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. Utri says:

    Hi takeshi,

    I will trip to osaka-kyoto-toyama-tokyo, thats way i buy osaka tokyo hokuriku arch pass..but im confused because when im in osaka, its could be i use this pass for subway osaka and osaka metro? Or only in jr train (except for tokaido shinkansen)

    Thank you

  2. Lucy Hawkes says:

    Hi Takeshi,

    Thanks for all your helpful guides.

    We will be based on Osaka for five days and would like to take day trips to Kyoto, Nara and Hiroshima from Osaka. We will have a JR Pass and happy to purchase an IC Card too.

    What is the best station for us to get accommodation close to? I would like to stay somewhere close to the most convenient station as we will be doing so much travel.

    Thanks again,

    Lucy 🙂

    • Hi Lucy,

      I recommend Shin-Osaka station. This is the Shinkansen station. You can get Kyoto directly. It is only one station away from Osaka (Umeda). You can take the Shinkansen to get Hiroshima.


      Takeshi /

  3. Devi says:

    Hi Takeshi,
    With my below plan, could you please advise weather i should get a pass or just travel using Pasmo.
    I will be staying in Namba.
    Day 1: Namba area
    Day 2 : USJ
    Day 3: kyoto – visit arashiyama, fushimi inari, nishiki market; and Uji
    Day 4: nara – visit nara park, todai-ji
    Day 5 : osaka aquarium or kobe
    Day 6: namba area

    Thank you so much for your help!!

  4. Rere says:

    Hi Takeshi,
    Could you help me choose the right transportation that i have to prepare for my trips? Here’s the itinerary:
    Day 1: Arrive at Haneda-Osaka – Kuromon Ichiba – Hozenji Yokocho – Dotonbori – back to lodging (in Dotonbori area)
    Day 2: Tsurumi Ryokuchi – Umeda Sky Building – Osaka Castle – Shin-sekai Market
    Day 3: Fushimi Inari Taisha – Nishiki Market – Gion – Hokanji Temple – Higashiyama District – Arashiyama
    Day 4: Osaka-Tokyo – Shibuya – Meiji Jingu – Harajuku – Shinjuku Gyoen – Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building – back to lodging (in Ginza area)
    Day 5: Tokyo skytree – Asakusa – Sensoji Temple & Nakamise street – Ueno Park & Ameyoko street
    Day 6: Hamarikyu Garden – Tsukiji Market – Shopping at Ginza

    For the 7th day, we havent decide whether we will visit DisneySea or USJ (if we visit USJ then the itin needs to be revised)

    Please feel free to point out if our itinerary is not okay.

    Thank you.

  5. Bel says:

    Hi Takeshi, thank you for your useful sharing about the different train passes! My plan is Osaka-Kyoto-Osaka free and easy 9D8N. Would like to ask if my plan below is using the most economical:

    Day 1: Hankyu Tourist 1-day Pass
    Osaka (AirBnb at Imamiya Station) – Kyoto (AirBnb at Omiya Station): Take the Osaka Loop Line to Osaka Station / Umeda Station and change to Hankyu-Kyoto Line that will go straight to Omiya station.

    After reach Omiya station, proceed to Arashiyama. Take the Keifuku Railways there and from Arashiyama, go to Tenryu-ji Temple and Togetsukyo bridge. After Tenryu-ji Temple, hop onto the Hankyu Arashiyama Station to Nishiki Market (Kawaramachi Station) for dinner.

    Day 2: Kyoto Subway & City Bus Card – 1 Day
    Depart from AirBnB at Omiya Station to Fushimi Inari Shrine. After that, return to AirBnB to check-out and proceed to Kyoto Station/Kyoto Tower to check in at new accommodation.

    In the afternoon, visit the Higashiyama district for Kiyomizudera, Sannen-zaka and Ninnen-zaka. And at night, go to Gion for evening walk / dinner.

