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Shinkansen Tokyo to Osaka

The Shinkansen is a high-speed rail system that connects major cities in Japan. Japan’s first Tokaido Shinkansen was launched in 1964, connecting Tokyo, Nagoya, and Osaka, Japan’s three major metropolitan areas. This line was the first commercial high-speed rail system in the world. Today, the Shinkansen is still one of the world’s most advanced high-speed rail systems. The Shinkansen is known as the “Bullet Train,” and can run at speeds of 240–320 kmph (149–199 mph).

Basic information

We recommend that you board the Shinkansen at Tokyo Station, because it's the first station, and passengers can usually get seats. If passengers want to switch to the Narita Express, we recommend switching at Shinagawa; it's a short walk from the Shinkansen platforms to the Narita Express platforms at Shinagawa.

Shin-Osaka Station and it is comparatively far away from downtown area. Please make sure you leave enough time to reach the station. Midosuji Subway line can reach Shi-Osaka Station.

Currently, there are three methods of transportation between Tokyo and Osaka: bus, Shinkansen and plane. Considering the distance is only about 515 km (about 320 mi), obliviously the Shinkansen is the first choice for more visitors. When traveling short distances, the Shinkansen saves time. We recommend that you buy a JR (Japan Railway) Pass to save money. If you don’t have the pass, the fare is approximately JPY 13, 620 for a single trip (updated in October 2019).

Types of bullet trains

Shinkansen lines are classified into three types, based on their speed:  



Applicable for JR Pass


2 h 20 min



2 h 40 min



4 h


Classes of Seats

Generally, there are only two classes on the Shinkansen. Please note that different classes are in separate cars. Thus, there are two different cars: ordinary car and green car.


Numbers of Seats in One Row


Ordinary car


There are more passengers in one cabin and there is not much leg room.

Green car


There are fewer passengers in one cabin and there is quite a lot of leg room.

Train schedule

During the day, there are above five pairs of shinkansen that run every hour between Tokyo and Osaka. The frequency of the trains is about 10 minutes . Thus, we only list the first and last departure times below:


Shinkansen Ticket Prices

Passengers can buy Shinkansen tickets from ticket counters, ticket machines, or online. Foreign visitors with tourist visas are entitled to buy a JR Pass, which offers unlimited access to all Shinkansen trains (except the Nozomi and Mizuho trains) for a good price.

The final price of a Shinkansen ticket is a sum of the base fare, Shinkansen supplement, seat reservation fee (if applicable), and green car fee (if applicable).


Price in JPY (during peak season)

Duration from Tokyo to Kyoto


14,370 for single trip

2 h 30 min


13,620 for single trip

2 h 53 min


13,620 for single trip (note: this is the slowest train, but the price of tickets is the same as for the Hikari)

4 h

Child Fares

Infants younger than one year old: free (50% of the full fare if the child takes a reserved seat)

Children between 1 to 5 years old: free if sitting with an adult (50% of the full fare if the child takes a reserved seat)

Children between 6 to 11 years old: 50% of the full fare if they take a seat in the ordinary car (full fare if they take a seat in the green car)

Do You Need Reserved Seats on the Shinkansen?

Generally, you don't need a reserved ticket to get a seat on the Shinkansen. Just buying an unreserved ticket is enough. However, if you are traveling during peak hours (7–9 a.m. and 4–7 p.m.) or during the peak travel seasons (31 December–3 January or 1 May–15 August), consider buying reserved tickets in advance. Then, you won’t have to stand on the train.


With a JR Pass, you can make reservations at any JR ticket window, up to one month in advance of your travel. You cannot reserve your seat(s) from overseas.

How to Use the JR Pass

Should you buy a JR Pass? Is it worth it? Will it save you money? Where can you buy it?

We think that it is worth it in most situations.

Price of the JR Pass (updated in June, 2021)


Green Car (JPY)

Ordinary Car (JPY)





















Other Modes of Transportation from Tokyo to Osaka


Taking a bus from Tokyo to Osaka is about 8 hours. We usually recommend 2 bus companies, JR Bus and Willer Express. Both daytime buses and night buses are available.

For JR Bus, the cost varies from JPY 4, 000 to JPY 8,000, depending on what kind of buses and seats passengers choose.

For Willer Express, the cost varies from JPY 3,520 to JPY 12,00 and its night buses are more comfortable than other companies’ night buses.


Osaka has 2 airports: Kansai International Airport and Osaka Itami Airport.

There are many flights from Tokyo to Osaka. The duration is usually at around 1 hour and 30 minutes. The price usually varies from JPY 12,000 to JPY 28,000. Sometimes the discount will be very cheap, even below JPY 4,000.

However, when you include the time and cost of getting from your places to Tokyo to Narita Airport, and from Kansai Airport to your final destination in Osaka, it may be just as easy to take the shinkansen.


Drive from Tokyo to Kyoto. It will take 5 or 6 hours depending on traffic. However, the toll fees is up to JPY 10,000.

  • Quick facts
  • Distance: 515 km (about 320 mi)
  • Terminals: in Tokyo: Tokyo Railway Station/Shinagawa Station; in Osaka: Shin-Osaka Station
  • Tokyo to Osaka: 6:00 a.m. first departure/ 9:23 p.m. last departure
  • Osaka to Tokyo: 6:00 a.m. first departure/ 9:23 p.m. last departure
  • The JR Pass can save you a lot of money.
  • You have to purchase the pass outside of Japan; you can buy the JR Pass through a travel agency, which will tell you how to exchange the voucher when you arrive in Japan.
  • You can only use a JR Pass with a tourist visa (no other visa is accepted).
  • JR Passes can be used on all JR trains across Japan, including Shinkansen (except the Nozomi). The passes can also be used on certain JR buses and ferries.
  • The pass cannot be used for private train lines or subways within cities.

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