How to transfer among Kyoto, Osaka, Kobe, Nara and Wakayama. Compare Japan Railway and private railways.

Kobe Harborland © Kobe Convention & Visitors Association/© JNTO
Kobe Harborland © Kobe Convention & Visitors Association/© JNTO

As you probably have already known, train system in Japan is very complicated. Especially in urban area, there are lots of railways. You might not understand the difference between Japan Railways (JR), subways and private railways.

Especially in Kansai area, such as Osaka, Kyoto, Kobe, Nara, Himeji and Wakayama, many trains runs among these cities. You may be overwhelmed. But it is very important to understand the train system. You will make a trip much smoothly and save your trip time.

I would like to explain about JR lines and private railway companies in Kansai area in this post. You may find which train line is the best for your trip.

Overview of train system in Kansai area

Please find the map below. It looks very complicated, but please do not upset. I will explain you one by one.

Click to enlarge
Click to enlarge

I tried to make this map as simple as possible. But it still shows you many train lines. This map actually does not show all stations and all train lines. It shows you only major stations, transfer points and the station that is near popular sightseeing spot.

At this point, you just need to know that there are many train lines among cities. You have to pick one of those things. Now I would like to explain train lines one by one.

JR trains

JR used to be Japanese National Railway. It has lines throughout Japan. In Kansai area, JR network is wider than any other railways. I would like to show you only JR lines in Kansai area at the map below:

Click to enlarge.
Click to enlarge.

You can catch JR train right after you arrive in Kansai airport. You can go almost anywhere in Kansai area, like Osaka (both Umeda and Namba), Kyoto, Nara, Kobe, Wakayama and Himeji.

If you use Japan Rail Pass or any other JR deals, of course, try to use Japan Railway trains as much as you can. JR has two kinds of railways, Shinkansen and conventional lines.

Conventional line’s trains in Kansai area

Special Rapid Service operated by JR West 223 series.
Special Rapid Service dominates Kyoto-Osaka-Kobe-Himeji transfer.

There are many kinds of train on conventional lines.

  • Limited Express, such as Haruka (Kansai airport – Shin Osaka – Kyoto)
  • Rapid
  • Local

Most of you will take rapid trian service. This is a sort of commute train. But it stops at major stations only. This train service gives you high speed transfer among cities..

Especially if you want to move among Kyoto, Osaka, Kobe and Himeji, Special Rapid Service gives you a fast transfer. The trip time for major segments are the following:

  • Osaka / Sannomiya (Kobe) — 22 minutes
  • Osaka / Kyoto — 28 minutes
  • Sannomiya / Kyoto — 50 minutes
  • Osaka / Himeji– 1 hour 10 minutes

There are many more rapid train services in Kansai area, such as Nara, Kansai airport and Wakayama. Please see the link below to get more information about rapid train services in Kansai area:

Most economical transfer, No express surcharge! Rapid Service Network in Kansai area
.

Shinkansen (a.k.a. Bullet Train)

Shinkansen is the high speed train service in Japan. Shinkansen stops at Maibara, Kyoto, Shin-Osaka, Shin-Kobe, Nishiakashi and Himeji in Kansai area.
Shinkansen stops at Maibara, Kyoto, Shin-Osaka, Shin-Kobe, Nishiakashi and Himeji in Kansai area.

Shinkansen is a high speed train service as you probably know. It is much faster than any trains on conventional lines. Shinkansen usually used for long distance transfer, such as Tokyo to Osaka.

Check the details about Tokaido-Sanyo Shinkansen

But it can be used for short distance, like Shin-Osaka to Kyoto. It connects Shin-Osaka and Kyoto in 13 minutes, and Shin-Osaka to Shin-Kobe in 15 minutes. This is so fast. But if you leave from Umeda or other stations in Osaka, you may have to add some extra time to transrfer at Shin-Osaka. Because Shin-Osaka is one station away from Osaka (Umeda). Let’s compare trip time for Osaka (Umeda) to Kyoto between Shinkansen and Special Rapid Service.

