How to choose discount railway ticket and pass for the trip in Kansai area

Osaka, Kyoto, Kobe and Nara
Katsura river in Arashiyama, Kyoto is very popular in Spring and Fall. ©Yasufumi Nishi/© JNTO
Dotonbori (道頓堀) is one of the popular spot around Osaka Namba area. ©JNTO
Dotonbori (道頓堀) is one of the popular spot around Osaka Namba area. ©JNTO

There are JR lines and lots of private railway lines, such as Hankyu, Hanshin, Kintetsu and Keihan in Kansai area. There are so many kinds of ticket or passes as well. It makes you confused to choose it.

In this post, I would like to share the information about the discount tickets and passes that cover Kansai area.

Kansai Thru Pass

  • Online purchasing price (2-day) – Adult : 4,300 yen / Child : 2,150 yen
  • Online purchasing price (3-day) – Adult : 5,300 yen / Child : 2,650 yen
  • Coverage – All Non JR lines, subway lines and city bus in whole part of Kansai area
  • Valid period – 2 or 3 days (not required using in consecutive days)

This is the most recommend one. This pass includes all major private lines and subway lines, such as Hankyu, Hanshin, Keihan, Kintetsu, Nankai, Osaka Metro and Kyoto Subway. You can access Kyoto, Osaka, Kobe, Nara, Himeji, Mt. Koya, Kansai airport, Wakayama and many more place. This pass is sold at 5,300 yen for 3-days and 4,300 yen for 2 days. It gives you the greatest value in any railway pass of Kansai area. But if you think about only round trip between Kyoto and Osaka, the regular fare may be cheaper. Please see the details at the post in the link below:

JR West Rail Pass – Kansai Area Pass

  • Price (1-day) – Adult : 2,200 yen / Child : 1,100 yen
  • Price (2-day) – Adult : 4,300 yen / Child : 2,150 yen
  • Price (3-day) – Adult : 5,300 yen / Child : 2,650 yen
  • Price (4-day) – Adult : 6,300 yen / Child : 3,150 yen
  • Coverage – All JR railway lines in whole part of Kansai area
  • Valid period – 1 to 4 days (midnight to midnight)
Limited Express Haruka connects Kansai airport and Kyoto via Tennoji and Shin-Osaka. This is covered by Kansai area pass.

This pass includes most of JR lines in Kyoto, Nara, Osaka, Kobe, Himeji and Kansai airport. But the Shinkansen and all express trains are not covered except Kansai airport express “Haruka”. Please see the details about this pass in the link below:

Hankyu Tourist Pass one day and two days

  • Price (1-day) – Adult : 700 yen / Child:Not available
  • Price (2-day) – Adult : 1,200 yen / Child:not available
  • Coverage – All Hankyu railway lines
  • Valid period – one day (midnight to midnight) and two days (must be used in consecutive days)

Hankyu Railway operates trains among Umeda (Osaka), Takarazuka, Kawaramachi (Kyoto near Gion), Arashiyama (Kyoto) and Kobe (Sannomiya). The price of this deal is very attractive to cover three cities, Kyoto, Osaka and Kobe. If you access to Kobe-Sannomiya from Umeda, single fare is 320 yen. If you access to Kyoto-Kawaramachi from Umeda, single fare is 400 yen. You can get the worth of one day pass by one round trip to Kyoto-Kawaramachi from Umeda. If you look for deal to access to just Kobe, Arashiyama and Gion area, this is a good choice.

But if you want to visit all part of Kyoto and many places in Kobe, Kansai Thru Pass is better choice. Because you have to take other train or bus than Hankyu Railway. Kansai Thru Pass covers all.

