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.

1,102 thoughts on “For non JR pass travellers. Guide to use JR single ticket, basic rules, validity and stopover”

  1. Hi. Our family will be travelling to Japan for the first time and wondering if JR passes are worth it for us. Here is what we’ve planned:
    Aug 28-Sep 3 – NRT airport to Shinjuku, Tokyo (a day trip to Disney Sea in between)
    Sep 3 – Tokyo to Kyoto
    Sep 6 – Kyoto to Nara (Day trip) to Osaka
    Sep 9 – Osaka to Haneda airport
    Thank you in advance.

    1. Hi Carissa,

      You may use JR Pass 7-day for Sep 3 to 9. For the first 6 days, you can use the deal in the link below:
      https://jprail.com/sample-itineraries/airport-access/narita/the-list-of-deals-for-access-to-downtown-tokyo-from-narita-airport.html

      You can add Tokyo Subway Ticket as you need but the regular fare ticket is okay when you go to Tokyo DisneySea.
      https://jprail.com/travel-informations/other-rail-passes/rail-pass-for-visitors/compare-many-discount-tickets-and-passes-for-sightseeing-tokyo-how-to-choose-the-right-tickets.html

      Cheers,

      Takeshi / JPRail.com

  2. Hello Takeshi,
    We are coming to Japan in July for our honeymoon. After doing quite a bit of research, we’ve realized the JR Pass is not our best value. Our itinerary is:
    US -> Tokyo
    Tokyo – Kyoto
    Flight from Kansai to Miyakojima
    Flight from Miyakojima to Tokyo

    My questions are.
    1) can we wait until we land to buy our ticket from Tokyo to Kyoto?
    2) can we take the Limited Express Haruka 3 from Kyoto to the Kansai Airport without a JR Pass?

    Thanks in advance for your help!
    Corina

  3. Hello Takeshi,

    I am doing a one-way trip with Tokyo and Osaka. (Fly into Tokyo, fly home from Osaka)
    This is my itinerary and some of the passes I plan to get.

    Day 1 – Arrive in Narita Airport / Sightseeing Around Tokyo
    (Keisei Skyliner + Tokyo Subway combo ticket, 72 hours, One-way)

    Day 2 – Sightseeing Around Tokyo
    (Keisei Skyliner + Tokyo Subway combo ticket, 72 hours, One-way)

    Day 3 – Sightseeing Around Tokyo
    (Keisei Skyliner + Tokyo Subway combo ticket, 72 hours, One-way)

    Day 4 – Sightseeing Around Tokyo
    (Buy single-use ticket without any passes)

    Day 5 – Travel to Osaka and sightseeing
    (Buy one-way Shinkansen train ticket to Osaka + single-use ticket for sightseeing in Osaka)

    Day 6 – Sightseeing around Osaka
    (Buy single-use ticket without any passes)

    Day 7 – Day trip to Kyoto for sightseeing and back to Osaka
    (???)

    Day 8 – Day trip to Nara for sightseeing and back to Osaka
    (???)

    Day 9 – Travel to Kansai Airport
    (Buy single-use JR ticket to Kansai Airport)

    For the trip of Tokyo-Osaka and Osaka-Kansai (Day 5 and Day 9), am I able to buy just one ticket to cover both journeys, like your sample itinerary in the hyperdia photo? Since the ticket is valid within 5 days?
    What should I get for Day 7 and 8?
    Could you advise what is the best and most affordable plan for this itinerary?

    Thank you in advance

    1. Hi Kaedes,

      You may use one way ticket for Tokyo-Osaka-Kansai airport. However there are lots of the discount options for Osaka to Kansai airport. Especially if you stay near the subway station, other option may be better. Please see the link below to find the deal for Osaka to Kansai.
      https://jprail.com/sample-itineraries/airport-access/kansai-kix/how-to-choose-the-deals-for-access-tofrom-kansai-airport.html

      Kansai thru pass is most recommended for Kyoto and Nara.
      https://jprail.com/travel-informations/other-rail-passes/rail-pass-for-residents/how-to-use-kansai-thru-pass-compare-pass-and-single-fare.html

      But there are other deals available too. I cannot say which one the best one is at this point. It depends on which place you visit in Kyoto and which place you stay in Osaka.

      Cheers,

      Takeshi / JPRail.com

    1. Hi Leo,

      Unfortunately I don’t have any map and I don’t think it’s available online. The area is not prefecture but it’s city. For example, if you buy a ticket from Sapporo to Tokyo, you can start any JR stations within Sapporo city and you can complete your travel in any stations within Tokyo 23 wards. And you cannot make any stopovers within Sapporo and within Tokyo 23 wards.