By Special Rapid Service
Osaka – 28 minutes – Kyoto
By Shinkansen
Osaka – 4 minutes – Shin Osaka (5 to 10 minutes for transfer) – 13 minutes – Kyoto

It may take 25 minutes even if you take high speed train, Shinkansen.
Shinkansen is not much faster than Special Rapid Service.

How about trip to Kobe by Shinkansen? In my opinion, it is not a good idea if you think about using Shinkaksen from Osaka. It is same situation as trip to Kyoto. You have to move to Shin-Osaka to catch Shinkansen. And also Shin-Kobe station is one station away from Sannomiya by subway.

By Special Rapid Service
Osaka – 22 minutes – Sannomiya
By Shinkansen
Osaka – 4 minutes – Shin Osaka (5 to 10 minutes for transfer) – 15 minutes – Shin Kobe (5 to 10 minutes transfer) – 2 minutes – Sannomiya


View Downtown Kobe in a larger map

In this case, Shinkansen is slower than Special Rapid Service.

If you use JR pass, you can take Shinkansen for this short transfer because it is fully covered by JR pass. It is not worth taking Shinkansen for these short transfers by single fare.

Private Railways in Kansai area

There are many private company’s railways (=NON JR) in Kansai area. Actually these trains are more convenient than JR trains in many cases. I would like to show you all major companies in Kansai area.

This map shows you only NON JR railways (private railway and subway). Click to enlarge.
This map shows you only NON JR railways (private railway and subway). Click to enlarge.

Hankyu Railway

Hankyu Railway runs Osaka, Kyoto, Kobe and Takarazuka. In Osaka, Umeda is the terminal station. Umeda is same location as JR Osaka station. All trains depart from Umeda to all destinations. In Kyoto, you can reach Kawaramachi (near Gion) and Arashiyama. This train service takes you to Sannomiya in Kobe.

This map shows you Hankyu Railway and Osaka Subway Sakaisuji line. Click to enlarge.
This map shows you Hankyu Railway and Osaka Subway Sakaisuji line. Click to enlarge.
9300 series is mainly used for limited express on Kyoto line.
9300 series is mainly used for limited express on Kyoto line.

There is no direct scheduled trains between Kyoto and Kobe. You need to change the trains because they don’t have any scheduled direct train from Kyoto to Kobe. You need to change the train at Juso or Umeda. Juso is the junction of Kobe line, Kyoto line, and Takarazuka line. This station is only two stations away from Umeda. In peak period, like spring cherry blossom and fall foliage seasons, direct train service to Arashiyama from Umeda or sometimes Sannomiya is available. But in most cases you have to transfer at Katsura.

Hankyu Railway operates several kinds of trains, like limited express, express, local. But express supplement is not required for takeing any trains, even limited express. It is same category as JR’s Special Rapid Service.

The trip times for major segments are the following:.

  • Umeda / Sannomiya — 27 minutes
  • Umeda / Kawaramachi — 43 minutes
  • Umeda / Arashiyama — 45 minutes

I show you Osaka Subway Sakaisuji line in the map above. Because this subway train go through Hankyu Railway line. You may get Kyoto by direct service from many places in downtown Osaka.

Keihan Railway

Keihan 8000 series have one double deck can in the formation. (C) Sonic Rail Garden
Keihan 8000 series have one double deck can in the formation. (C) Sonic Rail Garden

Keihan Railway is another way to get Kyoto from Osaka. At Osaka, Yodoyabashi and Nakanoshima are the terminal stations. But the primary station is Yodoyabashi. Most of express trains depart from Yodoyabashi. And this station is connected with Umeda and Namba by Osaka Subway Midousuji line.You can also take this railway at Kyobashi. You can transfer from JR Osaka Kanjo line at Kyobashi. At Kyoto, Gion-Shijo, Sanjo and Demachiyanagi are the terminal stations. It takes you many places in Higashiyama area directly.

Keihan Railway also runs to Uji. You can transfer the trains at Chushojima.

The map shows only Keihan Railway. Click to enlarge.
The map shows only Keihan Railway. Click to enlarge.
Keihan 8000 series have nice accommodation too. (C) Sonic Rail Garden
Keihan 8000 series for limited express train has very nice interior. It is a good deal to take this train without any surcharge. (C) Sonic Rail Garden

Keihan Railway operates many category of trains, such as limited express, express, semi-express, local. Most of limited express train has double decker passenger’s car in the train set. You can take this express train and any other trains without any surcharge. This limited express train is same tyep fo service as JR’s Special Rapid Service as well.

