How to access from Kansai airport to downtown Osaka, Kyoto and Kobe

JR Limited Express Haruka is one of the popular way from KIX to get Osaka.
JR Limited Express Haruka is one of the popular way from KIX to get Osaka.

Kansai airport is the international airport in Osaka. It is the closest international airport to Kyoto, Nara and Kobe too. There are many ways to get downtown Osaka, Kyoto and Kobe. In this post, I give you basic information about the route to major spots in Osaka. I also have another links below to tell you about Kansai airport.

How to access to Osaka, Kyoto and Kobe from late arrival flight at Kansai airport
Kansai airport transportation guide
How to choose the deals for access to/from Kansai airport

Limited Express Haruka

If you want to start to use your Japan Rail Pass right after you arrive at Kansai airport, most of you take this express train “Haruka”. It is fast, convenient and no extra charge with using Japan Rail Pass, JR West Kansai Area Pass (non reserved seat only), JR West Kansai WIDE Area Pass, JR West Sanyo Area Pass and JR West Sanyo-Shikoku-Kyushu Area Pass. This train takes you to Tennoji, Shin-Osaka and Kyoto directly. But this train do not stop at Osaka station because this train go through bypass line to Shin-Osaka and skip Osaka station. Therefore you need to transfer to a local train to Osaka at Shin-Osaka station. It takes only 3 minutes to get Osaka from Shin-Osaka. But it is no doubt of inconvenience. If you go to Kobe, Himeji and other cities to west from Osaka, you need to transfer to a local train at Shin-Osaka station too. So I recommend you to take other way if you go to Kobe and other cities to west from Osaka. And also if you go to Osaka, you may consider to use Limousine bus or local train. Please read next chapter and some more below.

If you want to use Haruka but you want to save your days of Japan Rail Pass, you can pay a single fare (basic fare + express surcharge) 2,980 yen to Shin-Osaka or use some discount tickets. You can get more information on the post, Kansai Airport Limited Express “Haruka”.

Kansai Airport Rapid Service

If you want to use a train, but you want to save a fare, Rapid train “Kansai Airport Rapid Service” may be considerable. This is a sort of a local train. You don’t need to pay any limited express surcharge. And also this train takes you to Osaka station directly. This is different from Haruka. It takes about 65 minutes to get Osaka. The fare is 1330 yen to Osaka. You can get more informations on the post, Kansai Airport Rapid Service and Kishuji Rapid Service.

Nankai Railway Limited Express rapi:t

Nankai Railway's Rapi:t has very unique exterior.
Nankai Railway’s Rapi:t has very unique exterior.

“rapi:t” is the express train that is operated by Nankai Railway. You cannot use Japan Rail Pass to take this train. But this express train takes you to Nanba directly. Nanba is one of the biggest downtown core in Osaka. JR has station in Nanba. It is a bit away from the centre of Nanba area. And also you need to change train at Tennoji station by both Haruka and Kansai Airport Rapid Service. The fastest “rapi:t” takes you to Nanba in 35 minutes. This is the fastest in all trains of JR and Nankai Railway.

This train is not covered by Japan Rail Pass and any other JR passes. The basic fare is 890 yen. And you need to pay another 500 yen for limited express surcharge. If you want to take Super seat, limited express charge is 200 yen higher (700 yen).

There are some discount ticket is available. Rapi:t Tokudane Round Trip ticket includes basic fare and surcharge. If you have a plant to use Rapi:t for round trip between Namba or other Nankai stations and Kansai airport, this ticket gives you about 500 yen save. And Kanku Chikatoku ticket includes basic fare and Osaka subway one way ticket. If you go to Namba and change to subway, this ticket is the best value. And Kansai Thru Pass can be used for the trip to/from Kansai airport by Nankai Railway trains. But Kansai Thru Pass does not include surcharge. If you take Rapi:t, you need to pay surcharge.

