HOME Kansai Osaka Umeda, Osaka Station, Kitashinchi Things to Know & Planning Tips for a Trip to Osaka or Kansai (Trains and Buses Edition)
Things to Know & Planning Tips for a Trip to Osaka or Kansai (Trains and Buses Edition)

Things to Know & Planning Tips for a Trip to Osaka or Kansai (Trains and Buses Edition)

Date published: 19 July 2019
Last updated: 22 July 2019

The widespread Kansai area encompasses sightseeing spots in Osaka, Kyoto, Kobe, and Nara. The area has a highly developed public transportation system, so armed with basic knowledge on effective use of trains and buses, even first-time or single travelers will be able to arrive at their destinations without much inconvenience. This article will introduce things to know before your trip, including public transportation details and tips, as well as economical bus ticket options.

The widespread Kansai area encompasses sightseeing spots in Osaka, Kyoto, Kobe, and Nara. The area has a highly developed public transportation system, so armed with basic knowledge on effective use of trains and buses, even first-time or single travelers will be able to arrive at their destinations without much inconvenience. This article will introduce things to know before your trip, including public transportation details and tips, as well as economical bus ticket options.

The widespread Kansai area encompasses sightseeing spots in Osaka, Kyoto, Kobe, and Nara. The area has a highly developed public transportation system, so armed with basic knowledge on effective use of trains and buses, even first-time or single travelers will be able to arrive at their destinations without much inconvenience. This article will introduce things to know before your trip, including public transportation details and tips, as well as economical bus ticket options.
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From Kyoto with its prided Japanese traditions, to Osaka known for its food and fun, to the exotic Kobe, each of the three areas has its own distinct character. Between the JR railway, private railways, and more, there are so many transportation methods connecting the three areas it's hard to know which one to use. First, let's find out how to travel between each of the areas! All transportation fees listed are based on traditional ticket prices, rather than IC card usage.

Traveling Between Osaka and Kyoto

Traveling Between Osaka and Kyoto
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For speed, choose "JR": 
JR Osaka Station - (~30 minutes via JR Tokaido/Sanyo Shinkansen Main Line special rapid train, 560 yen) - JR Kyoto Station

For good prices, choose "Hankyu":
Hankyu Umeda Station - (~45 minutes via Hankyu Kyoto Line limited express train, 400 yen) - Hankyu Kawaramachi Station

Traveling Between Kobe and Osaka

Traveling Between Kobe and Osaka
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For speed, choose: "JR" 
JR Sannomiya Station - (~20 minutes via JR Todaido/Sankyo Shinkansen Main Line special rapid train, 410 yen) - Osaka Station

For good prices, choose: "Hankyu or Hanshin"
Hankyu Kobe Sannomiya Station - (~30 minutes via Hankyu Kobe Line limited express train, 320 yen) - Hankyu Umeda Station
Hanshin Kobe Sannomiya Station - (~30 minutes via Hanshin Main Line limited express train, 320 yen) - Hanshin Umeda Station

Traveling Between Kobe and Kyoto

Traveling Between Kobe and Kyoto

For speed, choose: "JR" 
JR Sannomiya Station - (~50 minutes via JR Todaido/Sanyo Shinkansen Main Line special rapid train, 1080 yen) - JR Kyoto Station

For good prices, choose: "Hankyu"
Hankyu Kobe Sannomiya Station - (~20 minutes via Hankyu Kobe Line limited express, transfer at Juso Station, ~40 minutes via Hankyu Kyoto Line limited express, 620 yen) - Hankyu Kawaramachi Station

Transportation Tips - Osaka Edition

Transportation Tips - Osaka Edition
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ポイント1 Tip 1: The most convenient modes of transportation are the JR Osaka Loop Line and the Osaka Metro Midosuji Line

