JR Special Rapid Service, most useful train among Osaka, Kyoto, Kobe and Himeji.

Many passengers are waiting for Special Rapid Service in Osaka station. Special Rapid is very popular for both commuters and the travelers.

Special Rapid Service is the fastest local train that is operated between Tsuruga (=敦賀) and Kamigori (=上郡) via Kyoto (=京都), Shin-Osaka (=新大阪), Osaka (=大阪), Sannomiya (=三ノ宮), Kobe (=神戸) and Himeji (=姫路). Especially JR West compete with Hankyu (=阪急) and Keihan (=京阪) between Kyoto and Osaka, with Hankyu and Hanshin (=阪神) between Osaka and Kobe. So JR West have to offer fast and good quality of services. As a result, the time required by this train is faster than Shinkansen between Osaka and Kyoto. Since Shinkansen do not have a station in downtown Kobe, this trains is faster than Shinkansen between Osaka and Kobe too. Of course this train is fully covered by Japan Rail Pass. Let’s see the details.

Route, schedule and travel time

Special Rapid Service runs the route and stop at these stations in the map below:

Operation route map (Click to view large)

In day time, Special Rapid Service train runs every 15 minutes between Yasu and Himeji. Some of this train services are extended service to Mabara, Nagahama, Tsuruga to east, and Banshu-Ako, Aboshi and Kamigori to west.

Find your hotels in 218 cities throughout Japan!!!

Hotels in Kobe
Hotels in Himeji

When you move between Kyoto, Osaka, Kobe and Himeji, this train service is a primary choice. If you take Shinkansen from Kyoto to Shin-Osaka, it takes only 13 minutes. It seems to be much faster than Shin-Osaka. But you have to change trains at Shin-Osaka if you go to somewhere in Osaka. You have to spend 10 more minutes to transfer at Shin-Osaka. Unless your destination is Shin-Osaka, Special Rapid is more convenient.

If you go to Kobe, it takes 15 minutes by Shinkansen. But Shin-Kobe station on Shinkansen is not located in downtown. You need to take subway to Sannomiya.

Even in case of going to Himeji, it may be very close. It takes 30 minutes by Shinkansen and takes 1 hour by Special Rapid. But if you take Shinkansen, you must get Shin-Osaka first. And Shinkansen between Shin-Osaka and Himeji does not run very frequently. It depends on your schedule in this case. If Shinkansen’s timetable fits in your schedule, take Shinkansen. Otherwise take Special Rapid Service.


Special Rapid Service is operated by 223 or 225 series. 225 is newer but the seat layout and the interior are same.


Seat layout
The washroom is equipped in this train set.
Information screen is equipped and it is shown in a few languages.

In these above photos, the train is empty. But please see the photo below. This is the real shot. This is not the morning and evening peak times. It is a daytime scene. But this train is very busy even other than the peak hours.

293 thoughts on “JR Special Rapid Service, most useful train among Osaka, Kyoto, Kobe and Himeji.”

  1. Hello! Your blog is very helpful.

    Can you help advise if the JR West Hiroshima Pass is ideal for my itinerary?

    26 December – Osaka Airport to Kyoto
    29 December – Kyoto to Hiroshima (+overnight in Miyajima)
    30 December – Hiroshima to Osaka
    1 January – Osaka to Kobe return day trip
    3 January – Osaka to KIX Airport

    I’ve been told to get the Haruka+ICOCA pass but why can’t I just use the JR West Hiroshima pass?

    1. Hi Emily,

      You may use Kansai Hiroshima Area Pass for 26th to 30th. But you will have one issue. This pass does not cover a reserved seat fee. So you have to find a seat in non reserved car. Please see the link below to find the info about non reserved car:

      December 28th and 29th will be the busiest day in the year:

      So you may have to stand up in the train. You cannot reserved a seat by Kansai Hiroshima Area Pass. If you want, you should use a regular fare ticket and use online booking. It is the best way to secure the seat:

      You can use Hanshin Tourist Pass for the trip to Kobe:

      And you can find the deal for Osaka in the links below:


      Takeshi / JPRail.com

  2. Hi Takeshi San, hope you’re doing well.

    Wanna ask your opinion about my trip this end of Oct. I already bought JR Hokuriku Arch Pass for 7days in hoping I’m not buying the wrong pass (I mean coz I’m not buying general JR Pass).

