So you've just arrived at Kansai International Airport! However, transportation from the airport is more confusing than you bargained for. What do you take? From where? To where? Kansai Airport may be on the sea, but it is easily accessible to and from various parts of Kansai via a range of different transportation networks. Here's how you can use these networks to reach your destination in Kobe City and throughout Hyogo as quickly, easily, and inexpensively as possible.
Kansai International Airport: The Gateway to Western Japan!
Originally opened on September 4, 1994, Kansai International Airport is Japan's first off-shore airport, built on an artificial island 5km off Senshu in Osaka Bay. It is commonly called by its nickname "Kankuu" (short for "Kansai Kuukou," Kansai Airport in Japanese), or by its Airport Code KIX. This airport is one gateway to Kansai, along with Osaka International Airport and Kobe Airport. It is also currently ranked the second-largest international hub airport in Japan after Narita International Airport, considering international passengers and flights. In 2018, approximately 23 million visitors used Kansai Airport to travel to Japan.
Getting To Hyogo Prefecture (Kobe)
Kansai International Airport is serviced by the JR and Nankai Railway Lines, and directly connects to the expressway for ease of travel by taxi or rent-a-car. There is also a Limousine Bus service that you can use at major stations throughout Kansai. Additionally, being an offshore airport, you can use the high-speed ferry service (Bay Shuttle) which operates trips to Kobe.
1. Traveling by Train
To get from Kansai to Kobe City (Sannomiya Area), we recommend a train that is punctual and reasonable in travel time. Both JR and Nankai Electric Railway have Rapid, Express, and Limited Express services. Consider transfers, ride time, and fares your destination when selecting an option.
・JR Line: Approximately 5-6 departures per hour between 5:00AM and 11:00PM. Ride Rapid Line bound for Kyobashi, or Limited Express Haruka Line bound for Kyoto or Maibara (Limited Express train requires both regular passenger ticket and Limited Express ticket).
・*Limited Express Haruka Round-Trip Discount Tickets and Ticket Sets for long-distance travelers using both Limited Express Haruka and Shinkansen are available.
・Nankai Line: Approximately 5-6 departures per hour between 5:00AM and 11:00PM. Ride all Express and Limited Express Rapi:t trains bound for Nankai-Namba (Rapi:t requires reserved-seating ticket, passenger ticket, and reserved-seating express ticket to ride).
・*Discount sets available for passengers using Limited Express Rapi:t and transferring to a different line in Namba; varies by destination
Now we will cover how to get to Kansai Airport Station from the arrival gate. Begin at the 1st floor arrivals area of Terminal 1. Take the escalator or elevator to the 2nd floor, and head to the exit. Across the connecting passage you will see Kansai Airport Station.
This is Kansai Airport Station, where you can catch the JR and Nankai Electric Railway. It is attached to the connecting passages of Terminal 1, 2F.
This is Kansai Airport Station. The ticket offices for JR and Nankai Electric Railway look similar, so be careful not to mistake the two. The JR office has an all blue sign, and the Nankai Electric Railway is orange and blue. Rapid and express tickets can be purchased from both railway companies respectively.
The automatic ticket vending machines for both the JR and Nankai Electric Railway can also support four languages: English, Chinese, Korean, and Japanese. Just toggle the language switching screen.
If you need a Limited Express Ticket or a Reserved Seat Ticket (separate fare from your regular ticket), it is recommended that you purchase each at the ticket information counter.
There are English, Chinese, Korean, and Japanese speaking staff available at the JR ticket office.
At the Nankai Electric Railway ticket information center, there is a portable interpreter installed for customer use that supports 74 different languages.
The ticket gates to both the JR and Nankai Lines are right next to each other, so be careful not to make a mistake when boarding.
