional line’s trains in Kansai area

Special Rapid Service operated by JR West 223 series.
Special Rapid Service dominates Kyoto-Osaka-Kobe-Himeji transfer.

There are many kinds of train on conventional lines.

  • Limited Express, such as Haruka (Kansai airport – Shin Osaka – Kyoto)
  • Rapid
  • Local

Most of you will take rapid trian service. This is a sort of commute train. But it stops at major stations only. This train service gives you high speed transfer among cities..

Especially if you want to move among Kyoto, Osaka, Kobe and Himeji, Special Rapid Service gives you a fast transfer. The trip time for major segments are the following:

  • Osaka / Sannomiya (Kobe) — 22 minutes
  • Osaka / Kyoto — 28 minutes
  • Sannomiya / Kyoto — 50 minutes
  • Osaka / Himeji– 1 hour 10 minutes

There are many more rapid train services in Kansai area, such as Nara, Kansai airport and Wakayama. Please see the link below to get more information about rapid train services in Kansai area:

Most economical transfer, No express surcharge! Rapid Service Network in Kansai area
.

Shinkansen (a.k.a. Bullet Train)

Shinkansen is the high speed train service in Japan. Shinkansen stops at Maibara, Kyoto, Shin-Osaka, Shin-Kobe, Nishiakashi and Himeji in Kansai area.
Shinkansen stops at Maibara, Kyoto, Shin-Osaka, Shin-Kobe, Nishiakashi and Himeji in Kansai area.

Shinkansen is a high speed train service as you probably know. It is much faster than any trains on conventional lines. Shinkansen usually used for long distance transfer, such as Tokyo to Osaka.

Check the details about Tokaido-Sanyo Shinkansen

But it can be used for short distance, like Shin-Osaka to Kyoto. It connects Shin-Osaka and Kyoto in 13 minutes, and Shin-Osaka to Shin-Kobe in 15 minutes. This is so fast. But if you leave from Umeda or other stations in Osaka, you may have to add some extra time to transrfer at Shin-Osaka. Because Shin-Osaka is one station away from Osaka (Umeda). Let’s compare trip time for Osaka (Umeda) to Kyoto between Shinkansen and Special Rapid Service.

By Special Rapid Service
Osaka – 28 minutes – Kyoto
By Shinkansen
Osaka – 4 minutes – Shin Osaka (5 to 10 minutes for transfer) – 13 minutes – Kyoto

It may take 25 minutes even if you take high speed train, Shinkansen.
Shinkansen is not much faster than Special Rapid Service.

How about trip to Kobe by Shinkansen? In my opinion, it is not a good idea if you think about using Shinkaksen from Osaka. It is same situation as trip to Kyoto. You have to move to Shin-Osaka to catch Shinkansen. And also Shin-Kobe station is one station away from Sannomiya by subway.

By Special Rapid Service
Osaka – 22 minutes – Sannomiya
By Shinkansen
Osaka – 4 minutes – Shin Osaka (5 to 10 minutes for transfer) – 15 minutes – Shin Kobe (5 to 10 minutes transfer) – 2 minutes – Sannomiya


View Downtown Kobe in a larger map

In this case, Shinkansen is slower than Special Rapid Service.

If you use JR pass, you can take Shinkansen for this short transfer because it is fully covered by JR pass. It is not worth taking Shinkansen for these short transfers by single fare.

Private Railways in Kansai area

There are many private company’s railways (=NON JR) in Kansai area. Actually these trains are more convenient than JR trains in many cases. I would like to show you all major companies in Kansai area.

This map shows you only NON JR railways (private railway and subway). Click to enlarge.
This map shows you only NON JR railways (private railway and subway). Click to enlarge.

Hankyu Railway

Hankyu Railway runs Osaka, Kyoto, Kobe and Takarazuka. In Osaka, Umeda is the terminal station. Umeda is same location as JR Osaka station. All trains depart from Umeda to all destinations. In Kyoto, you can reach Kawaramachi (near Gion) and Arashiyama. This train service takes you to Sannomiya in Kobe.

This map shows you Hankyu Railway and Osaka Subway Sakaisuji line. Click to enlarge.
This map shows you Hankyu Railway and Osaka Subway Sakaisuji line. Click to enlarge.
9300 series is mainly used for limited express on Kyoto line.
9300 series is mainly used for limited express on Kyoto line.

There is no direct scheduled trains between Kyoto and Kobe. You need to change the trains because they don’t have any scheduled direct train from Kyoto to Kobe. You need to change the train at Juso or Umeda. Juso is the junction of Kobe line, Kyoto line, and Takarazuka line. This station is only two stations away from Umeda. In peak period, like spring cherry blossom and fall foliage seasons, direct train service to Arashiyama from Umeda or sometimes Sannomiya is available. But in most cases you have to transfer at Katsura.

