10 Ways to Travel between TOKYO and OSAKA-KYOTO

Trips from Tokyo

10 Ways to Travel between TOKYO and OSAKA-KYOTO

Between Tokyo and Kansai region, including Osaka and Kyoto is the most major routes for foreign travelers to visit in Japan. There are so many choices of transportation and you might find it difficult to choose.  What is the best methods to travel between those 2 areas? Let me explain 10 different ways to travel between those two areas, from fastest to slowest, luxury, to economical way. Let’s see from the most expensive to the cheapest.

By reading this article, you will see the snapshot of transportation methods and decide which transportation is good for you (or not).

You can watch this article on YouTube too. 10 Ways to Travel between Tokyo and Osaka/Kyoto

1. Airplane ANA Premier Class / JAL Premier Class

(Price with sound) 40,000 Yen (about $350) about 1 hour. 

There are frequent shuttle service between Tokyo’s Haneda airport to Osaka’s Itami  airport. Depends on where you go, but usually Itami is the closer airport to the Osaka city. The two Japanese major career ANA and Japan Airline has a premier class which you get a drinks including alcohol and light meal on board. You can also use lounges . Domestic lounges don’t have meals, but you can have coffee and beer as much as you like. You go to ANA site and if you check, its about 40,000 yen. If you book in advance, there are cheaper deals. 

Then which is better JAL or ANA? JAL has a little better seats and foods, and usually more higher price. ANA is slightly lighter service, but easier to find with lower price.  If you want better experience, I recommend Japan airline.  

2. Shinkansen Nozomi – Green Car 2 hour and 30 min.   19940 Yen to Shin-Osaka, 19590 Yen to Kyoto

Tokaido Shinkansen is the most major method of transportation between Tokyo and Kyoto, Osaka. The “Green car” is the name for the 1 class car in JR (Japan railways) 

Tokaido Shinkansen has 16 cars, and 2 cars are The green car. The green car is 2 and 2 seat configuration with larger seat with foot rest. Seat  C and D  is on the inland side which you can see mt.Fuji.   It takes 2 hours and 30 min. From Tokyo station to Shin-Osaka station. And 2 hours and 10 min. To Kyoto station. There is no food or drink service on board on Tokaido Shinkansen, Green car is … very comfortable.  Also comparing with airplane, it’s great that you can just hop on from Tokyo or Shinagawa station in Tokyo. If I don’t consider budget, probably this will be my first choice. 

3. Tokaido Shinkansen Nozomi   

14920 Yen to Shin-Osaka, and 14370 Yen to Kyoto 2 hour and 30 min. To Shin Osaka. 2:10 to Kyoto. 

Probably this is the most common way to travel between Tokyo and Osaka for Japanese travelers. The price is much lower than green car. The seat configuration is 2-3 total of 5. So a little tight on your shoulder, but there is enough space in front of you. 

The merit of  Shinkansen is a lot. It’s fast enough, and you don’t have to deal with the airport.  If you think the long flight to Japan was enough and no more plane in Japan, you can relax and see the scenery of Japan. Especially if you are going to Kyoto, Shinkansen has advantage that you can get off in the city center. For senior travelers or travelers with difficulty in walking long distance, Shinkansen will be the best choice. 

4. For Japan Rail Pass Holders – Tokaido Shinkansen “HIKARI”

14600 Yen to Shin-Osaka  / 14050 Yen to Kyoto                

It takes 2:55 min. To Shin Osaka,    and  2:40 to Kyoto

This will be a choice for the Japan Railpass holders. Hikari is a train especially made for those who like to go to the cities that Nozomi doesn’t stop, but station with many passengers. The price difference from Nozomi is about $3 and it take 25-30 min. Extra than Nozomi. So it’s not typically used by Japanese travelers traveling between Osaka and Tokyo. 

But if you are Japan Rail Pass holder, Nozomi is excluded from service you can use with the pass, so you can only take Hikari train. But Hikari is fast enough, and safe with dependable schedule. And it runs every 30 minutes. While Nozomi runs almost every 10 minutes. 


5. Airplane 12000 – 28,000 Yen JAL ANA   flight hour is about 1 hour.

Tokyo Haneda to Osaka airport is one of the most major route after Okinawa, Sapporo and Fukuoka.  If you book the flight right before the boarding it can be more expensive than Shinkansen,  but if you book in advance, it can get much cheaper than Shinkansen. 

It takes about 1 hour from Haneda airport to Osaka airport, and it takes about 20 min. To the airport from Hamamatsucho station by monorail. Make sure you check in 20 before the departure time for the domestic flight. I think a little earlier would be safer. 

Usually, they use large airplane such as 787 767 unless its early morning or late night. Even though you have to walk in the airport, usually they bring the gate closer to the entrance as they know this route is competitive with Shinkansen. Probably until here is the major method to move between 2 areas, but you might have noticed… transportation is expensive in Japan. Now let’s look into the cheaper choice. 

6. Platt Kodama Green Car.

And the next one is Platt Kodama. Platt Kodama is a special ticket of Tokaido Shinkansen bullet train. If you make an online reservation until previous day, you can get on the Kodama train of Shinkansen with much much lower cost. Tokaido Shinkansen’s “Kodama “ is a train that stops all station from Tokyo to Shinosaka. It waits for the Nozomi pass by at almost every station, but the speed is fast enough up to 280 km / hour. Which is about 175 miles per hour. 

