The JR Yamatoji Line is the name given to the route between JR Namba Station in the Minami or “South” area of Osaka and Kamo Station in Kyoto Prefecture. Because the line passes through JR Nara Station it is very useful for traveling between Osaka and Nara. Technically this line is also part of the Kansai Main Line which connects JR Namba Station with Nagoya Station in Aichi Prefecture.
The Yamatoji Line does not pass through Osaka Station, so most of the trains running on the Yamatoji Line do not connect with that station. However, there is a special service called the Yamatoji Rapid Service which runs on both the Yamatoji Line and the Osaka Loop Line. This service can be used to travel between Osaka Station and JR Nara Station, or between Osaka Station and Tennoji Station. At Osaka Station the Yamatoji Rapid Service departs from Platforms #1 and #2. In this article we will look at both the key destinations on the Yamatoji Line and the route of the Yamatoji Rapid Service. Both the Yamatoji Line and the Yamatoji Rapid Service are fully covered by the Japan Rail Pass.
Key Destinations on the Yamatoji Line
There are 22 stations on the Yamatoji Line. These are as follows:
JR Namba > Imamiya > Shin-Imamiya > Tennoji > Tobu-shijo-mae > Hirano > Kami > Kyuhoji > Yao > Shiki > Kashiwara > Takaida > Kawachi-Katakami > Sango > Oji > Horyuji > Yamato-Koizumi > Koriyama > Nara > Narayama > Kizu > Kamo
Train times and fares below are given from JR Namba Station.
JR Namba Station
JR Namba Station is the western terminus of the Yamatoji Line and serves the Namba area, a major shopping and entertainment district in Osaka. Famous sites here include the Glico running man image and the Kani Doraku crab image by the Dotonbori canal. Attractions include the leafy Namba Parks shopping mall, the Shin-Kabukiza Theater, and Hozen-ji Temple. Close by Hozen-ji Temple is Hozen-ji Yokocho, a celebrated stone flagged alleyway full of bars, cafes and eateries. You can download a map of the entire Minami area (including Namba, Nipponbashi and Shinsaibashi) from the Osaka Info website.
Namba is served by four separate stations all within a very close radius: JR Namba Station, Osaka Municipal Subway’s Namba Station, Osaka Namba Station and Nankai Namba Station. Transfers are as follows:
At Osaka Namba Station transfer to the Kintetsu Namba Line and the Hanshin Namba Line.
At Nankai Namba Station transfer to the Nankai Main Line and the Nankai Koya Line. The Nankai Main Line runs between Namba Station in Osaka and Wakayamashi Station in Wakayama City. The Koya Line links Osaka with the mountain temple retreat of Koya-san in Wakayama Prefecture.
Transfer here to the Osaka Loop Line.
Train fare: 120 yen
Train time: 2 minutes by Local train
Transfer here to the Osaka Loop Line, and to Nankai Electric Railway’s Nankai Main Line and Koya Line.
There are two more stations close to Shin-Imamiya Station: Shin-Imamiya-Ekimae Station and Dobutsuen-mae Station. At Shin-Imamiya-Ekimae Station transfer to the tramway Hankai Line which links the cities of Osaka and Sakai. At Dobutsuen-mae Station transfer to Osaka Municipal Subway’s Midosuji and Sakaisuji Lines.
Train fare: 120 yen
Train time: 4 minutes by Local train
Tennoji Station is located in central Osaka. The main attraction in this area is Shitennoji Temple, which dates from 593 and is Japan’s oldest Buddhist temple. Tennoji Park, Tennoji Zoo and Osaka Municipal Museum of Fine Art are also nearby. You can download a free map of the Tennoji area from the Osaka Info website.
Transfer here to the Osaka Loop Line, the JR Hanwa Line and Osaka Municipal Subway’s Tanimachi and Midosuji Lines. The JR Hanwa Line links Osaka with Wakayama Prefecture. The Limited Express Haruka for Kansai International Airport also stops at Tennoji Station.
Transfer also to nearby Tennoji-Ekimae Station for the tramway Hankai Uemachi Line. Osaka Abenobashi Station is also nearby, and here you can transfer to the Kintetsu Minami-Osaka Line which connects to Kashihara city in Nara Prefecture.
