How to access to Himeji and Kobe from Osaka

Osaka, Kyoto, Kobe and Nara
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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)

There are three ways to get there.

The Shinkansen — trip time 30 to 45 minutes (from Shin-Osaka) / 3,130 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) / 1,490 yen fare
Hanshin-Sanyo Railway Limited Express from Umeda — average trip time 95 minutes (direct access) / 1,280 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

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 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 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.

Comments

  1. Rose says:

    Hi takeshi san,
    My husband and I will be landing at haneda airport in April.
    I am curious if there is any direct way to take Shinkansen from Tokyo to himeji? We will be buying JR pass as we will be traveling quite a bit. I’ve looked at itineraries on hyperdia but it isn’t clear what is JR and what is not.

    Thank you
    Rose.

  2. Eddie says:

    Hi Takeshi-san,
    I plan to go to Himeji on November 2nd and would like to know if it is possible to depart from Umeda/Osaka as early as 7:30. Is that possible? What time the train service starts?
    Besta Regards,
    Eddie

  3. Simon says:

    Dear Takeshi-san,

    I am going to Japan in early November and hope you can help me out. There is a lot to digest here with various operators and possibilities.

    On my last day in Osaka (I will be staying near Namba station), I plan to make a day trip to Himeji and on the way back, stopover at Kobe. Would Kansai Thru Pass be the best and cost effective option taking into consideration the possibility of using it during my brief visit to Kobe (subway?) and Osaka in the evening.

    And on the following day, I plan to do a 1/2 day trip to Nara (from Osaka) and proceed to Kyoto. Would a 2-day Kansai Thru Pass be a good option? Any suggestion would be of great help. thanks a lot.

    Warm regards,
    Simon

  4. Jeremy says:

    Hi Takeshi-san,

    Thank you so much for the detailed itinerary! It really helps a lot!

    I was hoping to get your advice for my Himeji/Kobe section of my holiday.

    I was thinking of doing a day trip from Osaka to Himeji, then Himeji to Mount Rokko and then dinner/onsen at Arima Onsen. Should I still buy the Kansai Area Pass? What would be the best way to get around?

    Thank you so much! 🙂

  5. Aik Hin says:

    Dear Takeshi

    Thanks for your detailed explanation.

    May I check with you is there child rate for the Kansai Area Pass? If no, what ticket would you suggest I purchase for my children, age 6 and 8? We want to go to Himeji and Kobe for a day trip from Tsuruhashi.

    Thanks

  6. sharon says:

    Hi Takeshi san,

    We were told to avoid taking train during peak hours.
    But since we will be getting a jr pass, can we use our pass n reserve seat for the following route ?

    08:06
    NIPPOMBASHI 
    Station timetable | Add to favorite
    MapHotel
    Rent-a-car
    [1 Min]
    Osaka City Subway Sennichimae LineTrain timetable | Interval timetable
    08:07
    08:10
    NAMBA(SUBWAY) 
    Station timetable | Add to favorite
    ¥240
    MapHotel
    Rent-a-car
    [9 Min]
    Osaka City Subway Midosuji LineTrain timetable | Interval timetable
    08:19
    08:19
    UMEDA(SUBWAY) 
    Add to favorite
    MapHotel
    Rent-a-car
    [5 Min]
    Walk
    08:24
    08:24
    OSAKA 
    [ Departure track No.7 ] 
    Station timetable | Add to favorite
    MapHotel
    Rent-a-car
    [4 Min]
    JR Kyoto Line LocalTrain timetable | Interval timetable
    08:28
    08:39
    SHIN-OSAKA 
    [ Arrival track No.14 / Departure track No.22 ] 
    Station timetable | Add to favorite
    ¥1,490
    MapHotel
    Rent-a-car
    [39 Min]
    SHINKANSEN HIKARI 495Train timetable | Interval timetableGreen seat: ¥3,010Reserved seat: ¥2,250Unreserved seat: ¥1,730
    09:18
    09:25
    HIMEJI 
    Add to favorite
    MapHotel
    Rent-a-car
    [8 Min]
    Walk
    09:33
    SANYOHIMEJI 
    Add to favorite

    Also from Hemeji to Kobe, which is the best way to travel with our jr pass? %

    • Takeshi Shimomura, Author of JPRail.com
      Takeshi / JPRail says:

      Hi Sharon,

      You can take subway Midousuji line from Namba to Shin-Osaka. Subway is not covered by JR pass so if you change JR train at Umeda, you can save some money. But it’s only 40 yen difference. If you pay extra 40 yen, you can get Shin-Osaka without transfer at Umeda.

