How to get from Nagoya to Osaka

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Written by  Daichi

Osaka is a city that draws attention from around the world, not only due to its unique cityscape and many sightseeing locations, but also because of its friendly people and distinctive culinary culture. It is a popular city visited by more and more tourists from around the globe each year.
Recently, one of the cheapest ways to get to Osaka that has been drawing attention is not Kansai International Airport, but Chubu Centrair International Airport (hereinafter, Chubu International Airport). The reason for this is that it features many low-cost airlines and affordable tickets for flights to and from Chubu International Airport are available.

Osaka City is attractive because it is full of activity
Osaka City is attractive because it is full of activity

If you're going sightseeing in Osaka and want to keep costs down by, first of all, coming into Japan through Chubu International Airport and then heading to Osaka, then you might be wondering how you can get there from Nagoya, which is the city closest to Chubu International Airport, to the sightseeing areas in Osaka. The three primary transportation methods are shinkansen bullet trains, limited express trains, and highway buses. In this article, we will carry out a comparative review of each transportation method and share the reporter's feelings about what he actually experienced with you.

Chubu International Airport
Chubu International Airport

The relative locations of Nagoya (Chubu International Airport) and Osaka

Chubu International Airport is situated in Aichi prefecture, so after you have landed at the airport, you will have to head to Nagoya, the prefectural capital.
First, let's take a look at the relative locations of Nagoya and Osaka. Nagoya is situated in central Japan, and Osaka is situated to the west of Nagoya. You're probably thinking that Nagoya is situated more or less in between Tokyo and Osaka. The distance between the two cities of Osaka and Nagoya is approximately 140km (87 miles). Which transportation method will provide you with the most satisfying trip?

The relative locations of Nagoya and Osaka
The relative locations of Nagoya and Osaka

Namba (Minami) is the central area of Osaka

A single word that sums up Osaka is "wide". Where should you go?
The central area of the city of Osaka can be largely divided into two areas. The area called "Kita", that is centered around Umeda, and the area called "Minami", that is centered around Namba.
Kita, the area centered around Umeda, is an area lined with offices. It is a business district dense with the headquarters and Osaka branches of large companies. No matter how you look at it, from the number of sightseeing locations to what makes the city interesting, the so-called "Osaka-ness" is concentrated in Minami, and Namba is the center of it. It might be best for travelers to consider Namba as a starting point for sightseeing in Osaka. Dotonbori, with its giant crab and dumpling signboards, is a district that is famous for its food, and the Ebisu Bridge, where the Glico sign is, can also be found here.

Ebisu Bridge in Namba
Ebisu Bridge in Namba

Public transportation methods from Nagoya to Namba

The three main transportation methods from Nagoya Station to Namba Station (難波駅) are shinkansen bullet trains, limited express trains, and highway buses.
Let's analyze each of them from the five angles of travel time, cost, comfort, sense of travel, and service, and examine which transportation method will provide you with the most satisfying trip.

(The following information is up-to-date as of March 2020)

1. When traveling by shinkansen bullet train

Travel by JR Tokaido Shinkansen to get from Nagoya Station to Shin-Osaka Station. From there, you can board the subway to Namba Station (難波駅).
The Tokaido Shinkansen makes use of three types of bullet train: Nozomi, Hikari, and Kodama. The Nozomi arrives in the shortest amount of time, but beware that seat reservations for this cost around 200 yen more.

Tokaido Shinkansen bullet train
Tokaido Shinkansen bullet train

Travel time

It takes the Nozomi about 50 minutes to travel from Nagoya Station to Shin-Osaka Station, approximately 50 to 70 minutes for the Hikari, and approximately 70 minutes for the Kodama. However, please note that when you include the transfer times, going to Namba takes around one and a half hours to one hour and 50 minutes, including transfer times from Shin-Osaka Station to Namba Station (なんば駅). In addition to "Namba Station" (なんば駅), there are other stations around Namba such as "Osaka Namba Station" and "Namba Station" (難波駅) so it may be a bit hard to grasp, but both are stations that can be reached by foot in central Namba.

Cost

Of the three transportation methods, this is the most expensive.
Nozomi reserved seat: 6,680 yen, Hikari/Kodama 6,470 yen, unreserved seat 5,940 yen.
To take a green car: Nozomi 8,950 yen, Hikari 8,740 yen.

Comfort

Seats in normal train cars are arranged in rows of five (a row of two and a row of three).
However, there are some differences depending on the train car. The seat pitch is 104cm (41 inches) and the seat width is 44cm (17 inches) (JR Tokai N700). It also doesn't shake a lot and is relatively comfortable.

