Basic itinerary of Osaka, Kyoto and Tokyo in 7 days

The scene of Gion Festival in Kyoto. It is one of the biggest summer festivals in Japan.
The scene of Gion Festival in Kyoto. It is one of the biggest summer festivals in Japan.

I have received many inquiries about the deal for one way trip from Osaka to Tokyo with stopover at Kyoto. Unfortunately there is no deal to cover whole part of trip. But you can combine some local deals and single ticket.

In this post, I show you the basic 7 days itinerary and the deals that suit this itinerary. But you can extend the duration as many as you want. I also show you how to change or add days in this itinerary too.

Day 1 – Kansai airport to Osaka

Limited Express Haruka at Kansai Airport station
Limited Express Haruka at Kansai Airport station

There are many deals to get Osaka from Kansai airport. You can use one of those deals. But you have to find the location to stay before choosing deal. If you stay near subway station, Kanku Chikatoku Ticket or Rapi:t Tokuwari Ticket is recommended. If you stay near JR station, ICOCA and Haruka is recommended. Please find more information about the deals from Kansai airport to Osaka at the link below:

How to choose the deals for access to/from Kansai Airport

And also I show many photos in Kansai airport at the link below. You will find the location of stations, bus stops and other facilities.

Kansai airport transportation guide. Find info about station, ticket, airport bus and high speed ferry

If you arrive at Kansai airport in early morning and intend to explore in Osaka after arrival, Yokoso Osaka Ticket is recommended. This deal includes airport access to Namba by Nankai Railway and unlimited trip of Osaka subway. You may find the information about this deal at the link above too.

ICOCA and Haruka includes 1500 yen preload e-money in ICOCA beside airport access ticket. You may use this e-money to ride subway. ICOCA can be used for any trains in major cities, not only Osaka but also Kyoto and even Tokyo. If you stay near JR station and make some trips by subway in Osaka, you can use ICOCA.

If you arrive in late night, like after 22:00, you cannot purchase any deals because the windows are closed at 23:00. Train runs until 23:30. But you might not take even the last train to Osaka if custom and immigration are busy. There are some midnight bus service to Osaka. But the destination is very limited. Please find more information about late arrival in Kansai airport at the link below:

How to access to Osaka, Kyoto and Kobe from late arrival flight at Kansai Airport-KIX

Day 2 – Sightseeing in Osaka

Dotonbori is located near the biggest downtown core of Osaka, Namba.
Dotonbori is located near the biggest downtown core of Osaka, Namba.

The basic choice is Enjoy Eco Card that is one day subway unlimited ride pass. You may get most of places in downtown Osaka by this pass.

Enjoy Eco Card (Osaka subway official site)

If you want to visit many attractions, Osaka Amazing Pass gives you the great savings. It includes 28 attraction’s admission and unlimited subway ride. Please see the following link to get the details about this pass:

Osaka Amazing Pass

But if you use ICOCA and Haruka, you may use ICOCA e-money to take subway, JR trains and other trains. Especially if you want to visit the places outside downtown Osaka, such as Minoo, Momofuku Ramen Museum, subway pass does not cover these places. You need to pay single fare or using ICOCA.

If you want to extend to stay in Osaka

You may add another Eco Card or Amazing Pass. But you may visit other places, such as Kobe, Nara. In case of this, you may add another Kansai area deal, like Kansai Thru Pass or Kansai Area Pass.

The following link shows you the itinerary of stay in Osaka only. But you may get some idea about choosing deal for trip to outside Osaka.

How to build the itinerary and choose the deals for Osaka stay 5 to 7 days.

Day 3 – Transfer to Kyoto from Osaka

Three railways, JR, Hankyu Railway and Keihan Railway run between Osaka and Kyoto. You have to find the location to stay in both Kyoto and Osaka. And then you may find which train is the best for your transfer from Osaka to Kyoto. You may find the route map at the link below:

How to transfer among Kyoto, Osaka, Kobe, Nara and Wakayama. Compare Japan Railway and private railways.

If you use ICOCA and Haruka, you may have some fund left in your ICOCA. You can use it for this transfer.

