How to use and how much can we use Japan Rail Pass in downtown Osaka?

Osaka Castle is one of the most popular spot in Osaka. ©JNTO
Osaka Castle is one of the most popular spot in Osaka. ©JNTO

I supposed to write about the transfer among Kobe (神戸), Osaka (大阪) and Kyoto (京都). But I should explain about JR (Japan Railway) lines in downtown Osaka. I believe the information about the location of JR stations and rail system let you understand the rail system outside of Osaka easily.

And this post may help the tourists who will start the trip from Osaka. Some of you are not sure to buy 7 days pass or 14 days pass for your trip. You may learn how much you can use Japan Railway line when you stay in Osaka. For example, if you travel in Japan for 10 days and stay in Osaka for the first 3 days, you may not use Japan Railway line when you stay in Osaka. As a result, you can buy 7 days pass.

Anyway I show you JR line in downtown Osaka and I compare JR lines and Osaka subway lines.

JR lines in downtown Osaka

View JR line in downtown Osaka in a larger map

The above map shows you all JR lines in downtown Osaka. I put some placemarks on all major stations. I would like to explain about each lines.

Osaka Kanjo line is operated very frequently. The train comes every 3 to 4 minutes.
Osaka Kanjo line is operated very frequently. The train comes every 3 to 4 minutes.

Osaka Kanjo line (Osaka loop line=大阪環状線)

This line encircles downtown Osaka. You may use this line very often when you stay in Osaka. This line is started from the biggest station in Osaka, Osaka station. You maybe confused because JR station is called Osaka. And some of other stations nearby are called Umeda (梅田). JR Osaka station is located at same location as other Umeda stations.

This line go through several terminal stations. Kyobashi (京橋) is the junction of Keihan Railway (京阪=private company to Kyoto) and JR Tozai line. Tsuruhashi (鶴橋) is the place to catch Kintetsu Railway (近鉄=private company to Nara, Kyoto, Ise and Nagoya).

Tennoji (天王寺) is the biggest JR terminal station in south side of Osaka. All trains that go to Wakayama (和歌山), Kansai airport (関西空港) and Nara (奈良) stop at this station. But all limited express train to Kansai airport or Wakayama and to the south of Wakayama depart from Shin-Osaka (新大阪). Most of rapid trains to Nara, Wakayama and Kansai airport depart from Osaka. So basically you don’t need to change the train at Tennoji. If you need more information about these trains, please read the following posts.

Kansai line (関西本線)

Kansai line is called Yamatoji line (大和路線) as well. This line connects JR Namba (JR難波) with Nara. As probably you know, Namba is one of the tow biggest downtown core. You can access Namba by JR line. And also you can access from another huge downtown core, Umeda by JR only. But You need to take Osaka Kanjo line to Imamiya and transfer the train to JR Namba. It is not shortest way. Osaka subway Midosuji line (大阪地下鉄御堂筋線) is much faster and more convenient. I tell you about Osaka subway later.

Yumesaki line (ゆめ咲線)

This line starts from Nishikujo (西九条) station on Osaka Kanjo line and goes to Sakurajima (桜島). One of most popular attraction, Universal studion Japan (USJ) is on this line. Many trains are operated from Tennoji via Kyobashi and Osaka. If you go to USJ, you may not need to change the train at Nishikujo.

JR Tozai line (JR東西線)

This line connects Amagasaki (尼崎) with Kyobashi. Kitashinchi station is 10 minutes away from Osaka station on foot. I don’t think you take this line very often.

Kobe/Kyoto line (神戸線/京都線)

If you go to Kobe or Kyoto, you take this line from Osaka station. And also when you need to take Shinkansen, you need to go to Shin-Osaka station by Kyoto line. It is 4 minutes away from Osaka by any trains.

Osaka Subway (大阪地下鉄)

Please refer this map in Osaka Municipal Transportation Bureau website. Osaka subway operate 8 lines. The subway is more convenient than JR lines when you transfer from north to south. For example, if you go to Namba from Umeda by Osaka subway Midosuji line, it takes only 8 minutes and costs 230 yen. If you take JR lines, it takes 17-20 minutes and you need to change the trains at Shin-Imamiya or Imamiya. If yo buy a single ticket, it costs 190 yen. It is cheaper, but not big difference. And also JR Namba is not located in the center of Namba. Which one do you want?

