Tokyo to Kyoto and Osaka with the JR Pass

Shinkansen bullet train

Japan is one of the most culturally rich and diverse countries of our century. When going through the streets, hills and castles of Tokyo, Kyoto, Osaka, you will be taken through time, history and places of breathtaking views and mesmerizing moments.

In this article, you will find how to get from Tokyo to Kyoto, Tokyo to Osaka and Kyoto to Osaka (frequent train trips among travelers) with the bullet train and using just your Japan Rail Pass.

Tokyo to Kyoto and Osaka by bullet train

Tokyo, Kyoto and Osaka are connected with by the Tokaido Shinkansen line, included with the Japan Rail Pass. This line is the most heavily

This line is the most heavily travelled high-speed rail route in the world, with has a length of 515 km (320 miles), and offers the fastest and smoothest way for travelling between Tokyo station, and Shin-Osaka or Kyoto stations.

Tokaido Shinkansen line map
Map of the Tokaido Shinkansen line

How to travel from Tokyo to Kyoto

Hikari Shinknsen Bullet train
Photo by Dough Bowman @Flickr – Hikari Shinkansen Bullet train

Getting from Tokyo to Kyoto with the Japan Rail Pass is easy. You should take the Shinkansen Hikari train from either Tokyo Station or Shinagawa Station in central Tokyo, and arrive at Kyoto Station.

Three trains run on the Tokaido Shinkansen line: Nozomi, Hikari, and Kodama. Take note that Nozomi trains are not part of the National JR Group. Therefore, are not included in the Japan Rail Pass.

However, the alternative to the Nozomi trains are Hikari and Kodama. Both are high-speed bullet trains. However, Kodama makes trips between the smaller towns. It runs with an operating speed of 258 km/h (175 mph). Hikari trains run between the major cities of Japan with a speed of 320 km/h (199 mph), making fewer stops.

For some great suggestions and recommendations on which places to visit and what to do in Kyoto, check out our Japan in 14 days (day 4-6) blog post.

Timetables and fares

A standard Tokyo to Kyoto trip with the JR Pass takes close to 1 hour and 40 minutes, taking the Hikari Shinkansen. Unlike Hikari, all Kodama trains need close to 4 hours to reach Kyoto from Tokyo. This is so since they stop at all stations before reaching their final destination.

The standard one-way fare would be 13,080 yen for non-reserved seats and 13,500 yen for reserved on both Hikari and Kodama trains. However, Japan Rail Pass holders can reserve a seat and take any of the two trains for free.

If you are confused by the difference between the different Shinkansen lines or you wish to learn more about how to find your platform or take any train, read our how to use Japanese trains article.

How to travel from Tokyo to Osaka

Osaka Dotonbori
Osaka at night –  Dotonbori area

To get from Tokyo to Osaka, you will need to take very same trains. Either the Hikari bullet train or Kodama from Tokyo or Shinagawa stations in central Tokyo. Both run on the Tokaido Shinkansen line, connecting the two cities.

Timetable and fares

The Shinkansen Hikari train leaves approximately every 30min from Tokyo and arrives at Shin-Osaka station after 2:30min. To get to central Osaka station, change to any of the local JR Tokaido-Sanyo trains. As there are direct JR connections between the two stations, all Japan Rail Pass holders will be able to make those trips free of charge.

For some interesting ideas on what to do in Osaka, read our Japan in 21 days (week 2) article.

Osaka to Kyoto and back

demachi-masugata-mall-kyoto
Photo by Toomore Chiang @Flickr – Demachi Masugata shopping street in Kyoto

Travelling between Kyoto and Osaka  is now easier than ever. Just take the already well-known Hikari train on the Tokaido Shinkansen line. You will get between Kyoto Station and Shin-Osaka Station in less than 30 minutes, traveling at a speed of 320km/h (199 mph).

Furthermore, Japan Rail Pass holders can get to Osaka station from Kansai International Airport by taking the Haruka airport express for free. For general information, the standard price for a one-way ticket is approximately 2330 yen. It takes less than an hour to reach Osaka station from Kansai Airport.

