Summary of content of this post
Osaka is the third largest city in Japan, and although it is not one of our favorites, we have already talked to you about what to see in Osaka and where to sleep in Osaka. So in this post we want to tell you everything you need to know about transportation in Osaka.
Are the points of interest well connected? Is there a variety of transportation? Is transportation in Osaka expensive? In this post we will talk about how to move around Osaka and not die trying. Because I have to confess that Osaka is the only city in Japan where we got lost a couple of times trying to get from one place to another.
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Is Osaka a well-connected city?
Without a doubt, yes, Osaka is one of the best connected cities we know.
And thank goodness for that, because with its size and all the things it has to visit, it’s a great advantage to be able to get anywhere by public transport.
In this post we are going to focus mainly on talking about those means of transport (and lines) that are most useful from the point of view of the traveller who is visiting the city.
Transportation in Osaka: The Japan Rail Pass is super useful in Osaka
What do you have to keep in mind about transportation in Osaka?
The main stations in Osaka are GIANT. Seriously, we’re not exaggerating. They’re mini-cities, so it’s obviously pretty easy to get lost, especially when you’re out. You will probably never get out the way you want to, even if you check the maps inside 😛
In Japan it is not like in Spain that public transport is controlled (mostly) by the government or the administration of each city. In Osaka there are different train and subway lines that depend on different companies.
Inside the stations there are a million signs indicating where each line is, so if you know which one you have to take, you will have no problem finding it.
Always have the transport maps very close at hand (either on paper or on your mobile phone) so that you do not get lost.
If you have a JR Pass you can only use it with the JR company train lines, therefore, it is not valid for the subway or the bus.
Don’t worry if you don’t speak/read Japanese because all the signs are in English too.
Transportation in Osaka: train tracksThe price of tickets depends on the distance you travel (we will develop this a little further below).
The prepaid cards for transport in Osaka are ICOCA, Suica and Pasmo.
At rush hours there are wagons only for women (you will see it signposted on the platform floor).
The Japanese are extremely tidy and are experts at waiting in line, even on public transport. So when you see lines on the platform floor it’s because that way the queues are much more orderly. Don’t get in the way!
Google Maps and Hyperdia are going to be your great friends when it comes to calculating routes and prices. Trust them.
Transportation in Osaka: train
One of the best ways to get around Osaka is definitely the train, especially if you have a JR Pass, because in that case you can take most of the lines for free (in addition to JR, there are 5 other private lines operating in Osaka, which are useful for moving around the city, but not so much around the center).
Just as in Tokyo there is the Yamanote Line, a circular line with which you can reach practically all the points of interest in the city, in Osaka they have the JR Line Loop, with the same concept. Here is a map with all the stops:
Transportation in Osaka: Osaka Look Line. Source: https://www.japanvisitor.com/
Transportation in Osaka: subway
As in Tokyo, there are areas that the train cannot reach, so on many occasions the subway is the most comfortable option for certain journeys, especially to areas inside the JR Loop Line.
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The Osaka Metro has 8 lines plus one light rail (or tram) line, all run by the same company, unlike in Tokyo.
Below is a subway map of Osaka (downtown), which you can download in full at this link.
Transportation in Osaka: Metro map (downtown)
As you can see, one of the most useful lines for the traveler is the red line (called Midosuji), since it connects Shin-Osaka station, from where the shinkansen depart, with several of the city’s tourist areas such as Namba or Tennoji.
To avoid getting lost, the lines are color-coded with letters and numbers that we are sure will help you to locate yourself better.
In terms of price, rides on the Osaka subway are not included in the JR Pass and cost between JPY 180 and JPY 350 depending on the distance you travel.
Transportation in Osaka: bus
As part of this post about transport in Osaka we didn’t want to leave out the bus, but the reality is that this is a means of transport that we would never use in Osaka.
Why? Because we find it excessively complicated and unnecessary knowing that you have the subway and the train as your main options. It’s a means of transport much more suited to locals than to tourists (not that we find this a bad thing).
Transportation in Osaka
If you still want to investigate a little more, you can take a look at the main lines on this link.
The best advice we can give you in this regard is that if you want to make a trip by bus, check the route on Google Maps so you don’t get lost. And keep in mind that in Osaka you get on the bus from the back.
The bus tickets cost 210 JPY and it is not possible to transfer with the same ticket.
Transportation in Osaka: taxi
Riding a taxi in Japan is an experience, because the taxi drivers wear white gloves and the back doors open and close by themselves. Beyond that, it’s one of the most expensive transports, so the reality is that it’s not really worth it.
Transportation in Osaka: taxi
The first two kilometers by taxi cost 660 JPY and it goes up to 80 JPY for every 296 meters driven. Also, please note that most taxi drivers do not speak English, so it is important that you have the place you want to get to or a map written in Japanese so that you can point it out.
Is transportation in Osaka expensive?
As we have told you in each of the transports, the price of transport in Osaka is quite affordable in most cases.
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If you are going to move around the city by public transport and do not have a JR Pass, it is best to acquire a prepaid card (ICOCA, Suica or Pasmo) because it is the most comfortable and practical way to access all transport.
What about unlimited passes?
In addition to these prepaid cards, there are day passes that allow you to save on transportation in Osaka.
The most popular pass is the One-Day-Ticket (or Enjoy-Eco-Card), which costs 800 JPY per day (600 JPY if it’s a holiday or weekend) and serves to use the subway, tram and buses unlimitedly. It also includes discounts on some attractions.
One of the most interesting passes is the Osaka Amazing Pass, which in addition to giving you free access to the city’s transportation, includes entrance to many of Osaka’s attractions such as Osaka Castle, Tsutenkaku Tower, Legoland and Tempozan Waterwheel.
Another cool option is the Kansai Pass, which is a little cheaper, works like a prepaid card and offers unlimited transportation by train and subway and a lot of discounts on tickets to points of interest.
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