For non JR pass travellers. Guide to use JR single ticket, basic rules, validity and stopover

Fare table
This is not a regular JR ticket but a typical JR train ticket looks like this.

I have received many inquiries about Tokyo to Kyoto or 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, from Osaka to Tokyo. Because this one way trip is not enough to get the worth of 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 gives you a trip at more affordable rate.

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. If you make a short distance trip in the city or city to just outside city, you can purchase a ticket at the vending machine.

Ueno to Tokyo (inside city)
Tokyo to Yokohama (city to just outside place)
Osaka to Universal City (inside city)
Osaka to Kyoto (city to outside place)

If you make a long distance trip, you still can buy a ticket at the vending machine. But the ticket window may be easier to purchase a long distance ticket for the foreign travelers. Especially if you intend to make a stopover on the way, you have to buy a ticket at the ticket window. Because you have to explain your trip plan.

If you want to take a limited express train, you have to purchase a limited express surcharge ticket too. Even if you want to take a non reserved seat on a limited express train, you have to purchase it. You can purchase both a reserved and a non reserved ticket for a limited express (the Shinkansen as well) at “Midori no Madoguchi”. Midori no Madoguchi is the name of JR reservation ticket window. You can purchase a base fare ticket at Midori no Madoguchi too. Please get the detail about reservation at the post below.

In the case of purchasing both base fare ticket and limited express surcharge ticket, you can purchase it in advance. An express surcharge ticket is on sale one month prior to a departure date.

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.

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. Peter says:

    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?

    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)

  2. Alice says:

    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

  3. Kaelyn says:

    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. Zac says:

    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!

  5. Geri says:

    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?

  6. Muni says:

    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!

    • Takeshi Shimomura, Author of
      Takeshi / says:

      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.


      Takeshi /

  7. Hi Takeshi /,

    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.



  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
    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.

  9. Kim says:

    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,

  10. Joy says:

    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.

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