How to travel from Tokyo to other Japanese cities

What you need to know about intercity travel in Japan

Shinkansen in Tokyo | Time Out Tokyo
Photo by Fikri Rasyid on Unsplash
By Time Out Tokyo Editors |
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Although Tokyo has more things to see, do and eat than you can fit into a lifetime, sometimes it pays to get out of the capital and check out some of Japan’s other major cities. Be it historic Kyoto, rough-and-ready Osaka, steamy Fukuoka or picturesque Kanazawa you’re travelling to, the journey is unlikely to be inconvenient – Japan’s superb high-speed train network and extensive air routes mean that getting from Tokyo to almost any other part of the country is a breeze. Still, there are a few things to keep in mind when planning your adventure. Read on for a few choice tips, plus details on travel times and prices for ten major cities.

Note: prices are as of January 2018. Train information cites travel times and prices from Tokyo Station.

How to get to Japan’s major cities from Tokyo

osaka tenjinbashi
Tenjinbashi

Osaka

Stepping foot in Osaka feels almost as though you’ve landed in a different country, with the western city’s original character found in all corners. Check out our guide to 48 hours in Osaka or our tips for the Nakanoshima area, and read on for details on how to travel from Tokyo to Osaka.

Shinkansen

Tokaido/Sanyo Shinkansen

2.5 hours

Tokyo to Shin-Osaka fare: ¥8,750 + express rate (from ¥5,700 for reserved seats, ¥4,870 for non-reserved seats – prices vary by season)

Note: the Nozomi Shinkansen is the fastest train travelling between Tokyo and Osaka. The Hikari and Kodama trains are slightly cheaper (¥8,750 + express rate from ¥5,390) but somewhat slower.

Overnight bus

8-9 hours

From ¥2,500 (from ¥5,000 with wi-fi)

See our guide to overnight buses for more details

Airplane

70 minutes to Itami Airport from Tokyo (Haneda or Narita), 90 minutes to Kansai International Airport from Tokyo

From ¥7,400 to Itami (JAL/ANA), from ¥4,000 to Kansai International (Vanilla, Jetstar Japan, Peach)

Note: Itami Airport is closer to central Osaka (around 30 minutes by taxi, bus or train), but low-cost carriers only fly to Kansai International (50 minutes to central Osaka by express train or airport bus).

The Perfect Day in Kyoto

Kyoto

Kyoto is one of the world’s most beautiful cities, with more temples and treasures than anyone could hope to see in a lifetime. The ancient capital’s dizzying selection of World Heritage sites attracts travellers throughout the year, so you’ll always have company. Check out our full guide to Kyoto here.

Shinkansen

Tokaido/Sanyo Shinkansen

2 hours 20 minutes

Tokyo to Kyoto fare: ¥8,210 + express rate (from ¥5,700 for reserved seats, ¥4,870 for non-reserved seats – prices vary by season)

Note: the Nozomi Shinkansen is the fastest train travelling between Tokyo and Kyoto. The Hikari and Kodama trains are slightly cheaper (¥8,210 + express rate from ¥5,390) but somewhat slower.

Overnight bus

7-8 hours

From ¥2,500 (from ¥5,000 with wi-fi)

See our guide to overnight buses for more details

Airplane

Kyoto does not have its own airport, so you’ll need to fly into Osaka first.

70 minutes to Itami Airport from Tokyo (Haneda or Narita), 90 minutes to Kansai International Airport from Tokyo

From ¥7,400 to Itami (JAL/ANA), from ¥4,000 to Kansai International (Vanilla, Jetstar Japan, Peach)

Note: Itami Airport is closer to Kyoto (around 1 hour by taxi, bus or train), but low-cost carriers only fly to Kansai International (1 hour 15 minutes to Kyoto Station by express train, 1 hour 25 minutes by airport bus).

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Nagoya | Time Out Tokyo

Nagoya

Nagoya isn’t the prettiest city, but Japan’s engineering and manufacturing centre does boast a few real highlights. These include Nagoya Castle and the Toyota Museum – the latter is a must for car aficionados. Here’s how to get to Nagoya from Tokyo.

Shinkansen

Tokaido/Sanyo Shinkansen

1 hour 40 minutes

Tokyo to Nagoya fare: ¥6,260 + express rate (from ¥4,830 for reserved seats, ¥4,100 for non-reserved seats – prices vary by season)

Note: the Nozomi Shinkansen is the fastest train travelling between Tokyo and Nagoya. The Hikari and Kodama trains are slightly cheaper (¥6,260 + express rate from ¥4,620) but slower – the Hikari is still speedy at 1 hour and 50 minutes, while the Kodama is significantly less so at 2 hours and 50 minutes.