      Cheers,

      Takeshi / JPRail.com

  4. Hi Takeshi,

    This article is very helpful. I was hoping you could help me determine the easiest and most convenient path for our trip of 5. Here is the plan. The order is not set in stone so please feel free to offer any suggestions to make it more convenient.

    3/31: arrive to NRT
    3/31-4/4 : Hotel in Tokyo
    4/4 : Travel to Okazaki Castle
    4/4 : Travel to Osaka
    4/4-4/9 : Hotel in Osaka
    4/5-4/6 : Tour Osaka
    4/7 : Tour Kyoto
    4/8 : Tour Kobe
    4/9 : Flight depart from KIX

    Do you think it is best we travel with one way single fare from Tokyo to Osaka. Would it allow a stop near Okazaki?

    Should we buy tickets at the window or get Suica/Pismo/IC card?

    Thank you very much for your input.
    Kim

    1. Hi Kim,

      You may use one way ticket from Tokyo to Osaka. You will make a stopover at Okazaki which is the nearest JR station. Your route is the following:
      Tokyo (Shinkansen) Toyohashi (JR Tokaido line) Okazaki (Aichi Kanjo Railway) Naka-Okazaki (Aichi Kanjo Railway) Okazaki (JR Tokaido line) Nagoya (Shinkansen) Shin-Osaka

      You have to pay for Okazaki to Naka-Okazaki return. This is not JR line. And also you have to add the Shinkansen seat fare for Tokyo to Toyohashi and Nagoya to Shin-Osaka. You can use same ticket after you get off Shinkansen at Shin-Osaka. As long as you use JR line and you don’t exit the station, you can get off at any JR stations in downtown Osaka.

      In Tokyo and Osaka, please see the link below to find more info:
      https://jprail.com/sample-itineraries/7to9-days/how-to-make-the-itinerary-of-tokyo-osaka-one-way-trip.html

      Cheers,

      Takeshi / JPRail.com

  5. Good morning, Takeshi! it’s Xieru again ^^~
    Thank you for your valuable knowledge and your input regarding my accommodation, you made 2 very good points for me to consider 🙂 Also, thank you for your fast response.

    I have been reading more & more of your reviews from this site and they’ve honestly been really helpful, informative AND best of all, you make it so easy to understand!

    Last night, I realised Plan B will probably cost me a lot more, as I learnt that the JR Pass expires at 23:59, regardless the time of activation.. Although, there is the option of Sunrise Izumo Express with the NobiNobi being covered by the JR Pass. The downside is, there’s no reservation for the NobiNobi. Therefore, there’s no guarantee I’ll have a spot on it as I heard it’s quite popular. (Definitely don’t want to be homeless for the night due to that >. Tokyo? Should I use Suica/Pasmo for that trip or Single JR Pass? Getting around Tokyo, I’ll definitely need Suica.

    Also, I’m assuming once I arrive in Japan at NRT that I’ll have to go through custom clearance before my domestic transfer at KIX and will I have to go through it again at KIX? Sorry if this is a question I can’t ask here.

    Thank you again and sorry for being so lengthy! I look forward to your reply.

    1. Hi Xieru,

      If you want to avoid any risks, go for plan A and use night bus. As you know, Sunrise is busy. If you intend to take this train, you must have a back up plan.

      In most cases at Narita, you have to go through custom and immigration, and have to pick up a baggage. You have to recheck in. I usually spend at least 2 hours to do everything.

      ICOCA or Kansai one pass is okay. If you buy IC card in Tokyo when you change flights at Narita, you can purchase Suica. The card is different but you can use at both places, Osaka/Kyoto and Tokyo.

      Cheers,

      Takeshi / JPRail.com

  6. Hello, Takeshi!
    I read your post and wow! This is the sort of information I was struggling with and looking for! I’ve asked travellers (including Japanese) regarding this and they seemed to have been very confused/ clueless about it. Which almost made me doubt this type of transport didn’t exist (even though one of the blogs I’ve read mentioned this but less in details).

    Anyways, I was wondering if I could get your opinion regarding my 10 Days travel plan. Which one would be more beneficial and cheaper. JR Single Ticket or JR 7 Days Whole Japan.