    Here’s my itinerary (28/10/2019 – 09/11/2019)
    Day 1 : arrived at KIX, go to hotel (near Nippombashi station), go to Kaiyukan Aquarium, back to hotel
    Day 2 : Osaka – Nara – Osaka
    Day 3 : USJ
    Day 4 : Osaka to Kyoto (hotel near Omiya Station)
    Day 5 : Kyoto (Kiyomizu-dera & around)
    Day 6 : Kyoto to Kanazawa (hotel near Kanazawa Station) see around Higashi Cahaya District & Omicho Market
    Day 7 : to Kurobe Gorge & Toyama, then back to Kanazawa
    Day 8 : to Shirakawago, back to Kanazawa, then go to Tokyo (hotel near Asakusa)
    Day 9-10 : around Tokyo
    Day 11 : Fuji
    Day 12-13 : around Tokyo, flight back from Haneda

    I’m thinking of start using JR Hokuriku Arch Pass from the day Kyoto to Kanazawa trip. Is it a right decision?

    And I have some other questions (sorry if I have too many questions).
    – The 7 consecutive days JR pass should be used everyday? What if I use it at day 1&2, not in day 3? I still can use on day 4 right? It’s just I lost a day to use it?
    – Can I get reserved seats with JR Hokuriku Arch Pass?
    – Base on your opinion, is there any other pass I should buy?
    – Any advice about exciting place or city to visit which is maybe just about 1 hour away from Tokyo?

    Many thank’s to you for your help 🙂

    1. Hi Silvia S. san,

      Hokuriku Arch Pass is the right choice for your trip. It’s hard to say which day you start using it. You are thinking that you will start using it on day 6. In this case, you can use it until day 12. You may use this pass in Tokyo but it covers only downtown Tokyo. You cannot use the pass for the trip to outside downtown Tokyo. Basically it covers the places on and inside Yamanote line, such as Shinjuku, Shibuya, Ueno, Shinagawa, Akihabara, Ikebukuro. And there is no JR stations in Asakusa. You have to take subway which is not covered by Hokuriku Arch Pass. Tokyo Subway Ticket may be more convenient to move around downtown Tokyo than using Hokuriku Arch Pass:

      On the other hand, you may use Hokuriku Arch Pass in Osaka and the trip to Nara and from Osaka to Kyoto. But you will stay in Nippombashi which is Kintetsu railway and subway station. These are not covered by Hokuriku Arch Pass either. Hokuriku Arch Pass covers only JR trains. When you go to Nara, you can take Kintetsu Railway. It takes you Nara directly but you have to pay a regular fare around 500 yen one way.

      You may use Hokuriku Arch Pass partially. But you still have to pay subway or Kintetsu railway fare to get the nearest JR station which is Tsuruhashi. Please find the train network in Osaka in the link below:

      You can save your cost but you have to change trains at least twice to get Nara.
      Nippombashi (Kintetsu) Tsuruhashi (JR Osaka kanjo line) Tennoji (JR rapid train) Nara

      When you go to USJ, you will take Hanshin railway and Kintetsu railway from Nippombashi to Nishikujo. And then take JR train to Universal city. Hokuriku arch pass covers only Nishikujo to Universal city.

