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. Eve says:

    Hi! I’ve read your post and am wondering if you could advise me which ticket to buy for my travel?
    My itinerary is as such:
    Day 1-3 : TOKYO (SHINAGAWA)
    Day 3-5 : NAGOYA -> TAKAYAMA
    Day 5-9 : SHIN-OSAKA
    I have actually booked a one way Nozomi ticket from Shinagawa to Shin-Osaka. Because the article I read, they said I do not need to buy 2 separate Shinkansen tickets to stopover at Nagoya, since the total distance is more than 500km. But after reading your post; it seems to refer that I cannot alight at Nagoya because my ticket is a single trip (Shinagawa to Shin-Osaka).
    Please advise me what tickets do I need to buy to get from Tokyo to Osaka with a stopover at Nagoya with a single ticket?

    • Takeshi Shimomura, Author of
      Takeshi ( administrator) says:

      Hi Eve,

      If you use a regular ticket, you will receive two tickets. These are a base fare ticket and a seat ticket. As I explained, you may use one base fare ticket for Tokyo to Shin-Osaka with stopover Nagoya. But the Shinkansen seat ticket is required per ride. Even if you use non reserved seat ticket, you need a ticket per ride. And also a seat ticket is valid for one day only.

      So you can keep a base fare ticket but you have to buy two seat tickets. If you use Smart Ex app, you can use this way. It sells combination of base fare ticket and seat fee ticket. You cannot buy one base fare ticket for Shinagawa to Shin-Osaka and two seat tikeet for Shinagawa to Nagoya, Nagoya to Shin-Osaka. You must buy it at the ticket window.


      Takeshi /

      • Eve says:

        Hi Takeshi,

        Thanks for the reply, now my doubts have been clarified 🙂 One query: since I used Smart Ex App to book the Nozomi ticket, how do I request to keep the base fare ticket? Or do I have to refund both base fare ticket and Shinkansen seat ticket and purchase new tickets when I reach japan at the ticket counter?

        For my detailed itinerary,
        Day 1-3 : TOKYO (SHINAGAWA)
        Day 3-5 : NAGOYA -> TAKAYAMA
        Day 5-9 : SHIN-OSAKA
        Am thinking if I include day trip to shirakawa-go between day 3-5, and day trip Kyoto&Nara between day 5-9, do you think time wise it is possible?
        And also in this case, is the 7 day JR Pass better than buying single ticket?

        • Takeshi Shimomura, Author of
          Takeshi ( administrator) says:

          Hi Eve,

          I recommend you to cancel your ticket by Smart EX. You cannot keep only base fare ticket by Smart EX. It offers combination of base fare ticket and seat ticket. And the segment for base fare ticket and seat fee ticket must be same.

          And also if you buy two ticket for Tokyo to Takayama via Nagoya and Takayama to Shin-Osaka via Nagoya, it’s cheaper. You should buy these two tickets after you arrive in Japan. It’s not available online. The total fare for these trips is around 25,000 yen. It is still cheaper than JR pass 7-day. But if you use JR pass when you are in Tokyo and/or Osaka, JR pass may be cheaper.


          Takeshi /

  2. Claudia says:

    Hi Takeshi
    I’m sending my daughter with to Japan this December with her aunt and uncle and we are wondering if it’s worth to buy the japan rail pass or not. Base on my readings here I believe is not., can you help us out.
    Dec 29 they arrive in Kansai are staying in Osaka
    Dec 30 Osaka
    Dec 31 Osaka
    Jan 1 Osaka-Kyoto
    Jan 2 Kyoto
    Jan 3 Kyoto-Tokyo
    Jan 7 flight out of Narita
    I don’t know if they are going to use more than those trains since is winter time. The idea maybe is go to Nara, or maybe Kobe, don’t know which is better. Then if possible to Stop in Nagoya or Hakone on their way to Tokyo but only if is easy to connect and are suitcase lockers to leave at station, if not they will go straight to Tokyo, there only will go to Kamakura if they have time and then to Narita Airport
    This JRail pass doesn’t work for the subways, right?
    Considering the days we were told to get a 14 day pass or a region pass for kansai and then one 7 day pass, but I do believe is cheaper to buy single tickets, am I wrong? can you give us an idea. Thanks a lot for your time and help.

  3. MJ – Sydney, Australia
    Min says:

    Hi Takeshi,

    Thanks for your reply.
    Great – we’ll do that then. So what’s the best way to buy these tickets at Matsuyama? Can these be purchased on the machine or do I go to the counter and just say I want to buy a ticket to Tokyo with stopovers at following stations and show the sample itinerary from HyperDia?

