Hiroshima is deeply connected to Osaka in many ways. Both are located along the Seto Inland Sea and are strategic spots in terms of trading and navigation. Back in the day, both are part of the so-called kitamaebune, an extremely important shipping route during the Tokugawa and Meiji eras. And oh, both are well-known for their own versions of okonomiyaki. Yum!
Today, Hiroshima and Osaka remain in a tight embrace. Despite being 330 kilometers apart, as far as tourism is concerned, these two cities are sisters. Travelers coming from and going to Osaka often pay Hiroshima a visit along the way. And many tourists in Hiroshima find themselves in Osaka at one point during their trip. That’s thanks to reliable transportation options connecting the two cities. Railway companies also often bundle them together when they sell tourist passes. Another big reason is the fact that the Hiroshima Airport is used mostly for domestic journeys.
Many travelers bound for Hiroshima enter Japan either through Fukuoka Airport or Kansai Airport. Although farther, Kansai Airport serves a lot more passengers than the former. It’s no wonder that both Hiroshima and Osaka are usually in the same itinerary.
If you’re on a multi-city tour of Japan and you need to move from Hiroshima to Osaka, here’s how to do it.
WHAT'S COVERED IN THIS GUIDE?
HIROSHIMA TO OSAKA
Before we begin, it is important to know that unlike in most Japanese cities where the main train station and main bus terminal lie next to each other, Hiroshima Station and Hiroshima Bus Center are a bit far apart. It takes 25 minutes of walking.
To make it more complicated, some buses (not all) also pick up and drop off passengers at Hiroshima Station. Hence, it is important to know before your trip where you want to start your journey to Osaka.
- Hiroshima Station is the main railway station of Hiroshima. Here, you can catch bullet trains that can take you to Osaka. There are also bus stops in the surrounding area. For example, Willer Bus picks up passengers near the station.
- Hiroshima Bus Center is the main bus terminal of the city. You’ll find far more buses here.
- Shin-Osaka Station. Emphasis on SHIN, not to be confused with Osaka Station. In Japanese, shin means “new” so it translates to New Osaka Station. If you’re taking the bullet train, this is most likely your destination in Osaka.
- Osaka Station. This is both a train station and a bus terminal. If you’re taking the bus, this is where you’re most likely to be dropped off.
- Osaka City Air Terminal (OCAT). This bus terminal is located in Namba. Some buses, operated by Chugoku JR Bus Company, terminate at OCAT.
If you prefer to travel by train, you need to make it to Hiroshima Station, where you can catch a bullet train to Shin-Osaka Station, Osaka’s main shinkansen terminal. The Sanyo Shinkansen Line links Hiroshima Station and Shin-Osaka Station. There are four types of bullet trains that run between these two points: Mizuho, Nozomi, Hikari, and Sakura.
- The Nozomi and Mizuho trains are the fastest trains. They can take you to Osaka in only 85 minutes. But they’re NOT covered by the JR Pass.
- The Sakura train can zoom to Osaka in only 89 minutes. JR Pass is accepted here.
- The Hikari train’s travel time is 133 minutes. JR Pass is accepted here.
Fare for any of these trains is ¥9710 including cost of an UNRESERVED seat.
If you choose to not reserve a seat, make sure you’re boarding an UNRESERVED car. Reserved cars have a higher price tag and you can be penalized if you’re caught occupying a reserved seat on an unreserved ticket.
BY REGULAR BUS
You can also take the bus to Osaka. Buses usually terminate at Osaka Station or at stops surrounding it. But some buses terminate at OCAT.
You can catch a bus at either Hiroshima Station or Hiroshima Bus Center. The latter has more trips per day, so if you don’t have a reservation, it’s much safer to go to Hiroshima Bus Center. Here’s how.
- Travel on foot to the 3rd floor of the Hiroshima Bus Center, where you will find the ticket counters. From the outside, you can easily find the long escalators that will take you straight to the counters.
- Purchase tickets. Tell the staff you’re going to Osaka. Because there are multiple stops in Osaka, specify where you want to alight: Osaka Station or OCAT. There are more buses that stop at Osaka Station. Pick the time. Wait for your boarding time.
- Walk to the assigned platform when boarding for your bus is announced.
- Tell the driver that you have luggage so he could store it in the compartment. The driver will give you a claim stub.
- Board the bus. The staff will check your tickets.
- Alight at Osaka Station or OCAT.
Day buses and overnight buses are available. Here are the travel times and costs:
Travel time: 5-6 hours
Travel time: 7 to 7.5 hours
Fare: ¥6400 to ¥7700
BY WILLER BUS
Willer Express Buses (more commonly called Willer Bus) also operate a Hiroshima-Osaka route. You can catch a Willer Bus at Hiroshimo Hatchibori (near Aozora Bank) and at Hiroshima Station (near 7-Eleven Hiroshima matsubaracho-ten).
I’ve tried this route before, and it was a pretty pleasant experience. The only thing I had a hard time with was finding the designated bus stop, which is supposed to be near Hiroshima Station. It’s near, yes, but it’s just hard to find because it’s located across the street. If you’re taking the Willer Bus at Hiroshima Station, here’s the map.
Travel time: 5-6 hours
Fare: ¥3360 to ¥4700
Travel time: 7 to 7.5 hours
Fare: ¥3360 to ¥6900
Willer Express has two common bus stops around Osaka Station:
- Willer Bus Terminal at the ground floor of Umeda Sky Building East Tower
- Willer bus stop near Osaka ekimae 4th building.
Although both these stops are just around Osaka Station, note that it is a huge station so getting around involves considerable walking time.
OSAKA TO KANSAI AIRPORT
OSAKA STATION TO KANSAI AIRPORT
If you’re getting off at Osaka Station, the fastest, less confusing way to get to Kansai Airport is by taking the train. Buses are okay but it’s much more difficult to look for bus stops than train platforms.
Here are the details:
- JR KANSAI AIRPORT EXPRESS
This is a regular train. No need to reserve a seat. Just board the train and look for an empty seat.
Travel time: 62-65 minutes
OCAT (NAMBA) TO KANSAI AIRPORT
If you’re alighting at OCAT, you just need to transfer to another bus to get to Kansai Airport. There are airport-bound buses at OCAT. Osaka has two airports — the other one is Itami Airport (ITM) — and you can find buses going to either airport at OCAT, so make sure you buy tickets for KANSAI Airport (KIX). There’s at least 1 bus leaving OCAT for Kansai Airport every hour from 5am until 9:10pm.
Travel time: about 1 hour, but varies depending on the traffic conditions.