Osaka's main tourist spots can be found near stops on the "JR Osaka Loop Line", which originates at JR Osaka Station, and the "Osaka Metro Midosuji Line", passing through Umeda Station which is very close to Osaka Station. By using these two lines effectively, you can cover almost all the major sightseeing locations.
The JR Osaka Loop Line runs circularly around central Osaka. The outer loop runs clockwise, and the inner loop runs counter-clockwise.
The Osaka Metro Midosuji Line is the main pipeline of Osaka, connecting north to south. Several of its stations also offer connections to other train lines. If you want to head north, take the trains bound for "Senri-Chuo", "Shin-Osaka", or "Nakatsu", and to head south, take the trains bound for "Nakamozu", "Shinkanaoka", "Abiko", or "Tennoji".


Point 2: To get to USJ, take the direct bus from Kansai International Airport or Osaka (Itami) Airport, or the JR train lines from within Osaka City!

The closest station to USJ is JR Yumesaki Line's Universal City Station. There aren't any other private railway stations around, so to get to the park from a private railway line, transfer to the JR Yumesaki Line at Nishikujo Station, from which it takes approximately 5 minutes to ride to Universal City Station. Coming from Kansai International Airport, you can take a direct bus for a 70-minute trip (Hanshin Bus, 1550 yen), or from Osaka (Itami) Airport, a 45-minute direct bus (Osaka Airport Transport, 930 yen).


Tip 3: Utilize the discount bus passes.
For those who plan on sightseeing mainly by metro and bus, the "Enjoy Eco Card" is recommended, as it provides one day of riding the metro lines and Osaka City Bus routes as much as you like, plus discounts on entry and other fees to around 30 tourist spots in Osaka City. The "Osaka Amazing Pass" is another option, providing all-you-can-ride transportation on metro lines, Osaka City Bus routes, and private railway lines, as well as free entry to approximately 35 tourist spots.


Enjoy Eco Card / 800 yen
Validity: one day
Applicable Routes: Osaka Metro lines, Osaka City Bus routes (excluding buses bound for Universal Studios Japan and Ikea)
Purchase Locations: within metro stations, etc.

Osaka Amazing Pass, One-Day Pass / 2500 yen
Validity: one day
Applicable Routes: Osaka Metro lines; Osaka City Bus routes (excepting some routes); and Hankyu, Hanshin, Keihan, Kintetsu, and Nankai Railway lines within Osaka City limits (JR lines not applicable)
Purchase Locations: within metro stations, etc.

Transportation Tips - Kyoto

Transportation Tips - Kyoto
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Tip 1: The main methods of transportation for sightseeing in Kyoto City are bus and train!

For sightseeing in Kyoto, it's important to use the best method of transportation for your destination. For example, the Arashiyama direction is convenient to travel to by train. There are both JR and private railway lines, and train transport is smoother than by city bus. Within the city center, there also are subway and private railway lines, but most tourist spots will require another walk from the station, so try to smartly use a combination of both modes of transport. Also, during the best seasons for sightseeing, spring and autumn, the roads around tourist areas get very crowded, so depending on your destination, it may be best to avoid using the bus unless absolutely necessary.


~Sites Recommended to Travel to by Train~
Arashiyama・・・Randen Arashiyama Main Line, Arashiyama Station; JR Sagano Line (San'in Main Line), Saga-Arashiyama Station; Hankyu Arashiyama Line, Arashiyama Station
Nijo Castle・・・Kyoto Municipal Subway Tozai Line, Nijojo-mae Station
Ninna-ji Temple・・・Randen Kitano Line, Omuroninnaji Station
Tofuku-ji Temple・・・JR Nara Line, Tofukuji Station; Keihan Main Line, Tofukuji Station
Kyoto Imperial Palace ・・・Kyoto Municipal Subway Karasuma Line, Marutamachi Station or Imadegawa Station
Nanzen-ji Temple・・・Kyoto Municipal Subway Tozai Line, Keage Station

Tip 2: Utilize the convenient bus routes.

