Osaka train route guide. How much can we use JR Pass in Osaka? How to choose the best route by train to get the major spots in Osaka?

osaka shin imamiyaOsaka, Kyoto, Kobe and Nara
Click to enlarge (C) JP Rail
Click to enlarge (C) JP Rail
Dotonbori is "Must-See" place in Osaka.  	©Osaka Convention & Tourism Bureau/©JNTO
Dotonbori is “Must-See” place in Osaka. ©Osaka Convention & Tourism Bureau/©JNTO

I wrote about train system in Kyoto before. But I have received many inquiries about Osaka too. I think it is very complicated for travellers from overseas. There are three types of railway, JR, Osaka Municipal Subway and Private company’s railways. Once you understand train system, you can find the best location to stay, the best deal for trains ride and the fastest way to visit that you want to see.

As probably you know, there are many types of deals, such as ICOCA, Kansai Thru Pass, JR Pass, Kansai Area Pass, Osaka Subway Eco Card and Osaka Unlimited Pass. Each pass has different conditions. You must understand the coverage of your pass.

In this post, I tell you about using these deals and explain all train systems in Osaka.

Which train services that are covered by ICOCA, Kansai Thru Pass, subway deals and other JR deals

Many deals are available in Kansai area. But each pass have different coverage. I tell you about major passes and deals.

For the travellers who use ICOCA, Kansai one pass, Suica, Pasmo or other IC cards

You can take all trains on the map above except Shinkansen. When you travel in Kansai area, don’t try to take Shinkansen for such a short transfer, like going to Kyoto or Kobe. Please see the post, How to transfer among Kyoto, Osaka and Kobe. Compare Japan Railway and private lines.

ICOCA does not cover Osaka city bus service too. But I don’t think you have many chances to take city bus in Osaka. You can go anywhere by train services. Train is much faster than bus.

For the travellers who use Kansai Thru Pass and Rainbow Card

Please see the map below:

Click to enlarge (C) JP Rail
Click to enlarge (C) JP Rail

Kansai Thru Pass is unlimited ride pass and Rainbow Card is pre-paid card for most of NON JR trains in Osaka.

The only place where you can’t go by these deals is USJ. But if you don’t care about riding city bus, you can catch the bus at Nishikujo station. Nishikujo can be accessed by Hanshin Railway that is covered by Kansai Thru Pass. Even if you pay for JR train, the fare is 160 yen foe one way. It is not a big deal. I will explain about access to Universal Studion Japan later.

JR Pass, Kansai Area Pass, Kansai WIDE Area Pass, Kansai Hiroshima Area Pass, Sanyo Sanin Area Pass, Kansai Hokuriku Aea Pass, Takayama Hokuriku Area Pass, Hokuriku Arch Pass

Please see the map below:

Click to enlarge (C) JP Rail
Click to enlarge (C) JP Rail

Many places can be accessed by JR Pass and other JR deals. I explained JR train network in the post below. Please refer it:

Osaka subway Enjoy Eco Card and Osaka Unlimited Pass

Please see the map below:

Click to enlarge (C) JP Rail
Click to enlarge (C) JP Rail

Enjoy Eco Card covers Osaka subway and city bus. Osaka Unlimited Pass includes unlimited ride of subway and bus, and free admission for major attractions in Osaka. There are one day and two day available. But coverage is a bit different. One day covers subway, bus and major private railways, like Hanshin, Nankai, Keihan and Kintetsu. It is very similar to Kansai Thru Pass. But two day pass covers subway and bus only. When you choose this deal, please make sure your itinerary and which train you need to get on.

As long as you can take subway, most of places can be reached by subway.

How to access to major spots in Osaka by train

Most of places in Osaka can be accessed by train. I would like to share the information of access to major spots with you.

Namba, Dotonbori, Houzenji and Shinsaibashi area

There are so many restaurants in Dotonbori area. ©JNTO
There are so many restaurants in Dotonbori area. ©JNTO

You can reach Namba by many ways.