Please see the link below to find more information:

Hankyu Railway official site- Hankyu Tourist Pass

Kyoto-Osaka Sightseeing Pass one day and two days

  • Price (1-day) – Adult : 700 yen / Child : 350 yen
  • Price (2-day) – Adult : 1,000 yen / Child : 700 yen
  • Coverage – All Keihan railway lines
  • Valid period – one day (midnight to midnight) and two days (must be used in consecutive days)

Keihan Railway connects Yodoyabashi (Osaka) and Demachiyanagi (Kyoto). It covers Kyoto and Osaka only but the price is cheaper than Hankyu Tourist Pass. And many places in Kyoto are located along Keihan Railway. Fushimi Inari shrine, Uji, Kiyomizu-dera temple and many places in Higashiyama area can be accessed from Keihan Railway stations.

This pass has same issue as Hankyu Tourist Pass. You may have to take subway to get Keihan Railway station in Osaka, such as Yodoyabashi, Nakanoshima, Kitahama, Temmabashi and Kyobashi. And when you visit western part of Kyoto, such as Arashiyama, Kinkaku-ji temple, you have to pay extra to access this place. Kansai Thru Pass may be better choice if you have another trip(s).

Please see the link below to find more information about Kyoto-Osaka Sightseeing Pass:

Keihan Railway official site – Kyoto-Osaka Sightseeing Pass

Kintetsu Rail Pass one day and two days

  • Price (1-day) – Adult : 1,500 yen / Child : 750 yen
  • Price (2-day) – Adult : 2,500 yen / Child : 1,250 yen
  • Coverage – All Keihan railway lines
  • Valid period – one day (midnight to midnight) and two days (must be used in consecutive days)

This deals covers Kintetsu Railway in Osaka, Kyoto and Nara.

In Nara, many of places can be accessed by walk from the station. But this deal can take you to Kyoto station only You cannot use this deal to access to most of places in Kyoto.

Please see the link below to find more information about Kintetsu Rail Pass:

Kintetsu Railway official site – Kintetsu Rail Pass

Hanshin Tourist Pass

  • Price – Adult:700 yen / Child:Not available
  • Coverage – All Hanshin railway lines
  • Valid period – one day (midnight to midnight)

Hanshin Railway operate trains among Umeda (Osaka), Osaka-Namba, Kousoku-Kobe and Kobe (Sannomiya). The price of this deal is very attractive. If you access to Kobe-Sannomiya from Osaka-Nmaba, single fare is 410 yen. It is paid off by just one round trip. If you look for deal to access to just Kobe, this is the one for your trip.

However if you access to Arima-Onsen and/or Himeji, Kansai Thru Pass or Kansai Area Pass may be better choice.

Please see the link below to find more information about Hanshin Tourist Pass:

Hanshin Railway official site – Hanshin Tourist Pass

Kansai Wide Area Pass

All Shinkansen trains non reserved seat on Sanyo Shinkansen are covered by this deal.

If you may travel both inside and outside of Kansai area, Kansai Wide Area Pass is the best choice. You can get same coverage as Kansai area pass in Osaka, Kyoto, Nara, Kobe, Himeji and Wakayama. And also this pass covers Kinosaki Onsen, Shirahama, Kii-Katsuura, Shingu, Okayama, Kurashiki and even Takamatsu in Shikoku. You can take non reserved seat on limited express trains and Sanyo Shinkansen between Shin-Osaka and Okayama. Please find more information in the post below:

ICOCA and Kansai One Pass

ICOCA is most popular IC card in Kansai area. (C) タンジェント (own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

You may use these cards to take any trains and buses in all Kansai area. You can use even other area’s card, such as Suica, Pasmo too. These cards give you convenience. You can avoid to purchase a ticket whenever you make a train trip. You can take any kinds of trains, such as JR, subway and Non JR trains. However these cards do not give you any discount and unlimited ride.

If you meet these following things, IC card is your choice.

1. You intend to visit a few places in a day.
2. You need to take several kinds of trains and buses, like subway, Hankyu, Keihan, JR.
3. You cannot fix your plan and want to have some flexibility.

