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.

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

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.

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

  1. Hi Takeshi,

    Your blog is really informative; I just wish I had found it before I rashly bought the JR 7 Day Rail Pass. My family and I will be arriving in Tokyo for Day 1 at Disneyland before taking the Tokaido Shinkasen Hikari Line to Osaka. We are staying near Shin-Osaka Station Day 2 and 3 for Kyoto day trip and near Tennoji Station for Namba/Dotonburi Days 4-6 and finalizing with Nara day trip Day 7. We then depart from Kansai Airport. Now I know that our JR Rail Pass is not very useful in downtown Osaka and I should not have bought it…. Please let me know if you have any thoughts about this? Thanks!

    I was also wondering if I can use a prepaid card for the non-JR lines around downtown Osaka? Instead of buying a single ticket every time we travel from Tennoji Station to Dotonburi?

    1. Hi Christina,

      JR pass is a bit more expensive than single fare from Tokyo to Osaka and local deals. But you may have convenience and try to use as much as you can to try to get the worth.

      You can get Kyoto from Shin-Osaka directly. I usually recommend local train or rapid train. But you will be in Shin-Osaka which is Shinkansen station. So you can use Shinkansen for round trip to Kyoto. If you pay single fare for this only 10 minutes Shinkansen ride, it costs more than 2000 yen for one way. So you should use it.

      You may get Arashiyama, Nijo and Fushimi Inari by JR pass. And you may need to add some fare to get other places in Kyoto. All day bus pass is 500 yen for one day. It’s recommended additional:

      You can use JR pass in Osaka as you see the above. You can use ICOCA or Kansai one pass. Kansai one pass gives you some discount at many attractions. It’s recommended but 2500 yen may be too much for just Osaka. If you use Kansai one pass, you can use it in Kyoto instead of all day bus pass.

      I don’t think you have any extra time but if you change your mind, you can get other places from Osaka to maximize using JR pass, such as day trip to Hiroshima or Himeji and Kobe:


      Takeshi /

  2. Hello Takeshi…
    I am planning to buy JR Pass for my trip 7 days in mainland Japan. So for first 2 days I will getting around Kansai(kyoto, nara or so), next 2 days will be spent in Tokyo and rest I plan to explore Aomori and Hokaido than back to Osaka by plane.I don’t think that JR pass will paid off all my itinerary… do i have to buy another thru pass cards while in Osaka or Tokyo (such as kansai thru pass or tokyo wide pass) to get subways and buses there.

    1. Hi Mia,

      If you take train to Aomori from Tokyo, you can use 7 days pass. If you go up to Sapporo after Aomori by train, even 14 days pass will work for Osaka-Tokyo-Aomori-Hokkaido.


      Takeshi /

  3. Hello Takeshi,
    I’ll be spending 11 days in Osaka in coming end of March Im planning to use Osaka as a base, and traveling to Nara, Kyoto and Kobe for day trip only (3 different day) rest of the time will be spent in Osaka.

    I’ll be staying in Taisho-ku, Osaka-shi. as checked from website, nearest station will be Taisho station JR line.

    would like to seek for your advice on what passes you would recommend to save the cost/ to fully utilised the passes.

    Thank you so much!!!

  4. Hi im flying to Osaka this friday for 7 days and will be staying in osaka for 4 days. I will be staying in Osaka as my base and explore Nara and kyoto during my stay. I have already bought a 7 day pass. I was just wondering if Can i really use the Japan rail pass everywhere? like going to nara and kyoto from osaka and osaka to tokyo? your reply will be much appreciated

    1. Hi Joey,

      You can use JR pass to reach Kyoto and Nara from Osaka. Please see the link below:

      You can take Shinkansen from Osaka to Tokyo. It’s covered.

      But actually Shinkansen cost from Osaka to Tokyo is almost half of 7 days pass, around 15000 yen. Train trips between Osaka and Kyoto/Nara is not much, less than 1000 yen for one way. If you leave from Tokyo, 7 days pass will not be paid off. Local deals, such as subway pass and single fare to Tokyo may be cheaper.

      If you come back to Osaka after staying in Tokyo, it’s paid off.

      If you leave from Tokyo and want to get the worth of 7 days pass, try to add one long trip. For example, Hiroshima and Miyajima can be done as day trip from Osaka. If do this or same type of trip, you will get the worth of 7 days pass.


      Takeshi /

  5. Hello,
    I’ll be spending 12 days in Osaka and planning to use Osaka as a base, and traveling to Nara for 2 nights, Kyoto for 3 nights, do a day trip to himeiji and Kobe, rest of the time will be spent in Osaka. Might add in a day trip to wakayama.

    I’m so very confused with the train lines and stations! Which area would you recommend i stay, considering I will be traveling with a toddler and luggages, so would prefer minimal walking/transfers?

    Thank you so much!!!

    1. Hi Juls,

      I recommend you to stay in Shin-Osaka, Umeda (JR Osaka) or Namba in Osaka. These places are very accessible to outside Osaka and moving in downtown Osaka. Please see the links below to find more info:

      In Kyoto and Nara, just stay near Kyoto station and Nara station. These places are most accessible.


      Takeshi /

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