The Haruka Express: Reaching Osaka & Kyoto from Kansai International Airport (KIX)

An introduction to Kansai Airport transfer

The Kansai International Airport (KIX) serves the Japanese cities of Kyoto, Osaka, Kobe and Nara. All Japan Rail Pass holders can take advantage of their pass to the fullest, by using it to reach the downtown areas of Kyoto or Osaka, using the Haruka Express, which is the direct connection between the Kansai Airport and the two cities.

If you ride the train in your hometown on a regular basis, you might think you have it all figured out when it comes to finding your way around a train station. However, remember that Japan is a whole other world when it comes to navigation and public transportation. Following is a detailed guide on how to ride the Haruka Express and how to reach downtown Osaka and Kyoto for free, using your Japan Rail Pass.

The Haruka Limited Express is an airport link and train service between Maibara (part of Shiga Prefecture) and the Kasai National Airport. The maximum speed the train reaches is 80 miles per hour (130 km/h). Usually, to ride this train passengers would be required to pay the standard train ticket fare in addition to the limited express ticket fare. However, those who hold a Japan Rail Pass may ride the Haruka Express completely free of charge with no limits.

Each train consists of 6 to 9 cars in total, with at least one Green Car (first class) per train. Following are the facilities provided on all Haruka trains:

- restrooms
- a vending machine
- luggage racks
- wheelchair access
- no smoking areas

In the interest of all passengers' health and safety, smoking is prohibited on all Haruka Express trains.

Reaching Osaka from the Kansai Airport

To travel from Kansai Airport to the city center of Osaka you have the following options:
1. Use your Japan Rail Pass to board to Limited Haruka Express train from the airport to Shin-Osaka station. The journey takes approximately an hour. Once at Shin-Osaka, make a transfer to a local train, going to Osaka station. The Shin-Osaka - Osaka Station trip takes less than 5 minutes.

2. If you are staying close to the city center of Osaka, you may want to get off at Tennoji Station (previous to Osaka St.) as it is closer to the downtown area.

3. You can use Kansai Airport Rapid Service train (Kanku-Kaisoku) to travel from Kansai Airport directly to Osaka Station in a bit over an hour. To ride the Kansai Airport Rapid Service, you will be required to purchase a ticket at the price of 11300 yen, as it is not covered by the Japan Rail Pass.

Reaching Kyoto from the Kansai Airport

Unlike the various options you have to reach downtown Osaka, the Limited Express Haruka is the only direct connection between the Kansai Airport and Kyoto Station. The overall trip takes approximately one hour and fifteen minutes and will be free of charge for all JRail Pass holders.
Once at Kyoto Station you may use the JR Nara line, as well as other Japan Rail National lines to travel anywhere within and nearby the city.

The Limited Express Haruka trains depart every half an hour from Maibara to the Kansai Airport and back every day. The first morning Haruka departure from the Kansai Airport is at 6:30 AM and continue all day until the last train departure, which is at 10:16 PM. The trains run from:
- 6:17 AM to 9 PM at Shin-Osaka Station
- 6:37 AM to 10:50 PM at Tennoji Station
- 5:45 AM to 8:30 PM at Kyoto Station

Please note that on national holidays and weekdays, the timetables may vary slightly.

After going through the ticket barrier at the station, head to the electronic train timetables. Make sure to check them for unexpected delays or any possible boarding changes. To find your train, look for the train line you will be using the direction of the train (serviced stations), which will be shown at the top of each timetable.
You will also be able to see the train type (HARUKA in this case) displayed together with the train and platform numbers, destination name and departure time.

Important tip: The train departures are numbered from 1 to 60. The trains with odd numbers (1,3,5,7,9 etc.) run south, towards the airport. The trains with even numbers (2,4,6,8,10 etc.) run north, towards the cities of Kyoto and Osaka.

The main Limited Express Haruka train stations are: Kansai Airport Station, Kyoto Station, Osaka Station, and Tennoji Station.

Following is a full list of the stations, serviced by the JR Limited Express Haruka trains in order:

Maibara station (connection with the Tokaido Shinkansen line)
Kusatsu (connection with the JR Kusatsu line)
Kyoto (connection to Tokaido Shinkansen, Nara line and other JR lines)
Shin-Osaka (connection to Tokaido Shinkansen, Sanyo Shinkansen)
Tennoji (Osaka)
Hineno (connection to JR Hanwa line for Wakayama)
Kansai Airport

by Carlos P.

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