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 the post about fare calculation before.

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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 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

You can use Hyperdia to get the fare quite easily.

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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.

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

  1. Dear Takeshi San
    4 of us are traveling in Feb arriving Tokyo via Narita. Myself will extend stay to Kyoto and depart via Kansai.
    Appreciate your advise pls:-
    1. 4 of us plan to go Yokohama for 1 night stay.
    2. We like to go Hangi Park to see plum blossoms and if it blooms go Muira Kaigan/Komatsugaike Park. How do we go to these 2 places from Tokyo station?
    3. i think it’s cheaper for us to buy return Narita Express (3) and single journey to Kyoto and to Kansai (1) rather than purchase JR pass. Is it correct?

    Thank you

    1. Hi Janice san,

      Do you mean Hanegi Park? (I have never heard Hangi park)
      If so, you can take Odakyu railway from Shinjuku to Umegaoka.

      Miura Kaigan and Komatsugaike park can be accessed by Keihin Kyuko railway.

      There are many other deals for Narita to Tokyo. Other deals may be better than N’ex deal.

      Single ticket is better choice for you.


      Takeshi /

  2. Hi
    I plan to travel one way from Tokyo to Osaka and making a few stops on the way
    1. Odawara (Hakone) 1 night,
    2. Nagoya 1 night,
    3. Kyoto 3 nights
    4. Osaka 3 nights
    and leaving from Kansai airport.

    If I buy individual Shinkansen/JR ticket at each stop calculation comes to 22450 yen. Reading that I can actually do stop overs is doing the following feasible?

    Tokyo to Kyoto
    Shinkansen 13,910 yen
    513 km should make ticket valid for 4 days?
    (covers stop over at Odwara and Nagoya)
    BTW Is Odawara part of the 23 Tokyo Ward? Is stop over valid?

    Kyoto to Osaka 560 yen
    JR Special Rapid Service for ABOSHI

    Osaka to Kansai airport 1190 yen
    JR Kansai Airport Rapid Service

    This would make the total cost become 15660 Yen.

    Does my itinerary look reasonable and do you see any better options?

    Thanks for reviewing my route!!

    1. Hi Vinny,

      You have understood a basic fare rule mostly. You can stop over at Odawara. It’s not in Tokyo.
      However you mis-calculated one thing. When you calculate for Tokyo to Kyoto with stopover at Odawara and Nagoya, you need to pay Shinkansen seat fee separately.

      Tokyo-Kyoto base fare
      Tokyo-Odawara Shinkansen seat fee
      Odawara-Nagoya Shinkansen seat fee
      Nagoya-Kyoto Shinkansen seat fee.

      Total is around 17,500 yen for base fare and Shinkansen reserved seat fee for three segments.


      Takeshi /

      1. Thanks for clarifying Takeshi!

        How will the Shinkansen seat fee work with stop overs? Will I pay all 3 seat fees segments at once when I buy my base fare ticket in Tokyo or will I pay the seat fee at each stop over station when I get back on the Shinkansen?

        Little fuzzy about this seat fee part, it looks like I will need to do seat reserving 3 times and book the train boarding time for each segment as well? Also will I be issued a shinkansen ticket for each segment, since it will be a different train?

        Again thanks for the help!

        1. Hi Vinny,

          You can do either way. You can purchase all at once. You also can purchase base fare ticket for Tokyo to Kyoto only or base fare ticket and Tokyo to Odawara Shinkansen ticket. You can add other Shinkansen ticket later. If you want, you can purchase it just before you take a train at Odawara and Nagoya.

          If you don’t want to fix the time, you can purchase it just before on board. You can purchase it even 10 minutes before departure time. However you may not able to reserve a seat. I think you can book a seat. But if you travel with someone, you may not be able to book a seat side by side.

          Shinkansen has non reserved seat too. But you may have same problem. Your seats will be separated.


          Takeshi /

  3. Hi,

    We will travel from Osaka to Tokyo, I have medium size travelling bag. Is it possible to travel along with our small travelling bags?