Hankyu Railway operates several kinds of trains, like limited express, express, local. But express supplement is not required for takeing any trains, even limited express. It is same category as JR’s Special Rapid Service.

The trip times for major segments are the following:.

  • Umeda / Sannomiya — 27 minutes
  • Umeda / Kawaramachi — 43 minutes
  • Umeda / Arashiyama — 45 minutes

I show you Osaka Subway Sakaisuji line in the map above. Because this subway train go through Hankyu Railway line. You may get Kyoto by direct service from many places in downtown Osaka.

Keihan Railway

Keihan 8000 series have one double deck can in the formation. (C) Sonic Rail Garden
Keihan 8000 series have one double deck can in the formation. (C) Sonic Rail Garden

Keihan Railway is another way to get Kyoto from Osaka. At Osaka, Yodoyabashi and Nakanoshima are the terminal stations. But the primary station is Yodoyabashi. Most of express trains depart from Yodoyabashi. And this station is connected with Umeda and Namba by Osaka Subway Midousuji line.You can also take this railway at Kyobashi. You can transfer from JR Osaka Kanjo line at Kyobashi. At Kyoto, Gion-Shijo, Sanjo and Demachiyanagi are the terminal stations. It takes you many places in Higashiyama area directly.

Keihan Railway also runs to Uji. You can transfer the trains at Chushojima.

The map shows only Keihan Railway. Click to enlarge.
The map shows only Keihan Railway. Click to enlarge.
Keihan 8000 series have nice accommodation too. (C) Sonic Rail Garden
Keihan 8000 series for limited express train has very nice interior. It is a good deal to take this train without any surcharge. (C) Sonic Rail Garden

Keihan Railway operates many category of trains, such as limited express, express, semi-express, local. Most of limited express train has double decker passenger’s car in the train set. You can take this express train and any other trains without any surcharge. This limited express train is same tyep fo service as JR’s Special Rapid Service as well.

The trip time on major sections are the following:

  • Yodoyabashi / Gion-Shijo or Sanjo — 50 minutes
  • Kyobashi / Gion-Shijo or Sanjo — 45 minutes

Hanshin Railway

Hanshin Railway connect Osaka and Kobe. Hanshin has two terminals at two biggest downtown core in Osaka, Umeda and Namba. At Kobe side, Sannomiya and Motomachi are the major stations.

Hanshin Railway and Sanyo Railway are shown in the map. Click to enlarge.
Hanshin Railway and Sanyo Railway are shown in the map. Click to enlarge.
This 9000 series and most of Hanshin Railway's train equip a bench seat only.
This 9000 series and most of Hanshin Railway's train equip a bench seat only.

Hanshin Railway lines are very short but this railway connects with other railways at both end. In Kobe, Hanshin is connected with Sanyo Railway. Some of express trains go through Himeji via Sanyo Railway. At the other side, Hanshin is connected with Kintetsu Railway at Osaka-Namba station. Many of trains go through Nara from Kyoto via Kintetsu Railway. This is only way to get Nara from Kobe directly

Hanshin Railway lines are very short but this railway connects with other railways at both end. In Kobe, Hanshin is connected with Sanyo Railway. Some of express trains go through Himeji via Sanyo Railway. At the other side, Hanshin is connected with Kintetsu Railway at Osaka-Namba station. Many of trains go through Nara from Kyoto via Kintetsu Railway. This is only way to get Nara from Kobe directly. Major direct train services and trip time are the following:

Hanshin Railway operates several kinds of trains, like limited express, express, local. But you don’t need to pay any surcharge to take any trains. In Kansai area, JR and many private railways compete each other. Most of trains can be taken without surcharge.

  • Umeda / Sannomiya — 30 minutes
  • Osaka-Namba / Sannomiya — 45-50 minutes
  • Umeda – (Hanshin) – Motomachi – (Sanyo) – Himeji — 95 to 100 minutes
  • Nara – (Kintetsu) – Osaka-Namba – (Hanshin) – Motomachi — 80 minutes

Nankai Railway

Nankai Railway Limited Express Koya (Namba - Gokurakubashi).
Nankai Railway Limited Express Koya (Namba – Gokurakubashi).

Nankai Railway is one of major ways to get Osaka from Kansai airport. It also takes you to Wakayama and Gokurakubashi that is the gateway to Koyasan (Mt. Koya). Nankai Railway has a huge terminal station in Namba, Osaka. Most of trains depart and arrive at this station.

How to access to Mt. Koya

Only Nankai Railway is shown in this map. Click to enlarge.
Only Nankai Railway is shown in this map. Click to enlarge.

