How to travel from Tokyo to Kyoto and Osaka by Night train - Moonlight Nagara

Japan is the home of one of the most wonderful and most diverse cultures in the world, highly marked by the duality between the modern and the traditional. A very good way to truly experience this duality is by exploring and traveling from Tokyo to Kyoto and Osaka, the Japanese three more iconic cities, by the Night train Moonlight Nagara.

The Moonlight Nagara, in Japanese: ムーンライトながら, is an overnight rapid train service that operates seasonably by the JR Central and East Company. It runs via the Tokaido Main Line, between Tokyo and Ōgaki (in Gifu Prefecture), four times per year: during the spring break (from late March to early April), summer break (from late July to the end of August) and year-end holiday season.

Fully enjoying the history and views of the water metropolis Osaka from a boat on Dotonbori River

Routes and Itinerary

These are the Tokaido Main Line Stations:


Tokyo (東京)


Shinagawa (品川)


Yokohama (横浜)


Odawara (小田原)


Numazu (沼津)


Shizuoka (静岡)


Hamamatsu (浜松)


Toyohashi (豊橋)


Nagoya (名古屋)


Gifu (岐阜)


Ogaki (大垣)


*Only trains going towards Ogaki stop at Odawara and only trains towards Tokyo stop at Toyohashi.

Although Kyoto and Osaka are not in the Tokaido Main Line, this train is connected with other local trains to/from Osaka/Kyoto at Ōgaki, which means you can easily go from Ōgaki to Osaka and Kyoto by normal train service.

If you got interested and want to know more about the Moonlight Nagara itinerary, please check the most updated schedule and timetable at Japan National Tourism Organization.


The one way trip from Tokyo to Kyoto costs about 8,000 yen. Keep in mind that from Tokyo to Ōgaki, all sets need to be booked and the reservation fee is 510 yen.

One nice tip to save money is to buy the “Seishun 18 ticket”, which costs 11,850 yen and is usually sold in the same season as the Moonlight Nagara operates. This ticket will cover any local and rapid trains with no reserved seats all through Japan for five days. Don't worry about the non reserved part, this ticket can be used in the Moonlight Nagara with an additional charge for the reserved seat fare.

Other means of transportation

Keep in mind that this train runs for busy period only and therefore it is very hard to book seats! Also online reservation for overseas visitor and the tickets begin to be sold by one month before the departure date, making it even harder to book it.

For these reasons, we advise you to have a backup plan with alternative ways to get from Tokyo to Kyoto/Osaka.

1-Shinkansen (bullet train)

The prices for the Shikansen ticket are a little bit high, so if you are planning to keep things cheap, then this is not the best option for you. Nevertheless, this is the most comfortable and easiest way to travel from Tokyo to Kyoto.

Time: About 2 and a half hours – 4 hours
Pricing: Around 10,500 – 14,200 yen (one-way), depending on train

2- Low-cost Airlines

Although Kyoto may not have an airport, the nearby Osaka has the Kansai International Airport from which you can easily get to Kyoto and other famous cities of the region.
This is the fastest way to get from Tokyo to Kyoto/Osaka. If you fly from Narita or Haneda Airport you will reach Osaka in about only 1 and a half hours. To make this trip lighter on your pockets, choose a budget airline like Peach or Jetstar, which prices start around 4,590 – 5,190 yen.

Don't forget to consider the cost of getting from Tokyo to Narita. The cheapest way is a taking a bus from Tokyo Station (900 yen one-way). If you wish to go to Kyoto,, you’ll also have to board a train or bus from Osaka to Kyoto. The best option is the Haruka Limited Express, which goes from Kansai Airport to Kyoto in about 75-minutes and costs about 3,570 yen one-way.

Time: About 4 and a half hours (including airport transfers)
Pricing: At least 7,000 yen (one-way, including airport fees and transfer costs)

3- Highway Buses

There are many bus companies that make the trip between Tokyo and Kyoto/Osaka. The most famous are: Willer, Kosoku Bus and Midnight Express. The tickets cost around 5,000 yen, depending on the season and the comfort level of the seats. The trip takes from 6 to 9 hours, depending on the traffic.

Time: 6-9 hours
Pricing: Around 5,000 yen one-way


When you arrive at your final destinaton, be it Kyoto or Osaka, you are going to need some information, so here are some useful links for you:

Everything you need to know about Kyoto: Click here

Everything you need to know about Osaka: Click here

10 must-try foods in Osaka: Click here

Top 5 most beautiful Temples and Shrines in Kyoto: Click here

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