  4. Hi Takeshi,
    Thank you for your help. So, basically I can buy a single ticket from Tokyo to Osaka, and stop one day in Kyoto and follow my trip the next day? I’m thinking about go to Osaka by Nozomi (stoping in Kyoto), and, since my flight back will be from Tokyo, I thought about taking a flight from Osaka to Tokyo. I think I would save some money. What do you think?

    1. Hi Tiago,

      Are you going to stop at Kyoto for one day only? After staying in Kyoto, which airport are you going to take a flight back Tokyo, Itami or Kansai?
      I just want to make sure before talk about train ticket.


      Takeshi /

      1. Thanks for your response Takeshi. So, I have 9 nights in Japan. My idea is 5 nights in Tokyo, 2 in Kyoto, 2 in Osaka. During my stay in Tokyo I would like to make a day trip to Yuzawa to see the snow (is this a good option?). After I’m thinking about taking the Shinkasen to Osaka, with a 2 nights stop in Kyoto. (Is this possible with a single ticket?). From Osaka Im thinking about a plane back to Tokyo_Haneda, where my flight back home will depart.
        Does it sound good? Or a 7 day JR pass would be cheaper?


        1. Hi Thiago,

          JR pass is better choice because you will go to Yuzawa too. You can use JR pass 7 days for the last 7 days of your trip. You can get Yuzawa by JR pass too, so include Yuzawa in 7 days period.

          You may use other deal before using JR pass, such as subway pass.


          Takeshi /

  5. Thank you for that informative reply Takeshi-san. 🙂

    The Kodama would really save us some money. I’ve considered the time difference and now leaning more on getting the Nozomi train as we can still use 1.5 hrs to visit other sites in Tokyo. 🙂 If that will be the case, how can we purchase it from outside Japan? Is there already an English website where it can be purchased? Also, how can we maximize the validity of that one-way ticket?

    I’ve read your article about hakone and Kawaguchi and now thinking on which one to visit. 🙂 A friend of mine went to lake kawaguchiko and they said we can find some bus tour there? Is it true and do you have information regarding those tours? Also i saw other bus tours (Mt. Fuji Classic Route and Mt. Fuji and Hakone Day Trip) from shinjuku, is it worth it or not?

    Thank you in advance. I really appreciate the you took the time to reply on my inquiries.

    Okagesama de Takeshi-san.

  6. Hi Takeshi-san

    Can I purchase the base ticket ahead of my travelling period? I intend to use the base ticket for travel from Kanazawa to Tokyo with stopover at Nagano from 25 Nov to 26 Nov. Since I am based in Yokohama, I was thinking to purchase the ticket in Yokohama station next week (12-13 Nov). I am just afraid that the seats on the shinkansen will be fully booked.

    Depart from Kanazawa on 25 Nov, stopover at Nagano
    Depart from Nagano on 26 Nov, reach Tokyo


      1. Hi Takeshi-san
        Is the fare that I need to pay for is only 14120 when i search from hyperdia kanazawa to tokyo with stopover at nagano?
        I am confuse as when I went to the ticketing station, they said I need to pay 16500 instead

        1. Hi May san,

          If you don’t make a stopover at Nagano, the fare is 14120 yen. But you will make a stopover at Nagano. You can use one base fare but you need to pay Shinkansen surcharge separately. You have to pay seat fee/express train surcharge for each segments. That is why you need to pay 16500 yen.


          Takeshi /

  7. Hi
    We are flying into Osaka on 11/4/18 and going to Kyoto immediately probably by the limousine bus
    We will be going to Kyoto to Takayama 15/4-17/4
    Then Takayama to Toyama 18/4-20/4. On 19/4 we are planning to do the round trip Tateyama station to Daikando (Tateyama Kurobe Alpine route) returning to Toyama on the same day.
    On 20/4 we will travel Toyama back to Osaka.
    We were very confused about the costs.
    Kyoto-Takayama, Takayama-Toyama, Toyama- Osaka. We would like to use Shinkansen.
    Please can you advise whether it’s more economical to get JR Rail Pass or just get single tickets.
    Please can you advise. Thank you


    1. Hi May,

      I recommend you to use Takayama Hokuriku area pass if you intend to visit Shirakawago when you are in Takayama.

