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Tokyo to Osaka for Just 3000 Yen!? A Roundup of the Best Ways to Travel Between Tokyo and Osaka

Tokyo and Osaka are known as the two great metropolises of Japan. Every day a large number of people travel between the two cities for business, tourism, and other reasons. There are a myriad of ways to get from Tokyo to Osaka and vice versa. This article will introduce the best methods of getting between the two cities, including journey times and costs, in a handy and digestible guide.

The Locations of Tokyo and Osaka

Before introducing you to the best ways to move between the two cities, firstly, here is a simple explanation of where Tokyo and Osaka are located. Tokyo, the capital city of Japan, is located in the Kanto region and is situated close to the center of Japan on the map, while Osaka is found in the Kinki Region to the southwest of Tokyo.

The Definitive Guide for Traveling Between Tokyo and Osaka

Shinkansen

There are three different types of shinkansen (bullet trains) connecting Tokyo and Osaka (via Shin-Osaka Station). They are the Nozomi, Hikari, and Kodama shinkansen. Here are the details on each:
[Nozomi]
Reserved seat : 14,450 JPY, Non-reserved seat: 13,620 JPY
Duration: Approx. 2 hours and 30 minutes
[Hikari]
Reserved seat: 14,140 JPY, Non-reserved seat: 13,620 JPY
Duration: Approx 3 hours
[Kodama]
Reserved seat : 14,140 JPY, Non-reserved seat: 13,620
Duration: Approx. 4 hours

For customers prioritizing time spent in transit, the 'Nozomi' is the best choice, however, if price is your main concern, then the 'Hikari' and 'Kodama' are better options. Please note that the Japan Rail Pass can be used on all Tokyo to Osaka Shinkansen routes except for the 'Nozmi', therefore for those looking to make use of their pass, the shinkansen is a great choice. If you need a ticket, they can be purchased at JR train station counters or at the ticketing machines located outside the entrance gates to the train lines within the station.

Flights

One other way of getting from Tokyo to Osaka is via plane, with flights running from Narita and Haneda airports in Tokyo, to Osaka's Itami and Kansai airports. The price varies depending on the season, however, if you are flying with an LCC (low-cost carrier), you may be able to secure a ticket for as little as 4,000 JPY. Depending on the season, it may be the case that flights are considerably cheaper than the shinkansen. Flights from Tokyo to Osaka last approximately one hour, however, factoring in the time required to check in bags and pass through security checks, there is perhaps very little difference between a flight and a shinkansen in terms of total time for the journey. All of the above airports (with the exception of Itami) have shower rooms and rest areas (paid) available on site, which should be a source of comfort for those after a long and tiring journey.

Expressway bus

You can also get from Tokyo to Osaka via Expressway Bus.
[From Tokyo to Osaka] The most common boarding areas are at Tokyo Station or Shinjuku Station.
[From Osaka to Tokyo] Most buses depart from Umeda Station.
It takes anywhere from between 7 to 9 hours to get from Tokyo to Osaka by bus, meaning you will need to put aside more time if using this method than the other ways of traveling between the two cities listed above. However, if you get the timing right, you can get a one-way Tokyo to Osaka bus ticket for as little as 3,000 JPY. In recent times, there are increased comforts on these buses with services like charging ports and TV monitors, as well as luxury buses with larger seats to relax in before reaching your destination. However, during peak seasons, tickets can cost more than 10,000 JPY one-way, meaning that there is very little difference between a bus and a shinkansen in terms of price. On the other hand, one advantage of taking a bus from Tokyo to Osaka is that there are plenty of overnight services, making a bus the best way to move between the two cities for those looking to depart late at night.

Standard Trains

One other option of getting from Tokyo to Osaka is standard trains, of which there are numerous different types. Local trains stops in every station along a route, while there are also express trains that skip some smaller stations. For those looking to travel via standard trains, it is recommended that they purchase a Seishun 18 Ticket. The Japan Railway (JR) company releases these tickets every year in the spring, summer, and fall. These tickets are sold in sets of five and each allows the user one full day of riding JR trains as much as they wish. The price for the set is 11,850 JPY. While it will take you more than 9 hours to get between the two cities, this method of travel allows you to relax while enjoying the trip along the JR railway lines.

Rent-a-car and Taxis

Rent-a-cars and taxis are other ways of traveling from Tokyo to Osaka.
[Rent-a-cars] Depending on the company, prices can vary. However, here is a estimate of what you can expect to pay.
Cost: A standard car will cost 35,000 JPY to rent (not inclusive of highway tolls)
Travel Time: Approximately 6 hours
※Highway tolls will cost approximately 10,000 JPY
[Taxis] This will vary depending on the time of day and the traffic encountered along the way but if you are traveling to from Tokyo to Osaka by taxi, here is the expected fare and duration.
Cost: Estimated fare of 181,410 JPY (inclusive of highway tolls)
Time: Approximately 6 hours
※Fare for 2 passengers 90,705 JPY per person Fare for 3 passengers: 60,470 JPY per person Fare for 4 persons: 45,352 JPY per person

Rent-a-car services and taxis take quite a bit of time, however, as they allow you to choose your departure time, they are recommended for travelers who value privacy, as well as those who are less concerned with how long it takes to reach their destination.

Make sure to use this article as a reference to enjoy a comfortable trip between Tokyo and Osaka during your trip to Japan.

*Please note that the information in this article is from the time of writing or publication and may differ from the latest information.

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