    Also, I’ve noticed the sample route you’ve shared doesn’t include Tennoji but you said go to Nara from Tennoji. Just want to clarify that there’ll be no issues going through the gates at Tennoji on Day 2 and board the train to Nara with “Osaka > Nara” ticket?

    Hope that makes sense. Thanks for your help again!


  4. MJ – Sydney, Australia
    Min says:

    Hi Takeshi,

    I’ll be in Japan in May next year. From Matsuyama (ehime) I’ll be taking a train to Tokyo and would like to stopover in Osaka & Nara.
    I was going to purchase separate tickets for all train rides (which will be very expensive) but I just found your article and it just changed my life! (I never knew you can do this!)
    If I can travel using one base fare ticket, like your sample, i could save a lot of money!!
    But I’m not sure if it’s possible.. Can you please check if my calculation will work?

    My overall itinerary:
    – Depart Matsuyama (Ehime) & Arrive Tokyo
    – Stop over in Osaka 1 night and Nara for few hours.
    – Total distance is 947.3km according to HyperDia.
    – HyperDia recommends taking these trains Matsuyama > Okayama > Tokyo.

    My Plan:
    -Buy one base fare ticket from Matsuayma (ehime) to Tokyo.

    Day 1:
    – Get on Matsuyama (Ehime) to Okayama train (Can I get off at Shin-Osaka as a stopover?)
    – Osaka to Kobe for dinner (Buy separate return ticket)
    – Stay overnight in Osaka

    Day 2:
    – Osaka to Nara (Buy separate single ticket)
    – Stay for few hours. Then train from Nara to Kyoto (Buy another separate single ticket)
    – Get on a Shinkansen from Kyoto station to Tokyo.

    I’d like to ask 1) Can i do this? If this works, can i buy this one base long distance ticket at Matsuyama station? And do you recommend reserve the seats for Shinkansen at the same time as well?
    2) If this does not, what’s the best option to do instead?

    I’ll look forward to your reply.
    Thank you so much! Arigatou gozaimasu ^^

  5. Hello Takeshi,

    I am coming to Japan to see family and attend the Olympics from 7/18/2019 – 8/1/2019. I was hoping to run my plan past you to see if there is any way I can improve it. There is 8 people in my party so I am not sure if there is any information on large groups that you could provide.
    7/18/2019-7/24/2019: Osaka, Kyoto, and Fukuyama – My family was going to get the 7 day Sanya-Sanin JR Pass. We plan to spend a full day in Osaka, Kyoto, and Fukuyama in that order. We also plan on taking the local trains in each of the cities to see different areas that we can use the JR Pass on. Is there a way for my family to reserve seats on JR West? I read on another page that JR West allows reservations but it is only for “regular tickets”. Is a JR Pass considered a regular ticket?
    7/25/2019: Train to Tokyo – On 7/25/2019 we were going to buy a one-way ticket to Akasaka, Minato (Tokyo) from Fukuyama. What is the best way to reserve a ticket for one-way? Do we have to reserve seats in person or can we do it through Hyperdia? How far in advance can we reserve a ticket?
    7/26/2019-7/31/2019: Tokyo – We were planning to stay in Tokyo for a week to see the Olympics and wanted to get the JR Tokyo-wide pass. I see this is a 3 day pass that we would need to get 2 times, being 6 days total. Is there a better option to get around Tokyo other than the JR Tokyo-wide pass?
    8/01/2019: Take a one-way to the airport

    Thank you!!
    Reyn Watanabe

  6. kenvien
    Kenneth Vien says:

    Dear Takeshi san,

    I plan to go from Shinagawa to Chichibu for the festival on the 3rd of Dec 2019. With the help from Hyperdia I can find down the Itinerary as follows

    Shinagawa to Tokyo by JR TOKAIDO LINE for Koga
    Tokyo to KUMAGAYA by SHINKANSEN Toki 317
    Kumagaya to Chichibu by CHICHIBU RAILWAY

    I know that the ticket fare from Shinagawa to Kumagaya are cover by Japan JR Pass and I know how to make a reservation for these two Shinkansen tickets.

    I also know that the ticket fare for the Kumagaya to Chichibu by CHICHIBU RAILWAY is not covered by Japan JR pass. So please show me how to buy these tickets in advance just to make sure to have tickets to be there for festival. I will be in Japan from 29th of Nov 2019.

