How to use and how much can we use Japan Rail Pass in downtown Osaka?

Osaka Castle is one of the most popular spot in Osaka. ©JNTO
Osaka Castle is one of the most popular spot in Osaka. ©JNTO

I supposed to write about the transfer among Kobe (神戸), Osaka (大阪) and Kyoto (京都). But I should explain about JR (Japan Railway) lines in downtown Osaka. I believe the information about the location of JR stations and rail system let you understand the rail system outside of Osaka easily.

And this post may help the tourists who will start the trip from Osaka. Some of you are not sure to buy 7 days pass or 14 days pass for your trip. You may learn how much you can use Japan Railway line when you stay in Osaka. For example, if you travel in Japan for 10 days and stay in Osaka for the first 3 days, you may not use Japan Railway line when you stay in Osaka. As a result, you can buy 7 days pass.

Anyway I show you JR line in downtown Osaka and I compare JR lines and Osaka subway lines.

JR lines in downtown Osaka

View JR line in downtown Osaka in a larger map

The above map shows you all JR lines in downtown Osaka. I put some placemarks on all major stations. I would like to explain about each lines.

Osaka Kanjo line is operated very frequently. The train comes every 3 to 4 minutes.
Osaka Kanjo line is operated very frequently. The train comes every 3 to 4 minutes.

Osaka Kanjo line (Osaka loop line=大阪環状線)

This line encircles downtown Osaka. You may use this line very often when you stay in Osaka. This line is started from the biggest station in Osaka, Osaka station. You maybe confused because JR station is called Osaka. And some of other stations nearby are called Umeda (梅田). JR Osaka station is located at same location as other Umeda stations.

This line go through several terminal stations. Kyobashi (京橋) is the junction of Keihan Railway (京阪=private company to Kyoto) and JR Tozai line. Tsuruhashi (鶴橋) is the place to catch Kintetsu Railway (近鉄=private company to Nara, Kyoto, Ise and Nagoya).

Tennoji (天王寺) is the biggest JR terminal station in south side of Osaka. All trains that go to Wakayama (和歌山), Kansai airport (関西空港) and Nara (奈良) stop at this station. But all limited express train to Kansai airport or Wakayama and to the south of Wakayama depart from Shin-Osaka (新大阪). Most of rapid trains to Nara, Wakayama and Kansai airport depart from Osaka. So basically you don’t need to change the train at Tennoji. If you need more information about these trains, please read the following posts.

Kansai line (関西本線)

Kansai line is called Yamatoji line (大和路線) as well. This line connects JR Namba (JR難波) with Nara. As probably you know, Namba is one of the tow biggest downtown core. You can access Namba by JR line. And also you can access from another huge downtown core, Umeda by JR only. But You need to take Osaka Kanjo line to Imamiya and transfer the train to JR Namba. It is not shortest way. Osaka subway Midosuji line (大阪地下鉄御堂筋線) is much faster and more convenient. I tell you about Osaka subway later.

Yumesaki line (ゆめ咲線)

This line starts from Nishikujo (西九条) station on Osaka Kanjo line and goes to Sakurajima (桜島). One of most popular attraction, Universal studion Japan (USJ) is on this line. Many trains are operated from Tennoji via Kyobashi and Osaka. If you go to USJ, you may not need to change the train at Nishikujo.

JR Tozai line (JR東西線)

This line connects Amagasaki (尼崎) with Kyobashi. Kitashinchi station is 10 minutes away from Osaka station on foot. I don’t think you take this line very often.

Kobe/Kyoto line (神戸線/京都線)

If you go to Kobe or Kyoto, you take this line from Osaka station. And also when you need to take Shinkansen, you need to go to Shin-Osaka station by Kyoto line. It is 4 minutes away from Osaka by any trains.

Osaka Subway (大阪地下鉄)

Please refer this map in Osaka Municipal Transportation Bureau website. Osaka subway operate 8 lines. The subway is more convenient than JR lines when you transfer from north to south. For example, if you go to Namba from Umeda by Osaka subway Midosuji line, it takes only 8 minutes and costs 230 yen. If you take JR lines, it takes 17-20 minutes and you need to change the trains at Shin-Imamiya or Imamiya. If yo buy a single ticket, it costs 190 yen. It is cheaper, but not big difference. And also JR Namba is not located in the center of Namba. Which one do you want?

By the way, Osaka subway have three stations near JR Osaka station, Umeda (梅田/Midosuji line=御堂筋線/to Shinsaibashi, Namba, Tennoji), Nishi-Umeda (西梅田/Yotsubashi line=四つ橋線/to to Nanba) and Higashi-Umeda (東梅田/Tanimachi line=谷町線/to Uehonmachi, Tennoji). All three statione are only 5 minutes away from Osaka station. So don’t worry about the location in Umeda.

278 thoughts on “How to use and how much can we use Japan Rail Pass in downtown Osaka?”

