For info on getting to/from Kansai International Airport (KIX), including special train deals, please go to the TA Arriving & Departing page. Much of the info on this page has been copied from the TA Getting Around page.

Public transportation within Osaka is mostly by rail, particularly subway and JR West Loop Line, which circles the city as the name suggests. Except for one line (the Hankai line from Tennoji to Sumiyoshi-Taisha shrine), streetcars are out of use, but an urban network of subways & trains makes it fairly easy to travel within Osaka and throughout Kansai.

The website Hyperdia provides train info (times, prices, and options) by just typing in the To & From station names. There's also a useful app which can be downloaded onto smartphones.

 As for train companies, there are the "big six" in Osaka. Nankai Railways and JR West carry passengers into / from KIX (Kansai International Airport). The former covers southern Osaka and has a gateway to Mt. Koya in Kii Peninsula, Wakayama Prefecture; the latter, which was once part of the national railroad company, covers a far wider area than all the other rival companies combined in Kansai. Kintetsu is the second largest railroad company, running from Osaka to Kyoto to Nara to Nagoya. Nankai is the third. Hankyu is the fourth largest, covering places from Osaka to Kyoto and from Osaka to Kobe. Then comes Keihan, which is a combination of acronyms of Kyoto and Osaka, that is, "kei" for Kyoto and "han" for Osaka. Yes, it runs from Osaka to Kyoto. The smallest of the big sixes is Hanshin Railways (now owned by Hankyu), which carries passengers between Osaka and Kobe. It also connects to the Kintetstu line at Osaka-Namba station, so it is now possible to go from Kobe to Nara with just one transfer in Namba.

All of these train lines now offer their own special discount passes for visiting tourists, usually for 1-day or their names above to check their websites for details.

Taxi, Buses, & Bicycle 

Taxis are expensive, and basically only useful for groups of 3-4 for short distances, such as to/from hotel from nearest station with luggage. If you do need one, however, there are usually plenty of taxis available. Most drivers won't speak much English, so it's good to have the accommodation address printed in Japanese. Fares usually start at around 600 yen, and can quickly rise to 2-3000 yen for a 10~15 min. ride.

It is to be noted, though, that some of them offer a great discount for a long-distance ride during the night. If the fare is Y17000, which is just about the amount you pay for a ride from KIX to Central Osaka, they charge you Y13500. The amount exceeding Y10000 can be 50% off the meter! But it seems that drivers in those companies never show up at KIX; unless, of course, they take their passengers there.  

Buses serve between big cities in almost all of Japan for daily and even overnight travel. Local city buses are difficult to navigate and generally not needed due to the good Osaka subway system. (Buses are useful for Kyoto sightseeing, however.)

 As a means of cheap transportation from home to the nearest station, lots of people use their bicycles. Some guest houses and even stations near outlying tourist zones offer bicycles to rent, so it's worth asking if you want to cycle around. (There is also a company offering cycle tours of Osaka in English now.)

The problem is a large portion of the bikers did not care a hang about the place to park. Yes, unlike car drivers, they could enjoy a ticket-free status. As it is, things have been pretty tough for those unlawful bikers these days. City officials have begun to hunt for "improperly parked" bikes, and, when they find one, they have no qualms about confiscating it. Sometimes, a small truck laden with bicycles is seen going through the street.  

Osaka Subway

Osaka has a very good subway system (for a .pdf map of the subway system, click here --or just ask a subway staff for a map in English). For most travelers the main line to use will be the red Midosuji line, which runs north-south through the center of Osaka, connecting to other main transfer stations, from Nakamozu and Tennoji in the south, to Namba, Shinsaibashi, Honmachi, Yodoyabashi, Umeda, and Shin-Osaka to points further in the north.

The main stations of Namba and Umeda are 4 stops apart, which takes just 8-10 minutes.

The subways have an unlimited 1-day pass available for 800 yen/day (or 600 yen/day only on Fridays), available at the ticket vending machines in any subway station.

From Kansai Airport there are 2 special combination deals which include airport transfer via Nankai train to/from KIX to Namba. One is the airport + 1 Osaka subway ride for 1000 yen (called Kansai Chika-toku), and the other is the airport + Osaka subway 1-day pass for 1500 yen (called Yokoso Osaka Ticket).