By the way, Osaka subway have three stations near JR Osaka station, Umeda (梅田/Midosuji line=御堂筋線/to Shinsaibashi, Namba, Tennoji), Nishi-Umeda (西梅田/Yotsubashi line=四つ橋線/to to Nanba) and Higashi-Umeda (東梅田/Tanimachi line=谷町線/to Uehonmachi, Tennoji). All three statione are only 5 minutes away from Osaka station. So don’t worry about the location in Umeda.

286 thoughts on “How to use and how much can we use Japan Rail Pass in downtown Osaka?”

  1. Hi, Takeshi!

    I will be travelling to Japan this March for 8 days and will be arriving to KIX and plans to stay in Osaka Area first for 3 days.
    My initial itinerary is this:

    (while staying in Osaka waill travel to:)
    Day 1 – Osaka
    Day 2 – Kyoto
    Day 3 – Nara

    (will travel and stay to Tokyo at this point)
    Day 4 – Yokohama
    Day 5 – Hakone
    Days 6-7 – Tokyo Area

    Day 8 – Return to Osaka and depart from KIX

    I plan to buy 7-days JR Pass but will activate it after a day (or two) to make up to the 7-day validity (since my trip is for 8 days and I’ll be coming from Tokyo to KIX to catch my plane)

    My question is, what should I get to be able to commute to my hostel near Shin-Imamiya Station on my first day? And then after I have checked in, I plan to sight-see near the area.

    Should I still buy a Kansai Thru Pass?

    Please do give more suggestions.
    Thank you so much for the help!

    1. Hi Tsukki,

      You may start using JR Pass on 2nd day as you think. The best deal for day 1 is Yokoso Osaka ticket.

      You can get Nara and Kyoto by JR pass. But in Kyoto, you need to take city bus to get major spots. You may add city deal. Please see the below:

      In Tokyo, you will have same issues as Kyoto. Some places cannot be accessed by JR pass. You may add subway pass.

      In Hakone, you may add Hakone Free Pass because you can get Odawara by JR pass but after that, you need to add something.


      Takeshi /

      1. Hi again Takeshi-san!

        Thank you very much for the helpful reply. Since I’m a bit confused, may I know the difference between Yokoso Osaka Ticket and Osaka Amazing Pass? Do both of them have access to Shin-Imamiya Station and Dobutsuen-mae Station (which are close to my hostel in Osaka)?

        I will very much take note of your suggestions in Kyoto and Hakone trips. Speaking of Hakone Free Pass, can you explain to me the meaning of “surcharge” in Romancecars to Hakone?

        Thank you again for all the help and sorry for all the trouble!


        1. Hi Tsukki san,

          Both Amazing pass and Yokoso Osaka ticket can take you to Shin-Imyamiya/Dobutsuen-mae. Yokoso Osaka ticket includes one way fare by limited express Rapi:t from KIX to Namba and Osaka subway unlimited ride one way. Amazing pass includes unlimited subway ride (1 or 2 days) and admission for major attractions.

          Regarding romancecar surcharge is seat fee. All seats is reserved on romancecar. You have to pay surcharge to book a seat. This surcharge is not covered by Hakone Free Pass.


          Takeshi /

  2. Hi Takeshi,
    I am travelling to Japan for 23 days and was wanting your opinion of whether I should get the JR pass for the first 14 days where I will be doing most of the travelling.

    Our plans are as follows:

    Day 1- Tokyo
    Day 2- Travel to Osaka
    Day 3- 7- Visit Universal studios, Hiroshima, Nara Park
    Day 8- 10 – Kyoto
    Day 11- 15- Tokyo (Chiba)
    Day 16- 23- Tokyo (Shibuya), wanting to visit Mt Fuji for a night in this period also

  3. Hi Takeshi,
    My husband and I plan to visit Japan from 27 April to 10 May and wondering if it’s worth purchasing a 7 day JR pass?
    We plan the following:
    3-4 Day in Osaka then take train to Kyoto
    5-6 Days in Kyoto then take train to Toyko
    5-6 Days in Tokyo
    We also plan to visit Hakone and Mt Fuji while we in Toyko.
    Thank you.