Using long distance base fare ticket to Tokyo

If your ICOCA is empty and need to purchase a single ticket to Kyoto, you may use one base fare ticket to Tokyo with stopover at Kyoto. Please see the link below to find the rule and condition of JR base fare ticket.

For non JR pass travellers. Guide to use JR single ticket, basic rules, validity and stopover

Squeeze Nara or Kobe on the way to Kyoto from Osaka

If you just make a trip from JR Osaka to JR Kyoto, it takes 30 minutes. If you take other railway, you spend a little more minutes. But it never be more than one hour. You may enjoy some more in Osaka or Kyoto. But you may visit other places, such as Nara or Kobe. Nara is easier to squeeze because both Kyoto and Osaka are very accessible to Nara. You may find the access to Nara from Osaka and Kyoto at the link below:

How to access to Nara by Japan Rail Pass. If you don’t use JR Pass, Kintetsu Railway is more convenient.

Kintetsu Rail Pass one day is recommended for trip to Nara.

Kintetsu Rail Pass (Kintetsu Railway official site)

You may visit Kobe too. But Kobe is located at other side if you move from Osaka to Kyoto. Please find more information about trip to Kobe at the following link:

How to access to Himeji and Kobe from Osaka

Hankyu Tourist Pass covers Osaka, Kobe and Kyoto. This is most affordable one day pass that covers these three cities.

Hankyu Tourist Pass (Hankyu Railway official site)

If you are okay with very tight schedule and want to visit as many as you want, you can do Kobe and Nara in one day. In this case, Kintetsu Rail Pass that I mentioned above and Hanshin Tourist Pass are recommended. Hanshin Tourist Pass covers Umeda, Namba and Kobe. Hanshin Railway connects with Kintetsu Railway at Osaka-Namba station. Many of both Hanshin and Kintetsu trains run each other. Some trains go directly from Kobe-Sannomiya to Nara. This is the easiest route to get Nara from Kobe. If you have these two passes, you can take this direct train.

Day 4 – Sightseeing in Kyoto

Fall foliage in Kiyomizu-dera temple. It is one of Must-See spots in Kyoto.
Fall foliage in Kiyomizu-dera temple. It is one of Must-See spots in Kyoto.

When you visit temples and shrines in Kyoto, you have to take city bus and/or subway. Kyoto city sightseeing card or all day bus pass is your choice. You may find more information at the link below:

Inside Kyoto – Special Kyoto Bus, Train and Subway Passes

Day 5 – Kyoto to Tokyo

Shinkansen is the high speed train service in Japan. Shinkansen stops at Maibara, Kyoto, Shin-Osaka, Shin-Kobe, Nishiakashi and Himeji in Kansai area.
Shinkansen is the high speed train service in Japan. It connects Tokyo and Kyoto in 2.5 hours.

There is no deals to cover this segment. Single fare and Shinkansen supplement charge is your choice.

If you have already started using the long distance base fare ticket at Osaka, you do not need to purchase a ticket at Kyoto.

If you use ICOCA on day 3 or purchase non JR lines single fare ticket to get Kyoto, you need to purchase single ticket for Tokyo. But if you purchase single base fare ticket and Shinkansen supplement ticket with reserved seat, you can purchase it in advance. You can purchase it even when you arrive in Kansai airport if you want. But if you want to take non reserved seat car, you cannot purchase it in advance. You have to purchase it on the spot.

You may use Platt Kodama for Tokyo to Kyoto instead. You can add single fare ticket for Kyoto to Osaka and other deal for Osaka to Kansai. This way is better if single fare ticket is too complicated for you. Please see the link below to find the detailed information about Platt Kodama:

Platt Kodama, one way deal among Tokyo, Nagoya, Kyoto and Shin-Osaka by Shinkansen

I recommend you to use reserved seat car. Because many of non reserved seat are occupied when train leave at Shin-Osaka. Especially if you travel with someone, it is hard to find the seats side by side very often. The difference between non reserved seat and reserved seat is only 500 yen. I think it is worth paying extra 500 yen to secure your seat.

Day 6 – Sightseeing in Tokyo

Cinderella's castle is the icon of Disneyland.
Tokyo Disneyland is actually not located in Tokyo. It is located in Chiba prefecture. That is a reason why Tokyo subway does not go there.

