How to access to Himeji and Kobe from Osaka

There are lots of castles in Japan. But Himeji castle is one of four existing original catle buildings. (C) JNTO
There are lots of castles in Japan. But Himeji castle is one of four existing original catle buildings. (C) JNTO

Himeji castle is National Treasure, National Heritage Building, one of the best 100 castles in Japan and UNESCO World Heritage Site. I think this castle is most well known and popular castle in Japan and I believe everybody agree with me.

You can travel Himeji from Osaka as easy day trip. In this post, I would like to explain about the access to Himeji by several kinds of trains. Since Kobe is located on the way to Himeji, I also mention about Kobe. You can drop by when you go to Himeji easily.

Route and access

Let’s see the location map. Please see the map below:

Access map for trip to Himeji (Click to enlarge)
Access map for trip to Himeji (Click to enlarge)

There are three ways to get there.

Shinkansen — trip time 30 to 45 minutes (from Shin-Osaka) / 3130 yen (base fare and non reserved seat surcharge by Hikari, Sakura or Kodama)
JR Special Rapid train — average trip time 61 minutes (direct access from Osaka/Umeda) / 1490 yen fare
Hanshin-Sanyo Railway Limited Express from Umeda — average trip time 95 minutes (direct access) / 1280 yen fare

Shinkansen is the fastest train obviously, but expensive. And you have to go to Shin-Osaka to catch Shinkansen. Let’s see the available deals and frequency.

Shinkansen

Tokaido Shinkansen
Most common fleet of Tokaido-Sanyo Shinkansen N700 sereis.

Shinkansen is the fastest way to get Himeji if you can catch the fastest run. There are several kinds of Shinkansen train on this segment, Nozomi, Mmizuho, Hikari, Sakura and Kodama. Kodama stops at all stations and takes sometimes 45 minutes to get Himeji from Shin-Osaka because Kodama waits for other faster trains on the way to Himeji.

If you take this “slow” train Kodama, it’s not much different from JR Special Rapid train. Because you will spend 5 minutes to get Shin-Osaka from Osaka by local train. And you will spend another 5 minutes at least to transfer from local train to Shinkansen. It will be 55 minutes and not much different from Special Rapid trip time 61 minutes.

If you intend to use Japan Rail Pass, Kansai WIDE Area Pass or Kansai Hiroshima Area Pass, Sanyo Sanin Area Pass, Shinkansen surcharge is covered by these deals.
*Kansai WIDE Area Pass and Kansai Hiroshima Area Pass cover only non reserved seat.

But if you will purchase single ticket, the fare is more than double of Special Rapid train. I don’t think it is not worth taking Shinkansen for such a short trip. Special Rapid is better train service in my opinion.

JR Special Rapid train

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

This train is most popular and the fastest commute service between Osaka and Himeji. You can catch this train by base fare only. And if you use Kansai Area Pass, this train is your choice. Of course other rail passes, Japan Rail Pass, Kansai WIDE Area Pass and Sanyo Area Pass cover this train too. Please see the link below to get more details about Special Rapid train service.

Most convenient and the fastest train among Osaka, Kyoto and Kobe. Special Rapid Service

If you purchase single ticket from Osaka to Himeji, the fare is 1,490 yen. If you purchase Kansai Area Pass one day, the price is 2,200 yen (online advance purchase price). Kansai Area Pass is the best deal to Himeji from Osaka by Special Rapid train.

Hanshi/Sanyo Railway’s Limited Express

Hanshin Railway connects Umeda and Kobe. The train go through Sanyo Railway to Sanyo-Himeji station.
Hanshin Railway connects Umeda and Kobe. The train go through Sanyo Railway to Sanyo-Himeji station.

Hanshin Railway is one of major private railway companies between Umeda and Sannomiya, Motomachi in Kobe. And also Hanshin Railway connects Osaka-Namba station with Amagasaki.

Sanyo Railway connects Himeji and Kobe area. Both Hanshin and Sanyo go through each other and both companies operate direct train service from Umeda to Himeji. But this is much slower than JR Special Rapid train. You will spend at least 30 minutes more than Special Rapid train if you move from Umeda (same location as JR Osaka station) to Himeji.

If you use Kansai Thru Pass, you cannot take any JR trains. Hanshin-Sanyo direct train is only you choice. The round trip fare is 2,560 yen. It is worth using Kansai Thru Pass for the trip to Himeji from Umeda.

