A question that people ask a lot is about to travel from the airport in Tokyo to the airport in Osaka. The reason being that most airlines from the United States and Europe serve Tokyo but most of the regional airlines use the Osaka airport in the south. The good news is that Cebu Pacific Air and Air Asia are now adding directly flights to Tokyo so this trip might be a thing of the past.
As a general rule, I fly into Asia using American Airlines and they serve Tokyo. The flight from Chicago or Dallas arrives early in the morning so that I have a day in the city before heading to Osaka to fly out of the next afternoon. This stopover has been ideal for me for many trips.
As with anything in Japan, (especially in Tokyo) the greatest challenge is finding someone that can tell you where to go. The Japanese are slowly getting better at speaking English but there is no English subtitles on most things. It can be even hard to find English speaking people in the airport. I know that is hard to believe but welcome to Japan, a developed nation that beats to its’ drum.
It is worth saying that I have had made this trip for five years so it might have changed just a little (but unlikely).
How to travel from Tokyo to Osaka
If your first answer is the bullet train, well think again (more on that in a bit) The option is to get a connecting flight with one of the Japanese airlines or use the long haul buses. I have always use this option so I can’t tell you anything about flying within Japan.
You will go to the bus company’s desk right in the bottom of the airport and they will tell you what time the bus is coming and you will pay them for the ticket. If I remember right, the cost is about $100 to make the journey. Japan is no cheap Asia destination!
Around nine in the evening, the bus will pull up at the airport exit and you will get on it. The driver won’t say much but motion for your ticket. After giving it to him, you will get on the bus and sit down. When I say sit down, I am talking like having a lazy boy! I was amazed how comfortable the bus in Japan really was.
Around four or so in the morning, the driver will stop at a rest stop and you can get something to eat there. He will wait around thirty minutes or so there. I think this is to rest the breaks on the bus as the trip is up and down a lot of hills.
Come nine in the morning, you will pull into Osaka station. This is downtown Osaka, Japan. I normally take this time to see the town and get some decent food before going to the airport.
When you are ready, there is a special bus that goes straight to the airport for about $5. It will drop you off at the departure gate. It will take about 40 minutes to get there.
I would love to use the Shinkansen (actual name of the bullet train) but it is completely out of my budget most of the time that I am traveling through Japan. I went down to check the price and it was over $400 to go from one airport to the other. It was much faster and easier to use but not at that price.
I am sure that taking it from Tokyo (not the airport) would be a little cheaper but it was still completely out of my range. I have used them for short trips around Japan like from Kyoto to Osaka but the price is just insane!
Now, you can get a better price if you have the JRpass, a pass of sorts for trains in Japan. As I understand it, you need to preorder it and you can get it for 7,14, and 21 days. I have never got it as most of my travel in Japan is limited to three days or less. If I was spending longer in the country, I would be sure to pick one up beforehand. You can read more about the JR Pass here.
The Osaka Airport is serviced by the Shinkansen so if you pull it financially, it might be something that is of interest you. I will do it one of these days, I am sure.
Tip: If you have some extra time, check out Kyoto, the town right before Osaka. It is well worth the trip.