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,

    Greetings. We are a family of four planning to travel to Tokyo-Osaka-Kyoto this May. Our itinerary are as follows:

    Day 1-2 Arrival at Haneda. Staying somewhere near Yoyogi Park. Plan to visit Ueno, Meiji, Shibuya, Akihabara
    Day 3 Full day tour Mt Fuji with tour bus service
    Day 4 Travel to Osaka. Arrival afternoon.
    Day 5 Full day tour Kyoto planning to use bus/train
    Day 6-7 Explore Osaka. Flight out.

    Is it better to purchase individual tickets or get a 2 day pass for tokyo and osaka and an all day pass for kyoto? What is the best way to travel from Tokyo to Osaka? Thanks very much for all your help.


  2. Hello Takeshi,

    We have 3 people and we are going to visit Japan from 6-14 Apr 2019. It is our first time to Japan and our schedule may arranged as below.

    6 Apr: Osaka arrival (KIX) – Expo 70 Park (to see Sakura)
    7 Apr: Osaka (Osaka Bay area, Kita District, Osaka Castle area)
    8 Apr: Osaka (Minami or take train to Kobe)
    9 Apr: Osaka -Kyoto
    10 Apr: Kyoto (the famous orange gates of Fushimi Inari Shrine and Kinkaku-ji Temple (Golden Temple). Bamboo Forest
    11 Apr: Kyoto -Tokyo
    12 Apr: Tokyo (Mount Fuji)
    13 Apr: Tokyo
    14 Apr: Toykyo Departure (NRT)
    Please advise if a 7days JR pass is beneficial for us?
    Thank you,
    Hoa Vu

      1. Hi Takeshi,

        Sorry for late reply, we finalize schedule as below:
        D1: Osaka arrival, sightseeing in Osaka
        D2: Osaka sightseeing
        D3: Osaka – Kyoto
        D4: Kyoto
        D5: Kyoto – Hakone
        D6: Hakone – Tokyo
        D7: Tokyo
        D8: Tokyo
        D9: Tokyo departure

        Is it worth to buy JR Pass 7days and active it from day 3 to day 9?
        Thank you a lot.

        1. Hi Hoa,

          As long as you travel one way from Osaka to Tokyo, JR Pass does not work. You must have round trip between Tokyo and Osaka. One way travel fare is almost half of 7-day JR Pass. I gave this link in the previous reply. But please see this again:

          You will use a regular fare ticket for Kyoto to Odawara instead of using a regular fare ticket from Kyoto to Tokyo in the sample itinerary. And then use Hakone Free Pass and use a regular fare ticket again to Tokyo from Hakone.

          Please follow the sample itinerary for the rest of your trip.


          Takeshi /

  3. Dear Takeshi,
    We are staying near the Ikebukuro station
    I realize that we don’t have the exact days confirmed yet but being that my family wants to go the following places.
    Disney Sea,
    Taito District: Sky Tree
    Ueno Park and Zoo
    Shibuya and Harajuku
    Tsukiji Fish Market
    To me it doesn’t seem that the JR pass would make sense since round trip to those places are around 800-1000 yen, unless i am reading hyperdia wrong . Any advice would be appreciated

    1. Hi Michael,

      JR pass is way too expensive. Tokyo Subway Ticket is okay. Please see the links below to find more info:

      Odaiba and Disney are outside the coverage area of Tokyo Subway Ticket. You have to add the fare but not much.

      Tsukiji Market was closed and moved to Toyosu.


      Takeshi /

  4. Dear Takeshi,

    Thank you in advanced for your help with this. My sister is spending a year in Japan and I am visiting her for 3 weeks in February to travel around a bit. I know that my sister will not be eligible for the rail pass, however is it worth me getting one and if so, which pass should i chose?

    Our itinerary is as follows:
    3 Days in Fukuoka
    3 Days in Hiroshima with a day trip to Miyajima
    3 Days in Osaka with a day trip to Nara
    4 Days in Kyoto
    5 Days in Tokyo with trip to Mt Fuji
    Please note that we plan to travel around each city and potentially take a few other day trips.
    Could you also please further explain how the single ticket would work for us if we chose this option because i am a little confused.

    Thank you again for your help.

    Many thanks

    1. Hi Jade,

      Are you arriving in Fukuoka and leaving from Tokyo? If so, are you arriving in Fukuoka airport and leaving from Narita or Haneda airport in Tokyo? I would like to make sure the place of starting your trip and end of your trip before choosing the deal.


      Takeshi /

      1. Hi Takeshi,
        Sorry for the late reply. That is correct, I will be arriving in Fukuoka airport and leaving from Haneda airport in Tokyo.


        1. Hi Jade,

          Only JR pass covers whole part of your trip but it’s not the choice for your trip. You cannot get the worth of it without other big day trips. If you add some big day trips, such as trip to Nagasaki from Fukuoka, to Kumamoto from Fukuoka, Kanazawa from Osaka, Kyoto or Tokyo. You have to take the express train or Shinkansen more to get the worth of it. If you do so, you may use 14-day JR Pass.

          Otherwise the regular ticket is your choice for city to city. You may add some local deal, such as subway pass, bus pass in each cities.


          Takeshi /

  5. Hello,

    I am travelling to Japan in February. I have looked at a few possible passes but am unsure if they are worth it. My itinerary is as follows:
    Fly into KIX airport 1st Feb
    1st-4th Feb in Osaka. During this period I will take a day trip to Himeji Castle.
    4th-5th Feb Nara
    5th-8th Feb Kyoto
    8th-9th Feb Matsumoto
    9th-10th Feb Nagano
    10th-15th Feb Myoko
    15th-17th Tokyo
    Fly out of Haneda airport 17th

    Regards and Thank you very much,


    1. Hi Taaj,

      There are some deals available for both end of your trip but there is no deals for the middle part of your trip which is Kyoto-Matsumoto-Nagano-Myoko-Tokyo. So a regular ticket is your choice for this segment. As I explained in the post above, you can use one base fare ticket for Kyoto-Matsumoto-Nagano-Myoko. You can make stopovers at Matsumoto and Nagano. But you need a limited express seat ticket for each segments.

