Kansai International Airport was opened in 1994 on an artificial island in Osaka Bay, 40 km to the south of the city of Osaka. It is considered one of the most expensive civil engineering projects in the world. It is estimated that over US$20 billion has been spent between airport construction and fortification of the island, as the soft soils of the Osaka Bay have left the airport sinking into the water under its own weight far faster than predicted.
Unlike Tokyo's Narita, Kansai has fairly good domestic connections throughout Japan, making it a good choice for transiting onward. However, if you're flying domestically and your final destination is in Kansai, it probably makes more sense to fly to the more centrally-located Osaka (Itami) or Kobe airports instead.
The main terminal, Terminal 1, is designed by star Italian architect Renzo Piano. It is reputedly the longest building in the world at 1.7 km, over one mile, from end to end. For international flights, arrivals are on the 1st floor while departures are from the 4th floor. Domestic flights are handled on the 2nd floor.
Terminal 2 is a terminal designed for low-cost airlines (LCCs), with no jet bridges and no A/C. When it rains, passengers are lent umbrellas for their walk to their plane. Most LCCs prefer to stay at Terminal 1 despite higher operating costs, leaving only Peach Aviation and Spring Airlines as the only tenants.
The Aeroplaza (エアロプラザ Earopuraza), across from Terminal 1, contains restaurants, shops, and a hotel (Hotel Nikko Kansai Airport), and is the place to go if you have time to kill before entering security.
Terminal 1 - Served by full service carriers such as ANA and JAL as well as most low-cost carriers such as AirAsia and Jetstar
Terminal 2 - Served by low-cost carriers Peach Aviation and Spring Airlines
|Osaka||Nankai rapi:t||Nankai Rapid Service|
|Kyoto||JR Haruka||JR Rapid Service|
|Kobe||Limousine bus||Ferry and AGT line|
|Itami Airport||Limousine bus|
The most practical means of getting to Osaka and Kyoto is by train. All trains leave from the Kansai Airport station across the road from the arrivals hall; there is a clearly marked walkway on the 2nd floor. ICOCA/PiTaPa smart cards are valid for travel to/from the airport, and can be purchased from and returned to its ticket offices; see Kansai for more details. You have a choice of two companies operating a total of four services:
The JR West Haruka (はるか) limited expresses run from the airport every 30-60 minutes. The major stops on the Haruka are Tennoji (30 min, ¥1740), Shin-Osaka (50 min, ¥2380) and Kyoto (75 min, ¥2900). The fares listed are for non-reserved ordinary seats.
The Haruka is the easiest and fastest way to reach Kyoto, and you can connect to the Shinkansen (bullet train) at Shin-Osaka. Haruka services will begin stopping at Osaka Station/Umeda in March 2023; until then, take any JR commuter train one stop south from Shin-Osaka, or consider taking the one-seat JR rapid service train (see below).
The Japan Rail Pass can be used for the Haruka. You can exchange your rail pass voucher for the pass at the JR ticket counter. Short range and regional passes are also available that include travel on the Haruka. An example is the Kansai Area Pass that covers all JR commuter trains in Kansai and the immediate vicinity, and also includes the use of Haruka unreserved seats. A one-day pass costs ¥2400, which if used in conjunction with the Haruka is a cheaper way to reach cities such as Kyoto, Maibara, Kobe and Himeji.
JR West sells the ICOCA & Haruka discount ticket to foreign tourists. This consists of a ¥2000 ICOCA card (includes ¥500 deposit) for use on JR lines and most other public transit in the area, and a one-way "open" ticket that includes an unreserved seat on the Haruka connecting to one of four zones served by conventional JR trains: Osaka (¥3100-3300), Kyoto (¥3600), Kobe (¥3500) and Nara (¥3400). Round-trip discounts are available if the return trip to Kansai Airport is made within 14 days.
