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

Fare table
This is not a regular JR ticket but a typical JR train ticket looks like this.

I have received many inquiries about Tokyo to Kyoto or Osaka one way trip. I always recommend to use a regular ticket for this one way long distance train ride, such as from Tokyo to Kyoto, from Osaka to Tokyo. Because this one way trip is not enough to get the worth of JR Pass 7-day. I have written the post about the fare calculation before.

But I think this post was not enough to explain the fare rule. JR single ticket rule is very complicated for the tourists from oversea. But you do not need to know everything. If you understand some basic rules, single ticket is more useful and it gives you a trip at more affordable rate.

In this post, I will show you some basic rules of the regular ticket for the long distance train ride and how to use and purchase it.

How to purchase it

Simply you can purchase it at the station. If you make a short distance trip in the city or city to just outside city, you can purchase a ticket at the vending machine.

Ueno to Tokyo (inside city)
Tokyo to Yokohama (city to just outside place)
Osaka to Universal City (inside city)
Osaka to Kyoto (city to outside place)

If you make a long distance trip, you still can buy a ticket at the vending machine. But the ticket window may be easier to purchase a long distance ticket for the foreign travelers. Especially if you intend to make a stopover on the way, you have to buy a ticket at the ticket window. Because you have to explain your trip plan.

If you want to take a limited express train, you have to purchase a limited express surcharge ticket too. Even if you want to take a non reserved seat on a limited express train, you have to purchase it. You can purchase both a reserved and a non reserved ticket for a limited express (the Shinkansen as well) at “Midori no Madoguchi”. Midori no Madoguchi is the name of JR reservation ticket window. You can purchase a base fare ticket at Midori no Madoguchi too. Please get the detail about reservation at the post below.

In the case of purchasing both base fare ticket and limited express surcharge ticket, you can purchase it in advance. An express surcharge ticket is on sale one month prior to a departure date.

Tokyo to Kyoto travel on Dec 1
You can purchase the tickets after Nov 1.

You also can purchase the tickets at any JR stations if you buy both base fare and limited express surcharge at same time. For example, if you start to travel from Tokyo station, you can purchase it at Narita airport station on the day of arrival.

Base fare ticket can be purchased at any JR stations where station staff is on duty. There are many station without station staffs in remote area. In major cities and major stations, there are station staff. Even if you take a train at the station without station staff, you can purchase it from the conductor in the train.

How to get a fare

You can use Hyperdia to get the fare quite easily.

Click to enlarge.

As you see above capture image of Hyperdia, you can get base fare and seat fare (includes surcharge). In this image, total fare is the following:

Base fare – 9560 yen
Shinkansen Nozomi (Tokyo – Shin-Osaka) – 5740 yen (reserved seat)
Ltd Exp Haruka (Shin-Osaka – Kansai airport) – 820 yen (reserved seat)
Total – 16120 yen

*The above image was captured in 2013. The fare was raised in April l, 2014 because of consumer tax was increased to 8% from 5%. The actual fare is different from the fare in the image above.

The price of Japan Rail Pass 7 days ordinary is 28300 yen. (New price is 29110 yen.) Total single fare is more than 10000 yen cheaper than 7 days pass price. This is the reason why I recommend to use single fare for Tokyo – Osaka one way transfer.


Please see the above capture image of Hyperdia again. You also can find a distance at Hyperdia. This is a key to use single ticket. Actually long distance ticket can be used in multiple days.

DistanceValid days
101 – 200 km2 days
201 – 400 km3 days
401 – 600 km4 days
601 – 800 km5 days
801 – 1000 km6 days
  • From 1001 km and up, add 1 day every 200 km.
  • If you travel more than 101 km but it is in Tokyo or Osaka zone only, ticket valid in one day only.

So in above capture image, distance is 613.4km. This ticket valid in 5 days.


You can stopover as many as you want. Of course you cannot go back. Once you start to travel, you have to go forward. You have to care only one thing. When you depart/arrive to travel at the following areas, you cannot stopover in same areas.

