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.


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.


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.

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

  1. HI there,
    Can I please confirm that this ticket option would be suitable from Tokyo – Osaka (2 nights) – Hiroshima?
    Where can I pre-purchase tickets from?

  2. Thankyou so much for this article! All the information online is always about the JR weekly pass, and I was struggling to understand how to get a basic one way ticket!

  3. Hi Takeshi

    Good day to you.

    Would wish to enquiry if this manner of travel is possible:
    (Seishun 18 + Shinkansen tochuu ge sha)
    Day 1 : Tokyo to Nagano (SS1)
    Day 3: Nagano to Matsumoto (SS2), Matsumoto to Takayama (Bus)
    Day 6: Takayama to Kyoto (SS3)
    Day 7: Kyoto (SS4)
    Day 9: Kyoto to Nagoya (Kyoto to Mishima (TCHE 1)
    Day 11: Nagoya to Mishima (TCHE 3), Stopover Shizuoka for e.g. lunch, Mishima to Tokyo (SS5)

    Not sure if this works, or if i am understanding your article correctly.

    Thank you.


    1. Hi Patty,

      I think you meant that you will use Seishun 18 kippu for day 1, 3, 6 and 7. You will use regular ticket for day 9 and 11. Is this correct?
      If so, your itinerary is feasible. I have a few things to mention.

      1. When you go to Nagano from Tokyo, you have to take Tokyo-Shinjuku-Matsumoto-Nagano route. This is the fastest route by Seishun 18. You cannot go directly to Nagano from Tokyo.

      2. You need to have Shinkansen ticket for each segment, Kyoto to Nagoya, Nagoya to Mishima and Mishima to Tokyo. I think you still have one more day left of Seishun 18. You can use it for either Kyoto to Nagoya or Mishima to Tokyo. You can even use for both and stop using it for day 7. It may give you more worth.


      Takeshi /

      1. Hi Takeshi

        Thank you for your reply. That’s really a good tip there to use Seishun as connection between the 2 segments from Kyoto to Tokyo. I didnt thought of that combination.

        I was checking out hyperdia for local/ rapid train from Kyoto to Tokyo… It seems that there is a very high chance to miss a connection in the day, and to mess up the ride. May I please enquiry further on which part of the Kyoto to Tokyo along the Seishun 18 will be better to add in 1 leg of Kodama ride to smooth the ride. I am thinking of Tohayashi to Mishmi? Not sure which station – station will be able to strike a decent balance between cost and time.

        Thank you for your help.


          1. Hi Patty,

            I’m not sure it will be available at Haneda or not. But this pass is available for everybody. Even if you cannot get it at Haneda, you can purchase it at other JR stations, like Shinagawa.


            Takeshi /

  4. Hi Takeshi,
    We are planning to travel as following schedule:

    10 Nov Arrival in Kansai Airport at 10.30pm
    11 Nov Osaka/ Kobe
    12 Nov Nara
    13 Nov Osaka – Kyoto (JR)
    14 Nov Kyoto
    15 Nov Kyoto
    16 Nov Kyoto -Tokyo (JR)
    17 Nov Tokyo
    18 Nov Tokyo
    19 Nov Departure from Narita

    A few quick questions:
    1. Are there still buses/ trains to Namba at 11.30pm from Kansai?
    2. I have 2 inter-city travel from Osaka to Kyoto and Kyoto to Tokyo. Does it make sense to get the JR Pass?
    3. Should I get 2 single tickets instead for inter-city route?

    Thank you.

  5. Hi Takeshi,

    This is very great article!

    I found this when planning my last trip and I think I’m ready to try this single-ticket scheme for my next trip 🙂

    I’m planning to go to Japan this October. I want to do a day trip to Hitachi Park from Tokyo then go to Matsumoto on the next day (via Kofu), stay there for 1 night then go to Alpine Route the next day.

    I checked Hyperdia and it’s 397.4 km between Katsuta Stn and Shinano-Omachi Stn so the ticket is valid for 3 days, right? But can I make stopovers at Kofu, Tokyo and Matsumoto?

    Appreciate your help with this 🙂


    1. Hi Irena,

      You can use single ticket from Katsuta to Shinano-Omachi with some stopovers. However where you will go after alpine route? I’m thinking JR East Pass Niigata Nagano may be better choice if you go back to Tokyo after alpine route.


      Takeshi /

      1. Hi Takeshi,

        Thanks for your reply.

        I’m going to finish the Alpine Route trip at Toyama, stay there for 1 night then go back to Tokyo. But I don’t think the JR East Pass Niigata Nagano covers up until Toyama?