Train fare: 160 yen
Train time: 7 minutes by Local train
Passengers from JR Namba Station should transfer here from a Local to a Rapid Service train.
Train fare: 220 yen
Train time: 18 minutes by Local train
Horyuji Station is located in the city of Ikaruga in Nara Prefecture. This city is famous for its ancient temples: Horyuji Temple, Hokkiji Temple and Horinji Temple. The first two temples are designated UNESCO World Heritage sites.
Train fare: 460 yen
Train time: 36 minutes by Local train to Kyuhoji Station and then by a Rapid Service train
Koriyama Station is located in the city of Yamatokoriyama in Nara Prefecture. The city is best known for its castle and for Yatadera Temple which is renowned for its hydrangea garden.
Train fare: 560 yen
Train time: 43 minutes by Local train to Kyuhoji Station and then by a Rapid Service train
The city of Nara is famous for its many shrines and temples, many of which date back to the 8th century when Nara was Japan’s first permanent capital. Eight locations are UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Transfers can be made here to the JR Nara Line bound for Kyoto.
Train fare: 560 yen
Train time: 51 minutes by Local train to Kyuhoji Station and then by a Rapid Service train
Kamo Station is the eastern terminus of the Yamatoji Line and is located in the city of Kizugawa in the southernmost part of Kyoto Prefecture. This station is convenient for Joruriji Temple which is famous for its beautiful Heian era garden. The temple pagoda, main hall and many of its statues are designated National Treasures. Transfer here to trains that continue on the Kansai Main Line toward Nagoya.
Train fare: 970 yen
Train time: 67 minutes by Local train to Kyuhoji Station and then by a Rapid Service train
The Yamatoji Rapid Service
The Yamatoji Rapid Service is a train that begins at Tennoji Station on the Osaka Loop Line and follows an anti-clockwise course on the Osaka Loop Line’s inner track before joining the Yamatoji Line at Shin-Imamiya Station. These trains may terminate at Nara or Kamo Stations.
On the Osaka Loop Line this service stops at all stations between Tennoji and Osaka and then makes limited stops at Fukushima Station, Nishikujo Station, Bentencho Station and Taisho Station before joining the Yamatoji Line at Shin-Imamiya Station. During peak travel periods however, this train is replaced by the Regional Rapid Service, which follows the same route as the Yamatoji Rapid Service but stops at every station on the Osaka Loop Line.
Trains going in the opposite direction run along the Yamatoji Line for part of their route, but at Shin-Imamiya Station they are diverted onto the Osaka Loop Line and do not continue on to JR Namba Station. From Shin-Imamiya Station onward these trains follow the Osaka Loop Line’s outer track in a clockwise direction making limited stops at Taisho Station, Bentencho Station, Nishikujo Station, Fukushima Station, before reaching Osaka Station. After Osaka Station they stop at every station on the Osaka Loop Line until terminating at Tennoji Station.
Some of the Regional Rapid Trains follow the same route along the Osaka Loop Line and Yamatoji Line until they reach Oji Station. There they are diverted to the Wakayama Line and do not go on to Nara or Kamo Stations. They terminate instead at either Takada Station or Gojo Station on the Wakayama Line. For this reason it is important to check your destination before boarding your train. At Osaka Station, trains bound for Nara and Kamo depart from Platform 1 and trains bound for Tennoji depart from Platform 2.
Traveling from Osaka Station the Yamatoji Rapid Service will get you to Nara Station in 50 minutes for 800 yen and to Kamo Station in 66 minutes for 970 yen. Trains from Osaka Station to Tennoji take 16 minutes and cost 190 yen.
Traveling from Namba Station, take the local train of the Yamatoji Line to Kyuhoji Station and then transfer to the Yamatoji Rapid Service. This will get you to Nara Station in 51 minutes for 560 yen and to Kamo Station in 67 minutes for 970 yen. To plan your journey, use the JR West Timetable and Fare Finder.
Article and original photos by Michael Lambe. All rights reserved.