Shinkansen in Tokyo | Time Out Tokyo
Photo: Fikri Rasyid/Unsplash

How to travel from Tokyo to other Japanese cities

What you need to know about intercity travel in Japan, from Tokyo to Nikko, Osaka, Kyoto, Hiroshima, Fukuoka and more

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 as of December 2019. Train times and prices listed below are for departure from Tokyo Station.

How to get to Japan’s major cities from Tokyo

osaka tenjinbashi
osaka tenjinbashi
Photo: 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: ¥8,910 + express rate (from ¥5,610 for reserved seats, ¥4,960 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 (¥8,910 + express rate from ¥4,960) but somewhat slower.

Overnight bus

8-9 hours

From ¥1,700 through Kosokubus

See our guide to overnight buses for more details

Flight

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

From ¥7,750 to Itami (JAL/ANA), from ¥4,890 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).

[Special offer from sponsor, JR Tokai Tours]

A cheaper alternative is the FLEX Rail-Ticket Osaka (¥23,200, including service fee and tax), which grants you a round trip within seven days from Tokyo or Shinagawa station to Japan’s biggest city in the Kansai region. All foreign passport holders (including residents) are able to purchase this special ticket within Tokyo – even on the day of travel. The best part is, two of your Japanese friends will also get to enjoy the same deal if they're travelling with you.

Offer ends March 25 (there will be a new plan starting April 2020). More information here.

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The Perfect Day in Kyoto
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: ¥8,360 + express rate (from ¥5,610 for reserved seats, ¥4,960 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 (¥8,360 + express rate from ¥4,960) but somewhat slower.

Overnight bus

7-8 hours

From ¥1,700 through Kosokubus

See our guide to overnight buses for more details

Flight

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 ¥7,750 to Itami (JAL/ANA), from ¥4,890 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).

[Special offer from sponsor, JR Tokai Tours]

Alternatively, save some money with the FLEX Rail-Ticket Kyoto (¥21,000, including service fee and tax). This shinkansen round-trip pass is valid for seven days and lets you travel from Tokyo or Shinagawa station to the heritage city of Kyoto. While only foreign passport holders (residents included) are eligible to purchase this discount ticket, up to two of your Japanese friends who are traveling with you are able to enjoy the same deal as well.

Offer ends March 25 (there will be a new plan starting April 2020). More information here.

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Nagoya | Time Out Tokyo
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: ¥6,380 + express rate (from ¥4,720 for reserved seats, ¥4,180 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 (¥6,380 + express rate from ¥4,180) 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 ¥1,550 through Kosokubus

See our guide to overnight buses for more details

Flight

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

From ¥6,890 (JAL, ANA or Skymark)

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

Ohori Park, Fukuoka | Time Out Tokyo
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: ¥14,080 + express rate (from ¥9,110 for reserved seats, ¥8,140 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 ¥13,250 through Willer Express

See our guide to overnight buses for more details

Airplane

2 hours 10 minutes from Tokyo to Fukuoka

From ¥8,890 from Haneda (JAL, ANA, Skymark), from ¥5,780 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 | 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: ¥11,880 + express rate (from ¥7,360 for reserved seats, ¥6,500 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 ¥6,080 from Willer Express

See our guide to overnight buses for more details

Airplane

90 minutes from Tokyo to Hiroshima

From ¥8,290 from Haneda (JAL, ANA), from ¥8,050 from Narita (Spring Japan)

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

Nagasaki | Time Out Tokyo
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: ¥14,080 + express rate (from ¥9,110 for reserved seats, ¥8,140 for non-reserved seats – prices vary by season)

Then transfer to the JR Kamome Express, 2 hours

Hakata to Nagasaki fare: ¥2,860 + express rate (¥1,940 for reserved seats, ¥1,410 for non-reserved seats)

Airplane

2 hours from Haneda to Nagasaki, 2.5 hours from Narita to Nagasaki

From ¥5,980 (Jetstar from Narita), from ¥8,890 (JAL, ANA, Solaseed Air, Skymark)

Nagasaki Airport is 35 minutes from the city by taxi.

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Kanazawa Castle | Time Out Tokyo
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: ¥7,480 + express rate (from ¥6,700 for reserved seats, ¥6,370 for non-reserved seats – prices vary by season)

Overnight bus

8-10 hours

From ¥3,400 on Willer Express

See our guide to overnight buses for more details

Airplane

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

From ¥7,790 (ANA, JAL)

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

Yumoto Onsen, Nikko | Time Out Tokyo
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: ¥1,980 + express rate (from ¥2,840 for reserved seats, ¥2,510 for non-reserved seats – prices vary by season)

Then transfer to the JR Nikko Line, 45 minutes

Utsunomiya to Nikko fare: ¥660

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 Utsunomiya Line from Ueno to Kurihashi and then take the Tobu-Nikko Line to Tobu Nikko. You will get to Nikko in around 2.5 hours for ¥1,980.

Alternatively, you can take the Tobu Spacia limited express from Asakusa to Tobu Nikko Station (some services require a transfer at Shimo-Imachi). The travel time is around 2 hours and the rate is ¥2,700-2,900.

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

3.5 hours

From ¥2,500 through Tohoku Express Bus

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 | 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: ¥6,050 + express fare (from ¥5,360 – 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 ¥2,000 through Kosokubus

See our guide to overnight buses for more details

Odori Park, Sapporo | Time Out Tokyo
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: ¥12,100 + express rate (from ¥11,330 – prices vary by season)

Then transfer to the JR Hokuto Express, 3.5 hours

Shin-Hakodate Hokuto to Sapporo fare: ¥6,270 + express rate (¥3,170 for reserved seats, ¥2,640 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.

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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