Vegetarian's Japan Guide

How to Get to Kyoto/Osaka from Kansai International Airport

If this is your first time landing at or departing from Kansai International Airport, then it might be confusing trying to navigate your way from the airport to the city center of Kyoto or Osaka. There seem to be many options you can choose from! So read on for a better understanding of the different ways to travel between Kyoto or Osaka and Kansai International Airport. We have also included an analysis of which options may suit certain types of tourists!

Table of Contents

A Summary of Different Ways to Travel Between Kansai International Airport to Kyoto/Osaka

The Pros and ConsSuitable forService FrequencyRequired TimeCost
JR HARUKA ExpressPro: You can get to Kyoto without changing trains
Con: It is the 2nd most expensive option
☛ If your hotel is close to Tennoji Station, Osaka Station, Shin-Osaka Station, and Kyoto StationOne service every 30 to 60 minutes☛ Kansai Airport ⇔ Kyoto Station: 120 minutes
☛ Kansai Airport ⇔ Shin-Osaka Station: 52 minutes
☛ 2,590 yen to Shin-Osaka Station (3,110 yen to Kyoto Station) if you are not a temporary visitor
☛ 1,800 yen to Shin-Osaka (2,200 yen to Kyoto Station) if you purchase your ticket through Klook (You have to be a temporary visitor)
JR Kansai Airport RapidPro: Cheaper than HARUKA Express
Con: Slower than HARUKA Express
☛ If your hotel is near the stations on the Osaka Loop Line or USJ
☛ If you are on a budget
One service every 20 during peak hours☛ Kansai Airport ⇔ Osaka Station: 65 minutes☛ 1,210 yen to Osaka
☛ 1,910 yen to Kyoto
Nankai Rapi:tPro: Cheaper than HARUKA Express
Con: It terminates at Namba Station
☛ If your hotel is close to Namba StationOne service every 35 to 55 minutesKansai Airport ⇔ Namba Station: Around 40 minutes1,450 yen (1,350 yen if purchased through Klook)
Airport Limousine BusPro: You don’t have to worry about your luggage size
Con: The potential of running into traffic jams can be high
☛ If you have large luggage or many pieces of luggage.
☛ If your hotel is close to an Airport Limousine’s bus stop
One service every 30 to 45 minutes☛ Kansai Airport ⇔ Kyoto: Around 90 minutes
☛ Kansai Airport ⇔ Osaka: Around 60 minutes
☛ 2,600 yen to Kyoto Station
☛ 1,600 yen to Osaka
Flat-Rate Airport TransferPro:
☛ Available 24 hours a day
☛ It can drop you off or pick you up from anywhere
Con:
☛ The most expensive option
☛ The potential of running into traffic jams can be high
☛ If you arrive late at night or early in the morning
☛ If you carry very large and/or multiple pieces of luggage
☛ If you travel with larger groups or someone less mobile
☛ Kansai Airport ⇔ Kyoto: Around 90 minutes
☛ Kansai Airport ⇔ Osaka: Around 60 minutes.
☛ From around 12,500 yen: Kansai Airport ⇔ Osaka City
☛ From 23,000 yen: Kansai Airport ⇔ Kyoto City
Bay ShuttlePro: A direct ferry ride to Kobe
Con: Service is not as frequent as trains
If you want to visit Kobe straight after landingOne service per 60 to 90 minutesAround 30 minutes☛ 3,060 yen for a return ticket
☛ 1,880 yen for a one-way ticket

How to Get to JR and Nankai’s Kansai Airport Station

After passing the immigration to the arrivals hall, follow the directory sign and take the escalator or the lift to the 2nd floor. The train stations are in the building across the sky bridge. The JR train station has a blue background, and the Nankai train station has a red background.

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If your flight arrives at Terminal 2, you must take the free airport shuttle bus to Terminal 1 to board the train or Limousine Bus to Kyoto or Osaka. To get to the train station, take the escalator close to the bus stop to the 2nd floor to cross the sky bridge.

A Summary of How to Travel Between Kansai International Airport and the Main Cities in the Kansai Region

CityRecommended Transport ModeTicket PriceTime Required
Namba/Dontonbori/ShinsaibashiNankai’s Rapi:t or Airport RapidBetween 930 and 1,450 yen35 to 45 minutes
Umeda/OsakaJR’s HARUKA Express or Airport RapidBetween 1,210 and 2,590 yen50 to 65 minutes
KyotoJR HARUKA Express1,800 yen80 minutes
Nara☛ JR HARUKA Express to Tennoji Station, then change for the Nara Line
☛ Nankai Airport Line to Namba, then change for Kintetsu Nara Line
2,500 yen for JR
1,610 yen for Nankai + Kintetsu
☛ JR HARUKA Express to Tennoji Station, then change to the Nara Line
☛ Nankai Airport Line to Namba, then change to Kintetsu Nara Line
WakayamaAirport Limousine1,200 yen40 minutes
KobeFerry: Bay ShuttleNormally 1,880 yen, now 500 yen until March 2024 for foreign visitors30 minutes

JR HARUKA Express

JR HARUKA Express is the most convenient and fastest way to travel between Kansai Airport and Osaka/Kyoto Station. If your hotel is close to JR Nara Station, you can also take the HARUKA Express and make a transfer at JR Tennoji Station.