  • Namba station (Nankai Railways) to/from Kansai Airport (KIX), Mt. Koya (Koyasan) and Wakayama
  • Namba station (Osaka Subway Midousuji line, Yotsubashi line and Sennichimae line) to/from Umeda, Nishi-Umeda, Tennoji
  • Osaka-Namba station (Hanshin Railways) to/from Sannomiya, Kobe and Himeji
  • Osaka-Namba station (Kintetsu Railways) to/from Nara, Ise and Nagoya
  • JR Namba station (JR) to/from Tennoji, Osaka, Nara, Kyoto, Kansai Airport (KIX

As I mentioned above, JR Namba station is not located in the core of Namba. JR Namba is closed to Subway Yotsubashi line Namba station and Sennichimae line’s Sakuragawa station is actually closer than Namba station.

View Namba in a larger map

Nankai Railways is the best way to get Namba from Kansai Airport. And also train runs to Mt. Koya.

Hanshin Railways and Kintetsu Railways trains go through each other. And their station is “Osaka-Namba” station. When you search on Hyperdia, you can find Osaka-Namba. It’s not Namba for these train companies but Osaka-Namba. If you stay in Namba and want to go to Nara or Kobe, you can use these train companies. You can go there directly from Namba.

If you go to Nara, you can catch Kintetsu Railway’s train at Osaka-Namba station. Please see the post below to learn more about access to Nara:

Shinsaibashi is one station away from Namba by subway. But Namba and Shinsaibashi are connected by shopping arcade. Dotonbori is located between Namba and Shinsaibashi. And also Shinsaibashi is connected with Yotsubashi and Nihonbashi by underground. So most of places in Namba can be accessed by walk.


Umeda Sky Building is one of popular spots in Umeda area. ©JNTO
Umeda Sky Building is one of popular spots in Umeda area. ©JNTO

Umeda and Namba are two biggest downtown core in Osaka. There are many department stores and shopping complex in Umeda area. In Umeda area, only JR station is called “Osaka”. JR Osaka station and other railway’s Umeda station are located in same area.

There are many stations in Umeda.

  • Osaka station (JR Kobe line, Kyoto line, Osaka Kanjo line) to/from Kansai Airport (KIX), Shin-Osaka, Kyoto, Kobe, Nara, USJ, Tennoji
  • Umeda station (Osaka Subway Midousuji line) to/from Namba, Shin-Osaka, Tennoji
  • Umeda station (Hanshin Railways) to/from Sannomiya, Kobe and Himeji
  • Umeda station (Hankyu Railways) to/from Kawaramachi, Arashiyama, Shijo, Sannomiya, Takarazuka
  • Higashi-Umeda station (Osaka Subway Tanimachi line) to/from Uehonmachi/Tanimachi Kyuchome, Tennoji
  • Nishi-Umeda station (Osaka Subway Yotsubashi line) to/from Namba
  • Kitashinchi station (JR Tozai line) to/from Namba

Please see the post below to get more detail about Osaka and Umeda station area:

Tenpozan, Kaiyukan

Kaiyukan is located in this Tenpozan waterfront area. ©Osaka Government Tourism Bureau/©JNTO
Kaiyukan is located in this Tenpozan waterfront area. ©Osaka Government Tourism Bureau/©JNTO

Osaka Subway Chuo line’s Osakako station is the nearest station. You can catch Chuo line’s train at Honmachi, Bentencho and many other places. If you stay in Umeda or Namba, simple take Midousuji line or Yotsubashi line train and transfer to Chuo line’s train at Honmachi. If you are JR Pass user, you can get Bentencho by Osaka Kanjo line from Osaka or Tennoji. You have to pay extra on top of your pass for taking subway from Bentencho.

USJ is located just across the river. But there is no direct train or bus. Please see next chapter to get USJ from Tenpozan.

Universal Studion Japan (USJ)

USJ at the entrance

JR Yumesaki line’s Universal City station is the nearest station. There is no subway or private railway’s service available. If you are not JR train user, you can catch the pass to USJ at Nishikujo station.