Nankai Railway operates several kinds of trains, like limited express, express, local. Express train surcharge is required to take limited express trains. Nankai Railway’s Limited Express trains have train’s name. The names and the trip time for major segments are the.following:

  • Limited Express “Southern” (Osaka-Namba / Wakayamashi) — 1 hour
  • Limited Express “Rapi:t” (Osaka-Namba / Kansai Airport) — 45 to 55 minutes
  • Limited Express “Koya” (Osaka-Namba / Gokurakubashi) — 80 minutes
  • Limited Express “Rinkan” (Osaka-Namba / Hashimoto) — 45 minutes

There are express trains and local trains if you want to avoid paying extra. Actually trip time is not so much different. It depends on the distance. In most of cases, you will spend 10 to 15 minutes extra. But interior is very different. Your seat is reserved if you take limited express and very comfortable. If you take express without surcharge, it is a commute train. You may not be able to get a seat.

*Only limited express “Southern” has two types of seats, limited express seat and commuter car seat. Commute car seat is same as other commute train. This is non reserved seat and express surcharge is not required to take this category.

Kintetsu Railway

Kintetsu Railway has the biggest limited express train network in all private railway companies.
Kintetsu Railway has the biggest limited express train network in all private railway companies.

Kintetsu Railway is the biggest private railway company in Japan. It connects not only Osaka, Nara, Yoshino and Kyoto but also Nagoya and Ise-Shima. But I would like to tell you about network in Kansai area only in this post.

Kintetsu Railway only is shown in the map above. Click to enlarge.
Kintetsu Railway only is shown in the map above. Click to enlarge.

In Osaka, Kintetsu Railway has two terminal stations, such as Osaka-Namba and Osaka-Abenobashi. As I mentioned at the chapter of Hanshin Railway, Kintetsu Railway is connected with Hanshin Railway at Osaka-Namba. You can take direct train service between Kobe and Nara by Hanshin and Kintetsu. You may take Kintetesu Railway train at Tsuruhashi. It connects to JR Osaka Kanjo line at this station.

Kintetsu is also major way to get Nara from Kyoto. Kintetsu Kyoto station is same location as JR Kyoto station. You can transfer from JR and Kyoto subway at Kyoto station very easily. But Kintetsu Railway is connected with Kyoto subway at Takeda station. Some of trains go through Kyoto subway Karasuma line.

Technically you can use Kintetsu Railway for Osaka-Kyoto transfer. But it is a big detour and there is no direct train service provided between Osaka and Kyoto by Kintetsu Railway. You have to change the trains at Yamato-Saidaiji. If you really need to use Kintetsu Railway, you can take this route. Otherwise it is wasing time and money.

Kintetsu Railway is only way to get Yoshino that is very popular to see cherry blossom. There is a direct train service from Osaka-Abenobashi. If you access to Yoshino from Kyoto, Nara or Osaka-Namba, you have to transfer the trains at least once at Kashihara-Jingumae station.

Kintetsu Railway operates several kinds of trains, like limited express, rapid express, express, local. Express train surcharge is required to take limited express trains. Kintetsu Railway has a big limited express train network. But if you take Kintetsu Railway to get Nara from Osaka or Kyoto, you may not use limited express train because it is short transfer. If you visit Yoshino, limited express may be your choice. The trip time for major segments are the.following:

  • Osaka-Namba / Kintetsu Nara — 40 minutes
  • Kyoto / Kintetsu Nara — 45 minutes
  • Osaka-Abenobashi / Yoshino — 85 minutes (75 minutes by limited express)

If you intend to take limited express lots or make trips to Ise-Shima or Nagoya, Kintetsu Rail Pass is recommended.
Kintetsu Rail Pass, Most affordable deals for Osaka, Kyoto and access to Ise-Shima.

How to choose the lines and trains to Kyoto from Osaka

Departure station in Osaka

Where are you going to stay in Osaka? If you will stay in Umeda area, Hankyu and Japan Railway may be your choice. If you stay near Yodoyabashi, Tenmabashi or Kyobashi, Keihan is more accessible. If you stay in Namba or other location in Osaka, you need to take subway line or JR Osaka loop line anyway. Think about arrival station in Kyoto.


View Kyoto-Osaka-Kobe in a larger map

You can find the train network map at the post, Guide to take trains in Osaka. How to choose the best route by train to get the major spots?

Arrival station in Kyoto

Which part of Kyoto do you want to go? Japan Railway is the fastest way to get Kyoto.

Japan Railway Osaka – Kyoto 28 minutes
Hankyu Umeda – Kawaramachi 43 minutes
Keihan Yodoyamabashi – Gion-Shijo 50 minutes

But Kyoto station is not tourist friendly location. You need to take a bus or subway to get most of popular spots, like Kinkakuji temple, Kiyomizudera temple, Yasaka Jinja shrine. Only Arashiyama and Nijo castle is accessible by Japan Railway. Please read the post, How to use Japan Rail Pass in Kyoto. If you are not Japan Rail Pass user, do not take Japan Railway.
If you want to go to Higashiyama or Gion, such as Kiyomizudera temple, Yasaka Jinja shrine, Philosopher’s Walk, Hankyu Railway and Keihan Railway are more convenient than Japan Railway. If you want to go to Arashiayama, you can use Japan Railway. But Hankyu Railway is faster and cheaper.