From Kansai Airport to Sannomiya
● JR Kansai Rapid Service
Time Required: Approx. 71 minutes to Osaka Station; then approx. 22 minutes to Sannomiya Station via JR Kobe Line Rapid (Passenger Ticket: 1,740 yen)
● JR Limited Express Haruka
Time Required: Approx. 84 minutes to Shin-Osaka Station (Passenger Ticket: 1,740 yen + Unreserved Seating Limited Express Ticket: 990 yen or Reserved Seating Limited Express Ticket: 1,520 yen (regular season)/1,320 yen(off season); then approx. 36 minutes to Sannomiya Station via JR Kyoto Line Rapid
From Kansai Airport to Kobe Sannomiya
● Nankai Express
Time Required: About 43 minutes to Namba Station (Passenger Ticket: 930 yen)
● Limited Express Rapi:t
Time Required: to Namba Station, Rapi:t α approx. 34 minutes/Rapi:t β approx. 39 minutes (Passenger Ticket: 930 yen + Reserved Seating Express Ticket: 520 yen)
From Namba, walk approx. 8 minutes to Osaka-Namba Station; ride Hanshin Namba Line Rapid Express approx. 15 minutes to Amagasaki; ride Hanshin Main Line Non-stop Limited Express approx 23 minutes to Sannomiya Station
2. Traveling by Bus
Getting through the airport and traveling to your destination with large suitcases can be a challenge. For those times, let the staff take your luggage with and travel more easily via limousine bus. There are many bus departures from Kansai International Airport to major stations.
Keep in mind, travel time will vary depending on road conditions such as traffic, so this option is recommended only if you're not in too much of a rush.
We will now explain how to get from the Arrival Gate to the Bus Stop.
If arriving at Terminal 1, use the 1F exit towards the front of the same floor. If arriving at Terminal 2, go through the front exit and use the pedestrian crossing to the other side. There you will find the bus stop.
Tickets can be purchased at the ticket vending machines located right near the bus stop. Ticket vending machines are available in Japanese and English.
There is also a Limousine Bus ticket counter on the same floor as the Arrival Gate, so once you have decided to use the bus, you can buy your tickets right there. There are always Japanese and English speaking staff available at the ticket counter, and occasionally, Chinese and Korean speaking staff, as well.
Limousine Bus from Kansai Airport
Depart from Kansai Airport (Terminal 1, Platform 6) to Kyoto-Sannomiya.
53 departures between 6:00AM to 12:00AM daily.
3 departures per hour between 7:00AM and 10:00PM.
Time Required: Approx. 65-75 minutes
(From Terminal 2, Platform 4: approx. 80-90 minutes)
Price: Adults 2,000 yen, Children 1,000 yen
Depart from Kansai Airport (Terminal 1, Platform 6) to Himeji (via Kakogawa Station).
12 departures between 8:00AM to 9:00PM daily.
Approx. 1 departure per hour.
Time Required: Approx. 125-140 minutes
(From Terminal 2, Platform 4: approx. 140-155 minutes)
Price: Adults 3,400 yen, Children 1,700 yen
3. Using a Taxi
If time and money are of no issue, and you just want to get to Osaka via the easiest route possible, then using a taxi is recommended. Airport taxis offer a flat fare to each destination. While this method is rather costly compared to other modes of transportation, because prices are per vehicle, you can split the cost between multiple passengers. The route to the taxi stand is as follows.
To get to the taxi stand, exit Arrival Gate from the Terminal 1 entrance, and cross the Limousine Bus Lane. There you will see the taxi lane. Taxis will be lined up at stands numbered from 1-7.
No. 3 is for short distance travel, No. 4 is for people with disabilities, No. 5 is for long distance travel, No. 6 is for the jumbo taxi. Choose the appropriate taxi depending on your destination, number of people, and amount of luggage.
Airport Taxi (*Separate fee for Express and for Pick-ups)
To Sannomiya Station:
Standard (Capacity: 4): 13,300 yen
Business (Capacity: 5): 15,300 yen
Jumbo (Capacity: 9): 21,400 yen
4. Using the Rental Car Service
To travel around the large Kansai Area with more freedom, it is recommended to use a rental car. The route to the rental car reception area is as follows.