The trip time on major sections are the following:

  • Yodoyabashi / Gion-Shijo or Sanjo — 50 minutes
  • Kyobashi / Gion-Shijo or Sanjo — 45 minutes

Hanshin Railway

Hanshin Railway connect Osaka and Kobe. Hanshin has two terminals at two biggest downtown core in Osaka, Umeda and Namba. At Kobe side, Sannomiya and Motomachi are the major stations.

Hanshin Railway and Sanyo Railway are shown in the map. Click to enlarge.
Hanshin Railway and Sanyo Railway are shown in the map. Click to enlarge.
This 9000 series and most of Hanshin Railway's train equip a bench seat only.
This 9000 series and most of Hanshin Railway's train equip a bench seat only.

Hanshin Railway lines are very short but this railway connects with other railways at both end. In Kobe, Hanshin is connected with Sanyo Railway. Some of express trains go through Himeji via Sanyo Railway. At the other side, Hanshin is connected with Kintetsu Railway at Osaka-Namba station. Many of trains go through Nara from Kyoto via Kintetsu Railway. This is only way to get Nara from Kobe directly

Hanshin Railway lines are very short but this railway connects with other railways at both end. In Kobe, Hanshin is connected with Sanyo Railway. Some of express trains go through Himeji via Sanyo Railway. At the other side, Hanshin is connected with Kintetsu Railway at Osaka-Namba station. Many of trains go through Nara from Kyoto via Kintetsu Railway. This is only way to get Nara from Kobe directly. Major direct train services and trip time are the following:

Hanshin Railway operates several kinds of trains, like limited express, express, local. But you don’t need to pay any surcharge to take any trains. In Kansai area, JR and many private railways compete each other. Most of trains can be taken without surcharge.

  • Umeda / Sannomiya — 30 minutes
  • Osaka-Namba / Sannomiya — 45-50 minutes
  • Umeda – (Hanshin) – Motomachi – (Sanyo) – Himeji — 95 to 100 minutes
  • Nara – (Kintetsu) – Osaka-Namba – (Hanshin) – Motomachi — 80 minutes

Nankai Railway

Nankai Railway Limited Express Koya (Namba - Gokurakubashi).
Nankai Railway Limited Express Koya (Namba – Gokurakubashi).

Nankai Railway is one of major ways to get Osaka from Kansai airport. It also takes you to Wakayama and Gokurakubashi that is the gateway to Koyasan (Mt. Koya). Nankai Railway has a huge terminal station in Namba, Osaka. Most of trains depart and arrive at this station.

How to access to Mt. Koya

Only Nankai Railway is shown in this map. Click to enlarge.
Only Nankai Railway is shown in this map. Click to enlarge.

Nankai Railway operates several kinds of trains, like limited express, express, local. Express train surcharge is required to take limited express trains. Nankai Railway’s Limited Express trains have train’s name. The names and the trip time for major segments are the.following:

  • Limited Express “Southern” (Osaka-Namba / Wakayamashi) — 1 hour
  • Limited Express “Rapi:t” (Osaka-Namba / Kansai Airport) — 45 to 55 minutes
  • Limited Express “Koya” (Osaka-Namba / Gokurakubashi) — 80 minutes
  • Limited Express “Rinkan” (Osaka-Namba / Hashimoto) — 45 minutes

There are express trains and local trains if you want to avoid paying extra. Actually trip time is not so much different. It depends on the distance. In most of cases, you will spend 10 to 15 minutes extra. But interior is very different. Your seat is reserved if you take limited express and very comfortable. If you take express without surcharge, it is a commute train. You may not be able to get a seat.

*Only limited express “Southern” has two types of seats, limited express seat and commuter car seat. Commute car seat is same as other commute train. This is non reserved seat and express surcharge is not required to take this category.

Kintetsu Railway

Kintetsu Railway has the biggest limited express train network in all private railway companies.
Kintetsu Railway has the biggest limited express train network in all private railway companies.

