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.

[blogcard url=”https://jprail.com/travel-informations/basic-informations/timetable-and-reservation/hyperdia-perfect-guide-train-timetable-and-route-search-engine.html”]

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.

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.

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.

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

  1. Hello Takeshi,
    I will be traveling to japan with 4 other friends from April 11-26. I am traveling one way from Tokyo to Hiroshima with various cities in between. I have compared most of the prices of my trip on hyperdia and it seems like it makes more sense for me to book single tickets the day of travel. Is it worth doing a 7 day pass between specific dates?should I book the reserve seating due to the size of my group?

    Itinerary
    Tokyo – April 11-16
    Hakone – April 16-17 (hakone free pass)
    Nagoya – April 17-18
    Kyoto – April 18-21 (day trip to Nara)
    Osaka – April 21-24 (stop in Kobe before Hiroshima)
    Hiroshima – April 24-26 (day trip to miyajima)

    1. Hi Peter,

      JR Pass 7-day does not work. You cannot get the worth of it. Regular fare ticket is the choice.
      Reserved seat ticket is recommended. If you take a seat in non reserved car, you cannot get the seats together.

      Cheers,

      Takeshi / JPRail.com

  2. Hello Takeshi,
    I have planned a trip to Japan in May.

    My itinerary is:
    2 nights in Osaka (Fly into Osaka (Kansai Airport) at 5pm)
    2 nights in Kyoto
    1 night Nagoya or Yokohama (have not decided)
    5 nights Tokyo then fly out of Haneda airport

    I was thinking 1 way ticket is best. Can I do this on one ticket or do I have to buy tickets for each part of the trip?

    Thank you in advance

    1. Hi Alice,

      Please see the link below. Basically you can follow this:
      https://jprail.com/sample-itineraries/7to9-days/basic-itinerary-of-osaka-kyoto-and-tokyo-in-7-days.html

      If you drop by Nagoya, you can use one base fare ticket from Kyoto to Tokyo and stopover there. If you stop by Yokohama, you don’t need to stopover. Just simply buy a ticket from Kyoto to Yokohama. Yokohama to Tokyo is a short distance ride. If you buy a ticket separately, Kyoto to Yokohama, Yokohama to Tokyo, it’s not much different from Kyoto to Tokyo.

      Cheers,

      Takeshi / JPRail.com

  3. Hi Takeshi!

    My family and I are flying into Japan for 5 days. These are the transport we will take:
    1. Tokyo Narita airport to city
    2. Travelling within tokyo-Shibuya,Harajuku, Shibakoen (2 days)
    3. Tokyo to Kyoto one way
    4. Travelling within Kyoto-Higashiyama District,Gion(2-3 days)
    4.Kyoto to Osaka itami airport

    Wondering if it is worth it to got 7 day JR pass or to buy single tickets? Thank you

  4. Hi Takeshi,

    We are going on our honeymoon to Japan from 4-23 April!
    Below is our itinerary:
    4 – 6: Tokyo
    6 – 9: Toyama
    9 – 13: Kyoto (12th Day trip to Nara)
    13 – 18: Osaka (16th Day trip to Kobe)
    18 – 19: Hakone
    19 – 23: Tokyo

    I did my research on hyperdia and it seems that the 7 or 14 day JR pass is more expensive. Is this correct?

    In this case, I will have to buy single trip tickets at the train station on the day of each trip? Can I buy the tickets online in advance first? Do I need to book reserved seats as April is a peak travelling season?

    Can I also buy Osaka-Hakone-Tokyo train tickets at the train station? I understand that the journey there is only covered by a private railway.

    Thanks in advance!

    1. Hi Zac,

      JR pass does not work for your trip. 7-day pass is too short to cover it and 14-day pass is too expensive. However if you add some more trip(s), 14-day pass will work. For example, day trip to Hiroshima from Osaka is one of idea.
      https://jprail.com/destinations/world-heritage-destinations/day-trip-to-hiroshima-and-miyajima-from-osakakyoto.html

      Of course you don’t need to go to Hiroshima/Miyajima. But you have lots of time in Kyoto, Osaka and Tokyo. Please think about it. 14-day pass is much easier than using a regular ticket.

      If you use a regular ticket, you can purchase a ticket for Tokyo to Toyama and Hakone to Tokyo (Shinjuku) only. Please see the link to get the info:
      https://www.eki-net.com/pc/jreast-shinkansen-reservation/English/wb/common/Menu/Menu.aspx?_ga=1.4778995.1325107855.1421419524
      https://www.odakyu.jp/english/romancecar/e_romancecar/use/

      Cheers,

      Takeshi / JPRail.com

  5. Hi Takeshi
    I’m heading over Japan in April. Just want to check but I think the 7 day JR pass works for me. I will be coming in Haneda Airport, staying 5 days in Tokyo, heading to Hakone for 2 days, Kyoto for 2 days and Osaka for 2 days before heading back to Tokyo/Narita Airport 1 night for next day early morning flight. I think I should go with limo bus from Haneda to Tsukiji area, then use metro subway, and activate my JR pass when heading out from Tokyo to Hakone and stay around Narita airport on last night?