However if you have day trip to other cities, such as day trip to Kyoto from Osaka, Kansai Thru Pass or Kansai Area Pass is better choice in most of cases.

Kansai One Pass

This is same type of card as ICOCA. You can use this pass by same way as ICOCA. But this card is designed for overseas tourist. Preload amount is 2,500 yen (plus 500 yen deposit and sold at 3,000 yen) and you can get discount at many attractions. ICOCA is sold at any JR stations throughout Kansai area. But Kansai One Pass is sold in the designated stations only. Please see the link below to find the detailed information at official site.

Kansai One Pass official site

For traveler who use national or regional pass

If you use JR pass (national pass) or other regional deal, such as Kansai Hiroshima Area Pass, JR train network in Kansai area is covered. You may have same or better coverage than Kansai Wide Area Pass. If you use these passes, please try to use this pass as much as you can. I think you may add only city deal, such as bus pass in Kyoto.

For the traveler who stay in Kyoto or Osaka and visit inside city only

These above deals are too much for the city sightseeing only. You may find the deals in the links below:

How to choose the best train pass for sightseeing in Kyoto
How to choose the best train pass for sightseeing in Osaka

I hope you get the best deal in this post and enjoy your trip in Kansai area.


  1. Laine Ooi says:

    Hello Takeshi-san
    I will be traveling to Tokyo, Hakone, Kyoto and Osaka in Nov 2018; total 12 travel days. Would greatly appreciate your help in deciding which JR pass to purchase? Also, is it worth it to get first class JR pass vs. Green class?

    Day 1 : arrival Tokyo-Narita, travel within Tokyo city
    Day 2-4: Tokyo city
    Day 5 : Hakone
    Day 6 – 8: Kyoto
    Day 9 – 11: Osaka
    Day 12: Osaka to Tokyo-Narita

    Within each city, we would prefer to travel by train/ subway across different lines.

    Thank you very much for your help!
    Best regards,
    Laine O

  2. Eileen says:


    Please advise which Pass to purchase based on the following itinerary:

    Day 1: KIX – Kyoto Station – Kinkaku-ji Temple – Arashiyama – Kyoto Station
    Day 2: Kyoto Station – Fushimi-Inari Shrine – Nara (Todai-ji Temple, Deer Park, Naramachi) – Kyoto Station
    Day 3: Kyoto Station – Kiyomizudera Temple – Nishiki market – Teramachi Arcade & Shinkyogoku Arcade – Kyoto Station
    Day 4: Kyoto Station – Namba, Osaka (my hotel is near Namba Station on the Midosuji Subway Line) – Shinsaibashi Shopping Arcade and Dotonbori
    Day 5: Namba Station – Okayama (Okayama Castle, Omote-cho Shopping Street, Kurashiki) -Namba Station
    Day 6: Namba Station – Kobe (Kobe Harborland, Nankinmachi, Sannomiya, Rokko Cable Car) – Namba Station
    Day 7: Namba Station – Kuromon Market – Osaka Castle – Umeda Sky Building – Namba Station
    Day 8: Namba Station – Rinku Premium Outlet – Namba Station
    Day 9: Namba Station – KIX

    Thank you very much for your help.

  3. Hi Takeshi
    I need your help in deciding what passes we will need to get with our itinerary below:
    26 Dec : KIK – Umeda
    27 Dec : We booked travel One way tour from Osaka to Takayama
    28 Dec : Takayama to Kyoto prefer using bus
    29 Dec : Kyoto
    Arashimaya, Gion, Fushimi Inari, Nishiki
    30 Dec : Kyoto – Kobe – Himeji – Kyoto
    31 Dec: Kyoto – Nara – Osaka
    1-2 Jan: we plan using 2 D Osaka Amazing Pass
    3-4 Jan: Dotonburi and Shinsabashi area
    5 Jan : Umeda – KIX

    Hoping you can help us in this.