Kintetsu Railway is the biggest private railway company in Japan. It connects not only Osaka, Nara, Yoshino and Kyoto but also Nagoya and Ise-Shima. But I would like to tell you about network in Kansai area only in this post.

Kintetsu Railway only is shown in the map above. Click to enlarge.
Kintetsu Railway only is shown in the map above. Click to enlarge.

In Osaka, Kintetsu Railway has two terminal stations, such as Osaka-Namba and Osaka-Abenobashi. As I mentioned at the chapter of Hanshin Railway, Kintetsu Railway is connected with Hanshin Railway at Osaka-Namba. You can take direct train service between Kobe and Nara by Hanshin and Kintetsu. You may take Kintetesu Railway train at Tsuruhashi. It connects to JR Osaka Kanjo line at this station.

Kintetsu is also major way to get Nara from Kyoto. Kintetsu Kyoto station is same location as JR Kyoto station. You can transfer from JR and Kyoto subway at Kyoto station very easily. But Kintetsu Railway is connected with Kyoto subway at Takeda station. Some of trains go through Kyoto subway Karasuma line.

Technically you can use Kintetsu Railway for Osaka-Kyoto transfer. But it is a big detour and there is no direct train service provided between Osaka and Kyoto by Kintetsu Railway. You have to change the trains at Yamato-Saidaiji. If you really need to use Kintetsu Railway, you can take this route. Otherwise it is wasing time and money.

Kintetsu Railway is only way to get Yoshino that is very popular to see cherry blossom. There is a direct train service from Osaka-Abenobashi. If you access to Yoshino from Kyoto, Nara or Osaka-Namba, you have to transfer the trains at least once at Kashihara-Jingumae station.

Kintetsu Railway operates several kinds of trains, like limited express, rapid express, express, local. Express train surcharge is required to take limited express trains. Kintetsu Railway has a big limited express train network. But if you take Kintetsu Railway to get Nara from Osaka or Kyoto, you may not use limited express train because it is short transfer. If you visit Yoshino, limited express may be your choice. The trip time for major segments are the.following:

  • Osaka-Namba / Kintetsu Nara — 40 minutes
  • Kyoto / Kintetsu Nara — 45 minutes
  • Osaka-Abenobashi / Yoshino — 85 minutes (75 minutes by limited express)

If you intend to take limited express lots or make trips to Ise-Shima or Nagoya, Kintetsu Rail Pass is recommended.
Kintetsu Rail Pass, Most affordable deals for Osaka, Kyoto and access to Ise-Shima.

How to choose the lines and trains to Kyoto from Osaka

Departure station in Osaka

Where are you going to stay in Osaka? If you will stay in Umeda area, Hankyu and Japan Railway may be your choice. If you stay near Yodoyabashi, Tenmabashi or Kyobashi, Keihan is more accessible. If you stay in Namba or other location in Osaka, you need to take subway line or JR Osaka loop line anyway. Think about arrival station in Kyoto.


View Kyoto-Osaka-Kobe in a larger map

You can find the train network map at the post, Guide to take trains in Osaka. How to choose the best route by train to get the major spots?

Arrival station in Kyoto

Which part of Kyoto do you want to go? Japan Railway is the fastest way to get Kyoto.

Japan Railway Osaka – Kyoto 28 minutes
Hankyu Umeda – Kawaramachi 43 minutes
Keihan Yodoyamabashi – Gion-Shijo 50 minutes

But Kyoto station is not tourist friendly location. You need to take a bus or subway to get most of popular spots, like Kinkakuji temple, Kiyomizudera temple, Yasaka Jinja shrine. Only Arashiyama and Nijo castle is accessible by Japan Railway. Please read the post, How to use Japan Rail Pass in Kyoto. If you are not Japan Rail Pass user, do not take Japan Railway.
If you want to go to Higashiyama or Gion, such as Kiyomizudera temple, Yasaka Jinja shrine, Philosopher’s Walk, Hankyu Railway and Keihan Railway are more convenient than Japan Railway. If you want to go to Arashiayama, you can use Japan Railway. But Hankyu Railway is faster and cheaper.

