Basic itinerary of Tokyo, Kyoto and Osaka in 7 days

skytree7 to 9 days
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Chidorigafuchi near Imperial Palace in Tokyo is one of the best spots to see cherry blossom. (C) Yasufumi Nishi / JNTO
Chidorigafuchi near Imperial Palace in Tokyo is one of the best spots to see cherry blossom. (C) Yasufumi Nishi / JNTO

I made the sample itinerary of Osaka, Kyoto and Tokyo in 7 days a month ago. Now I would like to show you the reverse itinerary that start from Tokyo and end at Osaka in 7 days. There is no deal to cover whole part of trip unfortunately. 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.

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Day 1 – Narita airport or Haneda airport to Tokyo

Ordinary class interior of Narita Express
Ordinary class interior of Narita Express. It takes you to Tokyo, Shinagawa, Shinjuku, Shibuya, Ikebukuro, Yokohama and many more stations.

Tokyo has two airports, Haneda and Narita.

Haneda airport is much closer to downtown Tokyo. You can take Keihin Kyuko railway to Shinagawa or Monorail to Hamamatsucho. Both stations are connected by JR Yamanote line with Tokyo, Shinjuku, Shibuya, Ueno and many other stations in Tokyo. And also many of Keihin Kyuko railway’s trains go through Toei Subway Asakusa line. You can get Shinbashi, Higashi-Ginza, Asakusa and Oshiage (Tokyo Skytree) directly without changing the trains. You may find more information about the access from Haneda to downtown Tokyo at the following link:

Narita airport is one hour away from Tokyo station. There are many ways to from Narita to downtown Tokyo, like Narita Express, Skyliner, Limousine bus and budget access bus. Please find more information about access from Narita at the link below:

Day 2 – Sightseeing in Tokyo

The view of Tokyo Skytree from near Asakusa. It is new icon of Tokyo. (C) Yasufumi Nishi / JNTO
The view of Tokyo Skytree from near Asakusa. It is new icon of Tokyo. (C) Yasufumi Nishi / JNTO

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.

How to access to the places surrounding Tokyo

Many popular 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. There is no deals available to access these areas. The regular fare ticket is okay to access to these places. You may use IC card, such as Suica, Pasmo instead of using a single fare ticket.

And also Yokohama and Kamakura are not in Tokyo and not covered by these Tokyo deals either. Please find the link below to get more information:

How to extend to stay in Tokyo

If you stay in Tokyo more, you may simply 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, there are some deals available. Please find more information at the links below:

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

Tokyo Wide Pass covers Izu, Yuzawa (Gala Yuzawa), Kusatsu Onsen and many more places too.

Day 3 – Transfer from Tokyo to Kyoto

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 ticket is your choice. If you take the Shinkansen (bullet train), base fare ticket and Shinkansen surcharge ticket are required. You can purchase these tickets in advance. You can purchase the Shinkansen seat ticket and a base fare ticket at any JR stations that have reservation window, a.k.a. “Midori no Madoguchi”.

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:

Please find the timetable of the Shinkansen in the link below:

JR Central official site – The Tokaido and the Sanyo Shinkansen timetable

If you leave Tokyo in early morning, you can spend half day for sightseeing in Kyoto. I recommend you to visit southern Kyoto, like Fushimi Inari. It’s just 5 minutes away from Kyoto station by Nara line local train and single fare is only 140 yen one way. If you want, you can visit even Nara:

If you need some more information about Kyoto station, please refer the link below:

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:

Day 5 – Transfer from Kyoto to Osaka

The best and the fastest way to get Osaka JR line Special Rapid train.

If you stay near JR station in both Kyoto and Osaka, such as Kyoto, Osaka, Shin-Osaka, this is the perfect choice. However there are two more ways between Kyoto and Osaka. Those are Hankyu Railway and Keihan Railway. Hankyu Railway connects Kawaramachi (Gion area), Shijo-Karasuma, Shijo-Omiya, Arashiyama in Kyoto and Umeda in Osaka. Keihan Railway connects Sanjo, Gion-Shijo, Kiyomizu-Gojo in Kyoto and Kyobashi, Kitahama and Yodoyabashi in Osaka. Please find the train network in Osaka and Kyoto area in the link below:

Squeeze Nara or/and Kobe on the way to Osaka from Kyoto

If you just make a trip from JR Osaka to JR Kyoto, it takes 30 minutes by Special Rapid train. You can spend some more in Kyoto or get Osaka early and enjoy there. 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 visit Kobe too. But Kobe is located at other side if you move from Kyoto to Osaka. Please find more information about trip to Kobe at the following link:

Day 6 – 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.

