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. Carrie says:

    Hi Takeshi,
    Thank you for all the information you’re sharing. I’m having trouble determining if it’s better for me to get a JR rail pass or get the regular fare tickets. I have a pretty simple itinerary. When we land in Narita, we head to Tokyo, then to Osaka for a day trip, back to Tokyo then to Narita airport. All in all we’re there for 7 days. Others tell me it’s better to buy JR rail pass while others say regular fare tickets – can you help?

  2. Alisha says:

    Hi Takeshi,

    I am looking at catching a ‘Limited Express Azusa’ train from Hakuba to Shinjuku (the direct trip that leaves Hakuba at about 2:30pm of the afternoons), but have been unable to find anywhere to book the ticket.
    My trip is not until Feb 2020, but I am just hoping to plan a few things ahead/ work out if I buy my train tickets once I arrive in Hakuba?

    Many thanks!

  3. Mary says:

    Hi Takeshi,

    I am traveling to Japan in October. I do not think the JR 7-day pass is worth it in my case, but the single pass does not stop in Nara. I can also move Nara to after Kyoto if that is advisable. Can you help me determine which ticket(s) work best?

    24/10 ITM->Osaka
    25/10 Osaka->Nara, Nara->Kyoto
    28/10 Kyoto->Tokyo
    01/11 Tokyo->NRT

    Thank you in advance or any assistance!

  4. Jenny says:

    Hi Takeshi,

    I will be travelling to Tokyo in Oct.

    What should I do about travel as I would like to get from:

    6th – Narita Airport to Shinjuku
    7th – Shinjuku to Hakone
    8th – Hakone to Shinjuku
    9th – Shinjuku to Narita Airport

    Thank you in advance

  5. Rosita says:

    Dear Takeshi-san,

    Greetings from Hong Kong. I will be travelling to Karuizawa on the following dates:
    29/9 : Narita Airport to Tokyo Station
    29/9 : Tokyo Station to Karuizawa
    1/10 : Karuizawa to Ueno
    1/10 : Ueno to Karuizawa
    3/10 : Karuizawa to Tokyo Station
    3/10 : Tokyo Station to Narita Airport
    Please suggest which JR pass I should get. Thank you.

  6. Good day everyone,

    We will travel from February 17 to February 21, 2020. And our destination from Hotel Emisia Sapporo going to White isle Niseko. What will be the best transportation going there? Please give me a sample guide. Thank you in advance.

  7. Dear Takeshi-san,

    Thank you for your article. I plan to travel around Japan with my family in October. My itinerary is as follows:

    10/13 Tokyo-Osaka
    10/14 Osaka to Nara; Nara to Kyoto
    10/17 Kyoto to Tokyo

    Will the regular tickets be cheaper for me?
    Can I buy roundtrip tickets (Tokyo-Osaka) and stopover in Kyoto and return to Tokyo from Kyoto?

    Thank you in advance!

  8. Naz says:

    Hi Takeshi San, I’m Naz from Singapore. I would like to seek your advice as whether should I get a single trip jr tix from Narita to Kyoto/Osaka n transit in Nagoya for 3 nights or purchase a jr pass. Is it possible to use the same tix to Kyoto/Osaka? What are the best options for me as I’m traveling with my husband and 4 kids aged 11, 9, 4 and 2. My itinerary are as follows.
    27 Nov: Sin-Narita
    28 Nov: Narita-Nagoya
    1) Check in hotel – Hotel Richmond Nagoya
    2) Visit tourist attractions – Oasis 21, Nagoya Tower, Sakae, Nagoya Castle, Nagoya Station…
    29 Nov: Nagoya (Higashiyama Zoo)
    30 Nov: Nagoya (Takayama & Shirakawago)
    1 Dec: Kyoto
    1) Check in hotel – Hotel Crystal 1
    2) Visit tourist attractions – Arashimaya Bamboo Forest & Gion
    2 Dec: Osaka
    1) Check in hotel – Hotel WBF Motomachi
    2) Walk around Dotonbori, Shinsaibashi area
    3 Dec: Osaka (USJ)
    4 Dec: Osaka (Minoo Park/ Waterfall)
    5 Dec: Osaka (Namba area, Dotonbori, Shinsaibashi, Kuromon Market)
    6 Dec: Tokyo
    1) Check in hotel – Hotel Uno
    2) Walk around Ueno, Central Tokyo, Akihabara
    7 Dec: Tokyo (Yokohama)
    8 Dec: Tokyo (Hakone – Mt Fuji Day Trip)
    9 Dec: Gotemba
    10 Dec: Tokyo (Shinjuku, Shibuya, Harajuku)
    11 Dec: Nrt-Sin