  1. Hi Takeshi-san,

    Sorry to bother, but i would like to ask if it is worth it to get the 15 day JR pass for my below itinerary:

    02 Nov: Haneda Airport Tokyo —> Kyoto (JR)
    04 Nov: Kyoto —> Osaka (JR)
    05 Nov: Osaka
    06 Nov: Osaka
    07 Nov: Osaka
    08 Nov: Osaka —> Kobe (JR)
    09 Nov: Osaka —> Nara (JR)
    12 Nov: Osaka —> Tokyo (JR)
    13 Nov: Tokyo
    14 Nov: Tokyo —> Hakone/Mt Fuji (JR?)
    15 Nov: Tokyo —> Nagano (Snow monkeys) (JR)
    16 Nov-18 Nov: Tokyo

    Could you advise how many days JR should i get? is 15 days enough or too much?

    Thanks a million!


  2. Hi!! This is such a great site! Lots of useful information.

    I’m still debating on where to get a JR Pass for my Japan trip. Also, what is the best method to travel for its convenient and efficient purposes. Here is my itinerary and I’m looking for some feedback from you:
    Oct 25: arrive to Narita around 1pm and headed to Osaka
    Oct 25 – Oct 27: Osaka, Kyoto and Nara (possibly)
    Oct 27: check out and head back to Tokyo
    Oct 27-Oct 31: Tokyo with 1 day trip to Hakone
    Oct 31: flight out to Seoul at 6pm

    I hope to hearing back from you. Thank!

  3. Hi, I’m still quite confused how to make good use of the JR Pass.

    My itinerary:

    Nov 26: KanSai Airport to Osaka, Namba
    Nov 27: Osaka to Tokyo, One Piece Tower
    Nov 28: Tokyo Disney Sea
    Nov 29: Mt Fuji Pte Tour
    Nov 30: Asakusa, Fox village (?) or Snow Monkey (for kids)
    Dec 1: Tokyo to Osaka
    Dec 2: Osaka Day Trip to Kyoto
    Dec 3: Osaka Day Trip to Nara
    Dec 4: Osaka walk around tel late afternoon to Kansai Airport.

    May I have your opinion if I should start 7 day JR pass from 26 Nov? Or should land in Tokyo on 26 Nov and depart from Tokyo on 4 Dec to make better use of the pass? As the pass can be used from Narita to Tokyo.

    Many thanks!

  4. Dear Takeshi, i have been reading your tips on this which is really helps me to make decision or consider trips that we have tried to do. but i still have questions about tickets that we have to choose around Osaka etc.
    Do you think you can help to give some suggestion?

    so we are going to spend 6days around Osaka etc. we plan to buy JR Pass 7 days, which the 7th day we will use around Tokyo.

    Day 1 – Disney to Osaka. plan to activate the JR Pass. our accomodation is near Osaka Station. so we believe we do not have to buy any tickets. we plan to go to Namba/Dotonbury at night, but we probably still can use JR Pass to go to nearest JR station. unless you have different suggestion?

    Day 2 – Universal Studio – which again we can use JR Pass. night, probably can go to Dotonbury or Sinshaibasi, by same again like Day 1.

    Day 3 – Shikarawa-go. we plan to use JR pass to go to Kanazawa by using JR Pass, then we just buy bus ticket to go to Shikarawa-go (return bus ticket).

    Day 4 – Osaka – Kyoto – Nara – Osaka
    Kyoto we plan to go to Kinkakuji and Fushimi Inari. hence correct me if i am wrong, we can just buy bus ticket to go to Kinkakuji, return back to Kyoto Station, then go to Fushimi inari by using JR pass, and then to Nara. unless you have different suggestion?

    Day 5 – Osaka – Himeji – Kobe – Osaka
    to Himeji buy bullet train using JR Pass, then probably buy ticket bus to Himeji Castle, return back, go to Kobe using JR Pass by special rapid service train then back to Osaka.

    Day 6 – Osaka back to Tokyo

    appreciate the help if you can.

    thank you



    1. Hi Beni,

      You have done a great job! Your planning is right and I don’t have many things to tell you. I only have a few things to tell you.

      First, I recommend you to pay extra to take subway to get Namba from Osaka. Please see the link below:

      As you think, you can get Namba by JR pass. But it’s a sort of detour. And also JR-Namba station is not located in the core of Namba.

      Single fare is 230 yen to take subway from Umeda (JR Osaka) to Namba. I think it’s worth paying for.

      Second, the advanced reservation is required to take a bus to Shirakawago. Please see the link below to find the info.

      That’s all!


      Takeshi /

      1. Dear Takeshi,

        thank you for the quick response. appreciate it.

        thanks for the suggestion, will certainly keep that in mind and also for the advanced reservations, we probably have to do that.

        i just suddenly realise i plan to go to this ramen museum at Ikeda Station.
        i am trying to think or consider whether i should put the plan on the 2nd day, before we go to Universal Studio. or maybe after we from Universal.
        do you think with that plan, we then just by 1 day ticket for Osaka, so we can use the subway or local train, then we also can use it to go to Namba etc. or do you have any other suggestion?

        if time is not permit, then maybe we will go to ramen / noodle museum at Yokohama once we arrived back to Tokyo next few days.