There are several deals available in Osaka. Please find more information in the link below:

If you want to extend to stay in Osaka

You may add other deal or a regular ticket as you need. But you may visit other places, such as Kobe, Nara. In case of this, you may add another Kansai area deal, such as 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 inside/outside Osaka.

Day 7 – Osaka to Kansai Airport

There are several deals available to get Kansai airport. Please find the information in the link below:

That is all to explain about this sample itinerary.

In this post, I have explained Tokyo to Osaka in 7 days. If you have a plan to travel the reverse itinerary, Osaka to Tokyo in 7 days, please see the link below:

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

Enjoy your trip!

Comments

  1. Shah says:

    Hi Takeshi,

    Im going to Japan for 8 days 7nights this 11April-18 April 2016.. I’ll be arriving and returning by Narita airport .. Im planning to cover Tokyo,Kyoto and Osaka.. Looking forward to your kind advice..

  2. Mark Mendoza says:

    Hi Takeshi!

    It will be my first time to travel to Japan this March and I’m planning to buy a JR Pass. But after reading your post I am wondering if it will be cost-effective for my trip. My itinerary is as follows

    March 27 and 28 – Tokyo, Harajuku, Shinjuku
    March 29 – Nikko, Sumida River
    March 30 – Asakusa
    March 31 – Kyoto (Nijo Castle, Kiyomizu Temple, Higashi District
    April 1 – Day tour in Nara
    April 2 – Hakone
    April 3 to 6 – Osaka (Umeda, Universal studios, Den Den town) and Tokyo

    Thanks in advance!

    • Hi Mark,

      Kyoto, Osaka and Nara are closed each other but you put Hakone on April 2? I just want to know why you squeeze Hakone between Nara and Osaka. Hakone is closed to Tokyo. You can squeeze Hakone between Kyoto/Osaka and Tokyo. You can get Hakone from Tokyo as day trip if you want.
      Anyway you can use 7 days JR pass for Kyoto, Nara, Hakone and Osaka. If you can include Nikko in this 7 days, it’s much better.

      Cheers,

      Takeshi / JPRail.com

  3. Cory says:

    Hi Takeshi!

    If we intend to only visit Tokyo for 3 days and 2 nights. Would you recommend to get the 7 day JR rail pass or is it better to just get the Limousine and 2 day Metro pass? Would that be enough to see most of the attractions in Tokyo?

    Thank you,
    Cory

  4. Jacqueline says:

    Dear Takeshi San,

    Please advise which pass should i use based on my planned itinerary.

    Day 1 : Osaka Airport to Ramen museum + Dontonbori
    Day 2 : Universal Studio Japan
    Day 3 : Shinsaibaishi
    Day 4 : Amerikamura + Umeda
    Day 5 : 1 day tour to Nara and return back to Osaka
    Day 6 : Travel to Kyoto for sightseeing and stay for a night.
    -> Will Kintetsu Rail Pass be a better choice?

    Day 7 : Kyoto to Hakone for sightseeing and stay for a night.
    Day 8 to Day 14: Tokyo (Planning to use Tokyo Subway 3-Day Ticket)

  5. Hemant Bhele says:

    Hi Takesi San,

    We will be reaching Narita on 26th April (evening)and leave from Kansai on 4th May.

    Currently our plan is to stay to few days in Tokyo,2-3days in Kyoto, 1 day in Nara, 1 day in Osaka and then leave on 4th from Kik.
    However after reading your post regarding using a longer journey ticket to KIX from Tokyo is valid for 5 days so i have move around the schedule. Can you please help me with the following.

    26th April – Arrival in Narita
    27th April – Tokyo day visit
    28th April – Maybe use JR east pass to Fuji
    29th April – Maybe usb JR east pass to some other place
    30th April – Tokyo to Kyoto
    1st May – Kyoto
    2nd May – Nara (would like to visit Ken National Park)
    3rd May – Osaka
    4th May – Leave from Kansai.

    Please advise if its better to use 5 day single journey ticket or use JR pass for the above.
    Could you please reply on the above and also suggest some plans for Tokyo from 27-29th April.

    Many Thanks.

  6. DJtran says:

    Hi Takeshi,

    We plan to arrive Haneda on 03/23/2016 and leave on 03/31/16
    from Osaka airport. Our itinerary is following below.