    Day 3: use ICOCA card
    Morning/Lunch: Visit the Teramachi and Shinkyogoku Shopping Arcades. And also go to Nijo Castle.
    Late afternoon: Depart from Shijo Station for Osaka Namba Station

    For the rest of the days in Osaka, if we do not have a fixed itinerary, do you advise just getting the ICOCA card and going with the flow to where we want to visit? As we only plan on going to 2-3 main attractions in a day

    Not sure if it is a good idea to get different passes for separate days or a 2/3 Kansai Thru pass.

    Thank you!

    • Hi Bel,

      If you take Hankyu railway from Kawaramachi to Omiya after dinner, you can get the worth of Hankyu tourist pass. If you take Hankyu from Umeda to Omiya and Arashiyama to Kawaramachi, regular fare ticket is cheaper. You also get ICOCA or Kansai one pass to take Keifuku railway.

      On day 2, you can use only city bus pass because you don’t have a chance to take subway on this day. But you will take other railway, such as JR, Keihan railway. You also can use Kansai one pass or ICOCA to take these trains.

      On day 3, you may use ICOCA or Kansai one pass.


      Takeshi /

      • Bel says:

        Hi Takeshi, thank you for your super fast reply!!

        So based on your suggestions, if I take Hankyu from Umeda => Omiya => Change to Keifuku railway to Arashiyama => sightsee at Arashiyama => Hankyu from Arashiyama to Kawaramachi => After dinner, Hankyu from Kawaramachi to Omiya, I should be able to get the worth of Hankyu Tourist pass?

        However, at Osaka side, I will be coming from Imamiya / Shin-Imamiya (Osaka Loop Line) which I will pay using the ICOCA card (?). So I would have to tap out of the station and then enter station again using Hankyu Tourist Pass?

        For Day 2, I’ve read other articles on your blog and I believe I will be able to get the Kansai City Bus Pass from Omiya station? Because I will be probably taking multiple bus rides on this day, it will cover the 600Yen cost too (as compared to using the ICOCA card?)

        • Hi Bel,

          You will use Kansai one pass instead of ICOCA. Basically both cards are same but Kansai one pass is designed for the foreign tourists and get the discount at many attraction. So get Kansai one pass.

          You will use Kansai one pass to get JR Osaka station which is same location as Hankyu Umeda station. And then you start using Hankyu tourist pass. And please remember that Keifuku is not Hankyu. You will use Kansai one pass to take Keifuku railway too.

          You can use Kyoto city bus pass at 600 yen. You can get the worth.


          Takeshi /

          • Nen says:

            Should I get the Hankyu Tourist Pass if this is my itinerary:
            Shijo -> Fushimi Inari Shrines -> – Teramachi and Shinkyogoku Shopping Arcades -> Shijo (to check-out) -> Back to Osaka Namba

  6. thumbdrive83 says:

    Hi, im planning a 6D5N trip to Osaka, with my base at Osaka Station. I’m confused on what passes to get, or to just travel with the iccoca card.

    Main traveling parts of the itinerary:
    -KIX to Osaka station (2-way)
    -Osaka to Kobe (2-way, 1 day)
    – Osaka to Kyoto (2-way, 2 day trips)
    – traveling within Osaka: Midosuji line (shinshibashi, namba station)
    – traveling to Himeji, Nijo from Osaka.

    My initial research tells me the JR west pass, but so far my calculations doesn’t justify the additional approx 2000 yen extra as compared to when I use the iccoca. Although with the JR west pass, I don’t have to worry if I make multiple trips in Osaka, Kobe or Kyoto (correct?)

  7. Kevin says:

    Hi there,

    Let’s say I bought Icoca from the machine already and I am travelling from KIX to Osaka first.
    My last day will be in Kyoto and I want to go back to KIX from Kyoto Station.

    So I read that Haruko can be bought as discounted ticket. So how do I get that discount and where should I buy that ticket?

    I know if I buy from the machine, I need to buy the full price ticket.

  8. Moi Jan says:

    Hi Takeshi,

    I am going to Osaka for the period 16 – 27 Nov.

