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

Typical JR ticket is like this.
Typical JR ticket is like this.

I have received many inquiries about Tokyo-Osaka one way trip. I always recommend to use single ticket for long distance transfer. like from Tokyo to Kyoto, Tokyo to Osaka or Osaka to Nagoya. Because it is cheaper than Japan Rail Pass 7 days pass. I wrote about fare calculation before. But I think it is not enough. I need to explain much more about JR single ticket rule. It is very complicated for the tourists from oversea. But you don’t need to understand everything. If you understand some basic rules, single ticket is more useful and it may save your cost.

In this post, I show you some basic rules of single ticket for long distance transfer and how to use and purchase it.

How to purchase it

Simply you can purchase it at the station. In major stations, you can purchase it at even vending machine. Especially when you purchase a ticket for short distance transfer, vending machine is the easiest. But ticket window is easier to purchase a llong distance ticket for the travellers.

If you want to take express trains, you have to purchase express surcharge ticket too. Even if you want to take non reserved seat on limited express, you have to purchase it. Both reserved and non reserved ticket for limited express (Shinkansen as well) can be purchased at “Midori no Madoguchi”. Midori no Madoguchi is the name of JR reservation window. You can purchase base fare ticket at Midori no Madoguchi too. Please get the detail about reservation at the post, “How to reserve the train seat of Japan Railway. Is Online reservation available for Japan Rail Pass user?“.

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

ex) 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

As I wrote the post, Guide to plan your trip. Fare Calculation, you can get it at Hyperdia easily.

Click to enlarge.
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.

Validity

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.

Distance Valid days
101 – 200 km 2 days
201 – 400 km 3 days
401 – 600 km 4 days
601 – 800 km 5 days
801 – 1000 km 6 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.

Stopover

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.

792 thoughts on “For non JR pass travellers. Guide to use JR single ticket, basic rules, validity and stopover”

  1. Hi Takeshi,

    That’s great… Seems that I’m all organised and ready for my first Japan trip. Yayyyy..

    Thank you so much for all advice you have been provide me.

    Cheers,
    Xinlie

  2. Hi Takeshi,

    Hope all is well.

    I need your expert advice on a few things. I’ll be flying in from Singapore to Osaka (Kansai) and then flying out from Tokyo (Narita).

    I plan to stay in Osaka for 6 days 5 nights and 7 days 6 nights in Tokyo (or vice versa).

    During my stay in Osaka, I plan to travel to Kyoto, Kobe and Nara on day trips.
    During my stay in Tokyo, I plan to travel to Hakone and possibly Kawasaki or Yokohama on day trips.

    In this case, will a JR 7 day pass be better or a single ticket?

    Looking forward to hear from you and many thanks in advance!

  3. Hi Takeshi,

    Thank you for your prompt response.

    So, what I can comprehend from your response about 2x Tokyo Subway 72 hours regardless I need it or not, each person is actually allowed to purchase more than one of the same type of pass, yeah..?

    Regards,
    Xinlie

  4. Hi Takeshi,

    Thank you for this post!

    I’m planning to buy a Tokyo to Osaka ticket on Day 1 and have a stopover in Kyoto then travel to Osaka on Day 3 with the same ticket. It will still be valid & cheaper right?

    Raisa

    1. Hi Raisa,

      You can use same ticket from Tokyo to Osaka with stopover at Kyoto. However if you buy Tokyo to Kyoto and Kyoto to Osaka separately, total cost is not much different. And also if you don’t stay near JR station in Kyoto and/or Osaka, you may take other railways from Kyoto to Osaka, such as Hankyu railway, Keihan railway. Please see the link below to find the info about the railway network in Kansai area.
      https://jprail.com/destinations/how-to-transfer-among-kyoto-osaka-and-kobe-compare-japan-railway-and-private-lines.html

      Cheers,

      Takeshi / JPRail.com

  5. Hey Takeshi,

    Im planning to buy a one way ticket for 18040¥ on Nozomi from Tokyo to Hiroshima.