      You can take Shinkansen that is a good idea. You have two choices to Kobe, Special Rapid or Shinkansen. But if you take Shinkansen, you cannot get downtown Kobe directly. Shin-Kobe station is one station away from Sannomiya by subway. I recommend you to use Special rapid. But the choice is yours.

      Cheers,

      Takeshi / JP Rail

  7. Zarut says:

    Hello Takeshi, I know that I still have some questions unanswered in other forum. Instead of me asking everything in one forum, I want to set an example for others to ask you something relavant to the topic of the post done by you!

    Anyway, I have changed my itinerary. Instead of spending a full day at Kobe on the second day, I want to go to visit Himeji instead.

    However, according to you, the renovation of Himeiji castle process will not completely be done until late March, If I am planning to go there on the 22nd of this month, will I be wasting my time?

    Because I have to travel to Himeiji from Kyoto and will be activating my seven days JR pass for the first time, would you recommend me taking Shinkansen from Kyoto station? Will I have to do any transfer from Kobe to Himeiji?

    On my way back to Kyoto, I may be dropping by Kobe, will there be JR train directly take from Himeiji station to Kobe station. Then from Kobe station all way to Kyoto station?

    You mentioned that there so many kinds of Shinkansen. How do I differentiate one train from one another? Please realize that this is my first time taking both subway and train in Japan, I honestly have no idea if I will even be able to differentiate the Shinkansen, JR Rapid Train, Sanyo Limited train. Do they have a sign that says which train which?

    It looks to me that some of the train from different company such as JR trains and non-JR train trains share the same station. Now that got me panic because I don’t want to get into trouble with the law if I accidently hop on to the non-JR train without even realizing it!

    Lastly, it looks like you wanted to tell all of us to avoid taking Kodama train. If so, how do I do that? I want to get from one place to another at the fastest rate by JR train.

    Thank you!

    • Takeshi Shimomura, Author of JPRail.com
      Takeshi / JPRail says:

      Hi Zarut.,

      I still recommend Himeji castle. It’s mot open completely. but you can enjoy brush up exterior. It’s much more white than before renovation. This “White” Himeji castle cannot be seen usually. Some say, it’s too white. In my opinion, it is good chance to see it because it is very very rare to see.

      You can take Shinkansen from Kyoto to Himeji. Especially you have JR pass. You have to maximize your JR Pass. You can find Shinkansen timetables below. You can make sure which train is the best for you to go to Himeji and Tokyo as well.
      http://english.jr-central.co.jp/info/timetable/_pdf/westbound.pdf
      http://english.jr-central.co.jp/info/timetable/_pdf/eastbound.pdf

      You have to take Kodama sometimes. But try to get Hikari or Sakura because it’s much faster.

      On the way back to Kyoto via Kobe, Special rapid is better. Shin-Kobe station is not located in downtown Kobe. You have to pay for subway if you take Shinkansen from Himeji to Shin-Kobe.
      https://jprail.com/destinations/how-to-transfer-among-kyoto-osaka-and-kobe-compare-japan-railway-and-private-lines.html

      In the station, it is very very organized and there are lots of signage that are written in both Japanese and English. You cannot miss it.
      You may find some information about stations. it may help you to understand it.
      https://jprail.com/category/travel-informations/basic-informations/station-information

      Cheers,

      Takeshi / JP Rail

      • Zarut says:

        Hello Takeshi,

        Thanks again for your prompt response! Right now, I’m looking at the timetable and I would like to ask you questions as I want to make sure that I’m doing everything right.