      1. Thanks Takeshi. Is there no 1 way limo bus trip with a 72 hour subway pass combo for departing Haneda? I have looked through website and link you provide but only 2 way and 72 hour combo ticket. Is it worth it to buy a subway pass? How much travel u need to justify subway pass?

        1. Hi Geri,

          72 hours is available for round trip only. If you want more subway pass, just purchase subway pass only.
          https://www.tokyometro.jp/en/ticket/travel/index.html

          The fare is varied by the distance. The fare range is 140 yen to 200 yen. If you make 5 trips a day, you can get the worth of 24 hours pass. If you use 48 hours or 72 hours, it’s much easier to get the worth.

          Please use hyperdia to find the exact fare if you need.

          Cheers,

          Takeshi / JPRail.com

  6. Hi Takeshi,

    I’m planning a trip to visit three cities over 2 weeks – flying into Hiroshima and out from Narita. I was wondering if buying a pass would be worth it or if I should buy two tickets (Hiroshima to Kyoto, Kyoto to Tokyo) but then I saw your post…

    30JUN – 02JUL Hiroshima
    02JUL – 06JUL Kyoto
    06JUL – 12JUL Tokyo

    From HyperDia I see that the distance between Hiroshima and Tokyo is 890km. Is it correct to say if I buy a single one-way Shinkansen ticket to Tokyo, I have 6 days to travel on the line and can thus make my 5-day stopover in Kyoto? Am I allowed to take any train on the line when I continue my journey?

    Thank you so much!

    1. Hi Muni,

      It’s valid for 6 days but it means a base fare ticket. It is different from Shinkansen ticket. You have to purchase Shinkansen ticket one by one for Hiroshima to Kyoto and Kyoto to Tokyo. Stopover condition does not apply to Shinkansen ticket. When you use hyperdia, please also find the fare for Hiroshima to Kyoto and Kyoto to Tokyo. You can find “Seat fee” for each segment. That is the Shinkansen ticket fee.

      The base fare ticket covers only local train. That is a reason why you have to add Shinkansen ticket if you take Shinkansen. Local train is too slow and it’s not a realistic choice.

      If you purchase Shinkansen non reserved seat ticket, you can take any trains on Shinkansen but your seat is not secured. It’s not hard to find a seat but if you travel with someone, you may not be able to find the seat side by side.

      Cheers,

      Takeshi / JPRail.com

  7. Hi Takeshi / JPRail.com,

    Good day.
    I will be traveling with my companion for 16 days.
    I hope you could help me in securing the proper trains.
    On day one, we will be arriving through Narita Airport. Staying in Tokyo for 6 days. Going to Hakone for 2 days. Kyoto for 3 days. Osaka for 5 days. And out through Kansai Airport.

    Thanks,

    Rudy

    1. Hi Rudy,

      Please find the sample itinerary in the link below. The route is the same as your trip plan:
      https://jprail.com/sample-itineraries/7to9-days/sample-itinerary-of-tokyo-hakone-kyoto-and-osaka-classic-route-in-7-days.html

      You cannot use one base fare ticket from Odawara to Kansai because you will stay in Kyoto for 3 days and in Osaka for 5 days. Just pay as you go for Kyoto to Osaka, and use one of the deals in the link below for Osaka to Kansai:
      https://jprail.com/sample-itineraries/airport-access/kansai-kix/how-to-choose-the-deals-for-access-tofrom-kansai-airport.html

      Cheers,

      Takeshi / JPRail.com

          1. Sir Takeshi,

            Good day. Planning on a side trip of around 2 to 3 days to Akita upon arrival through Narita Airport. Does Akita Shinkansen have non-reserved seats? Thank you so much.

            Rudy

              1. Hi Takeshi,

                Good day. Can I use Flexible JR East-Hokkaido 6 D pass on Ltd Exp Super Hokuto and Ltd Exp Tsugaru trains?
                Thank you,
                Rudy

  8. Good morning Takeshisan,
    I hope you are well.
    We are travelling next week to Nozawa from Haneda arriving 5.05am. I already calculated fares and not going to buy JR pass. We will travel to our destination as following:
    1 Monorail (13 min) transfer 5 min to
    2 Hamamatsucho Station (10 min trip)
    3 Tokyo Station transfer to Hokuriku Shinkansen
    Questions:
    1) When we buy tickets for Monorail should we buy the tickets for the rest of the journey?
    2) The same question for Hamamatsucho station or we buy all tickets separately at each station?
    3) Will be ticket office open as early as 6 am?
    Thank you so much in advance.

    1. Hi nozawa tourist san,

      The easiest way is purchase all tickets at Haneda airport. But it opens at 6:45 am.
      https://www.jreast.co.jp/e/customer_support/service_center_haneda.html?src=gnavi

      Hamamatsucho station has same service but it opens at 8:00.
      https://www.jreast.co.jp/e/customer_support/service_center_hamamatsucho.html?src=gnavi

      Otherwise go to Tokyo station and it opens at 7:30.
      https://www.jreast.co.jp/e/customer_support/service_center_tokyo.html?src=gnavi

      I think Haneda is the best choice.

