Kansai International Airport is located on an artificial island in Osaka Bay about 40 km from central Osaka. There are a number of ways to travel between the city center and the airport.
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When traveling from Kansai International Airport into Osaka, your first stop will probably be the Travel Desk of Kansai Tourist Information Center. You can find this on the first floor of the Terminal 1 building. Here you can get information on transportation into the city, book tickets and also book hotels. The official airport website has a complete set of downloadable maps to help you find your way around the rest of the airport.
Taking the train is the quickest and easiest option when traveling between Kansai International Airport and central Osaka. However, as Osaka is a big city, there are a number of rail services from which to choose. There are also other transport options such as limousine bus services or rental cars that may suit you better depending on the time of your journey and other circumstances. Below is a full list of options for traveling between Kansai Airport and central Osaka.
Osaka is a huge city, so the train you take really depends on which part of Osaka you are traveling to or from. The major transportation hubs that run rail services to the airport are Osaka Station, Tennoji Station, Shin-Osaka Station, and Nankai Namba Station. Let’s look at each of these rail services in turn.
The Kansai Airport Rapid Service for Osaka Station and Tennoji Station
Osaka Station is situated in the Umeda district of Osaka city’s “Kita” or northern area. This is Osaka’s most popular commercial district and a major transportation hub. If you are traveling to or from this area, then the Kansai Airport Rapid Service is your best option. Trains are frequent and this service covers the distance between Kansai Airport and Osaka Station in roughly 65 – 70 minutes for just 1,190 yen.
You can also board this train at other stations on the Osaka Loop Line which circles central Osaka. One of these stations is Tennoji Station, which is located in the southern part of Osaka. Tennoji is another major transportation hub and commercial district with many local attractions such as Shitennoji Temple, Tennoji Zoo, and the famous Tsutenkaku tower. The Kansai Airport Rapid Service covers the distance between Kansai Airport and Tennoji Station in roughly 50 – 55 minutes for just 1,060 yen.
When taking the Kansai Airport Rapid Service to Kansai Airport, passengers should be careful to get on at the front of the train. Kansai Airport Rapid trains that are bound for Kansai Airport are coupled with another service, the Kishuji Rapid train until they reach Hineno Station. Then at Hineno Station the carriages belonging to the Kishuji Rapid train separate from the Kansai Airport Rapid train and follow a different course down to Wakayama. It is important to board the right part of the train at Osaka Station so that you don’t go to Wakayama by mistake! Be sure that you board one of the front four carriages as these will go Kansai Airport. For more details on this service, see our article on The JR Kansai Airport Line & the Kansai Airport Rapid Service.
The Limited Express Haruka for Tennoji Station and Shin-Osaka Station
The Limited Express Haruka, also called the Kansai Airport Express Haruka, is a fast, comfortable and convenient service which links Kansai International Airport directly with Tennoji Station and Shin-Osaka Station in Osaka, before continuing on to Kyoto Station. Traveling from Kansai Airport the Haruka will get you to Tennoji in 35 minutes for 1,710 yen, and Shin-Osaka in 50 minutes for 2,330 yen. Shin-Osaka Station is the terminus of two high-speed shinkansen lines, the Tokaido Shinkansen line from Tokyo, and the Sanyo Shinkansen line from Fukuoka in Kyushu. If you are planning to transfer to one of these shinkansen lines, then the Limited Express Haruka is your best option. For more details on this service, see our article on The Limited Express Haruka.
Popular Hotels near Osaka Station
The Nankai Airport Express and the Limited Express Rapi:t for Nankai Namba Station
The Namba area is a major shopping and entertainment district in the “Minami” or southern area of Osaka. Four separate railway stations are clustered here: Osaka Municipal Subway’s Namba Station, JR Namba Station, Osaka Namba Station and Nankai Namba Station. This concentration of railway networks makes Namba another major transportation hub in Osaka. If you are traveling to or from the Namba area then you may wish to travel via Nankai Namba Station. Nankai Electric Railway run two convenient services between Kansai Airport and Nankai Namba Station. These are the Nankai Airport Express and the Limited Express Rapi:t. For speed and comfort the Rapi:t service is best as it covers the distance in just 34 – 37 minutes depending on the time of the train. The Rapi:t does cost more though, with regular seats priced at 1,130 yen.