    Thank you



  4. Gloria says:


    I’m visiting Kyoto and Osaka next week, and I plan to use ICOCA card for most of my trip. However, I would like to know if ICOCA can be used on Keihan Main Line Limited Express which I plan to take from Kyoto to Osaka, or if I need to purchase extra ticket for the ride.

    Thank you!

  5. Ginny says:

    Hi Takeshi ,

    Need your kind advice which is the rail pass suitable for my trip .
    I booked a place to stay at Kyobashi area , all 7 nights to stay at Osaka .

    My planning itinerary :
    Day 1 – arrival
    Day 2 – osaka – kyoto – osaka
    Day 3 – osaka – nara – osaka
    Day 4 – osaka – Kobe – osaka
    Day 5 – Explore Osaka town – consider 2 days amazing pass
    Day 6 – Explore Osaka town
    Day 7 – Explore Osaka town
    Day 8 – Departure

    Do you think i need to buy JR Kansai West Pass or Thru Pass ?\
    If i purchase a ICOCA + HARUKA (ROUNDTRIP)so i can use it for
    Day 1 arrival (airport – town)and Day 8 departure (town to airport) ?

    Thanks for your kind assistance in advance .


    • Takeshi Shimomura, Author of
      Takeshi / says:

      Hi Ginny,

      You may use ICOCA and Haruka for day 1 and 8 as you think. You can use ICOCA and Haruka Tennoji version because you can take Haruka between KIX and Tennoji and a local train between Tennoji and Kyobashi. It covers Kyobashi too.

      For day 2 to 4, it’s hard to say which one is better Kansai area pass or Kansai thru pass.

      Kansai area pass
      You can take Haruka from Tennoji to Kyoto.
      You can take JR trains from Kyobashi. When you go to Nara, take rapid train from Tennoji. When you go to Kobe, take rapid train from Osaka.
      It does not cover subway, city bus and non JR trains, such as Keihan railway, Kintetsu railway, Hanshin railway. Especially in Kyoto, you need to take city bus. JR trains do not cover all.

      Kansai thru pass
      It covers subway, city bus and non JR trains. In Kyoto, this covers all. You can take Keihan railway to Gion from Kyobashi directly.
      You can take Kintetsu railway to get Nara. Kintetsu Nara station is better location than JR Nara station.
      When you take Kintetsu railway, you have to change two subways to get Kintetsu railway station. Otherwise use ICOCA or pay a regular fare to take JR train to get Tsuruhashi from Kyobashi.
      When you go to Kobe, you have to change trains at least twice.

      If I were you, I go for Kansai thru pass. But the choice is yours. You can use Osaka amazing pass for day 5 and 6. You can use ICOCA for day 7.


      Takeshi /

  6. Hi Takeshita,

    I need your help in deciding what passes we will need to get with our itinerary below:

    Day 1: Arrive in KIX – Hotel in Shinsaibashi Area
    Day 2: Osaka to Kyoto (overnight) – What is the best pass to go around Kyoto
    Day 3: Kyoto to Kobe then back to Osaka by 7pm
    Day 4: Sigthseeing and shopping around Dotonburi area
    Day 5: Universal Studios
    Day 6: Osaka Castle and other areas near by
    Day 7: Shopping and exploring other places in Osaka.

    Do you think we should get both the Kansai Thru Pass and the JR West Kansai Pass? Or should we just get the ICOCA card?

    Hoping you can help us in this.

    Thank you!