From the 1F Arrival Gate, head to the 2F, and use the 2F/D Exit to the connecting passage.
Rental car shops are located on the first floor of the Aeroplaza, a complex connected to Terminal 1 Building and Kansai Airport Station via connecting passage.
The reception counter is a 3-minute walk from the passage on the second floor of the Terminal 1 Building. From Terminal 2 Building, it takes about 7 minutes via free shuttle bus.
This method is recommended for those traveling with small children or the elderly, or for those who prefer a more leisurely sightseeing trip.
*From Kansai Airport to Kobe-Sannomiya Station Area, Travel Time: Approx. 1 hour 10 minutes
5. Using the High-Speed Ferry
The Kobe/Kanku Bay Shuttle is a high-speed ferry connecting the Kansai International Airport and Kobe Airport, and is recommended for those planning to sightsee in Kobe. This high-speed ferry and port liner can get you to Kobe-Sannomiya in less than one hour.
While ferry conditions are dependent on the weather, those with reservations will be notified in advance of any cancellations due to inclement weather, in which case alternative buses will be operated.
The route from the Arrival Gate to the Ferry Terminal is as follows.
If arriving at Terminal 1, exit the Arrival Gate and head to the High-Speed Ferry Ticket Counter, located next to Exit A on the right side (northern end) of the same floor, to purchase a boarding ticket.
Japanese and English Speaking staff are always available at this counter. Occasionally, Chinese and Korean speaking staff are available, as well.
From Bus Terminal 12, take designated Ferry Terminal Shuttle Bus.
If arriving at Terminal 2, you can purchase your boarding ticket from the High-Speed Ferry Ticket Counter right in front of the Arrival Gate. Once you exit the terminal building, you will see the designated Ferry Terminal Shuttle Buses next to the Charter Bus Stop on the left. Take the shuttle bus from there.
Shuttle buses to the pier take approx. 5 to 6 minutes.
Once at Kobe Airport Port, board the high-speed ferry, the Bay Shuttle.
Bay Shuttle bound for Kobe Airport begin operation at 6:30AM, and runs until 11:15PM, almost hourly. Approximately 15 rides per day.
*Time Required: Approximately 31 minutes
(12:00PM and 4:30PM departures may take approx. 36 minutes)
Price: Adults 1,880 yen, Children 940 yen
After arriving at Kobe Port Terminal, take shuttle bus from bus stop in front of the terminal (about 2-3 minutes) or walk (about 5-6 minutes) to Port Liner Kobe Airport Station, attached to Kobe Airport Terminal, and ride Port Liner to Sannomiya.
Time Required: about 17-18 minutes
Price: Adults 340 yen, Children 170 yen
Sightseeing in Hyogo and Kobe!
Kobe City Area
■Kobe Harbor Land
Kobe Harborland is a landmark of the Kobe Bay Area, located on the opposite shore of Meriken Park where the Kobe Port Tower stands. There are the large, trendy shopping complexes, Kobe Harborland umie and umie mosaic, where you can enjoy delicious food and specialty shops from Kobe. The umie mosaic has the 50m-tall Mosaic Ferris Wheel, where you can get a panoramic view of Kobe City, Mount Rokko, and the Seto Inland Sea. To get to Kobe Harborland, use Limousine Bus and the JR Line.
From Kansai Airport Express Bus Terminal 6:
Ride Airport Limousine Bus bound for Sannomiya Station (2,000 yen, approx. 65 minutes) to Sannomiya Station; walk about 7 minutes to Sannomiya Station (about 4 minutes) and ride JR Kobe Line, bound for Nishi-Akashi, (130 yen) to Kobe Station South Exit; walk about 4 minutes to Kobe Harborland.
Kitano Ijinkan-gai is an attraction with a rather exotic, cultural atmosphere in Kobe. This area has many old, Western-style buildings of varying styles that were built for foreigners who moved to Kitano from the Meiji Period to the Taisho Period. After strolling through this Western town, take a walk around Kitanozaka and Tor Road, which are dotted with stylish cafes, variety stores, and sweets shops. To get to Kobe-Kitano, take the Limousine Bus and Kobe Municipal Subway. Alternatively you can ride the Bay Shuttle and Port Liner.