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24 thoughts on “Tokyo to Kyoto and Osaka with the JR Pass”

  1. Hello,
    Planning to visit tokyo and Kyoto for 3 days each, does it make sense to get the 7 day JR pass?

    Thanks,
    Emily

  2. Hello, Emily.
    Yes, the 7-day Japan Rail Pass is perfect for your trips to Tokyo and Kyoto since you can use the circular city metro lines of the two cities.
    Here is a handy example of what to see and how to travel around Tokyo in 3 days, using your Japan Rail Pass.

  3. Hi,
    I had purchase a 7 days JR pass. I plan to travel from Osaka to Kawazu. Kawazu to Tokyo, Tokyo to Takayama, and Takayama back to Osaka. Pls advise which sector is not covered by the JP Pass and how much more I had to top-up to make the trip.

    Thank you,
    Lai Aun

  4. Hi,
    I’m planning to japan for a week. Tokyo – Kyoto – Osaka. Can the JR pass use for airport transfer from Narita to Tokyo city and Osaka city to Kansai airport?

  5. Hello Lim,

    To travel from Osaka to Kawazu you will need to top up once at the Izu Kyuko Line (total price of ¥1,370) when traveling from Osaka to Kawazu.
    From Kawazu to Tokyo you will need to pay the same price of ¥1,370 for the trip from Kawazu to ITO station, which will be your connection between Atami and Tokyo station.
    The Limited Express Wide View Hida train connecting Nagoya to Takayama is covered by the Japan Rail Pass.
    So the total top-up that you will need to make on this trip will be of ¥2,740.

    For more detailed information on the Japanese transportation, take a look at our Hyperdia page.

    Have a great experience in Japan,
    The JRailPass Team

  6. Hi,
    Can the JR pass cover all these:
    Roundtrip Tokyo to Mt. Fuji
    Tokyo to Kyoto
    Osaka to Himeiji/ferry to Miyajima
    Osaka to Tokyo

  7. Hi. I plan to travel from Kyoto to Nara then Osaka on March 26. Can you tell me which trains to take using my JR Pass to get to Nara from Kyoto and then from Nara to Osaka? Thank you.

  8. Hello Jas,
    Yes, your Japan Rail Pass will cover the specified trips.
    Take a look at our Hyperdia page, to learn more about how to better organize your timetable while in Japan.

    All the best,
    The JRailPass team

  9. Dear Theresa,
    You can take any JR trains and well as bullet trains to travel between Nara, Osaka, and Kyoto.
    Please note that the only trains that are not part of the Japanese National Railways are the Nozomi and Mizuho bullet trains.

    Kind regards,
    The JRailPass Team

  10. Hello,

    I am planning to visit Tokyo first, which I will be landing at Haneda Airport. Then, I plan to travel west to Kansai area. The trip is around 10 days. Could you please advise me on whether a 7 day JR pass is sufficient for the following estimated schedule:

    Around 4/5 days in Tokyo which includes:
    i. Travelling around Tokyo
    ii. Tokyo to Gala Yuzawa round trip
    iii. Tokyo to Mount Fuji round trip

    Around 4/5 days in Kansai area which includes:
    i. Travelling from Tokyo to Kyoto
    ii. Kyoto to Osaka
    iii. Osaka to Kobe round trip
    iv. Osaka to Nara round trip

    Seeing that Kansai area can be settled with Kyoto bus pass (pretty convenient) or ICOCA card, which option should I go for, the JR rail pass or JR east pass?

  11. Dear Chew,
    Considering you are going to travel around Tokyo and the nearby cities, a 7-day Japan Rail Pass pass makes perfect sense for your trip.
    Take note that while in Tokyo, you will have all of the following included in your JR Pass:

  12. The Yamanote Circular line
  13. The Chuo-Sobu line
  14. The Chuo line Rapid
  15. The Keihin Tohoku line
  16. The Keiyo line
  17. These lines will take you all over Tokyo, including a number of great locations such as:Tokyo Disneyland, Yamashita park, Akaihabara and more.

    Very happy travels!
    Kind regards,
    The JRailPass team

  18. Hi team

    I hope you are well! I will be travelling for 1 week in Japan between: Osaka-Nara-Kyoto-Hakone-Tokyo. What would be Thebes’s best JR pass to purchase? Thank you so much in advance!

  19. Hello,

    Im planning to travel from osaka-kyoto-tokyo (roud trip as my flight arrives and depart from osaka kansai airport). does this 7-day rail pass covers this? and how if it’s more than 7 days? also, does this pass cover train rides around osaka/tokyo?

