Before we start, get an orientation of where Osaka International Airport (symbol: KIX) is relative to Osaka (大阪; middle), Kyoto (京都; upper right), and Nara (奈良; middle right) on the map above.
As shown, KIX is located SW to the Central Osaka. If you will use trains for your transportation, you also want to avoid rush hours if you need to make connections at Central Osaka.
Reaching Kansai Destinations via Osaka
There are multiple ways to reach various destinations in the Kansai region (however, all routes go through Central Osaka first):
- Direct airport limousine buses from Kansai Airport to various places and hotels in Osaka
- Osaka Station (60 minutes) and Namba Station (45 minutes)
- Connects KIX and Kobe directly (there is no direct train service)
- Connects KIX and Nara directly (there is no direct train service)
- JR airport rapid train
- Connects the airport with Tennoji Station (50 minutes) and Osaka Station (70 minutes).
- Hakura limited express (JR)
- Connects Kansai Airport with Tennoji (30 minutes) and Shin-Osaka Station (50 minutes)
- With the Icoca & Haruka ticket, available to foreign tourists only, you can travel by non-reserved seat on the Haruka between the airport and Osaka for only 1100 yen (to Tennoji) or 1300 yen (to Shin-Osaka)
- Limited Express from KIX to Namba (なんば ) Station
ICOCA (イコカ / Ikoka) is a smart card issued by JR West with the following characteristics:
- A prepaid card (or stored-value card) rather than a rail pass
- Provides convenience over payment by cash
- Can be used in many places (click here to see where it can be used)
- For not only JR trains but also Osaka subway, Kyoto subway, most of private train companies (Hankyu, Keihan, Kintetsu and many more) and even city bus in major cities, like Kyoto.
- For shopping in kiosk in the station, nation wide convenience store (Lawson, Family Mart, Seven Eleven) and even some of major electronics retail store.
- Accepted at other major cities, like Tokyo, Sapporo, etc
- Only used as fare ticket (乗車券 / jōshaken)—for passing the ticket gate and for ordinary fare (i.e., non-reserved travel)
- You can have a commuter pass (定期券 / teikiken) added to it.
- For the following faster train services, you need a separate ticket (or an additional surcharge) which can be purchased from the conductor on board the train
- Shinkansen (新幹線)
- Express services
- Such as Haruka service from/to Kansai airpor
- Travel on a reserved seat of a limited express train
- See other examples here
- Note both express trains and ordinary trains share the same boarding gates (or ticket gates)
- In short, the fare ticket (乗車券) allows access to the train platforms at entrance and exit, where it is inspected by the gate or attendant at the station, while the express ticket allows one to ride an express train over the interval and is inspected by a conductor on the train.
- Expiration date
As a foreigner holding Temporary Visitor visa, you are entitled to purchase some rail passes at discounts. To get familiar with all choices, read  or JPRail.com.
If you will travel in Kansai area (say, from KIX to Osaka, Kyoto and Nara) only and not throughout Japan, you may want to consider:
- ICOCA and Haruka
- Is a set containing an "ICOCA" card and a discounted ticket for the Kansai-Airport Express "HARUKA" (operated by JR West)
- Haruka is a limited express train which directly links KIX with stations in the major cities in Kansai such as Tennoji, Shin-Osaka and Kyoto
- Check the map here to see where is covered by the HARUKA service
- If you already have an ICOCA card, you can purchase "HARUKA discount ticket" without buying new ICOCA card
- You can change ICOCA card of ICOCA & HARUKA to Kansai One Pass which has more benefits
- See more information here.
- KANSAI THRU PASS (or Surutto Kansai Pass) — not a JR offering and has the following characteristics:
- Unlimited rides on subway, private railway and bus in Osaka, Kyoto, Kobe, Nara, Wakayama and Shiga. (excludes JR Line)
- In case you use limited express of Nankai Railway and Kintetsu Railway, you need to purchase a reserved-seat ticket
- No additional purchase needed for limited express run by other railways
- Includes discount coupon for 350 major tourist facilities along the railway lines
- The Pass can be used on unconsecutive days during its period of validity
- One day is counted as the duration from the first train to the last train in a day. (Not for 24 hours from the time first used)
- Nankai Kansai-Airport Station Tichet Office
- You book the ticket online and get a voucher in advance
- When you arrive at KIX, you then go to the above exchange counter to get the real ticket using the voucher and passport.
- Valid periods
- Spring / Summer Edition
- Sale period
- April 1 - September 30 of each year
- Valid period
- April 1 - October 31 of each year
- Autumn / Winter Edition
- Sale period
- October 1 of each year - March 31 of the following year
- Valid period
- October 1 of each year -April 30 of the following year
- See more information here and available area map
In the diagram above, the following information were entered:
- Osaka Airport (note that this is not KANSAI AIRPORT)
- Date / Time
- Departure / Arrival / Average
Note that it's important to select the "Corp." category. For example, in the Kansai region, you can get by without using Japan Railway (JR) which normally is faster and more expensive. However, traveling in Kansai region is mostly covered by a myriad of train services from private railways (not JR) and buses.
Kansai Thru Pass (Official site: Surutto.com)
Kansai Thru Pass (Ticket can be purchased via Internet at Nankai Railways)
Pass Tickets (available for purchased on the Internet here)
9 Things You Should Never Buy at the Airport
JR West Official ICOCA user guide (PDF)
Kansai International Airport
Osaka: Which Namba Station? (Travel for a Purpose)
Taking the train (important)
Kansai airport limousine bus between Kansai airport and Kobe
Kansai airport limousine bus between Kansai airport and Nara
Nankai Kansai-Airport Station Ticket Office (Exchange Counter)
Living in: The world's safest cities
How to Get a Suica Card (video)
Best Things to do in Osaka - Overnight City Guide (video)
Weather forecast (Japan Meteorological Agency)
Travel: How to Ride a Train in Japan (Travel for a Purpose)
Japan Travel — How to Ride a Bus in Kyoto Area (Travel for a Purpose)
- Rail Passes for the Kansai Region
- ICOCA and Haruka and Haruka discount ticket
- How to use Kansai Thru Pass. Compare pass and single fare.
- What's ICOCA and Hakura?
- Osaka: Which Namba Station? (Travel for a Purpose)
- Kansai Thru Pass (Surutto Kansai)
- Also known as Surutto Kansai Pass
- Duty-free merchandise, foreign currency, bottled water, souvenirs, neck pillows, wi-fi, restaurant meals, magazines, a parking spot
- Buy these online before your trip
- All types of Japanese trains,are typically classified into the following categories:
- Local (kakueki-teisha or futsu-densha)
- Rapid (kaisoku)
- Express (kyuko)
- Limited Express (tokkyu)
- Super Express (shinkansen)
- Osaka, Amsterdam, Sydney, Singapore, Stockholm