Tokaido Shinkansen - seats in a normal railcar
Tokaido Shinkansen - seats in a normal railcar

Seats in green cars are arranged in rows of four (two rows of two). This means that each seat is wider.
The reclining angle is also larger than that of the seats in regular train cars, and a footrest is located at your feet.
There are reading lights for illuminating the vicinity of those who read books, and the seats' tables are also wider and easier to use than those in regular train cars.

Tokaido Shinkansen green car seats
Tokaido Shinkansen green car seats

Sense of travel

As you can see from the photo, the windows are quite small. Although you can look out at the scenery, it only allows you to have a rough look at what outside looks like. Although the trip is efficient, it does not allow you to enjoy the journey.

Service

In regular train cars, seat power outlets are only available on window seats. However, depending on the train you take, some of the regular train cars have no seat power outlets. It is necessary to take note of this if you need a power outlet while traveling. In green cars, power outlets are installed on all seats.

Review of Shinkansen

Review: 15 points out of 25
Because you can get to Shin-Osaka Station in 50 minutes, the shinkansen bullet train is your best option for speed. However, if Namba is your destination, it is not overwhelmingly faster than the other transportation methods, so we award it four points here. If you value comfort while traveling, then you might want to consider traveling by green car, but of course, the fare is more expensive. This is a mode of transportation that is more efficient than a comfortable trip that gives you a sense of travel.

Time
★★★★☆
Cost
★★☆☆☆
Comfort
★★★☆☆
Sense of travel
★★★☆☆
Service
★★★☆☆

2. Traveling on the Kintetsu Limited Express

The Kintetsu Limited Express is another option instead of the Shinkansen bullet trains. Our editorial department took a close look at the new HINOTORI train put into operation by Kinki Nippon Railway Co., Ltd. on March 14th, 2020.
The Kintetsu Limited Express runs from Kintetsu Nagoya Station to Osaka Namba Station every 30 minutes from 6:30 a.m. to 9:30 p.m., and six of those trains are HINOTORI models. Its shape gives a sense of speed and it is the newest train, characterized by an iconic red color. Just what kind of train is the HINOTORI?

HINOTORI started operations on March 14th, 2020
HINOTORI started operations on March 14th, 2020

Travel time

Without changing trains, it takes approximately two hours to go from Kintetsu Nagoya Station to Osaka Namba Station.
At first glance, this may appear to take longer than the Shinkansen, but there is actually only a difference of about 20-30 minutes in how long it takes to get to Namba. Furthermore, because you don't have to transfer lines at Osaka, you don't have to stress over carrying luggage in and out of the trains, and there is no risk of getting lost at a station or getting on the wrong train, making it quite comfortable.

Cost

On the Kintetsu Nagoya Station - Namba Station (難波駅) route, standard trains have a basic fare (2,410 yen), a Limited Express charge (1,930 yen), and a HINOTORI special vehicle fee (200 yen), adding to a total amount of 4,540 yen. Premium train cars levy a further special vehicle fee of 700 yen, adding up to 900 yen in special vehicle fees, for a total cost of 5,240 yen. Standard train cars are approximately 2,000 yen cheaper when compared to reserved seats on the Shinkansen bullet train. Furthermore, premium cars are a whopping 4,000 yen cheaper compared to Shinkansen green cars.

Comfort

The HINOTORI has both standard and premium cars.
Even HINOTORI’s standard cars have four seats in each row in two sets of two seats per row, the same arrangement as used on the Shinkansen’s green cars, and with extra seat width too. There is a 116cm (46 inch) gap in front of and behind each seat in addition to a footrest, table, and power outlet, comparable to Shinkansen green cars. When our reporter rode this train, they felt that its comfort rivaled that of Shinkansen green cars.

Inside a HINOTORI standard train car
Inside a HINOTORI standard train car

Furthermore, HINOTORI train seats come equipped with a backshell.
These backshells allow you to recline up to the seat’s maximum while still keeping the frame covered. With regular reclining seats, you have to be mindful of the people behind you when lowering them, which can be especially stressful for foreign travelers who do not speak Japanese. However, backshell seats make it so that you don't need to talk to the person behind you when reclining your seat as far as you’d like. Look forward to relaxing during a comfortable trip where you can recline back at any angle.

HINOTORI standard train car seats
HINOTORI standard train car seats

Premium train cars have one set each of single and double seats in each row of three.
The seats are covered with real leather. The seats are also 130cm (51 inches) apart, which is one of the largest widths of all Japanese train seats. They come equipped with an electric reclining seat, a heater, an electric outlet, and a reading light. The train cars have also been equipped with an anti-roll full active suspension system. I took a test ride while I was gathering information, and I found the seat to be very comfortable. The seats are equipped with the latest accessories, and I could relax as much as I wanted, making the travel time feel like a break. At only 700 yen extra, the upgrade from a standard train car is a great deal. If you’re visiting Japan, I highly suggest trying travel in a premium train car.