    1. Why cant I get Hyperdia to show Kodama even when I uncheck Nozomi and check only Bullet train (Shinkansen) box.
    1. Can I stop in Nagoya, Kyoto, Osaka and Kobe during 6 days, since its 894.2 km?
    2. Do I need to notify the stopovers from the beginning when I purchase the ticket or just as I go?

    Thank you

    Brendan

    1. Hi Brendan,

      >1. Why cant I get Hyperdia to show Kodama even when I uncheck Nozomi and check only Bullet train (Shinkansen) box.

      Hyberdia shows the fastest option. Kodama is the slowest train on Shinkansen line. Even you uncheck Nozomi, it usually shows Hikari and/or Sakusa because Hikari and/or Sakusa are much faster than Kodama.

      >1. Can I stop in Nagoya, Kyoto, Osaka and Kobe during 6 days, since its 894.2 km?

      Yes, you may. But in Kobe, you can get off at Shin-Kobe only. You need to pay extra fare for taking subway to get downtown Kobe, such as Sannomiya.

      >2. Do I need to notify the stopovers from the beginning when I purchase the ticket or just as I go?

      No. You can do as you go. But you have to buy Shinkansen seat fee ticket beside base fare ticket for each segment.

      Cheers,

      Takeshi / JPRail.com

  6. Hi Takeshi,
    Thanks for your prompt response.
    Just to sum up from what you have replied.
    1. Kyoto-Fukuchima = Kansai Wide Pass
    2. Fukuchima-Miyazu (Tango Railway) = also covered by Kansai Wide Pass..?
    3. Kobe-Maiko = Kansai One Pass… or single ticket…?
    4. Arimaonsen JR Bus = Kansai One Pass…or single ticket..?
    5. Is there any different fare for adult and child on single ticket..?

    Thank you very much, Takeshi.

    Regards,
    Xinlie

      1. Hi Takeshi,
        Thanks heaps for your continuous assistance.

        Referring to Q4, we will be commuting mostly by Kyoto subways and buses, so will that be a child fare for 12yo kid on single ticket..?

        Is it possible to get someone in Tokyo to buy me Fuji-Hakone Pass..? How does it work ..? (I can send my passport detail to my friend there)

        Regards,
        Xinlie

        1. Hi Xinlie,

          Adult fare is applied to 12 years old. Basically most of transportable requires adult fare for 12 years old.

          You cannot ask someone to purchase Fuji Hakone Pass. You need to show your actual passport and your status in Japan. This pass is available exclusively for overseas tourist who enter Japan as short term stay. So you can purchase it after you arrive in Japan.

          Cheers,

          Takeshi / JPRail.com

          1. Hi Takeshi,
            Thank your very much for your information.
            I have done my itinerary for Mt. Fuji and Hakone as following:
            DAY 15 :
            (I). Odawara – Gora – (cable car) Togendai – Sightseeing cruise – Hakonemachi-ko – Gotemba Outlet – Fujisan (Hotel). Which way do you think is quicker to get to Gotemba , (a) via Hakonemachi-ko or (b) from Togendai (cruise round trip)….?

            (II). Odawara – Hakonemachi-ko – sightseeing cruise – Togendai (cable car) – Gora – Gotemba – Fujisan (Hotel)

            DAY 16 :
            Fujisan – Fuji Q – Benifuji Onsen – Fujisan (back to Hotel)

            DAY 17 :
            Fujisan – Chureito Pagoda – Kawaguchiko – Kachirope – Music Museum – KonoHana Museum – Lake Saiko – Sengen Shrine – Fujisan (hotel).

            DAY 18 :
            Fujisan – Shinjuku – Hanzomon

            As you can see, I have made two alternatives routes.. I would like to get your opinion which route is a better options. FYI, I would love to see Deyama Bridge.
            My question will be:
            1. Which option do you recommend; (I) or (II) , if option (I)-route (a) or (b) in terms of the fastest route to reach Gotemba ..?
            2. Fuji-Hakone Pass does cover those routes (on day 15 to17), doesn’t it..?
            3. On day 18, what pass should I get ..?

