There are several ways to get from Tokyo to Osaka. Although most travelers choose to travel by high-speed shinkansen (bullet train), you can also fly, drive, or take a bus. Several low-cost airlines offer service between Tokyo and Kansai International Airport, making air travel an affordable option.
Driving from Tokyo to Osaka is not recommended because it takes much longer than traveling by train or airplane; in addition, tolls are costly and parking in Osaka is expensive and difficult to find. However, if you wish to visit any off-the-beaten-path places as you travel from Tokyo to Osaka, hiring a private driver might be a good option for you.
Traveling to Osaka from Tokyo by bus is easy, as JR Bus, Willer Express, and other bus companies offer multiple departures from Tokyo, but the trip takes at least eight hours, making bus travel a less-desirable transportation option.
As you make your way from Tokyo to Osaka, perhaps as part of a 10-Day Cities and Islands of Japan itinerary, consider stopping in Nagoya or Kyoto to see the sights. Nagoya's Atsuta Shrine is one of Japan's most important Shinto shrines, and the Tokugawa Art Museum's collection includes samurai swords, Noh drama costumes, scrolls, and other artifacts from the Tokugawa Shogunate. Car buffs can tour the Toyota plant and visit three Toyota museums.
Kyoto is famous for its many temples and shrines, and is home to seventeen UNESCO World Heritage Sites. The Higashiyama District features streets lined with old wooden buildings evoking Kyoto's earlier days. While there, you can visit temples, shrines, parks, and museums via pedestrian walkways. Kyoto's spring cherry blossoms, fall foliage, and Sagano Bamboo Forest attract visitors from around the world.
Duration: 2.5-3 hours
The fastest and easiest way to get from Tokyo to Osaka is by shinkansen. Trains depart frequently from Tokyo, and the trip to Osaka take just two and one-half to three hours, depending on which line you take. The Nozomi Line offers the fastest service, but you cannot use JR passes on Nozomi trains. No matter which shinkansen line you choose, you will travel in comfort and avoid city traffic.
Duration: Approximately 3 hours, depending on airports chosen, including ground transportation
Japan Air Lines and All Nippon Airways flights connect Tokyo's Haneda Airport with Osaka International Airport, also known as Itami Airport. From Itami Airport, you can reach Osaka by taxi, bus, or monorail and train. Several budget airlines fly between Haneda and Kansai International Airport. Several trains, including the JR Airport Line, the JR Haruka limited express, the Nankai Airport Express, and the Nankai Rapi:t trains, carry travelers from Kansai International Airport to various train stations in Osaka. Buses and taxis are also available; taxi fares from Kansai International Airport to Osaka are quite high because the airport is 31 miles (50 kilometers) from the city.
By Car or Private Driver
Duration: 6 and a half hours or more, depending on traffic and route
Although Tokyo and Osaka are 314 miles (507 kilometers) apart, driving from Tokyo to Osaka can take 6.25 hours or longer on toll expressways because of traffic congestion. Time your travel to avoid rush hours, and consider taking the fastest route, which usually includes the Shin-Tomei/E1A, Higashi-Meihan/E23, Shin-Meishin/E1A, and Meishin/E1 Expressways, unless you are stopping to sightsee along the way.