Nankai “rapi:t” images

*Sonic Rail Garden has copyright for all images of accommodations below.
Super seat (surcharge 700 yen / seat configuration 2+1, seat pitch 1200mm)
Nankai rapi:t Super seat Nankai rapi:t Super seat Nankai rapi:t Super seat Nankai rapi:t Super seat Nankai rapi:t Super seat Nankai rapi:t Super seat Nankai rapi:t Super seat

Regular seat (surcharge 500 yen / seat configuration 2+2, seat pitch 1030mm)
Nankai rapi:t Regular seat Nankai rapi:t Regular seat Nankai rapi:t Regular seat Nankai rapi:t Regular seat Nankai rapi:t Regular seat Nankai rapi:t Regular seat Nankai rapi:t Regular seat

Sanitary space
Nankai rapi:t Sanitary space Nankai rapi:t Sanitary space Nankai rapi:t Sanitary space Nankai rapi:t Sanitary space

Luggage space and other facilities
Nankai rapi:t Luggage space and other facilities Nankai rapi:t Luggage space and other facilities Nankai rapi:t Luggage space and other facilities Nankai rapi:t Luggage space and other facilities Nankai rapi:t Luggage space and other facilities Nankai rapi:t Luggage space and other facilities

Nankai Railway local train

2015 spring Japan trip 864

Nankai operates many local trains between Kansai airport and Nanba. Airport Express is a sort of local train. You don’t need to pay any surcharge. It takes 45 to 50 minutes to get Nanba. If you want to save your money, this train might be your choice.

Airport Limousine

2015 spring Japan trip 839

If you will stay at the major hotel in downtown Osaka, Limousine may take you to the door of the hotel. They have a lot of the route to many places in Osaka, Kyoto, Kobe and many places in Kansai area. Especially if you go to Kobe, Limousine is the best way. And also the buses stop at the most of major hotel in downtown Osaka. The fare is from 1500 yen to Osaka. The travel time is 70 minutes. It is fast and cheap. But I am sure that it is most convenient way when you have several big luggages. Osaka station is huge and there are a lot of passengers. Sometimes only 5 minutes walk around Osaka station may make you headache! If you need more informations about the schedule and the fare, please refer Kansai Airport Limousine website.

How to find the best way

First of all, check your location of your hotel or the place where you want to go. If you stay in hotel, you can find the nearest station of your hotel on your hotel website.

Osaka (Umeda)

Take Limited Express Haruka or Kansai Airport Rapid Service. As I think this is the easiest. If you have Japan Rail Pass, JR West Kansai Area Pass or other JR West rail passes, you can take Haruka. But as I mentioned above, Haruka do not stop at Osaka. You need to transfer to local train to Osaka at Shin-Osaka. Please get the details about Shin-Osaka station at the post, Shin Osaka station guide. How to change Shinkansen, Haruka, Thunderbird and local train access to Osaka, Umeda and Namba.

Namba and other areas in downtown Osaka

Nankai Railway is the best. You can access to Namba by JR trains. If you have Japan Rail Pass or other JR West Rail passes, you can choose JR trains. But you need to transfer trains at Tennoji or Shin-Imamiya. And Nankai Namba station is better location. It is located in the heart of Namba.

If you go to other locations in downtown Osaka, such as Uehonmachi (Tanimachi-Kyuchome), Nihonbashi, Tenmabashi, Yodoyabashi, Shinsaibashi, Honmachi, Sakuragawa, you can transfer Osaka subway at Namba. You can transfer to three Osaka subway lines, Midousuji line, Yotsubashi line and Sennichimae line. You can use Kanku Chikatoku Ticket for Nankai and Subway combination transfer.

Tsuruhashi, Morinomiya, Osakajo-Kouen (Osaka Castle), Kyobashi (Osaka Kanjo line east side)

JR lines is easier to get these locations. Use Kansai Airport Rapid Service or Limited Express Haruka to get Tennoji. And then transfer to Osaka Kanjo line Uchimawari line (trains go to counter clockwise direction).

Shin-Osaka

Limited Express Haruka is only direct service and the fastest. If you want to save cost, use Kanku Chikatoku Ticket. Take Nankai railway to get Namba and transfer to subway Midousuji line. Shin-Osaka is located on Midousuji line too. If you want to use Kansai Thru Pass, you can use this Nankai-Subway route too.