            Many many thanks, Takeshi.

            Regards,
            Xinlie

          2. Hi Takeshi,
            That’s brilliant, thanks a lot.

            Yes, I will be definitely stopping at Owakudani and taste its renowned-boiled eggs.
            There is one thing I want to be sure about the suitcase locker, is it available at Gora Station , as I will be checking out from Hotel in Kyoto….?

            Many thanks, Takeshi.

            Regards,
            Xinlie

          3. Hi Xinlie,

            There is luggage storage but I recommend you to ship your luggage from Kyoto to your hotel in Lake Kawaguchi. Even if you store your luggage in Gora, you need to go back to Gora after you visit Owakudani. It’s wasting time. Most of hotel can handle luggage shipping service. It costs usually 2000 to 3000 yen and it take 1 night to deliver. If your hotel do not, you can do it at Kyoto station.
            http://carry-s.com/

            So pack small for last night in Kyoto and ship it one day before you leave in Kyoto. You can visit Hakone and Gotemba without luggage.

            Cheers,

            Takeshi / JPRail.com

          4. Hi Takeshi,
            What a great information you have provided me.

            Definitely use that service and make my journey easier…so I can go to Gotemba station direct from Togendai (48 mins).

            ありがとうございました
            (*hope google translator does properly with translation 🙂 )

            Regards,
            Xinlie

          5. Hi Takeshi,

            Hope you are well.

            Gee time really flies and my departure date is getting closer. I have done my itinerary for Tokyo…
            Would like to get your opinion about what pass I should be getting to best suited my trip around Tokyo.

            DAY 1 : Shinjuku sightseeing – hotel (kiyosumi-shirakawa) – Oidaba

            DAY 2 : Asakusa area – Tokyo Skytree – Ryogoku – Hotel – Roppongi

            DAY 3 : Tokyo Imperial Palace – Tokyo Station – Hotel – Akihabara

            DAY 4 : Harajuku – Shibuya – Jiyugaoka – Musashikoyama – Yurakucho – Ginza – Tsukiji – Hotel – Shinjuku (Golden town)

            DAY 5 : TOBU – Akasaka (Ninja Restaurant)

            DAY 6 : Haneda – Australia

            Do you think I should buy 3 days Tokyo Subway Pass…? Can I buy two tickets to cover the whole duration of my stay in Tokyo ..?

            Looking forward to hearing from you.

            Regards,
            Xinlie

          6. Hi Xinlie,

            You may have Tokyo subway ticket. But I don’t think you need 2 X 72 hours.
            Odaiba is not covered by subway pass. You need to add single fare from Shiodome or Shinbashi.
            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

            Haneda, Jiyuugaoka and Musashi-Koyama cannot be accessed by subway. You need to take Tokyu which is not subway. Single fare is required.

            I don’t understand what “TOBU” is on day 5.

            I think even though some places are not covered by subway pass, you can use it for the first 4 days. On day 5, I don’t know. On day 6, subway is not covered anyway.

            Cheers,

            Takeshi / JPRail.com

  7. Hai Takeshi, im planning to have one way from tokyo to osaka with stopover at kyoto. I think this guide will work for me very well.

    I have a very newbie question though. I understand that i buy the ticket at tokyo and have to go to kansai airport in 5 days after the purchase. So in order to do this itenerary, i go to Midori no Madoguchi at any JR station in tokyo, and say i want a ticket from tokyo to kansai airport? And after that i’m free to go to kyoto and osaka along the way and then, when i want to go to kyoto – osaka, then osaka – kix just show them the ticket?

    One more question is can i purchase this ticket in advance? I mean, on day 1 or 2 after i arrive at tokyo, can i buy it and use it a couple days later? Or i should buy it on the same day when i want to go to kyoto? Thanks. Any advise will be useful.

    1. Hi Selvia,

      You can purchase a ticket at any Midori no Madoguchi in advance. When you make a stopover, you have to go through man gate and tell a station staff that you want to make a stopover. Don’t slot your ticket into machine gate. It will be gone and you will lose it.

