Tokyo to Osaka: How to Travel Cheap and Fast?

Feb 21, 2020


  • Cheapest way Tokyo to Osaka - bus
  • Fastest way Tokyo to Osaka - Shinkansen, faster than air!
  • Transport Option - Shinkansen
    • a. Price of Shinkansen Tokyo to Osaka
    • b. Where and When Can You Get On-Board
  • Transport Option - Airplane
    • Air Fares from Tokyo to Osaka
  • Transport Option - JR Train
    • a. Tokyo to Osaka Local Train Duration of Journey
    • b. How Local JR Train Can Get You a Relaxing Getaway
  • Transport Option - by Bus
    • a. Bus Fares from Tokyo to Osaka
    • b. Boarding and Dropping-Off Points
  • Cities worth visiting from Tokyo to Osaka
    • 1. Tokyo
    • ✈ Flights to Tokyo | Tokyo Hotels with Parking 🏨2. Osaka: a city with its own charm
    • 3. Kyoto
    • 4. Nara
    • 5. Kobe
  • Show More

As two most important cities in Japan, one always wonders how to get from Tokyo to Osaka. Tokyo and Osaka are well connected and transportation could be applied in various ways.

Simple answers:

Total journey could spend 8-10 or so hours. Tips: Might be worth the extra 500 yen to have onboard toilet and comfortable chairs and night bus save you one night hotel fee.

Total time cost: 150 min. No safe checking, not so long on the trams to airports. Leaving at the same time, those taking the Shinkansen will reach the destination earlier than those flying.

It is to be noted that there can be last-minute changes in timings of trains/ flights, or fares of modes of transportation, or any other such changes. You are advised to check for any such last-minute changes before setting out on your travel, to have a hassle-free and comfortable experience. After all, an informed traveler is a happy traveler.

The Shinkansen (Bullet Train) is a direct and fast way to travel from Tokyo to Osaka. The time of journey on a Tokyo to Osaka bullet train is a mere 2.5 to 3 hours, where a distance of more than 500 kilometers is covered. The time of travel, however, varies from train to train. For example, Nozomi, which is the fastest bullet train, can take you from Tokyo Station to Shin Osaka Station in 2.5 hours. A different Tokyo to Osaka bullet train called Hikari takes around 3 hours to get from Tokyo to Osaka. There is another option, the Kodama bullet train, which can take around 4 hours to cover this journey. You could use the Japan Rail Pass for discounted tickets and benefits, but you have to keep this fact in mind that the JR Pass is limited to the comparatively slower Shinkansens like Hikari, and won’t cover the faster ones like Nozomi. But this fact doesn’t make much of a difference as the time difference is not much. There are multiple bullet trains available at different times on this route of Tokyo to Osaka.

What’s interesting is that on a normal day (nonholiday) at a non-peak time, you can casually walk up to the station and get a ticket over there itself. The stations have services of vending machines. So, you get to the station, get a ticket, wait for the next train, and hop on it to reach your destination. However, this unreserved ticket (discussed in the next paragraph) could pose problems sometimes if you don’t manage to get a seat somehow.

Tokyo to Osaka: How to Travel Cheap and Fast?

The price of tickets in the peak season gets as high as 14650 Yen. You can get an unreserved- seat ticket at a price 900 Yen lesser, but this is a risky alternative as you might end up having to stand throughout the whole journey. This is surely not advisable if you suffer from some physiological conditions, and if you are traveling with children or heavy luggage. If you do so, that will make your journey extremely uncomfortable.

If you are new to Japan, you can try using the Japan Rail Pass, which offers a direct 20% discount on round trip tickets.

The Shinkansen (bullet train) from Tokyo to Osaka can be caught from the Tokyo Station (Tokyo) or the Shinagawa Station (Tokyo). All bullet trains stop at both of these stations, but getting on-board at the Tokyo Station is a more suggested option. This is because it is the first station, and so getting a seat becomes easier.

Regarding timings, there is not just one Tokyo to Osaka bullet train, but rather many, which ply every hour, and you won’t have to wait for more than 10- 15 minutes to get a train. For a general idea to plan your trip, the first train leaves Tokyo at around 6.00 am, and the last train leaves Tokyo at 9.23 pm.

Getting a flight from Tokyo to Osaka is also a possible option for your travel. The average flight time from Tokyo to Osaka is about 1- 2 hours, depending on the airline. A total distance of about 446 kilometers is covered on the flight. About 14 airline operators offer direct flight service from Tokyo to Osaka. The most popular operators are Jetstar, Peach, All Nippon Airways, Japan Airlines, Star-Flyer, etc.