If you are looking for information about all trains in Kyoto, please refer the post, Guide to take trains in Kyoto. How to choose the best route by train to get the major spots?.

How to choose the lines and trains to Kobe from Osaka

Departure station in Osaka

You have two options, Umeda/JR Osaka or Namba. If you stay around Umeda area, you can choose from Japan Railway, Hankyu or Hanshin. Hankyu and Hanshin are cheaper than Japan Railway. But Japan Railway is the fastest.
If you will stay in Namba area, Hanshin is only and the best choice.

You can find the train network map of Osaka at the post, Guide to take trains in Osaka. How to choose the best route by train to get the major spots?

Arrival station in Kobe

Which part of Kobe do you want to go? You can go anywhere in Kobe by Japan Railway and Hanshin Electric Railway. Most of trains of Hankyu Railway go to Sannomiya only. If you are looking for the transfer to other area in Kobe, think about JR or Hanshin.
But Kobe is smaller than Kyoto. So it is not much different among JR, Hanshin and Hankyu.

You can find the train network map of Kobe at the post, Guide to take trains in Kobe. How to choose the best route by train to get the major spots?

How to choose the lines and trains between Kobe and Kyoto

Only Japan Railway’s Special Rapid Service gives you direct transfer. It is the fastest and maybe faster than even Shinkansen. But as I mentioned to you above, JR Kyoto station is not good location for the tourists. On the other hand, Hankyu Railway can take you to Kyoto from Kobe. They don’t have any scheduled train on this section. But Kawaramachi station is located near Gion and Higashiyama. Let’s compare JR and Hankyu.

Sannomiya / JR Kyoto — 50 minutes / 1050 yen
Sannomiya / Hankyu Kawaramachi — 65 minutes (change the trains at Juso) / 600 yen

Hankyu is slower, but cheaper. And also we need to think about the location in Kyoto. If you take JR, you need to take a bus or subway to get Gion. You may spend another 15-20 minutes get there from JR Kyoto station. So if you want to go to Gion Higashiyama area, Hankyu is better choice. If you go to Arashiyama in Kyoto, it is same story. Hankyu is better as well.

I show you how to choose discount ticket and pass in this post. If you need more info, please refer that.

636 thoughts on “How to transfer among Kyoto, Osaka, Kobe, Nara and Wakayama. Compare Japan Railway and private railways.”

  1. Hello Takeshi-shan:
    I am about to get the JR pass and stumbled upon this discussion. This is my itinerary:
    May 26 arrive Narita
    May 27 to 28 , around Tokyo; hotel somewhere in Shinjuku
    May 29 – bullet train to Osaka
    May 30 – kyoto
    May 31 – Nara or Kobe
    June1 – bullet train back to Tokyo
    June 2 – return flight thru Haneda airport.

    What train option do you suggest? Will JR Pass cover all the above destinations? Do we need to purchase something else?

  2. Hi Takeshi,
    We will be travelling to Japan again in October. This trip we will be visiting Kyoto – Kobe (overnight) – Mt Koya (Gokurakubashi?) then on to KiiTanabe.
    Re Kobe – would you kindly advise if the trains would be arriving/departing Kobe from JR Sannomiya or Shin Kobe station (or both). We have check HyperDia but it is a little confusing. This would help with our accommodation planning. Thank you in advance,
    kind regards,
    Julie

  3. Hi Takeshi,

    I request your help with the best train options for our two-week trip to Japan in Mid May’17. We are traveling from India along with our mom so looking for convenient and cost effective options. We were about to buy JR Pass but noticed that doesn’t cover subways and there are many other train options available.

    Our itinerary –
    Kix – Kobe (hotel Okura, 2 nights)
    Kobe – Kyoto (Higashiyama ward, 3 nights)
    Kyoto – Nara (deer park, 1 night)
    Nara – Tokyo (Shibuya, 6 nights)

    From Tokyo we plan to do some day trips like to Fujiyama.

