Overseas travelers to Osaka will fly into Kansai International Airport (KIX), Japan’s second busiest international gateway after Tokyo’s Narita Airport. Kansai Airport, or Kanku as it is colloquially called in Japanese, is situated on a man-made island in Osaka Bay about 30 miles (50 km) south of the city. The airport also handles a large number of domestic flights.
Formally known as Osaka International Airport, Itami Airport (ITM) is located closer to the city center and is generally the best choice for travelers flying into Osaka from other parts of Japan.
Other options for traveling to Osaka include shinkansen train, local train, bus, and ferry.
How to travel to Osaka from Kansai International Airport
The most convenient way to get to Osaka from Kansai Airport is by train. Airport limousine buses also run directly to railway stations and hotels around the city. In general, the train system is easier to use, while the buses can be more convenient for traveling directly to hotels in downtown Osaka.
All trains depart from Kansai Airport Station, located across the street from the airport arrivals lobby on the first floor. JR and Nankai Railways run services to the city and there are four types of trains to choose from. Depending on the train service, a ride to the city takes 30–70 minutes and costs from 1,000–3,000 yen.
All buses depart from just outside the arrivals lobby on the first floor. Bus rides to downtown Osaka take about 50 minutes and a set price of 1,300 yen applies to most city locations.
Nankai Rapi:t and Express trains to Osaka
The best way to get to downtown Osaka from Kansai Airport is by a Nankai Railways train. The Rap:t (pronounced Rapid) costs about 1,400 yen and takes just under 30 minutes to Namba Station. The Rap:t Alpha trains are slightly faster than the Rap:t Beta trains, which make one additional stop. Rap:t trains depart every 30 minutes, and all seats are reserved and very comfortable.
Nankai Airport Express trains also go to Namba Station, but the trip takes 45 minutes and only costs about 900 yen. However, these are regular commuter trains and often get crowded during the morning and evening rush hour. Trains depart the airport every 30 minutes.
JR Haruka and Rapid trains to Osaka
JR’s Haruka limited express trains (tokkyu) have reserved and unreserved seats. The trip to Tennoji Station from the airport takes 30 minutes and costs about 1,800 yen. The ride to Shin-Osaka Station takes 50 minutes and costs about 2,500 yen. Reserved seats are an extra 300 yen.
JR’s rapid trains (kaisoku) cost 1,030 yen to Tennoji Station and take 50 minutes. The trip to Osaka Station takes 70 minutes and costs 1,160 yen.
Travelers thinking about taking a JR train to Osaka from the airport may be interested in getting a rechargeable ICOCA smart card, which can be used on subways and buses in Kansai, Tokyo, Nagoya, Okayama, Hiroshima. Cards cost 2,000 yen (including a 500 refundable deposit) and can be purchased at vending machines at JR stations throughout the region. Although they don’t provide any discount on travel, the cards save you from having to buy tickets.
Kansai Airport buses to Osaka
Airport limousine buses go to various places around Osaka and throughout the Kansai region. They can be convenient for getting to some of the major Osaka hotels, especially around Umeda. Buses to city locations take around 50 minutes and cost 1,300 yen. All buses depart from the first floor of the airport, just outside from the arrivals lobby.
Kansai Airport Transportation Enterprise provides detailed information about bus schedules and fares from Kansai Airport to Osaka.
Kansai Airport taxis to Osaka
Private taxis are not a good way to get to Osaka from Kansai Airport. The cost is over 15,000 yen and they take longer than both buses and trains. Shuttle vans are a much better option for travelers looking to get dropped off at a specific location. MK Taxi and KIX HP‘s shared shuttle van services both have routes to locations around Kansai.
Reservations must be made at least two days in advance.
How to travel to Osaka from Itami Airport
Itami Airport (ITM) is more centrally located than Kansai Airport and is usually a better option for domestic travel to Osaka. The airport has service to and from over 30 destinations throughout the country.
The easiest way to get to Osaka from Itami Airport is by limousine bus. Travelers can also get to the city by using a combination of monorail and train.
Itami Airport buses to Osaka
Osaka Airport Limousine buses are comfortable and offer service to several train stations and major hotels in Osaka. Buses to locations in the city center take about 25 minutes and cost 600–700 yen.
Itami Airport monorail and train to Osaka
Traveling from Itami Airport to Osaka by train requires a transfer on the monorail. First, take the Osaka Monorail from Osaka Airport Station to Hotarugaike Station. Next, change to the Hankyu Takarazuka Line and get off at Umeda Station. The trip takes about 25 – 30 minutes and costs 420 yen.
How to travel to Osaka by train
Japan has one of the best railway services in the world. It is clean and fast, and its more than 11,000 miles (20,000 km) of JR railway line is used by 20,000 daily services. Several different kinds of trains offer service to Osaka and ticket prices vary according to the speed of the trains. The shinkansen bullet trains are the fastest and most expensive, the regular trains are the cheapest and take the longest time, while the different kinds of express and rapid trains fall somewhere in between.
Tokaido and Sanyo shinkansen trains arrive at Shin-Osaka Station, which is located north of the city center and offers transfers to local JR trains and the Midosuji subway line. Shinkansen trains to Osaka from Tokyo or Fukuoka take about three hours.
The fastest shinkansen train from Tokyo to Osaka is the Nozomi, which takes 135 minutes and costs about 14,000 yen. The Hikari trains take about 180 minutes and cost 13,750 yen, but are free with a JR Pass.
How to travel to Osaka by bus
There are many buses with service between Osaka and other major cities throughout Japan, including Tokyo, Kyoto, Nara, Fukuoka, Yokohama, Nagoya, Nagasaki, and Hiroshima. Buses vary in space, amenities, and price, and can be significantly cheaper than shinkansen trains.
Most bus companies offer a cheaper price for tickets purchased one or two days prior to departure, while JR bus tickets purchased more than 21 days in advanced are discounted between 10-30%.
How to travel to Osaka by ferry
Osaka has a large port and there are ferry services to and from Korea (Busan), Shanghai, and several cities in Honshu, Kyushu, Shikoku, and Okinawa. International ferries dock at Osaka Nanko International Ferry Terminal and domestic ferries stop at Nanko Ferry Terminal.