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 a regular ticket for this one way long distance train ride, such as from Tokyo to Kyoto, Tokyo to Osaka. Because it is cheaper than 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 may save your cost.

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. In the major stations, you can purchase it at even the vending machine. Especially when you purchase a ticket for short distance ride, such as train ride inside Tokyo, Osaka to Kyoto, the vending machine is the easiest. But the ticket window is easier to purchase a long 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.

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.

1,075 thoughts on “For non JR pass travellers. Guide to use JR single ticket, basic rules, validity and stopover”

  1. Dear Takeshi.
    I am travelling to japan arriving fri 6th dec 2018.
    My trip is as follows
    4 nights in tokyo and just planning on seeing city itself
    Travel to Kyoto for 4 nights.
    Then travel to hakuba for 6 nights
    Then depart hakuba for narita airport.
    I have got all my train timetable and routes worked out just confused as to what pass i should purchase or buy multiple single use tickets.
    Traveling with family of 5 in which 4 adults and 1 child.
    Thanks matt

    1. Hi Matt,

      If you intend to make lots of trips in Kyoto by train, you may get the worth of JR Pass 7 days for Tokyo-Kyoto-Hakuba. But if you intend to stay in Kyoto city only and make small trips only, I don’t think you can get the worth of JR pass because total fares for Tokyo to Kyoto and Kyoto to Hakuba is a few thousands yen cheaper than 7 days JR pass. I don’t think 14 days pass is a good choice for your trip. In this case, the regular fare ticket is better choice than using JR pass.

      But you can use some local deals in Kyoto and Tokyo. Please see the links below:


      Takeshi /

  2. Hi Takeshi

    We will be travelling to Japan in Nov and our stay at various cities is at follows:

    1) Haneda -> Tokyo (5 nights)
    2) Tokyo -> Hakone (2 nights)
    3) Hakone -> Kyoto (4 nights) with day trip to Nara.
    4). Kyoto -> Osaka (3 nights)
    5) Flying home from Kansai Airport.

    Should I buy a 7 day JR pass for the above itinerary ? Would appreciate your kind advice on the savvy way to travel. Many thanks in advance.


  3. Hi Takeshi,

    Thank you in advance for your advice. Here is my itinerary:

    Day 1-2: Osaka (arrive KIX 4:35pm)
    Day 3: Osaka, but half day trip to Nara and then back to Osaka
    Day 4: leave to Kyoto in AM
    Day 5: Kyoto to Tokyo (leave around noon)
    Day 6-8: Tokyo (leave from Haneda)

    What would be the best passes to get in Kansai and Tokyo? I plan to get JR one way Shinkansen from Kyoto to Tokyo. Can I buy that when I arrive to KIX?

    Thank you!

    1. Hi Apple,

      Please see the link below. You can find most info which you need in this link:

      You can use a regular fare ticket to get Nara. This is most affordable way. You can purchase a ticket for Kyoto to Osaka in Kansai airport station. But this station ticket window is always busy. You can purchase it at any major JR stations in Osaka.


      Takeshi /

  4. Hi – I’m quite confused about transportation in Japan. I not sure if I should get a 14 day JR pass for simplicity but I know single would be beneficial from a cost perspective. Ideally I prefer reserved seating too. What do you advise –
    Arrive in Haneda
    3 nights Tōkyō
    4 nights Kyoto
    1 night Hiroshima
    1 night Miyajima
    1 night Osaka then to Kansai Airport.
    I think I am planning on getting the Suica or Pasmo to help with city travel.

    1. Hi RP Butterfly,

      You can use JR pass but I recommend you to use 7 days. When you leave Tokyo, you can start using JR pass. And it will cover until you get Osaka. In Tokyo and Osaka, you will make a short train ride only. It does not make a sense to use JR Pass. You can use other deals. Please see the links below to find the deals before/after using JR Pass.


      Takeshi /

  5. Dear Mr Takeshi,
    4 of us are going to ski resort near Tokyo to GALA Yuzawa Ski Resort (湯沢スキー場) in Niigata Prefecture in January 2019. I was told to take JR east – Tokyo by Joetsu Shinkansen, my question below:
    1) can I buy 1 Day JR pass (both way – going and returning to Shibuya-Tokyo)
    2) Where to buy? Narita airport or Tokyo Station
    3) 1 day JR pass will expire at 2359 hrs or 24 hrs from the start of the train journey?
    4) how much does it cost for 1 day JR pass.
    Thanks and best regards
    Lisa from Singapore.

    1. Hi Lisa,

      There is no one day JR pass available. You have to purchase a regular ticket. Please read the post above about a regular ticket.
      However if you come back to Tokyo in 3 days, you can use Tokyo Wide Pass. It’s cheaper than regular round trip fare (around 13,000 yen).


