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.

1,159 thoughts on “For non JR pass travellers. Guide to use JR single ticket, basic rules, validity and stopover”

  1. Hi Takeshi,

    I certainly bought a wrong pass ( 6 Day JR East South Hokkaido). Because I realised my itinerary includes attraction places such as Shirakawago and snow monkey which this pass does not cover. Any alternative transportation I could take? What do you think of Express bus from Tokyo? Since the pass covers from EUNO station? Or any express bus from shinjuku to Matsumoto then transfer to Takayama? Single one-way pass would be expensive consider that I already purchase the JR East South pass.

    Appreciate your thoughts.
    Thank you.

    1. Hi Christine,

      Can you cancel the pass and get JR Pass (nationwide). I think this is the best way even if you pay a handling charge.

      If you don’t want to cancel, you have to add the fare for the trip outside coverage area.

      For the trip to Snow Monkey Park, you have to add the fare for Sakudaira to Nagano which is 3,000 to 3,500 yen one way for Shinkansen seat fee and the base fare. For Nagano to Snow Monkey Park, you have to add Snow Monkey Pass but this is not covered by JR Pass nationwide. It is extra anyway.
      https://jprail.com/travel-informations/trip-report/2016-winter-tohoku-chubu-chugoku/trip-to-tohoku-chubu-and-chugoku-in-2016-winter-part-9-visit-snow-monkey-park-in-nagano.html

      The Shinkansen for Tokyo/Ueno-Sakudaira is covered by JR East South Hokkaido Rail Pass.

      For the trip to Shirakawago, you have to add the fare for Kobuchizawa to Matsumto which is around 2,200 yen one way for limited express seat fee + base fare. And you have to add the bus fare for Matsumoto to Takayama, Takayama to Shirakawago.
      https://www.nouhibus.co.jp/highwaybus/matsumoto_en/
      https://www.nouhibus.co.jp/highwaybus/kanazawa_en/

      If you have JR pass (nationwide), you need to add the fare for Snow Monkey Park from Nagano and fare for Takayama to Shirakawago only.

      Cheers,

      Takeshi / JPRail.com

  2. Hi,
    I was wondering if you would be able to help we are arriving in Tokyo (Narita) In March and we will be in Japan for 8 days, so I’m trying to work out if it is worth getting a JR Pass or doing single tickets, below is the following major travel we have planned:

    Day 1: Narita Airport -Tokyo (Yurakucho)
    Day 2: Tokyo – Hakuba (train to Nagano then bus to Hakuba)
    Day2-7: around Hakuba
    Day7: Hakuba to Tokyo (Roppongi) and some short trips around Tokyo
    Day 8: Roppongi – Narita Airport

    Thanks so much
    Georgia

  3. Hello,

    Im flying in to Osaka and flying out from tokyo for 11 days. Im planning to stay a few days in kyoto as well. May i ask for advice on how i should plan my trip in order to minimise the transport charges. Thank you.

  4. We will visit Japan in March. We will stay in Tokyo for a few days then 1 night to Hakone. From there we will go to Kyoto & Osaka. Some of our friends don’t think we need to get JR pass in the USA since we are flying out from Osaka. If we don’t buy JR pass, how much is a one-way ticket from Hakone to Kyoto? Thank you in advance for your help.

    1. Hi Anne,

      You can catch the Shinkansen from Odawara to Kyoto. The fare is around 13,000 yen. The fare is varied by the seat and the season. If you want to know the exact fare, please use hyperdia to find it:
      https://jprail.com/travel-informations/basic-informations/timetable-and-reservation/hyperdia-perfect-guide-train-timetable-and-route-search-engine.html

      JR Pass is not required. As your friend think, you cannot get the worth of it. Please find the link below. I have sample itineary of Tokyo-Hakone-Kyoto-Osaka. You can find how you manage this trip plan without JR Pass.
      https://jprail.com/sample-itineraries/7to9-days/sample-itinerary-of-tokyo-hakone-kyoto-and-osaka-classic-route-in-7-days.html

      Cheers,

      Takeshi / JPRail.com

  5. Hello,

    I will be travelling to Japan in May, fly in Tokyo and also fly out from Tokyo. Was wondering if we could use this one-way ticket from Tokyo to Osaka, stopping over in Nagoya, Kyoto and Hiroshima, and then use a cheapest train ticket (not sure which yet though) to return to Tokyo without stopping over. Or will JR pass be more worth it?