JR Rapid Service
The JR Rapid Service, officially the kankū-kaisoku (関空快速), runs along the same tracks to Tennoji (50 min, ¥1080), but then diverges along the Osaka Loop Line to Osaka station/Umeda (70 min, ¥1210) and terminus Kyobashi (80 min, ¥1210). All seats are non-reserved and trains depart every 20 minutes; the trains can get crowded at rush hour.
The Rapid Service is convenient for connections onward towards Kobe or Kyoto; change trains at Osaka station. The Rapid Service does not go to any Shinkansen stations; to get to Shin-Osaka, you must transfer at Osaka to a local or rapid train bound for Kyoto.
If heading on the rapid service from Osaka to Kansai Airport, be sure to board one of the first four cars of the train. At Hineno station, the train will split with the front four cars heading to the airport and the last four heading to Wakayama.
The Nankai rapi:t is an all-reserved train service that runs to Namba station in Osaka in around 35-40 minutes. Trains run every half hour throughout the day (on weekdays, service is hourly in the mornings until 09:00). All services to Namba call at Tengachaya (change to the subway) and Shin-Imamiya (change to the JR, subway and Hankai tram lines), with a few additional stops depending on the type of run. The fare is ¥1450 yen each way for regular seats, and ¥1660 for premium "super seats". Nankai sells advance tickets on its website for a discount.
The rapi:t and Rapid Service are the recommended means of going to central Osaka.
Nankai Airport Express
Nankai Airport Express trains, called the kūkō-kyūkō (空港急行) in Japanese, run along the same tracks to the same destination, but like their JR counterparts stop more often and may get crowded. The trip to Namba takes 45 min and costs ¥930, making this the cheapest of the four options, unless your final destination is a JR station in Osaka (e.g. Universal City). If you are considering a multi-day Kansai rail pass, consider this before buying your ticket, as it includes transport on the Nankai Airport Express (it was previously known as "rapid", do not confuse it with more expensive rapi:t). You can buy multi-day Kansai rail passes at the information desk at the airport.
Nankai offers discounted tickets traveling between Kansai Airport and the Kansai region's major cities.
- To Osaka, the Kanku Chikatoku Ticket (¥1020) includes travel on the Nankai Rapid Service to Namba station, and from there to any station in the entire Osaka Subway system. The Yokoso! Osaka Ticket (¥1580) covers a trip on the Nankai Rapid Service to Namba and also includes a one-day unlimited pass for Osaka city subways and buses to be used the same day or the next day.
- To Kobe, the Kobe Access Ticket (¥1150) includes travel on the Nankai Rapid Service to Namba station, and from there to any station on the Hanshin Railway as far as Sannomiya and Motomachi.
- To Kyoto, the Kyoto Access Ticket (¥1250) includes travel on the Nankai Rapid Service to Tengachaya station. From there you are permitted to transfer to the Osaka Subway Sakaisuji Line; these trains continue on to the Hankyu Railway. A second change of trains at Awaji will allow you to continue on to central Kyoto on the Hankyu Main Line. Using this ticket you can reach Karasuma and Kawaramachi stations in approximately 1 hr 45 min.
- To Nara, the Nara Access Ticket (¥1250 each way) includes travel on the Nankai Rapid Service to Namba station, and from there to Nara on the Kintetsu Railway. This ticket can only be purchased at Kansai Airport.
Airport Limousine buses leave for various destinations throughout Kansai. Buses leave from the 1st floor of Terminal 1, directly outside the arrivals hall, with select buses also leaving from Terminal 2. The cost is comparable to or slightly higher than the train, but some buses go directly to major hotels.
Some of the main destinations in the area include:
- Wakayama (40 min, ¥1200)
- Osaka City Air Terminal (OCAT) in Namba (50 min, ¥1100)
- Hotel New Hankyu and Herbis Osaka, near Umeda and JR Osaka stations (1 hr, ¥1600)
- Kyoto Station (1 hr 30 min, ¥2800)
- Kobe Sannomiya (1 hr 5 min, ¥2000)
The bus is also the only practical option for connecting to Osaka's Itami Airport for domestic flights (1 hr 45 min, ¥1950).
