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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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.

Comments

  1. shabnamrokay
    Shab says:

    Hello,

    My husband and I will be staying in Osaka for 2 weeks. Here is our plan thus far:

    Day 1:
    Arrive at KIX airport. Train to Tengachaya station to our airbnb.
    Day 2-4: Explore Osaka! We want to see the Osaka castle, Umeda, Naniwa hot springs, Shinsekai
    Day 5-7: Osaka to kyoto. Fushimi Shrine, Shimabashi street
    Day 8-10: Osaka to Nara. To see Nara deer park
    Day 11-13: Osaka to Tokyo! Sightseeing. Preferably downtown Tokyo.
    Day 14: Flight home from KIX

    Thanks for your help!

  2. ERIC LIM says:

    HI Takeshi-san,
    This is my first trip travelling with family to Japan with family (wife ,son 12yrs oldn daughter 7yrs old). we are planning to travel to KIX and from KIX to TOKYO in DEC then back to Malaysia.
    I have no idea which hotel to choose as I do hope it is not so expensive and need to find out from you what is the cheapest way to tour within KIX and NRT. Can give some tips and guideline, also within KIX how do we get bus or train tickets and if child also need to get a ticket. Appreciate your adivse

  3. Winnie says:

    Hi Takeshi-san. I’ve gone through most of your posts regarding the rail passes but I would still like to know your advice for which rail passes to get.

    This is my itinerary for April 2018:
    Day 1: Arrive at KIX, Osaka at 9.25pm. Stay near Nishikujo station (Hanshin Namba line). This is the only accommodation I have confirmed so far.
    Day 2-3: Sightseeing around Osaka. We plan to visit: Umeda Sky Building, Dotonburi, Horyuji Temple, Shitennoji Temple, Nishiki Market, Kemasakuranomiya Park, Namba Park, Shinsaibashisuji
    Day 4-6: Depart from Osaka to Kyoto. We plan to visit: Arashiyama, Fushimi Inari Shrine, Gion, Philosopher’s Path, Kiyomizu-dera, Kinkaku-ji, Ginkaku-ji, To-ji, Tenryu-ji, Shimbashi Street
    Day 5: Day trip to Nara.
    Day 7: Depart from Kyoto to Takayama in the morning. Sightseeing and stay overnight in Takayama.
    Day 8: Depart to Matsumoto in morning. Visit Matsumoto Castle. Take afternoon bus to Tokyo Shinjuku station.
    Day 9-12: Sightseeing in Tokyo.
    Day 11: Day trip to Lake Kawaguchiko for Shibazakura Festival.
    Day 12, night: Fly home from Haneda Airport.

    Thank you for your help!

  4. Fara says:

    Hi, i’m travelling to Osaka next week and i really need advice for passes i should buy.

    Day 1- kix to osaka (i stay in namba)
    Day 2- namba to kyoto (day trip)
    Day 3 – namba to nara (day trip)
    Day 4-5 – around osaka ( i plan to use osaka amazing pass)
    Day 6- usj
    Day 7- osaka to kix

    Should i buy jr wide pass plus icoca, or should i buy separate 3 day jr west pass? Based on my itinerary, is it cheaper to use icoca-haruka only or jr pass only

    Hoping for prompt response from you. Thank you

  5. Dear Sir,
    Please advise which pass is suitable for my itinerary :
    Day 1: From Kansai airport to Ibis Style Osaka for 1 night.
    Day 2: Check out Ibis Style Osaka to Kinosaki Onsen for 1 night
    Day 3: Check out Kinosaki Onsen to Arashimaya and stay at Ibis Kyoto.
    Day 4: Kyoto (Nishii Market, Gion, etc)
    Day 5: Check out Ibis Kyoto and go to Nara and then stay at Hotel sunroute Osaka Namba
    Day 6: Go to Universal Studios, staying at Hotel sunroute Namba
    Day 7: Dotonburi and Shinsaibaishi area and transfer to airport hotel for the night
    Day 8: Depart in the morning.
    Thank you for your kind assistance.

  6. Lily Ng says:

    Hi,

    What would be your recommendation for pass(es) that suit my below itinerary:

    Day 1 &2 – Travel from Osaka to Kyoto
    Day 3 – Travel from Kyoto to Nara, back to Osaka
    Day 4 – Travel from Osaka to Kobe (day trip)
    Day 5 – Osaka

  7. Hector P says:

    I wanted to ask about the best pass for my trip. It will be two travelers for eleven days.
    Days 1 -4 Tokyo
    Day 5 travel Tokyo to Kyoto
    Day 7 travel Kyoto to Osaka
    Day 8-11 Osaka
    We fly back home from Kansai airport.
    Thank you for your advice, and for writing these articles.

  8. Jawaher says:

    Hello,
    I’d like to enquire about the best passes/railways for My trip to Japan, it’s 13 days, we’re 2 travelers and we’ll be passing by Tokyo – Kyoto – Osaka

    The itinerary goes as follows:
    Day 1: Narita Airport – Tokyo
    Day 7: Tokyo – Kyoto
    Day 10: Kyoto – Osaka
    Day 12&13: Osaka – Tokyo – Narita

    My main concern is how to return to Narita Intl. airport in the fastest, most convenient way possible as our flight will be on Day 13 at 12pm.

    Really appreciate the help! Thank you

  9. Tracey T says:

    Hi, may I know how to get to Osaka Castle from Namba station? I am using Osaka Amazing Pass. Is it good to go there by Osaka Business Park Station? Mean I will pass by Shisaibashi station? How about the exit number or platform at the stations, are they hard to find? Please help! tqvm!

  10. Maggie says:

    Hi Sir,

    Please help me on this. Am planning to buy a Kansai Hiroshima Pass for the following travel plan. Am confuse & do not know which pass is worthwhile to convenient for my family.

    Day 1 – Check in airport hotel for a nite stay
    Day 2 – Travel from Kansai to Kinosaki – 1st day of the pass activation
    Day 3 – Kinosaki to Amanohasidate to Kyoto. Can i travel LTD. EXP HASHIDATE 6 from Amanohasidate to kyoto using the pass ?
    Day 4/5 – Kyoto
    Day 6 – Kyoto to Hiroshima to Osaka Shinsaibashi . Can i use take Shinkansen from Kyoto to Hiroshima directly or I must travel to Shin osaka to change the train ?

    Day 7 & 8 – plan to go USJ/instant noodle museum /Umeda/Ferry wheel/Osaka castle which pass is good for all these places

    Day 9 – from Shinsaibashi to Kansai airport

    Thanks u in advance for your help.

    Maggie

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