      Takeshi /

  6. Hi Takeshi

    Its my first time visiting Japan, and would like a little help here pls:
    22 Oct- 25 Oct: Tokyo (Staying in Shinjuku and will be going to Shibuya, Harajuku, Disneyland, Odaiba etc)
    26 Oct: Mount Fuji + Hakone (Tour group)
    27 Oct- 29 Oct: Kyoto–>Nara, Gion district, Fushimi Inari, Nikishi Market, Bamboo Forest
    30 Oct- 3 Nov: Osaka (staying in Namba, going around places of interest like Umeda, Dontombori, USJ), and maybe half a day to Kobe

    Will be flying from Kansai Airport.

    In this case, do i still need 7 days JR rail pass, or can i buy single travel ticket when i reach Narita Airport?
    Do I need to buy Kansei Thru Pass or Osaka Amazing Pass? I do not understand the stopover part that you mentioned, can I just get the single ticket all the way?

    Thanks a lot! 🙂

    1. Hi Jane,

      JR pass is not required.

      You may purchase a regular ticket to Kyoto. You don’t need to make a stopover. You can use bus pass in Kyoto. And use Kansai thru pass for trip to Nara, Kyoto to Osaka and trip to Kobe. If you visit many place to see in Osaka, amazing pass is a good choice. Please see the list of the attractions.

      Otherwise you can use subway pass or other deals. Please see the links below to find the deal in Osaka and trip to KIX.


      Takeshi /

  7. Hi
    we plan to visit Tokyo for few days going down to Kyoto and Osaka and come back to Tokyo
    this trip will be about two weeks .we will use also public transportation within those cities
    the question is :Does JPRail cover the public trasportation in the cities as well?
    in case no will separate tickets to each direction will be cheaper ? Our time travel Mid March 2109

    1. Hi Chai,

      If you take Shinkansen between Tokyo and Kyoto (or Osaka), round trip fare is almost equal to JR pass 7 days price. So you can get the worth mostly by only Tokyo – Osaka/Kyoto round trip.

      You can use JR pass to take a local train. But it does not cover city bus, subway and other non JR railways. Please see the link below to find the info:

      Even if you use JR pass in the cities, 14 days pass is too expensive. Local train fare is quite reasonable. It doesn’t help to get the worth. So try to put Tokyo-Osaka/Kyoto-Tokyo in 7 days period. You don’t have to put Tokyo in this 7 days period. You can use other deal, such as Tokyo Subway Ticket.


      Takeshi /

  8. Hi Takeshi,
    We will be traveling from Tokyo to Osaka on 9th Nov, can I but the one way ticket online or have to buy in Japan? What’s the possibility of the tickets being sold out?

    1. Hi Doris,

      You have to purchase it in Japan basically. Online purchasing is very limited because you have to install Shinkansen EX app in your phone and this is not available all over the world. Please see the link below and find it which is available in your country on not. If not, you have to purchase it in Japan.

      You can purchase it after you arrive in Japan easily. You will travel in a regular season. Shinkansen ticket never be sold out.


      Takeshi /

  9. How does it work if there are multiple SHINKANSEN options to take? Since some have more stops than others. How would the stop over work then? In my case, i’m looking to do Tokyo to (stopover Karuizawa , stopover Nagano) to Kanazawa.

    1. Hi Michelle,

      You can use one base fare ticket to Kanazawa as long as you travel within valid days. But you must have three Shinkansen ticket, Tokyo to Karuizawa, Karuizawa to Nagano and Nagano to Kanazawa.


      Takeshi /

      1. So anytime a stop over is made… A seperate unreserved ticket must be bought? I can not make random stopover on my own? And have to follow those exact Shinkansen name I bought the ticket for of course. The valid period days, if it is valid to day five, when is the exact expiry during that day five?

        1. Hi Michelle,

          You can make a stopover anytime. But if you take a Shinkansen, you must purchase Shinkansen unreserved ticket. You don’t need to purchase all. For example, you can purchase for the first ride, Tokyo-Karuizawa when you leave Tokyo. You can purchase other tickets later, Karuizawa-Nagano at Karuizawa, Nagano-Kanazawa later. If you purchase a non reserved seat ticket, you can take any Shinkansen trains. It does not show any train name. It shows you the segment only, like Shinkansen from Tokyo to Karuizawa.

          If you start using a ticket on October 1st, ticket is valid until 23:59 on October 5th. It doesn’t matter what time you start using at ticket on October 1st. If you start using it on 1st, it’s valid until 5th.


          Takeshi /

  10. Dear Takeshi

    I will be travelling from Osaka to Hiroshima on Nov 9. My question is, is the Kansai-Hiroshima pass (13500 yen ) good for this? It says there that it is only for non-reserved seats. I will have to pay another 4000 yen to get a reserved seat and need to add this to the return trip to Osaka too.
    In this case is the savings worthwhile instead of buying a single trip (10420 yen) ticket? Even though I will be moving around Hiroshima I dont think it will cost a lot more. Please advise.


    1. Hi Brenda,

      If you intend to add reserved seat fee, regular fare ticket is better choice than Kansai Hiroshima area pass because it covers only base fare only. You cannot get the worth of it.

      You may be okay with non reserved seat. Please see the link below to find a tip about getting the seat in non reserved car.


      Takeshi /

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