If you are looking for information about all trains in Kyoto, please refer the post, Guide to take trains in Kyoto. How to choose the best route by train to get the major spots?.

How to choose the lines and trains to Kobe from Osaka

Departure station in Osaka

You have two options, Umeda/JR Osaka or Namba. If you stay around Umeda area, you can choose from Japan Railway, Hankyu or Hanshin. Hankyu and Hanshin are cheaper than Japan Railway. But Japan Railway is the fastest.
If you will stay in Namba area, Hanshin is only and the best choice.

You can find the train network map of Osaka at the post, Guide to take trains in Osaka. How to choose the best route by train to get the major spots?

Arrival station in Kobe

Which part of Kobe do you want to go? You can go anywhere in Kobe by Japan Railway and Hanshin Electric Railway. Most of trains of Hankyu Railway go to Sannomiya only. If you are looking for the transfer to other area in Kobe, think about JR or Hanshin.
But Kobe is smaller than Kyoto. So it is not much different among JR, Hanshin and Hankyu.

You can find the train network map of Kobe at the post, Guide to take trains in Kobe. How to choose the best route by train to get the major spots?

How to choose the lines and trains between Kobe and Kyoto

Only Japan Railway’s Special Rapid Service gives you direct transfer. It is the fastest and maybe faster than even Shinkansen. But as I mentioned to you above, JR Kyoto station is not good location for the tourists. On the other hand, Hankyu Railway can take you to Kyoto from Kobe. They don’t have any scheduled train on this section. But Kawaramachi station is located near Gion and Higashiyama. Let’s compare JR and Hankyu.

Sannomiya / JR Kyoto — 50 minutes / 1050 yen
Sannomiya / Hankyu Kawaramachi — 65 minutes (change the trains at Juso) / 600 yen

Hankyu is slower, but cheaper. And also we need to think about the location in Kyoto. If you take JR, you need to take a bus or subway to get Gion. You may spend another 15-20 minutes get there from JR Kyoto station. So if you want to go to Gion Higashiyama area, Hankyu is better choice. If you go to Arashiyama in Kyoto, it is same story. Hankyu is better as well.

I show you how to choose discount ticket and pass in this post. If you need more info, please refer that.

524 thoughts on “How to transfer among Kyoto, Osaka, Kobe, Nara and Wakayama. Compare Japan Railway and private railways.”

  1. Hi Takeshi San,

    Here is my plan to visit Japan landing Narita 3-Sept-16 and fly out Fukuoka on 9-Sept-16.

    3-Sept night stay in Hakone

    4-Sept From Hakone to Nagoya then to Wakayama (How long it will take from Hokone to Wakayama? Can I use jr pass all the way?

    5-Sept from Wakayama to Hiroshima then to Fukuoka. Do I have enough time to stop in Hiroshima for few hours?

    6-Sept from Fukuoka to Kogashima

    7-Sept from Kogashima to Kumamoto to Fukuoka

    8-Sept Fukuoka to Beppu then back to Fukuoka

    Would all these stops cover by JR train lines? Are they possible plans?

    Thank you !
    Nicole

    1. Hi Nicole san,

      First of all, you may use JR pass 7 days to cover most part of your trip. It covers all JR trains. All places can be accessed by JR train except Hakone. You can get Odawara but you need to take Hakone Tozan Railway and other transportation to get Hakone. Please see the link below:
      http://jprail.com/destinations/chubu-area/fuji-hakone-access-guide-by-train-and-bus-from-both-tokyo-and-osaka-kyoto-nagoya.html

      It takes 6 to 6.5 hours from Odawara to Wakayama. You can use Hyperdia to find the detailed schedule:
      http://jprail.com/travel-informations/basic-informations/timetable-and-reservation/hyperdia-perfect-guide-train-timetable-and-route-search-engine.html

      You can drop by Hiroshima on the way to Fukuoka. You can find this schedule at hyperdia too.

      Cheers,

      Takeshi / JPRail.com

      1. Hi Takeshi San,

        Thank you for the reply.

        1. From Hakone to Wakayama, do I need to change train lines anywhere? Or it is direct from Hakone to Wakayama?

        2. From Wakayama to Fukuoka, do I need to change train lines in Osaka?

        3. What train lines are cover by JR pass?

        Domo !
        Nicole

      2. Hi Takeshi San,

        Thank you for your reply here !

        Sent you an email and not sure if it gets through !

        Few more questions.

        1. Do I need to change train lines from Hakone to Wakayama?

        2. Do I need to change Train lines from Wakayama to Fukuoka? Would It be faster if I change line in Osaka?

        3. What train lines are covered by JR pass?

        4. Do I need to book seat in advance before boarding JR ? I booked 2nd class ticket.

        Thankyou !
        Nicole

        1. Hi Nicole san,

          1. You have to change the trains at least twice, or maybe more. It depends on which station in Hakone and Wakayama you will go. I gave you links about Fuji Hakone Guide and using Hyperdia. Fuji Hakone Guide shows you the location in this area. Hyperida can show you how many times you need to change the trains. Please refer the previous reply to find these links.