Kyoto City Bus routes include many routes that pass through famous sightseeing locations, which is convenient, but at the same time can be confusing. Try to learn these 3 useful bus routes. As long as you remain within the uniform fare area, the bus fee is 230 yen.

For sightseeing around downtown, take the #205 (8-10 buses run per hour)
Main sites along the route: Shijo-kawaramachi area, Shimogamo-jinja Shrine, Kinkaku-ji Temple, Higashi-Hongan-ji Temple, etc.
For traveling between Kinkaku-ji and Ginkaku-ji Temples, take the #204 (4-6 buses run per hour)
Main sites along the route: Kinkaku-ji Temple, Kyoto Imperial Garden, Ginkaku-ji Temple, and the Philosopher's Path
For going to the Kiyomizu-dera Temple area, take the #206 (8 buses run per hour)
Main sites along the route: Higashi-Hongan-ji Temple, Sanjusangen-do Temple, Kiyomizu-dera Temple, Gion district, etc.


Tip 3: Make use of the discount bus passes.
For those who plan on doing a thorough tour of Kyoto, the "Kyoto Subway & Bus One-Day Pass" provides free transportation on both subway and bus routes, as well as discounts and other perks at over 60 temples, shrines, and other tourist spots. There is also a "Bus One-Day Pass", which will be a good deal if you use the city bus/Kyoto bus within the uniform fare section 3 or more times, and the "Subway One-Day Pass", which you can use to ride the Kyoto Municipal Subway lines as much as you want. See below for prices and other details.

Subway & Bus One-Day Pass / 900 yen
Validity: one day
Applicable Routes: Kyoto Municipal Subway, Kyoto City Bus, Kyoto Bus (excepting certain lines), Keihan Bus (excepting certain lines)
Purchase Locations: City Bus and subway information centers, etc.

Bus One-Day Pass / 600 yen
Validity: one day
Applicable Routes: Kyoto City Bus, Kyoto Bus (excepting Ohara, Takao, and Kifune/Kurama areas)
Purchase Location: City Bus and subway stations, etc.

Transportation Tips - Kobe

Transportation Tips - Kobe
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Tip 1: The main methods of transportation for sightseeing in Kyoto City are walking or by bus.
The "City Loop Bus" travels on a fixed route around Kobe's major tourist attractions. One loop to 17 locations, including Sannomiya, the Kitano ijinkan, Motomachi, and Kobe Harborland, takes approximately 65 minutes, with around 15 minutes between stops. If you plan on riding three or more times, a One-Day Pass (660 yen) is the best deal.

Tip 2: Sannomiya is the central point of public transport.
Sannomiya Station is a large terminal station and a central hub for sightseeing. A total of 6 train lines pass through the station - two subway lines, Hankyu, Hanshin, Port Liner, and JR (to JR Sannomiya Station) lines. The shinkansen stop Shin-Kobe Station and Sannomiya station are separated, approximately 2 minutes apart by subway.

Tip 3: Utilize the discount bus passes.
If you will be riding three or more times over the course of a day, you can purchase a "City Loop One-Day Pass" or a "Kobe Machi-Meguri 1-Day Coupon (Kobe Area version)", which includes free access to all subway and private railway lines (JR lines not included) as well as 700 yen worth of discounts to several Kobe tourist spots. Still other options are available.

City Loop One-Day Pass / 600 yen
Validity: one day
Applicable Routes: City Loop bus route
Purchase Location: on any City Loop bus, etc.


Kobe Machi-Meguri One-Day Coupon (Kobe Area Version) / 950 yen
Validity: one day
Applicable Routes: all Kobe Municipal Subway lines, all Kobe Rapid Transit lines (including Hankyu/Hanshin Sannomiya), and Port Liner line
Purchase Location: Kobe Sannomiya Station information counter, etc.

*This information is from the time of this article's publication.
*Prices and options mentioned are subject to change.
*Unless stated otherwise, all prices include tax.

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