The Japan Rail Pass (also known as JR Pass) is cost effective for long distance travel and it is the only one that travels throughout Japan. In this guide, I will tell you everything you need to know about purchasing this pass and why it’s the cheaper transportation option when in Osaka.
It’s your first time in Japan and managed to get yourself to Osaka Prefecture in the Kansai Region. You’ve covered the whats; your itinerary is set, you have a place to stay, you even know what food to try and which tourist spots to visit.
But the next question you should be asking yourself is, how do you get around?
There are two main modes of transportation in Osaka; taxi and train. If money is of no concern, you can definitely take the taxi, which flat rate goes for $6.39 USD.
There are taxis everywhere, vintage-looking cars in clean and in tiptop condition, driven by cab drivers who are well-dressed and very polite.
But if you want to get from point A to point B faster and cheaper then train is your best bet. It takes some education though to use their train system and this can be (understandably so) confusing to first-time travelers.
If you are looking into the train option then check out this guide on how you can use the Japan Rail pass.
- Osaka Travel Guide
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- The best time to visit Osaka Japan
- Japan Travel Guide
🎫 Can Japan Rail Pass be used in Osaka?
Yes, the Japan Rail Pass (JR Pass) is valid on local JR trains in Osaka but not on all of them. Specifically, the JR Pass can be used to stations included in the Osaka Loop Line.
The Osaka Loop Like is operated by the HR-West, which runs in a circle around Osaka stopping at 19 stations. Aside from these 19 stations, you can use your JR Pass in all the JR lines branching off it.
Using the JR pass is a cost-efficient option if you are exploring Osaka. Fares on the JR Osaka loop line can range between $1 USD to $2 USD depending on your route.
🛅 Is Osaka Loop Line same as JR Loop Line?
The Osaka Loop Line is a railway line in the city operated by the JR-West. This circles 19 stations in central Osaka City.
We can say that the Osaka Loop Line is part of the JR Loop line. Now, there are several important destinations that are part of the Osaka Loop Line and among them (12 stations) connect to other lines that service the greater of Osaka’s major railway lines.
🆚 Japan Rail vs Japan Bullet Train
Japan Railways (JR) is Japan’s leading railway company. It has an elaborate and well-established network of trains throughout the country, connecting Osaka to other cities.
If you are traveling by rail in Japan, there’s a high chance that it is operated by the JR. They offer a wide variety of unlimited passes that help reduce the cost of train travel, which is ideal for tourists and visitors.
When purchasing a Japan Rail Pass online or via ticketing office in Japan here are the prices of each ticket (Ordinary):
- Standard Pass: from $269 USD
- 7-day JR Pass: from $428 USD
- 14-day JR Pass: from $549 USD
Meanwhile, Japan Bullet Trains, known as shinkansen, allow visitors to quickly and easily discover Japan by cutting down the travel time between destinations. Japan has nine (9) shinkansen lines that cover the islands of Hokkaido, Honshu and Kyushu.
Travelers can easily travel from the north of Tokyo all the way up to Hakodate in Hokkaido or the west part of Osaka and Hroshima to Kagoshiam.
Shinkansen lines in Japan have three types of train services including; 1) fast trains that only stop at main stations, 2) semi-fast trains that make more stops, 3) and local trains that stop at all stations.
You can also use your Japan Rail Pass on the Shinkansen just as you use them with the Japan Railway. Prices of fares depend on the route and how far you are going when you buy individual tickets for each journey.
But you can also use your Japan Rail Pass for the same price rather than buying Shinkansen tickets for each train journey.
When I was in Japan, I made use of the JRPass.com fare calculator which was really useful to keep track ofmy expenses and plan on whether a JR Pass will help me save money. I suggest you try it out too.
🚉 Japan Rail Osaka stations
The JR Osaka Loop Line or Osaka Kanjo-sen is a circle line that runs through the metropolis of Osaka. Here, I have made a list of the 19 stations along the Osaka Loop Line (with their corresponding JR transfer options) which you can use to your perusal:
- Tennoji: connecting to the JR Kansai Main Line (Yamatoji Line) and JR Hanwa line.
- Kyobashi: connecting to the Katamachi Line and JR Tozai line.
- Osaka Station: connecting to Tokaido Main Line (JR Kyoto Line, JR Kobe Line JR Takarazuka Line), Osaka Higashi Line and JR Tozai Line.
- Fukushima: connecting to the JR Tozai line.
- Nishikujo: connecting to the JR Sakurajima Line (JR Yumesaki Line)
- Imamiya: connecting to the Kansai Main Line (Yamatoji Line).
- Shin-Imamiya: connecting to the Kansai Main Line (Yamatoji Line).
🗺️ Japan Rail Osaka Map
Traveling from one station to another while in Osaka can be daunting. I know, because during my first solo trip there, it was overwhelming for me too.
So, here are the maps of the Japan Rail Osaka that can be helpful (including all stations and numbers) during your travel to the city.