If you stay in Namba, you can catch Hanshin Railway train at Osaka-Namba station. The transfer at Amagasaki station is usually same platform and very easy. If you use Kansai Thru Pass, you can take subway Midousuji line to Umeda and transfer to Hanshin Railway at Umeda. In this case, you have to exit subway station and enter Hanshin Railway station. Transfer at Amagasaki is much easier than changing train at Umeda. And the difference of trip time between Hanshin-Sanyo and JR is smaller if you start from Namba. As I mentioned, JR Special Rapid is much faster but you need to get Umeda by subway from Namba. If you take Hanshin railway, you can change trains at Amagasaki and it is transfer in the station. JR Special Rapid is still faster but the difference is 10 to 15 minutes. It is not a big issue.

This train is “Limited Express” but no express surcharge is required. This is same type of trains as Special Rapid.

In the map above, there is Hankyu Railway between Umeda and Sannomiya. You can take this train by Kansai Thru Pass too. But any Hankyu trains do not go through Sanyo Railway line. So it is not convenient and not recommended either.

Himeji station

Sanyo-Himeji station is located at the north side of JR Himeji station. It is 20 minutes away from Himeji station by walk. Please find the detailed about Himeji station and how to access to Himeji castle at the link below:

Himeji station guide. How to get Himeji castle from the station

Drop by Kobe

Sannomiya is the core place of Kobe. You can take any train other than Shinkansen to drop by Kobe. But if you go to Kobe only, any kinds of passes do not work. Single ticket is much cheaper than any deals.

110 thoughts on “How to access to Himeji and Kobe from Osaka”

  1. Dear Takeshi,

    We are going to Japan for a 14day trip this December with the following itinerary:
    For 3 days we will be based in Osaka and we plan to go to Himeji and Nara on separate days. Then we go to Kyoto and stay there for 3 days to explore the area. From Kyoto we will go to Kanazawa but plan to stop for in Nagoya before going to Kanazawa. Then we will stay in Kanazawa 3 days after which we will go to Tokyo (4 days). We want to know whether we will just buy local train tickets or rail passes and which rail passes in combination would be best for us to save us some money.

    Thanks,

    1. Hi Sheila,

      You may use JR Pass 7 days nad please include the trip to Himeji from Osaka, Osaka to Kyoto, Kyoto to Nagoya to Kanazawa and Kanazawa to Tokyo in 7 days period.

      I recommend you to use a local deal in each places. Even in Kyoto, you will have JR Pass. But you may add city bus pass. Please see the links below to find more info:
      https://jprail.com/sample-itineraries/airport-access/kansai-kix/how-to-choose-the-deals-for-access-tofrom-kansai-airport.html
      https://jprail.com/travel-informations/other-rail-passes/rail-pass-for-residents/how-to-choose-the-best-train-pass-for-sightseeing-in-osaka.html
      https://jprail.com/travel-informations/other-rail-passes/rail-pass-for-residents/how-to-choose-the-best-train-pass-for-sightseeing-in-kyoto.html
      https://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

      The rest of your trip, use a regular fare ticket.

      Cheers,

      Takeshi / JPRail.com

      1. Thank you so much for your advice Takeshi.

        We’re thinking of taking the following passes to cover this trip:
        On arrival at Kansai airport – get one-way airport train to Osaka
        2 day Kansai Thru Pass for Himeji and Nara visits (Dec 24-25)
        7 day JR Hokuriko Arch Pass (Dec 26-Jan 1)- Kyoto-Kanazawa-
        Shirakawago-Takayama- Tokyo

        Is this good – in terms of cost and convenience? But I can’t seem to fit how to take a short trip to Nagoya in the 7 day JR pass.

        We will then find local passes to cover train. bus or subway in Osaka, Kyoto and Tokyo (we will be here on Jan 1 to Jan 4. I’m still looking at the links you sent to get the best deal.