          2. You need to change the trains at Shin-Osaka at least. Hyperdia can show you the schedule and transfer info too.

          3. All JR trains are covered except “Nozomi” and “Mizuho” on Tokaido-Sanyo Shinkansen. Please refer the links below:
          http://jprail.com/trains/sort-by-departure-arrival-stations/stations-in-tokai/nagoya-toyohashi/what-is-shinkansen-bullet-train.html
          http://jprail.com/travel-informations/other-rail-passes/rail-pass-for-visitors/japan-rail-pass-user-guide-how-to-use-jr-pass-to-its-maximum.html

          4. If you use JR pass, you can book when you exchange the pass. You also can book it later if you want. You can book it at most of JR station’s “Midori no Madoguchi”.
          http://jprail.com/travel-informations/basic-informations/timetable-and-reservation/how-to-reserve-seat.html

          Cheers,

          Takeshi / JPRail.com

  2. Hello! Thank you for this blog, but I’m still confused. I just like to know if there is a train ticket or pass that I will be able to use to go around Osaka, Kyoto and Kobe then Osaka to Tokyo and around Tokyo? Would it be just 1 pass for all or I need to get 2 or 3 tickets? I’d be staying 2nights and 3days in Osaka then 3night and 4days in Tokyo. Please help me I’m so confused. Thank you very much!

    1. Hi Bernadine,

      There is no deals to cover all part of your trip. You need several deals ant single fare ticket. Please see the link below. This is sample itinerary that is very similar to your plan:
      http://jprail.com/sample-itineraries/7days/basic-itinerary-of-osaka-kyoto-and-tokyo-in-7-days.html

      But you will stay in Osaka only and make day trips to Kyoto and Kobe, right? If so, Kansai thru pass is the best choice for trip to Kyoto and Kobe.
      http://jprail.com/travel-informations/other-rail-passes/rail-pass-for-residents/how-to-use-kansai-thru-pass-compare-pass-and-single-fare.html

      For other part of your trip, please refer the sample itinerary in the link above. You need single fare ticket from Osaka to Tokyo instead of Kyoto to Tokyo.

      Cheers,

      Takeshi / JPRail.com

  3. Hi Takeshi san,

    I am still a bit confused when I search on HyperDia as to which stations I should be searching for. I have a 7 Day JR Rail pass. I will be travelling from Hiroshima –> Kobe (for a stopover to have dinner around Sannomiya with a friend also holiday in Japan) –> Osaka.

    From Hiroshima –> Kobe in afternoon, is it shinkansen for 70-80 min to SHIN-KOBE or SANNOMIYA (JR)? If it the train stop at SHIN-KOBE, I would need to take subway to Sannomiya for dinner?

    From Kobe –> Osaka at night, it seems I can take shinkansen for 15 minutes between SHIN-KOBE to SHIN-OSAKA or should I take the JR Special Rapid Service for 25 minutes between SANNOMIYA (JR) to OSAKA? In Osaka, I will be staying in the Minami area around Namba station.

    The train and subway system is way too complicated!!! But your website and posts helps me immensely already 🙂

      1. Hi Takeshi san,

        Many thanks for your information. Now it makes it clearer how to get from Hiroshima to Osaka via Kobe!

        Appreciate your time and assistance 🙂

        Cheers,
        Eve

          1. Hi Takeshi,

            I have one last question as I was doing some research on Kobe Sannomiya area to Osaka Namba area and I think you are absolutely correct as JR is not a good way to get there. Too many changes as I read in your post:

            http://jprail.com/travel-informations/tips-for-japan-rail-pass/guide-to-take-trains-in-osaka-how-to-choose-the-best-route-by-train-to-get-the-major-spots.html

            As you suggested above, it is easier to use Hanshin Railway. I think so too now. Which ones are the correct stations to search in HyperDia:

            SANNOMIYA(JR) or SANNOMIYA HANADOKEIMAE or KOBE-SANNOMIYA(HANSHIN) or SANNOMIYA (SUBWAY)

            –>

            OSAKA-NAMBA or NAMBA (NANKAI) or NAMBA (SUBWAY) or JR-NAMBA

            These are all suggested by Hyperdia if I type Sannomiya and Namba???

            Thank you again for your patience!

            Eve

  4. Hi There!

    Amazing website and reading your website is like studying for my exams! Stressed. My name is Joanna.

    I am not sure if i am ambitious or not but I do have a few place I wish to cover and I will really appreciate if you could advise me base on your amazing insights!

