Jun 8, 2016
Updated June 2018 - Travel forums about Japan are often subject to questions regarding where one should be based for exploration of Osaka and Kyoto. In truth, it doesn't matter, such is the proximity of these two classic Japanese cities. Still, if you want to be immersed in Kyoto's culture, then the question is answered for you. Osaka, on the other hand, provides a good chance to get away from the crowds of tourists and instead, enjoy getting amongst crowds of locals. And you'll be able to find cheap accommodation in Osaka. Either way, travel from Osaka to Kyoto, or vice versa, is a breeze. There's a fare bit of choice though, mostly in the form of trains. So, how much does it cost to travel from Osaka to Kyoto? (All prices in Japanese yen).
Shinkansen (bullet trains) are the fastest way to get from Osaka to Kyoto. JR Tōkaidō Shinkansen run between Shin-Osaka Station and Kyoto Station. The costs are detailed in the table below:
|Type||Unreserved seat||Reserved seat||Green car||Journey time|
The Japan Rail Pass can be used on Hikari and Kodama trains between Osaka and Kyoto but not on Nozomi trains.
First Shinkansen from Shin-Osaka Station: 6:00 (Nozomi), arrives Kyoto at 6:13
Last Shinkansen from Shin-Osaka Station: 22:30 (Nozomi), arrives Kyoto at 22:45
Mid-range: Limted Express trains from Osaka to Kyoto
There are some Limited Express options on the JR Kyoto Line from Osaka Station to Kyoto Station.
|Train||Unreserved seat||Reserved seat||Green car|| Journey time|
|1,210||1,730||2,490 ||23 mins|
The Japan Rail Pass can be used on services above and below.
Cheaper: Special Rapid and Local trains
Whilst the Limited Express options from Osaka to Kyoto above are likely to offer more comfort, given the similar journey times, travelers on a budget to opt for the services below. From Osaka Station on the JR Kyoto Line to Kyoto Station.
|JR Special Rapid||560||24 mins|
|JR Kyoto Line Local||560||24 mins|
The first train from Shin-Osaka Station to Kyoto Station appears to be the 5:43 JR Kyoto Line Local, arriving in Kyoto at 6:26
It looks like the last train from Shin-Osaka Station to Kyoto Station is the 00:30 JR Special Rapid which arrives at 00:55.
Getting to Osaka Station:
From Umeda Station to Osaka Station it's about a 10 min walk.
From Namba, take the Osaka City Subway Midosuji Line to Umeda - 230 yen (9 mins).
From Shinsaibashi, take the Osaka City Subway Midosuji Line to Umeda - 230 yen (7 mins).
Alternative train routes between Osaka and Kyoto
Kyoto Station is a bit of a trek from downtown Kyoto. There are a couple of options from central Osaka that can plug travelers straight into downtown Kyoto. These are private rail lines and so are not covered by The Japan Rail Pass. How much do these journeys cost?
|Umeda - Karasuma||Hankyu Kyoto Line Ltd. Exp.||400||40 mins|
|Yodoyabashi - Sanjō||Keihan Main Line||410||51 mins|
Travelers might be interested in the Hankyu Tourist Pass - 1 Day (800 yen) / 2 Day (1,400 yen). This pass provides unlimited use of Hankyu lines in Osaka, Kyoto, and Kobe. It is, however, only for short-term visitors to Japan (you need to show a passport at the time of purchase).
A Kyoto-Osaka Sightseeing Pass is also available for Keihan Lines. Adults 1-day (800 yen) / 2-day (1,200 yen).
How much does it cost from Universal Studios Japan to Kyoto Station?
From USJ to Kyoto Station travelers are looking at journey times of around 45-50 mins and fares from 800 yen to around 2,000 yen (~ 3,000 yen if using a Shinkansen from Shin-Osaka). Most routes transfer at Nishikujo and Osaka (stations).
Universal City - (JR Yumesaki Line) - Nishikujo - (JR Yamatoji Line Regional Rapid Service) - Osaka - (JR Special Rapid Service) - Kyoto
Fare: 800 yen
Journey time: 47 mins
The KANSAI THRU PASS (Yes, that's the spelling) is available to visitors from overseas. It covers a whole range of transport options in the area. 2 day ticket for adults - 4,000 yen. 3 day ticket for adults - 5,200 yen.
Driving from Osaka to Kyoto
Driving from Osaka to Kyoto is likely to take over an hour in good traffic conditions. Expect to pay highway fees of around 3,000 yen (NEXCO - Nippon Expressway Company).
Simple k-cars in Japan rent for around 5,000 - 7,000 yen for half a day. Add on an extra thousand yen or two if picking up and dropping off in different locations.
Taking a taxi from Osaka to Kyoto
Obviously there's a lot of scope in terms of starting point and ending point here, but expect to pay fares of around 15,000 yen for the ride from Osaka Station to Kyoto Station.
There are almost certainly some bus services running from Osaka to Kyoto. However, with this many cheap and efficient train options at your disposal, taking the bus is not only hard to figure out, but also somewhat redundant.
Flying makes no sense at all, unless you've access to a helicopter and the funds required to get it in the air!
Over to you! In your experience, how much does travel cost between Osaka and Kyoto? Drop us your suggestions and experiences below.
(NB* This post was updated as of June 2018)
Don't forget to check out some of our other travel cost content here on City-Cost. How about these for a start?
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