Overnight bus

5.5-6.5 hours

From ¥3,700 (from ¥5,500 with wi-fi)

See our guide to overnight buses for more details

Airplane

1 hour from Tokyo (Narita or Haneda) to Chubu Centrair International Airport

From ¥8,000 (JAL/ANA)

Chubu Airport is around 30 minutes from central Nagoya by train (1 hour by bus or taxi).

Ohori Park, Fukuoka | Time Out Tokyo

Fukuoka

If Tokyo is the friend who rushes you between sights and social engagements to a turbo timetable, Fukuoka is the relaxed southern cousin who sits you in a sunny spot, pours you a beer and tops it up as you chat. Kyushu’s largest city is often overlooked on tourist itineraries, yet is beloved by its residents. Check out our picks of things to do in Fukuoka here.

Shinkansen

Tokaido/Sanyo Shinkansen

5 hours

Tokyo to Hakata fare: ¥13,820 + express rate (from ¥9,130 for reserved seats, ¥7,990 for non-reserved seats – prices vary by season)

Note: the Nozomi Shinkansen is the only shinkansen travelling directly between Tokyo and Fukuoka.

Overnight bus

14 hours

From ¥8,500

See our guide to overnight buses for more details

Airplane

2 hours 10 minutes from Tokyo to Fukuoka

From ¥9,000 from Haneda (JAL, ANA, Skymark), from ¥5,000 from Narita (Jetstar, Peach)

Fukuoka Airport is only 10 minutes by subway from the city centre.

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Hiroshima | Time Out Tokyo

Hiroshima

Home to many of Japan’s most important cultural and historic sites, Hiroshima is renowned for its Peace Memorial and Atomic Bomb Dome – both essential stops on any tour of the country.

Shinkansen

Tokaido/Sanyo Shinkansen

4 hours

Tokyo to Hiroshima fare: ¥11,660 + express rate (from ¥7,420 for reserved seats, ¥6,380 for non-reserved seats – prices vary by season)

Note: the Nozomi Shinkansen is the only shinkansen travelling directly between Tokyo and Hiroshima.

Overnight bus

12-13 hours

From ¥6,500

See our guide to overnight buses for more details

Airplane

90 minutes from Tokyo to Hiroshima

From ¥10,600 from Haneda (JAL, ANA), from ¥5,690 from Narita (Spring Japan)

Hiroshima Airport is 45 minutes from the city centre by taxi or airport bus.

Nagasaki | Time Out Tokyo

Nagasaki

A port city on the western edge of Kyushu, Nagasaki was the only city where foreign maritime trade was allowed during Japan’s Edo-era ‘closed country’ policy. Destroyed by the atomic bombing of 1945, it has grown into a vibrant and diverse spot and is sometimes touted as the next big travel destination in Japan.

Shinkansen

There is no direct Shinkansen service from Tokyo to Nagasaki, so you’ll need to transfer to a regular express train at Fukuoka.

Tokaido/Sanyo Shinkansen

5 hours

Tokyo to Hakata (Fukuoka) fare: ¥13,820 + express rate (from ¥9,130 for reserved seats, ¥7,990 for non-reserved seats – prices vary by season)

Then transfer to the JR Kamome Express

2 hours

Hakata to Nagasaki fare: ¥2,810 + express rate (¥1,900 for reserved seats, ¥1,380 for non-reserved seats)

Airplane

2 hours from Tokyo (Haneda) to Nagasaki

From ¥11,090 (JAL, ANA, Solaseed Air)

Nagasaki Airport is 35 minutes from the city by taxi.

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Kanazawa Castle | Time Out Tokyo

Kanazawa

While Kanazawa isn’t yet a staple on the average tourist’s Japan circuit, this city in Ishikawa prefecture is a great place to steep yourself in the best of the country’s traditions while simultaneously enjoying some cutting-edge art and food. Check out our guide to Kanazawa here.

Shinkansen

Hokuriku Shinkansen

2.5 hours

Tokyo to Kanazawa fare: ¥7,340 + express rate (from ¥6,780)

Overnight bus

8-10 hours

From ¥2,600 (¥4,500 with wi-fi)

See our guide to overnight buses for more details

Airplane

1 hour from Tokyo (Haneda/Narita) to Komatsu Airport

From ¥9,490 (ANA/JAL)

Komatsu Airport is 40 minutes from central Kanazawa by taxi or airport bus.

