Osaka City is a bustling metropolitan area popular among international tourists. Osaka itself is home to many unique attractions, including vast parks and gardens, historic Osaka Castle, the Tenmangu Shrine, Osaka Aquarium, and the National Bunraku Theater.
Visitors to Osaka also enjoy the Dotonbori district, where travelers can experience the local nightlife with restaurants and shopping centers open twenty-four hours a day; the covered Tenjinbashisuji Shopping Street; and the Kitashinchi entertainment district.
Its location in the central Kansai region also makes Osaka a stopping point when visiting other attractions. From Osaka, one can reach Universal Studios Japan as well as other popular destinations, such as Tokyo, Kobe, and Kyoto.
Getting around Osaka may seem daunting, with its maze of Shinkansen, train, and subway lines. This travel guide is designed to ease your anxiety and make navigating this unfamiliar city a breeze.
From Kansai Airport to Shin-Osaka Station
If you are flying in or out the Kansai Airport, the Limited Express Haruka train connects Shin-Osaka and Tennoji Stations to the Kansai Airport.
This train, included in your JR Pass, makes thirty round trips daily, departing approximately every half hour. The trip between the airport and Shin-Osaka lasts about one hour.
From Shin-Osaka Station to Osaka Station
If you plan to use your Japan Rail Pass along with the Shinkansen bullet train system when traveling to or from Osaka City, you will arrive at and depart from the Shin-Osaka Station. From this station, you will have access to Tokyo, Kyoto, Nagoya, and other destinations.
While the shinkansen trains do not travel to Osaka Station or on the Osaka Loop Line, you can reach downtown Osaka station by a Rapid Express JR train from Shin-Osaka. This is included in your Japan Rail Pass.
Note:You can exchange your Japan Rail Pass at the Kansai Airport, Shin-Osaka Station and downtown Osaka station. Please check out the exchange offices list and opening times.
The Osaka Loop Line
Also called the Osaka Kanjo Line, this rail line “loops,” or circles, through downtown Osaka. The Osaka Loop actually consists of an inner and an outer line, one running clockwise and the other, counterclockwise.
The line originates at Osaka Station, which was newly renovated in 2012 to add to the comfort of the passengers. The Osaka Station is in the same general location as the Umeda Station for other metro lines, but only Osaka Station services the JR lines.
When riding the Osaka Loop Line, you will notice connections to other lines not operated by the JR Group. Exactly, for the 19 stations of the loop line, 12 connect with other lines. For example, the JR Tozai Line intersects the Keihan Railway at Kyobashi, but transportation to Kyoto on this Keihan line is not covered by your JR Pass. The Keihan, as well as several other small lines, are operated by private companies.
Note: Find out how to get from Osaka to Tokyo and Kyoto in our specific article.
Map of the JR Osaka Loop Line
Other JR lines in Osaka
Kansai Main Line
The Kansai Main line (also known as the “Kansai Line”) connects Nagoya Station with JR Namba Station in Osaka. It was built in the 1890s and is jointly run by JR West and JR Central. In total there are 18 stops on the line and most trains stop at all of them (there are no regular express services on this line).
The JR Sakurajima line operates between Nishikujo Station and Sakurajima Station in the Osaka area. The most popular stop on the line is Universal City Station as it offers access to Universal Studios Japan (USJ). There are only 4 stops on the line (Nishikujō, Ajikawaguchi, Universal City, and Sakurajima.
JR Tozai Line
The JR Tozai line is an underground rail line which stops at 9 stations between Kyobashi Station (Osaka) and Amagasaki Station (Hyogo). It is also known as “Tozai” which means “east and west” as provides an important commuter line between Osaka in the east and Amagasaki in the west.
The JR Kobe line runs between Osaka Station and Himeji Station. It is part of the Tokaido Main line and is a continuation of the JR Kyoto Line. There are 38 stops on the JR Kobe line but passengers can catch regular “Rapid” and “Special Rapid” services which make fewer stops to reduce the journey time.
The JR Kyoto line forms part of the Tokaido Main line and it operates between Osaka Station and Kyoto Station. There are 16 stations on the line but only the local trains make all the stops, “Rapid” and “Special Rapid” services make fewer stops. Special Rapid trains only stop at only Osaka, Shin-Osaka, Takatsuki, and Kyoto.
The JR Hanwa line runs between Tennoji Station (Osaka) and Wakayama Station. The Hagoromo Branch Line (between Otori Station and Higashi-Hagoromo Station) is officially a part of the Hanwa Line. Though the line does not run to Osaka Station, there is a direct link from Wakayama to Osaka as the Kishuji Rapid Service runs along the Osaka Loop Line before joining the Hanwa Line.
Kansai Airport Line
The JR Kansai Airport line runs between Kansai International Airport to Hineno, connecting the airport to the JR West railway network in Osaka. The short line only makes 3 stops: Kansai Airport, Rinku Town, and Hineno. Passengers can also catch the Limited Express Haruka which connects Kansai Airport with important JR stations at Tennoji Station, Shin-Osaka, and Kyoto.
Osaka subway stations
Osaka Station is the biggest train station in Osaka City. From Osaka Station, you can easily access Shin-Osaka station, the nearby cities of Kyoto, Kobe, Akashi, Himeji, Sakai, Nara and Takarazuka, and of course the local Namba and Tennoji districts. Osaka Station serves as the gateway to the entire Kansai region.
Tennoji Station is located on the south side of the Osaka Loop. From Tennoji Station, you can access the Kansai Airport, Nara, and Wakayama. The JR Yamatoji Line from Nara terminates at the downtown Namba Station, located at the city’s center, near the Dotonbori area.
Many attractions are available within walking distance of stations on the Osaka Loop. For instance, the Osaka Aquarium can be reached from Bentencho Station. Osaka’s baseball stadium, the Osaka Dome, is a 7-minute walk from Taisho Station.
From the Shin-Imamiya Station, you can reach the historic district of Shinsekai, complete with the Tsutenkaku Tower, built in 1912, and specialty deep fried food called kushikatsu. Also, Shitennoji Temple is only a 10-minute walk from Tennoji Station.
Finally, the Osaka Castle and gardens are just 5 minutes away by foot from the JR Morinomiya Station, and the JR Namba station is your best stop if you can to visit the famous Dotonbori area.
Umeda Subway and other services
There are three subway stations located within five minutes of Osaka Station: Umeda, Nishi-Umeda, and Higashi-Umeda. Using these municipal lines can be faster than taking the trains if traveling to the south side of the city – such as to Namba Station – as the route is more direct.
There are two additional, private railway companies available from Umeda Station. The Hankyu and Hansin Railways also connect to Osaka, Kyoto, and Kobe.
Osaka Station City
The area around Osaka Station has been called “Station City” due to the entertainment and shopping amenities that have developed around the station. Connected to the station is the seven-story LUCUA shopping mall and the Hanshin Department Store.
Nearby, you’ll find the Grand Front Osaka, a luxurious curved-front building that features restaurants for fine dining, high fashion clothing lines, and famous tech companies. Yodobashi Camera is also located within walking distance.
This electronics store is a favorite of photographers, technophiles, and those in search of interesting, technologically advanced home goods. If you’re waiting for your train or just spending an afternoon near the station, you’ll find plenty to do around Station City.