    1. Hi Mary,

      JR pass does not work. Please see the link below:

      For trip to Hakone and Fuji, you may add Hakone Free Pass for Hakone and single fare for express bus if you go to Lake Kawaguchi. Please see the link below:


      Takeshi /

  4. Dear Takeshi,
    I have the following itinerary:
    Day 1 arrive in osaka
    Day 2 Kyoto
    Day 3 Nara
    Day 4 Hakone
    Day 5-9 Tokyo

    I will be getting the 7 day national JR pass to travel between the different areas but I have some doubts I am looking to clarify..

    1. Should I use it for Day 1 to Day 7?

    2. Or is it better if I get the Kansai pass for the first 2 days in Osaka then use the remaining 7 day JR pass for the other days?

    3. Can the Kansai pass be used for the airport express Haruka from kansai airport to Tennoji?

    Thank you!

  5. We will arrive Tokyo on 4th, Jan and will be able to go to Osaka in 5th morning. We would like to have the following tour plan.

    Day 1, 5th, Jan – go to Osaka by Shinkansen in the morning, and check in to hotel. We would like to do shopping at Shinsekai and Den Den.
    Day 2, 6th, Jan – visit Osaka Castle, Osaka Museum of
    History, Shitennoji, Umeda Sky Building.
    Day 3, 7th, Jan – visit Fushimi Inari Shrine, Nishijin Textile
    Center, Nishiki Market, Kiyomizu-dera Temple.
    Day 4, 8th, Jan – visit Earthquake museum, Nunobiki Herb
    Garden, take Shin-Kobe Ropeway for sightseeing (round trip),
    Day 5, 9th, Jan – back to Tokyo by Shinkansen in the morning, and visit Thunder Gate, near Sensoji Temple
    Day 6, 10th, Jan – morning fly back to Kuala Lumpur.
    Please advice:
    1) JR pass is suitable?
    2) With JR pass, I am able to go around Osaka, Kyoto and Kobe to the above destinations?
    3) Back to Tokyo, can we use the JR pass to visit Thunder gate and also go to Narita airport? The hotel is better in city or near Narita?


    1. Hi Lau Ah Leng,

      1. Yes.

      2. You need to add some fare for taking subway and local bus. These are not covered by JR pass. Please see the link below to find the coverage of JR pass.

      3. No. It’s same thing as Osaka. You need to take subway to get Asakusa and it’s not covered. Please see the link below:

      If you go back to Tokyo station, you can take Narita Express by JR pass to get Narita.

      If you leave from Narita in early morning, you should stay near Narita.


      Takeshi /

  6. Hi Takeshi,

    I will be travelling to Japan for a total of 16 days:
    8 Days – Tokyo
    2 Days – Kyoto
    1 Day – Nara or Kobe
    5 Days – Osaka (travel back to Tokyo on 2nd last day)
    I will be flying in and out from Tokyo (Haneda)

    Is a 14 day pass worth it?

    1. Hi Ben,

      14 days is a bit more expensive. Even Tokyo-Osaka round trip fare + Shinkansen seat feee are slightly less than 7 days pass. You will use JR Pass when you are in Kyoto and Osaka. But these trips are not long transfers and it’s not enough to use 14 days pass. If you have another long day trip when you are in Tokyo, 14 days pass is worth using.


      Takeshi /

  7. Hi Takeshi-san,

    I also am unsure of getting the JR Rail Pass. My plan is to fly into Osaka, stay for 5-6 days. Then go to Tokyo for 1 week. From there, I was planning to go to Kumamoto from Tokyo, then ferry to Shimabara. I wanted to try Kumamoto, then Kagoshima, but I think the JR Rail Pass won’t work for the Shinkansen anywhere in Kyushu, right?

    After Tokyo, I can optionally go back to Osaka, then from Osaka to Kumamoto. But I’d like to keep the original plan…
    If you can recommend me what’s best, please let me know. Thank you!

    Thank you for all your hard work Takeshi-san!

    1. Hi Jack san,

      JR pass covers Kyushu Shinkansen too. So you can get Kumamoto and Kagoshima by Shinkansen.

      When you go to Kumamoto from Tokyo, you need to take two Shinkansen trains, Hikari from Tokyo to Shin-Osaka and Sakura from Shin-Osaka to Kumamoto. Please see the links below to find the timetable. Those are shown by “H” and “S”.

