Tokyo To Osaka From Fastest To The Least Expensive Options

Japan is a popular tourist location for tourists around the globe, with Tokyo and Osaka as two of the most widely recognized and visited cities inside Japan. Travelers have visited these cities for generations because of the rich culture and welcoming environment. 

Compared to the highly advanced metropolis of Tokyo, Osaka is less chaotic. Tokyo is busy, with streets jam-packed full of people eagerly rushing to and from place to place.

Osaka is nearly as big but far less busy, with residents eager to enjoy a pleasant stroll through its streets. Osaka is an excellent change of pace for those who have already taken their time to explore Tokyo

Nozomi trains on the Tokaido Shinkansen Line are the quickest method to travel between Tokyo and Osaka. You can go from Tokyo Station to Shin-Osaka Station in about 2.5 hours. The JR Pass does not cover the cost of this Shinkansen, which costs 13,620 yen (unreserved) or 14,650 yen (reserved) for a one-way ticket. 

However, the Japan Rail Pass is covered Hikari and Kodama trains on the Tokaido Shinkansen lines, which can transport you from Tokyo to Osaka in roughly 3 to 4 hours.  Anywhere from 30 minutes to 1.5 hours longer than the Nozomi Shinkansen which is the fastest train from Tokyo to Osaka.

Knowing the best ways to get from Tokyo to Osaka is important for visiting two of Japan’s most popular cities. Travel time from Tokyo to Osaka can take anywhere from 2.5 to 8.5 hours, depending on your transportation choice.

Buy JR Pass Online (official site)

Whether you want to get there fast or in the most inexpensive way possible, there is a perfect way for everyone’s budget and time constraints.

Fastest Ways from Tokyo to Osaka

Scenic views and long trips are not for everyone. When getting to your destination as quickly as possible is the most important part of your journey, finding a fast route from Tokyo to Osaka can help you make the most of your experience in Japan.

Technically the fastest way from Tokyo to Osaka is a direct route which takes around one hour and thirty minutes. However, you must purchase a ticket in advance to catch a low price on this quick route. Fast ways to travel are great for people looking to get from Tokyo to Osaka as quickly as possible. 

Skyscanner rates from Tokyo to Osaka (1.5 hours)

The Shinkansen (Bullet Train)

The Shinkansen is the second fastest way to get from Tokyo to Osaka. Travel time on the fastest nonstop Bullet Train from Tokyo to Osaka takes roughly 2 hours and 30 minutes, with scenic views of Japan’s beautiful countryside nearly the whole way. 

Aside from the quick travel time, it is the most convenient method of traveling because passengers can purchase tickets at the Station ticket booth, and there is usually plenty of seating available.

Purchasing tickets in advance is usually not necessary because of the constant departures that take place every ten minutes. If you miss your desired train, just wait a few minutes for the next train to depart.

There are three types of bullet trains that vary in price and speed. The first is the Nozomi, the fastest railway train, which takes two hours and thirty minutes. It costs around $140 and requires an additional ticket called an express pass, a multiple-use railway pass that permits residents to use railways. 

The second is the Hikari. It adds around 30 minutes to your travel time. Although ticket costs inst significantly higher, it can be beneficial for residents of Osaka or Tokyo when repeated travel between the two cities as it adds up. Finally is the Kodama, which is the slowest bullet train. The Kodama takes around four hours.

Passengers riding any Shinkansen bullet train will also require a fare ticket designating their proper destination and assigned seat number. Fare tickets are different from express tickets because they are only one-use tickets.

You can purchase a fare ticket at any major train station or buy them in advance online.

Holding the JR Pass Outside of Tokyo Station

Foreign visitors may opt for a Japan Rail Pass, a multiple-use railway pass that grants visitors unlimited access to most railways. JR passes come at a great value and give foreign visitors the option to travel as much as they want between major cities in Japan for up to 21 days.

Flights Between Tokyo And Osaka

Flights are a relatively inexpensive and quick way to travel between Osaka and Tokyo. The lowest possible price is around $94 or around ¥10,400. Direct flights take around one and a half hours from Narita International Airport to Kansai International Airport

Prices for flights frequently change based on the time of year. Fuel Cost and whether or not it’s a national holiday in Japan.

Osaka Kansai Airport

Based on the travel time, flying is technically the fastest way to travel from Tokyo to Osaka, but the airport location is inconvenient. The additional time traveling to and from the airport makes the overall travel time to any location much slower than their competition, the bullet train.

You will arrive in Osaka quicker but it takes upwards of thirty minutes to travel from KIX to any major tourist attraction around the city.