        Cheers,

        1. Hi Sheila,

          Kansai area pass may be better than Kansai thru pass because you can get Himeji faster by JR Special Rapid as I mentioned in the post above.
          https://jprail.com/travel-informations/other-rail-passes/rail-pass-for-visitors/how-to-use-jr-west-kansai-area-pass-compare-pass-and-single-fare.html

          How do you visit Takayama? You said you will stay in Kanazawa for 3 nights. Are you going to make a day trip to Takayama from Kanazawa? Or are you going to drop by Takayama on the way to Tokyo? If you intend to visit Takayama on the way to Tokyo, Hokuriku arch pass is not a right choice. You will take a train for Takayama-Toyama-Tokyo or Takayama-Nagoya-Tokyo. If you take Takayama-Toyama-Tokyo, you have to pay Takayama-Toyama. And also you cannot get the worth of Hokuriku arch pass.

          If you take Takayama-Nagoya-Tokyo, Hokuriku arch pass does not cover at all. JR pass covers this route and you can drop by Nagoya but you cannot get the worth of it either.

          If you make a day trip to Takayama by train, you can get the worth of Hokuriku arch pass. But JR pass is cheaper because you have to pay extra fare for Inotani – Takayama which is outside the coverage area of Hokuriku arch pass. JR Pass covers it.

          Anyway as I mentioned, if you can include Himeji in 7 days period, you can get Shinkansen for trip to Himeji. It’s much faster and comfortable. If you intend to move from Osaka to Kyoto on 26th, consider for making day trip between Osaka and Kyoto. Hokuriku arch pass is not recommended anyway.

          Cheers,

          Takeshi / JPRail.com

          1. Dear Takaheshi,

            Our full itinerary is:
            Dec 23 Osaka we will stay here for 2 days then go to
            Dec 24 Himeji, Shosha
            Dec 25 Nara
            Dec 26-28 Move to Kyoto
            Dec 29 Move to Kanazawa (we will be based in Kanazawa) — visit Nagoya for half a day on the way to Kanazawa (is this feasible)
            Dec 30 Day trip to Shirakawa-go then in late afternoon visit Takayama
            Dec 31 Explore Kanazawa
            Jan 1 Move to Tokyo

            Which route is best on our Dec 29-Jan 1 schedule so we can still see Nagoya,Takayama, Kanazawa and Shirakawa-go before moving to Tokyo on Jan 1? Is still good to visit Nagoya or should we drop it? Which JR Pass should we get that will be best value for the move from Kyoto to Kanazawa then Tokyo with visits to Nagoya,Takayama, Kanazawa and Shirakawa-go?

            Based on your advise we could get:
            JR West Kansai Area Pass for Dec 23-26
            JR Pass (what kind) for Dec 29-Jan ?

            Thank you so much!

            Regards,
            Sheila

            1. Hi Sheila,

              Kansai area pass is okay.

              Regarding trip to Nagoya, I don’t recommend it. You may squeeze it but December 29th will be the busiest day of the year. All trains will be super busy.
              https://jprail.com/travel-informations/basic-informations/timetable-and-reservation/2018-busiest-period-to-travel-by-train-tips-to-book-your-seat-in-even-busy-period.html

              You MUST book a ticket for Kyoto to Kanazawa right after you arrive in Japan. There is no online booking available. You have to book it after you arrive in Japan. Don’t go to Nagoya. Especially Shinkansen is super busy.

              You cannot get the worth of either JR Pass and Hokuriku arch pass for Kyoto to Kanazawa and Kanazawa to Tokyo. You will take Nohi Bus between Kanazawa, Shirakawago and Takayama. Both passes do not cover Nohi bus anyway. And also you must book a ticket for Nohi bus right now. Reservation is required to take this bus.
              https://www.nouhibus.co.jp/highwaybus/kanazawa_en/

              If you have another big trip when you will be in Tokyo, you may be able to get the worth of JR pass. But as long as you stay in Tokyo, you cannot get the worth of it. Otherwise a regular ticket is your choice.

              Cheers,

              Takeshi / JPRail.com

  2. Hi Takeshi-San,

    We are planning a 10 day trip to Kyoto, Uji, Osaka, Nara, Kobe, Himeji, Wakayama. Does the JR Special Rapid Train with Kansai Thru Pass cover these areas?

    Would it be easier to travel to Nara from Kyoto or Osaka.

    Thank you for your great help.

    regards,
    Kelly

    1. Hi Kelly san,

      Kansai thru pass does not cover any JR trains. If you want to take Special rapid, you have to pay a regular fare or using Kansai area pass.
      https://jprail.com/travel-informations/other-rail-passes/rail-pass-for-visitors/how-to-use-jr-west-kansai-area-pass-compare-pass-and-single-fare.html

      But if you use Kansai area pass, it covers only JR trains. It does not cover other trains, subways and city buses. Kansai thru pass is more convenient to travel to Kyoto, Nara, Kobe.