    • Takeshi Shimomura, Author of
      Takeshi / says:

      Hi Naz san,

      If you want to do the following trip by train, you may use JR pass 14-day:

      1. Trip to Takayama by train
      2. Trip to Yokohama by train
      3. Trip to Fuji/Hakone by train (You may use JR pass to access to Otsuki and/or Odawara)

      7-day pass is too short to cover your trip. But 14-day pass is too expensive to cover Tokyo-Nagoya-Kyoto-Osaka-Tokyo. So you have to make these above trips.

      If you don’t do these above trips by train, you may think about using the regular fare ticket. If you use the regular fare ticket, you can use it for 5 days. So if you start to use it on 28th Nov, it is valid until 2nd Dec. You can reach Osaka.


      Takeshi /

  9. Hi Takeshi

    I really hope you can help. I am travelling to Japan on 9th Oct for the F1 GP in Nagoya. I have the three day ticket from 11-13th Oct. I land on 10th at about 5 and ideally would like to travel straight to Nagoya. I’m tying to work out if it’s better for me to get a 7 or 14 day Rail
    Pass. I intent to travel onto Hiroshima and Osaka and Kyoto and ending back in Tokyo to fly home on 21st. Yes , I want to do a lot but am planning it all and just trying to establish if it’s cheaper for me to get a single date to Nagoya and pay the local train fares to and from the GP circuit and then get a 7 day JP starting from 14th Oct to 21st and once again use local fares in the cities ?? Sorry to ask but I have been following the feed and you have helped so many people. Thanks in advance for all your help. Regards Laurie.

    • Laurie says:

      Llj10/10 Tokyo to Nagoya
      14/10 Nagoya to Hiroshima
      15/10 Hiroshima to Osaka
      17/10 Osaka to Kyoto
      19/10 Kyoto to Tokyo
      21/10 Tokyo to London.

      • Takeshi Shimomura, Author of
        Takeshi / says:

        Hi Laurie,

        You can use JR Pass 14-day. You can get the worth of it by your trip plan. This is cheaper than the regular fare ticket.


        Takeshi /

  10. Vivian says:

    Hi Takeshi,

    I will be travelling to Japan in Oct with my family and a 15 month old toddler. Would appreciate if you can kindly advice if it is worth it for us to buy a 7 day JR pass from 18-24 Oct?

    17/10 – Arrive @ Hiroshima Airport. Visiting Shukkei-en and Peace Memorial Museum.
    18/10 – Visiting Itsukushima Floating Torri Gate and Momijidani Park. Train from Hiroshima to Okayama.
    19/10 – Train from Okayama to Himeiji. Visiting Himeiji Castle. Train from Himeiji to Osaka.
    20/10 – Visiting Nara Park.
    21/10 – Train from Osaka to Sannomiya (Kobe). Visiting Osaka Aquarium Kaiyukan
    22/10 – Visiting Kuromon Ichiba Market and Namba Ebisubashi-Suji Shopping Street
    23/10 – Train from Osaka to Tokyo. Visiting Shibuya.
    24/10 – Visiting Tsujiki Market and Takeshita street.
    25/10 – Gotemba
    26/10 – Lake Kawaguchi and Mount Fuji area
    27/10 – Depart from Narita Airport

    Thank you in advance.

Exit mobile version
Copied title and URL