If you want to access to Tenpozan/Kaiyukan from USJ, shuttle cruise service is the fastest and only direct way to connect both places.

Shuttle Cruise Capt. Line

Otherwise you have to take Universal City station – Nishikujo station – Bentencho station – Osakako station route. It is a big detour.

Osakajo (Osaka castle)

Osaka castle is one of popular spot to see cherry blossom in Osaka. ©Osaka Government Tourism Bureau/©JNTO
Osaka castle is one of popular spot to see cherry blossom in Osaka. ©Osaka Government Tourism Bureau/©JNTO

There are several stations around Osaka castle. You can access there from Tenmabashi station (Keihan Railway), Tanimachi-Yonchome station (Subway Tanimachi line), Osakajo-Koen station (JR), Osaka Business Park station (Subway Nagahori-Tsurumi Ryokuchi line), and Morinomiya station (JR). The nearest stations to access to the castle are Tenmabashi and Tanimachi-Yonchome. Other stations are okay, but these stations are closed to Osaka Castle Park.

Shinsekai, Tennoji zoo

You can feel real tradition of Osaka in Shinsekai.   	©Osaka Government Tourism Bureau/©JNTO
You can feel real tradition of Osaka in Shinsekai. ©Osaka Government Tourism Bureau/©JNTO

Shinsekai is old town of Osaka. There is very traditional shopping arcade. Tsutenkaku tower is located in Shinsekai area. This area can be accessed from JR and Nankai Railway’s Shin-Imamiya station.

Tennoji Zoo is located between Tennoji station and Dobutsuenmae station. (Dobutsuenma means “in front of zoo”.)

Minoo falls

Minoo is located outside downtown Osaka. Most of city deals, such as Osaka subway pass does not cover Minoo falls. Only Kansai Thru Pass covers this falls.

You need to take Hankyu Railway Takarazuka line train from Umeda to Ishibashi. And then take another Hankyu Railway Minoo line train to Minoo. You can change trains at Ishibashi very easily. Trip time is around 35 minutes from Umeda to Minoo.

In the peak season, like fall foliage season, the direct train service runs between Umeda and Minoo.

Instant Ramen Museum

This museum is located outside downtown Osaka either. Most of city deals, such as Osaka subway pass does not cover this attraction. Only Kansai Thru Pass covers the trip to Instant Ramen Museum.

You need to take Hankyu Railway Takarazuka line train from Umeda to Ikeda. Trip time is around 20 minutes from Umeda to Ikeda.


  1. Jamilla says:

    here is my itinerary so far:
    Day 1-3 in Osaka (Namba area). Not much travel within Osaka but mainly using it as a base to make day trips to Kobe and Himeji, and another daytrip to Nara
    Day 4 travel to Shirahama.
    Day 5-7 travel to Kyoto (staying near Sanjo station) to explore typical Kyoto tourist spots: Arashiyama, Gion, Fushimi-inari taisha, kiyomizu dera.
    If I understand correctly, I am better off with JR Kansai Wide pass for days 1-5 and then Kansai subway/bus pass for day 5-7? I cannot use this JR Wide for much within Kyoto or Osaka? – so would I also have to buy Osaka subway/bus for travel around Osaka? Or maybe just better with an IC card?
    I’m actually travelling to Osaka after 5 days in Tokyo, and then returning to Tokyo from Kyoto for my last two days, but realised that the JR Pass wouldn’t really work out cheaper for this.
    Thank you so much – I have tried to work it out first before asking, as I know this must be hard work for you to answer all questions! 🙂

    • Hi Jamilla,

      So you will travel from Tokyo to Osaka on day 1 and travel from Kyoto to Tokyo on day 7. Is this right?