    Day 1-3: 4th – 6th Jan 2017 Arrive in Osaka
    Hotel: between Namba & Dotonbori
    Itinerary:
    1. We are thinking to relax and discover Osaka, so we are thinking to stay there for 3 days. Have no researched on what to do yet

    Day 4: 7th Jan 2017 Day Trip
    Hotel: between Namba & Dotonbori (same hotel)
    Itinerary: Kobe
    1. How shld we get to Kobe?

    Day 5: 8th Jan Move towards another part of Osaka
    Hotel: Hyatt Regency
    Itinerary: Universal Studio
    1. How shld we get to Universal Studio?

    Day 6-7: 9th – 10th Jan Move towards Kyoto
    Hotel: Not decided
    Itinerary: Visit Kyoto and stay a night there
    1. How shld we get to Kyoto?

    Day 8: 11th Jan Last Stop Wakayama
    Hotel: maybe Wakayama Marina City Resort?
    Itinerary: Kuroshio Market/Marina City etc etc

    Day 9: 12th Jan – End of trip
    We are flying back from Kansai Airport and need to be at the airport by 9am.
    1. How to go back to the airport from Wakayama Marina City?

    Thanks for taking time off reading my itinerary!~
    I really truly appreciated your assistance.

    What will you recommend for overall Train Passes? JP Rail?
    Or do you think the bus is better?

    Thank you!!!

    Regards,

    Joanna

  5. Hi Takeshi, I’m planning to go to Japan next month. I’m thinking to use JR Pass for Tokyo-Osaka, Osaka-Kobe-Kyoto. And Single ticket for inside Tokyo. But I’m still confused whether it is the best and cheapest way or not. Below is my itinerary, I hope you can help me for the decision.

    3rd July – (Tokyo) Arrived at Narita Airport and stay in Shinjuku for 3 nights.
    4th – (Tokyo – Yokohama – Tokyo) Ramen Museum, Cupnoodle Museum and Minato Mirai.
    5th – (Tokyo – Kawagoe – Tokyo) 1 day trip in Kawagoe.
    6th – (Tokyo – Osaka) Take JR Pass(or Shinkansen?) to Osaka and stay in Nishinakajima for 3 nights.
    7th – (Osaka) 1 day in Universal Studio
    8th – (Osaka – Kyoto – Osaka) Gion Matsuri Festival, Fushimi Inari-taisha Shrine, Kibune (somen noodle), Arashiyama and Gion.
    9th – (Osaka – Kobe – Osaka) Change hotel and stay in Higashimikuni for 3 nights. 1 day trip in Kobe and maybe Awajishima.
    10th & 11th – (Osaka) Science Museum, Dotonbori, etc.
    12th – (Osaka – Tokyo) JR Pass / Shinkansen to Tokyo and stay in Shibadaimon Minato-ku for 4 nights.
    13th – (Tokyo) Tsukiji, Bunkyo and Akihabara.
    14th – (Tokyo) Fuji Q, etc.
    15th – (Tokyo) Shibuya, Harajuku and Roppongi.
    16th – (Tokyo) Ghibli Studio and Narita Airport (9pm flight)

    What is your suggestion? I will appreciate your help.

    Cheers,
    Michelle

  6. Hi Takeshi,
    I’ll be going on my honeymoon in Japan next month and have been struggling to figure out the least expensive travel option as I’m not sure whether its best to get a 1 or 2 week JRpass or buy tickets separately.
    Our itinerary is:

    Day 1: Kansai airport to Hiroshima (Hatsukaichi-shi)
    Day 2-8: 2 or 3 day trips to Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum/Hiroshima city centre from Hatsukaichi-shi
    Day9: Hiroshima to Shin-Osaka
    Day10: Shin-Osaka to Osaka centre and back to shin-osaka for the evening
    Day11: Shin-Osaka to Nara (day trip and back to Shin-Osaka in the evening)
    Day 12: Shin Osaka to Kobe (day trip and back to Shin-Osaka in the evening)
    Day 13: Shin Osaka to Kyoto (day trip and back to Shin-Osaka in the evening)
    Day 14: Shin Osaka to Universal studios Japan (day trip and back to Shin-Osaka in the evening)
    Day 15: Shin-Osaka to Osaka centre and back for the evening
    Day 16: Shin-Osaka to Setagaya-ku, Tokyo
    (day 17/18 not planned yet but probably we will visit shibuya/harajuku and other places travelling from setagaya-ku)
    Day 19: Setagaya-ku to Narita

    Sorry this is quite a long itinerary and its not complete but any help would be great!
    Thanks

    1. Hi Jo,

      Actually any JR pass do not work for your trip. Basically the fare for Osaka-Hiroshima-Osaka-Tokyo is almost same as 7 days pass. But you cannot complete in even 14 days. Even if you use JR pass when you are Hiroshima and Shin-Osaka, those trips will not help much to use 14 days pass.

      If you make a big trip when you are Hiroshima or Osaka, like go to Kyushu from Hiroshima, or go to Kanazawa from Osaka, 14 days pass may be considerable. At this point, single fare ticket is your choice. And you can use local deals when you are in Shin-Osaka and in Tokyo.