      But this pass does not cover Kyoto-Nagoya Shinaknsen route. And also it’s valid for 5 days only. In your trip, you may start using it on 16 Apr. You need to add Kyoto-Takayama single ticket. This pass does not cover alpine route either. You need to add regular fares.

      You can take Limousine bus to get Kyoto by regular fare. And you may add city deal for sightseeing in Kyoto.


      Takeshi /

  8. Hi, I arrive Narita Airport on Wednesday next week (10:30am), and I will wish to travel Narita to Himeji with stopovers.

    Can I use either N’EX or the Keisei Skyliner? (or JR trains only, thus not the Skyliner)

    I will wish to stopover in Tokyo Station & Yokohama (only for a few hours each) then on to Kyoto (2 day stopover) then Osaka (stopover for a few hours) and then finish in Himeji. I’d like to include Nara somehow – but not sure this is possible as part of this one-way base fare?

    Anyhow, can your one-way base fare scenario cover my travel? I’m happy to adjust if necessary (also if it is possible, how should I travel from Yokohama to onward shinkansen to Kyoto and keep within the rules)

    Also – is taking the Nozami more expensive than the Hikari in this itinerary?

    MANY thanks!

    1. Hi Jeff,

      I think you should divide several part of trips.

      First of all, Keisei is not JR and not covered. If you want to Keisei skyliner, there is one way deal.

      There is no N’ex one way deal. So Skyliner is better way. But Skyliner does not go to Tokyo. You need to take a local train from Ueno to Tokyo. But it costs around 200 yen. Even if you pay this fare on top of Skyliner deal, it’s still cheaper than N’ex regular fare around 3,000 yen.

      Yokohama is not on the way. Because Shinkansen station is Shin-Yokohama. If you go to Yokohama from Tokyo and then go to Shin-Yokohama, you need to go back on same route from Yokohama to Shin-Yokohama. So you need to purchase a regular ticket from Tokyo to Yokohama and Yokohama to Himeji via Shin-Yokohama with stopovers at Kyoto and Osaka. By the way, you cannot make a stopover at Tokyo by Ueno to Yokohama ticket. The distance is too short.

      You need to purchase another ticket to Nara. Nara is not on the way.


      Takeshi /

  9. Hi Takeshi-san,

    Below is my itinerary and passes I am planning to use for my trip in Dec 2017. Please give me some comments and suggestions.

    Day 1 Arrive at Haneda Airport 10pm (Taxi)
    Day 2 Tokyo
    Day 3 Disneyland
    Day 4 Disneysea
    Day 5 Tokyo
    Day 6 Tokyo
    Day 7 Tokyo

    Day 8 Arashiyama + Kinkakkuji (Kyoto Sightseeing Pass)
    Day 9 Nara then back to Kyoto (Kintetsu Rail Pass)
    Day 10 East side Kyoto (Kyoto Sightseeing Pass)

    Day 11 Osaka (Enjoy Eco Card)
    Day 12 Osaka (Enjoy Eco Card)

    I will be using 2x Tokyo subway 72hours tickets for the 6 days in Tokyo. Then buy Shinkansen ticket from Tokyo to Kansai Airport and stopover at Kyoto and Osaka.

    Thank you.


    1. Hi SJ san,

      I don’t think you need 2×72 hours Tokyo subway ticket because subway does not go to Disneyland. Please see the link below:

      You may think about using Kansai thru pass 3 days for day 9 trip to Nara, day 10 in Kyoto and day 11 for Kyoto to Osaka. It covers all non JR trains, subway and city bus. You can catch Kintetsu railway to Nara, subway/bus/non JR trains in Kyoto, and you can catch Hankyu, Keihan or Kintetsu to get Osaka. If you visit somewhere before/after moving from Kyoto to Osaka, you can use this pass. I think this pass gives you more convenience and flexibility.