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If you love Hello Kitty, you will love this train because it is decorated with the character’s images!

In addition, the service is frequent. There is a service every 30 minutes from:

  • 5:45 am to 8:30 pm from Kyoto Station
  • 6:16 am to 8:58 pm from Shin-Osaka Airport

Refer to JR West’s Official Website for HARUKA Express’s timetable.

Important: Check the indicator carefully at the platform to ensure that the train you are going to board is HARUKA Express, not Kansai Airport Rapid.

Tips:
☛ You can pay extra to reserve a seat on HARUKA Express. This is usually not necessary as the non-reserve carriages usually have enough vacant seats.
☛ Purchase your ticket through Klook for a cheaper fee!

Using Your JR Pass to Board HARUKA Express

If you have one of the below JR Passes, you can reserve a seat on HARUKA Express for free.

Exchanging Your JR Pass at Kansai Airport

If you have a JR Pass voucher and need to exchange it at the Kansai International Airport, there are two ways you can do so. No matter which method you choose, there are likely to be long queues.

  • Use the ticket machines that can scan your passport
    • The first photo in the IG post
  • Visit the JR ticket office, Midori no Madoguchi (みどりの窓口)
    • The second photo in the IG post

Tip: The queue at the ticket office is usually shorter. In addition, because the staff is familiar with the end-to-end exchange process, they can issue your JR Pass and Haruka Express tickets faster.

Next to the ticket machine, there is usually a guide on reserving a seat on the Haruka Express. Follow it if you are unsure how to!

Exchanging Your Pre-Purchased Haruka Express Voucher to the Actual Ticket at Kansai Airport

If you have a Haruka Express voucher, there are two ways to exchange it at the Kansai Airport Station.

  • Use the ticket machines close to the ticket gates (refer to the IG post).
    • The queues in front of the machines won’t be short either. But, it should be faster using the machines than queuing at the JR ticket office.
  • Visit the JR ticket office, Midori no Madoguchi (みどりの窓口)

Do I Need a JR Pass & Is the JR Pass Worth It?

Click the photo for everything you need to know about the JR Pass!

Once you have a rough idea of which prefectures and cities you want to visit during your next Japan trip, it is time to figure out if you need a JR Pass or not as not all itinerary requires one.

Our article on Do I Need a JR Pass & Is the JR Pass Worth It has everything you need to know about the nationwide and regional JR Passes. It also covers other factors that can help you decide if a JR Pass is worth your upcoming trip or not!

ICOCA & HARUKA Ticket Deal

If you don’t have a Japan transportation IC card, the ICOCA & HARUKA ticket deal might be worthwhile. It comes with one or two HARUKA Express exchange vouchers and an ICOCA card topped with 1,500 yen credit + 500 yen deposit. The deal is decent if your hotel is close to a JR train station in Osaka, between Kyoto and Saga-Arashiyama Station, JR Osaka and JR Kobe Station, and JR Tennoji and JR Nara Station. Although HARUKA Express only stops at Osaka, Tennoji, and Kyoto Station, the transfer to the final destination is included in the ticket deal.

Refer to JR West’s Website for more information.

Tip: If you choose the ICOCA & HARUKA ticket deal with one HARUKA Express exchange voucher, you can choose to use it on the way to Osaka or back to the Kansai Airport.

Important:
☛ You must have a temporary visitor sticker or stamp on your passport to purchase this deal at the JR West ticket office, Kansai International Airport.
☛ Stopovers are not permitted.
☛ You cannot use the ticket to board bullet trains or other limited express.
☛ The HARUKA Express exchange voucher is only valid for 14 days.

JR Kansai Airport Rapid

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Kansai Airport Rapid is a cheaper version of HARUKA Express. The service enters the Osaka Loop Line at JR Tennoji Station. So if your hotel is near the stations on the loop line, taking JR’s Kansai Airport Rapid will be more convenient for you.

The main stations on the Osaka Loop Line are Osaka Station (Umeda), Tennoji Station, Shin-Imanomiya Station, Bentenjo Station, Nishikujō Station, Fukushima Station, Sakuranomiya Station, and Kyobashi Station.

