The Hankai Tramway is a company operating two tramlines that run from southern Osaka to Sakai City. This is the only tramline service in Osaka and it has a long history. The Hankai Tramway company was founded in 1910, but one of its lines is even older and dates from 1900. These days you will see a variety of trams running on the Hankai tramlines and some of them are quite sleek and modern, but there are other vintage models that date from as long ago as 1928.
The two tramlines are called the Hankai Line and the Uemachi Line. Hankai Line trams run between Ebisucho Station in the north and Abikomichi Station in the south. Uemachi Line trams run between Tennoji-Ekimae Station in the north and Hamadera-Ekimae Station in the south. The two lines meet at Sumiyoshi Station. The Uemachi Line in particular has some historic tourist attractions along its route. Because the Hankai Tramway is a private company these lines are not covered by the Japan Rail Pass.
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How to Use Hankai Trams
- These trams have a flat fare system of 210 yen for adults and 110 yen for children. No matter where you board the tram or get off, the fare is the same.
- You get on at the back of the tram and you pay your fare into a fare box at the front when you get off.
- If you wish to use an IC card to pay your fare, you should use it twice. Touch it against the card reader by the door when you board the train, and touch it again to the card reader by the fare box when you get off.
- Hankai trams accept all the major Japanese IC cards such as ICOCA and SUICA. Transfers are possible between the lines at Sumiyoshi and Abikomichi stations. You can buy transfer tickets from automatic machines at these stations.
- If you are going to ride the tramlines multiple times it is a good idea to get a “Take Take” one day pass. In Japanese this pass is called the “tekuteku kippu”. This pass gives you unlimited rides for one day and costs 600 yen for adults and 300 yen for children. You can either buy it on a tram or at the following stations: Tennoji-Ekimae Station, Shin-Imamiya-Ekimae Station, Abikomichi Station, and Hamadera-Ekimae Station.
The Hankai Line – Key Destinations
There are 16 stations on the Hankai Line.
Ebisucho – Shin-Imamiya-Ekimae – Imaike – Imafune – Matsudacho – Kita-Tengachaya – Shotensaka – Tenjinnomori – Higashi-Tamade – Tsukanishi – Higashi-Kohama – Sumiyoshi – Sumiyoshi-torriimae – Hosoigawa – Anryumachi – Abikomichi
The key destinations and the main transfer points are given below with example journey times given from Ebisucho Station.
This station is convenient for Nipponbashi’s Denden Town which has many stores selling cheap electronics, manga, anime, toys, games, and collectible models.
Transfer here to the Sakaisuji Subway Line.
This station is convenient for Shinsekai and the Tsutenkaku Tower.
Transfer here to Shin-Imamiya Station for the JR Osaka Loop Line, the JR Yamatoji Line, the Nankai Main Line, and the Nankai Koya Line. Transfer to Dobutsuen-mae station for the Midosuji Subway Line, and the Sakaisuji Subway Line.
Travel time: 1 minute
At this station the Hankai Line and the Uemachi Line converge.
Travel time: 15 minutes
The Uemachi Line – Key Destinations
There are 29 stations on the Uemachi Line. Between Sumiyoshi Station and Abikomichi Station trams on the Hankai and Uemachi lines follow the same route.
Tennoji-Ekimae – Abeno – Matsumushi – Higashi-Tengachaya – Kitabatake – Himematsu – Tezukayama-Sanchome – Tezukayama-Yonchome – Kaminoki – Sumiyoshi – Sumiyoshitorii-Mae – Hosoigawa – Anryumachi – Abikomichi – Yamatogawa – Takasujinsha – Ayanocho – Shimmeicho – Myokokuji-Mae – Hanataguchi – Oshoji – Shukuin – Terajicho – Goryo-Mae – Higashi-Minato – Ishizu-Kita – Ishizu – Funao – Hamadera-Ekimae
The key destinations and transfer points are given below with example journey times given from Tennoji-Ekimae Station.
This station is convenient for the Abeno Harukas skyscraper, Tennoji Park and Zoo, and Shitennoji Temple. Transfer here to Osaka Abenobashi Station for the Kintetsu Minami Osaka Line. Transfer to Tennoji Station for the JR Osaka Loop Line, JR Hanwa Line, JR Yamatoji Line, the Midosuji Subway Line, and the Tanimachi Subway Line.
At this station the Hankai Line and the Uemachi Line converge. The grounds of Sumiyoshi Taisha Shrine can be accessed from this station, but the next station is closer to the front entrance.
Travel time: 15 minutes
This station is convenient for Sumiyoshi Taisha, Osaka’s most famous shrine which is said to date from 211. Transfer at nearby Sumiyoshi Taisha Station to the Nankai Main Line.
Travel time: 16 minutes
This station is convenient for Myokokuji; a historic temple, first established in 1592. The temple is famous as the site of the Sakai incident in 1868. Some local samurai had killed 13 visiting French sailors and were then punished by being ordered to commit a ritual suicide at the temple. There is also a sacred Sago Palm tree here that is believed to be over 1,100 years old.
Travel time: 26 minutes
This station is convenient for Nanshuji Temple which dates from 1557. It is believed that the great tea ceremony master Sen no Rikyu was trained here. The temple also has a very beautiful rock garden.
Travel time: 35 minutes
This station is convenient for Hamadera Park which is famous for its pine groves, and rose garden, and which also has a large swimming pool with water slides. Transfer at nearby Hamaderakoen Station to the Nankai Main Line.
Travel time: 48 minutes
The official Hankai Tramway English language website has both a route map and timetables to help you plan your journey.
Article and original photos by Michael Lambe. All rights reserved.