Groovy Osaka: How to Get From Kansai International Airport to Osaka

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Photo by hiromitsu morimoto

You survived your grueling flight and have successfully made your way through the immigration lines, retrieved your belongings, headed through customs, and are now standing at the arrivals exit at Kansai International Airport (KIX). You sigh and relax at the thought that you have arrived in Osaka. However, you haven’t. You are standing on a man-made island in the middle of Osaka Bay. While it is technically in Osaka Prefecture, it is still about an hour away from Osaka proper.

There are many ways to get to and from the airport: train, bus, car, and taxi. Your target destination is very important when deciding on the method of travel. There are considerable differences in prices and travel times depending on where you need to go. There is a high speed ferry to and from Kobe for 1,850 yen each way and takes about 30 minutes, but that option does not exist for other locations. Your travel is equally important to consider. Certain transportation options have limited hours of operation.

By Train

There are two train lines that operate to and from the airport, the Nankai line, with its Airport Express, and the JR West line, with its Airport Express Haruka train. While the train is a very affordable option to and from Namba at only 920 yen each way, the trains start between 5am and 6am. The last trains in operation from Namba leave at around 10:30pm, while the last trains in operation from the airport leave at around 11:30pm. Even if there is a later train, it is likely to stop before you reach your destination, potentially stranding you.

By Bus

The bus is the second most affordable option at 1,050-1,550 yen each way, with prices depending on the time of day. The buses start from Namba station at 5:40am, and start from the airport at 6:30am. The last buses to and from the airport leave at 12:30am.

In short, if you are arriving or leaving on an early or late night flight, you will not be able to use the train or bus. In that case, you could take a taxi, rent a car, stay at the Hotel Nikko Kansai Airport, or book accommodation that has a shuttle service.

By Taxi

Starting in 2014, taxis from the airport implemented a standard fare to Osaka. The standard fares, depending on the size of the taxi, the time of day, and the location, can range from 13,000-17,000 yen. Sadly, this does not apply to taxis going to the airport, so be aware that the prices could end up much higher. Also be aware that you will be required to pay all tolls in addition to the fare. There is no way to avoid the toll roads going to and from the airport. The taxi drivers are not only very honest, but also will give you change if you do not have the exact fare. Simply make sure that you have enough Japanese yen.

Rent a Car

If you have a Japanese driver’s license, an international driver’s license, or a license from Switzerland, Germany, France, Belgium, Taiwan, Slovenia or Monaco and have a Japanese translation prepared, you can rent a car in Japan. You should budget for about 10,000 yen per day. This does not include parking, tolls, or other additional expenses.

At Kansai Airport, there are 5 different rental car companies located in the Aeroplaza. Most close by 11pm, but Nippon Rent-A-Car is open 24 hours. Most cars include GPS.

Hotels

There is only one on-site hotel at Kansai Airport, called the Hotel Nikko Kansai Airport. Rooms can easily be 20,000 yen or more depending on the dates. Availability is also limited, so make sure to book your stay well in advance.

For more information visit the Kansai International Airport website.

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Groovy punky reggae nerd from Kansai.
  • Deter Pinklage says:

    Can you provide a guide to get from Itami airport to Osaka?

  • Tha_Supreme_Kai says:

    This is incorrect. There are slightly more expensive early morning buses to KIX from 3/4 am for the early morning cheap flights that leave at 6am/7am. The only problem is they cost almost 2k yen and so defeat the purpose of most cheap flights. They leave from Umeda.

  • Matt says:

    Pointing out that the Airport Express from Osaka station makes a *lot* of stops in its 1hr trip. I would take the Haruka if you could. Bus is about the same time but you can put your big luggage underneath, which is handy.

    Source: did Haruka a week and a bit ago, did Airport Express yesterday and did the bus 2 years ago.

    • Barnaby Jones says:

      I thought I had boarded the wrong train, that’s how many stops the JR line makes 🙁 It’s quite gruelling after such a long flight.

  • Geoff says:

    Don’t forget the KIX Airport Lounge. A cheaper alternative to the hotel if you get stranded at the airport after the buses and trains stop running (it has happened to me!).

    3,910 yen for 9 hours in a recliner chair booth. An extra 310 yen to use the showers.
    It is better than sleeping on the benches in the terminal (I’ve done that too!).

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