It takes about 4 hours to Shin-Osaka and a little less to Kyoto. There are some things to be careful on this ticket, such as you can only ride the train you booked online, and you cannot change the station you get on and off. For more details of Kodama, please look at the website of Platt Kodama very well, and also I’m going to make a video about it later. 

The most important cost is 12300 yen for the green car! Isn’t this a good deal comparing with almost 20,000 yen for Nozomi green car? You are saving more than 7000 yen. (12100 yen to Kyoto) It does take time, but the comfort of Green car is fantastic. And the Platt Kodama, even including a drink ticket that you can exchange with any soft drinks or beer at the Kiosks near Shinkansen platform.  Just sit back on your seat, enjoy the drink and relax. Enjoy the view, or plan the trip ahead. You have better view from seat C and D on sunny days. 

7. LCC (Narita airport)-(Kansai airport)

Jet Star and Peach  9000 Yen  

If you search on skyscanner with the cheapest flights between Tokyo and Osaka’s all airport, probably LCC’s flights by Jet star and peach comes up. Jet Star JAPAN is a joint corporation by Japan airline and Qantas, while peach is a subsidiary of ANA. The price can be excitingly reasonable, but they use Narita and Kansai which both of them have distance from the city center. 

But if you saved on airplane price, you may want to save on the transportation to airports too. And that is possible too. There is a reasonable shuttle bus between Tokyo station and Narita airport, and it takes about 1 hour and 5 min to 1 hour and 20 min.  That is about 1300 Yen. ($10) If you worry about traffic or not comfortable with bus ride, access express is about 1300 yen. It takes about 1 hour to 1 hour 20 minutes from Tokyo city center.

Between Osaka Kansai airport to Osaka City center, it takes 50 minutes to Namba station by Nakai railway. That cost is 930 yen

For the details of access between Narita Airoprt (NRT) and Tokyo city center, please also read How to Get from Narita Airport to Tokyo


8. JR – Night Bus ドリームルリエ with private room.

8500 Yen .

 Advanced Class “  8500 yen    “Precious Class” 14,000 Yen.

If you want to travel on budget, it’s inevitable to talk about high way bus. But even among the bus, there are many choices between Tokyo and Osaka. You can save a lot of time with bus, but usually bus is tiring and arrive too early to check in the hotel sometimes. But there are some good choices for those of you who like luxury but cost conscious. What I pick up first is, JR bus’s dream lurie. The bus offers a luxury seat either with 2 low or 3 low. 2 low seat is called precious class… (光る音) and 3 low seats are called “advanced class… “  (sounds like a college class)

You can shut the curtain, so you have good privacy. Well, You might hear someone snoring, but hopefully the noise from load with mild the sounds. It might be good to prepare noise canceling headset or ear plugs. Advanced class has wider seat and more privacy, but thinking of the price difference, advanced class is enough I feel.  If you are traveling with someone, advance class is better because the 2 left side seats are divided by partition but next to each other.  

There are a lot more choices of bus, but these JR services runs daily, so I think it’s a realistic choice for travelers. 


9  JR  -Daytime Highway Express Bus

If you are a traveler with lots of time, Tokaido Hiru Tokkyu (Daytime express) is a choice.  8 hours and 30 min. The Daytime bus is the bus runs between Tokyo and Osaka. The merit of the bus is that you can see scenery in daytime. 

And of course, a much cheaper choice as transportation, and 3 low seats are wide enough to take a rest. You want to travel with less cost but you want to sleep in the hotel at night, then this would be your choice. The cons are the time it takes. It takes 8 hours and 30 minutes in the official time table,  and it can take even longer depends on traffic. 

The price will be for 4line seat   3600 yen to 4500 yen,     3 line seat 4900 yen to 6100 yen. If you want front seat of double decker bus, it cost 6100 Yen. Still a much cheaper choice comparing with the Shinkansen or airplane. It all about, how much you can spend your time on bus during your trip. Unless you live in Japan, or a YouTuber who wants to enjoy the experience, it’s might be a waste of your time. 

There are many other choice of economy buses, but I chose JR services for the frequency of the bus and reliability as I introduce in this blog.


 10. Highway buses

And the last is the typical high way bus with 4 low seats. In case the bus is full and you have someone you don’t know next to you, it might be a really stressful ride. The good thing is any of these buses have clean toilet inside, and it will stop a few times at rest area. So you can walk, and grab some foods.  Bus are economical choice, but I recommend you talk to your body condition first. If you get too tired, it might affect your trips after this route. Honstly Im a person cannot sleep much, and super sensitive to the environment, so not sure if I can do bus. 

But some bus like Dream Lurie is actually great and it might be better than normal class of Shinkansen. I have taken the 2 low bus a while ago, but I realized how important the privacy is. I thought I want to go to all over Japan with it if they have. 


So… how to decide?

If you don’t have much preference, I recommend Tokaido Shinkansen, bullet train. It brings you to the city center quickly, and the regular seat might not a super comfortable one, but I can say it is very safe transportation too. No stress of baggage check and traffic is a big plus.

  • Have lots of time to experience many things. Physically strong. Buses
  • Physically weak or hard to walk long distances.  Tokaido Sinkansen (take you to city center directly, fairly short ride)
  • Saving mileage on certain airline alliance. JAL or ANA
  • Want luxury in my trip. JAL First Class or ANA Premium Class
  • I’m tight on budget, but not much time. Night bus.
  • I want to see lots of different scenery in  Japan. Daytime bus, Shinkansen.


So you might have thought Japanese transportation is expensive, but if you have more time, you can find some good deals. 



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