The Nankai Airport Express is a commuter train, and much cheaper at 920 yen. This service covers the distance in roughly 44 minutes. For more details on these services, see our article on The Nankai Airport Express & Rapi:t Services for Kansai Airport & Namba.
Popular Hotels near Nankai Namba Station
Using the Japan Rail Pass
Both the Kansai Airport Rapid Service and the Limited Express Haruka are operated by JR West and so are fully covered by the Japan Rail Pass. Nankai Electric Railway is a private rail company so the Nankai Airport Express and the Limited Express Rapi:t are not covered by the Japan Rail Pass. If you wish to travel to or from the Namba area using the Japan Rail Pass, you can do so via JR Namba Station. The JR Yamatoji Line connects JR Namba Station with Tennoji Station in just 6 minutes. From Tennoji Station you can connect with either the Limited Express Haruka or the Kansai Airport Express.
Limousine Bus services can be convenient as they run between Kansai Airport and a wider range of locations in Osaka, and also beyond Osaka to cities like Kobe, Kyoto, and Nara. In Osaka, limousine buses run between Kansai Airport and destinations like Osaka Station, Shin-Osaka Station, Shinsaibashi, Namba OCAT, and Universal Studios Japan. For the full range of destinations and timetables check the official Kansai Airport website.
There are also night bus services from Kansai Airport to Osaka Station and Nankai Namba Station which operate after railway services have stopped. The limousine buses to Osaka Station run on a 24 hour basis with one service every hour between 0.00 am and 5.00 am. A one way ticket between Kansai Airport and Osaka Station is 1,550 yen for an adult and 780 yen for a child and the journey time is roughly 1 hour. For a timetable and a full list of stops check the Kansai Airport transportation website. Night buses to Nankai Namba Station run at the following times:
|Kansai Airport Terminal 2 Departure||Kansai Airport Terminal 1 Departure||Nankai Namba Station Arrival|
A one way ticket between Kansai Airport and Nankai Namba Station is 1,550 yen for an adult and 780 yen for a child and the journey time is roughly 1 hour.
Limousine bus terminals for Kansai Airport are located at the following locations in the vicinity of Osaka Station: Westin Hotel Osaka, Hotel New Hankyu, Hotel Hankyu International, Hilton Osaka, and the Herbis Osaka shopping mall. At Hotel New Hankyu, and Herbis Osaka you can get tickets from ticket vending machines that have English, Chinese and Korean language options. At the other locations you can buy tickets at the hotel front desk. Here is a map of the Osaka Station bus terminals.
At Kansai Airport you can board buses at Terminal 1, and at Terminal 2. Ticket windows are open by these bus stops at which you can buy tickets. Tickets cannot be reserved and boarding is on a first-come first-served basis. The Kansai Airport website has maps and other information for the bus stops at Terminal 1 and Terminal 2.
By Rental Car
There are several rental car options to choose from at Kansai Airport and close by Osaka Station. Driving between the two locations will probably take about 90 minutes depending on the traffic. Renting a car might be a worthwhile option if you intend to explore areas of the Kansai region that are less accessible by train or bus. However, you will need a valid international driver’s license in order to rent a car in Japan. At Kansai Airport the car rental counters are in the Aeroplaza section of the airport which is a three-minute walk from Terminal 1 or a 7-minute ride from Terminal 2 on the shuttle bus. The following rental car companies are reliable and have English information online: Nippon Rent-A-Car, Nissan Rent-A-Car and Toyota Rent-A-Car.
We do not recommend that you simply hail a taxi from Kansai Airport into Osaka city or vice versa as it is very expensive. The cost is partly because of the distance, and partly because of expressway and bridge toll fees. A taxi ride to Osaka Station or Namba Station will take around 50 minutes and cost around 20,000 yen. If you arrive at the airport late at night, you may think taking a taxi to a hotel near the airport won’t be so expensive. However, late night taxi fares are higher, and you will still have to pay the airport access bridge’s toll fee, so together with the hotel fee it will still cost a lot. If you need to stay the night, we recommend staying on site at the Hotel Nikko which is directly connected to the airport.
Staying Overnight at Kansai Airport
If your plane arrives late at Kansai Airport you may need to stay overnight. The Hotel Nikko is the only hotel on the Kansai Airport site. Check the Kansai Airport Hotel website for availability of rooms. The Hotel Nikko along with various shops and restaurants is located in the Aeroplaza section of the airport.
Article and original photos by Michael Lambe. All rights reserved.