Universal-City

Use Kansai Airport Rapid Service to Nishi-Kujo on Osaka Kanjo line. And change a train for JR Hanasaki line at Nishi-Kujo. Universal-City station is two stations away from Nishi-kujo. You may take limousine bus to Universal-City. This is only direct service to get there.

Kyoto

Limited Express Haruka is the only direct service by rail. Limousine bus connects Kansai airport with Kyoto station as well. But bus timetable is always affected by traffic. Train service is more punctual.

After arrival at Kyoto, you may take subway, bus or taxi to get your place.

If you use Kansai Thru Pass or want to use other than JR trains, you can take Nankai-Osaka subway-Hankyu route. Hankyu takes you to Shijo-Kawaramachi. But it is too many transfer and long trip. Please see the details at the post, How to use Kansai Thru Pass. Compare pass and single fare.

Kobe

If you get Kobe by rail, take Limited Express Haruka to Shin-Osaka and transfer to Special Rapid Service. This is the fastest and easiest.

If you use Kansai Thru Pass, you can take Nankai and Hanshin to get Sannomiya (Kobe). Please see the details at the post, How to use Kansai Thru Pass. Compare pass and single fare.

There is high speed ferry service between Kansai airport and Kobe. Actually this ferry service takes the shortest route and the fastest. Please see the Kansai Airport website to get the details.

Nara

There is no direct train service. Take Haruka or Kansai Airport Rapid Service to get Tennoji. And then transfer to Yamatoji Rapid Service to get Nara.

If you use Kansai Thru Pass, you can take Nankai and Kintetsu to get Nara. Please see the details at the post, How to use Kansai Thru Pass. Compare pass and single fare.

Possibility of transfer to overnight trains and buses service on arrival day

I have received the question about transfer to Overnight service from Osaka to Tokyo, such as Sunrise Izumo/Seto, Highway Bus Dream, on arrival day. I don’t recommend you to do it
Because all seats are reserved. There is no Non Reserved Seat. And also basically you cannot reserve it before you arrive in Japan.

*Please see the details about reservation issue at “How to reserve the train seat of Japan Railway. Is Online reservation available for Japan Rail Pass user?“.

If you cannot reserve your seat on arrival day, you have to find your accommodation on the spot. Both Sunrise and Dream are popular. If you cannot make it, it is no surprise.

If you want to avoid any risk, don’t think about overnight train/bus services. Book your hotel in Osaka or surrounding area for arrival day.

202 thoughts on “How to access from Kansai airport to downtown Osaka, Kyoto and Kobe”

  1. Hi Takeshi

    I’ll be staying in Shin Imamiya area. The owner has advise me to use Nankai line as it direct and reach the place easily. However i have bought Kansai day pass and intend to use it. I hv read some review about JR line and Nankai line and it seem that both line reach Shin Imamiya. Is it possible I use JR line instead of Nankai line?

    1. Hi Shirley,

      You can take JR trains to Shin-Imamiya. If you take Kansai airport rapid train, you can get Shin-Imamiya from KIX directly. If you take Haruka, you need to change trains at Tennoji.

      Cheers,

      Takeshi / JPRail.com

  2. Hello – TY in advance for your advice! My wife and I are traveling to Japan and learning in Kansai Int. in May and planning to head directly to Osaka for two nights. Then we are heading to Kyoto and staying there for 3/4 nights. Finally we will be heading to Tokyo before disembarking else where.

    What do you advise we should take to each location and if we should consider certain passes that can save us some $$$?

  3. Hello Takeshi,

    My question might be pretty stupid, but I just want to know in details. We will travel to Japan and we will go to Osaka first then Tokyo. I have been reading a lot if you have JR Pas you can take this train, that train, etc. But what if I don’t buy JR Pass, what are my options? Can I still take the train? What kind of train? Can I take Haruka or those fast train from KIX to Namba or Shin-Osaka if I don’t have JR Pass?
    See …. Been google-ing a lot and I just couldn’t find info for those who didn’t buy the pass. Like … What happen?!