JR Lines in Downtown Osaka
Osaka Loop Line Map
Osaka Railway Route Map
Download the Osaka Railway route map which will help you see clearly what lines, colors, and stations you are in. The Osaka Rail is big so this is a great pdf file to have for reference!
🚇 How to use Japan Rail Pass in downtown Osaka
If you travel to Osaka, it’s best to familiarize yourself with the different JR Lines in Osaka. And below, I will explain where you can use your JR Pass in the different downtown Osaka stations.
Osaka Kanjo Line (Osaka Loop Line)
This line is what encircles the downtown of Osaka and most of the time, you will be taking this route.
The Osaka Loop Line starts from Osaka Station (biggest station Osaka). It is located in Umeda. This line goes through Kyobashi, Tsuruhashi, Tennoji, Shin-Imamiya, Bentencho and Nishikujo.
These stations are transfer points to other lines and railways. And if you find yourself in these stations, you can easily use your JR Pass here.
The Yamatoji Line connects JR Namba and Nara. The rapid trains that go through the Osaka Kanjo line connecting it to Kyobashi, Osaka, Nishikujo, Bentencho, Tennoji and Nara are the Yamatoji Line.
Most of the local trains from this line depart from the JR-Namba Station. Take note that you need to take the Osaka Kanjo line first to Imamiya to transfer the train to Jr Namba. You can also use a JR Pass in this line.
Kansai Airport Line and Hanwa Line
From the Osaka Kanjo Line, there are trains that take you to Kansai Airport called Kansai Airport Rapid and Kishuji Rapid.
The Kansai Airport Rapid Service connects Kansai Airport with important JR stations at Tennoji, Osaka and Kyobashi which are covered by the Japan Rail Pass.
Other lines that are connected to the Osaka Kanjo line where you can use your JR Pass are:
- JR Tozai Line: connects Amagasaki and Kyobashi
- Kobe/Kyoto line: you can take this line from Osaka Station
Meanwhile, there are places you cannot go to by JR Pass and you will need to pay regular fare to take the subway when visiting these areas:
- Osaka Kaiyukan Aquarium and Tenpozan MarketPlace
- Cup Noodle Museum and Minoo Falls
You can also refer to the map I have shared above (JR Lines in Downtown Osaka) for easy reference. I will explain further (including their prices) the specific JR passes that can be useful for different routes.
💲JR Pass prices
JR Pass for whole Japan
The JR Pass for the Whole of Japan allows you to travel across JR lines including local buses, Miyajima Ferry, Japan Shinkansen and more. You can either avail passess for 7, 14 or 21 days on Ordinary or Green cars.
Make sure to book at least 14 days before your intended travel to Japan. This is only available for short-term visitors. If you are a first time traveler to Osaka and will go on a trip to the whole of Japan, I suggest you purchase this one.
Prices of passes depending of day validity are (Ordinary Pass):
- 7 Days: from $224 USD
- 14 Days: from $358 USD
- 21 Days: from $458 USD
JR pass Kansai Wide Area Pass (5 Days)
💲 from $75 USD
With the Kansai Wide Area Pass (valid for 5 days) you can enjoy unlimited rides on special rapid services anand local trains within the JR West lines (including express trains).
This includes journeys from Osaka, Kyoto, Kobe, Himeji, Nara and a lot more.
JR West Kansai Pass (1 to 4 days)
💲 from $19 USD
If you are planning to travel within the West of Kansai for 1,2,3 or 4 days, I suggest you purchase the JR West Kansai Pass.
You will also have unlimited access on train rides including express HARUKA with this pass. You can easily redeem your voucher for the rail pass when you are in Japan.
JR Takayama-Hokuriku Area Tourist Pass (5 Days)
💲 from $108 USD
Get unlimited access for 5 days in Kanazawa, Toyama, Nagoya, Osaka and more when you purchase a JR Takayama-Hokuriku Area Tourist Pass.
With this pass, you will be able to visit the preserved village Shirakawa-go and other tourist spots in the lines of the mentioned areas.
JR Kansai Hiroshima Area Pass (5 Days)
💲 from $114 USD
Explore more of Kansai and Hiroshima if you purchase a JR Kansai Hiroshima Area Pass. I find my travel convenient with the unlimited pass because it helps me and the Sanyo Shinkansen Express Trains, JR West Ferry and other included lines without queuing to buy some tickets.
JR Sanyo-San’in Area Pass (7 Days)
💲 from $151 USD
If you are planning to visit Osaka, Kyoto and other regions in Sanyo for 7 days, I suggest you purchase this Sanyo-San’in Area Pass. With this you can also get unlimited rides in places like Matsue, Hikone and Maibara.
JR Setouchi Area Pass
💲 from $144 USD
The JR Setouchi Area Pass offers unlimited travel for 7 days on the Sanyo Shinkansen, Okayama, Electric Tramway Express Trains and local trains in the area.
I highly recommend this pass if your itinerary mostly includes places that are within the area and only if you are staying 7 days in Osaka.
JR Hokuriku Arch Pass
💲 from $185 USD
The Hokuriku Arch pass will be useful if your itinerary includes travels from cities like Osaka, Tokyo, Hokuriku for 7 days.