Tokyo Metro/Subway deal is most popular. JR Tokunai Pass is also available. Subway covers most of spots in Tokyo but subway lines are so many and very hard to find the fastest route. JR train network is very simple. But you cannot get many places in Tokyo by JR trains, such as Asakusa, Tsukiji. Please see the links below to find more information of these deals.

Compare many discount tickets and passes for sightseeing Tokyo. How to choose the right tickets?
Tokyo Metropolitan District Pass (Tokyo Tokunai Pass), good choice for sightseeing in Tokyo.

Single fare is actually best choice for access to outside Tokyo

Many “Big Name” attractions are located outside downtown Tokyo. For example, Tokyo Disney Resort, Ghibli Museum, Sanrio Puroland and many more places are located outside coverage area of both subway pass and Tokunai pass. Single fare is okay for access to these places. And also Yokohama is not in Tokyo and not covered by these Tokyo deals either. Single fare is okay for Yokohama too.

How to extend to stay in Tokyo

If you stay in Tokyo more, you may simple add subway fare, Tokunai Pass or single fare as you need. But if you want to travel to other places in Kanto area, like Nikko, Fuji, Hakone, you may need to get other passes. Please find more information at the links below:

Fuji Hakone access guide by train and bus from both Tokyo and Osaka / Kyoto / Nagoya.
How to access to Nikko from Tokyo. There are three ways from Tokyo, Shinjuku and Asakusa.

If you travel both Fuji/Hakone and Nikko, Kanto Area Pass is a good choice.

JR East Kanto Area Pass. Perfect choice for tourist who want to go to Fuji, Izu, Nikko from Tokyo.

Day 7 – Tokyo to Narita Airport or Haneda Airport

Haneda airport is very close to downtown Tokyo. You can take Keihin Kyuko railway from Shinagawa or Monorail from Hamamatsucho. Both stations are connected by JR Yamanote line with Tokyo, Shinjuku, Shibuya, Ueno and many other stations in Tokyo. Single fare is okay for access to Haneda. You may find some more information about access to Haneda at the following link:

How to access from Haneda airport to downtown Tokyo

Narita airport is one hour away from downtown Tokyo. There are many ways to get Narita from downtown Tokyo, like Narita Express, Skyliner, Limousine bus and budget access bus. But the deal is very limited. They welcome incoming traveller but not outgoing travellers. Please find more information about access to Narita at the link below:

The list of deals for access to downtown Tokyo from Narita airport

I have many more sample itineraries. Please check the category, Sample Itinerary.

147 thoughts on “Basic itinerary of Osaka, Kyoto and Tokyo in 7 days”

  1. Hi Takeshi,

    May I also seek your advise on what pass to use for the below itinerary:

    Day 1 (Tue) – Arrive in Kix at 9:55pm. Check-in to an apartment near Dobutsuen-Mae Station and Shinamamaya

    Day 2 (Wed) – Visit Osaka Castle, Umeda Sky Bldg, and stroll around Dotonbori. Back to apartment.

    Day 3 (Thu) – Check-out from the apartment and travel to Kyoto/deposit luggage. Visit Fushimi Inari Shrine, Arashiyama Temples, and Bamboo Groves. Night bus to Tokyo

    Day 4 (Fri) – Arrival in Tokyo/Drop luggage to an apartment near Asakusa Station. Visit Asakusa, Shinjuku, Meiji Shrine and nearby areas. Back to apartment.

    Day 5 (Sat) – DisneySea

    Day 6 (Sun) – Fuji Five Lakes

    Day 7 (Mon) – Early flight in NRT

    Thank you in advance.

    Regards,
    Len

  2. Hi Takeshi-san,

    Is Kintetsu Rail Pass (first 5 days) + Hokuriku Arch Pass (7 days) the best choice for this itinerary? Thanks in advance.

    Days 1&2 – Nagoya
    Days 3&4 – Osaka (1 full day in USJ)
    Days 5&6 – Kyoto
    Days 7&8 – Kanazawa
    Day 9 – Arrive at Tokyo (noon time); Ghibli Museum (afternoon)
    Day 10 – Tokyo metropolis
    Day 11 – Tokyo (early flight)

    1. Hi Kay san,

      If you move from Nagoya to Osaka on day 3, you can use JR Pass 7 days from day 3 to 9. You can use other deals when you are in Nagoya and Tokyo, such as subway pass.
      http://www.kotsu.city.nagoya.jp/en/pc/SUBWAY/TRP0001067.htm
      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

      It’s cheaper and you can take Shinkansen from Nagoya to Osaka which is faster than Kintetsu train.