      Cheers,

      Takeshi / JPRail.com

  9. Hi Takeshita,

    Thank you so much for this article. You’ve made it very easy to understand. I was initially looking into JRpass, but now, I think single fare may be cheaper for me. Please let me know what you think. My itinerary is below. Do you think a single fare pass would work with this? Main cities to visit is Tokyo, Kyoto, and Osaka.
    3/31- Tokyo: Flying into NRT.
    4/4 – Osaka: We plan a day trip in Kyoto.
    4/9 – Flying out of KIX.

    Thank you,
    Kim

      1. I wanted to double check my dates with the single base fare. If I buy one way from Tokyo to KIX on 4/4/2019 at 9am, will it still be valid on 4/9 at 5pm? My flight at KIX is 5PM.

        Secondly, it is a one direction ticket right? So if I go from Tokyo to Osaka on 4/5/2019, I have to buy a separate ticket for Osaka to Kyoto if I go 4/6/2019.

        Third, I was thinking 5 days in Tokyo, 3 in Osaka, 1 day trip in Kyoto. Do you think that will be enough time?

        Lastly, for internet or phone service, I’ve seen SIM card and pocket WiFi available. I have 5 people in my group. Would you recommend pocket WiFi? Will 5 people on one WiFi slow the device drastically?

        Thank you again for your help.

        1. Hi Kim,

          The base fare ticket for Tokyo to Kansai is valid for 5 days. So it will be expired at 23:59 on Apr 8th if you start using it on Apr 4th. You cannot use it on Apr 9th. The time to start using it doesn’t matter. You may add other deal for Osaka to KIX. Please see the link below:
          https://jprail.com/sample-itineraries/airport-access/kansai-kix/how-to-choose-the-deals-for-access-tofrom-kansai-airport.html

          You have to buy other ticket or deal for the day trip to Kyoto. Please see the link below:
          https://jprail.com/travel-informations/other-rail-passes/rail-pass-for-visitors/how-to-choose-discount-railway-ticket-and-pass-in-kansai-area.html

          I think your itinerary is okay but many tourist spend 2 or more days in Kyoto. But it depends on that your group like. If you visit a few places, one day is okay.

          If you and other member of the group travel together all time, pocket Wifi is okay. Most of pocket wifi can accommodate 10 devices. In my experience, I used a pocket wifi with my wife. But when we went Disneyland, I had to get a ticket. My wife and my daughter wait on the line up. We were separated and I could not find my wife. I spend 30 minutes to search them. If you expect this type of situation, Sim card is better way. Since then, I always got two Sim for myself and my wife.

          Cheers,

          Takeshi / JPRail.com

  10. Hi Takeshi,

    We are Family of 3 (my husband and 9years old daughter) travelling to Japan this March 16-24, 2019. We are planning to get the 7 days JR pass.

    We’ll be arriving in Fukuoka Airport 8:30pm.
    Planning to take the Train going to Tokyo right after we arrive at the Fukuoka Airport.

    “Would there be a train still by that time?, also I read that we need to transfer train once we arrive in Osaka since we’ll be using the JR pass, would there be also a train around that time once we reach Osaka going Tokyo?”

    Tokyo March 16-20
    Osaka-Kyoto-Osaka March 20-23
    Fukuoka March 23-24

    Since will depart From Fukuoka Airport on 24th.

    With our plan, do we maximize the JR pass?

    Thank You so much in Advance.

    1. Hi Joy,

      First of all, your arrival time is too late to catch the train to Tokyo on arrival day. You have to stay in Fukuoka and go to Tokyo on next day, March 17. Please see the links below to find the timetable of the Shinkansen.
      https://global.jr-central.co.jp/en/info/timetable/_pdf/eastbound.pdf
      https://global.jr-central.co.jp/en/info/timetable/_pdf/westbound.pdf

      As you know, JR pass does not cover Nozomi and Mizuho on the Shinkansen. These trains are shown in “N” and “M” in the timetables above. You cannot take these trains by JR Pass. You have to take Hikari (H), Sakura (S) and Kodama (K).

      You may use JR Pass 7-day for March 17th to 23rd.

      You may need to add other deal or other ticket in Tokyo, Kyoto and Osaka because JR trains do not cover whole part of these cities. Please see the links below to find more info:
      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
      https://jprail.com/destinations/kansai-area/guide-to-take-trains-in-kyoto-how-to-choose-the-best-route-by-train-to-get-the-major-spots.html
      https://jprail.com/destinations/kansai-area/guide-to-take-trains-in-osaka-how-to-choose-the-best-route-by-train-to-get-the-major-spots.html

      Fukuoka airport and Hakata station are connected by subway but subway is not covered by JR pass either.
      https://jprail.com/destinations/kyushu-area/how-to-access-from-fukuoka-airport-to-downtown-hakata-and-tenjin.html

      Cheers,

      Takeshi / JPRail.com

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