      It does not much different to travel from either Kyoto and Osaka. Train runs a bit more frequently from Osaka. But trip time is not much different.

      Cheers,

      Takeshi / JPRail.com

  3. Hello Takeshi.
    Could you suggest which is the best transportation mode for me to go from Osaka to Himeji Castle then to Kobe and back to Osaka for a day trip.
    Our nearest station is Nipponbashi station.
    Thank you
    Rozita

    1. Hi Rozita,

      If you want the fastest way, Shinkansen is the best way. But if you want the cheapest way, using Kansai area pass 1 day and take Special rapid train. Shinkansen is not covered by Kansai area pass.
      https://jprail.com/travel-informations/other-rail-passes/rail-pass-for-visitors/how-to-use-jr-west-kansai-area-pass-compare-pass-and-single-fare.html

      However if you have other trip before go to Himeji and Kobe, such as trip to Kyoto and/or Nara, you can use Kansai thru pass and take Kintetsu railway, Hanshin railway and Sanyo railway to get Himeji. This is the slowest way but this is covered by Kansai thru pass.
      https://jprail.com/travel-informations/other-rail-passes/rail-pass-for-residents/how-to-use-kansai-thru-pass-compare-pass-and-single-fare.html

      So it depends on which pass you will use and whole part of your trip plan.

      Cheers,

      Takeshi / JPRail.com

  4. Thanks you for very detailed guidance. have a question:I am from India planning for oct 18 trip Tokyo-Kyoto-Osaka-Yokohama-Tokyo trip. Planning a Himeji trip day trip fom Osaka. Planning to buy a JR pass from India for all Shinkansen Train rides as above-will this ticket cover my JR rapid Train journey from Osaka to Himeji and back. I understand Shinkansen for this trip is more difficult. Kindly guide me

  5. I plan to travel to Hemeji in the morning from ShinOsaka n then continue to Kobe or Nara whichever is acceptable
    I do have a JR pass
    Thanks
    Ketaki

    1. Hi Sanjay,

      Kobe is better choice. Nara is completely other direction from Osaka. You can take Shinkansen to get Himeji and take Special rapid from Himeji to Kobe, Kobe to Shin-Osaka.

      Cheers,

      Takeshi / JPRail.com

  6. Hi Takeshi,

    We are planning to visit Himeji Castle. Our accommodation is near from Nada station, I checked the JR Fare calculator and it would cost 7,100 Yen round trip from Nada to Himeji station which is very expensive. I checked that if we will use Kansai Through Pass, I think our starting point is from Iwaya station near from JR Nada but it seems the line will end in Motomachi and there are lot of intersection, where are we going to alight next to get to the Sanyo Himeji station? Is the Kobe Rapid Transit line will connect to Sanyo Electric Railway?

    Thank you very much for your time and help.

    1. Hi Rochelle,

      I think the rate which you found is the following:

      Nada (JR train) Sannomiya (subway) Shin-Kobe (Shinkansen) Himeji

      This is very expensive. If you found the rate in hyperdia, please see “Search Condition” and click to “more option”. You will find some checkbox and remove the check at “Bullet Train (SHINKANSEN)” and “NOZOMI / MIZUHO / HAYABUSA (SHINKANSEN)” and “Limited Express”. You will find more reasonable rate at 970 yen one way. This is most convenient and most reasonable fare.
      https://jprail.com/travel-informations/basic-informations/timetable-and-reservation/hyperdia-perfect-guide-train-timetable-and-route-search-engine.html

      Cheers,

      Takeshi / JPRail.com

  7. Hi, JPrail, thanks so much for your hard work.

    I am a bit confused.
    Which is the best way to get from Osaka (Namba) – Himeji – Kobe – Osaka (Namba) in one day?

    Is it :Osaka (Namba/Amagasaki) – (Hanshin Railway train) – Himeji – (Hanshin and/or Sanyo ) – Kobe -(Hanshin) – Osaka (Namba) ??

    Can I use the Kansai Thru Pass for this trip? I understand Kansai Wide pass cannot be used as it is for JR trains only?

