Difference between revisions of "Kansai International Airport"
Revision as of 15:26, 25 September 2008
Kansai International Airport was built at exorbitant cost on an artificial island in Osaka Bay, some 40 kilometers to the south of the city of Osaka. 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 airport's single terminal, designed by star Italian architect Renzo Piano, is reputedly the longest building in the world at 1.7 kilometers from end to end. Arrivals are on the 1st floor, while departures are from the 4th floor. On arrival, note that not all ATMs accept foreign cards, but the Citibank and post office ATMs do. There are several currency exchanges in the arrivals and departures areas. They will only handle transactions from or to Japanese yen. Reliable baggage delivery services are available at the north and south ends of the international arrivals area.
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. You have a choice of two companies operating a total of four services:
At JR West office,you can get a rechargeable smart card, ICOCA, is used on rail, subway and bus networks in Kansai area,Nagoya(Kintetsu),Okayama ,Hiroshima and Tokyo-Kanto(JR East). They are available at vending machines at these rail stations, and cost 2000 yen, which includes a 500 yen deposit that will be refunded when the card is returned at JR West station.
The JR West Haruka limited expresses run from the airport to Tennoji (29 min, ¥1,760), Shin-Osaka (45 min, ¥2,470) and Kyoto (73 min, ¥2,980). The fares listed are for non-reserved ordinary seats. Trains run every 30 minutes, some services make additional stops and/or continue onward to Maibara.
The Haruka is the easiest and fastest way to reach Kyoto, and you can connect to the Shinkansen (bullet train) at Shin-Osaka.
JR Rapid Service
The JR Rapid Service runs along the same tracks to Tennoji (43 min, ¥1,030), but then diverge along the Osaka Loop Line to Osaka station (63 min) and terminus Kyobashi (72 min, ¥1,160). 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. Note that 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.
Some trains from Osaka split with only some carriages proceeding to Kansai, and the others proceeding on the main line.
The Nankai rapi:t trains run to Namba station in Osaka. rapi:t α, taking 29 minutes from Kansai to Namba, stops at Shin-Imamiya, Tengachaya, Izumisano, and Rinku Town, while rapi:t β takes 34 minutes with stops at Sakai and Kishiwada. Both trains cost ¥1,390 to Namba, including a ¥500 reservation surcharge, and one or the other runs every 30 minutes.
The rapi:t and Rapid Service are the recommended means of going to central Osaka.
Nankai Rapid Service
Nankai Rapid Service trains 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 42 min and costs ¥890, 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 Rapid Service (not rapi:t). You can buy multi-day Kansai rail passes at the information desk at the airport.
Airport Limousine buses leave for various destinations throughout Kansai from the 1st floor directly outside the arrivals hall. The cost is comparable to or slightly higher than the train, but the buses go directly to some major hotels (service to Umeda-area hotels is approximately 60 minutes; ¥1,300) and can be faster than the train for some destinations such as Kobe (60 minutes, ¥1,800) in good traffic.
The bus is also the only practical option for connecting to domestic flights from Osaka's Itami Airport (70 minutes, ¥1,700).
After a prolonged hiatus, Kaijo Access  restarted their high-speed ferry service in 2006 and now run directly to Kobe's airport. Ferries run roughly every 45 minutes and take 29 minutes one way (¥1500). Via the ferry, shuttle bus and the Port Liner AGT line, Sannomiya (central Kobe) can be reached in one hour.
Taxis are very expensive except shuttle van. Going to Osaka will cost you a minimum of ¥16,000, while reaching Kyoto will rack up closer to ¥32,000.
By shuttle van
Shared shuttle van services are provided by taxi companies at much more reasonable rates than private taxis. (MK Taxi) , (KIX HP - Shared shuttle van services) charges only ¥2,300 per person to Kobe or ¥3,000 to Kyoto, including one suitcase and carry-on luggage (there's a 1,000 yen additional charge if you have more than one large item). Convenient as it's a door-to-door service, but since the driver has 9 people to deliver, it may not be a fast arrival. Reservation at least two days beforehand is necessary, either online or by phone (tel. +81-75-702-5489, open 8 AM to 9 PM).
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 10pm).
There are 47 restaurants in Passenger Terminal include fastfood shops.
Cafeterias and other eateries on departures level (4F) are more expensive.
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 10 PM.
Budget travellers: on the 4th floor, there is a variety shop called AIR ROUT, which sells beer and shochu-based drinks (chu-hai) at regular Japanese prices, about $2 per can, much cheaper than most options, if you are satisfied to sit in general areas and drink beer.
The airport terminal is open 24/7, so you can sleep in there. Blankets are also available from the information centers for free.
If you're willing to pay a bit extra, the Kanku Lounge offers a 9-hour package for ¥3800.
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 got on the train, you might as well go to your final destination, but they can come in handy for early morning departures or overnight connections.
There is only one hotel on the artificial island itself:
Across the bridge in Rinku Town:
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. @Station and maps
There is also free wireless internet access in many parts of the terminal building.