        1. Hi Beni,

          If you go to ramen museum, you need to take Hankyu railway which is not covered by either JR pass and subway pass. You need to pay single fare.
          I don’t recommend you to visit both USJ and ramen museum in one day. USJ is quite big theme park. You can spend one full day easily. Visiting museum in Yokohama is better plan.


          Takeshi /

          1. Dear Takeshi,

            Thanks. Will probably consider to go at Yokohama then.

            Hope you won’t mind I ask question about mt fuji.

            Been reading quite few articles but still cant find out which location is better to see mt fuji from distance.

            Do you think you can give some advice?
            Is it from lake kawaguchiko or from gotemba where we also can go to the premium outlet?




  5. hi i am travelling to tokyo with 5 other friends this august for 10 days and i am confused if buying a jr pass will be worth it?our draft schedule is:

    1 arrive at osaka
    2 USJ
    3 kyoto
    4 nara
    5 city tour/shop osaka
    6 to tokyo
    7 disney sea
    8 mt fuji
    9 odaiba
    10 city tour/shop tokyo

    thank a lot!

      1. thankyou for your response!also i would like to ask regarding the IC cards.

        we are staying in osaka for 5 days with day trips to USJ, Kyoto, and Nara. What IC card should we purchase?

        as well as in Tokyo, with daytrips to disneysea, mt fuji, odaiba. Which is better?the PASMO or SUICA?

        thanks a lot!

        1. Hi Aa,

          You can use Kansai one pass in Osaka.

          You still can use Kansai one pass in Tokyo but if you want to get a refund of deposit (500 yen), you need to get a refund it before you leave Osaka. You cannot get it in Tokyo.

          Suica and Pasmo have same coverage. But if you stay near JR station, Suica is better otherwise Pasmo is your choice.

          I don’t recommend you to use Suica/Pasmo/Kansai one pass to get Fuji. You should take an express bus if you go to Lake Kawaguchi, or Hakone free pass if you go to Hakone.


          Takeshi /

          1. wow i didnt heard of kansai one pass before. thankyou so much for this info and all the detailed response! i really appreciate it! 😀

  6. Hello , Takeshi San ,
    I will come to Japan end of this year (12/25-18/1/1) .
    I am traveling as a family of 4 ( 3Adults and a 11yrs old boy ) .
    I will fly in and out from Kansas airport ,
    my itinerary as follow : Osaka , Kyoto perhaps Kanazawa , shirakawa and takayama ( shinotaka ropeway ) and lastly back to Osaka .
    Please advice .
    Thank you

    1. Hi Stella san,

      You may use Takayama Hokuriku area pass.

      It covers Takayama, Kanazawa and Shirakawago. You can access to Shin-Hotaka from Takayama by bus but it’s not covered by the pass.

      I strongly recommend you to visit these areas in the first 5 days of your trip. Because train will be super busy after 28th December. Please see the link below:

      You may add other deals for staying in Osaka and trip to Kyoto after Takayama Hokuriku area pass will be expired.


      Takeshi /

  7. Hi Takeshi San,

    We are a family of 6 ( 4 adults and 2 children (both 8 yrs old)) are going to Japan for the first time on July. Please help to recommend the best option of transportation pass for our itinerary as below :

    05 Jul ‘17 : Arrive KIX at 15.05 pm – Shin Osaka Station (rent apartment) – Dotonbori for dinner

    06 Jul’17 : Going around Osaka (Osaka Castle-Umeda Building-Momofuku Instant Ramen-Sumiyashi Taisha-Kuromon Market-Shin Osaka Station)

    07 Jul ‘17 : Universal Studio Japan-Shinsekai-Dotonburi-Shinsaibashi-Shin Osaka Station

    08 Jul ‘17 : Visit Nara as a day trip and back to Shin Osaka Station

    09 Jul ’17 : Visit Kobe as a day trip and back to Shin Osaka Station

    10 Jul ’17 : Visit Kyoto as a day trip and back to Osaka

    11 Jul ’17 : Visit Kyoto as a day trip and back to Osaka

    12 Jul’17 : Osaka half day tour then going back to KIX intl airport for departure

    Thanks a lot!

  8. Hi im going to tokyo on may 1 and isaka on may 5…
    Upon arrival in narita airport can i already reserve a seat for tokyo osaka using my jr pass since i know its already a golden week…

    Can i already reserve also a seat goong to osaka to kyoto and nara using my jt pass at narita airport jr ticketing office?

    Can you teach me how to go to osaka from tokyo using my jr pass? Thank you

    1. Hi Kathy,

      You can book all trains’ seat upon arrival at Narita when you exchange JR Pass. I think all trains are very tight now but try to get it right after you arrive in Narita.
      Good luck!


      Takeshi /

  9. Hi Takeshi,
    I will be travel in Japan around 10 days this coming Sep..I will arrive Tokyo Narita airport on 13 Sep and travel in Tokyo for around 5 days then to Osaka(as base) plus Kyoto / Nara , then back to Singapore straight from Osaka.
    I am confused if It is worth for me purchase the 7 days JR pass? Since I not returning to Tokyo ? Would I use up the value for the JR pass for trip within Osaka or between Osaka to Kyoto/Nara?

    I am really confused and really appreciate you advice !

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