Kansai International Airport
Kansai International Airport (KIX) is one of four international airports in Japan, located 38km southwest of Osaka. For many international visitors, Kansai will be their port of entry and/or exit while in Japan.
The airport has two terminals: Terminal 1 services full-service carriers while Terminal 2 caters to low-cost carriers. Kansai is a very large airport with Terminal 1 laying claim to being one of the longest airport buildings in the world – 1.7km / 1.1 mi from end-to-end. So just make sure you give yourself adequate time to make it to your gate. Japan Airlines (JAL), All Nippon Airways (ANA) and many international carriers have a presence at the airport.
Kansai Airport has all of the facilities typical of a large international airport including hotels, restaurants and shopping areas. The following information only touches on everything available at Kansai and is intended for visitors heading to/from Nagano and Central Japan and the airport.
Train services to & from Kansai Airport
Several train lines run from Kansai Airport into central Osaka and onto Kyoto:
1 / Limited Express Haruka – to Shin-Osaka Station & Kyoto Station
2 / Kansai Airport Rapid – to Osaka Station
3 / Nankai rapi:t Airport Express– to Namba Station
1 / Limited Express Haruka
For visitors flying in or out of Kansai Airport, Shin-Osaka Station and Kyoto Station can be reached directly using the Limited Express Haruka. The line runs from the airport to those stations and other major stops before terminating at Maibara Station.
The service includes both reserved and non-reserved seating. From the airport to Shin-Osaka Station takes around 50 minutes and costs JPY2710 for a reserved seat and JPY2380 for a non-reserved seat. The journey to Kyoto Station takes around 80 minutes and costs JPY3230/JPY2900.
If you are headed to Nagano/Central Japan from the airport, this will be the most convenient airport service to use to reach Nagano via either Shin-Osaka Station or Kyoto Station – see below for details.
2 / Kansai Airport Rapid
The Kansai Airport Rapid service connects the airport to Osaka Station in around 70 minutes and JPY1210.
3 / Nankai rapi:t Airport Express
Finally, the rapi:t express service connects the airport to Namba Station, taking between 40 to 45 minutes and costs JPY930
Activating/exchanging a Japan Rail Pass
Holders of any Japan Rail pass will need to exchange/activate that pass before using it. You do so by exchanging the order/proof of purchase you received online. This can be done a numerous JR Pass Exchange Offices found at any major train station or airport including Kansai Airport. You can do so at:
Ticket Office: 05:30 to 23:00
Passes can also be exchanged/activated at these offices in/around Shin-Osaka Station:
Travel Service Center Shin-Osaka: 08:00 to 22:00
Ticket Office JR West: 05:30 to 23:30
Ticket Office JR Central: 05:30 to 23:00
Nippon Travel Agency TiS Shin-Osaka Branch: 09:00 to 20:30
JR Tokai Tours Shin-Osaka Office: 06:00 to 20:30
To exchange/activate your pass you will need your exchange order and passport.
Make sure you allow adequate time to exchange and activate your pass if you are intending to use it on the same day or do so a day or two before you plan to start using it (you can always nominate a later activation date).
Once you have your activated pass you are free to ride however you can’t insert your pass into the ticket gates. Simply walk through the side booth (permanently attended by station staff) and show your pass. You will be waved through and you can make your way to the platform.
Getting to Nagano from Kansai Airport
To reach Nagano and Central Japan from Kansai airport, firstly follow the directions above to reach Shin-Osaka Station or Kyoto Station. Once there, you have several options (all options take around 4 to 4.5 hours to reach Nagano):
The Limited Express Thunderbird connects the airport to Central Japan via Kanazawa. Frequent services run between the cities and Kanazawa and involve the following travel times and costs: 150 to 155 minutes / JPY7260 from Osaka and 125 minutes / JPY6490 from Kyoto.
Once in Kanazawa, switch to the Hokuriku Shinkansen bound for Nagano. There are four services on the Hokuriku Shinkansen Line – the Kagayaki, Hakutaka, Asama and Tsurugi – however only the Kagayaki and Hakuata services connect Kanazawa and Nagano. Using the Kagayaki, the journey from Kanazawa to Nagano takes 65 minutes / JPY8920 or 85 to 90 minutes / JPY8590 using the Hakutaka.
The Tokaido Shinkansen Line connects Shin-Osaka, Kyoto and many other stops to Nagoya (and onto Tokyo). To access Nagano and Central Japan via Nagoya, take the Tokaido Shinkansen to Nagoya Station – 50 min / JPY5940 from Shin-Osaka and 35 min / JPY5170 from Kyoto.
The final option is to take the Tokaido Shinkansen all the way to Tokyo Station from Shin-Osaka – 150 to 175 min / JPY13,870 – or from Kyoto – 130 to 160 min / JPY13,320 (time taken depends on which service you choose).
All listed services are covered by the Japan Rail (JR) Pass.
Accommodation In & Around the Airport
Visitors flying in or out of Kansai International Airport, might want to consider staying in or nearby. As one of Japan’s four international airports, there are good options around the airport and inside the airport. For hotel bookings in and around the airport, please refer to the following accommodation listings in the ‘Kansai International Airport Area’.
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