    Do advise if the passes stated below is cost effective for my itinerary:

    Day 1, 16 Nov – Reach Kansai Airport @ about 9.20pm (buy a 1 way Limousine bus ticket to Namba OCAT

    Day 2, 17 Nov – morning to explore around Dotonburi while waiting for daddy to reach in the am flight around 9.45am.
    Afternoon to go Instant Noodle museum, Minoo Park then evening at night back to Dotonburi for dinner (3 days Kansai Thru Pass day 1)

    Day 3, 18 Nov – Osaka Kaiyukan Aquarium, Tempozan Giant Ferris Wheel, Osaka Legoland, Dinner at Ichiran Ramen @ Umeda Station and Umeda Sky Building (2 days Osaka Amazing Pass day 1)

    Day 4, 19 Nov – Harukas300, Osaka Castle Museum, Osaka Castle Nishinomaru Garden, Shinsaibashi (lunch), Spa World Onsen, Tombori River Cruise (2 days Osaka Amazing Pass day 2)

    Day 5, 20 Nov – Kyoto Southern Higashiyama, Downtown and Fushimi-Inari, Kiyomizu-dera temple, Nishiki Market & Gion (3 days Kansai Thru Pass day 2)

    Day 6, 21 Nov – Universal Studio Japan (5 days JR Kansai Hiroshima Day 1)

    Day 7, 22 Nov – Kyoto Arashiyama, Tenryu-ji Temple (5 days JR Kansai Hiroshima Day 2)

    Day 8, 23 Nov – Nara (5 days JR Kansai Hiroshima Day 3)

    Day 9, 24 Nov – Kobe + Himeiji (5 days JR Kansai Hiroshima Day 4)

    Day 10, 25 Nov – Hiroshima + Miyajima (5 days JR Kansai Hiroshima Day 5 + 2 days Osaka Unlimited travel pass)

    Day 11, 26 Nov – Osaka city shopping (2 days Osaka Unlimited travel pass day 2)

    Day 12, 27 Nov – Explore Dotonburi, Shinsaibashi Shopping Arcade, Den Den Town & Kuromon Market – Night flight back to home

    Hope to hear from you soon.

  9. Cassandra Tang says:

    Hi Takeshi,

    We will be arriving in Kansai Airport on 25 Oct 2018 evening.

    We have already purchased train round trip ticket from Kansai airport to Namba station and then from Namba station to Kansai airport via Nankai Line Airport Express train.

    We have also bought Icoca cards to travel around. But we are unsure if the Icoca cards can help to save us some transport cost. I was thinking about the Day Pass. Please advise if we should purchase Day Pass instead.

    Our itinerary is simple, 3 nights in Osaka (hotel near Namba station) and 3 nights in Kyoto (hotel near Kyoto station).

    Our reason to go to Kyoto is because we will be visiting Tori Ryori Seto とり料理 瀬戸 to sample the one-Michelin star chicken.

    We like to do more shopping and eating. We are interested about the bamboo forest and one or 2 shrines in Kyoto.

    We will appreciate your good recommendations on the good shopping and eating places both in Osaka and Kyoto.

  10. Keiko says:

    Hi Takeshi

    What ticket/pass would you recommend for our itinerary.

    We are planning to buy Osaka Amasing pass for our Day2.

    Day 1 Arrival to Kansai
    12nn: ETA to Kansai Airport (KIX), KIX to hotel near Nippombashi Station
    4pm-9pm: Explore Dotonburi, Shinsaibashi area by walking

    Day 2: Osaka Tour
    From Nippombashi Stn. Explore Osaka whole day

    Day 3 USJ
    8:30am: Nippombashi Stn. To USJ
    7:00pm: Visit nearby areas of USJ
    8:30pm: Osaka bay back to Nippombashi Station

    Day4: Osaka to Kyoto
    8:30am: from Nippombashi Stn. to Kyoto
    9:00am: check in hotel near Gion area

    Day5: Higashiyana district
    Ginkaku-jinTemple, Philosophers path, Kiyomizu-dera, Fushimi-inari, Gion area at night

    Day6: Arashiyama District
    Togetsukyo bridge, Arashiyama Bamboo, Sagano Scenic Trail, Kibune river, Kyoto imperial

    Day7: Back to Airport
    9:00AM Kyoto to KIX

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