  • Sapporo
  • Sendai
  • Tokyo 23 wards
  • Tokyo Yamanote line
  • Yokohana
  • Nagoya
  • Kyoto
  • Osaka
  • Kobe
  • Hiroshima
  • Kitakyushu
  • Fukuoka

These areas are same as city limit. I show you some examples.

1. Above ticket (Tokyo – Kansai Airport)
You can NOT – Stopover at anywhere in Tokyo 23 wards. For example, after you start to travel from Tokyo, you cannot stopover at Shinagawa.
You can – Stopover at Kyoto, Osaka and anywhere outside of Tokyo 23 wards.
By the way, you can start to travel from anywhere in Tokyo 23 wards.

2. Ticket from Narita airport to Osaka
You can NOT – Stopover at anywhere in Osaka city. For example, you cannot stopover at Shin-Osaka. Once you exit at any stations in Osaka city, your ticket will be expired right away.
You can – Stopover at Tokyo, Kyoto, Nagoya and anywhere outside of Osaka city.
By the way, when you travel through Tokyo downtown core, ticket will be calculated by the shortest route. For example, most typical route from Narita to Osaka via Tokyo, via Tokyo station and Shinagawa station. But if you want to go to Osaka via Akihabara and Shinjuku, you can take this route and stopover.

But in case of using limited express, you have to purchase limited express surcharge ticket for each segments.
ex) Tokyo – Osaka trip, stopover at Nagoya.
You have to purchase two Shinkansen tickets, Tokyo – Nagoya Shinkansen surcharge ticket and Ngoya – Shin-Osaka surcharge ticket.

Sample ideas

Please see above capture image of Hyperdia again. If you use this ticket, you can do the following itinerary.

Day 1 Tokyo – Kyoto (Stopover at Kyoto)
Day 2 Kyoto (no use single ticket)
Day 3 Kyoto – Osaka (Stopover at Osaka)
Day 4 One day trip to Kobe (purchase another single ticket.)
Day 5 Osaka – Kansai airport

When you arrive in Tokyo, you can use other deals, such as Suica & N’ex. And you have 5 days after you finish to see Tokyo. If you add Suica & N’ex one way ticket, total amount is 19620 yen. It is about 9000 yen cheaper than JR Pass 7 days.

I believe this is the perfect solution for Tokyo – Osaka one way travellers.


  1. yvonne says:

    Hi Takeshi san,
    I am going to travel to Japan from 1st March 2014 to 7th March. I will arrive at Kansai Airport at 10.30pm on 1st March 2014. I will stay overnight at either Namba or Umeda area.

    Day 1: Kansai Airport –> Osaka
    Day 2: Osaka
    Day 3: Osaka –> Kyoto
    Day 4: Kyoto
    Day 5: Kyoto –> Tokyo
    Day 6: Tokyo
    Day 7: Tokyo –> Haneda Airport

    Can you suggest what type of pass I should buy? Can I buy 7 Day JR pass and move around in Osaka and Tokyo areas? or do I need to buy separate local train pass? If not, can you please help me to list down what pass should I buy on my 7 days in Japan?



  2. Greg says:

    This is a very informative website, there are loads of information to digest.
    Would you be able to help me on what rail pass or single journey ticket for the following itinerary , and the costs :

    Day 1 : Arrive in Kansai Airport early morning, whole day in Osaka
    Day 2 : Osaka – Kyoto -Nara
    Day 3 : Osaka – Odawara – Hakone
    Day 4 : Hakone – Tokyo
    Day 5 -7 : Tokyo
    Day 7 : Depart from Narita Airport

    Is it true that there are different regions in Tokyo itself and served by different train passes ? If that is the case is it viable to cover the regions on separate days ?

    Thank you !


  3. KCBunny
    casey says:

    Thanks for such great information. I am still exploring… I am still trying to choose the airport to arrive n depart … but I am confused with the pass I should be getting.. can we combine different pass to make it efficient for different days?

    • Takeshi Shimomura, Author of
      JPRail says:

      Hi Casey,

      You can combine multiple passes, like JR Pass and subway pass. Some passes allow you to use nonconsecutive days, such as JR East pass or Kansai Thru Pass.
      If you have round trip between Tokyo and Osaka (or Kyoto) in 7 days, you can use 7 days JR pass. But if not, you need to combine several local deals or single ticket.

