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5 Things to Know When Traveling from Tokyo to Osaka using the JR Pass

5 Things to Know When Traveling from Tokyo to Osaka using the JR Pass

If you are a first time traveler in Japan, transportation can be daunting for you. Understanding how the country’s train systems and bus routes work may take time, but once you have grasped its basic concept, traveling to any city in Japan will be a complete breeze.

Similar to transportation within Japan’s cities, there are many ways of traveling from one city to another, such as from Tokyo to Osaka. For those of you who wanted to make the most of their time in Japan on a single entry tourist visa, traveling in these two most popular cities are a complete necessity. But how does one find the best to way to travel from Tokyo to Osaka and vice-versa?

The answer: Shinkansen.

While traveling can be done by means of bus routes such as the popular Willer Express and the cost can be significantly cheaper, nearly everyone who has been to Japan recommends traveling via bullet train, as it can cut traveling hours from 17 hours on the road to a mere two and a half hours. Here are five things to know about the coveted Japan Rail (JR) Pass that will make you an expert traveler in no time.

1. The JR Pass is the most economical pass for foreign tourists.

Save time and make your Japan trip easier by booking these quick train tickets from Tokyo to Kyoto!

For tourists, the most economical train pass that one can use to travel from Tokyo to Osaka is the JR Pass. The JR Pass is only valid for foreigners traveling to Japan, who are on a temporary or short-term visitor visa. Three types of JR Pass are available for tourists, namely, the 7-day, 14-day and 21-day JR passes. The JR Pass must be bought before traveling to Japan, as it is not available for purchase in JR Train Stations.

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2. While JR Pass covers the whole of Japan from Kyushu to the northern most part of Japan, it can only be used for riding JR lines.

The JR Pass is valid on JR trains including the Hikari and Kodama trains, JR Ferries, and some JR buses on key cities, but do not include passes to the fastest Nozomi and Mizuno trains along JR Tokaido/Sanyo and Sanyo/Kyushu Shinkansen lines. Nevertheless, the JR Pass is a good value deal, should you wish to travel to other cities nearby Osaka, such as Kobe, Kyoto, Himeji, and Nara. It is worth noting that the JR Pass is not valid for use in Kyoto’s JR bus routes.

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Keep in mind that you cannot also use the JR Pass for local subway services within Tokyo, unless you will ride along the JR Yamanote line. Likewise for Osaka, the JR Pass may be used within the JR Osaka Loop Line.

It is then advisable to use your JR Pass whenever possible.

3. The key is to knowing the difference between local and rapid train service.

Onboard Hikari or Kodama trains, the JR Pass will take you to Osaka from Tokyo within 150 minutes, and vice versa. While the services are unlike Nozomi, which could cut your journey down to 120 minutes, the Hikari and Kodama trains are local services, meaning they stop at every station along the line. Nozomi and Mizuno are rapid trains which do not stop at every train station.

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It’s a must to be aware of the train you are riding on, as boarding the incorrect train could cost you additional fare. You would have to pay additional charges for the Nozomi train, if you already have the JR Pass. The best way is to always read the electronic board for what trains are arriving soon. These are designated either “local” or “rapid”, followed by the end destination of the train line.

4. Avail of the free seat reservation that comes with your JR Pass.

Holders of the JR Pass can avail of free seat reservations on green cars, and can be done by visiting the Midori-no-madoguchi, or ticket office at a JR station. It’s definitely best to take a reservation as the local service can get easily full during peak season, and you don’t want to end up standing for the most part of the train ride.

On another note, smoking cabins are available on the Shinkansen train.

5. Your JR Pass comes wth discounted rates at JR-affiliated hotels.

The best thing about the JR Pass is getting discounted rates at JR-affliated hotels such as Granvia group, Metropolitan, Mets and Associa hotel chains. These hotels are often near to JR train stations so that you can make the most out of your JR Pass.

Bonus Tip: A good rule of thumb is 3 rides.

For those who are not only traveling from Tokyo to Osaka and vice versa, want to know if you truly need a JR pass? If you won’t be traveling around Japan beyond 3 rides, forget it. The JR Pass is only worth your buck if you go back and forth from point A to point B. Otherwise, maybe it’s best to top up your SUICA, PASMO, or ICOCA card.

Buy Shinkansen Tickets Without Frills Through GoVoyagin

There’s an easy way to purchase Shinkansen Tickets without all of these JR Pass hassles through GoVoyagin. You can choose between designated or reserved seats, green car seats or non-designated seats and schedule your trip to Tokyo or Osaka or back and forth through GoVoyagin.

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