      If so, you should use JR pass 7-day for this 7 days. JR Pass gives you same coverage as Kansai Wide Area Pass in Osaka, Kyoto, Kobe, Himeji, Nara and Shirahama. You may have to add some fares in Kyoto and Osaka because JR pass does not cover city bus and subway. But you can visit many places by JR Pass. Please see the links below:

      If you cannot come back to Tokyo in 7 days, 14-day JR Pass at 47,250 yen is still considerable. If you use a regular fare to take Shinkansen from Tokyo to Osaka and Kyoto to Tokyo, it costs about 28,000 yen. Kansai Wide Area Pass is sold at 9,200 yen. At this point, this combination is about 10,000 yen cheaper than JR pass 14-day. But if you have 14-day JR pass, you can use it in Tokyo and kyoto. And if you arrive in Narita, you can take Narita Express between Narita and Tokyo. These costs may be closed to 10,000 yen. And even if these costs do not reach 10,000 yen, JR pass 14-day is much easier to handle. You don’t need to manage many tickets and passes. You still need to add some fare to take subway or bus. But you can use JR pass for most part of your travel.

      If you are really sensitive your cost, you can use many ticket as I explained. You can choose either options.


      Takeshi /

      • Jamilla says:

        Thanks Takeshi San,
        It’s not entirely correct in that I’m starting in Tokyo for days 1-5, then the Osaka etc places, and actually day 11 back to tokyo to stay another 3 days. Flying in/from Haneda. Sorry for confusion, I thought to leave out the Tokyo bits as I was convinced the single fare to Osaka and then back from Kyoto plus JR Kansai wide would be cheaper than 14 day JR pass. In that case, would that still be the easiest? Thanks so much, どもありがとございます!

  2. Loi says:

    Hi Takeshi san,

    I am going back to Osaka and I need your help to determine which pass best suits my itinerary. I already have an existing ICOCA card, by the way 🙂

    Day 1
    Arrival and stay in OSaka (will use ICOCA card for Nankai express)

    Day 2
    Osaka Sight Seeing (planning to buy Osaka Amazing pass for 1 day)

    Day 3
    Kyoto Sight Seeing
    Nishiki Market

    Day 4
    Chect out from Hotel in Osaka
    Kyoto Flea MArket
    Kansai Airport

    For Day 1&2, do you think the IC and Osaka amazing pass would work? While for Day 3&4, I have read about Kyoto Sight seeing pass(Keihan line) and Kintetsu Pass(2Days) and Kansai thru pass but I am confused. I would like to save as much as I can when it comes to transportation fares.

    Hope you could help me 🙂 Thank you!

    • Hi Loi san,

      Kyoto-Osaka sightseeing pass (Keihan) is the best choice for your on day 3 and 4. It covers only Keihan line but you have ICOCA. You may use it when you take other railway, subway and city but. It is much cheaper than using Kansai thru pass.

      Kintetsu Rail Pass does not meet your trip plan.


      Takeshi /

  3. Hada Ariff says:

    Good day Takeshi-san (:

    Finally I will be visiting Japan in the coming month.
    I would love your suggestion of what pass I should take for the day of my arrival & the last 2 days of my trip. As I will be utilizing my 7-day JR Pass in the middle, I have 3 days in which I would like to purchase a pass as compared to using a ICOCA card.

    Day 1 : Arriving at KIX @ 16 50 (should I purchase a Kansai Thru pass or just an individual ticket to get me to Osaka station. My accommodation is not confirmed yet however)

    Day 2 : JR Pass Day 1 – Hiroshima/ Miyajima
    Day 3 : JR Pass Day 2 – Undecided but maybe a short trip to Kobe/Nara
    Day 4 : JR Pass Day 3 – Morning Shinkansen to Tokyo
    Day 5 : JR Pass Day 4 – Tokyo
    Day 6 : JR Pass Day 5 – Hakone
    Day 7 : JR Pass Day 6 – Kyoto
    Day 8 : JR Pass Day 7 – Kyoto

    Day 9 : Plan to head back to Osaka (I plan of getting an Amazing Osaka Pass since I plan to spend a whole day there. However I believe it does not allow travel from Kyoto > Osaka)