Osaka Japan

Furthermore, many unpreventable factors can delay flights, like bad weather or airlines being behind schedule. The worst part about booking flights is having a limited time window, especially if you want a single-day round-trip.

If you book a flight in advance, then you will get a seat and time you desire at a low price. Even though spur-of-the-moment trips are exciting, purchasing a ticket the day of your adventure can decrease your chances of securing a low price.

Expedia Flight Cost Between Tokyo and Osaka

Personal Vehicles 

Personal or rented vehicles can be a great way to travel to Osaka for several reasons. Drivers can control the pace of their travel (within the lawful parameters) which allows them to arrive in Osaka at their own desired time. Whether they want a peaceful cruise or a speedy road trip to the laid-back city, personal vehicles allow you to battle the clock at your own will.

When it comes to large groups, the cost of travel significantly decreases. Large rental vehicles such as vans can fit many passengers, which can be a bonus for families and groups traveling from Tokyo to Osaka. 

However, using personal rental vehicles to travel from Tokyo to Osaka can be costly. Although Tokyo and Osaka are only about 300 miles apart, this distance can strain your budget, as the gas, toll and rental prices can become costly.

Still, despite controlling the time of your arrival, it may not be worth the added cost if you want to keep the trip price to a minimum.

Rental Cars In Tokyo (Kayak)

Rental Cars In Japan (Expedia)

Toyota Rent A Car Company (official site)

Cheapest Ways from Tokyo to Osaka

Cheaper travel options save you money because of the overall cost, which is much lower than other travel options like bullet trains or flying.

Lower travel options also eliminate additional travel costs like purchasing an express ticket when riding the railway, paying tolls in rental cars, and added fees through airlines.

Although travel costs might be cheaper, the travel time to Osaka will typically take longer. The main reason travel time takes longer is the number of stops buses and standard trains require passengers to take.

If you do not mind a long ride, opting for a cheaper option like city busses or trains can benefit your bank account.

Buses

The cheapest way to travel from Tokyo to Osaka is by taking a highway bus. Although this is a cheap way to travel, it makes frequent stops and will take longer than travel options like bullet trains or even car rides.  

The bus ride to Osaka from Tokyo takes an average of 8 hours, depending on the amount of rest stops it takes along the way. Busses run day and night, with prices varying based on the time, type of bus, and kind of route. 

Buses with fewer routes or newer models may sometimes cost more but will get passengers to Osaka slightly quicker. When purchasing your ticket at the bus station, pay attention to prices and general explanations. The train station will explicitly state if they are Express or Premium tickets.

Highway Buses From Tokyo To Osaka

Regular Trains

Compared to the bullet train, standard trains are a much cheaper option. It will take nine hours -seven hours longer than the Bullet train- to arrive in Osaka. However, you will save roughly one thousand Yen more each trip to and from the Tokyo to Osaka route. 

Even better, taking the regular train does not require a Japan Rail Pass. In addition to the money you save on each trip, you also save a few hundred dollars by only paying for the cost of your railway fare. 

Osaka Station

The local train makes a few stops between Tokyo and Osaka. However, passengers cannot get off the train once they have boarded. If you un-board the train, you must purchase another ticket to reboard.

Recap

When deciding how to travel from Tokyo to Osaka, consider your budget and the time in which you have to spend in each city. Different options may better suit your travel needs than others.

For instance, travelers on a time crunch should pick direct non stop or limited stop routes aboard the Shinkansen. The Shinkansen is a fast mode of transportation that comes at a somewhat higher cost.

Tokyo

If money is a factor, there are plenty of cheaper options. However, cheap options tend to be slower. Driving a car on the highway from Tokyo to Osaka can take over six hours without stops.

The scenic views and stops along the way make the long trip worth it for people who have never taken the drive and wish to see rural Japan.

Osaka

Regular train rides and highway buses are also great options for sitting back and enjoying the natural beauty of Japan’s countryside.

As you travel the 310 miles from Tokyo to Osaka, you will get a glimpse of Japan’s beautiful landscape and geography, riding on a standard train can take up to nine hours but the view you will get as you do so is remarkable.

MT Lee
My fascination with Japan began several years back at a roadside bonsai stand while on vacation. I became more interested in the where and why's more than the trees themselves. My love of Bonsai led me to further research my interest in the gardens where they originated from and the places and people that surrounded those little trees. My curiosity was well rewarded upon visiting Saitama where the National Bonsai Museum was located and Omiya Village the bonsai mecca for lovers of this ancient art form. Exploring many towns and villages and even making my way to Japan's furthest southern prefecture of Okinawa. I hope to share my love of this wonderful and exotic place with all those who want to know more about Japan.