      By the way, if you do not stay around Kyoto station, you may use a single ticket for just Tokyo to Kyoto and take other train to Osaka. There are other non JR railways, such as Hankyu Railway, Keihan railway. These trains are not covered by JR ticket but the fare is around 500 to 600 yen for Kyoto to Osaka. It’s not a big deal.
      https://jprail.com/destinations/how-to-transfer-among-kyoto-osaka-and-kobe-compare-japan-railway-and-private-lines.html

      And also if you do not stay near JR station in Osaka, you may take other train. There are some deals available for Osaka to Kansai.
      https://jprail.com/sample-itineraries/airport-access/kansai-kix/how-to-choose-the-deals-for-access-tofrom-kansai-airport.html

      Of course you can use one ticket to Kansai and make stopovers. But you can use simply one ticket for Tokyo to Kyoto, buy other ticket for Kyoto to Osaka and use other ticket or deal from Osaka to Kansai. This may be easier for you.

      Cheers,

      Takeshi / JPRail.com

      1. Hai Takeshi, thank you for the quick reply.

        I am thinking to stay near kyoto station, but not at osaka (probably near USJ). Buy yea, using that itenerary only gives me 5 days between kyoto and osaka, which i don’t know if it will be enough.

        I am pretty sure that I will not use a JR pass. I will use one of tokyo passes and odakyu pass to go to hakone. On kyoto i will buy kyoto pass, and then osaka amazing pass. I dont think i need kansai thru pass as I will not travel to kobe or nara due to time constraint.

        My itenerary is still blur because i will be going on may next year. But that is the outline that i have been working on.

        Do you think my plan is good so far? Any advise will be apreciated. Thanks.

          1. Ah! Arigatou gozaimasu! It will simplify my trip to airport so much, just the missing pics that I need.

            So If i buy ticket from tokyo to kansai, it will still give me 5 days right? So i can use 3 days in tokyo. And by the way, during purchasing of the ticket, at Midori no Madoguchi, i say that i want to buy ticket from tokyo to osaka base fare (with seats), should i specify which station at tokyo i will depart and at osaka that I will disembark? And also, should i the ticket person that i want to do stopover at kyoto?

            And just to be clear, upon reaching kyoto, i exit through gate with security, and when im going to osaka from kyoto, also enter from man gate? Just show them the ticket right?

            And one more thing, if i plan to use some JR lines at tokyo, should i purchase suica/pasmo on top of the tokyo pass that i have?

            Sorry for a lot of questions, but i’m really excited because my headache around the transport system is gone. Thanks agan for the advise Takeshi.

          2. Hi Selvia,

            As I mentioned, you need a ticket for Tokyo to Universal city, not to Kansai airport. It’s valid for 4 days and you can stay in Kyoto for 3 days.

            When you purchase a ticket at Midori no Madoguchi, you can tell which station you will take a train and which station you will go. You don’t need to specify train station name but you should. It’s much easier.

            When you reenter the station, it’s same. Just show your ticket and go through man gate. You also need to purchase a ticket to take Shinkansen from Tokyo to Kyoto. You don’t need to take Shinkansen from Kyoto to Universal city. It’s takes about 45 minutes ride with two transfers at Osaka and Nishikujo by local train. Even if you take Shinkansen, it’s not much faster and also you need to change trains one more time at Shin-Osaka.

            You may add Suica or Pasmo on top of Tokyo subway pass if you meant Tokyo pass is Tokyo subway pass.

            Cheers,

            Takeshi / JPRail.com

          3. Thanks Takeshi. 4 days should be good enough for me. So i get 2 full days at kyoto.

            After running the numbers on hyperdia. This is what i get:
            Tokyo – osaka with kyoto stopover 8,750 + 5,900 = 14,650
            Tokyo – kyoto + kyoto – osaka 8,210 + 5,900 + 560 = 14,670
            Are my calculations correct? Only 20 yen difference. Or do I read the numbers wrongly?