  7. Carleen says:

    Hi Takeshi,

    I find your article very useful and Id like to get some suggestions for my trip this December.

    day 1- 3: Osaka:
    – we will stay near yodoyabashi station

    dec 3-5: Kyoto
    dec 6-9: tokyo

    Thanks in advance 🙂

  8. Chris Foo says:

    Hi Takeshi-san,

    need some light from you, my travel plan as below

    Day 1 # KIX – Osaka & Osaka – Himeji – Osaka
    Day 2 # Osaka – Kyoto – Osaka
    Day 3 # Osaka – Kyoto – Osaka
    Day 4 # Osaka – Nara – Osaka
    Day 5 # Osaka – Hiroshima – Miyajima – Osaka
    Day 6 # Osaka (City Tour)
    Day 7 # Osaka – KIV (Morning flight)

    Should i go for JR West Kansia Wide Hiroshima Area (5days) or JR West Sany-Sanin Area (7days) or any other better option avaiable

    Accommodation based at Osaka, two mid senior citizen who find it trouble-some to move hostel from one place to other place

    I understand that JR line basically of not much used inside Kyoto & Osaka, as such – Kyoto sigh-seeing will take the subway & bus day pass

    Appreciated your help

  9. cn says:

    Hi Takeshi-san,

    This would be my third time going to Japan (Kansai area) and also the third time asking for your advice again. Thanks in advance!

    Below is by far my brief itinerary and hope you could advice on the mode of transport (hope to get the most efficient route) via and places where I could visit.

    I will be staying in Kyoto near Saiin station and Osaka near Kujo station for 5 nights each.

    “Day 1 (22nd) April Friday”
    KIX to Kyoto
    Hagashimaya (Kiyomizu, Kodaiji temple, Nishiki (Daimaru, Takashimaya) Gion,shinkyogoku shopping district, Pontocho Alley via kyoto bus pass

    “Day 2 (23rd) Saturday”
    Arashimaya (Bammboo, Tenryuji Temple, Togetsukyo Bridge, Arashiyama Park) via kyoto bus pass

    “Day 3 (24rd) Sunday”
    Fushimi Inari and more to be added via kyoto bus pass

    “Day 4 (25th) Monday”
    Yamazaki and Hagashimaya (Philosopher path, Ginkakuji, Yasaka, Maruyama Park) via subway and kyoto bus pass

    “Day 5 (26th) Tuesday”
    Kyoto – to be added, thinking of renting a car to get move around, thought of shirahige shrine and shirakawago (but google say 3.5 hours)

    “Day 6 (27th) Wednesday”
    Kyoto to Osaka
    Osaka amazing pass day 1

    “Day 7 (28th) Thursday”
    Osaka amazing pass day 2

    “Day 8 (29th) Friday”
    Nara Park, Todaiji temple via kintetsu rail pass day 1
    any other places in Nara?

    “Day 9 (30th) Saturday”
    Yoshino – Mt. Yoshino via kintetsu rail pass day 2
    any other places in Yoshino?

    “Day 10 (31st) Sunday”
    Umeda and more to be added. want it to be an free and easy last day

    “Day 11 (1st) Monday”
    Osaka to KIX

    I have earlier planned to purchase Kansai Thru Pass (3 day) but determine that it might not worth, unless we need to travel to somewhere further.

    So far I also feel there is extra time in Day 3, 5 and Day 10 and thinking where can I go.

    Thinking to rent a car ( there is total of 7 of us) in Kyoto and visit places like Shirahige shrine and Shirakawago village (but google say 3.5hours, it is too far)

    • Takeshi Shimomura, Author of
      Takeshi / says:

      Hi CN san,

      Welcome back to my site. I’m glad you go back again.

      You may use Kyoto access ticket for day 1 to get Saiin.

      I recommend you to purchase Kansai one pass.

      You will stay in Saiin. You will take Hankyu railway to get the center of Kyoto. And also you may think about using Kyoto city bus pass. Bus pass is not a bad idea. But in these days, Kyoto city bus is always crowded and behind the schedule. I recommend you to take trains and/or subways as much as you can to save your travel time. You can use Kansai one pass to take these trains. And add bus pass to save your fund in Kansai one pass. You may use bus pass because you can get the worth by only 3 rides.

      As you think, Shirakawago is quite far. Shirahige shrine is okay. It is much closer. But you don’t need rent-a-car for just visiting Shirahige shrine.

