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.

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

  1. Takeshi San,
    Me and my wife plans to fly to Osaka November and want to visit 1 day Osaka, 2 days Kyoto, 3 days Tokyo and return to Osaka for flight back home.
    Do you suggest we buy 7 day JR rail pass?

    Thanks
    Jake

  2. Hi Takeshi,
    Our train travel plan so far:
    On 7 Oct, we go from Shinjuku to Gora-Hakone then on 9 Oct, Gora to Kawaguchiko then on 12 Oct, to Matsumoto then on 14 Oct, to Osaka for 5 nights.
    On 19 Oct Osaka to Takamatsu-Shikoku Island then ferry to Naoshima Is.
    On 22 Oct Takamatsu to Matsuyama and on 24 Oct Matsuyama to Beppu
    On 27 Oct Beppu to Kagoshima then on 30 Oct Kagoshima to Kumamoto
    On 1 Nov Kumamoto to Nagasaki
    On 3 Nov Nagasaki to Fukuoka and on 4 Nov Fukuoka to Airport.
    I thought the following passes will work?
    On 7 Oct Shinjuku to Odawara (800yen) then activate Hakone Freepass 2 days then Fuji Hakone Pass 3 days
    On 15 Oct in Osaka activate Kansai WIDE area pass 5 day
    On 22 Oct in Takamatsu activate JR Pass 14 day
    Any suggestions are greatly welcomed.
    Cheers Andrew

    1. Hi Andrew,

      Both Hakone Freepass 2 days and Fuji Hakone Pass 3 days may be more expensive than single fare. Both pass includes Shinjuku to Hakone (or Lake Kawaguchi) return transfer. But you need only one way from Shinjuku to Hakone. If you travel lots in Hakone, Hakone Free Pass may be okay. But Fuji Hakone Pass may be too expensive in my opinion. Gotemba-Lake Kawaguchi bus is 1510 yen. Fuji Kyuko to Otsuki from Lake Kawaguchi is 1140 yen. The pass covers only these segments. If you make multiple trips on these segments, it will be worth using. Otherwise not.

      Kansai WIDE area pass is a good choice. The price is no far from one way fare to Takamatsu from Osaka. You may use it when you are in Osaka, like to Kyoto or Nara. It’s worth using it.

      JR Pass 14 day may be okay. But it depends on your plan.
      I think you will take a train from Matsuyama to Beppu. But it’s a big detour and spend many hours if you take this route. The fastest way to Beppu from Matsuyama is Uwajima Unyu Ferries. There is not much info in English and may be hard to use it. But you can take ferry from Yawatahama.
      http://www.uwajimaunyu.co.jp/timetable/document/timetable_e201404.pdf

      You may save about 4 hours if you take this route. But ferry is not covered by JR pass. If you take this route, Shikoku rail pass and Kyushu rail pass may be better choice.
      http://shikoku-railwaytrip.com/
      http://jprail.com/travel-informations/other-rail-passes/rail-pass-for-visitors/kyushu-rail-pass-the-best-deal-for-rail-trip-in-kyushu-for-oversea-visitors.html

      Anyway we need to fine which route is the best for Shikoku-Kyushu for you before choosing 14 days pass or not.

      Cheers,

      Takeshi / JP Rail

      1. Hi Takeshi, Thank you very much for your quick reply. I am looking at the ferry to Beppu from Yawatahama. Cheers Andrew

  3. What is the best way to KIX?

    My flight is 9:00 am from KIX to Taipei

    Stay at Hotel Monterey La Soeur Osaka

    Thank you

  4. Hi Takeshi,

    First of all, thanks so much for your response to my previous query.

    I now have my planned itinerary and would want to ask what would be the best train pass I should buy:

    1st day (Saturday evening) – Arrival in KIX then will travel to Namba throug Nankai
    2nd day – Namba to Osaka Aquarium to Museum of Housing and Living then back to Namba
    3rd day – Namba to USJ then back to Namba
    4th day – Namba to Gion-Shijo Kyoto (go around Kyoto) then back to Namba
    5th day – Namba to Osaka Castle then back to Namba
    6th day – Departure Namba to KIX via Nankai

    I was considering buying Yokoso-Osaka ticket and the Keihan Osaka-Kyoto one day pass but not really sure if that is the most beneficial. Thanks!

    1. Hi Mae,

      Yokoso Osaka ticket is a good choice. But I’m not sure Keihan is the best choice or not. It does not cover Osaka-Kyoto round trip fare. And also it does not cover any bus and subway in Kyoto. Even if you visit the places in Gion area only, you can use single trip ticket to Gion-Shijo and take a bus in Kyoto. All day bus pass in Kyoto is 500 yen. It you take a bus three times, it pays off. I think this is more useful and convenient to go around Kyoto.
      http://www.insidekyoto.com/special-kyoto-bus-train-subway-passes

      Cheers,

      Takeshi / JP Rail

      1. Got it.Thanks so much.

        Is it also right for me to say that based on my itinerary, I will also not benefit from the Osaka Amazing Pass, Kansai Thru and the Osaka Kaiyu ticket?