This pass will give you unlimited transport and ride pass on local trains, express, rapid and shinkansen within the mentioned areas. Just make sure to compute your fare expenses if this will be worth the purchase compared to single tickets.
JR Ise-Kumano-Wakayama Area Pass
Starts from $85 USD
If you are traveling to and from Ise, Kumao and Osaka, I suggest you avail the Ise-Kumano-Wakayama Area Pass.
You will be given unlimited 5 consecutive day passes in these areas, whether it may be through train or bus rides. Again, this will be worth the purchase if your itinerary includes locations in these areas.
✨ Japan Rail Osaka tips
Japanese people also get lost in the stations
The Japan Rail in Osaka can be overwhelming especially if you are a first-timer in the city. There are several routes you have to take to go from one place to another, so it’s highly recommended that you research about the know-how’s or the Japan Rail.
It’s best if you are familiar with the routes before you create your itinerary to make planning easier. There are also lines that are not covered by the JR Pass so take note of those too.
The JR pass can be really easy to navigate once you familiarize yourself with them. Based on experience, getting lost in Japan can be crazy expensive so it’s better to be prepared and knowledgeable with the places ahead of time.
The trains are never late
Japan trains always arrive on-time, and seldom have late or canceled trips. If you do not want to miss your train ride, I suggest you leave your hotel early and arrive at the station earlier than your trip schedule.
Missing a train ride can either cost you money, and of course waste your time. So speed up and keep track of train schedules all the time.
JR passes are cheaper than one-way rides
JR Passes are a lifesaver! It’s cost-efficient and very easy to use. With a JR Pass, you’ll have access to unlimited rides on certain routes (or even the whole of Japan) depending on the pass you avail.
This will come in handy especially if you are going around places to and from Osaka. Aside from it saves you time from buying single tickets, you can just carry it with you anywhere you go.
There are available passess that are valid for 1 to 21 days. Again this will depend on your preference and itinerary.
I highly recommend booking these pasess in advance via Klook or any authorized JR pass ticket websites.
Download the Japan Rail apps
Since everything’s going digital now, the JR apps will come in handy. This will help you keep track of the train service updates.
It would also be nice if you have Google Maps downloaded and ready to use on your phone. This way when you’re looking for the train station you need to get on to, you can easily find your way through.
Don’t make the same mistake as I did, because I thought I could go around Osaka without these apps. So before traveling to Osaka, have these downloaded already and you’ll be all set.
🙋 Questions about Osaka Japan? Leave a comment below or connect with me on Instagram or Tiktok where I answer questions without a cost.
🇯🇵 Osaka Travel Resources
🚑 Do I need insurance to travel to Osaka Japan?
Yes, you do! This is the number one requirement when traveling to Japan. I use SafetyWing and I only pay $40 USD per month for my digital nomad travel insurance!
✈️ Where can I find cheap flights to Osaka Japan?
You can find cheap flights to Osaka, Japan by using WayAway. This is my current flight search favorite and I have proven that flights on this website are way cheaper!
🛏️ Where can I find cheap hotels in Osaka Japan?
Budget travelers, use Hostelworld when looking for accommodations in Japan. A bed in a hostel dorm starts at $25 USD per night. Booking.com is best for boutique hotels while you will find many luxury hotels on Expedia.
This BS Journalism graduate from Lyceum of the Philippines has come a long way from the skinny 11-year-old who secretly writes poetry. She now has 14 years of writing and editing experience in the field of marketing, public relation, technical writing, government service, and blogging. She is one of those people who always complains about not having enough money but she travels a lot and eats a damn lot too. She loves drinking coffee and is planning to make the addiction more meaningful by taking a coffee-making course. She can visualize herself owning her own cafe in the near future and she plans to name it after her blog, Coffeehan.com.
Friday 22nd of June 2018
hi! Planning to go there Osaka - Kyoto in Sept 2018. Thought go straight to Kyoto upon landing in Osaka Kansai airport but bus or train? How long is the bus ride? Spend two full days in Kyoto ie 8th and 9th - is this adequate? then to Osaka for 10th and 11th two full days leaving Osaka on 12th Sep.
Wednesday 10th of January 2018
Thanks for this! Took a few notes down as my family and I will be heading to Japan in May. So excited to go! We'll definitely been riding the trains a lot while were there as well ☺
Thursday 15th of June 2017
The train is one of the best ways to get around and see as much of Japan as possible, and the Rail Pass is perfect for visitors. With the growth in tourism expected over the next few years (40million a year by 2020!), I think the investment in the Green pass is going to become increasingly good value; particularly like you say, if you're visiting during a busy time of year - much better to explore in comfort!
Thursday 17th of November 2016
Hey Trisha, Thank you so much for sharing your post. 1 hr back i was in the Kansai region and was very much confused because i was not getting any way to how to reach Osaka Prefecture and i searched on the web. I just opened up some link and it was this post in few seconds only i got my way all my confusions got away. Now, i have reached my hotel room safely. Thanks again Dear.