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How to travel between Osaka and Kyoto

By shinkansen
Direct, 15 minutes, 1420 yen, frequent departures
The JR Tokaido Shinkansen requires 15 minutes and costs 1420 yen for an unreserved seat between not so centrally located Shin-Osaka Station and Kyoto Station. A reserved seat costs about twice as much. The Japan Rail Pass covers Hikari and Kodama trains between Shin-Osaka and Kyoto, but it does not cover Nozomi trains.

By JR special rapid train
Direct, 30 minutes, 560 yen, frequent departures
"Special rapid" trains on the JR Kyoto Line require about 30 minutes and cost 560 yen between centrally located Osaka Station and Kyoto Station. Stopping at a few more stations along the way, "rapid" trains require about 40 minutes and "local" trains about 45 minutes, but they are often less crowded. The one way fare is also 560 yen. All trains are covered by the Japan Rail Pass.

By JR limited express train
Direct, 30 minutes, 1210-1930 yen, about two departures per hour
Limited express trains are more expensive but not much faster than special rapid trains; however, they tend to be less crowded. As a result, they can be a comfortable alternative to special rapid trains for Japan Rail Pass holders.

By Hankyu Railway
Direct, 40 minutes, 400 yen, frequent departures
Limited express trains on the Hankyu Kyoto Line get you from Umeda Station (next to JR Osaka Station) to Karasuma and Kawaramachi Stations in central Kyoto in roughly 40 minutes and for 400 yen. They are not covered by the Japan Rail Pass.

By Keihan Railway
Direct, 50 minutes, 410 yen, frequent departures
Limited express trains on the Keihan Main Line get you from Yodoyabashi Station in central Osaka to Sanjo Station in central Kyoto in roughly 50 minutes and for 410 yen. They are not covered by the Japan Rail Pass.

Above fees and schedules are subject to change. For the current yen exchange rate, click here.

Orientation

Osaka has two major city centers and four major train stations. The two city centers are nicknamed Kita ("North") around Osaka/Umeda Station and Minami ("South") around Namba Station. While Kita is a large shopping and business area, Minami is Osaka's most famous entertainment district.

JR Osaka Station is located in the center of the Kita district. Two other railway companies and three subway lines have their own stations in the vicinity of JR Osaka Station, however, these stations are named Umeda Station rather than Osaka Station. The shinkansen trains stop not at Osaka Station, but at Shin-Osaka Station, one station north of Osaka Station by JR train.

In the Namba area (Minami), three railway companies (JR, Nankai and Kintetsu) and three subway lines have their separate stations, all named Namba Station. The fourth of Osaka's major railway stations is Tennoji Station in the southeast of central Osaka. It is served by JR, Kintetsu Railways, the Hankai Tramway and two subway lines.

The city of Osaka is served by over seven different railway and subway companies. Most relevant to foreign visitors of Osaka are the subway lines and the lines operated by JR West. The lines operated by the other private railway companies are useful for accessing neighboring cities and regions.

  • JR West operates a dense network of local train lines in the Osaka area. The most prominent line is the Osaka Loop Line, the equivalent to Tokyo's Yamanote Line. JR also operates lines to the Kansai Airport, Kobe, Kyoto, Nara and to the Universal Studios. The shinkansen (bullet trains) stop at Shin-Osaka Station.
  • Subways are often the most convenient means of getting around central Osaka. The city has eight subway lines that cover especially the area inside the Osaka Loop Line. The subway offers the quickest connection between Osaka's two main districts Kita and Minami and is of great value to foreign visitors in general.
  • Nankai Railway connects Namba to Kansai Airport, Wakayama and Mount Koya (Koyasan).
  • Hankyu Railway connects Umeda Station with northern Osaka, Kobe and Kyoto.
  • Kintetsu Railway connects Osaka with many destinations in the southern Kansai Region, including Nara, Kyoto, Asuka, Yoshino, Ise and Nagoya. Lines start at Namba (Osaka-Namba Station), Tennoji (Osaka-Abenobashi Station) and Nagata Station.
  • Hanshin Railway connects Osaka with Kobe. The lines start at Umeda and Namba Stations.
  • Keihan Railway connects central Osaka with central Kyoto and Uji. The lines start at Yodoyabashi and Nakanoshima Stations.

Passes and Tickets

See also our separate page about the various passes available for the Greater Osaka Region.

The prepaid IC card available in Osaka is called Icoca. It does not give you any discounts over regular tickets, but it makes the process of taking trains easier, as you do not always need to buy a ticket before riding a train. Icoca cards can be purchased through ticket machines at JR stations. Local non-JR railway companies offer their own IC card called Pitapa; however, Pitapa is a postpaid card that works more like a credit card and is targeted at residents rather than tourists.

Icoca and Pitapa can be used on most trains and buses in the Greater Osaka region (and many other major cities in Japan). Additionally, eight other IC cards from other major cities of Japan can also be used on the trains and buses of Greater Osaka, including Suica, Pasmo, Kitaca, Toica, Manaca, Sugoca, Nimoca and Hayakaken.

The Kansai One Pass is a special version of Icoca exclusively for foreign tourists that additionally qualifies for discounts at various attractions in the Kansai Region. It is available for sale at Kansai Airport and major railway stations in the Kansai Region.

Furthermore, the following one day passes are available for the Osaka area:

  • Osaka Amazing Pass (1-day: 2300 yen, 2-days: 3000 yen)
    The Osaka Amazing Pass (formerly: Osaka Unlimited Pass) provides unlimited use of subways and city buses within Osaka City on one or two consecutive calendar days, plus free admission to many of Osaka's popular tourist attractions such as Osaka Castle and the Umeda Sky Building. The one-day pass additionally covers non-JR trains in central Osaka. Sales locations include tourist information centers and travel agencies. The pass is a very good deal if visiting several of the tourist attractions covered.
  • Osaka One-Day Pass (800 yen on weekdays, 600 yen on weekends and public holidays)
    Unlimited use of subways, city buses and the New Tram (but excluding the OTS Line) on one calendar day. The pass also provides discounts on admission to designated sightseeing spots. It can be purchased at subway stations and kiosks. The pass is a good value and easily pays off, especially on weekends and if visiting spots with discounted admission.

Hotels around Osaka

Recommended Hotels
Hilton Osaka Hotel
Very convenient high-class hotel just across from JR Osaka Station.
Book:
Agoda Booking
Hotel Granvia Osaka
Very conveniently located inside JR Osaka Station City.
Book:
Agoda Booking
Hotel Nikko Kansai Airport
Directly connected to the terminal building, this is the most convenient hotel at Kansai Airport.
Book:
Agoda Booking
InterContinental Hotel Osaka
Beautiful hotel recently opened near JR Osaka Station in the convenient Umekita district.
Book:
Agoda Booking
J-Hoppers Osaka Guesthouse
Popular and inexpensive hostel about a 15 minute walk from JR Osaka Station.
Book:
Booking
Remm Shin-Osaka
Recently opened business hotel conveniently located inside JR Shin-Osaka Station.
Book:
Agoda Booking
Swissotel Nankai Osaka
Well established, leading hotel conveniently located above Nankai Namba Station.
Book:
Agoda Booking
The Ritz-Carlton Osaka Hotel
Often considered Osaka's leading luxury hotel, located a short walk from JR Osaka Station.
Book:
Agoda

Tours and Experiences

Page last updated: January 28, 2017