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

Kobe, Himeji
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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.

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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.

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.


  1. Hello Takeshi san
    Pls advise which JR
    to get for:
    1. Hakata to Kyoto
    2. Hakata to Maibara
    3. Hiroshima to Kyoto
    4. Hiroshima to Maibara

    I’ll plan my itinerary according to cost and convenience.


    N c

  2. Leng Zai says:

    Hi Takeshi,
    I will be travelling to Japan on March next year for 9 days. I will be travelling one way from Tokyo (2 days) to Hakone (1 day), Kyoto (2 days), Kobe (1 day) and lastly Osaka (3 days). Should I get the JR pass or individual tickets?

    PS. I will be moving around the area quite a bit, for instance from Ueno for the sakura festival, to akihabara in a day.

    Thanks for your help!

  3. Ling says:

    Hi, I will be travel to Japan next month. I will be taking the JR Special Rapid Service from Shin Osaka to Himeji. I’m thinking to buy the ekiben at Shin Osaka and would like to eat the bento during my journey to Himeji. Am I allow to eat my bento inside the train of this Special Rapid Service?

  4. Elysa says:

    Hello. If I wish to travel between Osaka, Kyoto and Nara for a holiday, which is the best JR Pass I should take?

  5. I bought the jr Wide Kansai pass. Can I take the special rapid line from sannomiya to Kyoto?

  6. Ben says:

    Hello, we bought JR Sanyo San’in pass. With this pass, we are able to travel unlimited to:
    1. Kyoto from Osaka station.
    2. Osaka to Shin-Osaka to Hiroshima.
    3. Hiroshima to Miyajima.
    4. Hiroshima to Sannomiya (Kobe)
    5. Miyajima to Hiroshima to Kansai Airport.
    Please let me know if the above if feasible using this pass. Thank you.

  7. We are thinking of travelling on the JR Special Rapid Service for OMISHIOTSU from Sannomiya to Kyoto in early June 2017.
    We would like to know whether it is possible to take our baggage onto the train with us – there are four of us and four suitcases.

    I look forward to hearing from you.

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

      Hi Lorene,

      It’s not impossible and there is no restriction. You can bring it but you may face very hard situation. This train is a sort of commute train and it does not have any luggage space. You may need to hold your luggage at your seat. And also you may not get a seat either if you take this train in peak hours.


      Takeshi / JPRail.com

  8. hi am i able to buy this special rapid train at kyoto station ?

  9. 3ggi3pot
    Eggie Gonzales says:

    Hi! I find your article about JR West Pass very helpful. I’m visiting Japan again next month and will be staying mostly in Kyoto but I plan to go to Himeji and Osaka within the same day: from Shijo – to Himeji – to Osaka – back to Shijo.

    May you please let me know if I understood it correctly that the JR West Pass will only cover the JR Special Rapid Service rides? It will not cover the Kyoto City Subway trains?

    Below are the routes I plan to take. And based on my understanding if I purchase a JR West Pass for 1 day amounting to 2,200 yen it will cover 4,560 yen worth of JR train rides between Shijo-Himeji-Osaka-Shijo? While my ICOCA will cover the Kyoto Subway train rides amounting to 860 yen? Is my understanding correct?

    Shijo to Himeji – JR West Pass will only cover 2,270yen?
    from Shijo Stn take Kyoto Subway Karasuma Line for Takeda (210 yen)> get off at Kyoto Stn take JR Rapid Special Service for Himeji (2,270 yen) > get off at Himeji

    Himeji to Osaka-Namba – JR West Pass will only cover (1,490 yen)?
    from Himeji Stn take JR Rapid Service for Yasu (1,490 yen) > get off at Osaka Stn > walk to Umeda Line take Osaka City Subway Midosuji Line for Tennoji (240 yen) > get off at Namba Stn > walk to Osaka-Namba

    Osaka-Namba to Shijo – JR West Pass will only cover 800 yen?
    from Osaka-Namba take Hanshin Namba Line Rapid Exp for Amagasaki (200 yen) > get off at Nishikujo Stn and transfer to JR Yamatoji Rapid Service for Osaka > get off at Osaka Stn and transfer to JR Special Rapid Service for Maibara (800 yen) > get off at Kyoto Stn and transfer to Kyoto City Subway Karasuma Line for Kokusaikaikan > get off at Shijo Stn (210 yen)

    Thank you so much for your help!!!!

  10. Hi. We will be booking a 5day stay in Osaka mainly for shopping and Universal Studios (this includes Kyoto and Nara). What pass should we take if we want to use JR line from KIX until Tennoji and use other lines to explore Osaka plus a one-way shinkansen to Kyoto?

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