    Appreciate your kind help,

    Regards,
    Shreya

    1. Hi Shreya,

      Actually JR Pass does not work for your trip. It’s more expensive than even single ticket. The recommended options are the following:

      But to Kobe from KIX
      http://www.kate.co.jp/en/timetable/detail/KB

      Kansai one pass for train trip for Kobe-Kyoto, Kyoto-Nara and Nara to Kyoto
      http://kansaionepass.com/en/about.html?info=1

      This card covers all trains and most of city bus. It’s completely no problem to travel in these areas. But this pass does not offer unlimited train trips. You may add all day bus pass or Kyoto sightseeing card (bus and subway) in Kyoto to save some fund in this card.
      https://jprail.com/travel-informations/other-rail-passes/rail-pass-for-residents/how-to-choose-the-best-train-pass-for-sightseeing-in-kyoto.html

      You can add more fund into this card at the vending machine in JR station if you like.

      Single ticket or Platt Kodama for Kyoto to Tokyo
      https://jprail.com/travel-informations/other-rail-passes/rail-pass-for-residents/platt-kodama-one-way-deal-among-tokyo-nagoya-kyoto-and-shin-osaka-by-shinkansen.html
      You need to take local train to get Kyoto from Nara on the way to Tokyo. So you need to add ticket or platt kodama for Kyoto to Tokyo.

      Tokyo subway ticket is the best option for Tokyo.
      https://jprail.com/destinations/kanto-area/tokyo-kanto-area/guide-to-take-trains-in-tokyo-how-to-choose-the-best-deal-and-the-best-route-by-train-to-get-the-major-spots.html
      http://www.tokyometro.jp/en/ticket/value/travel/index.html

      About trip to Fuji, please see the link below:
      https://jprail.com/destinations/chubu-area/fuji-hakone-access-guide-by-train-and-bus-from-both-tokyo-and-osaka-kyoto-nagoya.html

      If you take a flight from Narita, you may find the deal in the link below:
      https://jprail.com/sample-itineraries/airport-access/narita/the-list-of-deals-for-access-to-downtown-tokyo-from-narita-airport.html

      Cheers,

      Takeshi / JPRail.com

  4. Hi Takeshi san,
    We will visit Osaka on Apr’17. We had planned our itinerary as follow and selected what kind of train to be use. We want our trip is smooth and less transfer when we taking train. Appreciate you can help.
    1. Day 1 (11/04/2017) – We will reach KIX Airport to our guest house near Shin-Imamiya station, we use Nankai electric service railway
    (920 yen). Explore Dotonbori by using Icoca card to take Nankai Railway.
    2. Day2 (12/04/2017) – Day 4 (14/04/17) – We will use JR West 3 days pass to cover Kyoto tourist spot, Arashiyama & Himeiji Castle.
    3. Day 5 (15/04/17) – We will buy Single trip ticket JR pass (Yamatoji Line) to Nara Station and buy one day sightseeing pass. (JR West Japan, JPY560 x2 = 1,120 yen + 500 yen Nara day bus)
    3. Day 6 & 7 – We will buy Amazing Osaka 2 days pass to explore in Osaka.
    4. Day 8 – Use Nankai electric service railway (920 yen) to KIX.

    1. Hi Mei Lee san,

      You have picked the right deals. But I have different idea.

      I picked Kansai thru pass 3 days for the trip to Kyoto and Nara, and JR Kansai area pass 1 day for trip to Himeji.
      https://jprail.com/travel-informations/other-rail-passes/rail-pass-for-residents/how-to-use-kansai-thru-pass-compare-pass-and-single-fare.html
      https://jprail.com/travel-informations/other-rail-passes/rail-pass-for-visitors/how-to-use-jr-west-kansai-area-pass-compare-pass-and-single-fare.html

      The reason why I picked Kansai thru pass is coverage. Kansai thru pass covers city bus and subway in Osaka and Kyoto. Especially in Kyoto, you need to take city bus when you reach most of tourist spots. This pass does not cover JR trains but you can take Hankyu railway, Keihan railway, Eizan railway and Keifuku railway in Kyoto. This is enough to cover Kyoto even though you cannot take JR.
      https://jprail.com/destinations/kansai-area/guide-to-take-trains-in-kyoto-how-to-choose-the-best-route-by-train-to-get-the-major-spots.html

      Kansai thru pass gives you convenient access too.

