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 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

    Thanks!

    1. Hi Avery,

      You cannot buy any train passes at Itami airport. First of all, you have to take airport bus to get either Namba or Uehommachi. Nihombashi is located between Namba and Uehommachi. You can get there by subway or Kintetsu. It’s only one station away from either Namba or Uehommachi.
      https://www.osaka-airport.co.jp/en/access/bus/

      And please see the link below how you manage the trip from Osaka to Kyoto to Tokyo:
      https://jprail.com/sample-itineraries/7to9-days/basic-itinerary-of-osaka-kyoto-and-tokyo-in-7-days.html

      Cheers,

      Takeshi / JPRail.com

  2. 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,

    Emma

    1. Hi Emma,

      It is valid for 4 days and you can use one base fare ticket for Kyoto to Tokyo with stopover at Nagoya and Odawara.
      You can buy the Shinkansen seat reservation for all three segments in Kyoto. You don’t need to buy one by one at each stations.

      By the way, if you go to Shinjuku or western side of Tokyo, you may take Odakyu railway from Odawara to Shinjuku. Especially if you stay in Hakone and use the limited express “Romancecar”, you can get Shinjuku from Hakone-Yumoto directly. In this case, you can buy JR base fare ticket for Kyoto to Odawara, the Shinkansen seat ticket for Kyoto to Nagoya and Nagoya to Odawara. You can buy Odakyu railway ticket online separately. Total cost is not much different if you do so.
      https://jprail.com/sample-itineraries/1to3-days/how-to-build-the-trip-plan-to-hakone-various-sample-itineraries-of-hakone.html
      https://www.odakyu.jp/english/romancecar/

      Cheers,

      Takeshi / JPRail.com

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