In addition, if you want to visit Universal Studio Japan, taking JR’s Kansai Airport Rapid is better as you will only need to change trains once at JR Nishikujō Station.

Tip: Purchase your ticket through Klook for a cheaper fee!

Important: If you plan to take JR Kansai Airport Rapid back to Kansai International Airport from Osaka, ensure that the carriage you board is bound for the airport. Half of the train will be disconnected as it will head to Wakayama at Hineno Station (日根野駅).

Nankai Rapi:t

Nankai Dentetsu’s Rapi:t is the most convenient option if your hotel is in Namba. If you plan to visit Kōyasan (Mt. Kōya) in Wakayama Prefecture, Nankai’s service is also your best choice.

Tip: Pre-purchase your Nankai Rapi:t ticket through klook for a cheaper fee!

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Important:
☛ Check the indicator carefully at the platform to ensure that the train you are going to board is Rapi:t, not Kansai Airport Rapid.
☛ Rapi:t is a reserve-only train. Ensure that you have reserved a seat before boarding.

Airport Limousine Bus

When traveling as a family, you inevitably have many more things to carry. Dragging your suitcases around can be a challenging and annoying task. If you want to save money but also want to get to your hotel comfortably, the Airport Limousine Bus can be a good choice.

The Airport Limousine Bus is especially convenient for those arriving at Kansai International Airport Terminal 1. The bus stops are just outside of terminal 1’s arrival hall.

Refer to the below for the service’s timetable and price table.

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Besides Osaka and Kyoto, the Limousine Bus can also take you to Universal Studio Japan and other major cities, such as Himeji, Kobe, Nara, Awaji, and Wakayama.

  • Purchase your Kansai Airport Limousine Bus ticket to Kyoto or Osaka online through klook
  • Purchase your Kansai Airport Limousine Bus ticket to Kyoto, Nara, Kobe, and Nagoya online through kkday

If you decide to purchase your bus ticket upon arrival, the bus ticket machines can be found close to the bus stops. Note that ticket machines only sell bus tickets for the buses departing from nearby bus stops. For example, the ticket machines close to Bus Stop No. 8 only sell tickets for the buses departing from Bus Stop No. 7 and 8.

Flat-Rate Taxi

Taxi is the best option to travel between Kyoto/Osaka and Kansai Airport if you are traveling with a larger group of people, especially if there are children and the elderly. Also, if you take a taxi, you don’t have to worry about the limit on the number of pieces of luggage that you can bring.

Recommended Kansai International Airport Transfers Providers

Bay Shuttle

Besides the JR train or Airport Limousine Bus, you can also take a ferry to Kobe. In fact, this is the fastest way to travel between Kobe and Kansai International Airport, which only takes 30 minutes!

Free shuttle buses depart from Terminal 1 and Terminal 2 for the ferry pier. Please ensure you have purchased a ticket online or at the ticket counter. Tickets are not sold at the pier. You can refer to the map on the official website HERE.

The free shuttle bus departs from Terminal 1’s Bus Stop No. 12. Purchase your ferry ticket from the ticket office located inside the terminal. It is located next to the terminal entrance closest to Bus Stop No. 11.

  • The first ferry departs Kobe for Kansai Airport at 5:30 am, and the last ferry departs at 10:45 pm.
  • The first ferry departs Kansai Airport for Kobe at 6:20 am, and the last ferry departs at 11:50 pm.

Refer to Bay Shuttle’s Official Website for more information and to reserve your ferry ticket.

The Most Useful Transportation Passes in the Kansai Region

Besides ICOCA, many transportation passes covering the Kansai region (including Osaka, Kyoto, Nara, and Kobe) are available to save money on transportation. But because there are so many of them, it might be confusing as to which one to get.

So refer to our article on Most Useful Transportation Passes in the Kansai Region to determine which one is best suited for your itinerary!

Kintetsu-Rail-Pass-1-Day
Click the image for the recommended transportation passes for the Kansai region!

SIM Card, eSIM, or Pocket WiFi: Which One to Use in Japan?

Japan-Wireless-Pocket-WiFi
Click the photo for recommendations for Japan’s pocket WiFi, SIM Card and eSIM Card.

If you haven’t already, get your internet connection in Japan sorted out as soon as possible. The last thing you would want to do after landing in Japan is to spend time deciding what product and from which company you should rent a pocket WiFi or purchase a SIM Card. Another common question is whether to rent a pocket Wi-Fi or purchase a SIM Card.

So refer to our SIM Card, eSIM, or Pocket WiFi: Which One to Use in Japan article that answers all your questions about how to stay connected to the internet when you are in Japan!