      Cheers,

      Takeshi / JPRail.com

      1. Hi Takeshi-san,

        Our 2nd day itinerary includes Nagoya Castle, Shikizakura in Obara, and Laguna Ten Bosch. Will the Nagoya 1-day bus and subway ticket cover our transportation to Laguna Ten Bosch or do we need to purchase individual ticket instead? Thank you.

  3. Hi Takeshi,

    After reading your guide, I am still having difficulties to choose which pass to use for Kansai area. I really appreciate your help in recommending the best one for us. Below is our itinerary:

    Oct 6 – Arriving at Kansai airport at 9.30pm, Overnight in Namba area for the night. Plan to stay in Osaka until Oct 10.
    Oct 7 – Will go Tsutenkaku / Shinsekai / Osaka castle / Umeda / Namba / Dotonbori / Shinsaibashi
    Oct 8 – Head to Kyoto – Will visit Arashiyama / Fushimi Inari / Nishiki Market
    Oct 9 – Imperial palace / Gion street / Kiyomizudera temple / Sanneizaka / Ninenzaka
    Oct 10 – Hiroshima / Miyajima – to use your guide on this place
    Oct 11 – Heading to Kanzawa from Osaka using Limited express Thunderbird in early morning. Plan to take 13.25 nohi bus to Shirakawago. Overnite at Shirakawago village.
    Oct 12 – Go to Tokyo: Plan to depart from Shirakawago back to Kanazawa at 10.55am by Nohi bus.
    Plan to take Kanazawa JR to Shinjuku station JR to save time.
    Oct 13 – Mt Fuji / Lake Kawaguchiko one day trip – Read from your post take either JR or bus from Shinjuku Station
    Oct 14 – Stay in Shinjuku area – Use ICOCA card for the below places:
    Go Senso-ji, Akasuka / Nakamise-dori Street / Tokyo Skytree town
    Ueno – Ameyoko Centre building (if times allow)
    Nihombashi/Tokyo – Kokyo gaein National Garden / Tokyo station
    Ginza – Tsukiji market
    Shibuya – free & easy
    Odaiba – short time sightseeing – statue of liberty / rainbow bridge / odaiba seaside park
    Go Roppongi for sightseeing – Tokyo tower / Tokyo midtown

    Oct 15 – Will visit the places on Oct 14 which we cannot make it before 11pm to Haneda airport

    Questions:
    Q1: Will my itinerary a bit rush? My brother and I are bringing our parents for sightseeing with 4 standard size cabin luggage.

    Q2: Which pass should I use for Kansai Area? Or I need to use Osaka Amazing 1 day pass & 2 days Kyoto Sightseeing Pass? I did a rough count, but seems like single ticket (such as ICOCA) and local deal is more suitable but I am not so sure about it. Please advise.

    Q3: Should I stay in Osaka or Kyoto for my trip plan for convenience?

    Thank you and have a wonderful day!

    Regards,
    Lim

    1. Hi Lim,

      1. It’s busy but Your itinerary is feasible.

      2. I recommend you to use JR Pass 7 days from Oct 8 to 14. You need to add some fares or using ICOCA in Kyoto for taking bus or other Non JR trains. But you can take limited express Haruka from Tennoji to Kyoto directly by JR pass. Tennoji can be accessed by local train from JR-Namba. It’s covered.
      https://jprail.com/travel-informations/basic-informations/station-information/namba-stations-guide-how-to-change-the-trains-among-nankai-kintetsu-hanshin-subway-and-jr.html
      https://jprail.com/trains/sort-by-type/limited-express/kansai-airport-limited-express-haruka.html

      Bus to Shirakawago from Kanazawa is not covered either.

      If you use JR pass to get Lake Kawaguchi, you need to add the fare for Otsuki to/from Kawaguchiko.