The Bay Shuttle is a high-speed ferry service that runs to and from Kobe Airport. Ferries run once per hour for most of the day and make the run in 31 minutes. A free bus at Kansai Airport shuttles passengers between the two terminals and the boat pier. The regular fare is ¥1880, but foreign tourists can ride for just ¥500 each way by presenting their passport. Via the ferry, shuttle bus and the Port Liner AGT line, Sannomiya (central Kobe) can be reached in about one hour.
Flat-fare taxis to Osaka city depart from designated taxi ranks and cost ¥13000-17000. Expect a taxi ride to Kyoto to cost in the range of ¥32000. Consider getting into the cities by public transport (i.e. train, limousine bus), then take a taxi to your destination.
Kansai Airport is about a 7-minute drive from Rinku Junction on the Hanshin Expressway Bayshore Route (Route 4). A toll is collected when departing the airport over the access bridge.
Free shuttle buses (outside security) connect Terminal 1 and Terminal 2 at regular intervals between 05:00 and 23:00, departing every 2-10 minutes and taking about 7 minutes.
Within Terminal 1, two Wing Shuttle trains connect the central area to the tips of the North and South Wings, shaving half a kilometer off your walk.
- The Sky View (☏ ) is open year round. Shuttle buses run from the passenger terminal building, and take about 6 minutes (¥100 adults, ¥50 children). There is an observation deck (08:00-22:00), an amusement floor (M-F 10:00-18:00, Sa Su 10:00-20:00), a restaurant floor (11:00-22:00, last call 20:00), and a shopping floor (10:00-20:00).
- Kanku Lounge (☏ , open 24 hours), On the second floor. Basic lounge open to all visitors, offering massage, PC desks, shower booths (¥500), women's room, kids' play room and business center. ¥300 for the first 30 min, then ¥600/hour.
- Refresh Room (☏ , open 09:00-21:00, reception to 20:00), in the international departure area (4F), offers coin-op electronic massage chairs (¥200 for 10 minutes), regular massage chairs for ¥500 per hour, shower rooms (¥600 for 30 minutes, towels and soap included) and personal lounges with beds for ¥1,000 per hour (¥500 per hour thereafter).
- The Kids Room (☏ open 09:30-18:30), also in the international departure area (4F), has facilities for children from infants to seven years old, accompanied by a parent or guardian. The playroom, infant room and nursing room are free, and complimentary baby food and diapers are offered (one per child).
Eat and drink
There are two convenience stores at the north end of the Passenger Terminal building (2F) and the Aeroplaza (1F).
The Aeroplaza (3F) is filled with eateries and shops for passengers who wish to do some last minute shopping. Although not as atrocious as some other international airports, prices may be slightly higher than on the mainland. At the arrival hall and on the departure floor, there are a few Starbucks coffee shops (open until 22:00).
- There are 47 restaurants in the Passenger Terminal, primarily on the 2nd and 3rd floors. Generally, these are less expensive than the airside options.
- Matsuya (松屋) (3F) is a cheap Japanese fast food staple, open 24 hours, offering beef bowls.
- 551 Horai (2F). A Chinese restaurant featuring "Butaman" - a pork meat pie something like piroshki, famous in Osaka.
- In the international departures area, your options are limited: a few coffee shops and convenience stores, plus Ganko Sushi in the middle of the main building, between the two immigration counters. The selection is limited relative to the landside portion of the terminal - if you have extra time, consider eating before going through the security checkpoint.
- For slightly cheaper eats, try the shops on the main floor of the hotel building. This area is also a good place for gift shopping, and has several other amenities such as a video arcade. Food and retail outlets usually close by 22:00.
- In the Aeroplaza (3F), there is a basic "Japanese-style pub".
- Hotel Nikko Kansai is the only other place for a pre-flight drink, with bars on the 11th floor.