    Day 10 : Afternoon flight from KIX @ 16 30. Plan to be at airport by 14 00 (should I purchase a Kansai Thru pass or just an individual ticket to get me to the airport)

    All in all, I believe I should get the 3-day Kansai Pass but I would like to get the Amazing Osaka Pass too so that I can utilize it to visit some of the main attractions that is complimentary with the pass. However, I feel like its a waste to have the pass overlap on Day 9. (Trying to spend less as the JR pass albeit useful has taken up a large chunk of my budget ^.^”)

    Thank you for taking the time to read through my query.
    I look forward to your opinion based on my itinerary above (:

    Hada Ariff

  4. Maria says:

    Good day Mr. Takeshi,

    My mother and I will be travelling to Osaka a few weeks from now. This is how my itinerary looks like

    Day 1: KIX Arrival (9PM)
    Day 2: USJ
    Day 3: Osaka Amazing Pass
    Day 4: Kyoto/Nara Tour
    Day 5: Tokyo day 1
    Day 6: Tokyo day 2
    Day 7: Back to Osaka

    I’m confused as to what passes to purchase to save both money and time. I’m thinking about Kansai Thru Pass, Osaka Amazing Pass and/or JR Pass for our Tokyo trip. Thanks in advance for your tips and recommendations!

  5. Dominique says:

    Hi Mr. Takeshi,
    I will be travelling to Japan this June I was planning to stay in Tokyo for 3 days then travel to Osaka to explore other places in Kansai. I will mainly stay in Osaka. I have several questions I hope you could help me with.

    1. Can I use the JR west pass traveling from Tokyo to Osaka, then Osaka to Kansia airport?
    2. What train pass should i purchase if I also want to go around Osaka? I will be staying there for 7 days while exploring other places like Nara, Kobe & Kyoto
    3. How much money does it cost to travel in Japan when you’re in a budget?

    Thank you 🙂


  6. Tan says:

    Hi Mr Takeshi,

    I am so glad to have found your post.

    My family (4 Adults, 2 teens-12yrs old and 4 kids-below 11yrs old) will be travelling to OSAKA (3nites) – KYOTO (3nites) – TOKYO (3nites) then fly back from Tokyo.

    We are quite lost with all the transport passes offered. We are not sure if we should get the JR PASS or just rent a vehicle that can fit all of us for the trip. We will be visiting the major attractions like Univeral studio osaka, Osaka Castle, Tokyo Disneyland etc..

    I am now considering the KANSAI THRU pass for the Osaka, Kyoto portion and not sure if I should still get the JR pass instead?

    Ms Tan

  7. Lina Jones says:

    Mr. Takeshi,
    I wrote in another article about my next year plan so after you said Koyasan and Himeji is impossible to cover in the same day I gave up on that and decided to do Himeji and Osaka trip on the same day.
    Suppose I am done with Himeji by 11 am and come back to Osaka I am planning to do with Umeda Sky building, Osaka Castle, Kaiyukan aquarium, Shitennoji and Shinsekai/Dotonbori in one day. Is it possible to do all this on the same day? I saw that Kaiyukan is open till 8 pm so I can do that at the very last(if the route permits). I read many articles but cant decide in which order I can cover all of them with not wasting any time since the schedule is too heavily packed with my preferences!! Please do guide me

    • Hi Lina san,

      You can do but it will be very very busy day. When you come back to Osaka, it will be around 12:00. You will spend at least 1.5 hour each for Umeda sky, Osaka castle, Shitenoji. So when you finish these three places, it will be 17:30 to 18:00. And then you go to Kaiyukan aquarium. Dotonbori and Shinsekai will be end. Actually Shinsekai is closed to Shitennoji temple but you cannot go there after Shintenoji. Probably only Dotonbori is the last place to visit.

      I have done very busy trips before. But this will be super busy even for me honestly.

      Kaiyukan is open until 20:00 but you have to enter by 19:00. So you have to complete Shitenoji by 18:00.


      Takeshi /

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