One problem with the subways is that they stop running fairly early, around midnight or earlier, so if you are out enjoying the Osaka nightlife be careful to note the last train time if you want to avoid paying for a taxi.

The Osaka Municipal Transportation Bureau will be of great help when you want to purchase subway tickets and navigating its sub-terranean system.

Osaka Amazing Pass 

This pass (1-day: 2300 yen, 2-days: 3000 yen) is good for unlimited use on the Osaka subways & buses, and includes free entrance to some attractions, and discounts at some shops & museums, etc.:

Kansai Thru Pass

The " Kansai Thru Pass"  (3800 yen/ 2days or 5000 yen/ 3days) provides unlimited rides on private train lines, subways, and buses throughout Kansai -but NOT JR lines- and even includes discounts on selected tourist attractions. It is available at Tourist Information Centers around Kansai. Besides subways & buses in Osaka/Kyoto/Kobe/Nara, it can be used on: Nankai line to KIX & Koyasan, Hankyu line to Kyoto & Kobe, Keihan line to Kyoto, Kintetsu line to Nara, and Hanshin line to Kobe.

ICOCA pre-paid IC card: good on JR & private trains, subways & buses

One easy way to get around Kansai (on almost all JR and private trains, subways, & buses) is to buy the prepaid IC chip card called ICOCA (pronounced E-Coca). There's no train discount* involved, but the benefit is not having to buy a ticket each time, and they can be used anywhere on most public transportation and some shops. (*From April 2016, a special ICOCA for tourists, called Kansai One Pass, does include discounts at some attractions.)

You can buy these IC chip cards at any JR station including KIX (there's a 500-yen deposit that's returned with the card), and then charge them up with a few thousand yen, so that you can then just glide through the wickets without having to buy a ticket each step.

They can even be used at some convenience stores, in addition to JR AND private trains, subways, & buses throughout Osaka, Kyoto, Kobe, and Nara. Any leftover money can be refunded at any JR West station, minus a 220-yen handling fee.

Note that ICOCA can also be used outside Kansai (for example, trains & subways in Tokyo), but can only be refunded in Kansai (or Hiroshima), at a JR West station. (JR East has its own IC card called SUICA, which can be used but not refunded in Kansai.)

From Kansai Airport, JR offers a special Haruka + ICOCA combination package which includes travel on the Haruka Limited Express train to or from KIX to Osaka/Nara/Kyoto/Kobe, plus the ICOCA card. Both 1-way and round-trip available.

JR Passes

Other than the Osaka Loop Line, or going to the airport, there is not that much use for any kind of JR pass in Osaka city. The main JR stations that a visitor might use in Osaka city are at USJ, Osaka station (to Kyoto/Kobe/Himeji/KIX), Tennoji (to KIX), and Shin-Osaka (for Shinkansen trains). There exists a JR Namba station, but it's not in central Namba and is complicated to get to (usually involves a transfer at Shin-Imamiya station).

The JR Rail Pass --- the voucher of which is obtained only outside of Japan -- can be exchanged for the pass at your time of  entry or at a later date at any JR station Green Window. {Note that a JR Rail Pass is usually not worth it if only visiting around only pays off for ROUND-TRIPS to Tokyo from Osaka or Kyoto. It doesn't pay off for a 1-way trip to Tokyo, nor even for a round-trip visit to Hiroshima from Kyoto/Osaka.}

However,  upon arrival within the Kansai area you can buy a JR-West Rail Pass (Kansai Area Pass), which is good for unlimited rides on only JR lines (except those for the bullet train) in Kansai, going as far as Himeji to the west and Kyoto-Yamashina to the east, including Nara. It costs 2000 yen/ 1 day, 4000 yen/ 2 days, 5000 yen/ 3 days, or 6000 yen/ 4 days; children half price-as with most public transportation. It is available at major JR stations, such as JR Kansai Airport, JR Kyoto, JR Shin-Osaka, JR Osaka, and JR Sannomiya, among others.

The 1-day pass for 2000 yen is particularly good value for a day-trip to Himeji, which costs one-way 1490 yen from Osaka (60 min.), or 2270 yen from Kyoto (90 min.).