If you’re trying to get from Tokyo to Osaka it doesn’t matter whether you’re backpacking in your teens or have a little more cash on a grown up holiday in your thirties, you don’t want to spend unnecessarily. I know that if I have a bit of extra travel budget I’d much rather it went on a cool activity – like eating my bodyweight in sushi or transforming into a geisha – than transport.
If you’re like me and prefer to really look into your transport options from Tokyo to Osaka so you can get the best deal, I’ve got you covered.
I took a good look at the distance between Tokyo and Osaka (506km by the way) and how to travel between them. Of course there are loads of options, but the best deal between Tokyo and Osaka, and Osaka and Tokyo, just depends how basic you’re willing to go in order to save some yen.
Cheapest Way to Travel from Tokyo to Osaka
Remember, all these options count for if you’re trying to travel the other way, from Osaka to Tokyo too.
1. The highway bus between Tokyo and Osaka
A highway bus can take you directly from a Tokyo bus station to Osaka in around 8 to 10 hours. That does sound long but the £35 price tag is definitely appealing. One way to make this is a little less doable is to get the bus at night.
Willer Express and Kosoku Bus both offer night time departures as well as day time ones, which means that if you’re lucky you’ll sleep through most of the journey and wake up ready to roll in Osaka. Personally, at 35, I don’t do night buses anymore, but that’s up to you.
Both of these services let you book online in advance and you can always opt to pay a little more in exchange for extra comfort. Think extra leg room, wider seats and even a ladies only seat.
2. Rent a car between Tokyo and Osaka
I love driving in a new country. You get to see the rules of the foreign road at play and take in a lot more of a place than you usually would. In Tokyo, renting a car is pretty straightforward. A quick search on the Tabirai Japan comparison site and you’ll see all the big companies like Nissan Rent-a-Car, Toyota Rent a Lease and Nippon Rent a Car.
On average you’re looking at 10,000 yen (£70) a day. Between a few of you that doesn’t work out too bad and if you’re the driver maybe you can wangle yourself a drivers discount amongst your friends. But then there’s the other costs to factor in: the type of insurance you want, parking, petrol costs – around 146 yen (£1) per liter – and highway tolls too.
You’ll need to tot it all up for your dates and squad size and see if it makes sense for you.
3. Bullet train between Tokyo and Osaka
If you fancy travelling fast and a little furious, you can jump on a bullet train, or what locals call the shinkansen. Running regularly between 6am and around 9pm, there are a few different bullet trains to choose from, each taking a different amount of time to get you from Tokyo to Osaka.
– Nozomi is the fastest departing every 10 minutes and taking just 2 hours 30 minutes to reach Shin-Osaka from the Tokyo station.
– The Hikari or Kodama trains aren’t too far behind though still getting you there in around three or four hours.
Basically, it just depends on how much time you’ve got and the money you’re willing to spend because naturally you pay a tiny bit more for the novelty of the Nozomi.
Depending on the time of year, a one way ticket will cost around 14,450 yen (£100) on the Nozomi but that can go down a little if you’re not fussy about reserving a seat. For the Hikari and Kodama you shave off a couple of pounds making it around £97.
The Tokyo to Osaka train price might seem a bit steep but an alternative if you’re doing a few different journeys in Japan is to buy a Japan Rail Pass. This will give you a decent discount on every train except the Nozomi. I travelled Japan for 3 weeks using the Japan Rail Pass a few years ago. Check out my blog post to see if you think this would be a good option for you.
Just FYI, the Shinkansen Tokyo to Osaka is a real experience. You can pre order food to your seat, and the speed is just incredible.
*Post in collaboration with Klook*
Booking your JR Rail Pass
Klook offer a great deal on the JR Rail Pass. Right now you can get the 7-day JR Rail Pass for £207.
If you want it for 14 days it costs £329.79, and for 21 days it’s £421.89.
Check out the latest prices for the JR Rail Pass on Klook today.
“There is no easier and more convenient way to discover the Land of the Rising Sun than by taking a ride on Japan’s brilliantly expansive rail network. For your choice of 7, 14, or 21 days, explore Japan in the most convenient and economical way with a Japan rail pass that is valid for the majority of railways and local buses operated by JR. Choose between an Ordinary pass, or if you’re looking to travel in more comfort, opt for the Green Class pass that offers you first class comfort with reclining seats, a footrest, space to stretch out your legs, and a travel magazine to keep you occupied during your journeys. From Shinkansen, Limited Express, local trains, Monorail, JR buses, to the Miyajima Ferry, this Japan rail pass is definitely the easiest and fastest way to explore all of Japan! Get your 7, 14 or 21 day Japan rail pass at Klook and enjoy convenient delivery straight to you!”
4. Flight from Tokyo to Osaka
Although this may seem pretty cheap on the outset, costs can soon mount up for this option. A quick Skyscanner search and flights pop up anywhere between £29 and £140 with ANA or Jetstar, and they’ll have you touching down in an hour and a half. But pesky transfers to and from airports on both sides tattle up the cost to more than you may initially think and add on the hours.
In both Osaka and Tokyo, neither airport is particularly close to the city so depending on where you’re staying it could add an extra few hours onto your journey time. Both Haneda and Narita airports in Tokyo take between an hour and two hours by public transport to reach from the city, costing anywhere between £2 up to £20. And Osaka’s airport takes around the same amount of time.
Of course, taxis are an option but that bumps the price up even more.
Cheapest way from Tokyo to Osaka
In short, if cheap is your game and cheerful is your name, the bus is the clear winner. It may cost you an uncomfortable night napping on a bus but it’ll get you there in time for sunrise and with a healthier bank balance.
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More advice on travelling in Japan
17 Fun Facts About Japan to Know Before You Go
7 Great Things to Do in Fukui in Japan