      You may use Kansai thru pass or Kansai area pass when you are in Osaka.
      http://jprail.com/travel-informations/other-rail-passes/rail-pass-for-visitors/how-to-choose-discount-railway-ticket-and-pass-in-kansai-area.html

      For staying in Tokyo, please see the link below:
      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
      http://jprail.com/sample-itineraries/airport-access/narita/the-list-of-deals-for-access-to-downtown-tokyo-from-narita-airport.html#The_Access_Narita

      For long trip segments, single fare ticket is your choice. Please see the link below:
      http://jprail.com/travel-informations/other-rail-passes/for-non-jr-pass-travellers-guide-to-use-jr-single-ticket-basic-rules-validity-and-stopover.html

      Cheers,

      Takeshi / JPRail.com

  7. Hi Takeshi below is my planned during my Japan holiday next month.
    Day 1 arrive at Haneda station, go to Sheraton Disney –> using limousine bus right?
    Day 2 and 3 : Disney
    Day 4: From Sheraton Disney to Tokyo –> what card should I use?
    I will stay at apartment near Oshiage station. Since my check in time in Tokyo is 4pm, at which station that I can put my baggage in coin locker nearby Oshiage station?

    Day 5: Akihabara and Ueno park
    Day 6: Tokyo Osaka using Shinkansen –> where can I buy the ticket? Should I reserve it first? I will stay at apartment near Nishinagahori station. Go to Shinsaibashi shopping street in the afternoon
    Day 7: Go to universal studio
    Day 8: Osaka castle & Osaka aquarium
    Day 9: check out to Kansai airport.

    What card do you suggest for me to take the train? Is Suica card the most suitable?
    Need your advice.
    Thank you.

    regards,
    Cynthia

    1. Hi Cynthia,

      The following link is very similar to your plan.
      http://jprail.com/sample-itineraries/7days/basic-itinerary-of-tokyo-kyoto-and-osaka-in-7-days.html

      About purchasing single ticket, please see the link below:
      http://jprail.com/travel-informations/other-rail-passes/for-non-jr-pass-travellers-guide-to-use-jr-single-ticket-basic-rules-validity-and-stopover.html

      Bus is okay for arrival day. Suica is okay for day 4, 5 and 7. You may find the deal for Osaka at the link below:
      http://jprail.com/travel-informations/other-rail-passes/rail-pass-for-visitors/how-to-choose-discount-railway-ticket-and-pass-in-kansai-area.html#Osaka_area

      You can go to the hotel at Oshiage before check in time. They can keep your luggage until room is ready.

      Cheers,

      Takeshi / JPRail.com

      1. Hi Takeshi,
        My apartment in Osaka is at Nishi nagahori area. I couldnt find it in hyperdia. As I mentioned before, I will use shinkansen from tokyo. Where is the station in Osaka that shinkansen stop? Shin osaka station or osaka station? And how to go to nishi nagahori station? Using subway?

        On day 8, what the best way to go from nishi nagahori to kansai airport?

        Thanks again

          1. Hi takeshi,
            On day 6 to universal studio from nishi nagahori, what train do you suggest?
            And day 7 to osaka aquarium and osaka castle, should I use osaka kaiyu ticket? Or using single ticket?
            Btw my kids are below 11 years, they should use kids ticket, right? Kids ticket is cheaper than adult, right?
            Thanks again

          2. Hi Takeshi,
            Should I use icoca or hikaru ticket during my stay in Osaka?
            I came from tokyo before go to osaka and will depart from kansai airport.
            What kind of ticket do you suggest for me and family with 2 kids to use?
            Thanks

          3. Hi Rika,

            I think I recommended you to use Kaiyu ticket for Osaka. And I also mentioned to you suica is okay for trip to USJ. You can use suica for arrival day from Tokyo too. ICOCA is okay too. Actually ICOCA is almost same as suica.

            There is no family deals available. You cannot use one suica or ICOCA for whole family. Every single passenger must have own ICOCA or Suica. Child ICOCA (or suica) is available for child under 12 years old.

            Cheers,

            Takeshi / JPRail.com

          4. Hi Takeshi,
            Thanks for the info. So I can buy the icoca or suica on my arrival date at haneda, right?
            Btw if I saw 1 transfer in hyperdia, is it means we have to change train? How about the payment? We pay only once in the first train? Foe example grom oshiage to tokyo there is 1 transfer, and the cost is 200 yen.

            Thanks

          5. Hi Rika,

            You can purchase only Suica at Haneda. Suica is sold in Tokyo and surrounding area. ICOCA is sold at Osaka and surrounding area. But both can be used in each area. So it doesn’t matter which one you will have.

            As long as hyperdia shows only one fare, you need pay one fare with multiple transfers.