From Kansai Airport Express Bus Terminal 6:
Ride Airport Limousine Bus bound for Sannomiya Station (2,000 yen, approx. 65 minutes) to Sannomiya Station walk about 9 minutes to Kobe Municipal Subway Sannomiya Station; ride Seishin-Yamate Line towards Tanigami (210 yen, approx. 2 minutes) to Shin-Kobe Station Station South Exit; walk about 9 minutes to Kitano Ijinkan-gai.
Hyogo Suburbs Area
Himeji Castle has been registered as a World Cultural Heritage site for 400 years since its construction, and has never faced a seizure or destruction in fire. This beautiful white, famous castle is also sometimes called Shirasagi-jo, or White Heron Castle. This largest surviving castle is definitely worth seeing, along with its gardens and their seasonal beauty. Get to Himeji Castle via JR Limited Express and Shinkansen Bullet Train.
From Kansai Airport Station:
Ride Kyoto-bound JR Limited Express Haruka (2,860 yen + 490 Unreserved Seat fare, 49 minutes) to Shin-Osaka Station; Ride JR Shinkansen Nozomi bound for Hiroshima/Hakata (1,760 yen Unreserved Seat fare, 29 minutes) to Himeji Station North Exit; walk about 24 minutes to Himeji Castle.
■Arima Onsen Town
Arima Onsen is part of the Three Ancient Springs of Japan, and a representative hot springs area of the Kansai Region. It is easily accessible by train from Kobe City in about 30 minutes, and is popular as a historical hot spring rich in iron and high-quality water. You can also enjoy unique Arima gourmet and shop for souvenirs in this atmospheric hot spring town. To enjoy the great nature of Rokko and Arima Onsen, ride the JR Line and Hankyu Bus.
From Kansai Airport Station:
Ride Kyoto-bound JR Limited Express Haruka (1,560 + 990 yen Unreserved Seat fare, 32 minutes) to Shin-Osaka Station; ride JR Kyoto Line Rapid Service (approx. 22 minutes) to Ashiya Station and walk about 3 minutes to JR Ashiya Station South Exit Hankyu Bus Bus stop; ride Ashiya Arima Line 80 (800 yen, approx. 38 minutes) to Arima Station Bus Stop; walk about 3 minutes to Arima Onsen.
■Sasayama Castle Town (Tamba-Sasayama)
Sasayama Castle was built in 1609 by the order of Tokugawa Ieyasu. The area around Sasayama Castle is a castle town where townhouses and samurai residences still remain. You can also enjoy chic cafes, general stores, and fresh local Satoyama gourmet for a taste of the Edo Period. A little further ahead you will find plenty of unique and beautiful pottery Tanbayaki pottery, which are popular in Imada-cho. Take a Limousine Bus, JR Line, and Shinki Bus to get to Tanba-Sasayama.
From Kansai Airport Express Bus Terminal 4:
Ride JR Amagasaki Airport Limousine Bus (1,600 yen, approx. 65 minutes) to JR Amagasaki Station; walk approx. 5 minutes; ride JR Tamba Road Rapid Service (approx. 60 minutes) to Sasayamaguchi Station; walk approx. 4 minutes to Arimaguchi Station Shinki Bus Stop; ride to Sasayama Office (300 yen, approx. 16 minutes) to Nikaimachi Bus Stop. Walk about 8 minutes to Sasayama Castle.
The best transportation for you to use during your travels will depend on many factors, such as age, schedule, amount and size of luggage, who you are traveling with, and experience. The methods introduced today seek to provide as much convenience with as little cost as possible. Whether experienced traveler or Japan first-timer, we hope you will find this guide of great use. Enjoy your stay in Japan!
*Prices and options mentioned are subject to change.
*Unless stated otherwise, all prices include tax.
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