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The distance between Tokyo and Osaka is about 600km, and there are several transportation routes available. Here are some recommendations of how to go to Osaka from Tokyo.
The shinkansen is the bullet train, run by the JR (Japan Railways) companies.
Those three types of trains are the ones that go between Tokyo and Osaka. It takes about 2 hours and a half to go to Osaka from Tokyo by Nozomi, about 3 hours by Hikari, and about 4 hours by Kodama. Kodama takes so long because it stops at all the shinkansen stations, while Nozomi is a super-express train.
The shinkansen trains have reserved seats and unreserved seats. Reserved seats cost 520 yen to 830 yen higher than unreserved seats for each. There are also first-class seats, called green seats, which cost about 5300 yen higher than reserved seats.
Two tickets are necessary to take the shinkansen: a basic fare ticket and an express fare ticket. A basic fare ticket is required for all train travel. If you want to take the shinkansen, an express fare ticket is necessary in addition to a basic fare ticket. There are cases where the two tickets are integrated into one ticket.
Where can we get tickets?
Every big JR station in urban areas have a ticket office, called the Midori no Madoguchi. You can get the tickets there. You can also purchase tickets online at the JR website. jreast.co.jp/e/ticket/reservation.html
A basic fare ticket from Tokyo Station to Shin-Osaka Station costs 8,750 yen. An express fare ticket for an unreserved seat costs 4,870 yen, no matter what kind of train it is. A Kodama ticket and a Hikari ticket for a reserved seat are both 5,390 yen. A Nozomi ticket for a reserved seat is 5,700 yen. If you want to sit on a green seat (the first-class seat), a green seat ticket is additional, which costs 5,300 yen.
So an unreserved seat on a Nozomi train would cost 8,750 + 4,870 = 13,620 yen.
For those who are planning on taking the shinkansen several times, you should consider the Japan Rail Pass. With this pass, you can take local trains and the shinkansen as many times as you’d like. On top of that, it is offered at a reasonable price: 7 days for 29,110 yen, 14 days for 46,390 yen and 21 days for 59,350 yen. Japan Rail Pass is available only for tourists to Japan from overseas. It cannot be bought within Japan.
Flying is another popular way to go to Osaka from Tokyo.
Tokyo has two airports: Tokyo International Airport (Haneda Airport) and Narita International Airport. Osaka also has two: Kansai International Airport and Osaka International Airport (Itami Airport). Each airport has frequent flights, so you shouldn’t have much trouble finding an appropriate one. It takes about 70 minutes to fly to Osaka from Tokyo.
Some websites are available to reserve the seats of flights. You can try the following sites:
The price depends on which airline company you choose. If you take low-cost carriers to go to Osaka from Tokyo, like Jetstar Japan, Peach, Vanilla Air, or Starflyer, you can get a ticket for less than 10,000 yen. If you want to fly ANA (All Nippon Airways) or JAL (Japan Air Lines), then it may cost you about 12,000-20,000 yen.
If you are to save transportation cost, taking overnight bus is the best way. Overnight buses depart at midnight, and arrive in the early morning. Remember to keep quiet while traveling as many passengers are asleep.
Most bus terminals are located near the main stations in Tokyo and Osaka for easy access.
There are some convenient websites to book overnight buses.
willerexpress.com (Willer Express)
japanbuslines.com (Japan Bus Lines)
www.bus-channel.com (Night Bus Booking Site)
nightbusjapan.com (Night Bus in Japan)
A lot of bus companies operate overnight buses from Tokyo to Osaka, and most of the fares depending on the season are from 2,000 yen to 4,000 yen.
This way is for those who have enough time and are eager to take a slow trip. It takes about 8-9 hours to go to Osaka from Tokyo by local trains, but speed is not always important for travel.
A basic fare ticket is required for all train travel and in this case, an express fare ticket is unnecessary. A basic fare ticket from Tokyo Station to Osaka Station costs 8,750 yen.
Seishun 18 is the name of a special ticket for local trains. The word ‘seishun’ means youth. With Seishun 18, you can take JR local trains as much as you like for one day. You are also free to get off at stations along the way, so you can enjoy taking breaks along your railroad journey.
Seishun 18 is 11,850 yen, and it can be used for five times. This means that it only costs you 2,370 yen per day to take local trains. Be aware that this ticket is a limited-time offer. You can purchase it only during the spring, summer, and winter vacations. It is sold at the ticket offices in JR stations.
For more detailed information, visit: www.jreast.co.jp
For those who want to drive, going to Osaka by car is another great way.
If you love to drive, renting a car is a good way to go to Osaka. It takes about 8 hours to drive to Osaka from Tokyo by freeway.
To rent a car, several rent-a-car companies are available. Here’s some recommendations of their websites.
www.timescar-rental.com (Times Car Rental)
nissan-rentacar.com (Nissan Rent a Car)
International driving permit is required to drive a car in Japan. The way to acquire an international driving permit differs depending on country, so check your country’s website.
If you are adventurous, hitchhiking may be a enjoyable and economical way! Hitchhiking is quite simple: you just wait for cars along a road showing your destination on a large sheet of paper while holding up your thumb. If you are fortunate enough to find generous drivers who help you with your journey, don’t forget to show your appreciation!
*This depends on the kindness of strangers, so it may be dangerous.
If your priority on your travel from Osaka to Tokyo is…
Speed: take the shinkansen or fly
Budget travel: overnight bus, hitchhike
The scenic route: local trains, a rent-a-car
Hopefully this will be helpful in planning your trip to Japan so you can enjoy your journey in the way that suits you best.