    Thanks so much!

    Regards,
    Attiya

  20. Hello Margarida,
    For a week in Japan, the best option for you will be the 7-day Japan Rail Pass.
    Keep in mind that the Narita Express enters in the JR Pass, and will take you from Narita Airport to central Tokyo.
    If you are arriving at Osaka, the JR Pass will take you from Kansai Airport to the city of Osaka, via the Haruka express.

    Have an amazing trip,
    The JRailPass team

  21. Greetings team,
    My family and I are planning to travel japan for about 12 days time. We would land at Tokyo and was planning to go to stay in Tokyo for 5 nights, Tohoku for 2 nights and Osaka for 3 nights. What would be the best pass to purchase and how long does it take to reach Tohoku?

    Sincerly, Cassandra

  22. Hi Team.
    I schedule to ETA Haneda airport on 27/12 pm and planning to travel straight to Osaka and stay for 4 nights
    to go Universal Studio and Kyoto.
    Coming back to Tokyo on 31/12 and will be staying in Tokyo for 3 days 2 nights before flying home.
    In Tokyo we intend to go Mt Fuji, fish markets and some of the famous places.
    Can you advise whether is it worthy for us to get 7days JR pass ?
    Will this pass cover all the train rides as mentioned above included from Haneda airport to Shinjuku station?
    Your kind advise is very much appreciated as this is our first time going to Japan.

    Thanks and Rgds
    JJ

  23. Hi Team,

    I m planning totrip to Tokyo – Osaka – Kyoto – Osaka – Tokyo for 8days 7 nights.
    Is the 7days JR pass cover above mentioned places ?

    In Tokyo , do the jr pass also cover Haneda airport to Tokyo central and to Mount Fuji ?
    As this is our first trip to Japan so your kind advise is very much appreciated.

    Thanks
    Joyce

  24. Dear Cassandra,
    According to the plans you have made, the perfect pass for you will be the 7-day JR Pass since:
    1. It fully covers the Narita Express you will need to take from Narita Airport to Tokyo
    2. The JR Pass covers the central Tokyo Yamanote metro line
    3. You can reach Tohoku, Osaka and the nearby towns and cities easily with the JR Pass at no extra cost

    Regarding the departure times and trip scheduling, take a look at our Hyperdia page.

    Kind regards,
    The JRailPass team

  25. Hello Joyce,

    Yes, according to your plans, the JR Pass will fully cover the round trips from Tokyo-Osaka-Kyoto-Osaka-Tokyo.
    Furthermore, you can activate your Japan Rail Pass straight from Haneda Airport.

    Once activated, take the Tokyo Monorail to Hamamatsucho Station, Tokyo.
    From there, you can take the Yamanote metro line, which will take you to central Tokyo.
    All of these trips are fully covered by the Japan Rail Pass.

    Here is a recommended reading for your trip to Mount Fuji with the JR Pass.

    Hope this helps.
    Have an amazing adventure in Japan,
    The JRailPass team

  26. Hello Joyce,

    Here is how your trip will look with the Japan Rail Pass:
    1. Arrival at Haneda Airport
    2. Activating your JR Pass straight at the airport
    3. Taking the Tokyo Monorail from Haneda Airport to Hamamatsucho Station, Tokyo
    4. At Hamamatsucho, take the JR Yamanote line to Tokyo station (a total of just 2 metro stops)
    5. At Tokyo Station, take the Shinkansen that best fits your schedule and arrive at Shin-Osaka Station in around 180 minutes
    6. Return to Tokyo from Osaka
    7. Ride the Tokyo Monorail and central JR Yamanote line to see Tokyo
    8. Visit Mount Fuji with your JR Pass
    9. Take the Narita Express to reach Narita Airport

    Summing up the cost of each of those trips, they come up to approximately 30, 000 Yen, about 6,000 Yen more than the cost of a single 7-day JRail Pass.
    Apart from this, you will surely appreciate the convenience of not having to wait in any lines before boarding a train, nor buy any extra tickets.

    Have a great trip,
    The JRailPass team

  27. Hello Yeow,
    Yes, the Japan Rail Pass fully covers the trains from Tokyo to Kyoto and Osaka.

    Happy travels,
    The JRailPass team

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