    Many thanks,

    • Takeshi Shimomura, Author of
      Takeshi ( administrator) says:

      Hi Kenneth san,

      You cannot purchase a ticket for Chichibu railway in advance. You have to buy a ticket at Kumagawa on the way and Chichibu on the way back before taking a train.


      Takeshi /

  7. Winnie says:

    Hi Takeshi,

    Thank you so much for setting up this blog.
    I am taking my family to Japan in October for 7/ 8 days.
    We will arrive evening day 1 via HND.
    Day 2 in Tokyo
    Day 3 in Hakone for 1 night (I purchased the 2 day Hakone free pass)
    Day 4,5 in Kyoto
    Day 6 stop by Nara and go to Osaka
    Day 7 in Osaka
    Day 8 leave early morning from Kansai airport.
    1. What would be your recommendation for getting between the cities?
    2. Is it possible for our itinerary to get a base pass from Odawara to Kansai Airport?
    3. For a stopover, can you start again from a different city further down the line?

    Thank you so much for your help and insight.


  8. Hung Vu says:

    Hi Takeshi,

    Thank you for the great guide! I am planning to visit Japan in February 2020 and was wondering if you could determine if JR Passes would be cost effective for 2 people. We will be starting in Hiroshima and ending in Tokyo. I am not planning on buying the JR Pass with my route.

    A one-way ticket from Hiroshima to Tokyo would be around 19000 yen and looks to be about 700 km if drawing a straight line. I believe the Shinkansen route is a bit over 800 km. Do you know how the distance is calculated? This would determine how long I have for my stopover.

    My route:
    Hiroshima – Kyoto (planning to stop in Himeji for a few hours before continuing to Kyoto)
    – Kyoto for 5 or 6 days depending on your answer
    – Also planning on visiting Osaka and Nara during my stay in Kyoto but it looks cheaper to just use the Suica than JR Pass
    Kyoto – Yokohama
    – Yokohama for 2 nights before heading up to Tokyo for the remainder of our stay

    From my calculations (approximates):
    19000 yen – one-way from Hiroshima to Tokyo
    25000 yen – 2 one-way tickets (Hiroshima – Kyoto) & (Kyoto – Yokohama)
    29000 yen – 7 day JR Pass

    In one of your previous replies to a comment, you had also mention the phone app. I looked into that as well, and I believe it stated that you can only go from your origin to destination, therefore no stopover is allowed. Is that correct?

    To sum it up, my 3 questions are:
    How is the distance calculated?
    Is the one-way ticket the best choice for my route?
    Are stopovers allowed when using the phone app to order Shinkansen tickets?

    Thank you so much!


    • Takeshi Shimomura, Author of
      Takeshi / says:

      Hi Hung san,

      Regular ticket is probably your choice. Because you misunderstand the rule of the regular ticket and the cost is higher than your estimation.

      You can use hyperdia to calculate the distance. Please see the chapter of “How to get the fare” in the post above. Actually the distance is just less than 900 km. So the ticket is valid for 6 days.

      However the fare is not 19,000 yen. Roughly your cost is around 26,000 yen. Because you can use one base fare ticket which is around 11,000 yen for Hiroshima to Yokohama. But you have to buy the Shinkansen seat ticket by the segment, Hiroshima to Himeji, Himeji to Kyoto and Kyoto to Shin-Yokohama. Stopover rule applies to the base fare ticket only.

      At this point, the difference between regular ticket costs and JR Pass 7-day is about 3,000 yen. However you can use JR pass to visit Osaka and Nara. You may be able to get the worth.

      Even if you choose the regular ticket, you cannot use Smart EX app. As you think, it sells the combination of Shinkansen ticket and base fare ticket. You cannot make a stopover.


      Takeshi /

  9. Avery says:

    Hi Takeshi,

    I am traveling starting from Osaka ITM airport. Is it possible to purchase the pass there?

    24Oct: ITM -> Osaka (around Kintetsu-Nippombashi Station)
    25Oct: Osaka -> Kyoto
    28Oct: Kyoto -> Tokyo
    01Nov: Tokyo -> Narita


  10. Hi Takeshi,

    Thank you for such a useful article and for giving such clear advice.

    I am travelling:

    Kyoto to Nagoya 28th Oct
    Nagoya to Odawara 30th Oct
    Odawara to Tokyo 31st Oct

    I plan to buy a base ticket from Kyoto to Tokyo as I believe that it will be valid for the 4 days of travel.
    When I buy this base ticket in Kyoto will I be able to only pay for the limited express reservation as far as Nagoya?
    Do I book the limited express reservation for each portion of the journey when I arrive at each station on the day of travel?

    Many thanks,


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