- Budget travellers: on the terminal 4th floor, there is a variety shop called Air Rout, which sells beer and shochu-based drinks (chu-hai) at regular Japanese prices (about US$2 per can, much cheaper than most options), if you are satisfied to sit in general areas and drink beer.
- ATMs for cash withdrawal are available throughout the airport. Machines that accept International ATM cards include Seven Bank (First Floor near the International North Arrival Gate, Second Floor concourse and Fourth Floor International Departure Lobby), Japan Post (Second Floor concourse) and AEON Bank (Second Floor concourse). If you have a Maestro-issued EMV chip card (i.e. IC, chip-and-pin), you can only use the Seven Bank and AEON ATM machines.
- Currency Exchange facilities are available around the airport, with most open from the early morning until the late evening.
- The Aeroplaza (3F) features several stores, including Uniqlo for cheap, foreigner-sized clothing.
- Rinku Premium Outlets / Aeon Rinku Shopping Center, 3-28 Rinku-ourai-minami, Izumisano, ☏ . 10:00 to 20:00. There are over 150 shops and restaurants. A shuttle bus runs from the north end of the international arrivals area outside the first floor of the airport. It takes about 10 minutes and costs ¥100. By taxi, it is about ¥3,000 from airport.
- Sky Shop Town, on the same shuttle bus route, is in the Sky View (see above) area.
- Hotel Nikko Kansai (see below) also features an upscale gift shop.
- Numerous duty-free shops populate the international departures gate area.
Small internet kiosks are available throughout the airport. In the arrivals building, they cost ¥100 for 15 minutes, but once you're through the gates in the international departures area, access is free - look for the e symbol "information" computers.
There is also free wireless internet access in many parts of the terminal building. As of end of 2013 the speed of the connection is quite slow and on some gates the connection to the internet times out.
- There are nursing rooms on the second, third and fourth floors, inside the women's restrooms, and near the domestic and international gates.
- Business Center (☏ , open 08:00-20:00) 4th floor.
- Coin-Operated Photo Booths, 4th and 2nd floor. 24 hr. ¥700.
- Prayer room, in the international departure area (4F), near "Refresh Room".
- There is a post office on the 2nd floor, with an ATM that accepts international credit cards. Open M-F 08:00-21:00, weekends & holidays 09:00-17:00.
- If you're feeling unwell, there is a health clinic (☏ ; 09:00-17:00 regular hours, emergency treatment available 24 hours) on the second floor provided by Kinki University Hospital.
- There is a hospital at Rinku-Town (about 10 minutes by car), Rinku General Medical Center, with English, Portuguese, Chinese and Spanish-speaking staff. (☏ )
- There is a dental clinic (☏ ; open Sa Su 09:30-13:00, 14:00-19:30) on the third floor. Walk-ins are welcome.
- On the other hand, if you've had it with your good health, there are plenty of smoking rooms once you're through the international departures gate (4F) and on the domestic level (2F).
- There is a Police office in Kansai airport, 2nd floor North Area. English, French, German, Spanish, Chinese, Korean and Japanese Sign Language are understood.
The airport terminal is open 24/7, so you can sleep in there. Blankets are also available from the information centers for free (until 11PM). If you're willing to pay a bit extra, the Kanku Lounge offers a 9-hour package for ¥3800.
- 1 First Cabin Kansai Airport, Quanzhou Airport 1 Northern Izumisano City (in Terminal 1, third floor). A capsule hotel with 153 cabins and a common bath. Small cabin (2 m²): men ¥4500-¥5000, women ¥5600; larger cabin (4 m²): ¥6600.
- 2 Kansai Airport Izumisano First Hotel, 3-4-18 Uemachi, Izumisano-shi (3 minutes walk south-east from Nankai Izumisano station), ☏ , email@example.com. Check-in: 15:00, check-out: 11:00. Provides airport shuttle bus service.