      When you go to Omiya (Kyoto) from Nippombashi, the best route is taking subway and Hankyu railway from Nippombashi to Omiya via Awaji. But this route is not covered by Hokuriku arch pass. Again you can use the pass partially but need to change trains more.
      Nippombashi (Kintetsu railway) Tsuruhashi (JR Osaka kanjo line) Osaka (Special rapid train) Kyoto (subway) Shijo/Karasuma (Hankyu railway) Omiya

      Hokuriku Arch Pass covers only Tsurubashi to Kyoto via Osaka.

      Honestly Hokuriku Arch Pass is not very useful in Osaka, Kyoto and Tokyo in your trip. You may choose starting date on day 2 to day 8 or day 6 to 12. It depends on which place (Osaka/Kyoro or Tokyo) you want to use Hokuriku Arch Pass more.

      You can book a seat by this pass. Reserved seat fee is covered.

      Yokohama and/or Kamakura, Kawagoe are recommended within one hour from Tokyo.

      But these above places are not covered by Hokuriku Arch Pass as I mentioned that this pass covers only downtown Tokyo.

      Even if you use JR pass, you have same issues in Osaka, Kyoto and Tokyo. It covers JR trains only.

      For the trip to Fuji, please find more info in the link below:

      And you may find the deal for Kansai to Osaka.

      You can use the regular fare ticket to get Haneda.


      Takeshi / JPRail.com

  3. Hello Takeshi san,

    I figured I would try my luck and try to get your recommendation. I will be going to Japan and was wondering if the JR pass would be worth it. Based on ticket fares that I get from HyperDia, the answer is that it is not worth it, but I’ve read many comments saying it is worth it if you have one long trip. Here is my schedule.
    Day 1 – Narita airport to Tokyo (days 1-5 I will just be in Tokyo and visit Disneyland 2 days)
    Day 6 – Tokyo to Kyoto
    Day 8 – Day trip to Osaka
    Day 11 – Kyoto to Tokyo
    Day 13 – Tokyo to Narita airport

    Thank you in advance for you input.

    1. Hi Andres san,

      You may use JR pass 7-day for day 6 to 12 or day 5 to 11. Because the round trip fare between Tokyo and Kyoto by the Shinkansen is almost 28,000 yen. You will go to Osaka and it costs more than 1,000 yen. You have some chances to take JR trains in Kyoto. The total cost is most likely same as 7-day JR pass at 29,650 yen.

      And you can compare how much you can use JR pass on day 5 and day 12 in Tokyo. And pick the day when you have many more chance to use JR pass.

      For Narita airport to/from Tokyo, there are several deals available. Some deals include Tokyo Subway Pass. It is useful to visit many places in Tokyo. Please find the info in the link below:


      Takeshi / JPRail.com

  4. Hi, hope you are well. I am trying to figure it out if a pass is convenient or should i forget it an buy individual tickets, but only for the Kansai area as i don’t think anything else is worth the price, so could you please guide me with Kansai only?.
    My itinerary is the following: 4 nights Osaka/4 nights Kyoto (the rest is Hakone and Tokyo)
    Day 1: Arrive 20:45 hs to Kansai International Airport (2nd Nov). I need to get a train to Nakazakicho Station area (as closest i can get).
    Day 2: Just hang around Osaka (Jet lag probably). I will take some tubes probably.
    Day 3: Himeji from Osaka early in the morning – return. I might do an stopover in Kobe on my way back.
    Day 4: Nara return. Osaka in the evening (tubes as well).
    Day 5: Go to Kyoto, sightseeing in the are for 4 nights.
    Then i travel from Kyoto to Hanoke, staying one night and finally to Tokyo. I will return from Tokyo to UK.
    I have already seen that if i buy a one day pass for 2500 yenes that will cover the train to Himeji and i would be making a saving only with that one.
    But i was wondering if a 3 days pass or 2 day pass is worth it. Thank you very much.