HINOTORI premium train car seat
HINOTORI premium train car seat

Sense of travel

The size of the train car windows is worthy of special mention – both the standard and premium train cars have large windows, and it’s no exaggeration to say the side of the train cars are almost entirely windows. Make the most of sightseeing on your trip by taking advantage of the full views from outside the cars.

Interior of a HINOTORI premium train car
Interior of a HINOTORI premium train car

Service

The train cars are equipped with a bench space with complementary equipment for various uses, a café spot with a coffee machine, and lockers for storing large luggage, making it extremely comfortable. There is also free Wi-Fi, and all cars are equipped with Nanoe air purifiers. The toilets are equipped with heated electronic bidet toilet seats and high chairs, and the restrooms also have changing boards, diaper changing beds, and facilities for ostomates, all designed to make everyone as comfortable as can be. Furthermore, there are two large LCD screens at both ends of the cars, even showing information and announcements in English and Chinese, helping to ease the minds of travelers.

HINOTORI bench space (left) and cafe spot (right)
HINOTORI bench space (left) and cafe spot (right)

Review of HINOTORI

Review: 21 points out of 25
Being able to go from Nagoya to Namba sitting in comfortable seats without having to change trains is a great experience. In short, it takes longer than the Shinkansen bullet train and the fare is more expensive than the bus, so it gets 3 points for these things. However, it is actually quite efficient and cost-effective overall!
You can enjoy all of the scenery outside from the train car windows and get plenty of rest, so you could say your time on the HINOTORI isn’t just travel time, but rather part of a relaxing and enjoyable trip!

Time
★★★☆☆
Cost
★★★☆☆
Comfort
★★★★★
Sense of travel
★★★★★
Service
★★★★★

3. Traveling by highway bus

Several highway buses operate between Nagoya and Osaka, such as WILLER EXPRESS, JAMJAM liner, Nagoya Tokkyu New Star, Meishin Highway Bus, and Seishun Osaka Dream Nagoya. I will tell you here about the general time required, fees, and comfort when riding.

Highway Bus
Highway Bus

Travel time

This depends on multiple factors like the operating company, the route, and parking areas, but it takes around three hours. Even the fastest of them takes two hours and 50 minutes. Night buses may take longer than four hours.

Cost

On average, it costs between 2,000 and 3,000 yen. There is also a cheap plan at 1,500 yen, and looking at the price alone, this is by far the cheapest. However, if you are particular about the conditions, then there are also some that cost more than 4,000 yen.

Comfort

Typical highway buses are arranged in rows of four (two rows of two). However, when compared to the shinkansen bullet train and regular trains, the front and rear width of the seats are narrower and they are very close to neighboring seats. Also when reclining, you should be mindful of the person behind you.
Additionally, as the bus shakes while driving, you can't get up or walk around, so you are confined and you can't do anything but endure it until you arrive at your destination.

General highway bus seats
General highway bus seats

Sense of travel

If you feel like you want to enjoy some harsh conditions for training, then you may call the time spent by highway bus a travel-like time, but it does not feel as comfortable as other transportation methods.

Service

You can use power outlets on some buses, but some do not have them.
Many cheap buses do not have toilets, so you take measures such as refraining from eating and drinking. As stated, the facilities and services will differ greatly depending on which bus you travel on, so you should check carefully before making a bus reservation.

Review of Highway bus

Review: 11 points out of 25
If you just want to save money, you should take the bus. However, you may encounter problems if you don't properly look up what the bus is equipped with and where it departs from in advance. Those who are new to travel in Japan or don't speak Japanese well might be better off avoiding this method of transportation.

Time
★★☆☆☆
Cost
★★★★★
Comfort
★☆☆☆☆
Sense of travel
★★☆☆☆
Service
★★☆☆☆

4. Summary

Upon comparing the shinkansen bullet train, the HINOTORI Kintetsu Limited Express, and the highway bus, I conclude that when going from Nagoya to Namba, the central area for sightseeing in Osaka, traveling by HINOTORI will enhance and bring out the fulfillment of your trip the most.

And I'm not just talking about time and money. Being able to get to the center of sightseeing in Osaka without having to transfer gives great peace of mind. And since it is a new vehicle, it is also newsworthy. I recommend traveling by HINOTORI if you plan to travel from Nagoya to Osaka.