Jun 29, 2017
*Article updated April 2019
Osaka and Kobe are two of the big urban players in the Kansai region of Japan. It's a region that, should one day Osaka and Kobe, along with Kyoto and Nara, finally merge, would form an urban zone of frightening scale. Still, it would be a diverse one. Osaka brings the salt-of-the-earth, good times served with honest grub and washed down with some of the best jokers in Japan. Meanwhile, Kobe offers a more cosmopolitan vibe with its spectacular port facade, one of Japan's best Chinatowns and all those well-to-do western style homes (Ijinkan) looking down from Kitano-cho to the riffraff down below. For now though there are still gaps filled with green between Osaka and Kobe. With Osaka as our base we look at the transportation options and how much they cost to Kobe and beyond to Himeji so as we can take a gander at Himeji-jo (Himeji Castle), arguably Japan's most celebrated (and therefore best?) castle.
Shinkansen from Osaka to Kobe
It's a short hop from Osaka to Kobe using Sanyo Shinkansen (San'yō Shinkansen). Only 12 mins in fact. Still, if you're in hurry ...
There are four types of train available that depart from Shin-Osaka Station; Nozomi, Mizuho, Hikari, and Sanyo. Although Nozomi and Mizuho trains are a little more expensive all journeys are the same length, Shin-Kobe being the next shinkansen stop from Osaka.
|Train type||Unreserved seat||Reserved seat||Green seat|
Earliest departure from Shin-Osaka (to Shin-Kobe): 6:00 (Nozomi)
Last departure from Shin-Kobe (to Shin-Osaka): 23:25 (Mizuho)
Both Shin-Osaka and Shin-Kobe stations, while important transport hubs, are not really 'where it's at' in terms of the respective cities that they serve so we will need to add to the transport costs above in order to get us from / into the more happening areas of the cities.
From the Umeda area of Osaka, walk to Osaka station for trains to Shin-Osaka: 160 yen / 4 mins
From Namba (subway) to Shin-Osaka: 280 yen / 15 mins
From Shinsaibashi to Shin-Osaka: 230 yen / 13 mins
From Shin-Kobe to Sannomiya (subway - Seishin-Yamate Line ): 210 yen / 1 mins
From Shin-Kobe to Kobe is less convenient:
Shin-kobe - (Kobe City Subway Seishin-Yamate Line ) - Shinnagata - (JR Gakkentoshi Line Local or JR Kobe Line Local) - Kobe: 430 yen / 25 mins
(Osaka port area)
Direct trains from the Osaka area to Kobe stations
Osaka Station to JR Sannomiya Station
JR Kobe Line Rapid (28 mins) and JR Special Rapid (20 mins): 410 yen
Umeda (Hankyu) Station to Kobe-Sannomiya (Hankyu)
Hankyu Kobe Line Ltd. Exp. (27 mins): 320 yen
Osaka Station to Kobe Station
JR Kobe Line Rapid (30 mins) and JR Special Rapid (25 mins): 410 yen
Umeda (Hanshin) Station (Osaka) to Motomachi Station (Kobe)
Hanshin/Sanyo Through Ltd. Exp. or Hanshin Main Line Ltd. Exp. (33 mins): 320 yen
From Motomachi take the JR Kobe Line Rapid Service to JR Sannomiya (1 mins) and Kobe (2 mins): 120 yen
For trains from Shinsaibashi (Osaka) to Kobe (Sannomiya) the quickest way is to take the OsakaMetro Midosuji Line to Umeda and walk from there to Osaka Station for trains bound for JR Sannomiya in Kobe.
Getting from Osaka to Kobe by taxi
Taxi fare finders reveal the cost from Osaka Station to Kobe Station to be in the 10,000 - 14,000 yen range. Unless you've money to burn or you've missed the last train, a taxi between Osaka and Kobe doesn't look like a sensible transport option. The drive takes around 45 mins (depending on traffic).
Driving from Osaka to Kobe
Maybe the best highway to take when driving between Osaka and Kobe is the Hanshin Expressway No. 3 Kobe Route (阪神高速３号神戸線).
Between junctions Nakanoshima-nishi (Osaka - 中之島西 ) and Kyoubashi (京橋 - Kobe) the tolls come out at 1,300 yen with journey times around 30 mins. This according to Nippon Expressway Company (NEXCO) who manage and service Japan's highways. You can do expressway route searches via NEXCO, although it will have to be in Japanese. Give it a go here.
Getting from Osaka to Himeji (for the castle)
Himeji Castle (姫路城, Himeji-jō) is a structure that may well hold iconic status in Japan. It's probably one of the country's most recognizable buildings. The six-story castle dates back to 1609 and is the first site in Japan to have been designated as a World Cultural Heritage site.
In 2015, Himeji Castle emerged from some five years of restoration work to show off its brilliant white paint-job. If countries can boast of 'must see' attractions, Himeji-jō must surely be one for Japan.
The castle is within a straight 1 km from Himeji Station. Just follow 90 percent of the travelers exiting the station.
Shinkansen from Osaka to Himeji Station
Shinkansen from Shin-Osaka station stop at Himeji Station. The journey time is around 30 mins on the Nozomi, 40 minutes on the Hikari.
|Unreserved seat||Reserved seat||Green seat|
Osaka Station - (JR Special Rapid Service) - Himeji: 65 mins / 1,490 yen
For travelers coming off a Shinkansen from Tokyo, the above trains also depart from Shin-Osaka Station. Fares are the same 1,490 yen. Journey times a little longer at 72 mins.
Kobe to Himeji
Shinkansen from Shin-Kobe Station to Himeji Station
Nozomi Shinkansen take around 15 minutes, Kodama and Hikari Shinkansen around 25 minutes.
|Unreserved seat||Reserved seat||Green seat|
The JR Special Rapid Service to Himeji also passes through Kobe Station and JR Sannomiya: 37 - 40 mins / 970 yen
Entrance to the castle is 1,000 yen for adults. With this in mind a day trip to the castle starting out from Osaka would work out at just under 4,000 yen (return train and entrance). From Kobe, just under 3,000 yen.
Himeji Castle web: http://www.city.himeji.lg.jp/guide/castle.html
Himeji Castle area map:
*This article was updated in April 2019
What do you think is the best way to get from Osaka to Kobe? How much does it cost? Ever been to Himeji Castle? Let us know in the comments.
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