      Dobutsuenmae (same place as Shin-Imamiya) (suwbay) Umeda (Hankyu railway) Arashiyama
      Dobutsuenmae (subway) Yodoyabashi (Keihan railway) Gion-Shijo, Fushimi-Inari, Kiyomizu-Gojo
      Shin-Imamiya (subway) Namba (Kintetsu railway) Kintetsu-Nara

      You may get most of places with one transfer in most of cases. I understand you can get Nara from Shin-Imamiya by JR train directly. But Kintetsu Nara station is much closer to Deer park, Big Buddha than JR Nara station. You need to change train at Namba but you can get easier access in Nara. And Kansai thru pass covers bus in Nara too.

      Cheers,

      Takeshi / JPRail.com

  5. HI Takeshi

    We are (3 Adults) travelling to Tokyo on 7 April for 4 days then to Osaka for 6 days and seek your advise.

    In Tokyo was thinking of getting the SUICA card to travel the Subway. Is this advisable?

    On 12 April we travel to Osaka.is it better to get the ShinKansen as a separate ticket than a JR Pass 7 Day pass

    From Osaka on 13 to 18 April we intend to visit Kyoto one day , then Nara and Kyoto another day/ followed by Kobe – we can do three consecutive days if need be with the other two days sight seeing in Osaka.

    On the evening of 17 April we travel to a hotel at Kansai International Airport for one night to fly out on 18th.

    My question is – given this travel arrangement –
    1. am I better off buying a JR Rail pass to travel on the Shinkansen from Tokyo to Osaka and then use it as follow:
    2. can I use the JR Pass to travel too Kyoto. Nara and Kobe from Osaka
    3. can this pass be used on metro and Subway in Osaka and Kyoto/ Nara and Kobe.
    4. or am I better off buying a separate Shinkansen ticket to Osaka and consider Kansai thru pass for Kyoto/Nara and Kobe..,whihc wil allow me to use Subway in Kyoto and
    5. while in Osaka use the 2Day Osaka Amazing Pass

    Thank you

    1. Hi Nick,

      JR pass is not your choice. You need one round trip of Tokyo – Osaka. One way trip is not enough to use it. You can use single fare ticket or if you are okay to spend a little extra time, consider using Platt Kodama.
      https://jprail.com/travel-informations/other-rail-passes/rail-pass-for-residents/platt-kodama-one-way-deal-among-tokyo-nagoya-kyoto-and-shin-osaka-by-shinkansen.html

      Even if you use it for trip in Kansai area, it’s still not enough to use JR pass. Please think about using Kansai thru pass for outside Osaka and local deal in Osaka. Please see the link below:
      https://jprail.com/travel-informations/other-rail-passes/rail-pass-for-residents/how-to-use-kansai-thru-pass-compare-pass-and-single-fare.html
      https://jprail.com/travel-informations/other-rail-passes/rail-pass-for-residents/how-to-choose-the-best-train-pass-for-sightseeing-in-osaka.html

      By the way, in Tokyo, you can use Tokyo Subway Ticket.
      http://www.tokyometro.jp/en/ticket/value/travel/index.html

      If you have 3 or 4 trips a day by subway, you can pay off 72 hours pass easily.

      Cheers,

      Takeshi / JPRail.com

      Cheers,

      Takeshi / JPRail.com

      1. Many thanks Takeshi

        I’ll consider the Platt kodama. Unite I cannot buy this ticket at the station but need to go to JR Tokai Tours.

        One other question if I were to take the Shinkansen- as a visitor can I purchase this ticket at Tokyo station. Or do I have to buy it say through JBT before arrival.

        Many thanks

          1. My apologies- autocorrect took over some of the words. it should have said JTB instead of JBT.

            Can I buys the tickets for the Shinkansen to Osaka during my stay in Tokyo.

            Thank You

          2. Hi Nick,

            If you want to buy regular ticket to take Shinkansen, you can purchase it after you arrive in Japan. You can purchase it any major JR station.
            I don’t think you can purchase it at JTB. Most of travel agent in foreign countries do not sell train ticket only. Most of them sell JR pass or package product.