    Thanks!!

    1. Hi Sam,

      Your route is right. Kansai thru pass covers it fully.

      As you think, Kansai wide area pass does not cover this route. If you want to use Kansai wide area pass, you need to take JR train from JR-Namba and need to get JR Osaka station to catch Special rapid. Or just pay extra fare to take subway to Shin-Osaka and take Shinkansen. One way subway fare is 280 yen.

      Cheers,

      1. Hi, thank you for your reply. I did some more checking and found out that the the Kansai thru pass (2 day) may not be worth it for osaka namba – himeiji-kobe-osaka namba in a day trip.

        Even if I did osaka-himeji-osaka day 1 ,and osaka namba – Kobe-osaka namba day 2, it seems the price is still not worth to use the pass?

        Appreciate if you can confirm or provide the price of kobe sannomiya-sannohimeji rail trip.
        Thanks so much,

        1. Hi Sam,

          Probably not even if you split two trips but very close to get the worth. Do you intend to spend two full days for trip to Kobe and Himeji? Don’t you think to take subway trains in Osaka after these trips? You can use Kansai thru pass to take subway in Osaka. It may help you to get the worth. And also you can take subway in Kobe. It also help you to make the worth of this pass.

          Even if you cannot get the worth of the pass at this point, it gives you flexibility. You can get some small trips in Osaka after dusk.

          Cheers,

          Takeshi / JPRail.com

  8. Hello,

    We are 3 adults + 1 child (8 yrs old). Staying at Nankai Namba station area. We would like to go Himeji Castle and day trip to Kobe. We have ICOCA& Haruka card only.
    Please advise how to go about. Thanks!

    1. Hi Yong Winnie,

      You can use ICOCA to take trains to Himeji. But if you have any other trip plan, don’t use ICOCA for this trip and purchase Kansai area pass one day.
      https://jprail.com/travel-informations/other-rail-passes/rail-pass-for-visitors/how-to-use-jr-west-kansai-area-pass-compare-pass-and-single-fare.html

      You can take JR train from JR-Namba to Osaka via Imamiya. And then take JR Special rapid. It’s much cheaper than using ICOCA.
      But if you still want to use ICOCA, take subway Midousuji line from Namba to Umeda. And then take JR Special Rapid from Osaka to get Himeji and Sannomiya.

      Cheers,

      Takeshi / JPRail.com

  9. Hi, first thank you for write this article, is really help me as travel independent.
    I have a question, I have a plan to one day trip to kobe from Osaka.
    I use Kansai Thru Pass, so I only choose transport cover by this card.
    my one day trip only to go to Himeji Castle and Shin-Kobe Ropeway and want to eat Kobe Beef in Tsuki Unagi.
    so here it is the schedule
    08.00- 10.30 ( Himeji Castle Time)
    10.30- 13.00 ( Tsuki Unagi Lunch)
    13.00- 15.00 ( Shin-kobe Ropeway)
    15.00- ( Back to osaka continue to Kyoto in same day)

    I still confuse how to go Hankyu Kobe-Sannomiya with cover by Kansai Thru Pass?
    I just only know if go from Himeji castle to Shin- Kobe Station by SanyoHimeji-Itayado-Shin-kobe
    and continue to kyoto
    Shin-kobe-Sannomiya Subway-Kobe-Sannomiya (Hankyu) – Juso-Kawaramachi(kyoto)

    PLease help me, I’m really Appreciate it, Thank you Very Much.

    1. Hi Sara,

      So you can take Sanyo railway train from Sanyo-Himeji to Kobe-Sannomiya. You can go directly from Sanyo-Himeji to Hanshin railway’s Kobe-Sannomiya. Hankyu and Hanshin’s Kobe-Sannomiya stations are almost same location.
      https://jprail.com/travel-informations/basic-informations/station-information/kobe-sannomiya-stations-guide-check-the-location-and-connections-between-many-sannomiya-stations.html
      http://www.surutto.com/images/ticket/kansai_thru_pass/english/en_map.pdf

      You can take Kobe subway from Sannomiya to Shin-Kobe.

      After Shin-Kobe, you can go back to Kobe-Sannomiya and take Hankyu railway to Juso. And then take another Hankyu railway train to Kawaramachi.

      Cheers,

      Takeshi / JPRail.com

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