      In this case, you don’t need to purchase a ticket to Kansai with stopover. It makes your ticket managing easier. You just need to purchase a ticket to Kyoto from Tokyo.

      You also pick up other deal for Osaka to KIX. Please see the link below:

      Total cost will not be much different from using one single ticket to KIX.


      Takeshi /

      1. Hi Takeshi san,

        Thank you for your suggestions.
        I have taken your advice and decided to get Tokyo – Kyoto shinkansen ticket, 1 day Kyoto Sightseeing pass, 3 days Kansai Thru Pass and Yokoso! Osaka ticket.

        However I am still not sure which pass to get for Day 2 – Day 4. I will be staying near Tsukiji station. Day 2 going to Asakusa, Ueno, Akihabara and Ginza. For Day 3 & 4 mainly just Disney resort, maybe go see winter illuminations at Shiodome or Ginza if we still have energy left after.



  10. Hi Takeshi-san,

    First, thank you for your very informative post. I have read some other posts you have regarding budget travels and usage of JR passes. I hope you can help me with my concerns. Here is my draft itinerary.

    Day 0 – From KIX Airport To Accomodation.
    – From Airport, use one-way haruka & ICOCA to Osaka

    Day 1 – Explore Osaka.
    – Osaka Amazing Pass

    Day 2 – Osaka & Nara
    – Kansai Thru Pass

    Day 3 – Nov 17: Explore Kyoto (Arashiyama, Bamboo Forest, Gion, Philosopher’s path)
    – Transfer to Kyoto Accomodation
    – Sagano Romantic Train Ride & Kansai Thru Pass

    Day 4 – Nov 18 : Explore Kyoto (Fushimi Inari, Tofukuji Temple, Nijo Castle, Golden & Silver Pavilion.)
    – Kansai Thru Pass or Kyoto Bus Pass?

    Day 5 – Nov 19 : To Tokyo (Explore place in tokyo, Shinjuku Crossing, Don Quijote, shopping)
    – Transfer to Tokyo Accomodation.
    – Shinkanzen from Kyoto to Tokyo.

    Day 7 – Nov 20 : Lake Kawaguchi & view of Mt. Fuji, Odaiba at night
    – What Tokyo Pass to use??

    Day 8 – Nov 21 : Tokyo Disneyland
    – Tokyo Pass?? or use Icoca Card?

    Day 9 – Nov 22 : Departure (Narita Airport)
    – What Pass to use?

    – With my current itinerary, what kind of one-way ticket to Tokyo should I use?

    – Honestly, I’m still working on which places i should visit together for Day 3 & 4. It would be great fi you can suggest a better way to manage it to save travel time. Thank you

    – Also, what is the difference of the Kansai Thru Pass with the Kyoto Bus Pass?

    – Is there a Pass ideal for me for my Tokyo itinerary?

    Thank you in advance and more power. Your post and articles really helped a lot.


    1. Hi Jay san,

      – With my current itinerary, what kind of one-way ticket to Tokyo should I use?

      Regular ticket or Platt Kodama is your choice. Actually I have a sample itinerary which is almost same as your plan. Please see the link below to find more info:

      – Honestly, I’m still working on which places i should visit together for Day 3 & 4. It would be great fi you can suggest a better way to manage it to save travel time. Thank you
      – Also, what is the difference of the Kansai Thru Pass with the Kyoto Bus Pass?

      You may use Kansai thru pass 3 days. City bus pass covers only bus pass in Kyoto but Kansai thru pass covers all trains and subways except JR. So it’s totally different. Please see the link below:

      – Is there a Pass ideal for me for my Tokyo itinerary?

      Tokyo subway ticket is the perfect choice. But you may add a regular fare to take express bus to Lake Kawaguchi.


      Takeshi /

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