    The details are:
    – Arrival: May 20th, evening, NRT Airport
    – Departure: May 30th, late in the evening, NRT Airport.
    – Trip Plan: Tokyo (4D/4N), Osaka (3D/3N) & Kyoto (3D/3N).
    – Temple Sale in Kyoto (held monthly every 21st)
    – Flea Market in Osaka (held monthly every 21st and 22nd).
    – I hope experience both Temple Sale & Flea Market.

    Plan A: After arriving at Narita Airport.
    – Take a domestic flight from NRT to KIX Osaka (5500 JPY)

    May 20: sleep at accommodation
    May 21: Go to Kyoto (via Train, IC Suica?) Travel time = 30mins? Experience Toji Temple Sale. Explore Kyoto then head back to Osaka (via Train, IC Suica?)
    May 22: Experience Osaka Flea Market + Explore Osaka
    May 23: Explore Osaka
    May 24-26: Go to Kyoto using Single JR Pass + Explore.
    May 27-30: Go to Tokyo using Single JR Pass.
    May 30 (evening): Tokyo -> NRT using Bus?

    Plan B: After arriving at Narita Airport.
    – NRT -> N’EX to Tokyo (activating 7 Day Whole JR Pass)

    May 21-23: Travel from Tokyo in the morning to Kyoto via Shinkansen (2h+30m) to experience Toji Temple Sale, then to Osaka via train, using IC Suica? (30m)
    May 24-26: Explore Kyoto
    May 27-30: JR Expires on 27th evening – Travel from Kyoto to Tokyo via Shinkansen (2h+30m).
    May 30: Evening Departure, Tokyo to NRT via bus (2h, depending on bus/ traffic)

    PS: Regarding my Osaka & Kyoto visits, would you recommend I stay in just 1 accommodation (eg: Kyoto) and just travel to and from Osaka and back to my accommodation in Kyoto or would this be too costly for the trip. Instead just book 2 accommodation, 1 for my Osaka stay & 1 for Kyoto stay.

    Sorry for being so lengthy, I look forward to your reply.

    1. Hi Xieru,

      The easiest way is using JR Pass which is Plan B. Even though you have to add some fares in Kyoto and Osaka because it does not cover city bus and subway. Please see the links below:
      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

      However you can reach many places by JR trains which is covered by JR pass. It’s easy, convenient and gives you flexibility.

      If you go for plan A, total cost might be cheaper than plan B. At this point, you are still wondering if you stay in one place, such as Kyoto or Kyoto and Osaka. You have to decide before you choose the deal. If you want different atmosphere, you can stay each cities. But if you want to minimize to move with luggage, you can stay in one place. It’s totally up to you.

      You may use Kansai one pass which is Osaka’s IC card for other than Kyoto (or Osaka) to Tokyo. IC card cannot be used for this long distance movement.
      https://jprail.com/travel-informations/other-rail-passes/rail-pass-for-residents/what-is-ic-card-suica-icoca-pasmo-how-to-use-these-cards.html

      Cheers,

      Takeshi / JPRail.com

  7. I am planning to travel around Kyushu and Kansai area end of this May. I plan to get a JR International Student pass (because I currently have a student visa in Japan) and the JR Kyushu pass for my parents. Can you tell me what is the best way to travel around if I want to cover from Kumamoto – Aso / Nagasaki – Yufuin – Beppu – Fukuoka?

    After Kyushu, I plan to go to Kyoto. However, can you tell me what is the best way to travel around there?

    1. Hi Jean,

      For your parents, the deal in the following link is recommended:
      http://www.westjr.co.jp/global/en/ticket/ssnk/

      You can use student deal but you have to pay a regular fare for Hakata to Kyoto.

      Currently Kumamoto-Aso segment is closed due to the earthquake in a few years ago. It will not be fixed by May. You cannot travel to Aso from Kumamoto by train. But you can get Aso from Oita. I recommend you to put Aso between Yufuin and Beppu.

      Cheers,

      Takeshi / JPRail.com

  8. Hello Takeshi,
    A friend and I will be traveling to Japan May 6-20. After a few days in Tokyo we have the following itinerary:
    12 May Tokyo round trip to Hanoke
    13 May Tokyo one way to Kyoto
    16 May Kyoto one way to Hiroshima
    16-17 May Hiroshima round trip to Miyajima
    18 May Hiroshima to Osaka
    20 May Osaka to Kansai will be purchased as a single ticket
    I believe the 7 day green pass will be a good idea for these trips…do you agree?
    Thank you in advance for you assistance.

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