Most flights on this route depart either from Tokyo Narita Airport (NRT), or Tokyo Haneda Airport (HND). The arrival in Osaka is either at the Kansai Airport (KIX), or the Itami Airport (ITM), depending on the airline. However, there is one very important detail that you should factor in before deciding to fly from Tokyo to Osaka, which is the distance of the airports from the main city.

Distance from Tokyo City to Narita Airport- 66 kilometers (about a 50-minute drive)

Distance from Tokyo City to Haneda Airport- 19 kilometers (about a 20-minute drive)

Distance from Kansai Airport to Osaka- 50 kilometers (about a 40-minute drive)

Distance from Itami Airport to Osaka- 16 kilometers (about a 15-minute drive)

So, before flying from Tokyo to Osaka, don’t just think about the flight duration or airfare, factor in the time & expenses incurred to reach these airports as well. Most flights on this route depart from NRT, which is comparatively farther from Tokyo. The point here is that as NRT is a bit far from Tokyo, you should be careful and get arrangements for transport accordingly.

Depending on how early or late you book your flight from Tokyo to Osaka, the airfare might vary from about 3000 Yen to 12000 Yen. This also varies as per different airlines. For example, you can find low-cost carriers like Jetstar or Peach Airlines, which offer budget friendly services, while other airlines get a bit heavy on wallets too.

When it comes to traveling by train, the Shinkansen is not the only way to travel. You can also choose a local train to get from Tokyo to Osaka. This option might be one that is not particularly popular in modern times but has its perks if you are not in a rush to complete your journey. The first thing being, taking a Tokyo to Osaka train can be highly cost-effective when compared to the prices of Shinkansen. If you have a Seishun 18 ticket for a Tokyo to Osaka train, the price gets heavily discounted. Keep in mind that it is easier to find a Tokyo to Osaka train on weekdays than on weekends, so if you are traveling on the weekend, your journey might end up being longer than what you had planned. Also, it is common for local trains to change their schedules frequently, so bear that in mind before planning your travel by local train.

As a general idea, local trains on this route take about 8-9 hours to complete the journey.

Despite being long, this journey can have its perks. For example, when you are on the local train, you can get to see new places along the way, which would sprint past if you are on a Shinkansen. This makes the journey far more relaxing and adds to the emotional value of it, where you get the true feeling of traveling from a place to another. This is, in essence, the “path less traveled,” where you are not just focusing on the destination (which is a fast-modern metropolis) but also on the journey (which has a lot of beautiful experiences to give to you)!

If you have a few days at your disposal, you could curate a customized plan for yourself whereby you travel on the train for just 2- 3 hours a day and explore the stops on the way daily. The obvious excitement factor of this journey doubles up when you realize that you could be trying out new local cuisines along the journey, or be busy shopping for souvenirs, or just be enjoying the serenity of the countryside as you get to new places. As an example, the first leg of the local train journey can be from Tokyo to Yokohama. You can board the train from the Tokyo Shinjuku Station, and you will be in Yokohama in less than an hour. The various attractions in Yokohama include Yokohama Stadium, Chinatown District, etc. After spending time in Yokohama, you could move on to the second leg of your journey from Yokohama to Fuji. This journey can be covered in about 2 hours. You can experience Mount Fuji if you are into mountaineering or trekking; however, the climbing season ends in October. The city has nice local street food options to try. There on, you could go from Fuji to Hamamatsu, which is about 40 minutes away. The place is known for its dunes and turtle habitats. It does feel like a pleasure to escape the city’s hubbub to get here. Thereon, you could get to Kyoto, which is famous for its Kinkauji temple, traditional dresses, and Green Tea Ice Cream. The last leg of this exploratory journey from Tokyo to Osaka would be to take the local from Kyoto and reach the JR Osaka Station in about 40 minutes. All of this does take time, but is highly cost-effective, and is a travel experience that you could cherish for a long time.

The road distance from Tokyo to Osaka is about 510 kilometers. Traveling by bus is also a probable option, as you can find night buses and day buses both as per your convenience and choice. The bus journey could take anywhere from around 6 hours to 10 hours, depending on the bus operator, and the conditions such as traffic, etc. Traveling by bus can be a desirable option due to the multiplicity of the number of destinations that are offered. For example, your bus could leave you at Umeda (Osaka’s City Centre), or at Namba, which is a popular destination among tourists in Osaka. There are buses which can drop you off near the airport or the train station as well. So, this makes traveling and planning a whole lot easier.

Some popular bus operators from Tokyo to Osaka are Asijai Kanko, Yutaka Liner, KB Liner, Sugikazi Highway Buses, Kosoku Buses, and Willer Express. Most buses stop on the way for loo breaks, and smoke breaks too.

The bus fares from Tokyo to Osaka could range anywhere from around 3000 Yen to 10000 Yen, depending on the comfort level you choose, and on the service operator. Note that traveling by bus on this route can easily be considered as the cheapest method out there. The tickets can be bought online or offline. However, online ticketing is easier for nonlocals as there are no language and information barriers when one is on the internet.