            Cheers,

            Takeshi / JPRail.com

  6. Hello Takeshi,

    Im planning to go Japan on May with my families.
    My sched is Tokyo-Nagoya-Osaka,inc. Kyoto and Nara-Tokyo.
    Because of the routes i think it is best if i use JR Pass.
    So this is my question:
    1. If i use JR Pass, am i still need another pass/thru to use to go to touristy places in Osaka, Kyoto and Nara?
    2. If i dont need another pass/thru and then places i wanna go is not cover by JR Pass, how can i reach the place?
    3. You said its better to take rapid trains to reach kyoto, nara or kobe, but for JR Pass user is it better to use JR Pass or not?

    I am so sorry if my questions are kinda confusing, i really hope you get what im trying to ask.
    Thank you so much in advance.

    1. Hi TirtaSari,

      1, 2. Please refer the link below.
      https://jprail.com/travel-informations/other-rail-passes/rail-pass-for-visitors/japan-rail-pass-user-guide-how-to-use-jr-pass-to-its-maximum.html#How_to_use_JR_pass_in_major_cities_and_tourist_spots

      3. You can take Shinkansen (bullet train) to move around Kyoto, Osaka and Kobe if you want. JR pass covers unlimited ride of Shinkansen too. But rapid train may be faster as I explained in the post above.

      Cheers,

      Takeshi / JPRail.com

  7. Hi Takeshi San, I need your help to advise me the best ways to get around Osaka-Kobe-Kyoto-Nara-Himeji with my friend this coming April 20-25 via Osaka Kansai International. And how to get discount railway ticket,, hope to minimize getting lost there. Thank you.

    1. Hi Ireen san,

      I need to know where you will stay and how you want to travel. Do you want to stay in each cities or stay in Osaka and make day trips?
      We have to make sure these before choosing deals.

      Cheers,

      Takeshi / JPRail.com

  8. Hi Takeshi,

    I would need your kind assistance to advise me the best ways to get around Osaka-Nara-Kyoto as I am bringing little kids along with me this trip. Hope to minimize getting lost there.

    In Osaka:
    Kids plaza
    Osaka Castle
    Flower Expo Memorial Park
    Dotonbori
    Shinsaibashi

    In Nara:
    Todai-Ji temple
    Nara Deer Park

    In Kyoto:
    Arashiyama
    Higashiyama District
    Fushimi Inari Shine

      1. Hi Takeshi san,

        Thanks so much for your help!
        Yes I am staying Osaka throughout my trip but just a quick check is Kansai Thru Pass able to cover all the places in my itinerary?

        Thanks to advise.

        Cheers,
        Jeanie

  9. Hi Takeshi,

    I’m planning to fly into Osaka for a visit and the surrounding places Kyoto/ Nara and to Tokyo, Mt Fuji, and perhaps Yokohama and Nagoya on the way back to Osaka. I am wondering if it’s worthwhile for me to purchase the 7day JR pass eventhough I will be in Japan for a total of 10days.

  10. Hi Takeshi,

    I need your help as I’m overwhelmed by choices of rail lines in Osaka/Kyoto. I’m not sure if I should buy the JR Pass or not. My itinerary is below:
    1. KIX – Kyoto (Gion area)
    2. Kyoto (near Omiya station) – Arima
    3. Arima – Osaka (Sakuragawa station)
    4. Osaka – Nara
    5. Osaka – KIX

    Thanks so much for your help.

    1. Hi Mary,

      You may use Haruka discount ticket and Kansai One Pass.
      https://jprail.com/travel-informations/other-rail-passes/rail-pass-for-visitors/icoca-and-haruka-ticket-very-flexible-and-good-deal-for-tourist-who-stay-in-kansai.html
      http://kansaionepass.com/en/about.html?info=1

      You may use Kansai one pass to take a train to Umeda (JR Osaka station). You can catch the bus to Arima Onsen. Unfortunately only Japanese timetable is available. I put the link just in case.
      https://www.hankyubus.co.jp/highway/route/timetable/highway14.php

      Kansai one pass does not cover the bus to Arima. You can use Kansai one pass for other train trips in Osaka and to Nara.

      Cheers,

      Takeshi / JPRail.com

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