    1. Hi Gonzalo,

      For the first day, you may use Nankai railway + subway combo deal. This is most affordable choice to get Nakazakicho:

      For day 2, you may add one of the local deal as you need:

      For day 3 to 5, you have two choices, Kansai thru pass or Kansai area pass:

      Kansai area pass covers basically JR trains only but in Kyoto, you can take subway and Keihan railway. It covers most part of Kyoto. You can take Special rapid between Osaka, Kyoto, Kobe and Himeji. You will stay in Nakazakicho which is subway station. You must pay a regular fare to get Higashi-Umeda from Nakazakicho whenever you use Kansai area pass. This pass does not cover subway.

      Kansai thru pass covers other than JR. It means that this pass covers subway in Osaka. You can start using this from Nakazakicho. But you have to take Hanshin railway and Sanyo railway to get Himeji. It’s much slower than JR Special rapid:

      Kansai area pass is better than Kansai thru pass. But when you go to Nara, you can take subway and Kintetsu railway. You can get Nara by Kansai area pass but you have to pay for Nakazakicho to Higashi-Umeda. And also Kintetsu Nara station is better location than JR Nara station:

      For the trip to Kyoto from Osaka, Kansai area pass is better if you stay near Kyoto station. If you stay near subway or non JR railway station, Kansai thru pass is better choice.

      Anyway, I recommend you to use either Kansai thru pass 3-day or Kansai area pass 3-day. But you must visit a few places in Kyoto on the day when you get there. It’s hard to say which one is better. If I were you, I go for Kansai area pass.


      Takeshi / JPRail.com

  5. Hi Takeshi San,

    Can you advice what is the best pass I should get if my itinerary is as below:

    Arriving and departing: Nagoya
    Places to travel: Osaka, Kyoto, Nara

    We will be arriving at Nagoya, then wanting to travel to Osaka, Kyoto and Nara. Final day travel back to Nagoya to take our flight. Is there a pass that can cover all areas?

      1. Hi Takeshi san,

        Thank you for the advice.

        I took a look at the Kintetsu pass, seems that it uses local train, the traveling time is long.

        Is there any pass that allows us to use shinkansen so the traveling between these cities: Nagoya, Osaka, Kyoto, Nara would be faster?

        Or what do you advice for a shorter traveling plan?

        Thank you.

        1. Hi Sylvia san,

          There is no deals to cover all places. But you may use Flex Rail Ticket Osaka or Kyoto. You can get round trip to Osaka or Kyoto from Nagoya by the Shinkansen.

          This deal covers the round trip only. You have to add the fare for Osaka to Kyoto (or versa) and Kyoto or Osaka to Nara. You may be able to use Kansai thru pass or Kansai area pass:

          And also please see the link below. If you add the limited express fee on top of Kintetsu rail pass, the trip time to Osaka is not bad. Especially if you want to get Namba in Osaka, Kintetsu is not a bad choice.


          Takeshi / JPRail.com

  6. Dear Takeshi san,

    I need your advice on determining which JR Pass works best for my itinerary below. I will be arriving August 4th into Osaka and flying out of Tokyo on August 17th.

    4 days in Osaka with 2 day trips (Aug 4 to 7):
    –>1) Aug 6 Nara and 2) Aug 7 Himeji Castle and on the way back to Osaka, a stopover in Kobe)
    4 days in Kyoto (Aug 8 to 11)
    5 days in Tokyo (Aug 12 to 17)

    Because I fly into Osaka and fly out of Tokyo, the 7 day JR Pass is not economical. I am not sure if the 5 day Kansai Wide Area pass is better or the 3 day Kansai Area Pass works.

    5 Day Kansai Wide Area – I would activate the pass on Day 1 to transfer from Kansai airport to Shin-Osaka station and on Day 5, I would use to get to Kyoto. I would purchase a separate JR ticket to travel from Kyoto to Tokyo and for the airport transfer from Tokyo. This pass does not allow reserved seating – can I pay extra to reserve?

