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. Owen says:

    What is the cheapest way to get from Himeji to Osaka and back to Himeji in a day? Is there a day pass cheaper than ¥1490 each way? Thank you

  2. Sheila says:

    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,

  3. 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

  4. rozita says:

    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

  5. Sampath T P
    T P Sampath says:

    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

  6. 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

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

      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

  7. Rochelle says:

    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.

  8. ss seah
    Sam says:

    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!!

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

      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,

      • ss seah
        Sam says:

        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,

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

          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

  9. 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!

  10. sara says:

    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.

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