      If you expect to see cherry blossom in Yoshino, it’s too late. Even if you visit there in the beginning of your trip, it will be late. Usually mid April is peak season to see it.

      Nara has many more places to see. And you may visit Asuka and Sakurai area too.

      If you don’t want to go to Yoshino, you may visit other places, such as Kobe, Himeji, Mt. Koya.

      Please check your itinerary again and rearrange it if need. We will talk about choosing the deal after you finalize your trip plan.


      Takeshi /

      • cn says:

        Hi Takeshi-san,

        Thank you for your reply and advice.

        Sorry that I did not specific that my travel period is 22th March to 1st of April, hopefully that is a nice period to enjoy the sakura season.

        I am actually more concerned on the transport for (1) from airport to Saiin, Kyoto and (2) from Saiin, Kyoto to Kujo, Osaka as my parents will be with me, and I dont want them to trouble moving luggage while travelling.
        Would it be very expensive to take a taxi for a short distance? For example, I plan to take Haruka Express to Kyoto Station from Kansai Airport, and take a taxi from Kyoto Station to my stay near Saiin Station. I checked online and it estimate about 1500 yen per taxi, and I would need 3 taxi for 7 pax of us.

        Please see my latest itinerary for your reference :
        “Day 1 (22nd) Friday”
        KIX to Kyoto
        Hagashimaya, Kiyomizu-dera, Kodaiji temple, Yasaka shrine, Maruyama Park and Gion

        “Day 2 (23rd) Saturday”
        Arashiyama: Tenryu-ji Temple, Sagano Bamboo forest, Togetsukyo Bridge, Arashiyama Park, 龜岡 七谷川和らぎの道, Nishiki market / gion area

        “Day 3 (24rd) Sunday”
        Fushimi Inari and Kamo-gawa river, Yawatashi station to Kizugawamiyuki bridge, sewaritei, Nishiki market / gion area

        “Day 4 (25th) Monday”
        “Keage Incline, Murin-an temple, Nanzenji temple & Suirokaku, Philosoper Path/walk, Ginkakuji, 十石舟遊船 – okazaki canal -jikkokubune boat ride, Heian Shrine, Nishiki market / gion area”

        “Day 5 (26th) Tuesday”
        “Yamazaki distillery, Kyoto botanical garden, nakaragi path, kamogawa park, Kinkakuji temple, Nishiki market / gion area”

        “Day 6 (27th) Wednesday”
        Kyoto to Osaka
        Osaka Amazing Pass day 1

        “Day 7(28th) Thursday”
        Osaka Amazing Pass day 2

        “Day 8(29th) Friday” – Kintetsu Rail Pass day 1
        Nara Park, Todaiji temple, Takadashi station > Onaka park

        “Day 9 (30th) Saturday” – Kintetsu Rail Pass day 2
        Mt. Yoshino

        “Day 10
        (31st) Sunday”
        “Free & Easy, Umeda area”

        “Day 11
        (1st) Monday”
        Osaka to KIX

        • Takeshi Shimomura, Author of
          Takeshi / says:

          Hi cn san,

          You may use taxi from Kyoto to Saiin. Taxi fare may be slightly more that. But it will be around 2000 yen per taxi.
          You can take taxi in other days in Kyoto. Especially the bus in Kyoto is always busy and packed. You will be Kyoto in very busy season. The bus is much busier. It’s not hard to find a taxi at each locations.

          You will take subway lots in Osaka but it is much easier than bus in Kyoto. Some lines are very busy but it is acceptable.


          Takeshi /

  10. Lily says:

    Hi Takeshi

    Would like to have your advice on the train pass.

    I will be visiting Osaka, Kyoto, Nara, Kobe and Universal studio

    I am staying 4min fr Nishiohasi station for 8 days.

    I will be arriving late at Kansai airport 10pm.


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