        As I intend to travel from Kyoto to Hameiji, I am looking at the WeSTBOUND timetable and I see that there is a train number H491 which is supposed to take me from Kyoto station at 7.20AM to Himeiji around 8.05AM. Supposedly, H stands for Hiraki, so I’m on your suggested train.

        Is it correct to say that Kodama train seems to run the most frequenty?

        However, what I don’t understand is what does the sign that looks like the arrow pointing down mean? Does it mean that it won’t stop at certain stations?

        For Himeiji to Kobe, you said that you would recommend me to take the JR rapid train because it will take me to the central part of the city. Is this because the most popular tourist spots are more accessible by walk from there and not from Shin-Kobe station? Right now, I’m looking to go such as Kobe Harborland, Kitano, or some other destinations that are accessible by foot from either Shin Kobe or central Kobe station. I cannot really decide! I want to go to Mt Maya, but I don’t think I will have time as I will spend half a day in the morning at Himeiji and in the afternoon at Kobe.

        If you were me, which Kobe station you rather stop by, Shin Kobe or Kobe if you will have time to travel around the city to visit some of the most well-known tourist spots by foot?

        I’m told by a friend of mine that some trains do not have English sign. If not, do they have the number such as H491?

        By the way, where do I find the timetable for JR rapid train?

        Best,
        Zarut

        • Takeshi Shimomura, Author of JPRail.com
          Takeshi / JPRail says:

          Hi Zarut,

          >H stands for Hiraki, so I’m on your suggested train.
          Yes.

          >Is it correct to say that Kodama train seems to run the most frequenty?
          However, what I don’t understand is what does the sign that looks like the arrow pointing down mean? Does it mean that it won’t stop at certain stations?

          Kodama stops at all stations and Hikari doesn’t. Hikari skips some of stations as you see the timetable. That is reason why I don’t recommend it.

          >If you were me, which Kobe station you rather stop by, Shin Kobe or Kobe if you will have time to travel around the city to visit some of the most well-known tourist spots by foot?

          Sannomiya is the downtown core station. You can access all places in Kobe there. Shin-Kobe is one station away from Sannomiya by subway that is not covered by JR Pass. Special rapid is better.

          >I’m told by a friend of mine that some trains do not have English sign. If not, do they have the number such as H491?
          If you travel country side, you may not find English. But it’s okay in your plan.

          >By the way, where do I find the timetable for JR rapid train?
          Please check hyperdia. It runs every 15 minutes.
          https://jprail.com/travel-informations/basic-informations/timetable-and-reservation/hyperdia-perfect-guide-train-timetable-and-route-search-engine.html

          Cheers,

          Takeshi / JP Rail

  8. letitialen
    Jenny Yeoh says:

    I will arrive at Kansai International Airport. I plan to go to Kobe from KIX to spend a night before coming back to stay at Tennoji, Osaka for another 3 days. I will then fly from KIX to Tokyo Narita after my stay in Osaka. I don’t intend to buy a JR pass. What is the best way to go to Kobe? Will the return trip Haruka ICOCA package be useful and save on travelling costs?

  9. RE says:

    Hello,

    I am planning to visit Kansai at the beginning of April 2015.

    Would appreciate your advice on the Kansai Thru Pass 3 days:

    Day 1: Kansai Airport – Himeji – Kobe – Kyoto
    Day 2: Either Kyoto – Nara or Nara – Koyasan
    Day 3: Either Nara – Koyasan or Koyasan – Osaka

    Or should I use JR Pass for day 1, and the rest I use single trip tickets?

    Thank you for your advice.

  10. brianoscar
    Alex Tham says:

    Hi Takeshi-san,
    If I using Kansai Area Pass (1 day) from Osaka to Himeji will it also covered the fares when I from Himejji to Sannomiya/Motomachi in Kobe and then from either Sannomiya or Motomachi back to Osaka?

    Should I buy any other pass to walk around in Kobe?

    Rgds,
    Alex

    • Takeshi Shimomura, Author of JPRail.com
      Takeshi / JPRail says:

      Hi Alex,

      It is covered fully. I don’t think you need any other pass for Kobe. Many places can be accessed by walk or short bus ride in Kobe.

      Cheers,

      Takeshi / JP Rail

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