The Tokaido Shinkansen is a high-speed “bullet train” rail line operated by JR Central between Shin-Osaka Station and Tokyo Station. This is the fastest and most comfortable route to take if you are traveling between Osaka and other major cities in Japan such as Kyoto, Nagoya and Tokyo.
Traveling east from Shin-Osaka Station you can reach Kyoto in 15 minutes, Nagoya in 50 minutes and Tokyo in 2 hours and 30 minutes. Beyond Shin-Osaka, the line is extended westward by the Sanyo Shinkansen line, which goes to Kobe, Himeji, Hiroshima and as far as Hakata in Kyushu.
This route can be very economical if you have a Japan Rail Pass. However, be aware that two of the fastest shinkansen trains, the Nozomi on the Tokaido line, and the Mizuho on the Sanyo line are not covered by the Japan Rail Pass.
There are three types of train on the Tokaido Shinkansen line: the Nozomi, Hikari and Kodama. The Nozomi is the most frequent and the fastest train as it travels between Shin-Osaka and Tokyo in just 2 hours and 30 minutes. However, this train is not covered by the Japan Rail Pass. If you wish to use the Japan Rail Pass, your best choice is the Hikari which takes 3 hours to cover the distance. The Kodama stops at every station on the way and so takes about four hours.
If you are traveling by shinkansen, Shin-Osaka Station is your gateway for the Osaka metropolitan area. This is the common terminus for two shinkansen lines, the Tokaido from Tokyo in the east, and the Sanyo from Fukuoka in the west. At Shin-Osaka station passengers can connect with the Subway Midosuji Line, which is the main line running north to south of the Osaka city subway network. They can also connect with regular JR lines and several Limited Express services. The Special Rapid train on the JR Kyoto Line also provides quick and easy access from here to both Osaka Station and Kyoto Station.
Kyoto was Japan’s imperial capital for over a millennium and is still one of its best preserved cities, with thousands of shrines, temples, palaces and gardens. Among these the Golden Pavilion of Kinkakuji Temple, Fushimi Inari Taisha Shrine, and the bamboo forest of Arashiyama are major tourist attractions. Kyoto is also famous for its fine food and riverside dining, as well as its more modern architecture such as Kyoto Tower, and the Kyoto Station building. As the cultural and spiritual center of country, it is safe to say that no trip to Japan is complete without a visit to Kyoto.
Non-reserved ticket fare from Shin-Osaka: 1420 yen
Nagoya is a major port city in central Honshu. Popular tourist attractions include Nagoya Castle, Hommaru Palace, the Tokugawa Museum and Garden, and Osu Temple and shopping district. Read our Nagoya Station guide.
Non-reserved ticket fare from Shin-Osaka: 5830 yen
Yokohama is a major port city south of Tokyo. Its most famous attractions include, Sankei-en Garden, the sea-front Minato Mirai district, the Landmark Tower and a Chinatown district with hundreds of Chinese restaurants.
Non-reserved ticket fare from Shin-Osaka: 13290 yen
Tokyo is Japan’s capital city and most populous metropolis with endless opportunities for sightseeing, shopping, dining and entertainment. Popular districts include the historic area of Asakusa, Harajuku for its pop culture and fashion boutiques, and Roppongi and Shibuya for neon-lit nightlife.
Non-reserved ticket fare from Shin-Osaka: 13620 yen
Maps & Timetables
View detailed route maps for both the Tokaido and Sanyo Shinkansen lines.
You can download PDFs of the timetables for the Tokaido Shinkansen from JR Central, but to find train times quickly and easily use the JR West Timetable & Route Finder.
Article and original photos by Michael Lambe. All rights reserved.