- 3 Hotel Aston Plaza Kansai Airport, 1-674 Minaminakayasumatsu, Izumisano-shi (15-20 minutes walk south-east from Hagurazaki sation), ☏ , firstname.lastname@example.org. Opened in April 2017. Provides complimentary buffet breakfast and free 15-minute airport shuttle bus service.
There are several hotels across the bridge near Rinku-Town Station, 6 minutes away by JR or Nankai. For most tourists it hardly seems worth using them, since once you have boarded the train, you might as well go to your final destination, but they can come in handy for early morning departures or overnight connections.
- 4 Kansai Airport Spa Hotel Garden Palace, 1-3-51 Nakamachi, Izumisano, ☏ , fax: , email@example.com. Offers pick-up shuttle bus service from Kansai International Airport, JR Rinku-town station, Hineno station and the Izumisano station to the hotel.
- 5 Bellevue Garden Hotel Hotel (formerly Ramada Kansai Airport), 3-3-34 Ichibanishi, Izumisano (10 minutes walk south-east from Rinku-Town station), ☏ , fax: . Over 500 rooms. Provides 15-minute airport shuttle bus service. Rack rate ¥8000, advance booking discounts available.
- 6 Kanga Sun Plus Yakuta Hotel, 3-3-4 Minato, Izumisano, ☏ 0120-48-2911 (domestic), , fax: . Free pick up service from Rinku-Town Station, and free delivery to the airport. Single rooms ¥6,300.
- 7 Hatago Inn Kansai Airport, 2-85 Rinkuoraikita, Izumisano-shi (500 m north-east of Rinku-Town station), ☏ , firstname.lastname@example.org. Check-in: 15:00, check-out: 10:00. Opened in September 2017 with in 100 guest rooms, parking for 86 vehicles, library & lounge, large bath (1 location each for men and women), lobby, coin laundry, vending machine, ice maker, designated smoking area and free Wi-Fi in common areas and all guest rooms. Does not provides airport shuttle bus service.
There is only one hotel on the artificial island:
- 8 Hotel Nikko Kansai Airport, 1 Senshu-kuko kita Izumisano-shi (take the skybridge to Aeroplaza), ☏ , fax: , email@example.com. Opened in 1994 with 576 guest rooms. Directly connected to the airport by a walkway, and featuring restaurants, a wine bar, a business center, etc. Airline crews use this hotel. It is possible to get a room "free" as part of a JAL international flight if there is no connecting flight on the day you arrive. Single rooms from ¥22,000, advance booking discounts available.
Across the bridge in Izumisano-shi:
- 9 Star Gate Hotel Kansai Airport, 1 Rinkuoraikita, Izumisano-city, ☏ , fax: , firstname.lastname@example.org. 56-story hotel run in cooperation with InterContinental Hotels. Provides free airport shuttle bus service. Single rooms from ¥12,600. Advance booking discounts available.
- 10 Kansai Airport Washington Hotel, 1-7 Rinku-Orai-Kita, Izumisano (right next to Rinku-Town station), ☏ , email@example.com. Check-in: 14:00, check-out: 11:00. 504 guest rooms. Provides airport shuttle bus service. Rack rate for a single ¥9500, discounts available for advance bookings.
- 11 Izumisano Center Hotel, 1-10-37 Takamatsuhigashi, Izumisano (250-m walk south-east from Nankai Izumisano station), ☏ , fax: , firstname.lastname@example.org. Opened in October 2015 with 179 guest rooms. Does not provide airport shuttle bus service.
- Rinku Town (りんくうタウン) is a shopping and entertainment complex located across the bridge from Kansai Airport. It's a 5-minute trip by JR or Nankai train (¥370).
|Routes through Kansai International Airport|
|Nanba ← Sumiyoshi Taisha ← Sakai ←||N S||→ Wakayamashi|
|END ←||W S||→ into → Wakayama|
|END ←||W N||→ into → Sakai → Osaka|