      For Osaka, please see the link below to find the deals:

      For Himeji, Osaka to Nara and Nara to Kyoto, you can use Kansai thru pass 3 days.

      For Kyoto, please see the link below:

      For Tokyo, please see the link below:


      Takeshi /

  6. Hello, i will be on japan for 20 days, I dont know how ticket to buy (JR PASS? os single ticket). The plan is
    1) 8 days in tokio
    2) 1 days in tsumago
    3) 7 days in kyoto
    4) 4 days in tokio

    thanks you

    1. Hi Valentina,

      JR pass 7 days is almost equal to the round trip fare for Tokyo-Kyoto. You will add Tsumago between Tokyo and Kyoto. But it’s still not enough to use 14 days JR pass. So at this point, the regular ticket is your choice. But you will stay in Tokyo for many days. If you add several long day trips, 14 days pass may work. Before choosing the deals, please make sure how you use the days in Tokyo.


      Takeshi /

  7. Hi Takeshi-san,

    I have not been to Japan and is planning a 10 days Osaka, Kyoto, Tokyo trip. I’m not sure if a 7days JR pass is beneficial. My plan is as follow:-

    Day 1 to 3: Osaka (osaka castle, universal studio, cup noodles museum) plan to stay at nankai numba area
    Day 4: Osaka to Kyoto, kyoto to osaka (will be staying at osaka)
    Day 5: Osaka to kyoto and kyoto back to Osaka
    Day 6 to 10: Tokyo (plan to stay at ginza area)( Asakusa temple, Disney sea, Harajuku, ginza, Shinjuku, Shibuya)
    Meiji Shrine, Tokyo skytree, Akihabara)

    Thank you.

  8. Hi Takeshi,

    Thanks for the detailed explanation.

    I will be travelling with my wife next March-April (sakura season) so I’m thinking it might be better to reserve seats on the shinkansen as I expect they’ll be full.

    Our itinerary is as follows:
    – Land at Kansai Airport
    – 4 nights in Kyoto
    – 9 nights in Tokyo
    – 2 nights in Nara
    – 6 nights in Osaka
    – Fly back from Kansai Airport

    From my research, I don’t think it’s worth buying the JR pass. Should we just purchase individual tickets for each train ride, and are we able to buy it on the spot or do we need to purchase beforehand?

    Thanks in advance!

    1. Hi Umeys,

      7 days JR pass price is almost equal to Tokyo-Osaka (or Kyoto) round trip fare by Shinkansen. So if you stay in downtown Tokyo only, JR pass does not work. But if you intend to take day trip(s) outside Tokyo, 14 days JR pass may work. You have 9 nights there. It’s easy to make some day trips from Tokyo, such as trip to Nikko, Fuji, Hakone.

      Please think how you spend your time in Tokyo. You also can visit even the places where is far from Tokyo or Osaka as day trip. If you don’t want “rush” travel, I don’t recommend. But I put the link which may give you some idea to get the worth of JR pass.

      You still have a lot of time to think about it. You cannot book a Shinkansen ticket from outside Japan other than using Shinkansen EX app. If you don’t use it, you have to book a ticket after you arrive in Japan. But Shinkansen ticket is not hard to book. So you will be fine.


      Takeshi /

  9. Dear Takeshi,
    We are a family of four traveling to Japan in mid-November. Here is our itinerary below:
    Arrive at the Haneda Airport (HND)
    3 days in Tokyo at an airbnb
    2 days in Hakone at a hotel
    3 days in Kyoto at an airbnb with a day trip to Nara
    3 days in Osaka at an airbnb
    Leave at KanSai Airport (KIX)
    What are the travel/transit options for this itinerary? What is the best option?

    We arrive at HND at 10:30pm. Is Taxi service from the airport to the Shinjuku-ku area a better option for 4 people with luggages.
    Also, for simplicity, we are thinking taking the Romance train from Tokyo to Hakone without transfer.

    I read your information on non-JR pass and single ticket with stopovers. I assume this ticket option refers to the Shinkansen (bullet) trains. Does our itinerary work with the Single Ticket with Stopovers option.
    1. Can we purchase the tickets at the ticket window at the station so we get some help from a live person.
    2. In which city should I begin using it?
    3. Do we purchase the express surcharge and reserved seat at the time we purchase the Single Ticket with Stopovers at the ticket window?
    4. I tried to use the HyperDia app and I could not specify the days I travel from each city. For example, I can specify start date from Toyko, but I cannot enter the date of Hakone, Kyoto and Osaka.
    5. I read your information on how to use the single ticket with stopovers. But I am still not clear if we just hold on to a single ticket to enter and exit the different train stations. And how I reserve seats at those stations.
    Thank you very much for your help!

    1. Hi Michael,

      1. Yes, you can.

      2. I don’t think you need single ticket with stopover. You can simply purchase a single ticket for Shinjuku to Hakone-Yumoto by Romancecar, Odawara to Kyoto by Shinkansen. Because you can use Kansai thru pass for one day in Kyoto, trip to Nara and trip from Kyoto to Osaka..

      For sightseeing in Osaka, Kyoto and trip to KIX from Osaka, you may find the deal in the links below:

      You don’t need make a stopover, so forget other questions.


      Takeshi /

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