            Cheers,

            Takeshi / JPRail.com

          6. I c. Rate shown in Hyperdia is rate for adult, right? So for kids will be charged around half?

  8. Hi,
    Thanks for this link. Really helpful to start understanding a bit more about Japan railways. So confused for me at the moment.
    We are planning a trip to Japan from this Friday (10 days). We still are not sure about which pass/passes to buy. I have been calculating individual tickets and seems like a JR national pass is not convenient, but not sure about JR West pass for 4 days and adding other daily passes.
    The itinerary is the following:
    Day 1: From Itami Airport (Osaka Airport) to Gion area and back to our hotel near Tofukuji Station.
    Day 2: From Tofukuji to Nara and Fushimi-Inari, and back to Tofukuji.
    Day 3: Going to Arashiyama.
    Day 4: Visiting Universal Studios in Osaka.
    Day 5: Sightseeing Osaka, probably.
    Day 6: We already have a ticket from Itami to Tokyo, but probably we’ll get a Shinkansen to Tokyo.
    At Tokyo, visiting Shinjuku and around, and back to our hotel in Nishi-Nippori.
    Day 7: Disneyland.
    Day 8: Going to Asakusa and taking a ferry to Odaiba. In Odaiba, visiting Legoland and Miraikan probably.
    Day 9: Harajuku – Yoyogi Park – Shibuya
    Day 10: Free day, around Tokyo maybe. And back to Haneda airport.

    What would you suggest? I would really appreciate any help.
    Cynthia

    1. Hi Cynthia,

      Limousine bus is the best way to get Kyoto from Itami.
      http://www.osaka-airport.co.jp/en/access/bus/

      If you stay in Kyoto only until you leave from Itami, Kansai thru pass is the best way for day 2 and 5.
      http://jprail.com/travel-informations/other-rail-passes/rail-pass-for-residents/how-to-use-kansai-thru-pass-compare-pass-and-single-fare.html

      Single ticket is okay for day 3 and 4. But if you visit other than Arashiyama on day 3, you may use 3 days Kansai thru pass for day 2, 3 and 5.

      Even in you take Shinkansen from Kyoto to Tokyo, single ticket is your choice anyway for this segment.

      For staying in Tokyo, please see the link below:
      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

      Cheers,

      Takeshi / JPRail.com

      1. Thanks, Takeshi!
        By the way, is it not possible to go to Kyoto from Itami using the Osaka Monorail and the Hankyu line? Hyperdia shows that way and looks like it’s cheaper. Also, is it cover by Kansai Thru Pass?
        Last question: if the day we plan to visit Osaka we add a visit to Osaka Acquarium, is there a better pass to use?
        Many thanks again,
        Cynthia

        1. Hi Cynthia,

          You can use Hankyu and monorail by either single fare or Kansai thru pass. I recommended limousine bus because it’s direct.
          I think I recommended to use Kansai thru pass for visiting Osaka. Do you mean that you want to visit USJ and aquarium on same day? It’s too much and I don’t recommend it. If you really want to do it, use Kansai thru pass.

          Cheers,

          Takeshi / JPRail.com

          1. Not the same day, but the free day we are going to sight seeing Osaka, maybe we can go to Osaka Acquarium. In that case, is there any other pass more convenient than Kansai Thru Pass?
            Many thanks!

  9. Hi Takeshi,

    Thank you for your very informative posts. My husband and I are planning a trip end of June and would like to know what is the best and most affordable option for rail travel for this itinerary:

    Day 1: Tokyo Narita Airport to Kyoto
    Day 2-3: Kyoto Onsens and city free and easy walkabout
    Day 4: Kyoto to Osaka centre
    Day 5/6: Osaka to Kobe for a day trip and back to Osaka in the evening
    Day 7/8: Osaka to Tokyo Ginza/Shibuya area
    Day 9: Tokyo to Narita Airport

    This is where I need your expert advice. Is it more cost effective to buy a Japan Rail Pass (7days) or just buy single tickets and the Kansai Pass (4 days) including the Narita Express separately? Or would you suggest other options?

    Thank you so much in advance for taking the time to reply.

    1. Hi Lis,

      JR pass 7 days is the best option. But you may need to add other passes, such as subway or/and local bus pass in Kyoto, Osaka and Tokyo. Please see the links below:
      http://jprail.com/destinations/kansai-area/guide-to-take-trains-in-kyoto-how-to-choose-the-best-route-by-train-to-get-the-major-spots.html
      http://jprail.com/destinations/kansai-area/guide-to-take-trains-in-osaka-how-to-choose-the-best-route-by-train-to-get-the-major-spots.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 can cover Tokyo by subway pass on day 8. But you need to add single fare to get Narita by bus or train. There is no deal for just one way trip to Narita from Tokyo.

      Cheers,

      Takeshi / JPRail.com

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  • 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.
  • Please do not ask me about the access to your hotel. You can google your hotel and find it at hotel website or google map easily.
  • 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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