      As you probably know, Nozomi (N) and Mizuho (M) are not covered by JR pass. You have to take Hikari and Sakura.


      Takeshi /

      1. Oh it covers Kyushu Shinkansen too? I was confused when I saw this:

        “The JAPAN RAIL PASS is not valid for any seats, reserved or non-reserved, on “NOZOMI” and “MIZUHO” trains on the Tokaido, Sanyo and Kyushu Shinkansen lines.”


        1. Hi Jack,

          You misunderstood the condition. There are several kinds of trains running on Shinkansen lines. Nozomi is the fastest train on Tokaido-Sanyo Shinkansen. Mizuho is the fastest train on Sanyo-Kyushu Shinkansen. Other trains, Hikari, Sakura, Kodama and Tsubame also runs on Shinkansen lines and these are covered. Please see the link below:

          And then, please see once more the links, Shinkansen timetables that I gave you previous reply. You will see which one JR pass covers.


          Takeshi /

  8. Hi Takeshi,
    My partner and I will be travelling to Japan on the 25th of Dec 2016. I will be staying in Tokyo for 9 days (25th till 2nd of Jan), and then to Osaka for 8 days (2nd till 9th of Jan). We will be staying at a homestay close to Otsuka station in Tokyo and Kitakagaya station in Osaka. I’m a little hesitant on whether I should get the jr pass since my partner and I will be staying in Japan for 16 days. I was thinking of taking the Narita express to Shinjuku station and then switch to Yamanote Line which will take me all the way to Otsuka station. After 9 days in Tokyo, I was planning on taking the bullet train down to Osaka on the 2nd of January, but I’m still kinda confuse on how to get to Kitakagaya station once we arrive in Osaka and also from Kitakagaya to Kansai Airport. I would love to hear about your recommendations regarding the passes that would best suit my plan. Thank you in advance.

    1. Hi Dennis,

      First of all, regarding JR Pass, one way fare from Tokyo to Osaka by Shinkansen (bullet train) is almost half amount of 7 days JR pass. So if you want to use JR pass, you have to make a long trip to outside Osaka or Tokyo.

      Tokyo – Osaka + day trip to Hiroshima is worth using JR pass 7 days.

      So as long as you stay in city of Tokyo/Osaka, JR pass does not work. Please make sure where you visit before choosing the deals.

      You can get Kitakagaya by subway Yotsubashi line. Please see the link below. It’s indicated as “Y20” on map.

      When you go there from Tokyo, your route is the following:
      Tokyo (Shinkansen) Shin-Osaka
      Shin-Osaka (subway Midousuji line) Namba
      Namba (subway Yotsubashi line) Kitakagaya

      When you go to Kansai airport, go to Namba and change Nankai railway to get KIX. The following links may help you.


      Takeshi /

  9. Hello Mr Takeshi,
    I am travelling to Japan in Feb 17.
    I would be staying in Tokyo for 5 days, from there I will be travelling to Osaka for another 5 days. I am quite confuse if I would need to purchase the JR pass?? As my itinerary will be going to Kyoto for a day and the rest of the day will be mainly be shopping at those tourists area and visiting Unversal World in Osaka.
    Please do kindly advise…thank you

    1. Hi Vivian,

      One way trip from Tokyo to Osaka does not suit JR pass. Because one way fare and Shinkansen seat fee from Tokyo to Osaka is almost half of 7 days JR pass price. Even if you have several trips in Osaka and Kyoto, the cost is around a few thousand yen. It does not help much to use JR pass.

      If you go back to Tokyo after staying in Osaka, you can use 7 days JR pass. Otherwise single fare for Tokyo to Osaka and local deals are your choice. If you use single fare and local deals, please see the links below to find more info:


      Takeshi /

      1. Hello Mr Takeshi,
        My situation almost same as Vivian.
        I’ll traveling to Tokyo including mt Fuji and Disney sea and Osaka including USJ 5 days each . Could you recommend me which pass is my suitable and cheaper for me?

  10. hai takeshi i will visit japan on 29 march 2017 till 9 aprril 2017, i will stay at tokyo for 4 days and to hakone kawaguchi mt fuji for 2 days,and then i’m going to kyoto for 3 days and last in osaka for 3 days. and go back to my country from osaka. i confuse whether i should buy the 7 days jr pass or not? thank you so much, hope you reply soon

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