  8. Hi Takeshi,
    I have just realised that Kansai Thru Pass doesn’t cover Tonzai Line, am I right ..? As I will be staying in Higashiyama area where aligns with Tozai Line, Im wondering if Kansai Thru Pass worth buying.

    Also, Im thinking of visiting Amanohasidate area in Day 13 and Koka in day 14 (my total days is 22 Days).. I know these areas aren’t covered by Kansai Thru Pass. Do you think is it worth getting 7 Days JR Pass and validate it on the Day-13..
    I can use it to go to Odawara too.

    Thanks, Takeshi

    Regards,
    Xinlie

    1. Hi Xinlie,

      Kyoto subway Tozai line is covered by Kansai thru pass.
      http://www.surutto.com/images/ticket/kansai_thru_pass/english/en_map.pdf

      Amanohashidate and Koga are not enough to use JR Pass. You may add Kansai wide area pass. Both places are covered.
      https://jprail.com/travel-informations/other-rail-passes/rail-pass-for-visitors/the-newest-jr-west-rail-pass-for-kansai-and-okayama-kurashiki-kinosakai-and-shingu-area-kansai-wide-area-pass.html

      Cheers,

      Takeshi / JPRail.com

  9. Hi Takeshi,

    Thank you very very much for all information you have provided me.
    Just want to touch base our all correspondences here…
    1. Can I purchase Fuji Hakone Pass in other station than Odawara ? Online purchase..?
    2. Can ICOCA be used in all Japan, such as Kansai area, Tokyo etc..? I realise that this IC card can be top up and no expiration date, less hassle than buying ticket from the vending machine every time we get on the trains or buses.

    I will make my itinerary for Tokyo soon and hope to hear your opinion again.

    Many thanks, Takeshi..

    Regards,
    Xinlie

    1. Hi Xinlie,

      1. You cannot purchase it online. That is why I mentioned you need to go to Odawara.

      2. You can use ICOCA in other areas, such as Tokyo too. But ICOCA includes 500 yen deposit. If you want to refund this deposit, you have to return ICOCA before leaving from Kansai area. You cannot get a refund in other area, such as Tokyo. ICOCA is valid for 10 year from the day of last usage. So you can keep it and you may use it if you go back to Japan in next 10 years.

      Cheers,

      Takeshi / JPRail.com

  10. Hi Takeshi,
    Thanks again for your response.

    Im still bit baffle with the difference between Kansai Thru Pass and ICOCA and Kansai One Pass.
    1. Are those three available for Overseas Tourists..?
    2. Is there any limit to purchase these Passes..? For example, can I buy Osaka Amazing Pass, Osaka Visitor Ticket, Kyoto Bus Pass, Kansai Thru Pass and ICOCA…?
    3. From Kyoto to Fujisan, I will get off in Mishima instead then take either bus or train to Gotemba then another bus to Fujisan. If I purchase Fuji-Hakone Pass, can I still use it from Gotemba to Fujisan and other in the coverage areas, such as Hakone..?
    4. How to reserve a seat, considering Kansai-Hiroshima Area Pass doesnt valid for reserved seat.. I will be travelling with my hubby and daughter, thus we prefer to sit together. Do I need to pay extra and how to do it..?

    Regards,
    Xinlie

    1. Hi Xinlie,

      1. Yes.

      2. Yes.

      3. Yes. You can take a bus between Gotemba and Lake Kawaguchi as many as you want. It covers most of bus in Lake Kawaguchi and Hakone area. Please see the link below again and find the coverage map. Actually it covers the bus from Mishima to Gotemba too but unfortunately it’s not sold in Mishima. That is why you need to go to Odawara.

      4. If you use Kansai Hiroshima area pass, it’s not a good idea to reserve a seat because it covers only base fare. Please see the link below to find more about reserved seat and non reserved seat.
      https://jprail.com/travel-informations/travel-tips/reserved-seat-vs-non-reserved-seat-how-to-get-a-seat-on-non-reserved-car.html

      Cheers,

      Takeshi / JPRail.com

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