      For Oct 6, please see the link below:
      https://jprail.com/sample-itineraries/airport-access/kansai-kix/how-to-choose-the-deals-for-access-tofrom-kansai-airport.html

      For Oct 7, please see the link below:
      https://jprail.com/travel-informations/other-rail-passes/rail-pass-for-residents/how-to-choose-the-best-train-pass-for-sightseeing-in-osaka.html

      In Tokyo after JR Pass expires, you can add subway pass.
      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

      Cheers,

      Takeshi / JPRail.com

  4. Hi Takeshi San,

    Appreciate your comments on which rail pass I should get for my itinerary below: –

    Day 1: Kansai Airport to hotel at Osaka JR Stn (go Kyoto and maybe Kobe in the afternoon)
    Day 2: Osaka hotel to Kyoto
    Day 3: Osaka hotel to Kyoto (and Kobe if not done in Day 1)
    Day 4: Osaka to Tokyo (hotel at Oshiage Stn)
    Day 5: Tokyo hotel to Mt Fuji
    Day 6: Explore Tokyo *
    Day 7: Explore Tokyo
    Day 8: Tokyo hotel to Narita Airport by Limo bus

    * Would it make a difference if I add a day trip to Nikko?

    Thanks & regards,
    Jen

  5. Hi Takeshi,

    Seeking your kind advice on travel plan in Dec:
    4D3N from Osaka to Kyoto/Nagoya, Fuji area (Hakone/Fuji/Kawaguchiko) to Tokyo.

    Understand that Jprail pass doesn’t cover most of the Fuji area transport.

    Or it’s easier if I were to do:

    Osaka-Kyoto/Nagoya, to Tokyo (for a night) then travel westwards back to Fuji area, and back to Tokyo for rest of my trip? (most travel advice I could find r usually Tokyo to Fuji area)

    Thank you very much
    Domo Arigato Gozaimasu

  6. Hi Takeshi, need your advise on what pass to use.

    Day 1 (Wed) – Arrive in Kansai Airport 7:55 pm. Hotel near Shin-imamiya station.

    Day 2 (Thu) – Osaka: Universal Studios and Shinsekai.

    Day 3 (Fri) – Osaka: Sumiyoshi Taisha, Shitennoji Temple, Osaka Castle, Umeda Sky Building, Dotonbori.

    Day 4 (Sat) – Travel to Kyoto. Hotel near Shichijo station. Kyoto Tower, Kinkakuji, Bamboo Groves, Nishiki Market, Kiyomizu-dera temple, Gion, Fushimi Inari Shrine.

    Day 5 (Sun) – Kyoto: Cathedral of Kawaramachi. Travel to Tokyo. Hotel near Ryogoku station.

    Day 6 (Mon) – Tokyo: Tsukiji Market, Meiji Shrine, Harajuku, Imperial Palace, Sensoji temple, Tokyo Government Office, Shinjuku, Odiaba, Shibuya.

    Day 7 (Tue) – Tokyo: Mt. Fuji Five Lakes

    Day 8 (Wed) – Early flight. Narita Airport.

    Thank you very much!

    1. Hi Camille,

      In most part of your trip, regular ticket is your choice. You can use local deals in the links below for day 3, 4 and 6 only.
      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
      http://www.tokyometro.jp/en/ticket/value/travel/index.html

      For KIX to Shin-Imamiya, single ticket for Nankai railway is your choice.

      You may use one base fare ticket from Shin-Imamiya to Tokyo with stopover at Kyoto. Or simply you can use single ticket for Shin-Imamiya to Kyoto. And you may add Platt Kodama for Kyoto to Tokyo.
      https://jprail.com/travel-informations/other-rail-passes/rail-pass-for-residents/platt-kodama-one-way-deal-among-tokyo-nagoya-kyoto-and-shin-osaka-by-shinkansen.html

      Please see the link below about trip to Fuji and Narita.
      http://bus-en.fujikyu.co.jp/highway/detail/id/1
      https://jprail.com/sample-itineraries/airport-access/narita/the-list-of-deals-for-access-to-downtown-tokyo-from-narita-airport.html

      Cheers,

      Takeshi / JPRail.com

    2. Hi Camille. May I ask what pass did you use for your trip last May? We have almost the same itinerary, excluding your Day 2 and Day 5 replaced with DisneySea. Thanks in advance.

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