      Anyway, make sure where you want to visit and build your itinerary. And then you will think about purchasing pass.


      Takeshi / JP Rail

  4. Marsha says:

    I be a guest speaker at a conference in Tokyo Oct. 22-24.My flight back to the US is on Oct. 28. I will have 3 days available to travel from Tokyo to Kyoto. I will spend my last night at a hotel near Narita Airport so I can be close to the airport. It is not much time, I know, but it is all I have.,

    So this is the part I would appreciate your advice about.

    1. On Oct 25 I would like to go by Shinkansen to from Tokyo to Kyoto, where I will spend 3 days and 2 nights, and return to Narita, taking Shinkansen from Kyoto on the evening of Oct. 27. Would it be worthwhile for me to get a Japan Rail pass just for the roundtrip from Tokyo to Kyoto on the Shinkansen? Or should I just buy a return ticket (or 2 single tickets)?

    2. If I buy a return ticket or 2 single tickets, should I order it here in the US or buy it when I get to Tokyo?

    3. A travel company online is offering a voucher for a roundtrip Shinkansen ticket from Tokyo to Kyoto (seat not reserved) including a one day Kyoto sightseeing pass for Y21,000. Is that a good deal or not? (Does JP offer something similar?)

    4. I also want to go to Nara from Kyoto one day. I know Kintetsu line is not covered by Japan Rail pass. Is there another pass that would be worthwhile for just a day, or should I just buy a return ticket?

    5.. Will Shinkansen take me all the way to Narita or must I change to another train somewhere in Tokyo? Is Shinkansen the most convenient way to get to Narita from Kyoto or is there something else you would suggest that might be more convenient?

    6. Are there discounts on Japanese trains and subways for people over 65 years old?

    Many thanks for your advice.

  5. Juggling Mike
    Mike says:


    I was wondering if you could assist me with this itinerary.

    Day 1 – 5: Tokyo (Arriving at Narita)
    Day 6: Nagano
    Day 7-10: Kyoto
    Day 11: Kyoto -> Osaka -> Kansai Airport

    I was thinking:
    Suico+NEX combo for Tokyo
    Single ticket from Tokyo -> Nagano
    Single ticket from Nagano -> Kyoto
    Single ticket from Kyoto -> Kansai Airport with a stopover in Osaka

    I was wondering if it would be possible to get a single ticket from Nagano -> Kansai with Kyoto and Osaka as stopovers, but I don’t think the rail distance and my travel days would allow it..

    If I stick to the above plan, if you consider that the voyage from Kyoto -> Kansai is 99km, will I be able to stopover in Osaka in the same day?

    For Kyoto and Osaka, will I be able to keep using the Suico card for the subway system and buses?

    I realize I am probably repeating what everybody else is asking, but I greatly appreciate the help.

    Thank you for creating this website. It is greatly informative!

    – Mike

  6. Han Han says:

    Can you please advise me in deciding my itinery ?
    – I’d like to go to Shirakawa-go via Takayama, and finally go to Osaka. From your ilustration above :

    Day 1 Tokyo – Kyoto (Stopover at Kyoto)
    Day 2 Kyoto (no use single ticket)
    Day 3 Kyoto – Osaka (Stopover at Osaka) –

    Can I make a stop in Takayama first ? and then maybe spend 1 day in Takayama, and the schedule will be change like this :

    Day 1 Tokyo – Takayama [stopover in Takayama]
    Day 2 Takayama (no use single ticket)
    Day 3 Takayama – Kyoto – Osaka


    Day 3 Takayama – Kyoto
    Day 4 : Kyoto – Osaka

    Can it be done ? Because I searched the web there is East Japan Pass, and West Japan Pass, but there isn’t any Central Japan Pass [Takayama, Mt Fuji area]


    • Takeshi Shimomura, Author of
      JPRail says:

      Hi Han Han,

      You can’t make this trip with one single ticket. Because you will take same line between Gifu and Takayama. So if you want to make this trip, you have to purchase Tokyo-Takayama ticket and Takayama-Kyoto-Osaka ticket.