    3/23 : arrive Haneda
    3/24 : Visit Shinjuku and Tokyo
    3/25 : Shijuku and Tokyo locals
    3/26 : Shijuku and Tokyo
    3/27- : arrive Osaka
    3/28 : a day trip to Kyoto and back to Osaka
    3/29 : visit Osaka locals
    3/30 : visit Osaka locals
    3/31 : will depart from Osaka airport

    Total night days, Plan to buy a 7 days JR pass and other local
    train passes. Please give any suggestion what local train passes and 7 days JR pass, is it the best way for the plan to move around the cities? do i need to buy JR pass ahead of time?

    Thanks,
    DJtran

    Thanks,

    • Hi DJtran,

      Don’t purchase JR pass. As you see the itinerary above, there is only one big transfer from Tokyo to Osaka only. JR pass is not worth using and use single fare ticket from Tokyo to Osaka. That is much cheaper.

      I suggest local deal for each cities but you may purchase other single ticket to get Kyoto and using Kyoto city deal there.

      Cheers,

      Takeshi / JPRail.com

  7. Norhayati says:

    Hi Takeshi /JPrail.com,

    Would like your advise on the followig itinerary and whether we should take JR pass to take or single tickets?
    24 Mar : Arrive Narita to Tokyo (Shinjuku area maybe)
    25-28 Mar : Stay and sightsee Tokyo
    29 Mar : Travel to Kyoto
    30 Mar – 1 Apr : Sightsee Kyoto. Will do Arashiyama and Fushimi Inari
    2 Apr : Travel to Osaka
    2-3 Apr : Sightseeing Osaka. Maybe include Universal Studio
    4 April : Osaka to KAnsai Airport.

    Thank you.

  8. Kelvin says:

    Hi Takeshi,

    Great to have your expertise in answer many of our questions.
    Would like to seek your opinion on my itinerary:

    Travelling from 24 March to 2 April
    Narita->Kyoto->Osaka->Tokyo->Narita
    Day 1: Narita Airport to Kyoto
    (Purchase JR Pass to use on Narita express, then transit at Shinagawa Station. Take Tokaido Shinkansen to Kyoto Station)
    Day 2 & 3: Around Kyoto
    (Purchase Kyoto Sightseeing Two-day Pass Card for subway and bus rides)
    Day 4: Travel to Osaka for day trip
    (Use JR Tokaido-Sanyo Line to Osaka Station. Purchase single trip ticket to travel around Osaka)
    Day 5: Travel to from Kyoto station to Toyko_Ebisu Station
    (Can I use the JR Pass? Which one should I take?)
    Day 6-8: Travel around Toyko (Shibuya, Shinjuku, Ueno)
    (Purchase Tokyo Subway 3-Day Ticket or Suica?)
    Day 9: Shibuya Station to Narita Airport
    (Should I take the one way ticket?)

    Look forward to your kind advice.

    Thanks

    From:
    Kelvin

  9. Qiang says:

    Hi Takeshi,

    Here’s our planned itinerary :
    12/3 – Arrival 6am at Narita Airport and proceed to Osaka
    13/3 – Osaka
    14/3 – Proceed to Kyoto
    15/3 – Kyoto
    16/3 – Proceed to Tokyo
    17/3 – Tokyo
    18/3 – Departure 6pm from Narita Airport

    Would like to know if it’s worth getting a 7-day JR Pass and if so, should we start to use it Day 1 on NEX?

    Please advice. Thank you.

  10. Ben says:

    Hi Takeshi / JPRail.com,
    I will be stay at Namba from 19 Dec to 29 Dec. Please advise which pass to choose based on the below itinerary? Thanks for your reply in advance.
    19 Dec : Osaka Intl Airport (ITAMI) to Namba
    20 Dec : Sightseeing at Namba
    21 Dec : Universal Studio Japan
    22 Dec : Travel to Kyoto (day trip) Sightseeing at Kyoto
    23 Dec : Travel to Nara (day trip) Sightseeing at Nara
    24 Dec : Travel to Kobe (day trip) Sightseeing at Kobe
    25 Dec : Travel to Wakayama (day trip) Sightseeing at Wakayama
    26 Dec : Maybe travel to Koyasan Or Tsuruga (day trip)
    27 Dec : Sightseeing at Osaksa
    28 Dec : Sightseeing at Osaksa
    29 Dec : Back to Osaka Intl Airport (ITAMI)
    Thanks for your advise.
    Ben

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