    Thanks in advance 🙂

    Dee

    1. Hi Dee,

      Of course you can take any trains as long as you pay regular fare. I explain about JR single ticket rule and other info in the link below:
      http://jprail.com/travel-informations/other-rail-passes/for-non-jr-pass-travellers-guide-to-use-jr-single-ticket-basic-rules-validity-and-stopover.html

      But if you travel in short distance, like Kansai airport to Osaka or Kyoto, just buy normal ticket at the vending machine. There are lots of deals available for Kansai airport to Osaka/Kyoto too.
      http://jprail.com/sample-itineraries/airport-access/kansai-kix/how-to-choose-the-deals-for-access-tofrom-kansai-airport.html

      Cheers,

      Takeshi / JPRail.com

      Cheers,

      Takeshi / JPRail.com

  4. Hi Takeshi

    My friends and I made a very last minute decision to visit Kyoto/Osaka next week. It is our first trip, 5 of us. The following is our proposed itinerary:

    25th 9.30am arrival at KIX
    To Kyoto where we will be staying near Kyoto Shiyakusho-mae station. Am told we can take the subway from Kyoto Station.

    26th morning half day tour of Kyoto. Evening to Gion.
    27th Depart to Osaka. We will stay at Minamihorie.
    Afternoon plan to visit Osaka Castle, and evening to Aquarium.

    28th One day to Universal studios. Evening/night to Dotonbori

    29th Shinshaibashi and DenDen town/Nipponbashi areas
    1pm depart to KIX for 4.30pm flight

    Hope you are able to advise. I have read a lot of your advice, it is very detailed with many options. Perhaps because it is my first time travelling to Japan, I am facing difficulty. Thank you in advance for your patience and assistance.

    Cheers
    Sivadas

      1. Hi Takeshi
        Apologies for late reply. Thank you for your advise.
        My friends and I did out first trip to Kyoto and Osaka. It was a wonderful experience. The trains and subways were so punctual, convenient and easy to use. And the staff at the stations were so very helpful when we needed advise. Hope to return to visit Tokyo next at year end.
        Thank you again. Regards
        Sivadas

  5. Hi Takeshi,

    This is my first-time travel to Japan alone.
    I have been headache with buy which pass(budget pass) is suitable for me.
    I hope you may help me with below itinerary.

    Day 1: Kansai airport – Osaka
    10.25am reach Kansai.
    my hotel will be near around shin-immamiya station.
    Maybe I will go around.

    Day 2: OSAKA – which pass? 🙂

    I will start to explore around Osaka. But not keen about museum and ride the boat or wheel.

    Day 3: Osaka – Kyoto
    Day 4: Nara – Kyoto
    Day 5: Kyoto All Day
    Day 6: Kyoto – Tokyo I will purchase a JR ticket(not 7days, thats only one trip)
    but may I know do I need to purchase in advance one day?
    And which station will be arrived in tokyo..?
    Day 7: Tokyo
    Day 8: Tokyo Disneyland ( how to go..?)
    Day 9: Tokyo – Haneda Airport
    Ard 12am I need to go Haneda airport. because my flight is depart at 5.50AM.

    Thank you!

    1. Hi Louis,

      Yokoso Osaka ticket is the best choice for day 1.
      http://www.howto-osaka.com/en/ticket/ticket/yokoso.html

      For day 2, you may find the deal in the link below:
      http://jprail.com/travel-informations/other-rail-passes/rail-pass-for-residents/how-to-choose-the-best-train-pass-for-sightseeing-in-osaka.html

      I think Kansai One Pass is okay for day 3 and 4. You may add city deal in Kyoto.
      http://jprail.com/travel-informations/other-rail-passes/rail-pass-for-residents/how-to-choose-the-best-train-pass-for-sightseeing-in-kyoto.html

      You may purchase a ticket for Tokyo from Kyoto at any major JR stations. You can purchase either departure day or in advance. It’s up to you. If you take Shinkansen (bullet train), you will arrive at Shinagawa or Tokyo. You can choose it for nearer station to your hotel in Tokyo. Please see the link below to find the train system info in Tokyo. You will find the info about access to Disneyland too.
      http://jprail.com/destinations/kanto-area/tokyo-kanto-area/guide-to-take-trains-in-tokyo-how-to-choose-the-best-deal-and-the-best-route-by-train-to-get-the-major-spots.html

      Cheers,

      Takeshi / JPRail.com

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