    3 Day Kansai Area pass – I would activate this pass on Day 6 so that this pass will work for Rapid Service for travel to Nara, Day 7 to Himeji and Kobe and Day 8 to Kyoto. I would pay separate JR tickets for the transfer from Kansai airport to Shin-Osaka and for Kyoto to Tokyo and for the airport transfer from Tokyo. From your comments above, I would not need to use the shinkansen lines or the express lines. My concern is that you mention this line is very busy – am I able to pay extra to reserve seats?

    If I purchase individual tickets for the above itinerary, the savings are not so much but I think the other benefits of a JR pass is that I have access to the Osaka Loop and the Yamanote Line.

    Thank you very much for your advice and time.

    Best regards,


    1. Hi Julie san,

      If you want the most affordable way, Kansai area pass is the best choice. But this pass does not cover any express trains except Haruka. If you use this pass, you should use it for KIX to Shin-Osaka, trip to Himeji and Kobe, and trip to Nara in the first 3 days of your trip.

      If you want to use Kansai Wide Area Pass, you must take the Shinkansen to Himeji. Otherwise it is very hard to get the worth of it. You also must take Haruka from KIX to Shin-Osaka. And you can take Haruka from Shin-Osaka to Kyoto and avoid taking the other commute trains.

      Please do not think about the reserved seat. Because if you want to reserve a seat by Kansai Wide Area Pass, you have to pay the full fare of the reserved seat fee. This extra charge is not the difference between the reserved seat fee and the non reserved seat fee. Even though Kansai Wide Area Pass includes the non reserved seat fee, you have to pay the full fare of the reserved seat fee. As a result, you cannot get the worth of it.

      And you will travel in the busy period.

      If you can use the app in the link below, you can reserve the Shinkansen seat in advance:

      If you use JR pass, you have to travel more. You must have at least one big day trip from either Tokyo or Osaka, such as the day trip to Hiroshima, day trip to Kanazawa.

      If you can add one of these above travels, you can use JR pass 7-day. Even if you add this, you still can get the worth of 7-day pass only. 14-day pass is still too much. So you can use JR pass 7-day in the middle of your travel and it must cover Kyoto to Tokyo and one of these travels.


      Takeshi / JPRail.com

  7. Hihi
    I will be travelling to osaka in jun with a group of 4.we would like to do a 1 day tour in between to kyoto to visit places like nishiki markets and Kiyomizu-dera. I saw that special rapid service could bring me from osaka to kyoto but im little bit confused whether do i need to get the jr pass in order to take the special rapid or? And do you have any recommendation on any rail pass to travel within osaka?

    Thanks and warm regards

    1. Hi Jessica,

      I think you meant that JR pass is Kansai area pass.

      I don’t think that you need this because you cannot get the worth of this. If you travel to other places outside Osaka, like Nara, Himeji, you may consider to use this pass. If you want to take Special Rapid to get Kyoto and visit a few places in Kyoto, you can use a regular fare to take Special rapid and you can use one day city bus pass in Kyoto.

      Or you may use other deal if you can take other trains to get Kyoto such as Keihan railway. Please see the links below to find more info:

      Please see the link below to find the deal for Osaka:


      Takeshi / JPRail.com

      1. hi
        thanks lot for getting back.
        can i check how much is the regular fare for special rapid and how do i go about purchasing it?


        1. Hi Jessica,

          It’s just 560 yen for one way. You can find the fare at hyperdia:

          Just go to the station and purchase a ticket at the vending machine. You can use IC card, such as ICOCA, Kansai one pass instead of purchasing a ticket one by one.