        1. Hi Irena,

          JR East pass does not cover Toyama. You need to add single fare and Shinkansen surcharge for Toyama to Joetsu-Myoko. Joetsu-Myoko is a border station. It costs about 5,000 yen. But even if you add this extra fare, JR East pass may be better choice. If you purchase a ticket for Katsuta-Kofu-Matsumoto-Shinano-Omachi and Toyama to Tokyo, it is slightly cheaper than JR East pass + extra. However you may take train from Tokyo to Katsuta. If you add this fare, JR East pass + extra is cheaper. And also you have one or two days of JR East pass still. You can use it for other trip, like airport to Tokyo.


          Takeshi /

          1. Hi Takeshi,

            Right! That makes sense. I guess I can spend the extra day for a trip to Nikko. I heard it’d be beautiful in autumn 🙂

            If I combine the JR East Pass with the single ticket, do I have to get off at Joetsumyoko? Can I reserve the same seat all the way from Toyama to Tokyo?


          2. Hi Irena,

            No. You can keep on riding train from Toyama to Joetsu-Myoko.
            When you get JR East pass, you can purchase and book a ticket for Toyama to Joetsu-Myoko too. You can get same seat from Toyama to Tokyo.


            Takeshi /

          3. Hi Takeshi,

            Awesome! I’ll go and adjust my itinerary a bit to fully benefit from the pass.

            Thanks a lot for your help . So excited about the trip 🙂


  6. Hi Takeshi

    Would appreciate if you could kindly advise which passes would be most suitable for my trip.


    Tokyo – staying at Shinjuku-ku, Hyakunincho
    Day 1 – West side of Tokyo
    Day 2 – East side of Tokyo

    Kyoto – staying at Higashiyama-ku, Kyoto Station
    Day 3 – Higashiyama sightseeing district
    Day 4 – Arashiyama sightseeing district
    Day 5 – Kurama and Kibune, Northern Higashiyama

    Osaka – staying at Kita-ku Sonezaki
    Day 6 – Osaka Bay Area and Kita District
    Day 7 – Minami District and Tennoji

      1. Thank you Takeshi San.
        That means I buy Shinkasen base fare ticket and limited express ticket and I can only use them when I transfer from Tokyo to Kyoto, and from Kyoto to Osaka?

        1. Hi Amy san,

          You need to purchase a ticket for Tokyo to Kyoto and Kyoto to Osaka separately. Even if you can use one base fare ticket from Tokyo to Osaka with stopover in Kyoto, total fare is not much different from purchasing separately.

          You need Shinkansen ticket for Tokyo to Kyoto. For Kyoto to Osaka, it’s only 30 minutes ride by commuter train. You need only base fare ticket.


          Takeshi /

          1. Thanks again Takeshi san.
            Do I have to purchase the Shinkansen ticket in advance or I can buy it on the day of transfer from tokyonto Kyoto itself?

            Also is reserved seat advised?

          2. Hi Amy,

            I recommend you to reserve your seat in advance. Especially if you travel with someone, advanced reservation is highly recommended to get the seat side by side.


            Takeshi /

  7. Hi Takeshi,

    Thank you for this great page, I didn’t know that single tickets are valid for more than 1 day until I read this site 🙂

    I still hope to seek your advise on the below as I am not 100% sure if my understanding is correct:

    1. Is it possible to use a single ticket for Osaka to Yokohama (535.5km) with stopover at Mishima?
    13 Oct – board train from Osaka station
    13 Oct – stopover at Mishima station as stopover
    16 Oct – continue from Mishima to Yokohama

    2. There are options on HyperDia with 1-3 transfers for Osaka to Yokohama. Can I still use a single trip ticket for a stopover at Mishima if there are more than 1 transfer in the route?

    3. I want to visit the Fuji 5 lakes during the 3 days stopover at Mishima. Read about ‘Mt. Fuji Shizuoka Area Tourist Pass Mini’ pass and the Fuji Hakone Pass. Would the Fuji Hakone pass be better as it covers Ropeway?

    4. I don’t however, see Mishima in the map for the Fuji Hakone pass so am not sure if it is the appropriate pass to get to travel from Mishima, or are bus trips from Mishima covered by the Fuji Hakone pass too?

    Thank you in advance for your time and guidance.

    1. Hi Lycia,

      1. You can use one base fare ticket for this trip. It’s valid for 4 days.

      2. You can change and make stopovers as many as you want.

      3,4. Fuji Hakone Pass is a good choice but you cannot purchase it at Mishima. You need to get Odawara. And also bus from Mishima to Lake Kawaguchi is not covered. Even if you have this pass, you need to get Hakone from Mishima first. And then you can take other bus to get Lake Kawaguchi. Please see the link below:


      Takeshi /

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