Home Japan Travel GuideHow to Get to and around Osaka

How to Get to and around Osaka

There are many ways to get to Osaka from other cities in Japan like Kyoto, Tokyo and Hiroshima. The fastest and most efficient way is by rail, Shinkansen (bullet train) and JR line. Flying from other countries directly to Osaka and arriving at Kansai International Airport is also very convenient.

The best way to explore Osaka easily is by public transportation, such as train, metro and bus. It is recommended to buy a prepaid refundable ICOCA card to pay for transportation fees and even for items in convenient stores.

Quick Facts

  • The Shinkansen (bullet train) is the best way to get to Osaka from other cities in Japan.
  • From your country you can fly directly to Kansai International Airport with many choices of trusted airlines.
  • Subway and train are the best means of public transport to get around Osaka.
  • The best way to pay for all trains and subways in Osaka is with a prepaid ICOCA card.
  • The deposit and the remaining balance of an ICOCA card are refundable.

Main Stations in Osaka

Osaka has four major train stations within two city centers, from where most places can be accessed by train. Umeda in Kita (north) and Namba in Minami (south) are the two biggest downtown cores in Osaka. There are many department stores and shopping complexes in Umeda area, whereas Namba is Osaka's most famous entertainment district.

Osaka Station is the biggest major railway station in Umeda. This station connects to the JR Osaka Loop line. The subway in Umeda Station is within walking distance from Osaka Station. You can transfer to JR trains and other trains at Osaka and Umeda Station.

Shin-Osaka Station is the place where you change to/from Shinkansen. All Shinkansen trains stop at this station and many Limited Express trains on conventional lines stop or depart from this station. Tennoji is located in the southeast of central Osaka, an important hub station in the south of the city, south of Umeda and Namba Station.

Namba Station is located in Minami. Three railway companies – Namba Nankai Station, JR Namba Station, Kintetsu Namba Station – and three subway lines have their separate stations, all named Namba Station.

How to Get to Osaka

The Shinkansen is the best transportation choice for going to Osaka from another city in Japan. Moreover, many direct flights arrive at Kansai International Airport from other countries.

Getting from Kyoto to Osaka

If you are traveling to Osaka from Kyoto, the fastest and most efficient way is by rail. There are a number of options, and the one you choose will depend on your location in Kyoto and your ultimate destination in Osaka. The Shinkansen is the fastest and most comfortable route into Osaka, and might be worthwhile if you have a Japan Rail Pass to cover the cost.

The high-speed Shinkansen bullet train, Hikari, will get you from Kyoto Station to Shin-Osaka Station in 15 minutes at ¥3,480 one-way, for standard class. The second choice is by Shinkansen Thunderbird to Osaka Station in 27 minutes at ¥1,990 one-way, for standard class as well.

Other than that, sharing a car with strangers is a good idea if you need to go by car but want to do so at a cheaper cost. It would mean a longer trip, though, around 60-90 minutes.

Getting from Tokyo to Osaka

It’s very easy to travel between Tokyo and Osaka. The Shinkansen bullet train, the Nozomi, will get you from Tokyo Station to Shin-Osaka directly in just 2 hours and 36 minutes and costs ¥16,620 for a one-way trip in standard seat. But it’s better to get a reserved seat, especially during peak seasons, for ¥22,120 one-way.

However, you cannot ride the Nozomi Shinkansen with a Japan Rail Pass, but you can ride the next fastest type of Shinkansen, which is called the Hikari. The Hikari takes about 2 hours and 53 minutes between Tokyo and Osaka, so it’s almost as fast. Just be sure not to take the slowest type of Shinkansen (the Kodama), as it stops a lot and is much slower.

Getting from Hiroshima to Osaka

The best way to go from Hiroshima to Osaka is by the Shinkansen, the Nozomi or Mizuho, in 1 hour and 27 minutes, directly from Hiroshima Station to Shin-Osaka Station. The cost of the Shinkansen Nozomi is ¥12,010 for standard class one-way.

The first Shinkansen departs from Hiroshima at 6AM and the last one departs at 10PM. There is a Shinkansen service every 10 minutes. You can reserve online but it’s more convenient to buy the ticket at the station. The Japan Rail Pass allows you to use the Shinkansen for free.

However, it can only be used for the Hikari; you cannot use JR Pass for all types of Shinkansen.

Getting to Osaka from Asian Cities

There are many direct international flights from Asian cities like Singapore, Hong Kong, Shanghai and many more, to Osaka.

More than 15 flights per day are available from these cities to Kansai International Airport, like Cathay Pacific, Jetstar, Singapore Airlines, Scoot, Air China, and many more. Flight duration depends on which city you depart from. It only takes around 2 hours from Shanghai, 3 hours and 30 minutes from Hong Kong, and 6 hours from Singapore.

Airplane ticket prices vary depending on the season. A return ticket with Air China from Shanghai, costs around US$600 during high season and US$400 during low season. An estimated ticket price from a further city like Singapore, with Singapore Airlines, is around US$1,300 during high season and US$1,000 during low season.

Best way to get around in Osaka

It’s easy to get connected around Osaka with a superb public transport system, even other parts of Osaka Prefecture are reached by various JR lines or private rail lines. You can choose any kind of public transportation – bus, metro, subway – with convenient payment method, using the ICOCA card. For short distances, the taxi is inexpensive.

Public Transportation (Metro, Train, Bus)

Public transportation in Osaka is efficient, inexpensive, and will take you just about anywhere. Buses in Osaka run regularly and go almost anywhere. The names of the bus stops are both displayed on a screen and announced as the driver approaches.

Subways and trains are the best way to get around Osaka. Subway tickets are valid on all the subway lines, the single fare range is ¥180-370 for adults and ¥90-190 for children. Ticket machines with English guidance are located at each station.

The Osaka version of prepaid cards, called ICOCA, is the best way to pay for many kinds of city transportation and even to pay for your shopping at convenience stores in Osaka and the rest of Japan. When newly purchased, the ICOCA card has a value of ¥2,000, consisting of ¥1,500 balance and ¥500 refundable deposit.

The card can be recharged at subway ticket machines all over Osaka. The deposit and the remaining balance, minus ¥220 handling fee can be refunded at any JR ticket counter in the Greater Osaka region, including at Kansai Airport. However, it can only be used by foreign travellers. A passport and return air ticket have to be produced when purchasing an ICOCA.

Taxi

Osaka’s taxis are an excellent way to get around the city, especially outside of rush hours, or if you have to go to a place not close to a train or subway station. It’s suitable for you who travel with a lot of luggage or children. The standard fare for the first 2km is ¥660 and ¥80 for each additional 296m.

Private Car

You can rent various types of cars for private travel, suitable for families with kids or older people, around 5 people. The costs are starting from US$1,000 a day, with an experienced and courteous driver who will safely deliver you to your destination promptly, using the most efficient route. Most drivers can speak English as well.

Explore Osaka with Asia Highlights

Exploring Osaka with public transportation may be confusing, especially for the first time visiting. Please feel free to ask us to get more details about how to get to Osaka from other cities in Japan or straight from your country. We will arrange everything, so that you can get the most out of Osaka.

9-Day Japan Highlights Tour: A Stimulating Fusion of East and West

11-Day Traditional Japan Tour: Historical Monuments and Lively Modern Cities

11-Day Classic Japan Tour: Explore a Cluster of Scenic Cities and Quaint Towns in a Remote Mountain Region