    Thank you.

    1. Hi E,

      First of all, Hiroshima is not located between Tokyo and Osaka. If you do so, you have to buy Tokyo to Hiroshima one way ticket with stopover at Nagoya, Kyoto and Osaka. But the total cost is around 42,000 yen for Tokyo-(stopovers)-Hiroshima-Hiroshima. It does not include airport to Tokyo and local train ride in Tokyo, Kyoto and Osaka. You can get the worth of JR pass 7-day easily. You may be able to get the worth of 14-day pass too.
      https://jprail.com/travel-informations/other-rail-passes/rail-pass-for-visitors/japan-rail-pass-user-guide-how-to-use-jr-pass-to-its-maximum.html

      Cheers,

      Takeshi / JPRail.com

  6. Hello Takeshi!

    Can you clarify something, please? My date of travel will be 6 April, 2020. Do train tickets for that day go on sale one month before travel (i.e. 6 March, 2020) or do they go on sale 30 days before travel (i.e. 7 March, 2020)?

    This is important for me because I wish to buy tickets on the Seto Sunrise overnight train and I understand they sometimes sell out during the first day of sale!

    Cheers for the clarification!
    Jean

  7. Hello Takeshi,
    I have read many of your posts (thank you) but I am hoping you can help me further.

    We are travelling from Fukuoka to Tokyo across a couple of days (itinerary below) so I know that the 7day JR Pass would be wasted, but I just have some concerns about the reservations as I use a wheelchair.
    I have read up on this, and understand I need to reserve the wheelchair space, but do you know if we can purchase the base fare and shinkansen tickets, and make the wheelchair reservation on the day at the station?
    Itinerary:
    02nd Feb – Fukuoka to Hiroshima (Return)
    03rd Feb – Fukuoka to Kyoto
    05th Feb – Kyoto to Tokyo (Narita Airport)

    Any advice you can give would be fabulous.
    Thank you~
    Caroline

    1. Hi Caroline,

      Actually JR pass is much cheaper choice. If you take the Shinkansne from Hakata to Hiroshima, it costs about 9,000 yen one way. Your total train fares will be more than 40,000 yen. JR pass 7-day is much cheaper.

      JR suggest to book the wheelchair space at least one day in advance at the window. If there is a space available, you may be able to get the space if you ask on the day of travel. So if you can do it, please ask the ticket window before 1st February. You can ask all traveling on 2nd, 3rd and 5th at same time. You can ask when you exchange JR pass as well.

      Cheers,

      Takeshi / JPRail.com

  8. Hi – Below is my itinerary – hoping you can give me some guidance as I’m getting quite confused about the JR and subway lines:
    Jan 3-6: Tokyo
    Jan 6-7: Hakone
    Jan 7-9: Kyoto
    Jan 9-12: Osaka (potentially a Nara day trip in between).

    Whenever I enter this itinerary into JR calculators, I get missed answers.
    Would it be worth it to buy a JR pass? We will be traveling within Tokyo quite a bit as well and I heard you can use the JR pass on some of the lines?

    Thanks so much in advance!

  9. Hi Takeshi,

    I’M going yo travelling to japan next week and im wondering how the selection of the train timing works. My itenary is as follows:
    28 dec 3pm: tokyo to takayama (via nagoya)
    30 dec 3pm: takayama to kyoto (via nagoya)
    1 jan: kyoto to osaka
    4 jan: flying from osaka airport

    Lets take the first trip for example. I have checked hyperdia and it gives me a combined fare of 15280 yen for the two train trips (i.e. Tokyo to Nagoya hikari 519 and nagoya to takayama hida 17).