Yumoto Onsen, Nikko | Time Out Tokyo
Photo: Breezeyoshi/Pixta

Nikko

Known as one of the most popular places in all of Japan for admiring the autumn foliage, Nikko is also home to a wealth of historical shrines and temples, not to mention the hot spring resorts around nearby Kinugawa Onsen.

Shinkansen

There is no direct Shinkansen service between Tokyo and Nikko, so you’ll need to transfer to a local train at Utsunomiya.

Tohoku Shinkansen

50 minutes

Tokyo to Utsunomiya fare: ¥2,590 + express rate (from ¥2,990 for reserved seats, ¥2,470 for non-reserved seats – prices vary by season)

Then transfer to the JR Nikko Line

45 minutes

Utsunomiya to Nikko fare: ¥756

Local trains

You can travel by local train from Tokyo to Nikko, but you will need to transfer at least once. The easiest option is to take the JR Ueno-Tokyo Line to Utsunomiya and then transfer to the JR Nikko Line. You will get to Nikko in around 2.5 hours for ¥2,590.

Alternatively, you can take the Tobu Spacia limited express from Asakusa to Tobu Nikko Station. The travel time is around 2 hours and the rate is ¥2,700 (¥2,800 on Sat, Sun & hols).

There are also direct trains to Nikko from Shinjuku and Ikebukuro. The JR Nikko Express takes 2 hours from Shinjuku and 1 hour 55 minutes from Ikebukuro. The rate from Shinjuku is ¥4,000 and ¥3,870 from Ikebukuro.

Express bus

Tohoku Express Bus

3.5 hours

From ¥2,500 (¥4,000 for a round trip)

Leaves Tokyo Station daily at 7.50am, arrives in Nikko at 10.45am. Departs Nikko daily at 4pm, arrives at Tokyo Station at 7pm.

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Sendai | Time Out Tokyo

Sendai

The largest city in the Tohoku region brims with the delights of a modern megacity: rowdy sake bars, multiple cat cafés, pachinko arcades and some excellent people-watching.

Shinkansen

Tohoku Shinkansen

1.5 hours

Tokyo to Sendai fare: ¥5,940 + express fare (from ¥5,260 – prices vary by season)

Note: the Hayabusa Shinkansen is the fastest train travelling between Tokyo and Sendai. The Hayate and Yamabiko trains are slightly cheaper (¥5,940 + express rate from ¥4,950) but somewhat slower.

Local trains

You can travel from Tokyo to Sendai by local train, but the journey will take up to seven hours. One option is to take the Ueno-Tokyo (Utsunomiya) line to Kuroiso Station, then transfer to the JR Tohoku Main Line to Koriyama, and then at Koriyama to the Tohoku Line train for Sendai. The total fare is ¥5,940.

Express bus

5.5-6.5 hours

From ¥2,600 (¥3,500 with wi-fi)

See our guide to overnight buses for more details

Odori Park, Sapporo | Time Out Tokyo

Sapporo

A historic city perhaps best known for its signature beer and as the host of the 1972 Winter Olympics, Sapporo is the de facto capital of Hokkaido and a gateway to the northern island. Check out our picks of the best things to do in Sapporo here.

Shinkansen

There is no direct Shinkansen service from Tokyo to Sapporo, so you’ll need to transfer to a regular express train at Shin-Hakodate Hokuto.

Hokkaido Shinkansen

4.5 hours

Tokyo to Shin-Hakodate Hokuto fare: ¥11,560 + express rate (from ¥11,130 – prices vary by season)

Then transfer to the JR Hokuto Express

3.5 hours

Shin-Hakodate Hokuto to Sapporo fare: ¥5,720 + express rate (¥3,110 for reserved seats, ¥2,590 for non-reserved seats)

Note: a discount is applied if you buy your tickets for both the Shinkansen and the Hokuto Express at the same time. In this case, the rates are: ¥14,140 + Shinkansen express rate (from ¥11,130) + Hokuto Express express rate (¥1,550 for reserved seats, ¥1,290 for non-reserved seats).

Airplane

1 hour 45 minutes from Tokyo (Haneda/Narita) to New Chitose Airport

From ¥8,790 from Haneda (Skymark, Air DO), from ¥4,380 from Narita (Vanilla, Jetstar, Spring Japan)

New Chitose Airport is 40-60 minutes from Sapporo by train or taxi.

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