When making my way to Kansai Airport to see the Flying Eye Hospital, I took JR’s Kansai Airport Express HARUKA from Kyoto to the airport and then back to Shin-Osaka. With this train being the only direct rail link between the airport and the two stations, depending on your travel plans chances are it might be the most convenient option for you.
Continue reading to learn more about the train.
Kansai Airport Express HARUKA Stops, Fares & Schedule
Kansai Airport Express HARUKA runs twice per hour most of the day (some hours it only runs once) and connects Kansai Airport with the following stations:
- Tennoji (35 minutes) and Osaka (45 minutes): Potentially convenient if you are staying in Osaka. That said, depending on your budget and final destination, you might also want to consider taking the slower but cheaper Kansai Airport Rapid or Nankai train to Namba station.
- Shin-Osaka (50 minutes): This is Osaka’s Shinkansen (bullet train) station. Kansai Airpor Express HARUKA is the most convenient option if you need to get from the airport to stations on the Tokaido and Sanyo Shinkansen Lines like Nagoya and Himeji.
- Kyoto (1 hour 20 minutes): HARUKA is also the most convenient option if you want to get to Kyoto whether for sightseeing or to transfer to a Shinkansen.
When taking the train, both a regular ticket and an express ticket are required. Combined, it costs just over 3,000 yen (~25 USD) to take the train from Kansai Airport to Kyoto. That’s slightly more than taking a bus costs on the same route.
If you need to just get to Osaka city center, the ride from the airport to Osaka Station on Kansai Airport Express HARUKA costs around 2,400 yen. That’s almost double the price of the Kansai Airport Rapid with the difference being the cost of the express ticket that is required to ride on the express train.
Holders of the Japan Rail Pass can ride on Kansai Airport Express HARUKA for free.
For the latest information on the train’s schedules and fares, check JR’s website or Ekispert – a very convenient tool that allows you to search train connections including schedules and fares throughout Japan.
Hello Kitty HARUKA: The Train’s Exterior and Interior
If you are into Japanese animated characters, it’s worth noting that Kansai Airport HARUKA uses Hello Kitty-themed trains. The theming can not only be seen on the outside but also on the inside.
While there are four different designs, both of my rides were on the same one – “Ori-Tsuru” meaning origami crane.
Both ways, I rode in one of the regular carriages equipped with four seats per row.
The seats, which featured Hello Kitty headrest covers, were more than comfortable enough for the 80-minute ride from Kyoto to the airport and the even shorter ride from the airport to Shin-Osaka. They were well-padded and provided ample legroom.
That said, the seats were not equipped with a proper tray table. Instead, there was just a very small table that could be folded out from the armrest. While large enough to put a cell phone or a bottle of water on, the table was too small to put a laptop or a bento box on.
As such, if you plan to bring some food onboard (there is no onboard service), I recommend something along the lines of a sandwich rather than a proper meal.
In addition to the regular carriage, the train also had a “Green Car.” That one was equipped with larger seats in a three-seats-per-row, 1-2 layout.
Riding in one of the “green” seats on the train costs 1,300 yen more than in the regular seats. While the sub-10 dollar difference is not that significant, personally I do not think it’s worth it given the more than sufficient comfort of the regular seats and the short time onboard even if you are taking the train all the way from the airport to Kyoto or vice versa.
I should also note here that, unlike the regular commuter trains in Japan, this being an airport train, there was plenty of luggage storage onboard. There was even a special compartment for long pieces of luggage like ski bags and golf bags.
Lastly, there were also lavatories. While simple and fairly small, they were clean.
For better or worse, the lavatories were Hello Kitty-themed too. There was such theming even on the mirrors above sinks which allowed people to take Hello Kitty-themed selfies.
With the majority of the route being through urban areas, there was nothing particularly eye-catching about the views en route. That said, if you are visiting Japan for the first time, even those views might be interesting.
Kansai Airport Express HARUKA Onboard Wi-Fi
The train was equipped with onboard wi-fi. It required logging in using an email address and then clicking on a confirmation link in an email within ten minutes. Connecting using social media accounts was possible too. That said, the connection was quite spotty and so, to get some work done, I tethered my cell phone connection to my laptop instead.
It’s also worth noting that there were no power outlets on the train.
If you just need to get to downtown Osaka then the nearly as-fast but much cheaper Nankai train to Namba or the Kansai Airport Rapid are most likely better options for you than Kansai Airport Express HARUKA. That said, if you need to get to Shin-Osaka to catch a Shinkansen or plan to start or end your trip to the area in Kyoto, then HARUKA is the most convenient way to get to or from the airport.
While more expensive than the other options, the train is reliable, quick, and offers direct connection to stations that would otherwise require taking a bus or making at least one change along the way.