      There is only one deal to get Takayama.

      But one person ticket is not cheaper than Nagoya-Takayama round trip fare. If you travel with someone, you can use two person ticket that is a bit cheaper than total single fares. And also this deal cannot be used for Shirakawago. If you intend to use taxi in Takayama for sightseeing, you may be able to use deal. But this deal can be purchased in Nagoya station. If you travel from Tokyo, you have to exit from ticket gate and purchase it, and then go back to platform to get a train.

      In case of using this deal, you may use single ticket from Tokyo to Kyoto. You will stopover at Nagoya and start to use this deal. And after you finish Takayama trip, you will exit Nagoya station and then enter Nagoya station with your single ticket to Kyoto.


      Takeshi / JP Rail

  7. john says:

    Hi Sir,

    May I know if the 7-day JR pass will make sense if use it on narita express to enter tokyo, then go to hakone, then to kyoto, then nara then osaka, then exit via kansai. so basically its just all one way and local trains/buses while in each city that is usable with the JR pass.

    thanks for any info

  8. laura says:

    Hi Takeshi

    Please advise on the following:-

    1) What are some convenient and affordable ways to get from KIX to Tanabe (homestay near Tanabe train station) please? Is it bus or a combination of buses and trains?

    2) How to get to Namba Oriental Hotel from Tanabe train station please?

    3) In your opinion, is it cost-effective to buy JR KWAP for 7000 yen, use for consecutive 4 days if spending 3 nights in Tanabe, 4 nights in Osaka and may be day trip to Kyoto…

    Grateful thanks

    • Takeshi Shimomura, Author of
      JPRail says:

      Hi Laura,

      1) The following route is the best:
      KIX (Bus) JR Wakayama (JR train) Kiitababe
      If you really want to save your budget, you can take local train from Wakayama to Kiitanabe. But train runs once an hour basically. And you have to transfer at Gobo station usually. You can check at Hyperdia as I mentioned you in last reply. Tanaba staion is Kiitanabe. When you input the name of station, be careful.

      2) JR-Namba (JR train) Tennoji (JR train) Kiitanabe
      It is same situation above. If you take Limited Express, you can get Kiitanabe directly from Tennoji. But if you take local trains, you will spend many hours and must transfer at least three times, usually Tennoji, Wakayama and Gobo.

      3) It costs about 5300 yen for Kiitanabe to JR-Namba one way trip by limited express train. If you use Kansai Wide Area Pass for round trip to Kiitanabe from Namba, it works. But if you use one way from Tanabe to Namba and some trip around Osaka and Kyoto, total single fares are not much different from Kansai wide Area Pass. Kansai Wide Area Pass is slightly cheaper. But it does not give you a huge deal.


      Takeshi / JP Rail

  9. Jeannie says:

    After reading will need your advise.I am going to Japan from 07 march to 16march
    I am planning to reach Osaka than transfer to Kobe .Kobe for 4 day for conference ONe day tour to Kyoto than go back to Osaka.The balance days will tour arround Osaka. JR train is advisable or single pass?

  10. rights2read
    Simon says:

    Hi Takeshi,

    After reading, need to clarify below example on the stopover.

    1: From Tokyo Station to Osaka Station – one way Nozomi ticket stopover in Kyoto for 1 or 2 days, can the same ticket be use for travel to Osaka Station by the Special Rapid train.
    Or the reverse from Osaka Station to Kyoto Station stopover for 1 or 2 days then continue from Kyoto Station to Tokyo Station on one way Nozomi ticket.
    2: From Tokyo Station to Shin-Osaka Station and end at Osaka Station, one way ticket , it is ok?


    • Takeshi Shimomura, Author of
      JPRail says:

      Hi Simon,

      1. Yes. As long as you don’t exit at station in city of Osaka, ticket will be valid. Valid days is 4 days.

      2. Yes. As long as you just transfer at Shin-Osaka, it’s okay. You cannot exit at Shin-Osaka.


      Takeshi / JP Rail

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