    1. Would it be possible to pick and mix the train timing? For example, instead of taking hida 17, i want to take the later timing with hida 19 instead. Will i be charged extra or charged for two separate tickets?

    2. Any tips to help me save money?

    1. Hi Kevin,

      1. When you purchase and book a ticket, you will choose which train you take if you want to reserve a seat. The fare is same if you take a later train. As long as you change the trains at same day, the fare is same.

      2. Actually it will be very hard to book a seat because you will travel in super busy period. Please see the link below:
      https://jprail.com/travel-informations/travel-tips/2019-busiest-period-to-travel-by-train-tips-to-book-your-seat-in-even-during-the-busy-period.html

      If you take the express bus, you can save the cost:
      https://www.nouhibus.co.jp/highwaybus/shinjuku_en/
      https://www.nouhibus.co.jp/highwaybus/osaka_en/

      If you take a train, you cannot book a seat before you arrive in Japan. It will be very challenging to book. If you take a bus, you can book online now.

      Cheers,

      Takeshi / JPRail.com

  10. Hello Takeshi,

    Thank you for the detailed write up. We are travelling to Japan on Saturday, 21st December for the 1st time. We land in Osaka. Our itinerary is as follows:
    23rd dec Osaka to Kyoto
    26th dec Kyoto to Hakuba
    30 dec Hakuba to tokyo
    4th Jan fly out of Haneda.
    I checked the JR pass calculator and it seems to be better for me to not buy a JR pass. Even if I am looking at a 7 day pass starting at Kyoto. I hope I’m not missing out on anything in the calculation?

    Is it easy to purchase a ticket and reserve a seat during this season? Can I buy the tickets from the airport itself for all these sectors at one go?

    Best regards
    Parvathi

    1. Hi Parvathi,

      JR Pass is not a choice for your trip as you think. You cannot get the worth of it.

      In your trip, December 30th is the busiest day in Japan. But most Japanese will start the holidays on 29th and 30th. They will go out from the major cities, such as Tokyo. You will travel opposite way. I think you will be okay. You can buy a train tiket at Kansai airport station. But Kansai airport station is always busy. I recommend you to buy a ticket after you arrive in Japan. You can buy a train ticket at most JR station in downtown Osaka, such as Osaka, Shin-Osaka, JR-Namba, Tennoji.

      There is an express bus between Kyoto and Hakuba, and between Hakuba and Tokyo. You may take these and you can book a seat now.
      https://www.alpico.co.jp/en/timetable/hakuba/r-osakakyoto-hakuba/
      https://www.alpico.co.jp/en/timetable/hakuba/r-shinjuku-hakuba/

      Cheers,

      Takeshi / JPRail.com

      1. Thank you for the quick reply! I’ll book the tickets downtown like you mentioned. I am not sure of an overnight bus with 2 kids. I had seen the Alpico bus option earlier, but they dont seem to have a day time option. I do read that the best way to reach is Kyoto- Nagoya- Matsumoto- Hakuba or Kyoto- Nagoya- Nagano- Hakuba by bus. I guess I will have to send my luggage off earlier. We will have 3 suitcases.
        We do have to reserve seats on all the sectors an travelling to right?
        Thanks once again

        1. Hi Parvathi,

          If you take Matsumoto-Hakuba route, you have to take a local train from Matsumoto to Hakuba. And also you have to change the trains on the way to Hakuba. Usually Shinano-Omachi is a transfer point. You cannot book seats on the local train between Matsumoto and Shinano-Omachi, and between Shinano-Omachi and Hakuba. If you don’t like it, you may take the bus from Nagano. The trip time is not much different between these two routes. The fare for Kyoto-Nagoya-Matsumoto-Hakuba is cheaper than Kyoto-Nagoya-Nagano-Matsumnoto.

          I recommend you to book seats because you will travel in the busy season

          Cheers,

          Takeshi / JPRail.com

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