The boarding and dropping off points vary for different bus service operators, and you can find that information online or after buying your ticket. As mentioned earlier, a lot of options for boarding and dropping-off points are available. For example, the JR Night Bus (operated by the Japan Railway Group) leaves Tokyo from the JR Bus Terminal, which is near the south exit of Tokyo Station. The Willer Buses operate from Willer Bus Terminal of West Shinjuku, Tokyo). In Osaka, a JR Bus can drop you off at the JR Terminal near Osaka Station; and a Willer Bus could leave you at the Umeda Sky Building (Kita). These are some rather popular points for most buses.

Tokyo is the capital city of Japan and is considered to be the most populous metropolitan area in the world as of 2018. The city is the seat of the Japanese Emperor, the Japanese Government, and the National Legislature. The former name of Tokyo was Edo. It was given by the 17th-century ruler Tokugawa Ieyasu when he made the area his headquarters in the year 1603. Things get a bit confusing for first-timers in Tokyo as the wards of Tokyo Prefecture contain different districts (with different unique characteristics), and the locals refer to these districts as “cities” colloquially! Tokyo is a particularly well-traveled destination in recent years. It is known for its Cherry blossoms, colorful cityscape, street fashion, museums, etc. This is just some overview of the city, as apart from this, the bustling metropolis has a lot more to offer. This summer, the 2020 Olympics will be held in Tokyo.

Tokyo to Osaka: How to Travel Cheap and Fast?

Tokyo Disneyland, Tokyo Express, Tokyo Tower

Some travelers love Osaka more than Tokyo. Osaka City is the capital of the Osaka Prefecture. It is the second-largest metropolitan area of Japan but with its own charm. From times as old as the 4th – 5th century A.D., Osaka has been considered as the economic hub of Japan. In today’s time, it is the country’s major financial center, housing the Osaka Securities Exchange, and multiple electronic MNCs like Panasonic.

Tokyo to Osaka: How to Travel Cheap and Fast?

The city’s central portion is divided into downtown and uptown regions, which are known as the name of Kita (northern portion) and Minami (southern portion), respectively. The city of Osaka is home to numerous canals running through it, and thus numerous bridges as well, which add to the beauty of its cityscape. Osaka is famous for its food and culinary culture. The food culture’s prevalence is substantiated by the old saying, which says that Osakans are ruined by spending on their food. The place is known for its fine sake, which is Japanese rice wine. The fermentation of polished rice prepares this alcoholic drink without bran. Osakan Sake is prepared from the freshwaters of its mountains!

Less than an hour away for Osaka is the city of Kyoto, which is the capital city of the Kyoto Prefecture. The city is said to be the cultural capital of the nation of Japan and attracts a large number of tourists every year. The city is home to multiple gardens, palaces, and temples, which are mostly Buddhist. A lot of Kyoto’s popular destinations have collectively been considered as World Heritage Sites by UNESCO. The traditional festivals in Tokyo are particularly a popular sighting, which has been carried out for more than 1000 years now. Some of the major fests of Kyoto include the Aoi Matsuri in May, Gion Matsuri in July, the Bon Festival in August, and the Jidai Matsuri of October.

Tokyo to Osaka: How to Travel Cheap and Fast?

About half an hour away from Osaka, you can visit the city of Nara, which is located in the Kansai region. The city is famous for its Buddhist temples of Todai-ji, Saidai-ji, Gango-ji, etc. It also has a lot of Shinto shrines like those of Kasuga and Himuro. The Nara National Museum is home to some of the rare artifacts which tell the history of Japanese culture like no other thing. There are also many other museums in the city, like the Museum of Art, Historical Materials Preservation House, etc. On a lazy weekend, the locals can be seen chilling in any of the beautiful local gardens which are present in many locations in the city.

Tokyo to Osaka: How to Travel Cheap and Fast?

A little over an hour away from Osaka, you can visit the sixth-largest city of Japan, Kobe. The city is famous for its indigenous Kobe Beef, which is highly valued for its delicate flavor and tenderness with a well-balanced texture. The city is also known for the Arima Onsen, which is a hot spring and attracts tourists & locals alike. It is said that as per Japanese standards, the vibe and atmosphere of Kobe can be understood as something exotic. This is because Kobe is a port city, and has had a lot of exposure to the rest of the world utilizing the sea.

Tokyo to Osaka: How to Travel Cheap and Fast?

The city has endless opportunities for sightseeing, shopping, dining, and entertainment. You will get to see many historical places to see pop cultures, fashion boutiques, and their awesome nightlife. Visit this one of the best culturally rich and diverse countries of our century.

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