  5. Hi Takeshi-san,

    We plan to visit Japan in Aug. We will be flying in and out of Kansai Airport.
    This is what I have planed:
    Day 1 – Arrive KIX in the evening. Check-in Hotel. Eat and rest.
    Day 2 – Universal Studio.
    Day 3 – Narr/Namba/Oska
    Day 4 – Kobe/Himeji/Okayama
    [Day1-4 stay in Oska or Namba]
    Day 5 – Kyoto (Stay in Kyoto for 2 nights)
    Day 6 – Kyoto to Kanazawa
    Day 7 – Kyoto to Nikko or Kusatsu (stay one night)
    Day 8 to Day 10 – Tokyo (Stay Nishinippori)
    Day 11 – travel back to kansai [stay one night – shinimamiya]
    Day 12 – KIX

    Planed to use JR Pass from Day 6. So I can use in on day 12 to go airport. Most probably will spend whole day in USJ on Day 2 so we do not need any pass. Thinking of getting the Kansai thru pass so we can use it from Day 3 – Day 5.

    Not sure if is a good idea to do Kyoto to kanazawa or go else where. Will it be to challenging to travel from Kyoto to Nikko or Kusatsu. We are two ladies and with medium large bags.

    Thank you in advance

    1. Hi Lindsay,

      I recommend you to use Kansai Wide Area Pass for the first 5 days.
      http://jprail.com/travel-informations/other-rail-passes/rail-pass-for-visitors/the-newest-jr-west-rail-pass-for-kansai-and-okayama-kurashiki-kinosakai-and-shingu-area-kansai-wide-area-pass.html

      Because Kansai thru pass does not cover Okayama, but Kansai Wide Area Pass does.

      Kanazawa is a nice city and worth visiting as even day trip from Kyoto. Now Hokuriku Shinkansen connect Tokyo and Kanazawa directly. You may stay there one night and then proceed to Tokyo. If you go to Nikko, you need to get Tokyo first anyway. Please find location map and information at the links below:
      http://jprail.com/destinations/chubu-area/how-to-get-kanazawa.html
      http://jprail.com/destinations/kanto-area/how-to-access-to-nikko-from-tokyo-there-are-three-ways-from-tokyo-shinjuku-and-asakusa.html

      If you go to Kusatsu, you can transfer the trains at Takasaki where is located on the way to Tokyo from Kanazawa.
      http://jprail.com/travel-informations/tips-for-japan-rail-pass/guide-for-train-access-to-nagano-matsumoto-and-other-places-in-shinshu-and-surrounding-area.html

      Cheers,

      Takeshi / JP Rail

      1. Thank you Takeshi-san,
        So the key thing is Okayama. If We do not go to Okayama within the first 5 days Kansai Thru Pass for is good enough, right?
        Again, JR PASS does not cover the buses in Kyoto and Kansai area but Kansai Thru Pass and Wide Area Pass does.

        1. Hi Lindsay,

          Kansai Thru Pass covers many local transportation in Kansai area. But JR Pass is same as Kansai Wide Area Pass. Please find more info at the links below:
          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/kansai-area/guide-to-take-trains-in-kyoto-how-to-choose-the-best-route-by-train-to-get-the-major-spots.html

          At this point, Kansai thru pass does not seem to be the best option in my opinion. If you visit Kyoto from Osaka as day trip, it works. But it’s too much for sightseeing in Osaka. Even day trip to Nara may not be enough to use this pass. Single fare may be cheaper than pass for Nara. I have sample itinerary of staying in Osaka. It may give you some samples. If you use Kansai thru pass, you need to think about before/after trips.
          http://jprail.com/sample-itineraries/7days/how-to-build-the-itinerary-and-choose-the-deals-for-osaka-stay-5-to-7-days.html

          For trip to Himeji, Kansai thru pass is cheaper than single fare. But JR train that is not covered by Kansai thru pass is much faster to get Himeji. Please find more info at the below:
          http://jprail.com/destinations/kansai-area/how-to-access-to-himeji-and-kobe-from-osaka.html

          So you can use JR Kansai area pass to get Himeji and Kobe.

          You may use single fare and local fare, like subway pass in Osaka and Kyoto. This is much cheaper.
          http://www.osaka-info.jp/osp/en/index.html
          http://www.insidekyoto.com/special-kyoto-bus-train-subway-passes

          Cheers,

          Takeshi / JP Rail

  6. hi Takeshi, I want to make a correction: I’d like to ask you information about transportation from osaka station to novotel kushien west osaka, thanks a lot…

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