          Takeshi / JPRail.com

  8. Hi Takeshi San,
    We will be a group of 9 Adults and 1 Kid aged 6, going to Kyoto-Kobe-Osaka-Nara for 8D7N Self Tour on 25/5-1/6/2019
    Arrival and Departure at Kansai International Airport.
    Our itinerary will be follow
    25/5 Arrival at KIX around 10am to Kyoto. Nearest station would be Karasuma Oinke Station 3N stay in Nishiki Market Area visiting Arashiyama, Sagano Scenic Railway, Fushimi Inari, Kiyomizudera, Higashiyama, Gion, Potoncho, Nishiki Market

    28/5 Depart from Kyoto to Kobe, Jr Sannomiya Station for 1N visiting Chinatown and all other nearby Attractions

    29/5 Depart from Kobe to Osaka, Shinsaibashi Station for 3N-exploring Osaka Castle, Shinsekai Market, Tsutenkaku Tower, Umeda Sky Building,Dotonbori, shinsaibashi, namba, kuromon Ichiba Market.
    Will have a side day visit to Nara from Shinsaibashi Station.
    1/6- Depart from Shinsaibashi Station to Kansai International Airport in the early morning by 7am flight is 10am.
    May we know is it much convenient to take airport limousine to Kyoto and from Osaka to Kansai Airport considering our 10 persons in the group and big luggage instead of HARUKA?
    Which pass is best suitable for us to travel with that itinerary with the nearest to all attractions and most cost savings.
    Thanks in advance.

    1. Hi Tricxie san,

      You may take the limousine bus to get Kyoto from KIX.

      In Kyoto, you may use subway and bus pass.

      But this pass does not cover other than subway and city bus. Please purchase Kansai one pass for riding other than subway and city bus.

      Please use Kansai one pass for Kyoto to Kobe, Kobe to Osaka and trip to Nara.

      You can find some deals for Osaka in the links below:


      Takeshi / JPRail.com

  9. Hi Takeshi, I’ll be visiting Japan in few days. It’s my first time to travel there and I have planned my itinerary. It’ll be 3D/Osaka, 1D/Kyoto, the rest will be in Tokyo. I’m just a little confuse with the trains, which should I take going to Kyoto from Osaka and also which train to ride going back. Then what will be the first and last time of trip schedule. I’ll be glad for your response!

    1. Hi Arianna,

      There are a few routes between Osaka and Kyoto, such as JR (Special Rapid), Keihan railway and Hankyu railway. It depends on which part of Osaka you leave and which part of Kyoto you want to go. You may find some more info in the links below:

      The trains run from around 5:30 to midnight.


      Takeshi / JPRail

  10. Hello Takeshi San,

    I wanted to find out if it is worth getting the 14 day JR Pass?

    We will be flying in to Haneda and travelling to Tokyo(3nights), Hakone (2nights), Kyoto(4nights), Osaka (4nights), and back to Tokyo (3nights).

    I am going to get the Hakone 2days pass. But I am wanting to find out for Tokyo does the JR pass covers metro stations or is it advisable to get the local train ticket? Also, will I have to get an independent train ticket for local Metro stations for Osaka too?

    Thank you very much for all your help.

    Kind regards

    1. Hi Charmian san,

      14-days JR pass is too expensive for your trip. Because 7-day pass price is almost same as the round trip fare between Tokyo and Osaka. You cannot get the worth of 14-day pass at this point. If you add one long day trip, you can get the worth. Please see a few samples in the links below:

      If you don’t want to add this kind of a big day trip, you have to use a regular fare ticket for city to city and add a local deal, such as Hakone Free Pass, subway pass in each locations.


      Takeshi / JPRail.com

      1. Hi Takeshi San,

        Thank you very much for your reply and advice! I kinda forgot about the plan to do a day trip to Hiroshima/ Miyajima. Is it better to do the day trip out from Kyoto or Osaka?

        We have plans to do day trip to Kobe, Nara, Hiroshima.

        We have 4nights in both Kyoto and Osaka. If we do the big day trip as suggested, the14 day JR pass should be worth it?

        Thank you again Takeshi San!

        Kind regards

          1. Hi Takeshi san

            Thank you!

            By the way, travelling locally around Kyoto, Tokyo, Osaka, would the JR pass cover it or would I need to get a local train ticket in each area? I have been advised for Osaka I will need to get a local metro ticket?

            Thank you again for all your help!

            Kind regards

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